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Old Jun 24, 2008, 8:24 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2007
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im going to a gig very soon and will be taking my camera

i have a sony alpha 200 with the kit lense 18-70 mm, also i have a minolta 50mm 1.1.7 and sigma 70-300mm zoom lense ..

anyone out there got any advice ie which lense to take with me (dont want to take all 3) for the best results

i know low light is a factor at concerts so will the minolta 50mm be ok ??been a faster lense . we shouldnt be sat too far away from the stage ,but wont be at the front.

also any other advice on settings etc will be helpfull

thanks in advance

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Old Jun 24, 2008, 9:01 AM   #2
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What kind of "gig" (i.e., will there be good overhead stage lighting or dimmer bar area type lighting)?

Your best bet in most stage lighting (unless it's very good lighting like you'd find with a major band) is a brighter prime (fixed focal length versus zoom lens). Then, shoot in Av (Aperturer Priority) mode at around f/2 with the camera set to ISO 1600 (only using ISO 3200 if you have to). I'd set White Balance to Tungsten (Incandescent) for most stage lighting.

If you shoot at f/2 using a lens like your 50mm f1/7, you'd get shutter speeds 8 times as fast in the same lighting with the same ISO speed, as you'd get with your 75-300mm if you zoomed in much with it, since it would be down to a largest available aperture of f/5.6 when zoomed in much, and f/2 is exactly 8 times as bright as f/5.6. I tend to use a Minolta 100mm f/2 AF lens for low light shots of bands more often than not (but, it's a bit pricey on the used market right now). If budget permits, you may want to consider a used Minolta 85mm f/1.4 AF lens if you plan on a lot of shooting in low light. You can usually find a Minolta 85mm f/1.4 AF lens in the 700s and up at vendors like http://www.keh.com (depending on the exact version and condition). A new Sony/Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 or 135mm f/1.8 would also be worth looking into (but, they'll cost you more).

If you want to try using your zoom (and I'd forget the 18-70mm, since it's down to f/5.6 by the time you zoom into 35mm with it), I'd go with the 75-300mm and stay on the 75mm end of the lens (it's brightest if you don't zoom in any), setting the camera to ISO 1600, the White Balance to Tungsten, and the Aperture to it's widest available value (lowest f/stop number), which is going to be f/4.5 with that 75-300mm. If shutter speeds are real slow, I'd mix in some ISO 3200 images, too (which will be noisier, but sometimes noise is better than blur).

Then, try to time your shots when the performers are moving the least (prefocus with a half press, and wait until the movement pauses before squeezing the shutter button the rest of the way down). Often, musicians are moving back and forth to the rhythm of the music. So, you have to try and time the shots just as the direction changes. For example, at the top of a lean backwards before someone starts leaning forward again (that's when you have the least subject movement), and by waiting for longer notes when they may not be moving as much. Shooting in bursts can sometimes improve your percentage of keepers, too.

If the photos are overexposed (too bright), set your Exposure Compensation to a -EV value until the exposure looks correct for your subjects in playback (using the histogram and blinking highlights features to help out), tweaking the Exposure Compensation settings for best results. If they're underexposed, do the opposite (use a +EV setting for a brighter exposure). Or, switch to manual exposure instead for more consistent results (set the aperture to f/4.5, and vary your shutter speed setting until the exposure looks correct for most of the photos, when the lighting is on the performers you're shooting). They won't all be perfect (since the lighting will tend to vary during a performance).

But, if you can get close enough (i.e., you can shoot from the front near the stage), you may find that your 50mm f/1.7 is a better bet (so that you'll get faster shutter speeds for a given lighting condition and ISO speed setting). I'd probably try it at around f/2 for starters, perhaps moving to around f/2.5 or f/2.8 for a tad more sharpness and depth of field if shutter speeds permit.

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Old Jun 24, 2008, 9:06 AM   #3
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Since you posted this question in more than one forum, I've combined the threads so that any responses will be in the same place.

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Old Jun 24, 2008, 1:03 PM   #4
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I think there is a much more important, legal issue here. Do you have written permission to shoot photographs at this gig and are cameras even allowed into the venue. I would check this out before you end up getting your gear confiscated or face a lawsuit over unauthorized photos.

Think about it.


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