Olympic organisers have drastically tightened rules on what camera equipment can be taken into venues as spectators pour in with what is considered professional gear.

UPDATE FRIDAY 3pm: The London 2012 website continues to
state the original ’30cm’ rule. AP is seeking a response from Locog on
the reason for this, given its spokesman’s comments yesterday, plus any
further clarification it can provide for people visiting the Olympics. Locog is about to release a statement to AP clarifying its position.

READ THIS FIRST: NEWS ALERT Friday 4.45pm

[Original article from Thursday continues here]

Until now Olympic rules have limited the length of camera gear to 30cm at all venues apart from Wembley where all interchangeable-lens cameras are effectively banned.

However, a spokesman for Olympic organiser Locog this afternoon revealed a radical tightening of restrictions at venues nationwide.

He told Amateur Photographer (AP): ‘One [interchangeable-lens] camera with a 35mm [focal length] lens [is acceptable] but anything more is considered professional equipment and too large for spectator seating.’

The Locog spokesman confirmed that these rules apply to the general public, as opposed to accredited professional photographers, at the Games. ‘That’s the rule being deployed now,’ he added.

He said the new rules, which effectively outlaw zoom lenses on all changeable-lens cameras (consumer or professional-level), were drawn up after a consensus was reached between Olympic venues.

The news comes after an amateur photographer was warned that more than one lens would not be allowed at the men’s gymnastics in the North Greenwich Arena last Saturday.

The move suggests Olympic organisers may have significantly underestimated the growing use of changeable-lens compact system cameras, in a market not limited to people who pursue photography as a serious hobby.

Samsung and Panasonic, key sponsors of London 2012, both make compact system cameras – a new breed of camera that first broke onto the market in 2008, smaller than traditional DSLRs owing to their lack of a mirror box.

Locog has previously expressed concerns that camera gear interferes with spectators’ view and that people may record shots of sports action for commercial purposes, or upload their images to YouTube.

When AP pressed Locog for clarification on its rules earlier this week, a spokesman said it would limit ‘professional equipment… since unaccredited photographers are not permitted to distribute their images’.

But he added: ‘At the end of the day, if security disallow a spectator into a venue, the final say is with them.’

Locog has not made clear whether the 35mm focal length limit applies to the actual length stated on the lens, or relates to the focal length equivalent on a 35mm film camera.

Wembley will continue to employ its own Locog-approved rules on spectators’ camera equipment.

  • paul

    I managed to get my sony nex5 in to a match and saw dslrs too

  • Alan Martin

    I’ve come across similar issues at both the 2006 World Cup in Germany and at the French Open tennis in Paris. The rules are very inconsistently applied – I’ve been pulled up for having the Canon 70-200f4 zoon on my camera body once or twice but on most occasions there’s not been a problem. The difficulty then comes in what you do with a lens that they won’t let you in with. I’ve had to put unprotected lenses into the care of the event organisers twice now and while everything has ended up OK it’s difficult to hand over a £750 lens into someone elses’s ‘safekeeping’.
    What on earth do event organisers think someone is going to do from the sidelines with such a limited lens? It’s not like you’re going to be any competition for the likes of Getty photographers with their big white lenses is it?

  • Becky

    I went to the Olympic park yesterday, and the 35mm rule didn’t seem to be in place at all. I didn’t bring my SLR for the reason of the lens – a pointless idea as it tonnes out, I was surround be SLRs, with varying length of lenses. So, if you’re headed there, take the SLR, just make sure the lens is less than 30cm.

  • Allen Dawson

    The security anti-camera gear fascists are almost everywhere now – sporting events, museums, the circus.

  • dave hughes

    fucking diabolic rule

  • arno

    I had a similar problem at the Yas Island Abu Dhabi Formula one last year, where I was almost refused entry because of my 70-200mm lens. I was asked to present my “Media or Press” badge. I got in though but noticed other guys “not press” snapping away from the stands with their 600mm lenses.

  • ian campbell

    Not so much LOCOG as LOCO.

  • Marcel

    It is all about the money

  • Noel Ferguson

    Corporate control… bah humbug!

  • panos p

    you idiot organigers and more idiot editors of photo magazines do something for this violation of freedom

  • D Dagg

    Totally confused now. Can I take a DSLR + 16-85 lens to Weymouth & take pictures of the sailing?

  • Brendan Chadwick

    Maybe someone should have a word with Samsung and Panasonic about the event that THEY are sponsoring are banning people from using their equiptment. They could use the argument that Visa, another major sponsor, had all the electron cash machines taken out of use so that ONLY Visa cash machines could be used, stopping many people from getting cash whilst in the venues.

  • Will S

    It sounds to me like a complete ban on interchangable cameras, bar an slr with an ultrawide or a Nikon 1 with standard zoom. I just wish they’d say it thats all. Been to two Olympic events with an ultra-wide, standard and 70-200 (which is under 30cm) lenses and I had no problem with security or annoying other spectators. Despite lumping this gear around the london transportation system I would call my results mixed, based on the abilities of myself and my camera for sports photography and where I was seated in the stands (because you’re always gonna catch someones head in the frame). I would not call myself a threat to the pros near the heart of the action; just want something to show this is where I was, this what I saw, this is what I shot.

    In what way do they mean ’35mm’. 35mm type (i.e. generally speaking an SLR or other interchangeable camera), 35mm as described on the lens, or its ’35mm equivalence’. If its any of these points it more or less counts out everyone, with a standard zoom, and yes even panasonic and samsung standard kit zooms; not good for the sponsors.

    Either they are implying only wideangle to standard perspective lenses are allowed, or they really need to bone up on some camera technology to clarify what they mean.

  • Will S

    It sounds to me like a complete ban on interchangable cameras, bar an slr with an ultrawide or a Nikon 1 with standard zoom. I just wish they’d say it thats all. Been to two Olympic events with an ultra-wide, standard and 70-200 (which is under 30cm) lenses and I had no problem with security or annoying other spectators. Despite lumping this gear around the london transportation system I would call my results mixed, based on the abilities of myself and my camera for sports photography and where I was seated in the stands (because you’re always gonna catch someones head in the frame). I would not call myself a threat to the pros near the heart of the action; just want something to show this is where I was, this what I saw, this is what I shot.

    In what way do they mean ’35mm’. 35mm type (i.e. generally speaking an SLR or other interchangeable camera), 35mm as described on the lens, or its ’35mm equivalence’. If its any of these points it more or less counts out everyone, with a standard zoom, and yes even panasonic and samsung standard kit zooms; not good for the sponsors.

    Either they are implying only wideangle to standard perspective lenses are allowed, or they really need to bone up on some camera technology to clarify what they mean.

  • Wil C. Fry

    It’s almost as if Olympic organizers made a list: “Ways to further disillusion our fans” and are following it carefully.

  • Nigel Cox

    A 35mm limit is a joke! if your sitting in the upper levels of the main stadium the competitors will be like ants and to say a telephoto lens would interfere with other spectators view is daft as according to the LOCOG website security page, you can have a flag of upto 2 metres x 1 metre, now thats not going to interfere with your view is it !!!

  • Christian BS

    Well, after reading this, I decided to phone LOCOG and ask..

    The (rather unpleasant) woman who I first spoke to told me that no “SRL cameras” (DSLRs) were allowed at all; only point & shoots and camera phones. I said that I knew people who had taken equipment in under the “anything under 30cm rule”, and wondered why there had been a change at which point she refused to talk to me any further and put me on hold to speak to another representative.

    This representative (Steve, his name, might have been) was very helpful. He checked the system for me, and found no evidence of any changes to spectator photography rules, and even checked with somebody else there. He offered to escalate my query so that I could receive a clearer more definite answer to a “top representative”, and I opted to do so. So now, it’s just a question of waiting until I receive a phone-call back from LOCOG.

  • Luke Robinson

    With the greatest of respect, as mentioned in the forums there has been no official mention of this on the 2012 website, no change to the stated rules as of yet. Nor does a casual perusal of other forums or searching on Twitter reveal any evidence of anyone having been turned away in the last couple of days. Can you guys please dig a little deeper (or alternately let it fade away quietly please)? FYI I got a 7D + 70-200mm F2.8 into the Olympic Park on Monday with no problems.

  • Duncan Cunningham

    this is shocking even if your sitting at the back of the stands then even Nikon’s d3200 with it high mp wouldn’t be cropped to a half decent shot so all there saying is there’s no point in trying to take any images even for personal use you would be better off with a compact or bridge camera as a student photographer I am fed up with all these restrictions on what I am allowed to photograph.
    It is hard enough to break into the photography industry without these restrictions.
    How are potential photographers supposed to create a portfolio when they’re not allowed to take images in the first place.

  • fiona

    Check Dan Chung / no doubt accredited / access but on Iphone with canon binocular attachment. What is a ‘professional’ camera these days?…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/27/london-olympics-2012-smartphone?newsfeed=true

  • Mark Coates

    So what will happen to the thousands o9f people who turn up today with modest 18-55 kit zooms who has spent £100s on ticket read every piece of official adive going and are turned away when the rules are changed over-night ?

  • Mark Coates

    I have been looking forward to this for over a year and they chsnge the rules less than 48 hours before I set off. I am furious. What incnsistent capricious unprofessional behaviour. A 35mm limit on an SLR is ludicrous. Whoever put out this simly does not understand photography. Thanks you have just ruined the olympics for me and thousands of other angry spectators. What will happen now when the HUGE number of camera owners who will turn up without hearing this change with a modest 17-85mm lens and be forced to not enter the olympics or bin their cameras ?

  • Mark Coates

    I have been looking forward to this for over a year and they chsnge the rules less than 48 hours before I set off. I am furious. What incnsistent capricious unprofessional behaviour. A 35mm limit on an SLR is ludicrous. Whoever put out this simly does not understand photography. Thanks you have just ruined the olympics for me and thousands of other angry spectators. What will happen now when the HUGE number of camera owners who will turn up without hearing this change with a modest 17-85mm lens and be forced to not enter the olympics or bin their cameras ?

  • Cathy

    The security staff seem confused. I had my fujifilm finepix dslr hs20 disallowed today because the fixed zoom had 24-720mm written on the side. I was told that the max zoom allowed was 300mm and any bigger needed a press pass. I think he was confusing 300mm zoom with 30cm size of camera since looking up restrictions since. Was advised to use locker facilites in westfield shopping centre for £8.50 and was marched out to the exit. 30 mins walking later with husband and 2 small children (we were obviously not press or going to sell our pictures) we rentered to see hundreds of people with longer zoom cameras. We were obviously unlucky with a jobsworth who didnt quite know the right rules. Not fair though to have different policies per lane. Spoilt our entire day with no camera.

  • Simon Taylor

    Incredible! Their website does not show these restrictions, and this precludes spectators taking an SLR with a kit lens – normally 18-55mm.

  • bill caldwell

    just phoned the London 2012 helpline and was told the original 30cm rule still stands and they have the most up to date info (9.45pm)

  • bill caldwell

    just phoned the London 2012 helpline at 9.45pm to check this and was told that they have the most up to date rules and the original 30cm rule stll stands. I was told it would be a bizarre rule to try and bring in!

  • Libby Stack

    Like we didn’t see this coming….

  • Syd Thomson

    Glad I didn’t buy tickets for any of the events if this is the attitude of LOCOG

  • Martin

    The plethora of camera-related rules and regulations at the Olympics, in the streets, anywhere CSOs and security guards may roam, just show how ignorant many organisations and people are in regards to photography. interchangeable-lens compact systems are an ever-increasing slice of the amateur photography market, as so many in officialdom would realise if they could be bothered to read the news once in a while.

  • Kate

    This is insane. They are spoiling the amateur photography experience. Changing the rules half way through is going to catch a lot of people out. What are you supposed to do, take your camera home?

  • Tony Bridge

    Outrageous! I have been to venues all over the world and used a mid zoom and a 70-300 zoom.
    Are they scared we’ll get better photos than the professionals? Get real.