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08-12-2010, 10:27 PM   #1
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Band Photography

I recently had the opportunity to take some photos of a friend's A Capella group and the photos turned out so well that he wants to hire me to shoot some more photos for him. That got me thinking (and getting the LBA worked up again ), how good is the 50-135 for this kind of photography?

Would it be worth it to pick up a 50mm (or the 55mm) 1.4 as well?

Both of these lenses are ones that I want to get anyway. I'm just trying to justify it .

Which one would you recommend first?

The band is V-Chords btw, incase anyone is interested.


Last edited by lurchlarson; 08-12-2010 at 11:20 PM.
08-12-2010, 10:46 PM   #2
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What were you shooting with at your friend's group shoot?
The 50-135 is great for the indoor concert application as long as you can get reasonably close to the action. Even with my 70-200 lens, I still need to come close to the stage.

A fast fifty would do good as well, but I'd be weary using any larger aperture than f/2.8 - too thin a DoF...
08-12-2010, 11:22 PM   #3
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I was shooting my k200d. I used my 16-50 for when I could get close. It was an outdoor venue so I was able to use the 70-300 while the light was good.

I had to max my ISO at 1600 and converted to BW in PP to hide the chromatic noise for some of the shots. I also had to boost the crud out of the exposure in PP. I opted for a slightly faster shutter speed to keep things from getting blurry.

I'll probably borrow my brother's KX for any further shoots so I can get the extra few stops in ISO.
08-13-2010, 01:07 AM   #4
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I'm not interested in group shots that much, I find the individual players/singers... more interesting and that's why I'll be buying a DA*50-135 for this kind of events, here are my results with a borrowed one:










All at f/2.8 and ISO800 taken near the stage. The first two ones were just exported from RAW, no PP at all, I love the colors in those shots
Hope this helps justifying your LBA

My friend is using a 11-22 (22-44 equiv) lens on her Olympus for group shots on concerts and they turn out great

08-13-2010, 03:24 AM   #5
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The opinions of band photography experts Marc Sabatella and UnknownVT are the ones I'd really be tuning into on the issue of what lenses and focal length's work best for band photography
08-13-2010, 03:43 AM   #6
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I shoot concerts 15-20 times a year, 75% of them are paid assignments. However, I am not an expert in any way. My setup is M85mm F2 + K135mm F2.5. I usually stay at row 15 or closer and do half body or shoulder portraits. I think the DA* 50-135mm will be excellent for concert photography if you can cope with its size.

Kind regards
.lars
08-13-2010, 05:58 AM   #7
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I don't own a 50-135, but it seems like a good choice, given its range, speed and reputed quality.

I'm more of a prime guy, and when I have shot the singing of friends indoors, I used either a 28/2 or 35/2, plus the FA77 and K 135/2.5. I use manual focus to keep it quiet and for low-light accuracy, but the SDM of the 50-135 would also help with some of that. Outdoor venues vary so much in distance and lighting that it is almost impossible to make a generalization.
08-13-2010, 07:32 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of the advice. Now I just need to get the funds and convince the wife. (Read LBA just got kicked into overdrive).

08-13-2010, 07:53 AM   #9
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It all depends on the perspective you want to end up with and how close you can get to your subject. Personaly I prefer more of a full body shot perspective, or even wider to show some interaction between multiple musicians, and also to see something of the venue. I find it much more interesting than the closer-up shots, but that's just me.

For example, here's a small 12 image slideshow shot in a small blues club:
Roots & Blues
I was leaning against a railing that surrounds the small stage, using a Sigma 20mm 1.8 on an old Nikon D100. I like the perspective very much, and it's a lens most people wouldn't think of for this kind of subject. A 50 would have been too long for what I was trying to achieve.

So it all depends on where you're shooting, and what look you are going for.

P.S. I don't use flash so the Sigma's speed was vital - most of those shots were wide open at f1.8, 1/30-1/60 second, ISO 1600-3200
08-13-2010, 09:10 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
The opinions of band photography experts Marc Sabatella and UnknownVT are the ones I'd really be tuning into on the issue of what lenses and focal length's work best for band photography
This is really kind of you rawr - thank you for the compliments.

My thread: Kx in Use

has plenty of examples - varying from really good stage lighting to very dark clubs where the lighting was marginal at best.
But (most probably don't want to hear this) -
I only own the 2 kit zoom lenses 18-55 and 50-200
- please take a look at Post #11

But I do have an "unfair" advantage in that I use the Pentax K-x which has really good HighISO performance - as I often have to shoot at ISO5000 - and one of the reasons why I can get away with the modest max apertures of those kit zooms.

However I used to shoot the K100D which had barely acceptable ISO3200 and managed also with the two kit zooms - it's just that I am getting much better results with the K-x - so much so that I use the K-x a lot more than I ever did the K100D.

If you get into band photography then there is a lighting problem that is getting more and prevalent -

Modern LED Stage Lighting & photography problems

Hope some of this helps.
08-13-2010, 11:25 AM   #11
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Thanks, rawr for the compliment! I too recommend the 50-135 if you want to get serious and don't mind the price, size, and weight. But I get by just fine (or so I'd like to think) with a handful of (mostly manual focus) primes for clubs plus the DA50-200 for daytime outdoor concerts. I've got a 50 as one of my primes, but rarely use it - it's too short for the type of closeups I generally prefer, and not nearly wide enough for the occasional full band shots I do take. Most of my shots with my 100 or 135. But since splurging on the DA70 last year, I do have to admit I now have "almost" as much invested in lenses between 50mm and 135mm as if I had just bought a 50-135. But I'd still much rather shoot a lightweight prime than a heavy zoom.

BTW, since this is about lenses and not cameras, I'm moving it to the proper forum.
08-13-2010, 01:50 PM   #12
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Even though I love my primes, I do prefer my Tamron 70-200/2.8 - seems the ideal, if used with a monopod, like my Manfrotto Manfrotto 685B Neotec. A good flash would come ahndy, no doubt, Like the Metz 58 AF-1.
08-13-2010, 01:55 PM   #13
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In the indoor concert setting, flash isn't all that useful - concert lighting is usually sufficient for the subjects, and adding flash would wash out the subjects and render the background ambience dark (unless the shutter is dragged). In any case, any decent telephoto prime or zoom f/2.8 or faster should do the trick, or cheat like UnknownVT and get a K-x for your high ISO results with kit lenses
08-13-2010, 02:50 PM   #14
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I shoot about 300 bands a year, 50-135mm is my most used lens... I keep umming & ahring over a 70-200mm but I just keep thinking why??? I would never use it... unless it was an FA* of course...

Check out my flickr stream below, in my sig, the k-x with its high iso allows me to shoot at f/3.5 which makes shots pin sharp, just that little help.

Here are some examples, these are GX20 with the 50-135mm, I don't have any of my k-x shots online yet...





08-13-2010, 03:46 PM   #15
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Of course it depends on how close to the stage you are, but do not underestimate the 'power' of a lens faster than f/2.8. Experiences vary from photographer to photographer, but those who mentions very fast (and expensive) lenses, has previously experienced bad (or lack of) stagelight. Seldom a problem at big venues, but I've seen quite big festivals where there was no frontlight to speak of. Smaller scenes are generally quite bad, and I've ended up with using extreme settings even with my 30/1.4.

A 50-135 (or the Sigma equivalent 50-150) is a very good choice, but "should" be accompanied by a faster lens 'just in case'. Even a manual focus 50mm often does the trick, and is a very cheap 'insurance' in case the slower zoom doesn't work out.
(If you know the stage and have the lighting guy bribed, then the zoom would be the best choice, of course.)

Last edited by KjetilH; 08-14-2010 at 12:41 AM.
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