View Full Version : Flying US to Italy

16-May-2006, 23:35
I will be going to Italia shortly and I was not planning on taking my 4x5 gear but at the last minute am seriously considering. I will carry my camera, lenses and film with me as carry on. My main concern is the film. From the US Transportation Security Administration web page they state
"If the same roll of film is exposed to X-ray inspections more than 5 times before it is developed, however, damage may occur. Protect your film by requesting a hand-inspection for your film if it has already passed through the carry-on baggage screening equipment (X-ray) more than 5 times."
What are anybodys experiences on this, especially going US to Europe and back. How do they hand check sheet film? Do they actually open the boxes in a light safe way to feel them and if so what about them getting dirt and finger prints on the film? My flight route will take three connections going and back so that makes 6 possible x-ray so I think this will be an issue. Also does any one know if they allow hand inspection of film at the airports in Rome, Fiumicino? What are their procedures?
The film I will be taking is Fuji Astia and Ilford HP5. Should I try to process my film it Italy before returning? If so who knows of a reliable place. The closest big city in the areas I am heading to would be Rome. Thanks :) in advance for any suggestions.

Marko Trebusak
16-May-2006, 23:48
When flying from Europe to Australia, my film was x-rayed 8 times. And I can't see any damage (higher FB+fog) to it. So I would not worry too much about it.


Marco Gilardetti
17-May-2006, 01:44
Same here: I did the opposite travel (Italy to States and back) and the film came out just perfect.

Ron Marshall
17-May-2006, 05:10
A couple of years ago I took many short flights in South East Asia. Usually I was able to get a hand inspection, but as a test I put one roll of Fuji Astia through 20 times. There was no difference from the other rolls (35mm).

Recently I flew back from Yosemite. They hand inspected my quickloads, but since they couldn't open the sheet film box they insisted on x-raying that.

Doremus Scudder
17-May-2006, 07:52

I routinely fly from Oregon to Austria (I'm in Eugene half the year, where are you?). I have transported film in boxes and loaded film holders without any problems whatsoever. Since I usually fly through London, the film get's X-rayed, regardless. I have never had any problems with fogging or streaking of ISO 320 film (Tri-X) that has been subjected to numerous scans through the carry-on scanners. I would not hesitate to carry film again that way.

That said, since I have residences in both places, I now buy film in the country I am in and load there.

I understand that the X-ray scanning for checked baggage is now much more intense and that carrying film in your checked baggage is not recommended.

The ideal situation would be to find a source for film in Italy (check with some of the Italian members of this forum, maybe they can help) and load there. Second choice, and a close second to the first, would be to carry unopened boxes of sheet film in your hand luggage and ask for a hand inspection where possible. If it is not (as it probably will not be in many European airports), simply send the film through the scanner and don't worry. Unless you get 8-10 scans or more, there should be no problem.

Carrying exposed film back for processing, however, is a bigger problem. If possible, try to process there (I travel with trays and chemicals for B&W). An unsealed box of exposed negs will almost certainly get scanned. This presents no real problem if the number of times through the x-ray machine is low, but if you have had the film scanned four or five times on the trip over, expose it, and have it scanned four or five times on the trip back, there is a slight chance that fogging/streaking could occur.

Therefore, try to minimize the number of scans on the trip over by taking sealed boxes and asking for hand inspection whenever possible. Also, try to book your flight with the least number of layovers/changes to minimize the number of times you go through security (this is a good idea no matter what...).

All in all, I doubt you will have problems even if your film does get scanned a lot. Being careful never hurts though.

Best and have a nice trip.

John Brady
17-May-2006, 08:39
I am flying to Italy next tuesday the 23rd. I will be bringing my 4x5 with me.

I went there last August with all my gear and had no problems.
I packed my Ebony 45su, 3 lenses (47xl, 72xl and 210), light meter, quick load holder, ready load holder and polaroid back in my Lowepro AW Trekker. The film and filters I carried in a brief-case. I kept a Gitzo tri-pod and head packed in my checked luggage.

I had no problems with security and all of the film was fine. I did not have the film hand checked, all of it was 100 and 50 iso. My understanding and experience is that slow film is no problem going through passenger security. If however you put it in your checked luggage it will get fried. I developed all film back home.

If you are passionate about photography and don't bring your gear you will be kicking yourself everyday you are there.

17-May-2006, 12:37
Well it doesn't sound too bad so I'll give it a go. I'll try bringing back my exposed film and process back home.
Doremus I live in Bend the last few years.

If you are passionate about photography and don't bring your gear you will be kicking yourself everyday you are there.
That's why I decided to try and take my 4x5. It is a family trip but I anticipate I'll have some time to myself now and then to do a little photographing. :D
Thanks for the responses.

Larry Gustafson
17-May-2006, 13:09

Carrying exposed film back for processing, however, is a bigger problem. If possible, try to process there (I travel with trays and chemicals for B&W).

If you travel with chemicals on an airplane you are subjecting yourself to the risk of very large fines. It's best to check your constituent chemicals against the chart of prohibited chemicals in 49 United States Code, Section 172.101

Watch for the labeling and notice requirements too.