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10-02-2014, 03:36 PM   #1
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Shooting concert photography without a flash with a Pentax K-X


I've recently had the opportunity to recently shoot some concerts, and have a few more on the horizon, but for some I will not have the luxury of using a flash gun so I am limited to the shots I can get. What suggestions can people offer towards either different lenses I could acquire, or settings I could use please? I am using a Pentax K-X DSLR.



10-02-2014, 04:02 PM   #2
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Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 and Tamron 70-200 f/2.8
10-02-2014, 04:11 PM   #3
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Depends on how close you are. At a small local venue, in which I sat about 25 feet from the stage, I shot these:

Close-ups were shot with the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 HSM II, while the perspective shots were taken with a F 50mm f/1.7. (You can click the files and view the EXIF). The key to good shots is post processing. The light was terribly colored and it was, of course, rather dark. These were shot at ISO2500+, with a about 1/3 at 2500, 1/2 at 3200, and 1/6 higher than that. Good noise reduction is key. Topaz Denoise is your friend.

I didn't use my Sigma 18-35 here wasn't out yet. Just as well. 35mm is too wide for good shots. You're going to want long lenses. And they need to be fast. You'll be far enough away to get acceptable DoF at long focal lengths, but don't expect to shoot much above f/2.8.
10-02-2014, 05:07 PM   #4

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I shot these with a 50mm f1.8 and a Sony a55, which is about on par with a k-x in regards to high iso capabilities:

A lot of barely used Pentax DA 50mm 1.8 lenses are showing up on ebay trending around $130 and will get the job done. I currently use the DA 50mm 1.8 with a K30 and it works well.

10-02-2014, 05:19 PM   #5
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Thank you to everyone for your feedback, it us much appreciated. The problem, being that I am shooting mainly in small, club venues, or from time to time theatre type venue, where I have experienced very dim lighting, to little or no lighting, thus causing me to not have any options available to me. I am using predominant for small clubs my 18-55 with an ISO of typically 1600 with the lowest aperture I can get at f 3.5 with a shutter speed at 25/30. I
10-02-2014, 05:30 PM   #6
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I use a K-x, and usually shoot with a manual focus Pentax A 1.7 / 50mm lens. I'd like to have a Rokinon 1.8 / 85mm though. I shot a Richard Thompson show with my old Pentax A 35-105 f:3.5 zoom with good results wide open. I usually shoot around f 2.8 at ISO 1600 or so, because a smaller aperture is usually too narrow DOF to get everything I want in focus. Also, shoot RAW so you can pull out the underexposed shots in post. Here's a couple of examples:

Pentax A 35-105 wide open at f:3.5 (Richard Thompson show)

Pentax A 1.7 / 50mm at f:2.8: (J.D. McPherson - This place was SUPER dark!)

10-02-2014, 05:30 PM   #7

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You definitely need a faster lens. An f1.8 lens will give you 2 stops of extra light, so in theory that would mean iso 800 and 1/60 shutter speed, which is adequate if you have steady hands. And 50mm will get you much closer to the action unlike 18mm which is what you must be shooting at to use f3.5 on your 18-55mm lens.
10-02-2014, 05:41 PM   #8

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QuoteOriginally posted by Joe-91 Quote
What suggestions can people offer towards either different lenses I could acquire, or settings I could use please? I am using a Pentax K-X DSLR.
You should read this whole thread started by forum user UnknownVT

It's full of VERY low light K-x photo shooting tips in various clubs and venues.

10-02-2014, 06:17 PM   #9
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Get a brighter lens and set the ISO as high as you need to get the shot you want. Noise is possible to lower in the postprocessing but blur is harder. If you hit the highest decent ISO-setting and still run low in light be creative, capture motion instead of trying to freeze it.

---------- Post added 10-03-14 at 03:22 AM ----------

If I got this with my K-5 at ISO16000 you should manage atleast something similar at ISO3200 with your K-X
10-02-2014, 07:02 PM   #10
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As the others have said, fast lenses in the range of f1.4 to f2.8. In small venue's I tend to use the Chinon Auto MC 50mm f/1.7 the most, followed by the SMC Pentax-A 28mm F2.8 (yes, manual focus ). Try keeping your shutterspeed around or above 1/125 of a second as well if the performers are active on stage. If there standing still you might be able to get away with slower speeds. Just use a ISO high enough to have a decently lit photo. Good post-processing does the rest. And if that's not enough to do it, be creative and use the lack of light as mentioned above.
And turn off the shake function It better to learn how to control your breathing and stance (nice article about it here)
10-03-2014, 07:13 AM   #11
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Shoot RAW and underexpose slightly to avoid blowing the highlights. Listen to the lyrics and get the shot on the second or third chorus, when you can anticipate a still moment when a singer takes a breath. Talk to the guy running lights and get him to ditch the red gels if you can. Red stage lights suck. f2.8 or better, which means even the Q7 with Q lens 06 can do okay, and is very inconspicuous.
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10-03-2014, 09:26 AM   #12
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More Stuff?

Hello Joe, welcome to the Forum!
In addition to the many suggestion for faster glass (which I heartily recommend, as well), you might also look into the purchase of a used K-5, if not a new (old stock) K-5IIs.
Why? If you're serious about concert or low-light photography and intend to pursue it, the K-5 has a real advantage over the K-X; Noise reduction, probably the best on the (used or new) APS-C DSLR market. Based upon the 'User Reviews' the classic K-5 scores a 9.5 in 'Noise', while the K-X is a full point lower at 8.5. An entire point out of a possible 10 points is like another full stop (in a way) of noise-reduction capability. It's just better.
But you're still better off with fast glass. F/2.8 or faster, and since Pentax primes are easily available in M, A, F, FA mounts, you should be able to find 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, fifties, perhaps an 85mm, 100mm even 135mm primes at fast apertures. In the older series (no auto) for under $200 in many cases, putting them about equal to a new inexpensive DA prime.
All the other recommendations are just as important and valid, but a K-5(series) would be a major upgrade for your intended use.
10-03-2014, 01:29 PM   #13
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I'm going to agree with pretty much everyone on here.... f/2.8 or better.
The question that I'm going to have for you is: How close are you going to be to the stage/performer ?
The Pentax 50-135mm is probably a great lens, but pricey and may be better for close up stuff (vs Tamron 70-200).

You could get a cheap 50mm (fantastic plastic) and/or Samyang 85mm f/1.4 if you need a faster lens.

I know from a little bit of shooting stage pictures (not much), light metering 'can' be tricky if they're using spot lights. You may want to get metering to be on the subject vs. averaged, or you can get some blown out areas if the stage isn't evenly lit.

Last edited by formercanuck; 10-03-2014 at 01:35 PM.
10-05-2014, 02:20 PM   #14
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I advise you to check the following information about concert shooting:
Marc Sabatella: Concert Photography - Equipment
Marc Sabatella: Concert Photography - Technique
Marc Sabatella: Concert Photography - Post-Processing

Best regards,
10-05-2014, 06:35 PM   #15

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QuoteOriginally posted by ddharriman Quote
I advise you to check the following information about concert shooting
An excellent resource. Marc used to be [still is?] a Moderator on PentaxForums, and quite active here. I haven't seen him around for a while though. He gets great shots out of his K200D and M lenses.

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