Benefits of 1st-Party Sony Lenses:

  1. Better performance: Since Sony designs the lenses, they usually bring better performance, such as increased frames per second, full compatibility and usually better autofocus, being faster and more accurate in most cases.
  2. Build quality: I’m not saying that the other lenses are poorly made, but the Sony lenses have a premium feel, including weather sealing and mostly being very resistant to the conditions they’re put into.

The Best Sony Lenses for Full-Frame Cameras in Concert Photography:

I always try to carry a minimum of 2 lenses for a concert, one covering a wider angle and one covering a tighter angle. For some shows I’ll carry 3, that cover almost the whole range, allowing me to take from full stage shots to face closeups or shots from a very long distance such as from a balcony or front of the house.

Best Sony Zoom Lenses for Full Frame Cameras:

Wide Angle shot
  1. Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM: This lens is perfect for capturing the whole stage and crowd photos on the wider range, and the 35mm allows for a lot of flexibility when needed.
    • Pros: Wide-angle versatility, fast f/2.8 aperture for low-light performance, excellent sharpness and contrast
    • Cons: Expensive, some distortion at the widest focal lengths (easy to fix in Lightroom)
  2. Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM: If I had to take only one camera, this would be it. It does cover some wide-angle capabilities and a good zoom range.
    • Pros: Versatile focal range, constant f/2.8 aperture, fast and accurate autofocus
    • Cons: Heavy and bulky, expensive
  3. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS: Almost everyone can recognize this lens from a distance due to its white tone. The range is incredible and at 2.8 at 200mm, you can get great close-ups with background separation. And combined the camera stabilization with the lens, it’s perfect for handheld shots.
    • Pros: Excellent reach for distant subjects, fast f/2.8 aperture, built-in optical image stabilization
    • Cons: Heavy and bulky, expensive

Best Sony Prime Lenses for Full Frame Cameras:

Although I prefer using zoom lenses during concerts due to their versatility, sometimes I carry some primes, as they offer two big advantages: size and maximum aperture. They’re usually lighter and allow even more light to get inside the sensor, making it even better for the low-light conditions of most concerts.

  1. Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM or f/1.4 ZA: Those are must-have lenses, and their aperture are great, enabling very creamy bokeh and low light. I’m giving here two options, as the 1.2 is quite expensive and the 1.4 ZA is considerably more accessible without much compromise.
    • Pros: Excellent low-light performance, beautiful bokeh, sharp and contrasty images
    • Cons: Expensive (especially the f/1.2 version)
  2. Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM:
    • Pros: Ultra-wide perspective, fast f/1.8 aperture, excellent sharpness and minimal distortion
    • Cons: Expensive
  3. Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM:
    • Pros: Excellent reach for tight portraits, fast f/1.8 aperture, exceptional sharpness and bokeh
    • Cons: Expensive

The Best Sony Lenses for APS-C Cameras in Concert Photography:

More recently, I’ve been shooting exclusively Full Frame, but I still believe the APS-C cameras are a great alternative for concert photography. They’re lighter, smaller and cheaper, with some compromises during low light compared with a full-frame camera.

The Best Sony Zoom Lenses for APS-C Cameras

  1. Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS:
    • Pros: Ultra-wide perspective, built-in optical image stabilization, compact and lightweight
    • Cons: Slower f/4 aperture, some distortion at the widest focal lengths
  2. Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G:
    • Pros: Versatile focal range, fast f/2.8 aperture, excellent sharpness and contrast
    • Cons: Expensive, no built-in optical image stabilization
  3. Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS:
    • Pros: Excellent reach for distant subjects, built-in optical image stabilization, compact and lightweight
    • Cons: Slower variable aperture, not as sharp as more expensive telephoto lenses

The Best Sony Prime Lenses for APS-C Cameras

  1. Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS:
    • Pros: Versatile focal length (52.5mm full-frame equivalent), fast f/1.8 aperture, built-in optical image stabilization
    • Cons: Not as sharp as more expensive prime lenses, some chromatic aberration
  2. Sony E 20mm f/2.8:
    • Pros: Wide-angle perspective (30mm full-frame equivalent), compact and lightweight, affordable
    • Cons: Slower f/2.8 aperture, some distortion and vignetting
  3. Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS:
    • Pros: Short telephoto focal length (75mm full-frame equivalent), fast f/1.8 aperture, built-in optical image stabilization
    • Cons: Not as sharp as more expensive prime lenses, some chromatic aberration

3rd Party Alternatives

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are always 3rd party alternatives for every one of those lenses, and I’ll cover them soon.

Keep in mind, that even though using a Sony lens on a Sony camera has benefits, some of the 3rd party lenses are not far behind, with brands such as Tamron and Sigma providing excellent image and build quality and most frequently being more accessible financially.

I have been using mostly a combo of two Tamron Lenses (17-28mm f/2.8 and 35-150mm f/2-2.8) for most of the concerts that I’ve shot. I have used Sony lenses on specific occasions.

As concert photographers, we’re always looking to get the best shot of an artist, but before focusing on that, I usually have a very simple pre-show checklist that I like to go through every time, to avoid having issues accessing the venue, to shoot the band and later on. Below I’ll cover a bit of what I do before every concert:

Confirm the Credentials

  • Double-check the photo pass and access details
  • Ensure I know the venue and band shooting conditions (some bands have specific songs, only the first 3, all show, etc)

Research the Show

  • I watch a few of their previous concerts, to see their style, specific movements such as jumps, crowd interactions, lights and more. Also, I check the band’s Instagram and photographers to see their style.
  • If it’s a new venue, I look for information about their layout to find great angles to shoot (only when allowed) and their overall security rules.
  • Review the setlist: I use setlist.fm to check the latest setlists, sometimes I create a playlist to get acquainted with the order of songs.

Check the Camera Gear

  • Download and backup images from memory cards
  • Format both memory cards
  • Charge the camera batteries
  • Decide which lenses I’ll take (usually the 35-150 and the 17-28 are always on the bag, but sometimes I take some extra lenses, such as anamorphic, or some primes)
  • Clean lenses and camera sensor
  • Take some test shots to make sure everything is working properly (usually of my cats)

Prepare The Camera Settings

  • I have two presets on my camera already, focused on concert photography, one with an aperture mode set, so it’s easier to control based on the aperture for low light and one in full manual to have full control of my shots.

Safety and Comfort

  • I always carry my custom earplugs, but if forgotten, I have a spare foam earplug set on my camera bag as it has happened a couple of times.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. My preferred ones are the Hokas or Nike Air Max Pulse.

Final Preparations

  • Arrive early to the venue, and talk to security to ensure everything can run smoothly
  • Test your camera settings and take a few practice shots

This is a very basic checklist, but I try to follow this routine for every concert before having any issues (I had my camera dying due to low battery on the very first gigs and once I ran out of space by not formatting my memory card for example). Besides that, always remember to be respectful to the other photographers, the venue staff, artists and in particular the crowd, that paid to be there and enjoy the concert!

As a concert photographer, capturing live performances creates valuable assets that require proper backup to prevent data loss. There’s nothing worse than wanting to revisit or share specific content and not being available anymore due to a data failure. I recommend keeping the  RAW photo files alongside processed versions, as it allows you to revisit and reprocess images with new creative styles or advanced editing tools that may emerge.

Why Backing Up Is Essential

Hard drives fail, files can get deleted from the cloud, you can get some of your devices lost or stolen or even corrupted. To avoid needing to find content and dealing with not having the files anymore, backing up is essential, and usually, I’d recommend more than 1 copy of the backup, so you’re covered in most scenarios.

Top Methods for Backing Up Your Photos

1. External Hard Drives

External hard drives are the easiest solution, as you can copy your photos to them automatically using rsync, Apple’s Time Machine or manually by dragging the content to the new hard drive. They are a (mostly) reliable and cost-effective solution for storing large photo libraries. Consider the following options:

  • Hard Disk Drives (HDDs): Ideal for mass storage as they’re getting cheaper and cheaper, but they’re prone to mechanical failure over time.
  • Solid State Drives (SSDs): Faster data access and greater reliability due to no moving parts, but more expensive per gigabyte.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS): Mini-servers that allow access across multiple devices and offer redundancy through RAID configurations. This would be more expensive but can create redundancy between drives and enable you to access your files from anywhere.

2. Free Cloud Photo Services

Cloud services provide convenient backup options, with varying storage limits and features:

  • Google Photos: Automatic backup from devices, but high-quality uploads consume Google Drive space (15 GB free).
  • Google Drive (Free for 15 GB): Unlike Google Photos, you can upload any content to Google Drive, and organize it by folders. Paid versions may offer more storage.
  • Amazon Photos: Unlimited photo storage for Amazon Prime members, but RAW files count against the storage limit.
  • iCloud Photos: Seamless backup and sync across Apple devices, with paid storage tiers that might add up significantly and don’t offer folder organization.
  • Dropbox: Flexible file versioning and sharing capabilities, but not photo-specific.

3. Dedicated Cloud Storage Services

Those are professional backup solutions on the cloud, that will offer you different levels of features, redundancy and of course, different pricing models:

  • Backblaze (my recommendation): Unlimited backup space at a fixed price, ideal for large photo libraries.
  • IDrive: Comprehensive backup solutions with facial recognition for photo organization.
  • CrashPlan: Unlimited storage, continuous backup, and strong encryption for professionals.
  • Carbonite: Unlimited cloud storage with automatic or scheduled backup options.
  • Acronis True Image: Combines cloud storage with cybersecurity features for added protection.

Creating a Comprehensive Backup Strategy

The best approach is to employ a combination of external hard drives, free cloud photo services, and dedicated cloud storage solutions. Regularly update your backups and utilize multiple methods to ensure your concert photography is safeguarded against data loss, theft, or corruption, allowing you to enjoy and revisit your work for years.

My current backup setup:

  • SD Card to External SSD
  • 10TB External Hard Drive: I copy all Lightroom catalogues and RAW photos, organized by year, type of photo (landscape, street, concert) and subject (artist, country, city, etc)
  • JPG files are copied to Google Drive using the same structure as the external hard drive.
  • Backblaze automatically makes a backup of the External Hard Drive and a copy of Google Drive from my hard drive.

By focusing on the key points, using less exaggeration and adjectives, and optimizing the content for the target title, this rewrite aims to provide a clear and informative guide for concert photographers seeking reliable backup solutions for their valuable photo assets

Concert Photography is a fun field that challenges the most of our creativity and also the gear, going way beyond our camera and lenses. Here’s a list of the that I consider of the most essential accessories for concert photography:

Memory Cards:

There’s nothing worse than shooting a whole gig and eventually running out of space on the memory card, or worse, having it corrupted for whatever reason. Some cameras allow you to have a dual slot card and act as a backup, which is a great measure, but I always tend to carry extra memory cards just in case.

V90 SD Cards:

My go-to cards are the not-so-expensive but still great V90 SD cards. that support high-speed shooting and can go from 30 pounds to 200 depending on the capacity.

Brands like Lexar, ProGrade and Sandisk are the most common and I own the ProGrade and Sandisk ones.

If you’re on a budget, the V60 cards can do a good job, but keep in mind that at sometimes your camera might suffer a bit with buffering.

CF Express Cards:

If you do video or need even faster speeds or larger capacities, the CF Express are the best option you can find. Although more expensive, they have a way faster read and write speed and are compatible with shoots at 4k at 120p, and when using an external reader you can grab the photos from the card at a very high speed.

The most popular ones are the Sony Tough CFexpress Type A and the Lexar Professional Silver series. Both will provide you with a huge speed improvement and durability.

Extra Batteries:

Needless to say, that worse than the scenario mentioned above, having no battery to shoot definetly ends your whole experience. Most newer camera models have a great battery life, but I’ve had moments where I ended a gig at about 10%, and definetly wouldn’t want to miss a shot because there was no more battery.

Ideally, I recommend buying the OEM batteries for your camera brand, as they usually provide better compatibility (I had some 3rd party batteries that my camera rejected), but there are also great alternatives like Wasabi that does a good battery replacement and most recently some batteries already come with a USB-C port inside them, which is great if you need to charge on the go, being able to use even a power bank for that. For the USB-C powered batteries, I recommend the Neewer or K&F Concept brands for Sony, but check for your camera brand if they provide it.

Earplugs:

I won’t delve much into details here, as I do have a whole article on recommended earplugs for concerts, but they’re essential to keep your hearing protected in the loud enviroment of a concert. From foam to custom made earplugs, get one as you won’t regreat it.

Camera Clip and Lens Switch System

If you are not carrying 2 cameras, just like me, I highly recommend looking for a quick lens switch system. For Sony, Canon and Nikon, I recommend the Peak Design Lens Kit paired with the camera clip or a strap, although there are other options for almost every camera brand available. They help so much in eliminating the need for bulky bags and make it quicker and safer for me to switch lenses during a concert.

Lens Blower:

If you switch lenses like me, a lens blower is one of the most essential accessories, as it takes a quick second to blow it on your lenses and sensors to remove most of the dust and debris that they might collect when exposed to the environment, ensuring your equipment stays well maintained and provides great quality.

My current setup:

  • 2 V90 SD Cards in camera (256 and 128gb)
  • 2 extra Wasabi Batteries
  • Ultimate Ear custom made concert earplug
  • Lens Blower
  • Godox V1s Flash with diffuser

I won’t dive deeper into flashes yet, as they’re usually frowned upon in concerts. I do carry one as sometimes I do backstage shots or to take crowd shots before a concert starts.

As a concert photographer, I am often close to the speakers, and over the years, I have noticed that it has impacted my hearing. Over the past years, I’ve started using earplugs, and I’d recommend them to anyone attending or shooting a concert.

Why wearing Earplugs is important

Prolonged exposure to loud music can cause significant damage to your hearing over time. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Concerts often reach noise levels of over 100 decibels. That’s why it’s crucial to protect your ears.

Earplugs can significantly reduce noise levels, protecting your ears from potential damage. They can also improve the sound quality at concerts by reducing the level of background noise.

Types of Earplugs

There are various types of earplugs you might consider using. I’d like to recommend the following:

Foam Earplugs

A foam earplug would be the easiest, and cheapest and can be found almost everywhere, from supermarkets, online or even at the venues. Although they might not be perfect, they’re a step above not wearing any protection.

Pros:

  • Widely available and inexpensive.
  • Easy to use, simply requiring you to roll them between your fingers, insert them into your ear canal, and wait for them to expand to fit.

Cons:

  • May not fit everyone equally well,
  • Can be less durable than other types.
  • They also tend to muffle sound rather than reduce volume evenly across frequencies.

Loop Earplugs

Pros:

  • Designed to reduce volume evenly across frequencies
  • Reusable and easy to clean.

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Not always a good fit for every type of ear canal

Custom-Made Earplugs

I am currently using custom-made earplugs by the UK company Ultimate Ear. They ask you first to take an ear impression, which will create a mold of your ear canal so that they can build a customized earplug that will fit perfectly your ear. Many custom-made earplugs offer different levels of attenuation, so you can choose the one that suits best your needs. I’m currently using the 15db one.

Pros:

  • Designed to fit your ears perfectly
  • Very comfortable
  • Excellent sound quality

Cons:

  • Cost: mine were about £100 plus the ear impression cost.

In conclusion, protecting your ears is crucial when you’re frequently exposed to loud music, whether you’re a concert-goer or a concert photographer. The right earplugs can help you do that while also enhancing your concert experience.

One of the most common questions I hear is: What’s the best setting for me to shoot a concert?

It’s known that setting your camera on Full Auto won’t help you to capture the best shots at a concert, due to the different and ever-changing environment. That said, I wanted to share a bit of my most used settings for concerts and in the future, I will write a detailed guide for Sony shooters as I’ve been shooting mostly Sony for the past 10 years.

Summary of Tips:

  • Shoot in RAW format for maximum flexibility
  • Use Manual or Aperture Priority mode for exposure control
  • Choose the right metering mode for your camera brand
  • Shoot wide open apertures for low light, narrow for context
  • Use fast shutter speeds to freeze action (1/200s or higher)
  • Push your ISO higher for low light (up to 5000-6400)
  • Use AF-C or Tracking autofocus to lock onto subjects
  • Pre-set white balance or adjust later in the post-processing flow

Shoot in RAW: this should be your top priority

When it comes to concert photography settings, shooting in RAW format should be your top priority. RAW files contain an uncompressed wealth of image data, allowing you to have huge flexibility and control during post-processing, making adjustments that wouldn’t be available on a JPEG granting you unparalleled flexibility and control on post-processing. You’ll be able to push the exposure, adjust white balance, shadows, and more without compromising quality!

Master Manual Mode for Exposure Control

For the best concert photography settings, Manual mode or Aperture Priority mode are your go-to exposure modes. These settings provide the precise control needed to adapt quickly to the light and shadow changes on stage.

Metering Mode

The metering mode you choose can make or break your exposure. For Sony shooters, the Multi metering mode offers comprehensive coverage and accurate light metering. Spot metering, however, allows you to focus on the artist for moodier, more dramatic exposures. Nikon users should try Matrix Metering, while Canon fans might prefer Evaluative Metering.

Aperture: Balancing Light and Context

As a general rule for concert photography settings, shoot with your aperture wide open to maximize light intake. This enables faster shutter speeds without excessive noise. However, in well-lit scenarios, a narrower aperture can capture more stage context, adding depth and dimension.

Master Shutter Speed for Frozen Action

To freeze the frenetic motion of performances, use shutter speeds of 1/200 second or faster. For acoustic sets, you can lower it further, I sometimes go to 1/60 second. For metal and rock concerts (which I most frequently shoot), it may require 1/400 second or higher to capture an artist jumping or headbanging

ISO: Embrace the Noise (Within Reason)

Modern cameras have improved significantly at high ISOs, allowing you to push the limits in low-light concerts.

I usually set a maximum of ISO 5000/6400 and only raise it further if absolutely necessary. Embrace some noise for well-exposed, atmospheric shots capturing raw energy. If you’re not too keen on noise, I’d recommend keeping a maximum of 3200 ISO, but always check what are your camera capabilities as it may vary significantly.

Autofocus: Lock onto the Action

For autofocus in concert photography settings, I use AF-C (Continuous) or Tracking mode. These allow me to track the artist’s movements until I get the shot, or in high-speed bursts, enabling me to capture most of the scenes in focus.

White Balance: Set it or Forget it

Shooting in RAW allows you to adjust white balance in post-processing. However, if you’re familiar with a venue’s lighting, pre-setting a custom white balance can streamline your batch editing workflow for consistent results.

By mastering these essential concert photography settings, you’ll be equipped to capture truly stunning images that immortalize the magic of live music. Experiment, develop your style, and make every shot a showstopper!

When it comes to concert photography, the choice of camera can make a world of difference. Two common types of cameras used in this field are APS-C and Full-Frame cameras. Before we get into the top five full-frame mirrorless cameras for concert photography, let’s take a quick look at the differences between these two types of cameras.

APS-C vs Full Frame Cameras for Concert Photography

  • Sensor Size: Full-frame cameras have a larger sensor size compared to APS-C. This means they can capture more light, which is crucial in the typically low-light conditions of a concert.
  • Image Quality: Thanks to the larger sensor, full-frame cameras generally offer better image quality, particularly in terms of dynamic range and noise performance. This of course can be subjective, but in technical terms it’s true.
  • Depth of Field: Full-frame cameras offer a shallower depth of field, which can be useful for creating a blurred background effect and making the subject stand out.
  • Price: APS-C cameras are usually less expensive than Full Frame cameras. However, the latter can be a worthy investment for professional concert photographers due to their superior performance.

Below is a list of suggestions of Full Frame cameras1 available right now on the market that can be greatly recommended for Concert Photography.

1. Sony Alpha a7 III and A7IV

While they have significant differences, both cameras are still my first recommendation for concert photography. I’ve shot many concerts with the A7III and only upgraded to another Sony (A7RV) as I also do other types of photography, but the A7 IV would be the most direct upgrade, having better low-light capabilities than the A7R series.

Basic Specs

  • A7III: 24.2MP, 10fps continuous shooting, 4K video
  • A7IV: 33MP, 10fps continuous shooting, 4K video

Reasons to Buy:

  • A7III: Excellent low-light performance, fast and accurate autofocus, long battery life
  • A7 IV: High-resolution sensor, improved autofocus performance, versatile video capabilities

Limitations:

  • A7III: Complex menu system, only one SD card slot supports UHS-II
  • A7IV: Pricing might be higher compared to some competitors

Recommended Lenses:

  • Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
  • Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS

Estimated Cost (UK): £1,700 (A7III) and £2,279.00 (A7IV)

Taken with Tamron 35-150mm and Sony A7III

2. Canon EOS R6 Mark II

Basic Specs:

  • 20.1MP, 12fps (mechanical shutter) / 20fps (electronic shutter), 4K video

Reasons to Buy:

  • Outstanding autofocus system
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Dual card slots

Limitations:

  • Lower resolution compared to competitors

Recommended Lenses:

  • Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM
  • Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM
  • Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Estimated Cost (UK): £2,500

3. Nikon Z6 II

Basic Specs: 24.5MP, 14fps continuous shooting, 4K video

Reasons to Buy:

  • Solid build quality
  • Excellent image quality
  • Dual card slots

Limitations:

  • Limited native lens selection
  • Video features are not as strong as competitors

Recommended Lenses:

  • Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S
  • Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S
  • Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

Estimated Cost (UK): £1,699

Photo by Emmanuel Pampuri using the Nikkor Z 24-70mm

4. Panasonic Lumix S1

Basic Specs: 24.2MP, 9fps continuous shooting, 4K video

Reasons to Buy:

  • Great image stabilization
  • High-resolution viewfinder
  • Robust build

Limitations:

  • Autofocus is not as fast as competitors
  • Heavier than most mirrorless cameras

Recommended Lenses:

  • Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8
  • Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4
  • Panasonic Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 O.I.S.

Estimated Cost (UK): £1,900

Photo by Andy Eclov

5. Sony Alpha a9 III

Basic Specs: 33MP, 30fps continuous shooting, 8K video

Reasons to Buy:

  • Exceptional autofocus
  • High-speed continuous shooting
  • Excellent low-light capabilities

Limitations:

  • Expensive
  • The menu system could be simpler

Recommended Lenses:

  • Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA
  • Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS

Estimated Cost (UK): £5,000-£6,000

Remember, the best camera is the one your have, but of course think of your specific needs and budget before making a decision. Always take the time to research and try out different options before making a decision. I am personally a very happy Sony shooter for the past 10 years, but I’ve seen amazing pictures taken with any of those cameras above.

  1. The links may contain affiliate links and I will earn comission over orders placed from them ↩︎

Starting at Concert Photography might seem extremely hard, and it sometimes might be, but as almost with every kind of art or profession, hard work and dedication to learn can take you very far.

I’m highlighting below a bit on how the process worked out for me, keep that in mind that it might not be the same for everyone, but the idea of this guide is to help you to have a starting point for shooting concerts.

1. Start Small to Go Big

Begin your journey in the cosy, dimly lit corners of local venues and dive bars. These places are gold mines for photographers eager to learn and build their portfolio without the pressure of big stages and famous bands. Approach local bands directly—chances are, they’ll be thrilled to have someone capture their performance. This is your playground to experiment, make mistakes, and, most importantly, learn, learn, learn!

One of my first shoots, at Melkweg in Amsterdam, with a Sony A6000

Finding Camera-Friendly Venues

Before you pack your gear, do a little homework to identify venues that welcome cameras. Not all places have strong restrictions on cameras, and starting with these will make your life easier. Later on, start contacting the venues and small artists directly as they might help you in.

2. Master the Art of Low Light Photography

Small venues often come with challenging lighting conditions, making them the perfect training ground to master shooting in low light. Understanding your camera’s settings and experimenting with different techniques in these environments will prepare you for almost anything the concert photography world throws at you.

3. Build Your Portfolio and Reach Out

As your collection of shots grows, start reaching out to local publications. This step is crucial—it’s your ticket to gaining access to bigger venues and more high-profile gigs through photo passes. Remember, getting a photo pass requires patience and a bit of luck, as approvals can frequently be rejected due to limited availability or approved last minute (even a few hours before a concert).

Publications are constantly looking for new photographers, so keep an eye on their socials or approach them directly and you might find one that will like to publish your work. Keep in mind that most publications are unpaid, so keep your expectations in check.

It’s always possible too, to create your publication, and it’s easier and easier nowadays to build your own website, so that might be a path you want to pursue, but also remember that since the publicists have limited availability, they might give preference for some already established publications.

4. Know the Rules

Each venue and publication has its own set of rules. Make sure you’re clear on the dos and don’ts before heading out to shoot. A common rule is the “first three songs, no flash” policy, allowing photographers to shoot from the pit only during the initial moments of a concert. Respecting these guidelines is vital to ensure you and everyone else enjoy the show without a hitch.

Flash Photography: A No-Go

Unless you’ve received explicit permission from the band’s manager and the venue, keep the flash off. It’s distracting for both the performers and the audience and can quickly get you out of the venue or even banned.

5. Network, Network, Network

The concert photography scene is as much about the shots you take as the people you meet. Connect with fellow photographers; they can be a treasure trove of information and support. Don’t overlook the venue staff, security, and managers—these relationships can make your shooting experience smoother and open up new opportunities.

Reaching out to bands directly can also pave the way for future gigs. Making a personal connection might just get you remembered for their next show.

6. Be True to Your Art

This journey is yours and yours alone. While the tips above have worked for me and possibly other photographers to break into concert photography, the most important piece of advice is to be authentic. Don’t try to mimic others—find what speaks to you and pursue it with passion and dedication. Look for your style, communicate as you would normally and things might flow more naturally.

Concert photography is an exhilarating field that combines the thrill of live music with the art of photography. By starting small, mastering the technical challenges, building meaningful connections, and staying true to your vision, you’ll not only develop a portfolio that captures the energy and emotion of live performances but also carve out a niche for yourself in this community.

Remember, every great photographer started with a single shot.

Capturing a live performance through a lens was a new experience for me. It started at a Mastodon concert in 2017 in Amsterdam and gradually became something I’m passionate about.

With a simple kit (Sony A6000, with two prime lenses, the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 60mm f/2.8) I began exploring the world of concert photography. It was more about capturing the essence of live music, the energy in the room. Yet, I was still juggling between street photography and the very occasional concert shoot.

When I moved to Berlin, unfortunately, their rules were even more strict, which meant being able to shoot only one concert (Jinjer), which I didn’t like my outcome so much due to the chaos and where I was.

Mastodon at Melweg Amsterdam

Moving to London and Metal Junkbox

Moving to London in 2022 opened up more doors. The city’s music scene offered a range of opportunities to delve deeper into concert photography, especially with my involvement in the Metal Junkbox Podcast and Website. I’ve also upgraded my kit to a Full Frame Sony A7III camera and better lenses.

The initial concerts were a bit of a struggle, particularly getting the right passes and adjusting to new equipment. One of the most frequent issues was how to deal with Banding with LED lights and the Electronic Shutter. Over time, solving these issues became part of the learning curve, slowly improving my craft and starting to get pictures I could be proud of.

And now in 2023, things somehow got even more serious, as I have shot around 40 different bands (the number is still growing), and met a bunch of great people, from great photographers (Luca Viola, Charles Lake, Eva Bakker, Tifanny Sandercock, Anna (Nocturna Photography), Nick Davarias, and quite a lot more that can’t fit here for now), to band members from Lake Malice, The Hu, Reigicide, Russkaja, Ben Caplan, Gangstagrass, Blatoidea and many many more. It also opened my taste for new music discoveries, such as Paris Paloma, Malevolence (I know, I should’ve known them before), The Skints, and Yur Mum.

I also got to shoot some of my favourite bands, such as Gogol Bordello, Igorrr, Skynd, Muse, and Russkaja.

Upgrading to a Sony A7RV and acquiring a variety of lenses was a necessary step to enhance the quality of my photos. Below is my current kit:

The Hu Rumble of Thunder Deluxe Edition and International award honorable mention

With all that was going on, when The Hu expressed interest in using my photos, it was a rewarding moment. It was a nice nod to the effort and time invested in concert photography, showing that I was taking clear steps forward.

They contacted me regarding the pictures I took at their concert at the Roundhouse and wanted to license them for their Rumble of Thunder special edition CD and Vynil. They ended up using quite a significant amount of my photos on the album leaflet.

For me, this was an absolute pleasure, as I’ve been following the band since around 2018 when they started gaining popularity around the world, mixing rock music with traditional Mongol instruments, They are one of the most unique bands nowadays and they deserve so much the success they’re achieving.

This is one of the bands that I’ll definitely try to shoot every time they are around here, their music and visuals are just great!

Close to the end of the year, I decided to take part in a worldwide photography award, the IPA (International Photography Awards) with absolutely no hopes I’d even come close to achieving anything, but I wanted to see how the experience would go. I’ve sent a couple of my concert pictures, from Heilung, The Hu, Sepultura and Faun.

Surprisingly enough, I got an email saying I was selected for their shortlist, which for me was already a massive achievement, as I’ve never taken part in any contest like this. There were thousands of great submissions for sure. But that was not the end of it for me, as expected I was not on the winners list, but I got a second email mentioning that I was selected as an Honorable Mention. This felt insane, as it meant I came very close to the winners list. The picture selected was from the Heilung concert at the beginning of the year, as you can see below.

Conclusion and 2024 hopes

Looking back, each concert shot was a learning experience, and each interaction with the bands and photographers was a step towards improvement. As 2024 approaches, I look forward to capturing more bands on my list and continuing to improve.

I’ve drafted this article over the year, documenting the highs and lows of my journey with concert photography, which has brought a lot of joy and learning along the way, and I want to highlight that doesn’t matter where you are in your journey, don’t abandon what inspires your passion. Don’t give up on it and keep putting in the effort always to become better. Try looking back at where you started and where you are now, and how can you move to the next step, this will definitely help you in almost any kind of profession.

I am very thankful for the support of everyone around me, and I will continue doing this for my own enjoyment. I tend to choose to shoot only bands that I really like so that I can try to capture how I feel about their concerts and give more attention to the details.

Photography isn’t and probably won’t be my main profession for a long time (I’m also a Product Manager in the tech industry), so I will always choose to enjoy the most of it while I can, enjoying the music, meeting people that have similar tastes and trying to improve this craft as much as I can.

Most of it came by self-learning, but I also got to thank a lot Todd Owyoung, and his website Ishootshows which was one of the resources I used the most when starting out, and I am still an active member of their Discord servers now discussing and trying to help a bit more on the community.

As 2024 approaches, I look forward to capturing more bands on my list, continuing my journey and hopefully shooting some of my bucket list artists such as Jinjer, Spiritbox, Clutch, Slipknot and Gojira. Of course, there will be more bands that I really want to shoot, but those I’ve been following for so long and are always on my top listened every year.

Below is one of my favourite photos taken from the crowd at Electric Brixton of Zeal and Ardor.

As concert photographer, we know that shooting in low light, and fast action is not an easy feat, and most of the time it does seem that it requires one big professional full-frame camera, but I think that might not be true, as great photos can be taken from almost any modern camera now, with some limitations of course, and one of the great options (and how I started) is looking at APS-C Mirrorless cameras: they provide high-quality performance, are portable and light and also usually are more budget-friendly than their Full Frame equivalents, making a great option for starters or a B camera.

Below I’m going for some suggestions that I think can be a good start for concert photography with APS-C Cameras:

1. Sony A6000 Series (£429.00 to £1449.00)

Basic Specs

The Sony A6000 was my first camera and its APS-C sensor, rapid autofocus, and sleek, compact design made it a great choice at the time. For their size and features, they’re still my top choice, having a range of lenses that can help in low light, and being incredibly dynamic for today’s needs and their new versions just keep improving release after release.

Reasons to Buy

  • Affordability: One of the most cost-effective options in the mirrorless category, ranging from £400 for the A6000 to £1.449 for the newest released A6700)
  • Image Quality: Despite its affordability, it doesn’t compromise image clarity and colour accuracy.
  • Versatility: Performs exceptionally well in various lighting conditions, a common challenge in concert settings.

Limitations

  • Modern Features: Some older models in the series (like the A6000) might not have the latest features like 4K video and most advanced autofocus or in-camera stabilization.

Recommended Lenses

  • Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS: Ideal for portraits and low-light conditions.
  • Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN: Offers a balance between wide and portrait focal lengths.
  • Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS: Perfect for capturing the grandeur of the stage.
Max & Iggor - Back to Roots at Melkweg Amsterdam
Taken with Sony A6000 and Sigma 60mm f/2.8 dn art @cacei.ro

2. Fujifilm X-T30 (~ £799.00)

Basic Specs

The X-T30 from Fujifilm features a 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and offers 4K video capabilities, all wrapped in a stylish, compact body.

Reasons to Buy

  • Image Quality: Known for its stunning image quality and colour reproduction, thanks to Fujifilm’s unique sensor design.
  • Film Simulation Modes: Adds an artistic touch to your concert photos, similar to classic Fujifilm stocks.
  • User Interface: Intuitive controls that are easy to navigate in fast-paced environments.

Limitations

  • Ergonomics: The smaller grip may be less comfortable for extended shooting sessions.

Recommended Lenses & Average Prices

  • Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS: A versatile zoom lens for varied shooting scenarios.
  • Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR: Great for capturing detailed artist shots.
Taken by Radhika Marya with Fuji X-T30 and XF35mm

3. Canon EOS M6 Mark II (~£690 used)

Basic Specs

The EOS M6 Mark II boasts a 32.5MP APS-C sensor, providing the highest image resolution of my recommendations. It also features Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF and can shoot up to 14fps, making it great for capturing fast-paced concert moments.

Reasons to Buy

  • High Resolution: Delivers crisp, detailed images, even in challenging lighting. Great for cropping if needed.
  • Autofocus Performance: Fast and reliable autofocus keeps up with stage action.
  • Compactness: Easy to carry around, a significant advantage in crowded concert venues.

Limitations

  • In-Body Stabilization: The absence of this feature might be a drawback in low-light conditions.
  • Lens Selection: Limited native lens options for the EOS M range.

Recommended Lenses & Average Prices

  • Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM: A compact prime lens for wider shots.
  • Canon EF-M 32mm f1.4 STM: Ideal for detailed close-ups of performers.
Taken byMiguel Rodriguez with Canon M6 and EF 50mm f/1.8

Conclusion

Mirrorless APS-C cameras, with their blend of quality, affordability, and compactness, are excellent choices for concert photography. The Sony A6000 series, Fujifilm X-T30, and Canon EOS M6 Mark II each offer unique features that cater to the specific demands of concert photography. As you select your camera, consider your shooting style and the specific requirements of concert environments to find the best fit for your photographic journey.

Banding and flickering can significantly affect the quality of concert photography, especially when using mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7 and A1 series under challenging lighting conditions. This article delves into Sony’s innovative features designed to combat these issues, offering practical solutions for professional and amateur photographers alike.

Understanding Banding in Sony Cameras

Banding, a common problem in digital photography, occurs when camera sensors and artificial lighting frequencies are out of sync. In the Sony A7 and A1 series, this issue is particularly noticeable due to their high sensitivity and advanced sensor technology. Understanding the root cause of banding is key to effectively using Sony’s features to minimize its impact.

Below I’ll list some of the features I found that can help reduce (or eliminate) the banding on those cameras for most situations:

Mechanical vs. Electronic Shutter

Mirrorless cameras have the advantage of having an electronic shutter, which enables us to shoot silently, but it comes with downsides, one of which is impacting banding in some scenarios. Here’s a quick comparison of both, and I’d recommend using Mechanical Shutter if you’re experiencing banding during your shooting sessions.

  • Mechanical Shutter: Traditionally used in DSLRs, the mechanical shutter physically opens and closes to expose the sensor to light. It’s less prone to banding as it syncs better with varying light frequencies, making it a reliable choice in artificial lighting conditions.
  • Electronic Shutter: Offers silent shooting and faster burst rates. However, it’s more susceptible to banding due to the rolling shutter effect, where the sensor scans the image line-by-line, leading to discrepancies in light exposure.

Anti-Flicker Shooting in Sony Cameras

Sony’s Anti-flicker Shoot feature is designed to detect the flickering of artificial light sources and synchronize the capture of images to the peak lighting moments. This feature is particularly effective against flickering at a frequency of 100 Hz or 120 Hz, common in fluorescent lights. However, it’s important to note that this feature is available only for still images and requires certain exposure modes (P, A, S, M) to function effectively.

The Variable Shutter Speed Advantage

Variable Shutter Speed in Sony cameras allows for manual fine-tuning of the shutter speed to match the flickering frequency of the light source. This feature is invaluable in situations where the lighting flickers at a frequency higher than 120 Hz, typical of LED lights often used in concert venues. It applies to both still images and movies and can be combined with the Anti-flicker Shoot for comprehensive flicker reduction.

Below is a detailed table on the differences between Variable Shutter and Anti Flicker:

Features and Shooting ConditionsAnti-flicker Shoot.Variable Shutter
FeaturesThe camera can time the shooting of images to moments when flickering will have less of an impact by detecting the flickering frequency automatically.You can manually adjust the shutter speed while checking the impact of flickering on the monitor.
Still images/moviesStill images onlyStill images/movies
Shutter typeElectronic shutter/mechanical shutterElectronic shutter/mechanical shutter*1
Exposure modeP (Program Auto) / A (Aperture Priority) / S (Shutter Priority) / M (Manual Exposure)S (Shutter Priority) / M (Manual Exposure)/[Flexible Exp. Mode] with the shutter speed adjusted manually
Types of flickering detectableFlickering with a frequency of 100 Hz or 120 Hz (such as fluorescent light) only *2Flickering with a frequency of 100 Hz or 120 Hz (such as fluorescent light) and flickering with a frequency higher than 100 Hz or 120 Hz (such as LED light)

Sony Models with Variable Shutter Speed

The Sony A7 and A1 series are equipped with Variable Shutter Speed functionality. This feature is a game-changer in environments with mixed lighting frequencies, allowing photographers to adapt to varying conditions quickly, as of today, those are the cameras with Variable Shutter available:

  • Sony A1
  • Sony A9
  • Sony A9 II
  • Sony A7R III
  • Sony A7R IV
  • Sony A7R V
  • Sony A7 III
    Sony A7 IV
  • Sony A7S III

Practical Guide and Settings

To access and adjust the Anti-flicker Shoot and Variable Shutter Speed settings:

  1. Go to MENU → (Shooting) → [Shutter/Silent] → [Anti-flicker Set.] → desired setting.
  2. For Anti-flicker Shoot, toggle [On]/[Off] and shoot when the flicker icon is displayed.
  3. For Variable Shutter, select [On]/[Off] in an exposure mode that allows manual shutter adjustment.
  4. Use the Var. Shutter Set. to find a shutter speed that reduces flickering, bearing in mind that faster shutter speeds may display discrepancies between the monitor and the captured image.

Tips for Effective Use in Concerts

  • Begin with test shots to gauge the lighting environment.
  • Use the Mechanical Shutter in extremely flicker-prone scenarios.
  • Experiment with Variable Shutter Speed settings in mixed lighting conditions.
  • Remember that higher ISOs can amplify the appearance of banding, so adjust accordingly.
  • Regularly check for firmware updates, as Sony often releases improvements for these features.

Conclusion:

To get great photos without banding or flickering using your Sony A7 or A1 series camera, just remember to use the Anti-flicker Shoot and Variable Shutter Speed features whenever possible. These tools help you adjust to different lights easily, making sure your pictures turn out clear and beautiful.

When shooting a concert, one of the first things I noticed was that either photographers carry two camera bodies, one with a wider lens and one with either a zoom or a good prime, or they carry loads of side pouches for switching the lenses.
I’ve tried using a camera pouch only, but besides the fact that they become a bit bulky on your body, can collect dust and are not as quick as I’d expect. With that in mind, I started looking for other options and found one that could be a good fit for me, both with Concert Photography and also on travel scenarios where I don’t want to stop and open my camera bag to pick up the extra lens.

Enters the Peak Design Lens Kit

The Lens Kit is made of rigid glass-reinforced nylon and the mounts are made with aluminium, enabling quick changes. I’ve got my copy for the Sony E/FE mount, but they’re also available for Canon EF and Nikon F mounts.

When you place a lens on the Lens Kit, it has a lock, similar to what you’d have on your camera, and to remove it you need to press the release button and then turn it, making them extra safe, avoiding the risk of dropping them on a dirty and busy floor.

It also has a feature allowing you to rotate the mount’s position, which is helpful for keeping your heavier lens pointing downwards to prevent it from dangling.

My approach using the Lens Kit

My approach involves keeping the main lens, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8, on my camera and usually one secondary lens, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8, on the Lens Kit (you can have 2, but I chose that for speed), attached to a second strap for ease of movement. When switching lenses, I remove the lens from the camera with the sensor facing down or activate the shutter closure for protection, then switch the lenses using the Kit free slot​​. Sometimes I need an additional lens, like the Tamron 50-400mm or an anamorphic lens, then I have both placed on the Lens Kit and carry an extra pouch so that I can drop quickly the lens removed from the camera and get one of the lenses. After I have some time I might add the lens from the pouch back to the kit, or just leave it there.

Of course, when compared with carrying 2 camera bodies, it’s not comparable, but if you don’t want or can’t spend too much on a second body, this approach has helped me quickly to take wide and close shots with different lenses in short time frames

Pros and Cons of the Peak Design Lens Kit

  • Pros:
    • Quick Lens Changes: Enables Fast Swapping Between Lenses.
    • Secure Mounting: The lock mechanism ensures lenses are securely attached, reducing the risk of drops.
    • Flexibility in Lens Positioning: The ability to rotate the mount helps in managing the balance with heavier lenses.
    • Lightweight and Durable: Made of glass-reinforced nylon and aluminium, it’s both sturdy and easy to carry.
    • Versatility for Different Cameras: Available for Sony E/FE, Canon EF, and Nikon F mounts.
    • Reduces Bulk and Clutter: A streamlined alternative to multiple pouches or carrying two camera bodies.
  • Cons:
    • Limited to One Extra Lens on the Go: While it can hold two lenses, for speed, I often use it with just one, limiting options compared to dual camera setups.
    • Dependency on Specific Mounts: Only compatible with certain camera mounts, which might be a limitation for some photographers.
    • Might require Additional Accessories: For optimal use, it’s often paired with other Peak Design products like straps or clips.

Conclusion

For concert photography, agility is key to not miss ‘The Shot’ when an artist is on stage. Any second missed during the first three songs can be crucial.

While the Peak Design Lens Kit doesn’t replace completely the versatility of having 2 camera bodies with different lenses on each, it is a great option due to being less cumbersome and definitely cheaper than the previous option.

For me it has been used in every single concert I shot since I bought it, and I always carry it during traveling, either attached to the Peak Design Camera Clip on my backpack strap, or on the second strap.

In concert photography, we often see lists of the “Best Camera for concert photography” and they mostly contain full-frame DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. In some cases, you can still find some APS-C models. Although I do agree that they are better suited (and I carry a Sony A7RV for my shots), some people who are just starting to build a portfolio still don’t have access to a publication or photo passes, not being allowed to take those big cameras to a concert. So how can you build a portfolio in that case?

One of the most common tips is to take a point-and-shoot camera that has great quality. Although there are many different options (I’ll list a few at the end of this article), I have been using the Ricoh GRIII series as my B camera for a while and have been quite happy with it. It doesn’t come without downsides, but for such a small camera, it is impressive how good this little piece of gear is.

The Ricoh GRIII series – From Classic to Street Photography to anything (really)

If you don’t know Ricoh as a brand, there’s no need to worry. This camera brand has a long story with classic photography. Ricoh (also the owner of Pentax) has a long existing range of cameras that were always renowned for their simplicity and quality during the film cameras era.

The legendary Ricoh GR1 Film Camera

Over the years the Ricoh GR series has become a cult favourite amongst street photographers, due to its discreet profile, very lightweight and high-quality image generation, making it perfect for candid moments, without bringing too much attention to the subjects to the photographers (sometimes even being confused as a disposable camera) while still delivering great images.

But this lovely camera is not great just for street photographers, but also for concerts (under some circumstances), which I’ll try to highlight below.

One of the most compact APS-C cameras:

One of the most significant characteristics of the Ricoh cameras is its portability, with a very slim profile, it is one of the few cameras which you can put in a jeans pocket without issues, making it completely acceptable for any concert and not a hassle to carry it around. For a matter of comparison, let’s highlight how it compares with a modern phone (iPhone 15). As you can see, besides the depth, the camera is even smaller than a phone.

Compared Height (mm)Compared Width (mm)Depth (mm)
Ricoh GR III6110933
Ricoh GR IIIx6110935
iPhone71.5146.77.8

Image Quality and Versatility:

Those 2 cameras have a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor, which would be enough to achieve some great pictures and even make some crops if needed, especially if your use is mostly social media. For print, they would still be great but give a bit less flexibility on the level of details you can achieve if you crop.

@cacei.ro / Taken with Ricoh GRIIIx

The camera also has great internal in-body stabilization, which helps you to shoot sharp photos by reducing camera shake, allowing you to take handheld photos with a slower shutter speed.

They allow users to export the images in both RAW and Jpegs out of the camera and they also have the capacity to create custom image profiles (similar to Fuji film simulations) where you can set up the photos to already be in Black and White, replicate some film look or whatever custom style you want to.
For some examples of the profiles, this website contains some great examples and even an app to help you set them up.

The camera also provides loads of customization options, such as

  • Adjustable focus modes and points.
  • Customizable button configurations.
  • Tailored display settings.
  • Easy access to favourite settings.
  • Memory for custom camera settings (3 custom settings)
  • Has a f/2.8 aperture, which is good enough for most concerts, unless in extremely low light

Ricoh GRIII Snap Focus:

One last feature that I would like to highlight is the Snap Focus feature, which can be incredibly useful in concert scenarios where you have an idea of the distance you have from the subjects you’re shooting. Snap Focus allows the photographer to pre-set a focus distance, enabling the camera to quickly and automatically focus at that specific range.

This can be proven extra helpful on very dark concerts, where the autofocus might struggle, so if you have an idea of the distance which you’re shooting at, you can still take sharp images.

Pros and Cons: Compared to Full Frame Cameras and Prime Lenses

Of course, not everything is perfect for such a small body and set-up, so I wanted to list a bit of the possible pros and cons (in my opinion) of using the Ricoh GRIII and IIIx in concerts:

Pros:

  1. Compact Size: Their small size makes them unobtrusive and easy to carry, ideal for crowded concert venues.
  2. Image Quality: The 26-megapixel APS-C sensor ensures high-resolution images with excellent detail, even in challenging lighting.
  3. Snap Focus: This feature allows for quick, pre-set focusing, essential for capturing fleeting moments in concerts.
  4. Low Light Performance: The in-body stabilization and high ISO performance enable sharp, clear images in dimly lit environments.
  5. Silent Operation: The cameras offer a nearly silent shutter, minimizing disturbance in quiet or acoustic settings.
  6. Custom Image Profiles: The ability to create and use custom profiles allows for artistic expression and quick, in-camera edits.
  7. User Interface: Intuitive and easy to navigate, making it accessible for photographers of all skill levels.
  8. Discreetness: The cameras’ minimalistic design allows photographers to blend into the crowd, perfect for candid shots.

Cons:

  1. Fixed Lens: The lack of interchangeable lenses limits framing and compositional variety. The GRIII has 18.3mm (equivalent to 28mm) and the GRIIIx has 26.1mm (equivalent to 40mm) lenses.
  2. Battery Life: Limited battery life compared to larger cameras, necessitating carrying extra batteries. If you’re not shooting the whole concert, it should last ok, but
  3. Limited Range: The fixed focal length can restrict versatility in capturing distant subjects.
  4. Sensor Size: While the APS-C sensor is better than a phone, it may not match the low-light capabilities of full-frame sensors.
  5. No Viewfinder: Lack of a built-in viewfinder might be a drawback for some photographers.
  6. Weather Sealing: The cameras are not weather-sealed, which could be a limitation in outdoor or variable weather concert settings (or some flying glasses of beer).
  7. Limited External Controls: Some photographers may prefer more dials and buttons for quick adjustments.
  8. Video Features: This is the biggest downside of this camera. I’d not recommend it for videos (and it’s not the purpose)

Alternatives to the Ricoh GRIII series for Concert Photography:

Keeping in mind that I’m just listing very portable point-and-shoot cameras, for a fair comparison.

  1. Fujifilm X100V: The most popular and admired pocket camera nowadays!
    • Strengths: Hybrid viewfinder, classic Fuji film simulation modes, and a 23mm F2 lens.
    • Comparison: Offers a similar compact form factor with a distinctive design. It excels with its hybrid viewfinder and film simulation modes but is larger and heavier than the Ricoh GR III and GR IIIx. Its fixed lens provides a field of view equivalent to 35mm on a full-frame camera, offering a slightly different perspective.
  2. Sony RX100 VII: Pocket and with great zoom
    • Strengths: 1-inch sensor, 24-200mm equivalent zoom lens, and fast autofocus.
    • Comparison: This camera stands out for its versatility with a significant zoom range, making it ideal for capturing distant subjects. It’s more suited for varied shooting scenarios compared to the fixed focal length of the Ricoh models. However, the larger size and the 1-inch sensor might not match the image quality of Ricoh’s APS-C sensor.
  3. Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II:
    • Strengths: 1-inch sensor, 24-120mm equivalent zoom lens, and pop-up electronic viewfinder.
    • Comparison: Offers a good balance of zoom range and portability. It’s a strong contender for those who prefer a bit more flexibility in zoom without compromising too much on size. However, the image quality and low-light performance might not be on par with the Ricoh models due to the smaller sensor size.

Conclusion

The Ricoh GR III and GR IIIx represent a specialized approach to concert photography, focusing on compact size, high image quality, and customizable features. They challenge the norm, demonstrating that professional-level photography can be achieved with a camera that easily fits in your pocket. For those seeking to capture live performances with agility and creative control, these cameras offer an exciting combination of features.

As a concert photographer, I frequently encounter banding issues when shooting concerts with mirrorless cameras and LED stage lighting, especially in the Metal scene, where the lighting is not always the best. The pulsing coloured lights combined with electronic shutters can cause inconsistent exposures and dark banding in images. This is incredibly frustrating when trying to capture performances in already difficult lighting scenarios.

In this article, I’ll share the causes of banding and solutions I’ve learned for getting clean shots with mirrorless cameras and temperamental LED stage lights.

What is banding in photography?

Banding is a common issue that can occur when using mirrorless cameras with LED lighting and an electronic shutter. They are those stripes that appear in your images, mostly caused by the difference between the frequency of the LED lights and the electronic shutter’s reading speed. It can lead to very unpleasant photos or even totally ruined ones. But thankfully most of the popular mirrorless brands have solutions to that.

How to fix banding in concert photography?

Before diving into specifics, I want to highlight some general solutions, so if your camera or brand is not covered, it can help you identify how to fix it yourself:

  • Use the Mechanical Shutter: Usually transitioning from the Silent or Electronic shutter is already a great step to solving the banding issues, if not solving it completely. It’s the most common approach photographers take for that. And don’t worry about the sound of the shutter too much, unless you’re on an acoustic concert, it probably won’t be an issue.
  • Adjust the Shutter Speed: If the above solution doesn’t fix the issue or it’s not a possibility (as mentioned on acoustic concerts for example), another practical solution is to align the shutter speed with the frequency of LED lights. This can be a bit of a trial and error to find the right setting, but as a basic rule, US LED frequencies are 60hz and Europe is 50hz. This means that if your frequency is 50hz, you adjust your shutter in multiples of 50 (1/50, 1/100, 1/150)
Similar photo, this time using the correct settings, avoiding banding.

Specific brand solutions to banding:

If any of the above solutions don’t work, some camera manufacturers have some specific settings that can help you get this fixed. Below I’m listing some of the most popular brands. I won’t dive into specific models, as there are too many to cover and they might differ a bit, but I hope this can provide an initial insight.

  • Sony:
    • Some Sony models like the A7 series, provide anti-flicker shooting modes (more details on Sony A7 Series Banding issues), a setting that can also help improve with banding and shooting handheld.
    • Periodic firmware updates often encompass fixes for banding issues, making it prudent to keep the camera firmware current.
  • Fuji:
  • Nikon:
    • Nikon Z series mirrorless cameras advise turning on the Flicker Reduction setting when shooting under LED lighting to reduce banding. Using the mechanical shutter, adjusting shutter speed, and proper exposure can also minimize the banding effect with LEDs.
  • Panasonic:
    • Some Panasonic models allow tweaking the electronic shutter’s readout speed, a potential antidote to banding.
Example of Anti Flicker setting on Sony A7III camera

Conclusion

In summary, LED lighting and electronic shutters can cause banding, but this can usually be avoided by making some specific adjustments for concert photography. Most frequently the solutions are using a mechanical shutter, adjusting the shutter speed to match the light frequency, and enabling anti-flicker modes when available on the camera.

Hopefully this article will help you fix this issue and get sharper and undistorted images of your favorite bands.

Light and shadow. As a concert photographer, I’m obsessed with this relationship. The contrast between bright spotlights and dark shadows can make for some incredible photos.

Backstory on Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro comes from the Italian words light (chiaro) and dark (scuro).

The technique started in the Renaissance era when artists like Caravaggio used it to make their subjects pop off the canvas.

Other big names in art like da Vinci, Rembrandt and Vermeer all had many paintings using chiaroscuro. Seeing the work of those legends proves that spotlight + shadows = success.

Caravaggio: The Master of Chiaroscuro

Perhaps no artist is as closely associated with chiaroscuro as Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The 16th/17th-century Italian master revolutionized chiaroscuro and brought it to new heights in his works.

Caravaggio’s approach used stark contrast between light and dark areas. His subjects emerge brightly lit against very dark backgrounds. This dramatic contrast became known as tenebrism.

Caravaggio often spotlights his subjects using a single light source. This focused lighting would add more depth to the three-dimensionality of his figures and charge his paintings with striking realism.

Caravaggio’s mastery of light and shadow took religious and mythological scenes to a new level of drama and intensified their emotional impact. The illuminated subjects and black voids of darkness became Caravaggio’s signature baroque style.

Chiaroscuro’s Lesser Known Influencers

While most of us know the masters, there are plenty of lesser-known creators who have made key contributions to the chiaroscuro technique over the centuries:

  • Jusepe de Ribera and his tenebrism style used strong contrasts between light and dark to heighten the emotional impact of his paintings. His chiaroscuro focused on darker shadows rather than gradations.
  • Dutch artist Gerrit van Honthorst painted nocturnal scenes lit by a single candle, allowing subtle light to emerge from deep shadows. He was so skilled with chiaroscuro, he earned the nickname “Gherardo delle Notti” meaning Gerard of the Night.
  • Georges de La Tour, a French painter in the 1600s, created religious and genre scenes with powerful light effects contrasting with heavy shadows. He pioneered the use of candlelight as the only light source in a painting.
  • Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the most influential female Baroque painters, employed chiaroscuro to convey drama and emotion in her biblical and mythological scenes. The contrast amplifies the intensity of her subject matter.

Chiaroscuro in Photography

Photography opened up new creative avenues for chiaroscuro. Photographers saw the potential of using stark contrasts between light and shadow to generate bold, striking images.

Photography icons like Bill Brandt, Greg Heisler and Yousuf Karsh have all leveraged this technique to produce super-intense portraits. The interplay of light and shadow takes their dramatic photos to the next level.

Contemporary photographers like Jill Greenberg have also experimented with chiaroscuro, crafting imaginative portraits with neon colours emerging from darkness. This proves the technique remains creatively relevant even today.

Chiaroscuro Concert Photography

Chiaroscuro can be an awesome tool for capturing energy and emotion at concerts. The contrast between spotlights and shadows can amplify a performance’s intensity. This is especially true for moodier genres like metal.

In concert photography, chiaroscuro manifests naturally with performers bathed in hot spotlights while the crowd and background descend into darkness.

By embracing both extremes – light and shadow – you can take compelling live music photos with drama and visual impact.

Pro Tips for Concert Chiaroscuro

  • Watch the Lighting: Note where spotlights hit your subjects and where shadows fall. Understanding the lighting dynamics is essential.
  • Work with Darkness: Don’t avoid dark areas. Shadows add depth and accentuate the 3D look.
  • Get Fast Lenses: Quality low-light lenses, with an aperture f/1.8 or wider, allow you to capture detail in shadows and spotlights.
  • Enhance in Post: Dodging and burning can intensify the light/shadow contrast. Don’t be afraid to push chiaroscuro effects.

Why Chiaroscuro Still Captivates

This centuries-old technique remains relevant because of its striking power. The contrast between light and shadow taps into the essence of an image.

Chiaroscuro’s contrast immediately draws the viewer’s eye. It creates photos with a strong atmosphere, mystery and drama.

Both classic paintings and modern concert photography can be pleasant to our audiences through effective chiaroscuro. The technique may be old, but its impact is timeless.

Takeaway for Concert Photographers

Mastering chiaroscuro requires practice and an understanding of how light and shadow interact. But the payoff is huge – injecting artistry and emotion into your concert photography.