Recommended Gear for Concert Photography

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Want to turn your passion for music into chances at getting some cash? Besides knowledge of composition, aperture, exposure and ISOs, you'll have an easier time scoring that wonderful shot if you've acquired the right gear. Here's a listing of cameras and lenses that you may want to get your hands on.


Canon 60D/7D

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The Canon 60D and 7D are cameras with fast shooting rates and are capable of shooting at very high ISOs—which is a constant need when shooting concerts. If you're shooting an underground show in a bar for example, know that the lighting will not be ideal. Further, performers tend to move very quickly. Since this is the case, the 7D's autofocus will actually be much more useful in this situation. If the venue allows it, both of these cameras have wireless flash capabilities to help with capturing enough light to get the job done. 

Recommended lenses with these cameras would be the Canon 50mm F/1.4, Sigma 50mm F/1.4, Canon 28mm F/1.8, and the Sigma 30mm F/1.4. Primes (fixed focal lengths) are perhaps best because they can allow more light to hit the sensor than zooms can due to the smaller APS-C sensor. If your wallet can afford it, try and get a 430 EX II or 580 EX II flash.

Nikon D90/D300s

Similar to the Canon 60D and 7D, the Nikon D90 and D300s are very powerful cameras with class-leading high ISO capabilities. With 12MP sensors, these cameras mostly focus on fast shooting speeds, clean images at high ISOs, and accurate autofocus. Though they have video capturing abilities, they aren't as advanced as Canon's.

If you're going the Nikon route, go for the Nikon 50mm F/1.4, Nikon 24mm F/1.4, and Nikon 85mm F/1.4. However, I've shot concerts with the Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 ED.

Canon 5D Mk II

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The 5D Mk II is my personal weapon of choice for concert photography. With a 21MP full frame sensor, it is capable of night vision at dark venues. Additionally, the images and color rendition are quite gorgeous. Though the 5D Mk II doesn't have the greatest autofocusing abilities in horrible lighting, the center focusing point is usually the most accurate when shooting. Further, it has the slowest shooting rate on this list.

If you're on a budget perhaps you may want to stick to the Canon 50mm F/1.4, 24-70mm F/2.8 L, and the 85mm F1.8. Truthfully, that's all you'll need. If you can afford it, go for the 50mm F/1.2, 85mm F/1.2, or 35mm F/1.4

Nikon D700

Besides for the Nikon D3s, the D700 is a concert photographer's dream camera. A full frame 12MP CMOS sensor with some of the cleanest high ISO files are at the heart of this beast. The D700 shoots at 5fps and has the best autofocusing abilities of any camera on this list. If you really just care about capturing photos without having video to supplement, then this is the camera that you'll need to save up for.

The D700 does best with the 24-70mm F/2.8 ED and the 70-200mm F/2.8 ED VR II. However, it can also do very well with the Nikon 50mm F/1.4, Nikon 24mm F/1.4, and Nikon 85mm F/1.4.

Happy shooting!