What is the security like with camera equipment at Heathrow now? Is it possible to walk through security with let's say some lenses placed in a photographers vest?
My bag is easily within regulation size but I'm hoping to take a lot of camera equipment with me when I go on holiday for three weeks at the end of January.
I didn't have any issues with the amount of equipment I had at the airport. However, i was traveling business class, so was allowed two carry-on bags instead of one (not sure about other airlines, but Air Canada said that for flights to heathrow, business class allows one main item and one smaller laptop size bag, whereas regular/leisure/economy seats are allowed one carry-on item). I had the following in a Think Tank Airport Addicted bag:
-1 DIII & spare battery/cable release and other accessories
- 16-35L II
- 70-200 2.8L IS
- 85 L II
- 580 EX II
- around 6 screw in polarizers/ND
- Lee case with Lee/Singh-Ray ND grads
- RRS BH 55 ballhead
In the other bag I had my laptop and some other accessories (i.e. RRS Pano kit), chargers, etc.
So I didn't encounter issues with the amount of equipment I had. I had the new Think Tank Airport Addicted v.2, which is a pretty big bag, but when you don't have a laptop inside, it fits within the maximum size limits, I should add that I did get my bags weighed and while, I'm pretty sure that my TT bag was over weight, on the return flight from London they weighed the total weight of the carry-ons (which was within the limit, so it wasn't an issue. If they had weighed the bags separately I may have had an issue. Note, I'm not sure it is the norm to weigh the total carry-on weight, or if i just lucked out.
The only real issue (more of a scare) I had at the airport was that I had to take every lens out of my bag at the security checkpoint and put them in a tray. The tray was pushed down the counter (which slides downward toward x-ray machine) and the staff really just pushed the tray down like like they would with clothing or shoes. I can't ever begin to tell you how nervous I was when I saw my new 85LII rolling down in the tray.
Not sure if you can take equipment through in a vest, as they would probably ask you to put the lenses in a tray anyway.
I had more of an issue with security and police at some of the sites, as I was stopped by police along the Thames (across from Big Ben), because they were concerned about my tripod and the type of equipment I had - but they were pretty nice and after I provided my business card from work (not photo related), they were Ok. They even told me to note their badge number and said that if I was stopped again, to just provide whoever approached me with their badge number.
However I ended up getting into a long argument with the security guards at Trafalgar just before sunset. They told me that shooting with a tripod was not allowed and that there was a bylaw posted to that affect at the front of the square. However, after going and reading the bylaw, and seeing that the only thing that was prohibited was commercial photography, I went and argued with them and they threatened to call the police, which I asked them to do. I was then told to watch my language, to which my reply was if they had a problem with my N. American english (as at no time did i use bad language or yell at them). When i asked the security guards to provide me with their identification and names they refused, and at this point one of them walked away (the more polite one), however despite arguing with the other one for about 10 minutes he wouldn't budge or provide mew with his name or Id. By that time the sunset was pretty much done and the reflections of the sky and monuments in the rain puddles that I was shooting, were pretty much gone. I was so pissed off that I never even bothered shooting during my last three days in london. Unless I have to go for work again, i doubt if I'll go back. If shot in US & Canadian locations as well as Paris and have never been hassled as much as i have been in London, and the hassles just take the entire enjoyment out of taking photos.