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07-16-2011, 03:50 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
A fast 85 would be my choice for rehearsals (I have the Rokinon version of the Samyang 85:1.4 & like it a lot).

But I doubt it would be my first choice even from the front row (because I like tight shots).
Agreed. If you need the speed, well then you need the speed. But if not, it is a bit wide.

07-16-2011, 04:01 PM   #17
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For performances even with front seating I'd wish I had a 70-200:2.8 (but I don't) so I'd take my K-x & DA 55-300 & crank up the ISO. I might bring my Pentax 135:2.5 and Samyang 85:1.4 but doubt I'd use them much.
07-16-2011, 04:27 PM   #18
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That would put you close to what I'm doing now. At 1600, and f/2.8, that puts you at 6400 on the K-x at f/5.6, and probably comparable noise qualities. It gets the job done with just good enough IQ to not trash them all, but I'd prefer at least an extra stop of shutter speed and a stop less noise equivalent. I was very close to caving and buying a K-5 just for this reason (not to knock the K-x or K-r, but I find it far too difficult to not shoot a two wheeled, high number button body after 4 years with the K10D).
07-16-2011, 04:30 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jodokast96 Quote
.... It gets the job done with just good enough IQ to not trash them all, but I'd prefer at least an extra stop of shutter speed and a stop less noise equivalent.
me too!

07-16-2011, 10:17 PM   #20
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This has been great. You all have been very helpful.
Our high school theater is probably smaller than most. The stage is quite wide, and the seating therefore is wide rather than deep. I need to be a bunch of rows back just to be level w/ the stage floor. Something in that 85-100 range is good for an individual or small group if I'm sitting about half way back in the middle.
The DA 50-135 or Sigma/Tamron 70-200 look like perfect lenses, but they beyond my budget, even used.
The Vivitar/Bower... 85 1.4 looks to be the cheapest option for a new lens.
I have tried catch-in-focus, but I clearly need to revisit that if I work w/ a manual focus.
Thanks again!
07-17-2011, 01:18 PM - 1 Like   #21
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M100/2.8 or any cheap 135 would be my call - $100 or less, and woth practice, MF is perfectly viable at those focal lengths and apertures.
07-17-2011, 06:45 PM   #22
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I use a 300 manual focus lens from the balcony - on a tripod. The lens is a 4.5 and I increase the ISO enough to get the shutter speed I am after.

Everyone in the balcony is shooting and lots of tripods.

I think the idea of shooting at a practice is a great idea - probably easier to get some really nice candid shots as well.

07-19-2011, 05:35 AM   #23
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I shot a lot of stage while my daughter was in high school. Between annual musicals and dance productions, I probably shot 3-5K frames over 4 years.

Much of this was with my *istD at the time, then later with K10D and between 1600and 3200ISO. I almost exclusively used my sigma 70-200F2.8

I only once found myself a little too close, where I might have wanted a shorter lens, but this was all from the seats

rehersals might be better, in that you are free to move around, but you miss the costumes and stage lighting, which is important.

the following is a shot I took (not my daughter) at a dance competition



this one is my daughter, from a similar thread, what lens for a small playouse



08-05-2011, 01:32 PM - 1 Like   #24
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What I have learned...

Thanks again for all the advice. Yesterday I had a chance to try shooting at a dress rehearsal with the director's permission. This was really nice because I was able to move around. I brought a bunch of my lenses with me...

The auditorium is of the wide but not deep sort. Full stage is about 80' wide of which about 50' was used. Stage depth of about 20'. Seating starts about 10' from stage and goes back about 75'.

Here are some things I learned:
  1. Sit towards the center as much as possible. This is the perspective from which directors stage & block everything. If you are too much to the side, you can views into backstage that you do not want.
  2. Perspectives: A matter related to #1 or shots taken at an angle... Any shots that cover a chunk of stage are likely to have curved lines or perspective lines that make it hard to have the pic look straight.
  3. Stage lighting is a critical factor. I was at a local community theater production intended for youth, so the lighting was not professional. Made it hard to get evenly lit shots... There were no uplights, so people w/ hats on ended up with lots of shadow on their faces.
  4. I did enable Highlight Correction on my K-x, and I think it helped a bit.
  5. There were basically 3 types of shots I ended up taking: individual or pair; small group; full or nearly full stage.
  6. Of the types of shots in #5, it really depends a lot on where you are located and what lens you use.
  7. I was able to get good shots w/ each of the lenses, but the 28mm was the least helpful. Zooms are very helpful, but sitting near the middle of the (small) auditorium with the 50mm did work out.
  8. I did all my shots in Manual or Aperture mode.
  9. Shutter speed is an issue... but so is DoF. My thought was to shoot as wide open as possible to keep ISO down and shutter fast, but shooting w/ the 50mm at a distance of 25 feet at f2, I only had about 6' of DoF. Using the 135mm at a distance of 50 feet at f3.2, I only had about 5' DoF.
  10. In the tradeoff between ISO and aperture and shutter, I ended up shooting most shots at 1600 ISO. I also was able to get a lot of shots at 1000 or 1250 ISO. Ones I took at 2500 ISO look pretty good. Starting to get a bit noisy at 3200.
  11. For static scenes, I could get clear shots at as slow 1/30. For normal action, 1/50 to 1/100. For faster action 1/125 or faster was needed.
  12. In terms of aperture and my lenses, all this means I took a lot of shots at f4 or f4.5, and they turned out well. On my fast 50s, to deal with DoF, I ended up shooting at 2.8 a lot.
  13. Catch in focus (CiF) worked very well with my manual lenses. If it were a fairly static scene, once I got the focus set, it was easy to take a bunch of good pics.
  14. It certainly is easier using fully automatic lenses, but I got use to the manual lenses and hitting the green button to set lighting before taking the shot.
  15. With regard to the lenses I used:
  • Pentax DA 16-45mm f4: Worked well for up to 25' or so and could get whole stage at 50'. Tended to blow out highlights a lot, so I need to compensate down. I don't know why, but I never got any really good pics from this lens. A little disappointing since this was a nice range for fairly close seating.
  • Vivitar 28mm f2.8: Pics are fine, but you either have to be really close (at 20 feet from stage horizontal field is already about 17') or far enough back to get full stage (about 65' back gets full stage). Just not very versatile...
  • Pentax F 35-70mm f3.5-4.5: This is a quite inexpensive lens, but it was really wonderful for this setting. Great color, focus... A great zoom range for sitting anywhere from 20-45 feet away. Definitely keep this one handy for theater shots.
  • Pentax M 50mm f1.7: I got lots of good shots, but I was expecting a bit more from this lens. Blew out highlights, so I probably need to compensate a bit. DoF was an issue when trying to shoot fast and open. Shot a lot at f2.8. Will keep it in the collection to shoot faster scenes.
  • Pentax A 50mm f2: Pretty much the same as the 50 f1.7, but it was nice not to have to use the green button.
  • Pentax DAL 55-300mm f4-5.8: I thought this might be a bit slow, but this turned out marvelous pics. I mostly used it about 65' away w/ most shots in the 55-110mm range, wide open at f4.5. Always seemed to be just fast enough and enough DoF. Great sharpness and color.
  • Takumar 135mm f2.5: I got this lens pretty cheap just for this type of setting. A) It can take really amazing pics. The attached pic below was shot from about 65' away! The lens is soft at 2.5, so this was shot at 2.8. (This means a DoF of about 8', but you can see that's enough for this shot.) B) It can be a limiting focal length. At 65' away, I have about a 11' by 7' field. (So getting a 6' person in the shot requires some good aim.) So, I like the lens, but it's of limited help in a theater. OTOH, if I were at a concert, sitting 100' away, this lens would be outstanding.



CONCLUSION: Unless I was front row, I would want to have my 35-70, a fast 50, and my 55-300 with me. If I were more than 65' away, I'd also bring my 135 Takumar.

Looking at the shots I took, it also appears that one of those fast 85mm f1.4 lenses by Vivitar, Bower, etc... or the 90mm f2.8 from Tamron or a fast wide zoom (24-70 or 28-75 f2.8 by Tamron or Sigma) would be very useful to have.
08-06-2011, 07:38 AM   #25
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Thank you. This is far and away the best summary of shooting theater I have ever seen. Your description of why certain choices were made is extremely helpful.

I find your writing easy to read; not too terse & not too elaborated. I'm jealous.

I'd like to see it rewritten as an article or sticky.


QuoteOriginally posted by mgvh Quote
Thanks again for all the advice. Yesterday I had a chance to try shooting at a dress rehearsal with the director's permission. This was really nice because I was able to move around. I brought a bunch of my lenses with me...

The auditorium is of the wide but not deep sort. Full stage is about 80' wide of which about 50' was used. Stage depth of about 20'. Seating starts about 10' from stage and goes back about 75'.

Here are some things I learned:
  1. Sit towards the center as much as possible. This is the perspective from which directors stage & block everything. If you are too much to the side, you can views into backstage that you do not want.
  2. Perspectives: A matter related to #1 or shots taken at an angle... Any shots that cover a chunk of stage are likely to have curved lines or perspective lines that make it hard to have the pic look straight.
  3. Stage lighting is a critical factor. I was at a local community theater production intended for youth, so the lighting was not professional. Made it hard to get evenly lit shots... There were no uplights, so people w/ hats on ended up with lots of shadow on their faces.
  4. I did enable Highlight Correction on my K-x, and I think it helped a bit.
  5. There were basically 3 types of shots I ended up taking: individual or pair; small group; full or nearly full stage.
  6. Of the types of shots in #5, it really depends a lot on where you are located and what lens you use.
  7. I was able to get good shots w/ each of the lenses, but the 28mm was the least helpful. Zooms are very helpful, but sitting near the middle of the (small) auditorium with the 50mm did work out.
  8. I did all my shots in Manual or Aperture mode.
  9. Shutter speed is an issue... but so is DoF. My thought was to shoot as wide open as possible to keep ISO down and shutter fast, but shooting w/ the 50mm at a distance of 25 feet at f2, I only had about 6' of DoF. Using the 135mm at a distance of 50 feet at f3.2, I only had about 5' DoF.
  10. In the tradeoff between ISO and aperture and shutter, I ended up shooting most shots at 1600 ISO. I also was able to get a lot of shots at 1000 or 1250 ISO. Ones I took at 2500 ISO look pretty good. Starting to get a bit noisy at 3200.
  11. For static scenes, I could get clear shots at as slow 1/30. For normal action, 1/50 to 1/100. For faster action 1/125 or faster was needed.
  12. In terms of aperture and my lenses, all this means I took a lot of shots at f4 or f4.5, and they turned out well. On my fast 50s, to deal with DoF, I ended up shooting at 2.8 a lot.
  13. Catch in focus (CiF) worked very well with my manual lenses. If it were a fairly static scene, once I got the focus set, it was easy to take a bunch of good pics.
  14. It certainly is easier using fully automatic lenses, but I got use to the manual lenses and hitting the green button to set lighting before taking the shot.
  15. With regard to the lenses I used:
  • Pentax DA 16-45mm f4: Worked well for up to 25' or so and could get whole stage at 50'. Tended to blow out highlights a lot, so I need to compensate down. I don't know why, but I never got any really good pics from this lens. A little disappointing since this was a nice range for fairly close seating.
  • Vivitar 28mm f2.8: Pics are fine, but you either have to be really close (at 20 feet from stage horizontal field is already about 17') or far enough back to get full stage (about 65' back gets full stage). Just not very versatile...
  • Pentax F 35-70mm f3.5-4.5: This is a quite inexpensive lens, but it was really wonderful for this setting. Great color, focus... A great zoom range for sitting anywhere from 20-45 feet away. Definitely keep this one handy for theater shots.
  • Pentax M 50mm f1.7: I got lots of good shots, but I was expecting a bit more from this lens. Blew out highlights, so I probably need to compensate a bit. DoF was an issue when trying to shoot fast and open. Shot a lot at f2.8. Will keep it in the collection to shoot faster scenes.
  • Pentax A 50mm f2: Pretty much the same as the 50 f1.7, but it was nice not to have to use the green button.
  • Pentax DAL 55-300mm f4-5.8: I thought this might be a bit slow, but this turned out marvelous pics. I mostly used it about 65' away w/ most shots in the 55-110mm range, wide open at f4.5. Always seemed to be just fast enough and enough DoF. Great sharpness and color.
  • Takumar 135mm f2.5: I got this lens pretty cheap just for this type of setting. A) It can take really amazing pics. The attached pic below was shot from about 65' away! The lens is soft at 2.5, so this was shot at 2.8. (This means a DoF of about 8', but you can see that's enough for this shot.) B) It can be a limiting focal length. At 65' away, I have about a 11' by 7' field. (So getting a 6' person in the shot requires some good aim.) So, I like the lens, but it's of limited help in a theater. OTOH, if I were at a concert, sitting 100' away, this lens would be outstanding.



CONCLUSION: Unless I was front row, I would want to have my 35-70, a fast 50, and my 55-300 with me. If I were more than 65' away, I'd also bring my 135 Takumar.

Looking at the shots I took, it also appears that one of those fast 85mm f1.4 lenses by Vivitar, Bower, etc... or the 90mm f2.8 from Tamron or a fast wide zoom (24-70 or 28-75 f2.8 by Tamron or Sigma) would be very useful to have.
08-06-2011, 04:57 PM   #26
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If you are not on a tight budget, I recommend the DA*50-135 combined with TAv mode (sorry not on the k-x) makes the job much easier (just set the minimum shutter speed and max aperture); and of course depending on how far you are from the stage, the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 would also be helpful. Here is an example from the DA*50-135.
Attached Images
 
08-06-2011, 08:13 PM   #27
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  • @newarts: Thanks for the compliment! I have had my K-x for less than a year, and it's my first DSLR, so I'm still learning.
  • @aleonx3: That looks great and good advice. I can see how that TAv mode would be very helpful. As you can see, I'm pretty much working on a budget. Other than the kit lens and the 16-45, I haven't paid more than $32 for any of my lenses!

A few other things I forgot to mention:
  • The K-x is a bit loud. The autofocusing wasn't bad, but the shutter slap could be. I didn't seem to be bothering the people around me when I took some pics during a performance, but I was careful not to snap during any quiet moments.
  • The blue power lamp on the K-x was obnoxiously bright. Be sure to use the Custom menu #20 to set the lamp to low or turn it off altogether.
  • I also didn't want to draw attention to myself by having all the settings on the rear LCD shining. The easiest way to turn it off is to push the INFO button twice. (First time displays shooting options, but push again and display turns off.) I did all my ISO and f-stop adjustments looking through the viewfinder.
  • You also don't want the pic to flash for 1-3 seconds on the LCD in the theater setting. Use menu screen 3, Instant Review and turn it to Off.
08-07-2011, 12:30 AM   #28
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In these far from ideal conditions, the picture taking solutions tend to become more expensive in terms of fast lenses being required, also remember you can crank up the ISO.

Last edited by Kerrowdown; 08-07-2011 at 03:35 AM.
08-08-2011, 01:00 AM   #29
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I may be late, but stage photos are also fun..

My setup for low light is
- K50f1.4 or K50f1.2 or FA50f1.4, and this is the widest for stage shooting.
- K85f1.8 or FA77 or Tamron macro 90 or Sigma macro 105 or FA*85f1.4, last one is heavy.
- K135f2.5
- K200f2.5

but also depends on where I am sitting, how large/far and lighting condition.
I shoot at iso 2500 or higher. low NR or no NR for PP. The photos are ok with some grain with high ISO, as long as they have enough DoF and sharp.

DA50-135 is not as good at f2.8, and AF will hunt alot in low light. so I keep my manual focus for these events.

cheers.
10-20-2011, 08:46 PM   #30
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Hi all, My spouse and I love going to pop concerts (almost once a month) but we are not very well-off, so we can't afford front row seats every time. So we usually get seats that are more than 50m away. May I ask for recommendation for zoom lens? Sorry for newbie question as we just got a new DSLR; been using a PNS all the while previously. TIA~
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