Low Light Concert Photography.


TPF Noob!
Sep 23, 2010
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Danville, IL
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Hello again everyone.
Todays question is one that has been plaguing me for years, with every new camera it feels as though I'm starting fresh on taking pictures at concerts.

Currently I'm shooting with a Canon 50D, I use a 50mm 1.8 prime most of the time. I find however that even with the 1.8 i'm having to take my ISO up to almost 3200 in order to get good shots, this was with my 20D now with my 50D i'm finding that even at 1.8 and 1/160 in TV mode i'm experiencing a lot of blur and completely unusable pictures. I do not use a flash since most venues don't allow for it, is there something I'm doing wrong with my new camera?

Also I would love to use my 28-135 Kit lens since I like the range it has, But I feel since I can't get a single usable picture with the 1.8 at the moment the 3.5 of the 28-135 would be a colossal waste of time, I'm shooting for a buddies band tonight so buying another prime or a 70-200 2.8 is not an option at this point. (also money isn't going to allow it.) And I'm not a huge fan of the range on the 70-200mm lens since most of the time the bands I photograph are playing on the floor and I' pratically on top of them.

Any help with settings would be great, and I'm sorry that I'm so green at this and have to keep asking questions such as this, but I'm learning and it will get there eventually.

many thanks as usual
-Christopher V
I shoot low light events and concerts with a D700 and a 50mm 1.4. Always switch to Aperture mode and keep to 1.4 - let the camera decide the shutter speed - and if its my D700 i turn on auto iso and keep minimum shutter speed at 1/50th second and if my D90 body i program my front dial to iso so I can adjust. Final shots at ISO anywhere from 2000 to 6400. Always useable shots. Never use a flash as ruins ambient light - concerts and events should always have great light focused on singer or speaker.
Thanks for the posts back guys, a couple of examples of what I've done with my 50mm 1.8 are posted in my gallery on here, I've yet to find a place to keep my photos online that doesn't seriously degrade them (free service that is) Check them out and let me know where I might want to improve, those shots where taken with my 20D. I will post a few from tonight's shoot late later this evening.

Is there any place I could see your work, I'd diffenatly like to see some of the shots with the ISO kicked up to 6400, but in general i would like to see some shots from the 1.4 Canon.

Also I normally don't take photos in clubs, a lot of what I do are local punk basement shows and vfw halls, most of the time I'm working with virtually no light.

have you checked the manual?

Yes, thank you though for stating the complete obvious, your post was defiantly a big help.

To ERose86, So the concert was a bust, I had contacted the promoter prior to the show and asked him when kind of lighting set up there where going to have and he stated they had couple row of canisters, and i thought ok cool that will be fine as long as i can talk them out of using reds and oranges all night.

When I arrived with my buddies band it was a bar out in the middle of nowhere.. not only did they have no light set up but it was outdoors in the beer garden (in October in the Midwest) with one spot light that happend to be over lookng the parking lot, the bands couldn't see to play it was so dark.. so in the end it was pointless. But yeah thanks for all of the posts and help. I looked through your photos, the 1.4 seems to make a big difference from the 1.8 might think of inventing in one.


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