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Author Topic: Help - need tips for concert photography event *tonight*  (Read 1057 times)


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Help - need tips for concert photography event *tonight*
« on: October 05, 2012, 03:13:52 PM »
Hello CR forum folks, I thought I'd tap you for some help.

At a rock concert tonight, the organizers are welcoming amateur photogs to bring their gear in and shoot.  As this is not my usual environment, I had a host of questions to ask re: gear / settings. 

1) First and foremost, what should I bring?

I can't use a flash at the venue.  Let's get that out there first. 

I am shooting a 5D3 and was planning on the following lens decisions:

Bring:  24-70mm F/2.8L I
Bring:  28mm F/2.8 IS --> love this little wonder, btw.  Super hand-holdable in low light.
Bring:  50mm F/1.4
Bring:  100mm F/2.8L IS Macro
Bring:  Ear plugs  :D
Don't bring:  Shorty McForty
Don't bring:  70-200mm F/2.8L IS II
Don't bring:  My old crop body (T1i)

Don't have at all:  An ultrawide lens option.  I sold my EF-S 10-22mm when I moved from crop to FF this year.

I can get right up to the stage (which is not large), so I didn't think I needed the length and added weight of the 70-200.  And the second body is great for a dedicated second lens, but the T1i is underwhelming in low light. 

2)  I've noted that in very low light -- for instance, where ISO 6400 and above are required for fully open 2.8 glass to pull in 1/40s of an exposure -- my 5D3 often hunts for focus.  What is the best recommended focus point selection / method for low light shooting?  Are specific focus points more reliable for quicker focusing in low light?  Is manual focusing ever recommended in these conditions? 

3) In such low light, I also presume there are best practices for getting focus on well-lit features (like faces) and recomposing -- please share what you recommend!

4) What High ISO noise reduction level do you recommend, as I'll likely be shooting in ISO 3200 and up.  Should I have the camera manage this, or should I turn this off and handle it in Photoshop?

5) Just as a nerdy curiosity, does High ISO noise reduction affect the RAW file or just the JPG?

Thanks for your help!

- A
« Last Edit: October 05, 2012, 04:39:32 PM by ahsanford »


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Re: Help - need tips for concert photography event *tonight*
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2012, 05:14:37 PM »

I'd defiantly bring the ear plugs :-)

Can i ask what you're going to use the 28mm f/2.8 IS for?  It's no faster than the 24-70 so i guess it's sharper?  Or are you bringing it for the IS?  I'm not sure how helpful IS is at a concert, as the musicians i've shot have tended to move around a lot - at least arms and such if nothing else?

I'd be tempted to bring the 70-200 anyways.  Mostly because i love it.  But, more seriously, it's another option and i like to keep them open to me.  How high is the stage likely to be?  I know you said it's small, but if it's something like a lorry trailer it'll still be pretty high - in which case i'd take some shots from further back to get a different perspective.

I'd probably take the 70-200 instead of the 28 and the 100, but as i said, i may be biased.

2) If there's enough light for the musicians to see their instruments, i'd be surprised if you can't get focus.  Generally, if i have trouble finding focus (i shoot around the floor in nightclubs at lot) my first response is to go for a fast prime.  As i understand it, the more light going in the front of the camera, the easier time the focus system has.  I've never had much luck with manual focus when it's dark enough for auto focus to fail - i tend not to be able to see too well either.

3) That's generally been my approach - though i favour focus + recompose as an approach generally.

4 + 5 - don't know.  curious what people say :-)

Enjoy the concert.


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Re: Help - need tips for concert photography event *tonight*
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2012, 05:27:29 PM »

Much obliged -- good tips.  I imagine the 50/1.4 will focus best for the reasons you mentioned, but I'll need to stop that down to net a keeper, right? 

The 28mm IS ( far sharper than my Mk I 24-70 (, especially on the wide open end.  Beyond the data, my personal experience has backed this -- the 28 is a peach of a lens.

Also, this is indie rock music, so the front man is usually locked on the mic and not doing jump kicks or back flips... Usually.  :D  I agree that any animated band members will punish the results from slower glass.


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Re: Help - need tips for concert photography event *tonight*
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 05:55:04 PM »
I've only just had my 50 1.4 back from repair, so not tried it with the 5d3 yet.  On the 7D, i found that i could get keepers wide open, but they were difficult in situations outside my control.  Stopping it down a bit is easier :-)

In my (limited) experience, it's the drummer's arms that're the first thing to go, then guitar arms and such.