Shooting at a concert

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by iAmAzN, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. iAmAzN macrumors 6502

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    Oct 3, 2002
    Location:
    Golden, CO
    #1
    Hi guys, I recently purchased a used Nikon D40x with a Tamron 28-80mm, f/3.5-5.6 Aspherical Lens for $120. I know it's not much but it's my first DSLR so at that price, I couldn't say no! I know it's not much to work with but it's worth a shot.

    Anyways, I am an avid concert goer and decided to see if I could do some shots with a local band. I sent them an email explaining that I would need a media pass in order to "entertain my hobby of photography' using my new camera and that I wouldn't be using the photos for profit. They replied very promptly and agreed to go ahead and give me a pass to get the camera into the venue.

    Now, I did a search on the forums and found a topic regarding this same thing and attached was a link to a couple sites. In addition to that, I did my own google search on concert photography. The problem is, a few of them suggest opposing ideas. One such thing is what mode to shoot it in. One site says shutter priority, another aperture priority, another manual mode, and yet another says program mode. Now, I'm far from camera savvy so my question is, what would the lovely MR folks suggest I try?

    I've looked at some videos of the band's live performances and it doesn't look like they use very much intense lighting, but of course, it changes from concert to concert. The venue that they will be playing at is small, and from past experience, there really won't be a "photo pit" so that may present a problem as well.

    Any other tips would be GREALY appreciated! Thanks in advance! :D
     
  2. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    #2
    If you are playing a small club with static lights, manual is probably your best bet to get properly exposed pics. Try to predict who will do something interesting and set camera up for that person. You're going to need the largest aperture you have in every shot, set your ISO at 800 or 1600 (I'm not sure how bad the noise gets on the D40), and use the shutter speed to control exposure. Ideally your shutter speed should be 1/focal length (so between 1/30 and 1/100). You will likely find that the light sucks at the club and you need to drop to 1/10 or so and most of your pics will be garbage, but you may get a few good ones.

    Make sure you shoot RAW as you will be underexposing almost every shot to try to keep the shutter speed up.
     
  3. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #3
    It sounds like you've done quite a bit of 'homework' already. Since no money will be changing hands for the pix you take on the night, I'd devote the event to experimenting... to see how you think you should tackle the project.

    With the three variables (shutter speed, aperture & ISO), you have a number of ways to achieve a well-exposed shot. In low light you will have to compromise. High ISO = better light-gathering power... but noise. High shuttter speed = freezing the action... but small depth of focus, etc.

    Just take loads of shots, see what works... and try to remember what you were doing when you got it right. Hope you have lots of fun with your first SLR... :)
     
  4. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #4
    I've shot in a little dive bar and frankly the lens I used was highly inefficient. I got some tolerable pics but overall I needed a much faster lens.

    You will find that you will hover around the 80mm mark on your camera I bet. It depends on how close you can get. At that, your minimum aperture will be 5.6 I believe. That is SLOW. You'll need at least 1600 ISO to get a shutter speed that is at all useful to stop motion. VR in any lens won't help you because it doesn't suddenly stop motion, it compensates for your jittering hands.

    This photo was taken with my AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED. (not an ideal lens by any means)
    DSC_1319.jpg
    I was at 24mm here (I was clearly touching the stage) at ISO 640 f/8 shutter was 1/60 ... my flash was fired. (SB-800)
    You're seeing the untouched JPEG from my RAW file.

    Here is one where I am not using my flash. Same lens as noted above. ISO 6400, 90mm, 1/30th, f/5.6. This photo is useable (to the person I shot) but the noise is slightly rougher than I would have wanted. I was shooting with a D300.
    DSC_1376.jpg

    So now that you see these, you may want to consider a faster lens. I doubt the D40 can do ISO 6400 and if it can, I would love to see the results.

    This weekend I'll shoot a similar venue with a 70-200 2.8. We'll see how that works. ;)
     
  5. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #5
    Is there a place that you can rent a lens? Without a tripod, you will find yourself using flash, which i am unsure if that is even allowed.
    If you can rent a lens, i would get the fastest lens you can, because chances are, you are going to be shooting wideopen.

    Congrats on the purchase!
     
  6. brn2ski00 macrumors 68020

    brn2ski00

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    #6
    OMG, when I first read the title I was thinking it was going to be a CE or News story about some gun shooting at a rap concert...

    Can't judge a book by its cover I guess :eek:
     
  7. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #7
    Any NR software used in PP? It'd be interesting to see if it cleans up and how much...
     
  8. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #8
    In all fairness, this is a photography forum. :cool:
    I didn't touch the photo short of export from RAW to jpeg in Aperture (this was only done to respond to the post, I've yet to "process" these shots). Then I slapped "sample" on it because though I did not accept payment for the shoot I don't want to find out someone knows this lady and takes the photo before she sees them all.
     
  9. brn2ski00 macrumors 68020

    brn2ski00

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    #9
    guess I glanced to quick in my "New Posts" section....
     
  10. iAmAzN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2002
    Location:
    Golden, CO
    #10
    Thanks for all the suggestions so far everyone! It's much appreciated! I'm hoping to line up another concert within a few weeks for my friend's acoustic fundraiser at another venue!

    Seeing as how I just upgraded from a point and shoot, and have only done a decent amount of reading on DSLR photography, I'm still a little shady on manipulating the settings of the camera.

    Looking around for a low budget lens that would be great for low light events is difficult! However, I did stumble upon the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D AF lens. Any thoughts on that? I was thinking about making a purchase on that to use in addition to the Tamron lens that I have.

    Thanks again for the suggestions, keep them coming! :)
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #11
    AF-D lenses won't AF on a D40, only AF-S lenses. If you're not affraid to use the old school "focus ring" method of photography it'll work just fine- assisted by the new school "green dot indicator." Higher-end bodies have the "green dot with arrows" indicator which makes handling manual focus much easier, but if you practice for a couple of days you shouldn't have any issues, and you can always resell it for close to what you paid should you find that you don't have the general motor skills and hand to eye coordination of anyone who got pictures in focus for the first three decades that SLRs existed...

    :)
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #12
    Haz NeatImage?
     
  13. peskaa macrumors 68020

    peskaa

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    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #13
    Concert photography is a bit of a pain to be honest, especially for those with "beginner" dSLRs. Concerts are usually fairly dark, and can be fast-moving which in turn asks for reasonably high shutter speeds and wide apertures along with good high ISO performance.

    Now, personally for gigs I use f/2.8 or faster lenses when it is a smaller band (festival-style acts you can usually use f/4) with limited lighting (ie: without the big rock light-shows). The 50mm f/1.8 lenses are fantastic starting points for a lot of people, but the D40x's limitation with the lack of a screw drive AF in the body is a real killer. With practice you can use MF, but stress on the word practice!

    As for lenses, my typical kit (Canon) is: 16-35 f/2.8L, 50 f/1.2L & 70-200 f/2.8L for "standard" gigs. Festivals I'll add a 1.4x teleconvertor or the 300 f/4 DO. If you can get close the telephotos are far less used, and the 50mm/wides come into their own.

    Word of advice - flash is usually a killer in gigs. I've done a handful where it has worked well, but I'd really recommend not using it. Your Tamron lens is unfortunately a bit slow in terms of aperture, so if you're serious about gigs you'll need a replacement - try looking at higher-end prime lenses (f/2.8) in the 24-50 region that have the AF built into the lens.

    To give you an idea of what can be achieved:

    [​IMG]
    17mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8
    [​IMG]
    300mm, 400 ISO, f/4
    [​IMG]
    15mm fisheye, ISO 800, f/2.8, flash
     
  14. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #14
    1/10?? Unless you're shooting manequins with a tripod, I think it'd be a bad idea to go that low. Forget motion blur from your subjects; shooting handheld at that speed in normal light will get you 90% soft photos. It'll probably be hard with the lighting, but 1/125 - 1/250 is an optimal minimum for non-motion-blurred action shots. If you're going manual, maximize your ISO and aperture while staying as close to that shutter speed range as possible, unless you're using a flash. Consider renting an external flash, since direct lighting looks horrid. If flash is a no-go, see if you can get your hands on a large aperture (~ f/1.4) lens. You'll lose the zoom ability, but you'll be amazed at how fast you'll be able to shoot.
     
  15. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    #15
    Obviously not sharp, but it can create interesting effects. This was at 1/6 at 200mm.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/42394463@N00/2872725916/

    Here is 1/13th of a second with a terrible PnS.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/42394463@N00/2872857560/

    It can be done, just most of your pictures will be garbage. I entirely agree that fast glass is the way to go for concerts, but for now since he is just learning and has little budget, you can push the equipment to get some interesting shots.

    Another option is to try painting with light. It doesn't work in most club type shoots, but it can create some interesting pictures (although it may be argued that they are not concert pictures)

    1s, 70mm on a tripod

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/42394463@N00/2872913114/
     
  16. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #16
    No. I had it way back when (6 years ago) but I've since lost the license and such).
    I really cannot support this notion of thinking that garbage pictures are at all evidence of something "being done". Sorry but if they're trash they're trash. Why bother spending time doing something if you know it won't work? Experimenting is ok, but saying that the pictures will be garbage is "getting it done", I dunno about that.
    I don't know about you but I've never been to a venue that would allow or appreciate me painting with light. We're talking about a band who hopefully is not static.
     
  17. dmb70 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    #17
    I would rent a fast lens or 2 ,there are numerous places online to choose from. I think you will end up being pretty disappointed with the results you get in low light from the lens you mentioned.

    Will you be able to move around quite a bit or will you be stuck in pretty much one spot at this gig?

    If you are going to be able to move around quite a bit then maybe rent a fast prime (f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8) for a week.

    I'm a Canon shooter so I would probably rent the 50mm f/1.2 & the 17-55 f/2.8 or 24-70 f/2.8.
    You could buy the 50mm f/1.8, but be aware that it does have some issues auto focusing in low light.

    Good luck.
     
  18. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #18
    I think the 50mm 1.8 and a fast zoom may work. That will be what I have this weekend. Sure, I have my wide and such, but my little diamond in the rough 70-210 push/pull is not fast enough at all.
     
  19. davegregory macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario
    #19
    I have to agree with other posters. f/3.5-f/5.6 is way too slow for indoor photography with motion. However, it really depends on the lighting in the club as well. You'd be surprised how much light stage lights put out. If you have a friend with a light meter, ask to borrow it and get a brief tutorial on it. If there's a black background (and there usually is) your in-camera meter is going to try to compensate for all the black and tell you to overexpose the the frame. If you can't get a light meter, make sure you're on spot-metering (look it up in the camera's manual if you don't know how to do this) and you place the spot on the person's forehead when you're framing the shot. (You need to be in manual for spot meter)

    Peskaa is spot on with lenses, you've gotta get down in to f/2.8 or bigger for that kind of light. But try it, you'll see what works and what doesn't. Motion isn't entirely bad and can give some cool effects. But if you want sharp images you've gotta have fast shutter speeds. I'm sure I'm leaving things out. But I think you'll get lots of good advice from other posters. Renting is a good way to go as well.
     
  20. iAmAzN thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 3, 2002
    Location:
    Golden, CO
    #20
    Hey, I'm back! I ended up not being able to take my camera in (venue wasn't excited about the idea unless I was with a major publisher, despite getting approval from the band). I did, however, manage to be able to shoot for my other friend at a benefit event!

    I ended up caving in and purchasing an AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. I was quite busy trying to find the most desirable settings in the low light for the first band, but after talking to the other photographer there, he gave me a few tips and I rolled with it. Here are a few shots:

    [​IMG]
    1/20, f/1.8, ISO 1600.

    [​IMG]
    1/20, f/1.8, ISO 560

    [​IMG]
    1/20, f/1.8, ISO 1600

    [​IMG]
    1/20, f/1.8, ISO 1000

    If I remember correctly, I was shooting in aperture priority with ISO assist on. All the images underwent some amateur post processing by myself. I was forced to shoot in JPEG as it seems I need a memory card upgrade, or at last additional cards.

    I have been offered to shoot for him for his future shows if I choose to. (His name is Leif Sunde and he's on iTunes if you'd like to support him as well lol).

    Any and all CC is much appreciated! :)
     
  21. Rondue macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Location:
    PA
    #21

    I have the same lens 35mm 1.8/ What tips did those guys give you? Im going to be doing a friends concert towards the end of the month, my first.
     
  22. finnschi macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Location:
    Hamburg, Germany
    #22
    Some more tips For concert Photography

    1. The lens you are using is Very good, although you might want to consider shooting at 2.8, to get mor DOF , especially when the subject is moving, they can get out of focus VERY quick and you have blurry picture... (better to shoot in high iso then to have a photo out of focus... imho)

    2. make sure you are using one point AF (everyone should...) and set the point according to where you want the focus, usually people have it in the middle of the frame, focus on the head(EYES!!) and then drag the camera down to the body to catch the legs as well, the whole Dragging takes time, time the person on the stage might use to move, then you are out of focus again, so set the AF point to the top of the Frame, this way you can Focus and shoot without the need to Drag the Camera.(better than any IS system...)

    3. Make sure your camera measures the exposure based on a single point if you use Aperture Priority mode or shutter Priority... ( i am using Canon, idk how that works on Nikon...) Because else the camera might expose the picture based on the surrounding darkness, even if the subject is in a spotlight,so the camera will use longer shutter speeds, the subject will be over exposed and the picture will not look good... if you are more advanced you can try shooting in M mode some good values to start:

    For slow moving band members you can use minimum shutter speeds around 1/60 or 1/50 (on your 30mm lens) (based on personal expirience)
    for fast(heavy metal?) you have to use at least 1/120 , this of course depens on the movements the band does. The Aperture should be the Lowest you can, your lens has a lot of DOF, and high sharpness at apertures like 7 or 8 , although if this will result in high iso settings(if the stage is dark) don't go up too high, I don't know how much ISo your camera can take withouth producing sh** so try to find a good value for your camera (800 should be fine..)

    4. shoot in raw, especially because of colored lighting you want to correct the White balance in Post :rolleyes:

    5. You next purchase: 24-70 2.8 my favourite Concert lens :D

    anyways, best advice is to try to get in the venu during the soundcheck this way you can try different settings(make sure they turn on the lights as they would druing a show) then upload them to your computer(laptop would help) and check them out, note what settings worked best for you(settings stored in Exif data!!!! ) and then Go out, don't worry about settings too much but worry more about capturing the moments, Vocalist screaming into the mic, jumps or drum solos.

    Drum solos look also cool if you use longer shutter speeds, so you can capture the motion! but you would have to use a monopod at least to minimize camera shake...

    And if you can watch the soundcheck, try to remeber what songs have exitend parts (solos!) in them.

    also note that concert photography is probably the hardest to do, EVER.

    Try to do Crowd shots also, if you can, stand on the side of the stage(best would be behind the stage...) and use a wide angle lens to capture both the band and the crowd :rolleyes:

    you made a good start there and your lense should be enough to get some decent pictures!

    Have fun :D
     

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