View Full Version : Film box or cardboard envelope?

John Kasaian
15-Dec-2006, 09:59
Went through the freezer to see what I had and found some 8x10 PW Ultrafine I had bought during the great Ilford scarcity of awhile back. The stuff was cut from the end rolls of FP-4 and was packaged by Photo Warehouse not in 3-piece film boxes but rather cardboard envelopes like small quantities of enlarging paper.

I want to take a flight next month to Gunnison, CO and I'm wondering if film in an envelope (about the size and thickness of a magazine) would be less suspicious than film in a box to the TSA blokes?

Any thoughts?

Diane Maher
15-Dec-2006, 12:08
Is it labeled with a manufacturer's label or is it written on the envelope? I would think that taking an envelope with film in it might not be a good idea.

John Kasaian
15-Dec-2006, 19:27
It has the manufacturer's (Photo Warehouse anyway) label on the envelope.

Alan Davenport
16-Dec-2006, 21:28
My first reaction, is that TSA personnel will be suspicious of something that appears to have been repackaged (which it is,) regardless of whose label is on the envelope. Even if the inspector you draw is familiar with LF films (by no means assured or even likely, IMO) it's unlikely he/she will have seen anything like you describe.

17-Dec-2006, 06:46
I think you're giving the TSA too much credit.

Ted Harris
17-Dec-2006, 06:53
If it has never been through an airport carryon x ray then one or two passes through isn't going to hurt it, not US machines anywy. If you are very concerned then send it ahead of you via one of the express carriers ... btw that is what I frequently do.

17-Dec-2006, 07:07
I frequently will send film, backpacking, hiking equipment to myself via FEDEX, UPS, DHL in duct taped closed 100 gallon (or so) Coleman type coolers. I pick the package up at the depot. The coolers have been shipped across country many many times. I then use the cooler to hide equipment in the rental vehicle and also can keep the film much cooler. This is an outgrowth of working in the environmental field for 8 years where we would send water and soil environmental samples to a lab for analysis. The coolers are inexpensive, light, strong, insulated, and reusable many many times over. :eek: :)


Ed K.
26-Dec-2006, 02:08
How timely that you bring this up. Last year, while playing Santa, I gave my niece a 5x7 pinhole camera with a couple of boxes of Ilford film, both opened, but only a few sheets used, just to start her out having some fun.

I asked her today, a year later at Christmas dinner how she ever made out with the pinhole camera. She said that the LAX airport folks insisted on opening the Ilford boxes that were taped shut. In spite of her protests, they opened the inner boxes inner envelopes, leafed through the sheets, and then handed them back to her. Sadly, my sister today reported that half the contents of her bags were missing on this year's trip. What a mess.

I'm not knocking anyone, or complaining about how things have changed, however I would advise against taking any sort of opened package through the airport that contains film. You're taking chances.

If you can send some ahead to your hotel or a friend, via a reliable carrier, and then if you like take some sealed boxes with you - you might at least have some film to shoot.

What worries me is getting it back once shot. I'd be very upset if somebody insisted upon opening up any of my film boxes during transit! Perhaps it's best to send via mail or FedEx in divided shipments to the lab or a friend at home while still out on the trip?

Claude Sapp
26-Dec-2006, 06:51
TSA states we have the right to request hand inspection, which to me means swabbing the packages of film, not opening them. See here for the TSA bulletin on travelling with film:


Here is the caveat - the bulletin means nothing to the TSA.

I had always loaded holders and carried them on board, until an incident in Las Vegas. I asked for a hand inspection, and they said no. I showed them the TSA bulletin I carry a copy of, my bags and film were xrayed, then the guy called for an inspection of my bags. As I stood watching one woman rifle through every nook and cranny wanting to touch every item in my backpack, I just happened to notice my film bag was being gone through by another man. He was pulling every darkslide on every holder; I had 30 holders loaded with film!

To answer the original question though, I now believe it is much safer to Fedex/ UPS film to and from location. The added $20 expense seems trivial to me after my incident.

Does USPS Priority Mail xray packages? Their flat rate box is the way to go if they do not xray. It is only about $8 and plenty big for boxes of film, even 8x10.

matthew blais
26-Dec-2006, 07:08
I just flew out and asked for hand inspection of two boxes of 4x5 and they complied readily. Took them over and swabbed them. NP...

I was surprised they set off the metal detector though, as I had them in my cargo pockets..