Thursday, March 6, 2014

Concert Photography - Camera Settings!

I'm often asked what settings I use when shooting concert images.

That's such a tricky question... 
Is the concert indoors or outdoors?
Large arena, or is it a smaller club show?  (Smaller club shows tend to have very little light, or a single colored beam).

Are you shooting from the pit or from the sound board/console at the back of the venue? 
What type of concert?
(for instance... Craddle of Filth tend not to have the same type lighting, as... Celine Dion!) 

• What type of effect do you wish to obtain?
(still action capture or blurred motion)

Here's my basic setting, that I usually start off with, then apply changes if need be. 
"M" Manual Mode  •  ISO 1600-2000  •  1/320 Speed  •  F3.2-3.5
Note that these settings are a guideline only, and each concert will be different, and settings should also take in consideration what quality gear you are using.
The 1/320 speed is enough to freeze any jump shot, and still give you decent hair motion "blurr".  

The noted aperture, is in the pit, using a 24-70mm at about 6-8ft from the subject.  This setting provides good enough separation from the background, yet sharpness throughout the upper body (waist up).  Because the stage is usually about 5'-6" to 6' high, and you're on the lower level, the distance from the lens to the waist, & the lens to the eyes, is very different, so I'd suggest a longer depth of field.  Example... a full-frame camera, at 60mm focal length, at f/3.2 & at 8' from the subject, provides you approximately 9" of DOF.  Several online and phone Apps available.  DOF Master

As for WB, I always shoot RAW, as it can easily be adjusted in PP.  Also the artist in the follow spot will usually have a much cooler temperature than anyone else, stage or crowd.

As for Auto Focus, "shoot for the eyes", is a good guideline.  The type of gear you use will have a huge effect on the focusing criteria.  For example, a Canon 70D has 19 Focus points, and a Canon 1Dx has a 61-point AF sensor and 21 cross type AF points at the center.  They won't react the same.

If the lighting changes drastically (ex.: strobes from the back of the stage towards us), I'll change to speed priority mode "TV", and let the camera make quick adjustments for me.  Hope this helps, and...  Happy Shooting!