First, my equipment: Canon EOS 60D, 18-135mm, 18-55mm, 55-250mm, 50mm f/1.4; Samsung EX-1 24-72mm f/1.8.

I bought a ticket to see Yanni, this is a once in a lifetime event (last show was 15 years ago) , I paid around 200 USD for the best seat (vip area closest to the stage, 2nd row I believe )

The venue says "professional equipment is not allowed" , but they did not say what is "professional". I asked many times, and got different answers: some say as long as you don't use flash and don't use a tripod its fine; Some say "domestic cameras" as long as they are small are allowed; some say normal cameras except DSLRs will be allowed....

Now, what would you recommend that I do?

Considering the stuff I have, I really want to be able to shoot with my 60D with 55-250mm lens. It would be a big let down if I am only allowed to use my EX1 with max tele end of 72mm.

Considering the rarity of such an event, I am also considering buying the 35x zoom compact of Canon, the SX30 IS. I should be able to buy a second hand one, then resell it after the event without loosing more than 30 USD.

I will be wearing a suit, and I am planning to bring my DSLR in a leather brief bag, with body and lenses separated and hidden under a black t-shirt, with my Samsung Compact camera on top of it.

If you have came across a similar situation, would you share your experience and give some recommendations please?

Note that photography is officially allowed — I have checked with performing party and venue managing party. The problem is the loose term of "professional equipment". DSLR are cheap nowadays, entry level models are sold at under 1k USD, it's light and it's perfect for hand-held. I don't see a hand-held DSLR being a problem in events where compact cameras are allowed — I am not using a huge 400mm barrel lens either, just a relatively small 55-250mm lens, which can be easily tucked in even a woman's handbag.

  • I would bring your 60D, with a single smaller prime attached, 85mm 1.8, 50 1.4, or similar. With a single prime attached, most people will think it is just a big point and shoot, not even an SLR.
    – dpollitt
    Oct 10, 2011 at 14:14

7 Answers 7


Call them and make sure what you can take a what not. If they can not provide anything useful, prepare yourself for different situation. Some concerts allow lenses upto 35mm, some allows upto 85mm. Some allows DSLRs and some allows only compact. So, ideal would be to take multiple gear choices so that you have the flexibility to choose a setup immediately. Don't take everything you have, it'll make you look like a professional and chances of getting denied will be 100%. Also you'll need to take someone to hand over the gears they did not allow.

Don't try to hide anything from the guards while entering otherwise you might end up loosing your chance to even enjoy the show.

Now some tips, try entering a little late, that time the security check is slightly loose as they are in a hurry and they might allow you with things they normally don't just to avoid trouble. Try to dress up and act like a spoiled kid whose rich daddy has bought him a DSLR.

Best of luck for the show.


For an event such as this you need to do your homework before taking camera equipment. Contact the event organizers and explain what you are planning to take and see if they have a problem with it. When they refer to pro equipment its probably going to refer to large lenses which are heavy can be dangerous because they contain a lot of glass and get in other peoples way but there is no way to be sure unless you ask. The last thing you want is to be refused entry to the venue because they don't approve of the camera you have. Don't try to hide things in your bag, it will almost certainly be searched and if they find something they don't like hidden in it this could also end with you being refused entry. So don't leave it to chance, if you call them they will most likely be able to tell you the rules they will be giving to doormen for what to allow in.

  • 6
    correct. And get it in writing! They might say on the phone that your prosumer DSLR with a midrange zoom lens is ok, but the guard at the door can still confiscate it and "lose" it unless you have a signed letter from the organisation that you're allowed to use it.
    – jwenting
    Oct 4, 2011 at 8:51
  • 1
    @jwenting: That's a good point always make sure that your covered by getting something in writing to take with you. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.
    – Paul Round
    Oct 4, 2011 at 10:09
  • @jwenting, always!
    – AJ Finch
    Oct 4, 2011 at 14:31

Bags are usually searched, at least from what I have seen at London venues. Compact cameras are often allowed, so maybe you can borrow/rent PENTAX Q, Olympus E-PM1 or other mirrorles camera and you should be fine.


Take the compact

I suspect that you know in your heart that anything else is just not going to end well :-(


Thanks everyone. At first I thought I will not get much information here, but you guys proved that I was totally wrong.

I received many good advice and some of the answers really showed great experience as a photographer in situations like this.

Thank you.

To end the story, I did my research, and called various people, in the end, I decided that there is a very good chance that the guards will let me in with a DSLR.

So I took the chance, and shot 20GB of photos/videos with my 60D :)

The guards were in fact letting people in with something like a Canon 400mm white barrel lens lol.

I prepared for the worst, I arrived one hour early to see if guards are strict, I observed them and see that they were merely pressing on the bag, and even allowing people with dedicated camera bag into the venue.

I enter 15 mins before the show starts as ShutterBug suggested, I observed the guards once again and found out water is not allowed. So I have in my bag a bottle of water. When I approach the guards, I said something like "oh water is not allowed? sorry, I will throw it right away" and put it in the bin. That made the guard happy and he pressed on bag few times and just let me in.

Once I got in, I saw this guy with his 400mm lens taking photos and nobody is stopping him so I knew at that point, I can shoot freely and shoot from my VIP seats. (with no flash, of course)

Oh and I respect the performer so much, that I wore a suit to attend the concert, so I couldn't "dress like a spoiled kid" :P

Thanks for all the advice. Peace


In the UK at the moment any DSLR is professional, and often any bridge camera with a long zoom. Any large lenses that will get in the way of other people there will count as professional, and any video recording equipment will too although obviously with P&S getting better HD video recording options this one is getting a little blurred. You will only be allowed in with something like a 50D with zoom lens if you apply for the guest list as press entry, and the usual rules for that iare the first few songs have photos taken from the designated area and that's it.

You may well be able to sneak in the camera somehow, but you will be easy to spot using it, and those around you may well complain. If you aren't told to put it in a locker before you go in, it is likely they will remove you or it during, and even delete the photos. And unlike the controversy people have had before with the police trying this in public, you have consented for the venue to do this on the ticket you bought.

Don't forget the people in charge of checking for 'professional' equipment are not photographers. They couldn't care less what make or model it is you have and what is entry level and what is prosumer etc. They've been trained to look out for things like dslr's, and if they see one, that's what they refuse.


I would strongly suggest not concealing the fact that you are bringing photography equipment with you. Keeping it in an appropriate carrying bag of some kind, sure, but don't try pulling tricks like hiding a lens under your clothes or something like that.

My approach would be to have two separate cameras: a high-quality compact as backup for the DSLR which you intend to use. If you can use the DSLR, great; if not, you at least have something that should still get you decent photos, particularly from one of the front rows.

Also, definitely ask the organizer for clarification of what constitutes "professional" equipment and get the answer in writing. Make sure to have that with you at all times, and that whatever equipment you bring does not qualify as "professional" under whatever terms they dictate.

  • +1 for "in writing". Assurances over the phone are worth the paper they're written on.
    – Reid
    Oct 7, 2011 at 17:33

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