We get asked all the time about how to handle traveling with film.  Is it ok to put it in my bag?  Do I need to hand check it?  What ISO’s do I need to worry about?  They would not hand check my film, am I screwed?

As a team who travels A LOT and almost always with at least 50 rolls of film ranging from 100-3200 ISO AND instant film, let us share with you our experience.


Checked Bags vs. Carry-on Luggage – We would never put my film in the luggage that gets checked (the luggage where all clothes, toiletries, shoes, etc. are). The X-Ray machine they use for that will almost always leave weird streaks throughout your film.  We’ve heard of a couple isolated incidents of people who did send film through but we can not recommend enough to NEVER put film in your checked bags.  Carry-on luggage is a completely different story.  We put film of all ISO’s (all the way up to 3200) through the TSA Security Checkpoint x-rays multiple times.  Anything under 800 ISO does not need to be hand checked if you are traveling domestically within the United States.  We cannot vouch for other countries but as long as you walk by the machine and it does not hum like a microwave you should be fine :).  Some folks may argue this statement, but we’ve traveled on hundreds of flights with film all over the world and we’ve never had a problem with fogged film in any of our scans.  If it does exist, it is so minute you’d have to get a loupe out on a light table to see it.

Instant Film –  This cannot be put through any x-ray machine.  It must be hand checked.  And for those traveling with the Fuji pack film, we highly suggest taking it out of the box and out of the silver wrapping as if you don’t, TSA might do it themselves which could cause you to miss your flight depending on how long they take.  Instax, Polaroid, Fuji pack film, anything instant will be fogged by the x-ray machines.  You should expect your blacks to be very muddied in x-rayed film.

High ISO Film – It is suggested that you hand check film OVER 800 ISO.  Meaning that 800 ISO film (particularly Portra 800) can go through the x-ray at TSA.  3200 speed film should be hand checked by TSA.  Again, just like the instant film, have it out of the box and wrapper.  If it is in the box, they regularly open each box and swab each roll which can be a nightmare depending on how much of that film you brought with you.  Have it all ready in a ziplock bag by itself completely separate from my other film so you can easily hand it to TSA.

Flying Internationally – If you are flying internationally with film, allot yourself a bit more time at the airport for security to hand check and use your best judgement. Every country will be different. Every situation will be different.

Pushed Film – We recommend having it hand checked AFTER it is exposed.  Prior to exposing it is fine.  When in doubt, ask for a hand check.  We highly recommend carrying a sharpie in your camera bags and write in big, bold, black letters the ISO that you shot it at.  That way TSA sees it says 1600/3200/6400.


TheFINDlab offers three tiers of scanning services: Basic, Basic+ and Premium. Each service is designed to assist film shooters in specific ways in terms of workflow and creating deliverable images to your clients.

Julie Paisley | Fuji400 H | Contax 645

Jeremy Chou | Fuji400 H | Mamiya 645af

LeAnne Carpenter | Fuji400 H | Pentax645n

Basic Scans provide the benefit of shooting film at a more affordable rate. This option includes developing, scanning, minor color and density correction in scanner and labeling of folders for corresponding film stocks. Basic Scans are delivered with the expectation that some editing will be required on our client’s end to reach their desired aesthetic. On occasion, Basic Scans are sent out and little to no editing is needed. This is wholly dependent on the condition of the film shot (expiration date), proper exposure, and functionality of your gear. This is a great choice for film shooters wanting to take advantage of considerable savings on film processing and who are willing to put in some work on the back end.

Basic+ Scans were created to provide a middle ground between our Basic and Premium scanning services. Clients loved the feedback that came with Premium Scans, but wanted a more affordable option that didn’t include custom edits. Feedback on scans is one of the most beneficial forms of film education theFINDlab offers. Our scanners are photographers themselves and have been trained to provide purposeful feedback in terms of film choice, lighting, exposure and gear. They focus solely on the technical aspects of the images made. As our scanners offer this feedback, the hope is that the client becomes more knowledgeable, successful and confident in all shooting situations. The result of our scanners and clients working together is less post-production work for the client, an increase in their overall productivity and more importantly, on their bottom line. Basic+ Scans are easily the most popular service offered by theFINDlab.

Premium Scans are ideal for the photographer who is shooting a high volume of film on a regular basis and who doesn’t want or have the time to spend editing their own images. This service includes each aspect of Basic and Basic+ Scans in addition to custom color editing.  Premium Scans are the perfect fit for the film shooter who wants to create images and then sit back and have their lab do the rest.


theFINDlab is headed to Vegas for WPPI. The response for the free 20 minute scan sessions has been fantastic and spots are filling up fast, so snag one here while you can. We’ll also have a couple walk-in appointments penciled in for each day. Hope to see your faces there!Also, here’s the schedule and topics for the photographers speaking each day at the booth:

12:00 Jonathan Canlas “How to Stay Fresh…Shooting for Yourself”
2:00 Noelle Reynolds (theFINDlab) “You’re Only as Good as Your Relationship with Your Lab”
3:30 Rachel Solomon “Digital & Film…the New Frenemies”

11:30 Jonathan Canlas “Shooting Families on Film”
1:30 Heather Moore (theFINDlab) “How to Find the Right Light”
12:30 Jeff Brummett “How to Make Stylized Shoots Work for You”

11:00 Jonathan Canlas “Four Film Stocks I Can’t Live Without”
12:30 Cody Hunter “Booking Your Dream Clients Through Your Love of Film”

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Historically, theFINDlab has been strictly a Frontier SP3000 scanning lab. We now offer a new scanner, with a new look, called the Noritsu HS-1800. Below are some side-by-side comparisons:

frontier v noritsu website

The difference between the Noritsu and Frontier is subtle, but important. The Noritsu is best known for its ability to create scans that are light and airy. It produces images with unparalleled highlight retention and muted black point. It is the ideal match for clients who want peach or pink skin tones. The Frontier on the other hand, has a very rich black point. Scans from a Frontier have punchier color and are the perfect choice for clients who prefer golden skins tones. Because of the vivid colors, the Frontier is a lab favorite!

Images that each scanner produces have their strengths. It all comes down to personal preference and lab communication to find the fit that is right for you.


Here are a handful of examples of E-6 (positive film or chromes) cross-processed in C-41.  These images were shot on Kodak E100VS rated at 50ISO.  As you can see, most of them are shot with axis lighting, meaning the sun is directly to the photographers back shining straight on the subject.  If you shoot in other lighting situations expect there to be some color shifts especially in the shadows.  Cross processed images will only achieve this look when shot in very sunny situations that are directly lit.  If you shoot in the shadows it would go very green.

As a rule of thumb, the exposure for directly lit subjects at 50ISO is F5.6 @ 1/500th.  Again, this is a starting point so if you wanted to shoot other F-stops or shutter speeds that is where you can start as a guide.  Also as a side note, Kodak E-6 will produce this warmer look (red/yellow) where Fuji E-6 is very blue and green.  Most E-6 films have been discontinued but are readily available on Ebay as either fresh, recently expired or super expired (5 years or more).  Depending on the age and stock of the film, the color rendition can be very different.  But it is cross-processed so there might be some leeway in achieving your “perfect” color.