What settings for optimal concert pictures?

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    I’m used to landscape photography, it’s bright, and not much is moving. Concerts are the opposite. What do you think would be the best settings for a dark concert? Iso, Aperture, shutter speed, etc Help a novice!


    Not sure…. If you are too far back flash wont help. We have gotten a few really good ones at times when we were close to the stage turning the flash off and letting our Point n shoot go automatic. Though usually there is motion blur. (have to keep the flash off since they were taking cameras from anyone who used it at the concert we were at)


    I don’t know how much use this is going to be with the Olympus (I’m assuming you are using that from another thread) but here are my concert settings.

    ISO: Auto with a max iso of 1600 (some recommend only going to 800) and a minimum shutter speed of 1/80s

    Aperture: As high as possible! 1.4 lenses are great for this with 2.8 being about the minimum I can use due to the available light (but this will also depend on the venue. Most are dark with not much lighting but I have once managed to get away using a 3.6-5 lens before due to a lot of stage lights)

    Shutter Speed: Anything over 1/50s. Everyone is moving so they tend to be fairly blurred under that (not that that is always a bad thing, it just tends to be everything is blurred and not just a hand or instrument)

    Focal Point: Set the focal point on the camera to be in the top third or quarter as that will be where the head you are focusing on will be. It stops you needing to move the camera all the time to focus and if you are like me with spot metering, metering off their face instead of their tummy!

    Flash: As jpattern said, forget it unless you are right in front of the band (even then I use it sparingly as I find it makes the image look less warm. Good for group shots where you have lowered the aperture though!)

    Shooting Mode: Continuous – this can help in situations where the shutter speed is getting low as the first image tends to be blurred thanks to pressing the shutter but the second or third tend to be a lot stiller.

    I used these settings at a concert last week – Pictures here


    It really depends on a boatload of factors including your desired final image size, what kind of lighting, what kind of photography you’re allowed to do, etc.

    If you have complete access (i.e. close friends with the band) I recommend using off-camera flash to augment the ambient lighting. I say off-camera because on-camera flash looks awful. I’d actually recommend not using on-camera flash at all because it just looks terrible. If the venue’s too dark to shoot ambient and you’re not allowed to set up flashes, don’t even bother.

    If you use flash, use CTO gel to match the color temperature of the ambient lighting.

    In my experience, you want to set manual white balance to 2000k or so. The “tungsten” preset will give you images that look too orange. If you’re using flash gelled to 3200k you can afford to increase your manual white balance temperature in proportion with how much the flash is contributing to the picture compared with the ambient.

    ISO depends on how much of a cave we’re talking about and how big your final image is going to be. It’s a tradeoff you’ll just have to learn to make depending on the situation. If you’re only going web resolution, just crank it up all the way to give yourself as much shutter speed as possible, the noise isn’t gonna show up. If you’re getting over 1/250 or so shutter you can also afford to close your aperture to buy yourself some extra depth of field (for fewer out-of-focus images). If you’re printing at all you’ll want ISO 800 max, 400 preferably and 200 for posters. 400 and 200 will obviously require that you add flash.

    I used to use continuous mode all the time but I eventually learned to pick my moments rather than spam the shutter. Shooting continuous makes your job harder in post because you have so many more images to sort out. Since post is my least favorite part of photography, I’ll take every chance I get to reduce that part of my workload! Continuous mode will also not work if you use flash because no matter how much the band likes you, it will distract and annoy them.

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