View Full Version : concert photography help

06-22-2005, 08:27 AM
So I'm going to see Showbread tomorrow (pretty energetic band) and I was hoping to take some good or halfway decent photos. Last time I took some pictures they turned out either very blurry or dark (see below). I have a Kodak CX7330 and I know its not made for taking these kind of photos but its all I can afford right now and I'm not a professional photographer. I heard I'd be better off taking pictures with a disposable flash than my CX7330. What am I doing wrong because my pictures really suck?


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v211/bspolin/000_0297.jpg (My best one)
Plain White T's:

06-22-2005, 02:00 PM

As a lot of folks on this forum already know I take a lot of concert and theater shots. I worked my way through a good number of digital cameras, among the group were the Panasonic FZ 10, 15, and 20 models. However, as has been previously suggested in this thread, I now use dSLR cameras exclusively.

Yes, the FZ-20 could do the job, but you are using the camera at its absolute limits: maximum aperture, maximum ISO etc. The result is that you get very slow shutter speeds that are virtually incapable of stopping any action at all on stage and you become entirely dependent on the amount of light that is available on stage when you want to shoot.

I moved to dSLR's because using the FZ-20 at F 2.8 and ISO 400 was just making shooting very difficult with very spotty, unpreditable results. I needed more ISO and if economically feasible, faster lenses.

Today with a dSLR I can shoot at ISO 3200, and I can do it with a reasonable F3.5 aperture lenses and reasonable shutter speeds that really will stop action on stage without using any flash.

The limitations that I had experienced with digital cameras such as the FZ-20 were gone. Now I no longer have to cross my fingers while going to a concert to take photos, I now get very consistent and much higher quality results. In the FZ-20 I was always fighting the noise gremlin, with dSLR cameras such as the Canon 20D and the Pentax 1stDS, noise is no longer a problem.

I am sorry to make this post so long, but I thought it might be helpful to chronicle the progression I went through. OK, the logical question is this: If you don't want to spent $1,000 to $2,000 to get into a good dSLR outfit, then what do you do?

Remember that the two limiting factors in concert amd theater photography are ISO speeds and fast lenses. I also mentioned that when you can really increase the ISO speed sustantially, the need for a fast lens is reduced considerably. Therefore, you might want to take a look at the newer point and shoot digital cameras that have much higher available ISO speeds such as the Fuji F-10. The F-10 has a max ISO setting of 1600 that gives you much more flexibility. So for around $300, the F-10 will give a piece of the action. Yes, it does have some limitations, such as only 3X optical zoom, and please keep in mind that when the F-10 is zoomed out to that 3X position, the useable aperture falls to F 5.0 which is very limiting. So setup your shots with the F-10 where you are at the wide angle position. Then you can get some really great photos. I have attached a photo from the F-10 to demonstrate what the F-10 really can do if you setup your photos to operate within the F-10 limitations.

I have attached/enclosed a sample photo taken without flash from my Pentax 1stDS for you.

Again, my apologies for making this post so long.

Sarah Joyce

06-28-2005, 11:53 AM
Let me start by saying that I think its awesome that you listen to the T's. To be able to take low-light you must stand still. This can be difficult at concerts such as the ones you've listed. Like Sarah said increase the ISO speed. My camera has White Balance setting, if yours does take it off of auto and manually set the white balance (see your instruction manual). I have also found that getting closer helps a ton. When you use any zoom you need more like. By getting closer you don't have to zoom. However, in a concert setting if you are that close you may not be able to stand still.

If it were me, I'd get a disposable because if it falls in the pit or any other diaster occurs then you're only out the six buck or whatever. I wouldn't risk it with the digital.

06-28-2005, 12:15 PM
While a dSLR will give the best results at concerts, it's not always an option. Lots of concerts don't let you take in a dSLR or anything that looks professional without a photo pass, but most will let you take in a pocketable digicam.

See here (http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/concerts.asp), here (http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9444), and here (http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6929), for starting points on concert photography advice.

Aside from that my advice is:
*Force the camera to use the highest ISO possible (400 on most P&S digicams) - shots will be noisier but less blurry
*Take photos at times when the band members are relatively still
*Use stage lighting to your advantage; snap the photos when there's more light
*Zoom out, to get the maximum aperture available
*Try to hold the camera steady or lean it on something, so you're not compounding subject blur with camera shake
*Use the flash if you're front-row and the band doesn't mind, but otherwise don't bother