Yes, disposable cameras can go through airport security in both carry-on and checked baggage. You must take the necessary precautions since X-ray scanners can pose a major threat to unprocessed films.
In this article, we’ll shed light on everything you need to know about carrying your disposable camera film through airport security.
Can You Protect Disposable Cameras When Passing Airport Security?
On all flights, checking and scanning everything in your luggage, from hand-carry to checked baggage, is a necessity. In other words, even the most sensitive belongings you have, including a disposable camera, need to pass through airport security.
This can be real trouble considering that X-ray scanners in security checkpoints can potentially damage undeveloped films.
Thankfully, there’s a way to protect your disposable camera when passing through airport security, and it’s through a hand-check. This means handing your film to the agent at the security gate, who’ll then do the manual inspection of your film.
There are also other things you can do to protect your film, which we’ll discuss shortly.
How to Pass Through Airport Security With Undeveloped Film?
By now, you’ve probably realized that carrying disposable camera films on your flight can potentially harm your precious unprocessed photos.
While throwing a fit in the airport won’t in any way exempt your disposable camera from being scanned, there are a few precautions you can take:
Request a Hand Search
Since you can’t board your flight without undergoing X-ray scanning, your best option is to request a hand search for your disposable camera.
Most airports have a hand search system where they use a special swab that reads the content of an object and transports the data into the computer. Make sure to take advantage of this whenever possible.
Politely approach the security agents. Tell them that you have a photographic film and you’d like to request a hand-check. This is allowed by the FAA (Federation Aviation Administration) regulations to make sure that the X-ray scanners won’t jeopardize undeveloped films.
A friend’s advice: Be confident and friendly when talking to them, as it’ll give them a good impression of you. Thus, they’ll likely grant your request.
Also, make sure to prepare and organize your films in a transparent plastic bag before you proceed to the security gate. This makes the inspection easy for you and for the officer who’ll do the checking.
If airport security allows this kind of inspection, then this solves your problem.
However, non-US or foreign airports may not honor your request.
Since arguing with the officers won’t bring you any good, you’ll have to embrace the risk of letting your film pass through X-ray scanners. Otherwise, you’ll have to sacrifice your flight, which I know you won’t want to do.
Place Your Film in a Carry-on Baggage
The absence of a hand-check system at some airports will have you settle for putting your undeveloped film in a carry-on bag.
Though professional photographers don’t suggest that you expose your film to any form of radiation, it’s the second-best option you have. That’s because the radiation used in scanning carry-on bags is of low level compared to the radiation used in checked baggage.
It should have a very shallow to unnoticeable effect on most of your films.
Be aware, though, that multiple airport travels will expose your disposable camera to several scanning. This will increase the chance of your unprocessed film being damaged. Hence, as much as possible, find another way to not expose your camera to x-ray scanners.
Develop Your Film Prior to Your Flight
If you’re not confident that the airport terminal will approve of hand-checking, you should consider developing your film before your flight. If you expose your film and process it, you’ll have developed negatives, which you can bring on the plane without getting ruined by X-rays.
This is a great thing to do if you want to make sure your disposable camera can go through airport security without much hassle.
Bring Lower ISO Film
Higher ISO film is more sensitive to X-rays. If you have a disposable camera with an ISO lower than 800, perhaps 400 ISO, you can bring this instead.
Airport terminals claim that their X-rays don’t necessarily affect films having lower ISO.
This way, you can still take pictures of the fascinating things that attract your eyes without worrying about damaging your camera film.
Does a Security Scanner Damage SD Card Memory?
Now that you know the safe ways to pass through airport security, you might ask if a security scanner can also damage your SD card memory.
The answer to this is no. Although it has been the problem of most photographers in the past, multiple organizations confirm that it doesn’t affect or damage security cards nowadays.
There are some, though, who’ll still take precautionary measures, such as slipping the SD cards in their pocket and undergoing a personnel scanner. While this is okay, it doesn’t make any necessary difference.
You can do this, though, if it’ll make you feel better!
What Are the Best Disposable Cameras and Their Price?
A disposable camera is a simple rectangular camera. It’s easy to use and is popular for those who love photography but aren’t really experts.
Below are some of the best disposable cameras on the market with their respective price to help you pick the right one for you.
- Ilford Rapid Retro Single-Use Camera
- Kodak Tri-X 400 Single-Use Camera
- Kodak SUC Daylight
- Kodak Funsaver 35 Mm Single-Use Camera
- Ilford XP2 Super Single-Use Camera
- Fujifilm Quicksnap Flash 400
- AgfaPhoto LeBox 400 Flash
- Lomo B&W 400 Simple Use camera
- Ilford B&W Single HP5 Use
- Ilford B&W XP2 Super Single-Use Camera
Disposable cameras play an important role in the lives of many photography enthusiasts out there. So, it makes sense for them to take these cameras everywhere they go, and the airport is no exception.
Although X-ray scanners can potentially damage a camera’s unprocessed films, some don’t really mind taking the risk. If you’re someone who wants to test your disposable camera’s luck, you may do so, but it’ll be better if you consider the precautionary measures above.
One method or the other can help you pass through airport security with a working film!