Live music photography, which lens?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MIDI_EVIL, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. MIDI_EVIL macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2006
    Hi !

    I just got a Canon 40D to take on the road with a band to do their live photography. I purchased a Canon 50mm f1.8 II lens, and although it's quick, and a total bargain, I think I need something quicker... as the band move around a lot.

    Are there any live music photographers who can recommend a better lens for around $200... £100
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    You won't find anything faster for less than about $325. Here's the 50mm f/1.4 on Amazon.
  3. saxondale. macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2006
    That's the best you're going to get with that amount of money. Even so, surely your 1.8 is producing decent pictures? Care to post some samples? I have the 40D too, so you can afford to shoot at a moderately high iso.
  4. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    The next option is the 50/1.4, as was mentioned. The 50/1.8 is fast, but its low light focusing perfomance is, well, crap. It's great for DOF effects, but not good for use in low light. The 1.4 is a much better low-light focuser. Unfortunately, going faster than that results in an exponential rise in price.

    My suggestion is (a) get the 1.4, if possible, to get the fastest, best low-light focusing performance you can (for a reasonable amount of money), and/or (b) raise the sensitivity as much as you need to make sure you get the shot. Noise can be removed; motion blur can't (and OOF shots, which you will get from the 50/1.8 in low light, certainly cannot be fixed).

    Your 40D is a decent noise performer; you should be able to remove most of the noise from shots @ ISO3200. If the images are sharp (i.e. reasonably fast shutter speeds), you should end up with good looking pics.

    EDIT: I'd love to see some examples you're getting from the 1.8, though. If that lens is allowing you to get good focus (use the centre AF point) in low light, then obviously you can stick with it.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    As people here have said the 50mm 1.4 lens gains you about 1/2 stop but something else to think about might be a shorter lens. Say a 24 or 35mm lens. With the shorter focal lenght you need to get closer. You would shoot at either 1/2 or 2/3 the distance but you gain depth of field. The shorter lens not only gives a better perspective but allows a longer shutter speed before you bump into that 1/FL rule. By allowing use of a longer shutter the short lens is "fast" is a convoluted way.

    The other thing is to learn to pan the camera to follow the motion. The classic example of this is to follow a race car. The car comes in sharp while the background is streaked. Had the image been shot with a tripod the background would be sharp with a streaked car. So follow the band member's face, hand, instrument or whatever you want sharp. It's hard to do and is an acquired skill. The trick is to keep moving the camera while the shutter is open and continue a follow through after the shutter trips.

    You might also be able to turn up the lights or even rig a radio slave flash.
  6. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    The 50/1.4 comes to mind. If you're getting paid decently well, I'd go for the 50/1.2L.

Share This Page