When In Doubt, Smuggle Your DSLR In

Cameras PermittedMaybe – Pogue’s Posts – Technology – New York Times Blog

Tech writer David Pogue is out with a post in the New York Times about a recent run in he had with a freestyle motocross show at a local arena.

“Anyway, I brought my new Nikon D80 and my trusty image-stabilized, 18-200 millimeter (11X zoom) lens. This event absolutely screamed out for this camera: three frames per second, 11X zoom, image-stabilized. I was looking forward to getting some truly rockin’ shots, like the ones I’d taken at a monster-truck rally we saw last year in the same arena.

Amazingly, the guard stopped me at the door. “You can’t take that in there,” he said. “Detachable lens.”

Say what?

“You can bring pocket cameras, but no detachable lenses.”

He was adamant. I had to run the camera all the way back to the car.

When I returned, he had summoned his boss, who apologetically explained the policy.

Apparently, the motocross tour had been running into trouble with people shooting these events with professional equipment—and then showing up at the next venue and selling prints. So why are pocket cams permitted? He pointed out, quite correctly, that those little 3X-zoom point-and-shoots are incapable of getting decent photos at an event like this.”

Which is the case at most big act concerts, shows, arenas, etc.

Pogue does point out that there still were plenty of DSLR’s in the show shooting, but just that the people shooting were smart enough to keep their cameras out of sight when they entered the arena.

I’ve been to lots of concerts, circuses, performances etc. where DSLRs are not allowed while camera phones or point and shoots are. The secret is to just hide your DSLR well when you enter the venue and to try and not be too obvious while you are shooting from the crowd.

Thanks Mikel!

Be Sociable, Share!
Loading Facebook Comments ...


  1. Norby says:

    BTDT. Took both Canons to a TMBG concert when they stopped by in Santa Fe. After it was clear that the venue didn’t have any problems with photography, I relaxed a bit. It wasn’t until I got closer to the stage that one of the crew came through the crowd and asked me the same question as above.

    So I’ll second the recommendation for keeping ’em in your pocket/bag until you see something you really want to shoot (on the off chance they’re actively scanning the crowd during the show). In this case, somebody near me was shooting with a 17-85/IS, which made me cry. There are few slower lenses you could have chosen for a night-time concert…


  2. antman says:

    So, maybe I’m not understanding the issues fully, but wouldn’t it just be easier (and make more sense) to just disallow unauthorized sales at the event rather than trying to stop everyone from bringing in decent cameras? That’s just lame… people like to take good photos for the sport of it just as much as others who want to make money off it.

  3. JeffH says:

    What’s really lame about the no DSLR/Yes Point and Shoot is that some point and shoots, or fixed lens pro-sumer cameras can actually take fairly decent pictures if you know what you are doing. With high ISO noise being better controlled these days and long zooms with IS the norm on many cameras such as the Canon G9, fairly good photos can be had in low light conditions. I wonder how long it will take these miss guided show promoters to figure that out. I’m in agreement with antman about chasing after the people selling unauthorized photos instead of hassling people with removable lens cameras who just want to take some cool photos of the event.

  4. C.J. says:

    same thing happened in central park’s summer stage. bottom line, i had a pretty gurl (wife) smuggle in the lens, when i took the body.

    read it here

  5. Andy Frazer says:

    Way back in my earlier days (1982, actually…), I disassembled my Pentax K1000 body, lens and tele-extender and smuggled it into a Sammy Hagar concert at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. We worked our way up to a spot, standing on the floor, about twenty feet from the stage.

    I thought I was pretty clever. Then as soon as the lights went out, I pulled out my camera, and so did just about everyone else who was standing on the floor. There were cameras everywhere.


  6. Victoria and Albert museum, London, today: camera OK, tripod not. Very polite but firm. To do with “copyright” I was told, and disallowing “professional pictures” (I’m not a professional). People tripping over the tripod I could understand but that wasn’t mentioned. Anyway, I wasn’t too put out to be honest – they are very good in that, bar the tripod rule, there is nothing to stop you taking as many pics as you want. Time, though, for that Nikon D3 methinks – I’m reading good things about lack of noise at high ISOs, thereby obviating the need for a tripod.

  7. stockwerk23 says:

    Had a similar experience on a indoor festival in munich. Bag controlling guards found my D80 and the 17-50/2,8 (i know, there are faster lenses, but at the time it was the only lens i owned) at the entry and wouldn’t have let me in, luckily there was a friend working on that festival and with a bit obscuring i finally get in with equipment. But during the Catpower show, i was in the first line with all the pro’s, a huge guard came from behind and “made me stop” 🙂

    Wonder how he figured it out that i didn’t belong to the pro’s… maybe i have to work on my bodylanguage *gg*

    But it was worth all the hassle…
    and if it’s just for the experience.

    This is Chan: