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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Lenses for concerts/show/events
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08/01/2007 05:49:25 PM · #1
i had a few concert shoots in the past month
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i had my tamron 28-75 f2.8 and found that in many situations the 2.8 was not wide enough to get acceptable shutter speeds (at iso 400/800)

the nikkor 85 f1.8 did a much better job and i ended up shooting most of the time with that lens (though you have to be really careful shooting at 1.8 due to the very thin focus)

i now have an eye on the already mentioned sigma 30 f1.4
(does anybody know why that lens is not recommended for use on film cameras? cause that is the reason i hesitate to buy that lens, i want to use it on my nikon f50, too...)
07/03/2007 10:15:26 PM · #2
Originally posted by ajdelaware:


Yeah, Im definitely more inclined to go with those motion shots, cause in my terrible opinion, concerts are about energy, motion, and excitement, so I dont think that a stagnant picture of a guy playing a guitar carries the feeling well.


Then you might like stuff like:
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07/03/2007 10:09:02 PM · #3
Originally posted by Extraordinaire:

[quote=rkligman] I use Nikon but same difference on the lens. You'll want to go to the 70-200 2.8 or in that range. Unless you're in a big venue, the lighting is poor. In fact, going to do another shoot in a new venue in a few hours.

Check out some of my galleries.

This one was a large theater with good lighting: //rkligman.smugmug.com/gallery/2941643

This group plays (very) small venues and is the one I shoot again tonight:
//rkligman.smugmug.com/gallery/2869765

I think I've learned enough that I should get something better (real photos) in that latter gallery. They are Death Metal and they never stop moving so shooting them at 1/10, ISO 1600, f2.8 is a real challenge.

Hi rkligman,

Nice photos. I'm curious to know how far away you were for your subject and were you using a tripod and/or flash.


No tripod and definitely no flash! I like natural light which is why you need 2.8 or faster.

For the trumpet I was in the 2nd level seat adjacent to the stage. Can't remember what they call those areas. The ones where VIPs sit and they are regular chairs. Probably was about 30 feet away?

For The blond guy, Mike Kenally (sp.). I was onstage in the wings and he was playing piano. Probably 15 feet on that one.

For the violin, same deal. Off stage in the wings. 15 feet or so.

The shoot I did on Sat. went real well. I was so close I used my 50mm 1.8 the whole show and the lighting was strong so I got to shoot at 1/60 all night.

A sample:
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The gallery, in progress, can be seen at: //rkligman.smugmug.com/gallery/3092546/1/169017797
07/03/2007 04:50:38 PM · #4
Originally posted by Judi:

Seeing we are showing different effects for concert photography...here is one my work partner did the other week. It was just the lighting man warming up the instruments before the event. I loved it. And it seems that I am not alone..it is one of 8 that have been purchased for billboards and posters.

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Yeah, Im definitely more inclined to go with those motion shots, cause in my terrible opinion, concerts are about energy, motion, and excitement, so I dont think that a stagnant picture of a guy playing a guitar carries the feeling well.
07/03/2007 04:47:56 PM · #5
Seeing we are showing different effects for concert photography...here is one my work partner did the other week. It was just the lighting man warming up the instruments before the event. I loved it. And it seems that I am not alone..it is one of 8 that have been purchased for billboards and posters.

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07/03/2007 04:19:24 PM · #6
Yeah, that bright red color cast that I was getting was way to intense. The lights are positioned 15 feet from the stage and the red gel is just way to overpowering. Ive gotten some really good low key lit shots using a diffuser or bounce flash in a normally dark venue, and for the type of bands I shoot (usually hardcore or metal bands) it definitely carries the mood of the music.

Plus - Ill also use flash to "stop motion" on a longer exposure.

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Barricade from PA (playing at Phillys First Unitarian)

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07/03/2007 03:59:59 PM · #7
I shoot the same venue too, it does get a bit boring. I usually get rid of the color cast in PS and get the colors back to what my eye actually saw rather the ugly red. Almost every venue will give red color cast.

Flash gives shadows which I don't really care for. Ive used some flash, I bounce it off the ceiling usually, but still don't really like the results unless Im doing some black and white work.

My favorite lens for shooting concerts was the 100mm 2.8 USM macro. Great head and shoulder lens or close up of hands on instruments.

My least favorite which I avoid at all costs is the Sigma 24-70 f2.8. 2.8 is essentially unuseable due to softness and the focusing is slow and poor. NOt a bad lens for good light, but in a venue like you or I shoot in it sucked.
07/03/2007 03:41:40 PM · #8
Originally posted by Jmnuggy:


You have given up on natural light for shows because the kit lens is not equiped to handle the low light. You need faster glass. Don't use flash, get a better lens.


I shoot at the same venue...a lot. And I got really bored of my pictures having the same red cast on them from the house lights. I know thats a desirable effect at some venues, but when you are consistently shooting the same place, you want to be able to get another "look" in your shots.

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and here is just a shot of the band DEAD AND BURIED...for fun:

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Message edited by author 2007-07-03 15:54:18.
07/03/2007 02:59:07 PM · #9
Flash ruins concert photography unless its just a little bit of fill.

You have given up on natural light for shows because the kit lens is not equiped to handle the low light. You need faster glass. Don't use flash, get a better lens.

Also use the highest ISO you can and use a noise reducing software. I like neat image.

I do live music shots all teh time especially for the band Japhy Ryder. www.japhyryder.com.

07/03/2007 02:19:39 PM · #10
I guess I have the advantage of being allowed on stage at the local venue, but I just use my kit zoom lens that came with my d70s, I think its a Nikkor 24-80mm AF. Ive also given up on trying to use purely "natural" light while photographing shows, and have started using my sb600 with an extension cord to get the angles I like. Again, I have unlimited access where I shoot, and its also hardcore bands that dont mind you getting really up close, since the crowd is practically on the stage to begin with.
07/03/2007 01:12:52 PM · #11
Just took a few shots of our friend David who sings at a restaurant in NYC. The lighting was orange and very dim, but I managed to get a few good ones with the 50mm 1.8 and the 85mm 1.8 (which we had rented for the weekend. GOTTA get the 85. It rocks.
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Took these a couple months ago with the 50mm 1.8. I think it works really well especially if you can get up close to the group.
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07/03/2007 01:12:02 PM · #12
i'll vouch for the 70-200f/2.8L IS...it absolutely ROCKS in low-light. i've used it in small, poorly lit venues and i've it in large, low-lit venues and i've used it outdoors. it has never let me down.

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07/03/2007 12:38:33 PM · #13
Even if I'm sure that the 70-200 is an awesome lense it wouldn't be suited for very low light concerts. I'm always photographying small venues with poor lighting. On the first picture I was using either my 28mm F1.8 or my 50mm F1.8, I don't remember which one but the 28mm is more likely. That shot was taken at F2, 1/50, ISO1600 on manual settings because the red lights were way too dim to get a decent reading. The projector screen on the picture was actually the only clearly lit part of the scene.

//picasaweb.google.fr/DaveSM84/ConcertRedSparowes27Mai/photo#5078619534389413586

Here is also a video that clearly show the poor lighting.

//www.fabchannel.com/red_sparowes

On the second one I was lucky that the scene was well lit. It is actually my first show that I can shoot at ISO800 whitout any problems. I used my 50mm F1.8 at F3.2, 1/100 on aperture priority mode for that shot.

//picasaweb.google.fr/DaveSM84/ConcertRoomEleven8Juin/photo?authkey=cMSqIIeLyVg#5078619654648497954

I don't want to disacrd the idea to get a 70-200 F2.8 but I just want to tell that in many occasions that lense would had been a nice paper weight and wouldn't allowed me to take the pictures I wanted. My next concert related lense I would get, if I had the money to afford it, would be the 85mm F1.8 that you have. On small scenes when you can get really close the 50mm do wonders but sometimes the 85mm would be reallly nice to have.

Out of the three concerts I have shot (I tried to shoot others but wasn't allowed), I would had been to take pictures on only one of them if I had been using something else then a F1.8 lense.

Also forget anything about IS in concert photography as the blur is not due to camera shake but slow shutter speed and the subject moving.

Edit : On a side note, I almost never use flash and never do during a concert.

Message edited by author 2007-07-03 12:40:15.
07/03/2007 11:20:15 AM · #14
these were shot with my Nikon D40 & a Nikkor 50-200MM

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07/03/2007 10:50:46 AM · #15
Originally posted by rkligman:

I use Nikon but same difference on the lens. You'll want to go to the 70-200 2.8 or in that range. Unless you're in a big venue, the lighting is poor. In fact, going to do another shoot in a new venue in a few hours.

Check out some of my galleries.

This one was a large theater with good lighting: //rkligman.smugmug.com/gallery/2941643

This group plays (very) small venues and is the one I shoot again tonight:
//rkligman.smugmug.com/gallery/2869765

I think I've learned enough that I should get something better (real photos) in that latter gallery. They are Death Metal and they never stop moving so shooting them at 1/10, ISO 1600, f2.8 is a real challenge.

Some zoom samples:
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Hi rkligman,

Nice photos. I'm curious to know how far away you were for your subject and were you using a tripod and/or flash.
07/01/2007 01:27:44 PM · #16
Well I've got 2 things to say and one suggestion:

1º - Image stabilization is only helpfull if your subject is quiet, and that's not the case in this type of photography. So shooting at 1/10th or 1/30th of a second only by a miracle will not give you soft images. I would excange all the times one IS or OS for a faster lens.

2º - Most of the times for really low light photos the f2.8 is still not enough. So 1.8 or 1.4 is really the way to go.

My advice: if you can be on the stage the sigma 30mm f1.4 is the way to go. I love mine. Other wise get the best f2.8 that you can but don't be fooled because of IS or OS or VR.
06/30/2007 08:36:47 PM · #17
This group of shots was done under failing light and no stage lighting, using the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6
and ended up going to ISO800 and hand-holding as low as 1/30sec as a result of not having fast glass:
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These were done using the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 and were all shot at ISO200 or 400, with stage lighting obviously,
and were all shot at 1/125sec or higher, no image stabilization:
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The need for f/2.8 or faster, and clean images at ISO400 speak for themselves.
06/30/2007 07:14:04 PM · #18
I use Nikon but same difference on the lens. You'll want to go to the 70-200 2.8 or in that range. Unless you're in a big venue, the lighting is poor. In fact, going to do another shoot in a new venue in a few hours.

Check out some of my galleries.

This one was a large theater with good lighting: //rkligman.smugmug.com/gallery/2941643

This group plays (very) small venues and is the one I shoot again tonight:
//rkligman.smugmug.com/gallery/2869765

I think I've learned enough that I should get something better (real photos) in that latter gallery. They are Death Metal and they never stop moving so shooting them at 1/10, ISO 1600, f2.8 is a real challenge.

Some zoom samples:
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06/30/2007 05:41:14 PM · #19
Thomas,
I have the 50mm f/1.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 that Judi suggested. I was at a party last week taking some shots of a band and candid. I used both lenses at the event but looking though the shots, i've noted that mosts of the ones taken with the 70-200 were at f/4, i was using a flash for all pictures.
Hope this helps.

Bob
06/30/2007 04:52:43 PM · #20
I use a Canon 70-200 F4 (the 2.8 would be much better) whilst my partner uses the Canon 28-300. And we handle many low light, hand held concert shoots that way.
06/30/2007 04:43:30 PM · #21
I have the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens with USM and the cheapy 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF, these have worked relatively well for me in shooting concerts and shows with poor lighting and such. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what sort of lens I should buy. I want to get a zoom for it's versatility but...unfortunately those do not seem to be too fast. I have a feeling that what I have is gonna be the best thing to get unless I wanna shell out some serious cash for a faster 85mm or faster 50mm. Any suggestions?
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