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I will be going to Italy this coming summer and will travel with a 35mm for transpariencies and a 2 1/4 for black and white(mostly 100 speed). What's the best way to go thru security with film? Someone told me they buy their film over there to avoid some x-raying. Thanks for any advice

-- Doug Rhinehart (, February 09, 2000


if i understand correctly, european x-ray machines are generally safe. however, they are installing newer machines that may cause damage. i think heathrow has the newer, more dangerous-to-film models. (i recall reading somewhere that one of the attenboroughs had motion picture film ruined at heathrow a couple of years ago). anyhow, here's was i use:

i get one of those protective film bags. it's a bag made of plasticized lead foil, and it seems to protect well. i've had nothing damaged. i always carry most of my camera equipment on the plane with me, and the security people usually want to open my equipment bag and hand-inspect the film bag, which shows up as a big, opaque spot on the machine. they're always very nice about it at heathrow. in fact, they always seem to know what it is when they see the x-ray and say, "sir, i need you to open this, so i can inspect your film bag." i can't speak for how they'll act in italy.

you *might* also want to take all your 35mm film out of the little plastic canisters, especially if they're the black kodak type, and store it in zip-loc bags. i've *heard* of security people insisting on looking into each individual canister, as one could theoretically hide explosive components inside, but i've never had it done to me.

-- brad daly (, February 09, 2000.

I have taken my Minox with 400 film in it to and fro through the x-ray machines in Europe a couple of times, and no fog occured. But I recently heard that new, unsafe machines are currently being installed in a couple of places. As far as I remember, however, this did not refer to hand luggage but to checked baggage. I heard that when they see a dark spot on the screen when x-raying checked baggage, they just send it back through the machine and use higher x-ray intensity so they can still see what it is. Then even the lead bags won't help.

The suggetion with the canisters is probably a good one. I think there is no right to manual inspection, so all you can do is ask real nice. I have had guys at the gate who even insisted on pulling a little at each film. The very least is that they will want to open each container to see the actual cartridges. (Or they will say "Too much work! SEnd it through the x-ray machine!") So use transparent containers, or- even better - transparent plastic bags. It might also be a good idea to go to the gate when it's not so crowded, or you might have a very pressed business traveller behind you who complains about missing his plane because of your extra wishes.

How about using bulk film spooled into plastic cartridges? You should be able to carry that on your body and walk through the magnetic gate without any alarm ringing.

-- Thomas Wollstein (, February 10, 2000.

Don't worry about havng an X-ray problem with 100 speed B&W film. Color is a little more sensitive, If it looks like you're going to have more than 4 or 5 trips through the machine, consider getting it developed locally.

-- Bill Mitchell (, February 10, 2000.

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