My fascination with film photography began at Hofstra University during my first photography class when I had to actually develop film in the dark room. Some say in this digital era you can’t tell what medium the image was shot, but I’m not a professional and won’t get into that. With that being said I have always carried a film camera with me on my trips and have encountered various situations when going through security checks at airports.
First lets talk about the affects the X-ray machines can have on your film and what may be acceptable. The X-ray machine can cause fogging or white lines to appear on the film once it’s developed. Higher speed films (ISO 400 and higher) are most susceptible to x-ray damage
Check the Kodak’s film guideline (they basically created film)
SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO ENSURE YOUR FILM DOES NOT GET DAMAGED?
The easiest way to get through security is ask for a hand check. Turn on the charm, be polite and have your film ready in a see through zip lock bag. This has always worked for me. Make sure you get to the airport way before your flight because the attendant could take a while to check your film.
Not every country will hand check your film like the U.S. will. It’s always best to find out about the airport rules and local laws of where you are going to before you travel. This gets real tricky on multi-city trips. Sometimes it may be worth it to ship your film home, or have it sent to a local lab to be developed before you depart for your return.
Carry a lead bag just in case security is being real annoying. This will absorb some of the radiation and prevent damage but should only be a last resort. B&H carries a few.
Classic Canon’s are some of my favorite film cameras and I recently purchased a Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 for my upcoming trip to Milan.
It can be a hassle carrying film on a trip but there are two priceless reasons I do:
1. Polaroids are fucking awesome and fun
2. It’s always interesting to develop your film months later to re-live the moments you completely forgot about. Like in the movie hangover after they found the camera of an epic night.
DO: Keep your film in your carry on and get them hand checked
DON’T: Place your film in a checked bag, your film WILL be ruined.