I am planning to travel with a few rolls of 35 mm film (unused on the way there and exposed but undeveloped on the way home), however, I have heard about how airport security scanners can completely destroy the film. Just wondering if this is true and what effect carry on luggage scanners will have on 200 to 400 ISO film?
From the horse's mouth:
- The checked baggage goes through some rather powerful scanner that can damage unprocessed film. Of course you can put them in protective bags, but these bags could look suspicious to inspection personnel.
- The carry-on baggage is scanned with much lighter devices that shouldn't damage film, but you should avoid running through too many scanners in your trip...
The most reliable way to avoid problems is to buy film locally at your destination or have it shipped to your hotel (or wherever you're staying), then have it processed before you fly home. You can take along basic equipment (changing bag, daylight processing tank, negative sleeves/pages) in check bags, though I'd only take dry packaged chemicals, and then only if you know in advance that such are not available where you're going.
Once processed, the negatives can go back into your check bags, as they're then impervious to x-ray exposure.
Note that this can also work with color film; C-41 kits aren't all that difficult to come by in most places, and even E-6 chemistry is sold internationally in "press kits" and similar, sized for a small number of rolls. All are also available as dry chemical packs if you must bring the chemicals in check bags -- but doing so is very likely to result in bags being opened for inspection and chemical bags being at least punctured for testing, as a bag of dry fixer or developer looks exactly like a bag of cocaine on a bag scanner...