The Camera Incident

Last night did not go completely as planned. While the game was a blast and both Trina and I had a good time, there was one unexpected incident that put a damper on our evening.

For the past 10 years I have gone to every Diamondbacks home opener and each time I take a camera with me to get some shots of the game and the fans that are enjoying it. In 1998 I used my Olympus OM-4 35mm camera with a 180mm telephoto lens and a 2x teleconverter making the lens essentially a 360mm f/5.6.

As years progressed so did my camera equipment. Before long I had embraced the digital era and moved away from my film SLR and to a digital SLR. I collect cameras kind of like I collect bobble heads (at least that is what Trina would have you believe).

I have several camera and lens combinations that have accompanied me to the games documenting our experiences and those of fellow fans. The latest equipment I am using is a Nikon D200 digital SLR camera and a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

From our seat location the lens is able to get a decent shot of the pitcher and the batter so I was eagerly looking forward to seeing what pictures I would be able to capture at the home opener. (The pictures from last night’s game are on my personal web site if you are interested in seeing what I took.

I’ll be incorporating these photos into the rotation of pictures on NowHitting.com during the upcoming days.) These photos nearly didn’t happen though.


When Trina and I arrived at the stadium we had with us our seat cushions (the purple and teal ones not the new Sedona Red and Black ones that are not quite done yet).

I also had my Nikon camera with lens. We went through security on our way to the turnstiles. Trina opened her seat cushion for inspection and made her way to the gate. I did likewise opening the seat cushion and the camera case. The security guard quickly went through the seat cushion and looked in the camera bag.

I figured I was clear to go but when I attempted to walk away I was asked to remain. The security guy then called over several other members of the security team in a scene reminiscent to the one in the movie Midnight Express where the guy was arrested and thrown in a Turkish jail for transporting drugs.

I wondered what the issue was since this was the identical payload I had when I had gone to the Diamondbacks Spring Training games at Chase Field and Opening Day at Coors Field (I’ve posted the photos from Opening Day on my web site).

Security asked if I could please remove my camera from the case. Still confused, I did as they asked and again questioned what was going on. It seems that the Diamondbacks have a policy on cameras though no one at the gate could tell me exactly what the policy was.

There seems to be a limit on the size of the camera and size of the lens that can be brought to the game. From what I could gather from the conference of Security personnel, a camera must be “non-professional” (none of those working the gate had a definition of what a professional camera looked like).

The lens opening cannot be greater than 5 inches in diameter nor can the lens be longer than 8.5 inches (these measurements seem to be somewhat objective since there was a lot of discussion as to whether my camera and lens combination met that criteria).

After several minutes of discussion and conference I was told that my camera gear was borderline and that I would be allowed to bring it into the stadium this one time but they could not guarantee it would be acceptable the next time.

Once we made it into the stadium I went to Guest Relations to try and get a more definitive answer as to what type of camera equipment is acceptable. They were not aware of a camera policy and were therefore no help in clarifying the team’s position. I have scoured the Diamondbacks web site, the fan guide, and any other avenue I could think of and I came up empty-handed as to what is acceptable and what is not.

I therefore contacted the Arizona Diamondbacks front office to find the policy. According to the head of Chase Field security, the policy states that a lens cannot be more than 12 inches in length and cannot have a diameter greater than 4 inches.

He further stated that this policy has always been in place and is to be enforced at all checkpoints. Based upon this information I would suggest that you check your camera lens prior to going to the ballpark in order to minimize the opportunity that your camera or lens may be non-compliant. Guests not conforming to this rule may have their camera confiscated for the duration of the game.

6 Comments

  1. A scary story. All I could find was this, which says, “Hand-held video and non-professional still cameras for personal use may be brought into Chase Field, provided game action is not recorded, as mandated by Major League Baseball.” Sadly, seems like just another case of the staff at Chase being crazed with power. :-(

  2. I did get a note from the Arizona Diamondbacks head of security who said this policy has been in place for a long time. I’ve run into this at US Airways Center when we went to the one Phoenix Suns game we attended. They were much more aggressive enforcing the rule at the basketball game. I think the thing that bothers me the most is the inconsistent manner it is being followed. “Non-professional still camera” is a little to vague to me. I don’t get paid for my photos so in my mind that is “non-professional” regardless of what size it is. I’ll be interested to see if anyone else in security says anything about my camera this season.

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  4. FYI, they seem to have made their published camera policy more vague than it used to be. For example, I was able to find archives of their “ballpark guide” page here: http://web.archive.org/web/*hh_/arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/ari/ballpark/ari_ballpark_guide.jsp

    The last version (from May 20, 2006) reads, in part,

    “Cameras are authorized with a lens that does not exceed 8 inches extended or exceed a diameter of 4 inches (hoods are not included in measurements).”

    Fortunately, I’m using a fairly compact DSLR, the Sony A100, with what has to be the world’s most “discreet” pro sports lens – the Minolta 200mm f2.8 APO G (and matching 1.4x teleconverter, for 280mm at f4): http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=78

    Anyway, I haven’t yet gotten any crap from security with this setup, though I more frequently sweat it now with their current policy vaguely prohibiting “professional” cameras. In my experience, both the Coyotes and Suns have been much more of a hassle – the best I’ve managed to get in to either of their games is this fairly tiny 135mm f2.8: http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=75

    Hope this info helps somebody out!

    –John

  5. Thanks John! That is indeed good information to have. It’s odd, from 1998 through 2006 I never heard anything about a camera policy. Then I got stopped on Arizona’s Opening Day. Since that time I have brought this same camera equipment and no one has ever said a word or asked to measure my lens. When we went into the pool area on April 24 I really thought I would get stopped. I took the camera out of the bag and showed security. The only comment I got was that I really should use a Canon instead of a Nikon. Policy compliance verification seems very inconsistent.

  6. Thanks for the heads up. I’m about to head out to a game right now, and your site was the first that popped up on my google search for a camera policy. It seems that not even the official chase field website is very clear about the policy (I didn’t find it), and I read elsewhere about the 12×4″ rule (on a fan site, no less). I sneak p&s’s into many places, but it’s impossible to sneak a dslr anywhere.

    Thanks again!

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