The Olympic games are among the biggest sporting events in the world. It’s not something where you just show up and start taking pictures. There is a lot of planning and work that goes on before hand. Thousands of photographers from various news agencies around the world are assigned to the games. And each would tell you that, from getting press credentials to booking hotel rooms to selecting the right gear, preparations before hand are the key to working the Olympics. Millions of dollars of equipment are used by the photographers who cover the games.
The London 2012 Olympics is one of the first to employ so-called “robotic” cameras. Remote cameras have been used in sports for some time now. In the past they were fixed into a single position and focus, usually in places that are difficult for photographers to be in without getting in the way (such as at the bottom of a pool or in the rafters of a gymnasium) and then fired off with radio transmitters.
The new “robotic” cameras aren’t really robots and the cameras themselves are garden variety professional DSLR cameras. They are set into specially made rigs that, like the remote cameras predecessors are placed for in hard-to-get-to places, but they can be focused, zoomed and fired off via remote control. Also previously they memory card had to be retrieved from the camera after each event to download the pictures. Now the “robo-cameras” can transmit directly to a remote computer.
Here’s a video by the Associated Press on their use of “robotic” cameras and what it takes to set them up for the Olympics.
And here’s a video about Rueters’ robo-camera system.