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Old Apr 7, 2011, 2:54 PM   #1
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Default looking for a camera to shoot live music

there're too many cameras to check, so I really appreciate this spot to ask for advice

I need to get a camera to shoot bands and DJs playing live. Usually at night on dark places with stage lights, or sometimes not even many lights at all.
Usually because these places are dark, and everything is happening fast, it would be better a camera that already has a mode or two that would make it easier to get nice takes. Also, better if it's not a very big or heavy one neither.
I'm usually near the stage so a huge zoom is not totally necessary, although it could be nice to get close-ups of the musicians doing those funny sweating faces they do when they play.
I need a camera that can shoot fast, and maybe better if it can do this thing of taking many photos on one click (now you see how "pro" I am ). Specially when bands are playing they move fast and is difficult to get good photos of them jumping, head banging, dancing, or yelling something to the audience, I think I need speed and aperture.

I've bee checking on line the Olympus SP-800 and the Canon PowerShot SX 130, because also I can't afford an expensive camera yet. But I'm not yet sure neither of these two are going to do right for what I need.

So. I need advices please.
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Old Apr 7, 2011, 5:16 PM   #2
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Shooting in dimly lit clubs with poor stage lighting and capturing any movement is going to be tough, unless you can use a flash (and some places frown upon a lot of photos with flash, and some don't mind them). Of course, some venues frown upon using a camera at all, too. ;-)

Without a flash, you'll probably need to try and time your shots for when the least amount of movement is happening to increase your percentage of keepers, and that takes a bit of patience and practice watching for the right moments to shoot, even with a very good camera (dSLR wearing a brighter lens) with some stage lighting (typical lighting for smaller bands playing in clubs).

...when bands are playing they move fast and is difficult to get good photos of them jumping, head banging, dancing, or yelling something to the audience, I think I need speed and aperture
Just to set your expectations, even when using a dSLR set to higher ISO speeds (1600+) with a bright prime (not a dimmer zoom), it can be very tough to capture moving subjects on a dimly lit stage like you'll find in some clubs, unless you can use a flash (and you may be able to in some venues).

Lighting will vary by venue, and the band or club's lighting guy/gal may be varying the lights a lot during the performance in some cases (brighter one second, dimmer the next -- switching on or off different colored lights to change the mood of the lighting), making it even tougher.

For example, I took a lot of photos of a band not long ago where I was getting pretty good shutter speeds with all of the stage lights on (around 1/200 second at f/2 and ISO 1600) with a brighter prime. But, I was seeing relatively poor shutter speeds (well under 1/100 second most of the time) when the stage lighting was being dimmed and changing to mostly red and blue lights to add some ambience).

You'd have seen blur with any rapid subject movement even with the faster shutter speeds I saw with all lights on. In many conditions like that, you'll have to time your shots so that you're taking them during pauses in movement to get many keepers.

You'll probably want to have a dSLR capable of giving acceptable results at ISO 3200 wearing a bright lens (not a kit lens) if you don't want to use a flash, and even then, don't expect all of them to be blur free.

With non-dSLR models, you're probably going to need to use a flash to freeze any movement in dimmer lighting.
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Old Apr 7, 2011, 11:57 PM   #3
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This link has some shots I took at a local bar. I take quite a few photos of bands with a point and shoot camera. The trick is getting one with a manual aperature setting. These shots were taken with a Panasonic ZS6. This particular bar is quite dark with no stage lighting.

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Old Apr 8, 2011, 12:13 AM   #4
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The zs6 are okay, and there was a decent light source. But the shots has allot of noise to them, which is visible even at reduce resolution for the web. This is most obvious in the jeans and shirts that bad is wearing.

If there is very low light levels, you are not going to be able to keep up the shutter speed even with a dslr at 3200iso, or even at 6400iso to avoid shutter speed.

These are a mix of flash and no flash shots with a cann t1i and a big aperture lens.
NYC Session 73 Blues Dancing

And if you can use a flash
Vintage Night Dancing in NYC
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Old Apr 8, 2011, 12:36 AM   #5
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I would look at a micro 4/3 or one of the larger sensor compacts like the S95, LX5, XZ-1, etc. I've shot concerts with the ZS7 and it did great at the outdoor concert, but seriously dropped off at the indoor shows. Granted the S95/LX5/XZ-1 don't have fast burst modes, but a fast burst mode is more useful for action than concerts. Any camera with a shutter priority mode will be able to cope with subjects moving at concert speeds.
Disclaimer: I take photos of life rather than live to take photos and my opinions of cameras are reflected accordingly.
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