Cameras for Concert Pictures - Jemsite
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-20-2007, 11:02 PM Thread Starter
 
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Cameras for Concert Pictures

After taking pictures with my Canon Powershot SD630 at G3 on Sunday night, I now realize that I will have to spend even more money to take good concert pics. I tried setting the camera's ISO speed to max(ISO 800) and turning the flash off, which picked up all of the color but made the picture completely blurry. The flash pictures came out okay but the flash took away all of the color. What camera will I need to buy in order to take professional looking pictures that have a lot of color and don't come out blurry?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 01:42 AM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

To get *really* good concert pics you will need to enter the digital SLR market (DSLR). Good inexpensive DSLR cameras are the Canon Digital Rebel and Nikon D40, among others of course. They can get pretty expensive though.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 08:06 AM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

It's not the cameras that are expensive. I really wanted the Canon EOS350D then 400D when it came out, Thing is they only come with a basic 18-55mm lens and I wanted more closeup from long distance. I found after adding the cost of a good quality lens on (which was more than the camera) it all just spiraled out of control cost wise so till I got a spare £1100 (er yeah right) it can wait.
As chone said the D40 is a very nice bit of kit. Can't really go wrong with Canon or Nikon. I sell cameras and i'm a bit of a tire kicker with them too lol.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 08:22 AM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

Low light shooting is tough. You definitely would need a DSLR. They handle noise much better than any point any point and shoot camera, and noise is an issue when you get into ISO 800, 1600, 3200. Canon Rebel or Rebel XT would be a good start. Then you need a fast lens. By fast I mean aperture of 2.8 or so. Image stabilization can help also when taking photos in low light.
I would say the cheapest route would be a Canon 300D (used $350.00) and something like the Sigma 17-70mm 2.8 (used $300.00). That would be a world of difference over your point and shoot especially in low light.
If you have to shoot from far away from the stage then your going to need a longer lens. A fast long lens will cost you some bucks. If you can shoot from close up to the stage and you want to go cheap you can get a Canon 50mm f1.8. This is a really cheap lens ($65.00 used) and it is VERY sharp as well as fast. At f1.8 it lets in a lot of light. The problem with f1.8 is that your DOF is pretty small (the area that will be perfectly in focus).
Even with fast glass and a DSLR it will be challenging to get really good concert photos.

Here's a photo of the drummer in my band taken with the 300D and the Sigma 17-70mm 2.8. Taken at our gig Last Friday night. It was quite dark.




Shutter Speed - 1/20th sec (really too slow for a hand held shot at 40mm but it turned out ok anyway.)
F-stop - f/4.0
ISO - 1600
Focal length - 40mm

Last edited by Rotti; 03-21-2007 at 08:42 AM. Reason: added photo.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 11:27 AM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

I personally like the Panasonic Lumix FX07 or FX50. I'm personally happy with mine(picked it up in Japan, they should be available here by now)

Works great in the dark and has a rediculous max sensitivity of ISO 3200. Specs are here http://panasonic.co.jp/pavc/global/l...fications.html

(for a camera I picked up brand new in Japan for $250, it's proven to be pretty darn good)
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 11:49 AM
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

that pic above is very good for a controlled concert pic. little front focus on the drums (no surprise as AF was probably used and the high contract auto focus point selected was the bass drum) though.

IF that is the minimum quality you're looking for keep reading and we'll talk digital SLR cameras.

along with what Rotti and others said let me add this...

Indoor concert/event you'll need to use iso1600 (iso3200 is better) and apply a noisemonkey or equivalent filters as needed. Sample shots and the histogram will show light metering and if you need iso3200 use that. It's easier to remove NOISE than it is to add light to a photo

ALWAYS shoot in RAW format which allows post-processing exposure adjustments without introducing JPG and other artifacts and picture glitches.

For concerts i've used SLR 35mm film, compact digital and a dSLR (canon 10D). the compact digital (pre affordable dSLRs) was too slow in regard to shutter lag and everything else. The 35mm film SLR worked best (no surprise) but i attribute some of that to user error (the 10D was new) but more importantly to the fact the same lens on a film SLR was inaequate on my dSLR. This brings me to the next point...

Lens selection is crucial... wrong lens on great body will get you bad results. i would NOT recommend even a 2.8 lens unless you were stuck requiring a long zoom. even then i'd try for a f/2.0 prime lens cause you NEED light to get good pics and flash is useless from a distance (and up close really).

Assuming new 8-10 megapixel dSLR you get better results using a shorter lens with proper exposure and cropped, as opposed to a "perfect zoom" picture with poor exposure (ie. slow zoom lens). Refurb Rebel XT is $400, i'm sure you can find better deals if you look (XT or XTi)
http://www.adorama.com/ICADRXTBR.html

For concerts I would go with a FAST prime lens. Canon 50/f1.4 (or sub $100 as Rotti said f1. or Canon 85/f1.8. the 85 is a fast focus lens and good performer... lets ALOT more light in than f2.8. careful though as shallow DOF requires good focus

so if Rotti had the f/1.4 lens he could use an appropriate shutter speed and when the drummer was playing or other band member moving around there would be not motion blur (from slow shutter required to let enough light in).

i think motion blur adds a cool effect to some pics but i'm assuming the goal is sharp, crisp pics in a dark concert and you need FAST FAST FAST lenses and a dSRL minimum level of Rebel XT. I would pass the cheapie nikons which have a sony CCD sensor which has alot of noise above iso400... horrendous for low light. even the d200 will suffer at high ISO. Canon wins there hands down and is why i'd recommend them for almost any dSLR buyer starting from scratch with no lenses... glen
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 11:51 AM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

yeah what Rotti said. you won't come close to good unless you have a great DSLR. if you think you are really going to love photography i would buy better right off the bat. get what YOU like in the way of a manufacturer. i won't use anything but Canon for DSLR or Video production, but that's me. get what you want.

when i shoot bands i use flash here and there but for instances when you can't, you must rely on a very fast lens and the processor speed in the camera. i won't shoot bands with anything more than F2.8. I have a few prime lenses that go as low as F1.4 and the photos are amazing.

The unfortunate side of this is that it can be expensive so use your skills to search for used. One of my lenses alone for the pro series with image stabilization was $1900.00 Was that crazy? Well i didn't like spending the money but i also run a photo and video and audio production company on the side so my clients are worth it. Although i have to update my portfolio you can check out some of my work at www.sarproductions.com

Good luck,

Steve
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 12:11 PM
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

here is an example f3.5-4.5 zoom at f4.5 (zoomed in). this was downsampled and shot in JPG (not RAW). Not bad but also a poor representation imho of what that camera is capable with the proper lens.

the white guitar with spotlight makes that difficult to expose, especially when limited by f2.8, f3.5, f4.5, etc. every show will have similar situations

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 12:22 PM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

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Originally Posted by jemsite View Post
that pic above is very good for a controlled concert pic. little front focus on the drums (no surprise as AF was probably used and the high contract auto focus point selected was the bass drum) though.
That is one of the biggest challenges I have with my camera. Getting that focus point exactly where I want it. With lots of light it's no problem I just use F11 or something.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 12:37 PM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

in situations with this vai pic i found it best to find the area that is blown out most by light and adjust for that....the jem. spend a few moments getting the right exposure on that and make sure white balance is set (not like you couldn't do it later in photoshop but still...) sure, vai may turn out a little darker but that is ok. this photo is bright enough where you don't have to worry about that. that's what photoshop is for. you can lighten him a little...very little. and when i mean dark i don't mean unrecognizable...just a little darker than he is here. he may actually be in focus a little more as well since the shutter probably won't have to stay open as long. plus, the guitar not being blown out is a big concern. once that is crisp it will really make the photo jump...and if vai is a tad darker, so be it...it won't be that bad and it will add some artistic balance to the shot since he is the important part of the photo, and yet, the guitar is brighter. hope makes sense.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 12:41 PM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

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Originally Posted by buddroyce View Post
Works great in the dark and has a rediculous max sensitivity of ISO 3200.
Have you taken any photos at ISO 3200? I haven't seen any samples of it online or anything but I doubt that they would be useable. Even at ISO 400 almost all point and shoot cameras have horrible noise. It's just because of the small sensor they have. If you have some samples at ISO 3200 please post one or two, I'd like to see what it looks like.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 01:06 PM
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

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in situations with this vai pic i found it best to find the area that is blown out most by light and adjust for that....the jem. spend a few moments getting the right exposure on that and make sure white balance is set (not like you couldn't do it later in photoshop but still...) sure, vai may turn out a little darker but that is ok. this photo is bright enough where you don't have to worry about that. that's what photoshop is for. you can lighten him a little...very little. and when i mean dark i don't mean unrecognizable...just a little darker than he is here. he may actually be in focus a little more as well since the shutter probably won't have to stay open as long. plus, the guitar not being blown out is a big concern. once that is crisp it will really make the photo jump...and if vai is a tad darker, so be it...it won't be that bad and it will add some artistic balance to the shot since he is the important part of the photo, and yet, the guitar is brighter. hope makes sense.
good tips for sure. the problem w/ Vai is the "photo pass" lasts 3 songs in some place and of course the LIGHTS, sirens, STOBES, etc. are going crazy. later in the show when the lights aren't flashing it really helps. i was probably in the wrong light metering mode (evaluative, center or weighted/center) too as the camera was a few weeks old.

had i used iso3200 and RAW and a 35 or 50/1.4 and knew the camera i'd like to thikn the shots would be very impressive stage front. i think the discussion points out that even with the right equipment the operator can screw things up .. glen
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 01:15 PM
 
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

Glen, true true, Vai's show would definitely be a challenge. Best bet is to shoot 500 photos or whatever and keep the best that stick. i try to shoot no higher than iso 800 but there were times when i had to...such as at weddings. not too grainy but if the shot was really nice and i couldn't get rid of some grain, the trick is to turn that shot into black and white. strip it of color in photoshop and then maybe even add some sepia to it....that way you have a cool effect that compliments what little grain there may be. shooting in RAW is a huge plus. i very rarely shoot in jpg, even if it's around the house.

Glen, how did you get into a Vai show with the nice camera? Last time I was at a show they said nothing could get in. I have this digital audio recorder that i use on video shoots for stereo dolby digital audio. it's phenominal...records at 96khz to sandisk. can record in mp3 or wav. the quality by far outways DAT recorders. it's amazing. about the size of an ipod. digital display, the works. i have thought of bringing that to shows...not for bootleg, but just for me to listen to. i never have since i don't feel right about it, even if it's just for me.

steve
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 01:20 PM
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

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Originally Posted by Rotti View Post
Have you taken any photos at ISO 3200? I haven't seen any samples of it online or anything but I doubt that they would be useable. Even at ISO 400 almost all point and shoot cameras have horrible noise. It's just because of the small sensor they have. If you have some samples at ISO 3200 please post one or two, I'd like to see what it looks like.
for sure. that sensor is too small to handle real > ISO 800... probably it applies JPG brightening and photoshopping on the chip. Some dSLRs at even iso800 are horrendous with noise.

but along with what Budd says, i have a digital elph that is amazing for what it does... they just have limits that con, but put even a 800x1200 pixel webpic against a nice dSLR and the results are night and day.

this shows ISO falloff above iso200
http://www.photographyblog.com/revie...dmc_fx07_3.php

here is a review of a sister Lumix that shows ISO falloff too
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasoniclx2/page13.asp

Just an FYI... for "sitting around the table" photos the elph/lumix camera can be great (even though i'd use the flash).

AFAIK the Rebel XT only goes to ISO1600... the 10D and better go to iso3200 when you enable the "custom function" and the photos are *very* usable at iso1600/3200 .. glen
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 01:28 PM
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Re: Cameras for Concert Pictures

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Glen, how did you get into a Vai show with the nice camera? Last time I was at a show they said nothing could get in.
Photo pass from his managment. You can see a few photo galleries in the "etc" link (i just noticed 2 have broken links - will fix them). But that particular G3 show in NYC the venue limited photography up front stage to "3 songs" for each artist. i didn't do the last tour as i just wanted to sit and watch but i had alot more experience with the dSLR by then so it's a bummer looking at those old photos knowing what i know now. dSLR is a whole new ball game imho vs film.

don't get me wrong, iso3200 wouldn't be preferred in weddings where you have an assistant, lighting and expectations of large prints. here it can be the difference between "50 out of 500 excellent" shots or "500 out of 500 garbage" shots .. glen
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