I'm currently planning a trip to New York and have been looking at the website for the empire state building and noticed the following

The items listed are not permitted in the Empire State Building. [...] Professional cameras, equipment from http://www.esbnyc.com/faq.asp.

Has anyone tried to take a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) with them? If so have you had any problems at security with it?


6 Answers 6


We went to Empire State Building during our Christmas season (2012) trip to NYC. I carried a small digital camera in addition to my phone which had a camera. My girlfriend carries a Nikon digital camera D50 with exchangeable lenses, and also a camera in her smartphone. Security checked the camera equipment without difficulty. I was completely unaware that there could have been a restriction; it never raised a question for us. I presume their definition of professional includes much more serious lenses, tripods and the like, to preclude the possibility of sale of competing photographs.


If you do not have a tripod, bipod, monopod, or any other bulky equipment which will create an impediment or disturbance to the other guests, you should be allowed in. I've been up literally hundreds of times, and though I can't speak for them, I've a good feeling as to what they allow and prohibit.


They just mean you're not allowed to take photographs for commercial purposes in there, and stuff that into a blanket clause. I've seen hundreds of such statements all over the world and have never been told my professional level DSLRs and lenses aren't allowed.
That includes the WTC, though that was long ago before the digital age when I was still using 35mm film cameras.
Of course you could always run up against a "security" guard on a powertrip who thinks he's doing his boss a favour by bullying you who tells you you need to buy a "photography license", but if you stand your ground and demand to see his supervisor that demand is likely to quickly go away.


Just to complete the cycle I went up the Empire state on Sunday and took my DSLR and 2 other lenses for it and they didn't bat an eyelid.


Never had a problem with a DSLR. I don't think they mean pro-sumer cameras. I think they mean no large formats, or television production cameras.

  • But that assumes the people on security are knowledgeable enough to know the different, they might just see fancy looking camera and decide it's pro.
    – Phil
    Mar 13, 2013 at 22:53
  • @Phil You don't think they would notice taking out a 10 pound, old school large format or a 20 pound video camera? Mar 14, 2013 at 23:50

Just visited last week and I carry a Nikon D5600 for vlogging and they confiscated my Rhode Microphone at security. I got it back, but still, what a pain.

  • 4
    Were you allowed to get the camera up?
    – Willeke
    Jun 1, 2018 at 18:00

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