Camera/Tripod Restrictions in Italy : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am planning a trip to Italy this spring and was hoping to take my 4x5 and tripod along. I am particularly interested in landscape and the ruins. Have heard that there are severe restrictions in using a large format camera and tripod in many parts of Italy without being considered a professional and having to pay a healthy fee for a permit. Anyone have any experience with this? Would hate to have to settle for 35mm. Thanks in advance.

-- Randy Redford (, March 15, 2001



I traveled in Europe during the summer of 1998 and spent some of that time in Italy. Although I was only shooting with Fuji 6x9's (not large format), I used my tripod and did not hand hold. Yes, there were times when they just saw tripod and they immediately told me no tripod(!), or asked that I 'check' my equipment (inside the coliseum, vatican). As a result I missed some opportunities. It appears that there is a fear that anyone with a tripod (even for 35mm) would be a professional and they might benefit financially from capturing the beauty and art that is Italy. This was the best answer I could gleem from those that I conversed with about this.

I did find that when I was away from the bigger tourist places or in the country in areas of public access (ie: no ticket or entrance fee required) you can shoot without to much of a hassle.

Knowing what I know now, I would bring my business cards showing that I work for a non photographic company etc... so that anyone that might start talking to you, you can give them a card that shows that you are an amateur etc... A pre-emptive strike showing your non-professional status.

I know of one person who went to Tuscany a few months before I did, and shot 8x10 exclusively... though he did his shooting at sites that were away from the tourist spots and was not disturbed.

I am curious to hear how others have coped with this.


-- Steve Nieslony (, March 15, 2001.

Randy, It sounds likle this might be a common practice. In Turkey, even with a 35 mm camera, you are not allowed to use a tripod. You are supposed to get permission from the Ministry of Tourism or Culture (and you can imagine the red tape regarding this..) Considering the richness of our museums and of our historical sites, this is really a bummer. However, the idea of working at places that are out of the way might work, and they might be equally rewarding.. Good luck..

-- Emrehan Zeybekoglu (, March 15, 2001.

Two years ago I visited Rome, and i did use my tripod extensively in public places (but not in museums or entrance-fee attractons). Amongst other attractions I visited the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel with Michaelangelo's paintings. The chapel was crowded continuously, and photography was not allowed, and flash was definitely not allowed. But with ten guards and two hundred cameras it turned into a funny cat and mouse game, the guards helplessly trying to stop people! I did take a few photos (35mm, so this is off- topic, sort of), but did not use flash. But since the chapel is kept so dark to protect the paintings, large or medium format was not really an option. E200 pushed to ISO 1000 and an 85/1.4 lens allowed sharp handheld shots. Nothing else would have worked.


-- ┼ke Vinberg (, March 15, 2001.

This is a very interesting discussion for me, as I am planning a trip to Italy late this year. There are similar restrictions on tripods at most archaeological sites in Mexico--I was not allowed to use a monopod either. However, they don't seem to know much about cameras, so I shot extensively with my Mamiya 7 and Fujica GS645 and got some wonderful professional-grade photographs, despite the restrictions.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, March 15, 2001.

Yeah....I'd get a Mamiya 7. Or if you haven't seen it yet, Bronica has introduced a 6x4.5 rangefinder. You can get it with a lens for less than the price of the Mamiya 7II body alone. (But I'm hoping it'll exert some market pressure on Mamiya to reduce the price of the 7II.)

No one but we will think anything of you with your odd-sized "point-and-shoot."

-- John H. Henderson (, March 15, 2001.

I've travelled extensively in France and Italy (used to live there), and rarely had anyone complain about tripods, even in famous French cathedrals. Once you are ten steps away from the touristic sites, no one seemed to care what sort of photography you were doing. Landscape, in particular, should be no problem whatsoever. Enjoy!

-- Mike Hildreth (, March 15, 2001.

I had the same hassle in "Our" capitol. The train station, a subway station. and outside the Hirschhorn museum. George

-- George Nedleman (, March 15, 2001.

Shot 8 X 10 extensively in Italy in 1999. Large and well-traveled churches, and of course museums will not permit tripods, but I did take some shots inside San Marco (no guards, no one seemed to care) and several other cathedrals. Many cathedrals have no specific policy. Anywhere outside seemed fine, even in very famous and crowded urban settings (Plaza San Marco in Venice). Never had any trouble with landscapes, or really cityscapes. Most of what you would consider "classic views" of rural and urban Italy are perfectly shoot-able even with a monster camera and tripod. Only limiting factor will be all the people asking you to take their picture with their point and shoot, asking you what you're doing, etc. In some countries (USA, for example), the authorities find the enforcement of meaningless and obscure laws to be an enthralling pursuit. In Italy, they apparently have better things to do.


-- Nathan Congdon (, March 15, 2001.

A friend of mine has made several trips to Tuscany with 6x17 and RZ and was never bothered in the country side. But photographing on the Plazza Grande in the little town of Pienza, he was rapidly approached by a guard who wanted to sell him a one day permit for $170! He had to live but the single shot he took before is really beautiful.

-- Paul Schilliger (, March 16, 2001.

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