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Keeping Film Rolls Safe From X-Ray

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

A blog post by Darkroom8 Team

"Waves" on negatives due to X-ray damage. Negatives courtesy of our customer - Haniff (@namasayahaniff)

Film rolls can tolerate X-ray exposure to a certain extent. However, excessive amounts of radiation may fog the film. In general, higher speed film stocks are more sensitive to X-ray damage (eg: ISO400 is safer than ISO1600). Here are some simple dos and don’ts for you to remember and keep your film rolls safe especially during air travel.

If you’re an avid traveler, this is a very important tip for you. The most common occasion when film rolls will be exposed to X-ray is when going through airport security checkpoints. The X-ray equipment used to inspect carry-on luggage have very low radiation and usually will not cause damage to most films. For example back in 2017 when we travelled to New Zealand, we noticed that the security checkpoints there had a notice saying that the scanners will not damage film rolls which was a thoughtful gesture. On the other hand, checked baggage will go through security scanners with higher X-ray energy hence ruining the film rolls. Therefore, always remember to hand carry your film rolls in a clear plastic packaging and request for a hand inspection instead of going through the security scanner. Do also keep in mind that not all airports will grant this request but the majority of them will so when in doubt, just ask them politely.

When buying film rolls from a shop or individual seller, you may ask how the film rolls were shipped and stored. It is also worth mentioning that usually commercial carriers such as DHL or FedEx will not have their own aircraft for domestic routes but they might employ passenger airlines for international deliveries. If you’re looking to ship a small amount of film rolls, you may label your parcel with “DO NOT X-RAY. FILM ROLLS INSIDE” just to be safe.


With that being said, based on our past experience from international orders it has been all safe and well so worry not when you’re looking to deliver it to us via locally or from overseas. In conclusion, it is very rare to have film rolls damaged by X-ray (we only see this happen once every 2 years, usually when stored in check-in luggage) compared to other factors such as improper storage which is why we have also recently written a blog post about how to store your film rolls (click here to read it).

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