Taking Slide Films Through Customs

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Hello, pretty new to film since about few months back shooting on Velvia 100. As the topic sugest, would like to know if most scanners are safe or if not then how to you get them through those scanners. And i don't mean airports of top cities in Asia because i'm pretty darn sure they are safe, i also look out for film-safe label but i've registered more than 60% that don't carry those labels on rough estimation e.g. internal flights in Myanmar or Nepal.

I read alot of about some people say hand carry (but what does that mean?) into the plane? (which is what?) I do but it's in my back pack that gets scanned anyway. I'll assume they meant as compared to luggage scanners that presumably usemore powerful scanners.

What would be the effect on the unused or used films? For those that have experienced it? Currently, i find the exposure of my slides (30+ rolls) fine so far, sometimes underexposed but not sure if that is partially due to film photography inexperience.

If protect, then how? I know there are lead bags but just wanted to know from those people who have experienced it in terms of it's effectiveness. If i do get it, it would be purely precautionary but i just don't want to come back from (hypotethical) the top of Mount Everest to find my film was screwed by x-rays or other elements.


Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
Don't use lead bags. You'll come under massive scrutiny if you do that, to the point that they may destroy your film (after all, why wrap it in lead unless you're hiding something?).

Just keep it in the nice regular plastic casings.

Just put your slide films in a transparent plastic bag, remove the canisters if possible. When you go through the security check, take the bag out from your bag/backpack, kindly request for manual inspection of the slide films, instead of letting them passing through the scan machine. Usually those people are accommodating if you ask politely. :)

Ok, thanks. I've heard about asking for manual inspection (but also hear people getting into arguments with that). I'll just try that next time, usually i don't tear it out of the box let alone the canisters, unless i want to use it but risk of exposing to elements should be less worry than x-ray machines. I just have this horrible vision of them pulling the exposed end of the films to find out what it is... there goes SGD10.


New Member
May 1, 2006
I think $10 is not what u'd be upset about, it's more the photos you took that'd really be painful to lose.

I tried to pocket my ISO 800 film while going through Singapore customs, but they asked me to empty my pockets anyway after the metal detector wouldn't stop beeping after several attempts (my cargo pants pockets had metal rings ! *lesson* - never wear clothing with lots of metal through customs). They saw the films and told me they had to go through X-Ray, it was a rule. Before I even opened my mouth to tell them about high ISO film, they said their X-ray is film-safe. Well, I obeyed them without any protest, and it turned out fine.

I wouldn't know about other countries' Xray machines, though.

P.S. Problem is usually with high ISO film, above ISO 400, so Velvia 100 is safe ...


Maybe you'll want to check this out.
X-Rays are always penetrating and thus will still damage the flim somewhat. Those so called "safe" are lower intensity rays that have no pronounced effect on daylight negatives. Repeated passes through check points at different airports will damage the film.

When you go through the security check, take the bag out from your bag/backpack, kindly request for manual inspection of the slide films, instead of letting them passing through the scan machine. Usually those people are accommodating if you ask politely. :)
in the USA, they allow for this.
Human rights is big over here

Shuttergraphy, try asking the people at customs. explain to them nicely. it should work.


New Member
May 24, 2007
Denmark, WA Australia
Better to take the film with you through the gate than packed in your check-in luggage. The xrays used on the luggage are a lot stronger.


Senior Member
May 19, 2003
Singapore, Central
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Always hand carry your film onto the plane in a transparent ziploc bag with all the film taken out of their packaging and canisters and request for a visual inspection. However, know that whether you will succeed or get asked to put the film through the X-ray scanner is a hit or miss affair and dont get too stressed by it. I have put ISO 400-800 film through the scanner with no problems sometimes with multiple passes (4-8 times) through the machine. However, I usually bring a digital camera backup nowadays when travelling so you can try that as well.

It is not the customs but the security check pre-boarding the plane that will X-ray your hand carry luggage.

Thanks people. I suppose I should try to hand carry my slides in clear bags (through the inspection gate) and hope that they don't stop me. If they do then, too bad. It's not at places like the USA (or other developed nations) that worries me, I get quite abit from the americans from being a single male from muslim country (they put me into a room for 'interogation' for up to an hour). Rather it's developing nation with older machines, also it's a nightmare trying to explain something to them with their limited grasp of English.

Just wanted to know some of the practices by you (more seasoned) film photographers in dealing with this, appreciate your advise on this.

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