How to Travel With Traditional Film Cameras

As the digital world of photography has gained momentum, there are still many photographers out there who love to shoot film. Many appreciate the art that goes behind not just taking the picture, but of developing. The entire process is an art in itself.

Traveling with film cameras can be a little tricky though. It is easy to ruin the film, especially after it has been exposed. Too much radiation or too much heat can destroy the photographs you have captured completely. X-rays are the number one contenders for radiation; this includes X-rays used at the airport during a security check. Here are some tips on how to travel safely with a traditional film camera.


What Exactly do X-rays Do?

When going through a security checkpoint at the airport, it is essential to know how X-rays can affect your film. It all depends on the speed of your film and the amount of radiation used. Films with high ISO ratings (ISO 400) are faster-type films, and more sensitive to the X-rays that are being used at the airport security check. If you are traveling with film that has been exposed but not processed, they are more in danger of being ruined by the X-ray. Films that have no problem with X-rays are slow and medium-speed films (ISO 200).


How to Safely Travel With Film Camera

Travelers should understand the basics of film, namely: keep away from direct sunlight, keep dry, and don't get X-rayed if they are a high-speed type of film.

I like to use a Pelican Case. Pelican cases are waterproof and extremely durable, more durable than those squishy stock cases that come stock with your camera. Hard-shell cases keep all your film and camera equipment secure and safe when a backpack or suitcase needs to be thrown around and abused. You need a strong iPhone case for the same reason. Whether you are traveling by plane, car, or train, your camera equipment is not something you will have to be worried about with this case.

When traveling by plane, put all your film and film equipment in a Ziplock bag and somewhere you can quickly reach for. If your film is in a shielded container, the radiation volume of the X-ray machine will just be increased to see what is inside, completely ruining your film. Make sure not to put film inside of the camera when traveling by plane. In some cases, your camera will be hand checked, and they will in some cases be opened as well, ultimately exposing your film. If you’re flying internationally, don’t forget your passport, or your passport cover. You can also save time by signing up for TSA pre-check (a must-have for every gypsie soul).


Following some of these simple steps will ensure for your film pictures to stay protected. This is especially important when traveling by plane because airport security X-rays can be harmful to your film, completely ruining all your work.