I'm going to be going from Halifax To Edmonton and taking my film SLR and my laptop. Is there anything that can happen to my camera/lenses/flash by going through an x-ray? I know before they asked me if I had a laptop but at the time I didn't have it, is it something that they hand inspect? Would anything happen to it if it did go through an x-ray? Also, for film should I ask that it not go through an x-ray?
Welcome to Edmonton!
Traveling with film is a real hassle now. While X-rays have no effect on laptops, cameras and so on, it is a bit chancy with film. The higher the sensitivity of the film, the more the risk. Furthermore, the dose is cumulative. If you buy the film there, shoot it here and process it there, it has gone through the machines at least twice. It may not show any effects if the machine is properly calibrated and the exposure is short.
You can ask for it to be hand inspected, but you are at the mercy of the inspectors and they have ultimate power. They know that if you get demanding, they can make you miss your flight and get to know airport security up close and personal. I read an anguished post from a travel photographer who had just completed a major feature on Germany and was flying back with his precious rolls. As he was leaving Hamburg, he asked for hand inspection, and the laughing goons passed his film repeatedly through the machine. Total loss. They knew it was pretty much impossible for him to sue and they had absolute power over him. Pure mean.
The best strategy is to buy film upon arriving. McBain's and Don's Camera carry pro film and keep it refrigerated. London Drugs - with stores all over the city - have a big turnover of consumer film, so supplies are always fresh. If you are shooting colour negatives, London Drugs and many other places have in-house labs, so you can get it processed as you shoot. Once processed, X-Rays are of no consequence.
Again, no worries about the cameras - even digital cameras are not bothered. The main risk is inept or mean inspectors and film.
One thing I have done in the past is to FEDEX the film home! and also if you call ahead to the Hotel you are staying at, FEDEX the film in your name to the hotel.
I will probably do that on my trip to Singapore next year