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Old Oct 1, 2008, 5:38 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2007
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i know i have mentioned this before.

Im going to several concerts ,and going to take my camera .

Anyone got any experience with taking photos at gigs ?

the camera im going to use is my sony a200 i have several lenses

minolta 50mm 1.7

minolta 28-85mm f4.5

minolta beercan 70-210mm f4

sigma 90mm macro f2.8

sony 18-70mm kit lense

im wondering which would be the best of the above lenses to use as dont want to take them all , also what settings to use on the camera.

At all the gigs i will be seated aprox 20mtrs - 30mtrs from the stage area .

would a teleconverter help? as im looking to purchase one of these anyway

any help and advice will be appreciated

thank you. Martin
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Old Oct 2, 2008, 2:05 PM   #2
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If you're looking for stage shots, I think the 50/1.7 would be good; if you're looking for anything tighter, the 90/2.8 maybe with the focus limit set. I don't think anything else in your arsenal is fast enough for a rock concert (ie. bright lights, dark background, etc.)

And no, a TC would make it worse. TCs add at least a full f-stop to the aperture of the lens, and you need the largest aperture you can get.
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Old Oct 2, 2008, 6:29 PM   #3
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With a teleconverter you loose two stops for every doubling of focal length, or one stop for a multiplier of 1.4. That means a 1.4 multiplier would convert your 50mm f/1.7 into a 70mm f/2.4 - a bit shorter and a bit faster than your 90mm f/2.8. Though it would likely not be as high quality. A 2x multiplier would make it a 100mm f/3.5, a bit longer and a bit slower and even more likely to have lower quality.

Do some test shots with the highest ISO your camera supports and find out how it works and what the largest size is acceptable to you. Try stuff and find out - don't believe what you read on the web without testing it for yourself.
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Old Oct 3, 2008, 9:24 AM   #4
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A "big name" band with good stage lighting is one thing, and a smaller band in a dimly lit venue can be something else entirely.

Make sure you can actually take a camera if it's a larger band (you may not be allowed to bring one).

You may be able to get away with the Beercan for a larger venue. But, for a smaller venue, you're probably going to need something brighter (I'd lean towards the Sigma 90mm f/2.8, since it's probably going to be pretty sharp with the aperture wide open at f/2.8 ).

This issue comes up from time to time. So, I'm copying most of the answer from another reply I made not too long ago.

I'd suggest setting your White Balance to Incandescent (tungsten) for most concert lighting.

If the stage is not evenly lit (and it probably won't be if you have spotlights on smaller areas of the stage at any given time), that's going to fool your metering system.

For example, in concerts with that type of lighting, I tend to get overxposed photos with most cameras, because the large amount of dark space in the frame fools the metering. Some cameras may do the opposite. Whenever there is a big difference between light and dark in a frame, metering systems struggle to figure out what you want to be properly exposed.

Spot metering may not help much either, because if you try to meter on a dark subject, you may get an overexposed image, and if you try to meter on a lighter subject, you may get an underexposed image. If you try to meter on a face, that might work better. But, you'll have differences in skin tones and the metering spot may be larger than you think.

So, in difficult lighting, I tend to use manual exposure. Basically, when the lighting is about average for a subject when overhead lights illuminate them, take some photos and adjust your settings until your images look properly exposed in playback, using the histogram to help out.

You'll want to leave the aperture wide open (smallest available f/stop number) and adjust your shutter speed for best results. A faster shutter speed will give you a darker exposure and a slower shutter speed will give you a brighter exposure for any given aperture and ISO speed.

If you'd prefer not to use manual exposure and/or the lighting is changing a lot, I'd probably go Center Weighted Metering for stage lighting using P (programmed auto) mode. It's going to select the widest available aperture in low light anyway with the flash off. Then, adjust exposure as needed with Exposure Compensation after reviewing some test shots. A +EV setting will give you a brighter exposure and a -EV setting will give you a darker exposure compared to what the camera would normally use.

You'll also want to leave your ISO speed set relatively high.

Try to shoot when the performers are as motionless as possible (for example, while they're playing a longer note). Use techniques like timing your shots so that a performer is at the top of a lean backwards, or bottom of a lean forward can also help out (since musicians will tend to sway to the music). You want to time them so that you've got the least amount of subject movement to help reduce blur.

When you increase ISO speed, noise levels will also increase. So, you may want to use software to help later. Look into these (and they have demo/free versions available for personal use):

The "Community" edition is free.

Neat Image
The Demo version is free for personal use.

Take lots of photos. Be patient, prefocus with a half press of the shutter button, and try to take them when movement stops (smoothly press it the rest of the way down then).

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