BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Oscar Magtibay

Airport X-rays

I will be flying to Las Vegas this weekend and I just wanted to ask you guys that if the airport personnel that checks the baggages insist that I run my camera bag through the x-ray machine, would it do any damage to my films? I still have half a roll in both my cameras. Thanks!

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7/23/2003 6:43:31 PM

Judith A. Clark   Yes, the xray will distroy the film, but they should not insist that you run it thru. Ask them to hand check your bag.

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7/24/2003 3:44:58 AM

doug Nelson   Unless things have changed a lot in the past few months, film under 800 ASA is said to be undamaged by the x-rays when you go through with carry-on bags. Checked luggage is a different matter; your film is likely to suffer damage. Federal law states that you can request hand inspection. Depending on the whim of the checker, you may not get it. Go to and look for photography under Graffitti for discussions of this problem. Look also at for Bob Shell's comments on xraying film.

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7/24/2003 5:40:52 AM

Oscar Magtibay   Thanks so much for your responses! As always you guys are great. Thanks again!

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7/24/2003 8:39:09 AM

Mark Carter   I have just come back from a trip to the far east and put 16 rolls of film through about 12 or so airport x-rays and having had them all developed I have noticed no problems whatsoever. All my films were asa800 or less anything more just ask for the manual search.

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7/29/2003 7:08:38 AM

Oscar Magtibay   Thanks Mark. I'm excited to see how my pics will come out. They ran my films through the machine on my way to Las Vegas but on my way back I requested a hand inspection and they did. Thanks again!

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7/29/2003 9:07:24 AM

Nicky Trainor   I recently took a trip that involved numerous airports in the US and Canada. Some security officers were more willing than others to check my film manually. The first question they all asked though was "do you have 800 speed or higher film"? I picked up some 800 film for my return flights, and it did the trick - no questions asked - they just checked the film manually!

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7/6/2005 8:16:45 PM

Daniela Meli   I'm sorry to say that asking to check the film manually does not always work. In my last trip I took a couple of 3200 films to guarantee that all my film would be checked manually and not through the x-ray (a trick I read in bp). The guard was very nice when he handed me a flier with "important information for photographers" that said that the x-ray is not dangerous to film and that ALL films should be checked through the x-ray. I begged the guard to check them manually, I swear I almost cried, but it didn't work (he was very polite though).
At the end, Iím happy to report that the film was not damaged (or not in anyway I can notice), and that even a roll of film that I accidentally left in the checked-in luggage turned out ok.
So I guess you have to try to get the film out of the x-ray, but if itís not possible, itís not the end of the world.

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7/7/2005 2:22:30 AM

Oscar Magtibay   Thank you very much for all your responses. I really appreciate it!

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7/7/2005 8:44:17 AM

Kerry L. Walker   Carry a couple of rolls of 120 film. TAT can't go through an X-ray machine without being damaged.

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7/7/2005 8:51:49 AM

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