In case life isn’t hard enough for photographers who shoot film, when traveling through an airport they have to worry about the X-ray scanners ruining their unprocessed film.
With this in mind, photographer Bryan Hong decided to experiment to see what would happen to a roll of unprocessed ISO 3200 film when it is X-rayed 19 times.
Were His Pictures Okay?
In the above video, Hong reveals that despite the film being scanned by X-ray machines in multiple airports and hotels — the pictures on the film, in the main, were perfectly fine.
“The results are lightly fogged with some artifacts that look like minor streaks or light leaks,” says Hong.
“In other words, the film was not totally ruined and I got mostly usable shots. It’s not what people would have you think.”
Hong says he wouldn’t have done this with any “mission critical” photos but he reckons that 19 X-rays on IS0 3200 film — a high ISO that makes the film more sensitive to light — is about as bad as it can get.
“This is like an extreme worst-case scenario type situation and so for most people, you got nothing to worry about taking your Portra 400 on your one round-trip flight to Seattle or wherever,” adds Hong.
“Don’t sweat it if your film gets X-rayed four or five times, just make sure you put it in your carry-on luggage and not your checked luggage.”
CT scanners are a newer type of X-ray machine that produces three-dimensional images of the items being X-rayed and the introduction of them prompted Kodak to put out a warning that they can destroy film of any ISO in a single pass
Hong has not yet encountered one of these newer machines but has been carrying around a roll of film with him that he wants to test in one — if he ever gets the opportunity.
The analog shooter has little time for scaremongering around this issue and says that no one can actually show him proof of what x-ray damage looks like.
Indeed, even when photographer Imran Nuri had his film go through one of the new CT scanners — he found minimal damage.
For more information on this topic, check out PetaPixel’s guide to flying with film.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.