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How do I protect my photographic film from airport x-ray machines?
You've probably heard that both your exposed and unexposed photographic film can be damaged by airport x-ray machines. This is especially true for film with a high shutter speed number (800 ISO or higher).
The safest place to carry your film is actually in your carry-on baggage or on your person, because your checked baggage is likely to be scanned by a high-powered x-ray machine if anything about it appears even remotely suspicious during the usual x-ray inspection. This can leave a streak of light across your whole roll of priceless negatives or fog them.

In United States airports, you have the right to insist that your film be inspected by hand, but if you travel with numerous rolls, be sure to allow extra time for the process, or arrange for the inspection ahead of time.

Leave your film in both the original boxes and plastic canisters and then seal it into plastic freezer bags for a good measure of protection. Or use special pouches (sold at photographic supply stores) which are designed to shield your film.

You can avoid the problem altogether by buying your film and having it developed at your destination. Just make sure that you'll get the processed negatives and prints back in plenty of time to take them home.


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