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IsisMnroe Jul 5th, 2003 10:14 AM

Camera film and lead bags
Re: Camera film and lead bags
Hi, I'm don't use a digital camera yet.
Will have one camera and about 30 films (#400 or #200). The last time from a trip, my film was ruined.
l. Any recommendations what type and where to buy lead bags.
2. How to you carry the camera and film when traveling? Do you carry it on the plane? What happens at airport security when you tell them you have film in lead bags?
Thank you!

ira Jul 5th, 2003 10:54 AM

Do a text search for "film and lead and bags".

There are a number of previous postings.

Travelnut Jul 5th, 2003 11:00 AM

I use a lead bag, but usually take no more than 15 rolls. I always carry film and camera on board. Lately, as my bag passed thru the x-ray, the guard asks "do you have a lead bag?", and accepts my "yes" with no further exam. Last year, the guard did open to check it.
I've bought mine at local camera store, ie. Ritz Camera... call around, you should find a medium size for $20, to give you an idea. I'm talking about 'FilmShield' lead laminated pouch, not a fancier bag. You might be able to buy a larger one, or get two, to hold 30 rolls.
I've never had film ruined since using these bags. Many folks say you don't need them, but I don't want to chance it.
Also, I only use 400 speed - it is a good all-purpose film. I seem to find more overcast days in Europe than sunny, since we travel March/April, or Sept/Oct. Throw in one of those disposables as well, for others to take pictures of YOU.

Jim_Tardio Jul 5th, 2003 11:07 AM

Always hand carry your film with you on the plane...NEVER pack it in your checked bag.

I remove my film from the boxes & the plastic containers, and place it all in ziploc bags (I pack the plastic containers in my checked bag for later use).

I request a hand check, and having it visible in the ziploc bag makes it faster & easier.

If I'm refused a hand check, I make sure they see me placing my film in my lead bags (I use two).

With 400 or even 800 speed film, a few xray passes are usually OK. But many buildings & museums are now also starting to xray bags...and the effect is cummulative. So ask for a hand check. Don't carry all of your film with you for a days outing...leave your exposed film at your hotel.

Visit for a selection of lead bags.

Gretchen Jul 5th, 2003 11:38 AM

Out of curiosity how was your film ruined--was it all black? The lead bag advice is good for carryon--not for checked baggage. They may just turn up the scanner until they CAN see what is in it.

sandi Jul 5th, 2003 12:11 PM

I've used a lead shield bag for years. It would probably be considered medium size, it cost about $15.

I generally only use 200 film, occasionally a few 400s and my film and camaras always come with me on the plane. I have never put my cameras into the lead shield bag and the hand carried luggage as gone thru as many as 15 security checks on one trip. No problem with any of the film, even those rolls in the camera.

At one security check (in many years of travel) was I asked if I had a lead shield bag to which I replied "yes", but it was never checked. At another security check they asked to see it, and opened it.

Whether the lead shield bag is necessary or not, I don't know, as my travel partners have never used them, and they've never had any problem with their film.

You'll have to make your own decision, but the important thing is to carry the film and camera with you onto the plane.

Jim_Tardio Jul 5th, 2003 01:12 PM

It really does seem to be hit or miss. I've had film with slight xray fogging after only one pass, and film without a problem after many passes.

The machine really has to be well maintained and calibrated to avoid damage.

Lead bags do work, so it's cheap insurance.

Also, to those of you who use 200 speed film, there's really no advantage to using it. Todays 400 speed films are approaching the quality of even fine grained slide film.

Try some Kodak Portra 400UC...great stuff.

ed Jul 5th, 2003 01:37 PM

I bought my lead bag from TravelSmith but on the last overseas trip I had my film in my carry on and asked for a hand inspection. No problem. I just left the film in opaque Kodak containers.

dedlaw Jul 5th, 2003 01:41 PM

I just used a lead bag for the first time -- I carried about 25 rolls of film in it and had room for more. It has a nice nylon outside and velcro closure -- some of the cheaper ones look like they won't hold up under repeated uses. It cost about $40 - $45. In U.S., Italy, Germany and U.K. it generated no questions at all -- just sailed through the machine. Also, I try if at all possible to go through screening areas with no film in the camera, just in the bag.

capo Jul 5th, 2003 01:46 PM

Jim, interesting about it being hit or miss. That time you said you had film with slight xray fogging after only one pass...that was from carry-on screening? Guess I've been lucky so far, as I've never had any problem yet.

Jim_Tardio Jul 5th, 2003 02:31 PM

Capo...yes. It was on a flight from LA to Las Vegas. One pass through the carry-on machine. I hadn't planned on taking a camera with me, but at the last minute grabbed a small rangefinder which had a partial roll inside. I just sent the whole inside...through the machine.

I also had fogging from a machine used while boarding a cruise ship.

Since then I always use the lead bags. Especially in cities like Paris and Frankfurt where there is no chance of a hand inspection.

capo Jul 5th, 2003 02:50 PM

Thanks, Jim. I wonder if that was due to the machine or that particular roll of film in the camera.

Before heading to Italy last spring I wanted to make sure -- or as sure as possible -- that my slide & print film (photo dinosaur that I am) wouldn't be ruined by carry-on x-rays, so I talked to people at three Seattle-area professional photo shops. Interestingly, everyone I spoke with said that I did not need a lead-lined bag if I was (1) using lower-speed film (I was using 200 for prints and 100 for slides) and (2) was only going to pass through carry-on x-rays about 5-6 times, but that they'd be happy to sell me one if it made me feel more comfortable. It did, so I bought one and, fortunately, all my prints and slides came out fine.

LarryJ Jul 6th, 2003 12:48 PM

I use only 800 speed Advanced Photo System film. In May all my film went through the carry-on scanners at Pittsburgh, Paris and Munich with no damage to any of it.

Larry J

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