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Photography Question 
Christina Hill

Lenses and Concert Photography

I'm shooting for a local concert and was wondering what lens would be better. It's in a smaller venue, and I'll be able to get in the front. I'm using a Canon Rebel XT body. I have a Canon 28mm 1.8 and a Sigma 18-50mm 2.8. Which would be better to use?

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1/5/2007 10:15:44 AM

Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  I would choose the latter, since you would be able to have a wider angle (you're up close). You would also be able to zoom in on one subject better.

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1/5/2007 12:03:21 PM

Rebecca A. Steed
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/6/2005
  Ariel's right, use the 18-50mm. However, the questions that I have are: Do you have a tripod? are you planning to use flash? Are they going to have stage lights going crazy?My husband is a musician, so I have 'covered' a lot of his shows, and concert pics are some of the hardest in the biz. If you can time the lights, have a tripod and use a semi-high ISO (I suggest no higher than 800), you should be able to get some pretty good shots without using flash. Stage lights are just prettier in a picture. If they are looking blurry this way, experiment, take lots of pics and find what works best for you.

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1/5/2007 2:17:14 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings, Christina. While Ariel is right in principle and a zoom would be helpful for those reasons, the problem with both of those lenses you mentioned is that their focal length is pretty short, even the 50. How useful they are to you is going to depend on where you're positioned and both lenses would be most useful if you're either on stage or really close, say in the first row or two. At a minimum, when I'm a couple of rows or equal distance back at a concert, I use either an 85mm or even 135mm fixed focus, or a 35-105 Nikkor Zoomer.
Becky is right, in that a camera support is really helpful, but a lot of venues, if you're just visiting and not a member of the media, may not let you use a tripod since they're worried someone is going to trip on the thing. A monopod is useful too, BTW, and if they allow you to shoot (which is a separate issue entirely), a monopod might be the way to go or even just resting the camera on some kind of support, even a bean bag.
I shoot concerts and theatrical work for publication, on film. If I'm not using strobes, I shoot with Fuji Press color negative film that allows different ISOs on the same roll up to 800. For b&w, I prefer 3200 speed pulled down to 1600 so Becky's suggestion of 800 is right in the ballpark. It depends on the lighting you have anyway.
As for flash, if you're back more than a few rows, unless you you're shooting with something fairly powerful, it's not going to do you much good and you need to get permission to use one (as is the case with most concerts or they'll just have signs posted that say "no flash photography" or no photography. If you can use a flash and you're close enough, you want to set it about 1/2 or 3/4 of a stop less than your ambient stage light so you get it for fill rather than as a primary light to get the effect Becky suggested. Otherwise, a flash, not the on-camera one I think the XT has, can blow out the colors of the stage lighting.
Take it light. ;>)

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1/7/2007 10:19:22 AM


BetterPhoto Member
  don't forget about the people that will get angry that you are distracting them with your shutter noise and fumbling of your dials and constant movement in your seat.

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1/7/2007 4:33:15 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I photographed a small play/musical using stage light and a 28-300mm zoom f3.5 IS L at 800 ISO. No problems generally with the pics, only the odd one blurred - mainly because I didn't know when people would move (more homework needed with the Play itself).
One problem I did encounter though was the "noise" from my camera shutter (ie: small theatre where quiet moments in the play were quite distinct).
Next time I may try wrapping my camera in a thick black towel to try and stifle the sound. Does anyone have any other suggestions to overcome the noise/mirror problem in a quiet venue?

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1/27/2007 6:06:20 PM

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