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dcwebman Feb 23, 2006 9:45 AM

I will be going to a Las Vegas show that surprisingly allows cameras. I have tried using the camera before at another concert but the pictures didn't come out well. As I can't really practice in that situation, I was wondering if somebody had a suggestion as to the best settings for the camera so I can end up with some good photos. FYI, we're actually seeing the show twice. First show we'll be in the front row and the second we'll be in the balcony.


JimC Feb 23, 2006 11:31 AM

Same answer:;forum_id=20


You may want to consider bringing a monopod along for the Pentax to help reduce blur from camera shake, too. I'd use continuous mode and take photos in bursts (sometimes one will be less blurry compared to another).

You'll lose a bit more light as you zoom in to equivalent focal lengths compared to the Z3 (but, the Pentax should have better noise at it's highest ISO speeds compared to your Minolta). So, again, don't zoom in any more than you absolutely have to with the Pentax or Minolta models you bring along. Both have lenses that allow more than twice as much light to reach the sensor at their widest zoom settings, compared to their longest zoom settings.

dcwebman Feb 23, 2006 11:46 AM

Thanks again Jim. I'll have both cameras because I was figuring I would use the bigger zoom on the Z3 when in the balcony.

Since I obviously can't use both cameras at the same time, if I was going to concentrate on just using one, which one do you think would give better results?


P.S. Oh, and for the price I paid for the tickets to these concerts (and a concert the next day), I wouldn't even be opposed to buying a new camera < $500. Anything out there that would give better results?

JimC Feb 23, 2006 11:54 AM

That's a tough call. For your closer photos, I'd probably go with the Optio if you're close enough for the flash (I saw your other post saying 5 or 10 feet).

From the balcony, I'd probably go with the Z3 because of it's built in anti-shake (camera shake is magnified at longer focal lengths), and because it will be a bit brighter at equivalent focall lengths when you zoom in some (not to mention that it's got a much longer lens).

But, if you can use a monopod with the Pentax to help with the camera shake part, and your angle of viiew is OK without the longer zoom of the Z3, you may be able to get better results with it.

I'd probably bring along both and take photos with both to increase my percentage of keepers. The only way to tell for sure which model is going to work best is to try them both in the same conditions.

Neither model is going to be ideal from further distances, because they both lose a lot of light as you zoom in more, and both are limited to a max ISO speed of ISO 400 (which will be very noisy with the Z3, but probably not quite as bad with the 555). That means slower shutter speeds for proper exposure, which will contribute to blur from camera shake and subject movement.

dcwebman Feb 23, 2006 11:56 AM

You may not have seen my edit of the post while you were replying:

Oh, and for the price I paid for the tickets to these concerts (and a concert the next day), I wouldn't even be opposed to buying a new camera < $500. Anything out there that would give better results?

dcwebman Feb 23, 2006 12:17 PM

Oops, just saw from looking at the other forums that I wasn't supposed to ask that question. And ironically somebody else posted pretty much the same question today too in the correct forum looking for a good camera for concert use. I'll be watching there for a reply.

JimC Feb 23, 2006 12:23 PM

I don't keep up with all of the detals about all of the new models available.

So, you're probably better off asking in our What Camera Should I Buy Forum so that users comparing these models more closely than I have could give you better informed responses.

One thing you want to look for is the ability to use higher ISO speeds with relatively low noise (and just because a model has higher available settings, doesn't mean that the images are going to be very usable, because of noise and/or loss of detail from noise reduction via the camera's image processing algorithms.

Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same aperture and lighting for proper exposure.

Another thing to look for is larger available apertures (represented by smaller f/stop numbers).

Lenses are rated by their largest available apertures (smaller f/stop numbers), and for most (but not all) zoom lenses, you'll see two aperture ratings... the first one is for the widest aperture at the wide end of the lens, and the second is the widest aperture at the long end of the lens. The largest available aperture will fall somewhere in between these two numbers at focal lengths in between the two extremes.

Some zoom lenses can maintain a constant aperture throughout their focal range (with f/2.8 being the most common). Of course, a brighter zoom lens is larger, heavier and more expensive. For indoor use without a flash, a lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture is preferred in a zoom.

Aperture is a ratio of the focal length of the lens and the area of the aperture iris diameter.

The aperture scale (in one stop increments) goes f/1.0, f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0, f/11, f/16, f/22, etc. With each one stop move to a smaller aperture (represented by larger f/stop numbers), you will need shutter speeds twice as long for proper exposure (only half as much light gets through with each one stop move).

So, a lens with a larger available aperture (smaller f/stop numbers) is desired to get fast enough shutter speeds to reduce motion blur (either from camera shake or subject movement) in many conditions.

Some of the ultra zoom models have f/'2.8 available throughout their focal range, and some don't lose a lot (perhaps 1/2 stop to around f/3.5). But, ISO speed tends to be a limiting factor with most.

Optical Image Stabilization or Anti-shake type systems can help with the blur from camera shake. But, you'll still want to make sure shutter speeds are fast enough for preventing blur from subject movement (larger available apertures + higher available ISO speeds).

You're really getting into DSLR territory trying to do much indoors of moving subjects without a flash. But, you'll spend more than your desired budget for a camera alone, and a third party lens like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO is going to run you around $800 discounted (and it will be much larger and heavier than a prosumer model, too). A lens with that focal range and brightness wiill cost you more in the camera manufacturer's lens lineups.

But, you can probably get by at many concerts without going to that expense if the stage lighting is good enough for a prosumer model with a relatively bright lens.

I'd see what other forum members suggest.

To get a better understanding of how ISO speed (shown as film speed in the calculator), light, and aperture impact shutter speeds a camera can achieve for proper exposure, see this handy online exposure calculator:

JimC Feb 23, 2006 12:31 PM


Primes (non zoom lenses) are a way to get into a DSLR with a lower cost compared to using zooms (and you can get brighter primes compared to zooms, too). For example, you can get a 50mm f/1.8 or brighter lens for Canon, KM or Nikon DSLR models for under $100.00.

I haven't priced them lately for Pentax DSLR models, but the cost shouldn't be too much different for an equivalent lens.

But, that's not going to be long enough for your balcony shots (even though one would have a 35mm equivalent focal range of around 75mm, since lenses used on a DSLR will appear longer due to the smaller sensors compared to 35mm film). Longer primes will be more expensive.

You can also rent a DSLR and lenses. But, you'd need time to learn how to use one, and it may not be worth the effort and cost.

Also, even though they say they allow cameras, it's very common for venues to turn away anyone with a model that looks "too professional".

I'd see what our forum members have to say about non-DSLR models that may be more suitable for indoor use at a concert. The stage lighting may not be too bad (but I would not count on great lighting).

But. you may be able to get by with what you've got. You might be surprised at the number of keepers you can get with anti-shake, even though shutter speeds may be relatively slow.

dcwebman Feb 23, 2006 1:05 PM

Jim, once again thanks for the wealth of information. I never got into manual-type photography back in the old days like some friends and stuck to the point and shoot cameras, so I'll have to re-read and re-read your info probably a few times to understand fully.

I was just reading about the Fuji F10 and its amazing low light use. I'll have to continue researching, but even something like that is certainly cheap enough. Thanks again.

The concert is at the beginning of April so perhaps if I get some decent shots, I'll let you know. :-)

JimC Feb 23, 2006 1:17 PM

dcwebman wrote:

I was just reading about the Fuji F10 and its amazing low light use. I'll have to continue researching, but even something like that is certainly cheap enough.
It loses a lot of of light at longer focal lengths, giving up much of the advantage you have of higher available ISO speeds, and there is no anti-shake to help out either.

It's lens is also not as long as the lenses on your other cameras. So, you may not be able to zoom in as much as desired for your balcony shots.

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