Is this camera good for concert photos?
I just received a Nikon D5000 for Christmas(yes I must have been a very good girl this year!) The information on the lens it came with is a Nikkor AF-5 DX 18-55 mm, F/3.5 - 5.6 G VR DX For Digital.
I am very, very new to the photography world and do not plan on becoming a pro. Basically all I want is really nice pics of my kids, grandson, family etc. I also attend a lot of concerts and even though I am usually in the first 5 rows or so my concert pics come out grainy, blurry etc. I love my concerts and want good memories of them which is one of the reasons I asked Santa for a digital SLR.
I have read the concert/nightclub page but because I am new to everything I don't understand a lot of it. What I would like to know is if I am sitting fairly close to the stage will this lens/camera be good for getting really nice concert shots at indoor concert venues?
Please note that I am aware of the camera restriction policy at a lot of venues but most of the venues/concerts I go to do allow cameras.
Also on a side note: I have been thinking of purchasing the Nikon D5000 for Dummies book. Would any of you recommend it? Again I will need something that is really easy to follow as I am totally new at this.
Thanks so much for any advice you can offer.
#1. "RE: Is this camera good for concert photos?" | In response to Reply # 0
Drbee Nikonian since 05th Aug 2004Tue 29-Dec-09 02:33 PM
Welcome to Nikonians,
There are two lenses that I would recommend, but first I recommend that you experiment with the lens that you currently have. It is a good lens but somewhat "slow/dark" for concerts (at least those with low light that I'm thinking about). For concerts that have very strong lighted performers, it might do OK. By slow, I mean that the maximum lens opening is small and that restricts the amount of light that the lens lets pass to the sensor.
Nikon makes two lenses that are considerably faster/larger maximum opening. One is the 35mm f/1.8 AFS DX lens another is the 50mm f/1.4 AFS lens. The latter is considerably more expensive but has a longer reach; a reach very nearly the same as the 55mm telephoto position on your current lens. The reason that I recommend you experiment with the current lens is to see at what focal lengths you feel the image size is appropriate for your seating location and subject size (e.g. what magnification do you need).
The 35 and 50mm lenses recommended above are AFS lenses. That means the focusing motor is in the lens. Nikon has several other lenses with these same focal lengths but they are AFD lenses and will not fully integrate on your D5000. Your D5000 body needs lenses with the focusing motor in the lens to work optimally. The 85mm lenses that Nikon makes are other very popular short concert distance lenses, but they are AFD lenses and don't integrate fully with your D5000. These allow for longer "reach" than your current 18-55mm lens (the 85mm has a longer focal length than the 55mm telephoto end of your zoom and therefore presents a larger magnification over the zoom).
I feel some experimentation is useful to fully answer your question so that you get the maximum benefit from any new equipment.
My daughter uses the same kit that you now have and gets wonderful pictures of her family and their activities. That camera is really packed with capability and the lens is sharp and versatile. Low light concert venues tax even the best and most expensive equipment, so getting the right thing on the first go is desirable.
It is still ISO, aperture and shutter speed, right?
"Nikonians membership - My most important photographic investment."
#2. "RE: Is this camera good for concert photos?" | In response to Reply # 1
Tue 29-Dec-09 03:26 PM
Thank you very much Drbee. Your reply is greatly apprecaited. I will play around with it a bit at the first concert I go to to see what happens. I mean anything has to be better than regular digital is what I am thinking.
Any thoughts on the Nikon D5000 for Dummies book?
#3. "RE: Is this camera good for concert photos?" | In response to Reply # 0
Unfortunately, in a world defined by generalities, we're going to have to boil down to a few hard details. But it will help settle some of the questions you have and really determine if you need more equipment or not.
One of the things that is most important to understand is the general limitations *around* your photography. First off; most concerts do not allow flash. This is is your first decision point.
If flash is allowed - great!
If flash is not allowed - okay - we know that's the first limitation.
The second decision point - exactly how close are you to the subject?
Five rows can vary depending on the venue, but let's assume a 7-10 foot dead space from the foot of the stage to Row 1. Every row is roughly 3 feet "deep" heading to the back of the venue. That's 15 feet + 10 feet = 25 feet. Assume another 5 feet minimum because the performers are *not* at the edge of the stage. That's now 30 feet roughly.
The third decision point - exactly how do you wish to "frame" the subject? This means how big do you want the subject to appear when you are looking through the viewfinder. This is not an exact ratio because the camera you have has enough resolution such that you can crop the photo afterwards using your editing software so that you can further isolate the subject. But this is a good starting point. You don't want to crop on the PC unless you have to. Everything that you can do in the field/on the camera is really the most optimal place to do it. For this we will need a bit of math but nothing fancy.
Let's assume the subject is a child about 3.5 feet in height - this would be typical for say a 6 year-old boy (very general statistics nobody quote me on it please - we're strictly operating rule of thumb here). In order for that child to appear to fill your viewfinder, meaning you are seeing their feet to their head or full-length as shutterbugs would say, you'd need a lens that can reach roughly 200mm if you're at 30 feet from where they are. Your current lens doesn't reach that far.
Now, I mentioned earlier, you can crop with that camera because it has enough resolution, such that you can "zoom" into the photo on the PC and it will still look fine on the screen and on prints (no pixellations or blockiness). But you need to understand that at that range in the fifth row, you're going to get group shots, not isolated subject shots. If that's what you're expecting, great. If not, we need to talk about some tactics or new equipment.
Obviously, the easiest way to solve the framing issue is to get much closer to the stage. Every row you get closer means you can isolate the subject a little more. Even at row 1, your lens is still not optimal for the task, but instead of a group shot, you're now likely to get the subject and maybe the people directly next to him/her, instead of six or eight people.
Best scenario requiring little to no additional expense - you are allowed flash and you get seated as close to the stage as possible.
Scenarios requiring some expense - you are allowed flash, but you want to get more subject isolation. You should consider buying a complementary lens to the 18-55. I would recommend the 55-200mm VR, which gives you that optimial framing that we calculated above. So even if you're seated in Row 5 or maybe a little further back, you can still isolate the subject using the long end of the 55-200.
Scenarios requiring larger expense - you are NOT allowed flash. Ugh. This means consideration of some the lenses DrBee recommended AND getting as close to the stage as possible because those lenses still are shorter than 200mm.
Scenarios requiring mucho expense - you are NOT allowed flash AND you wish to isolate the subject. I think you should consider very carefully before you go down this path. This reuqires purchases of specialized lenses that are not cheap by any means - minimum point of entry here is anywhere from USD900 to USD1700 depending on whether you go used or new and what features you might want.
If you can clarify the flash and seating scenarios, we can focus on what specific tactics and if any additional equipment is required.
#4. "RE: Is this camera good for concert photos?" | In response to Reply # 3
Tue 29-Dec-09 03:46 PM
Hi Covey22, thanks so much for your reply. Actually I am very fortunate in that the three venues I attend most frequently do allow flash photography. So far the only venue I have been to that does not allow flash is the one that holds our Broadway style plays and they do not allow cameras either so it's no problem there.
I do tend to take more isolation shots on the lead singer but if I am going to get better shots taking the entire band then I would do that.
I will look into the lens u recommended as I do not want to spend a fortune because this is purely for a hobby and not a profession for me.
Thanks again for your help. Any advice on the Dummies book I mentioned?
#5. "RE: Is this camera good for concert photos?" | In response to Reply # 0
Apparently, there were a lot of good little "kids" like you who got a D5000 for Christmas. If you will read some of the posts under yours, there are some great recommendations for books that can get you "up and running." I'm not familiar with the "Dummies" series of books, but there is a new book entitled "Mastering the Nikon D5000" which should be pretty good. Also, the other posts answer questions that are similar to yours regarding low light photography, lenses and flash photography.
Enjoy your new camera.
P.S. If you will scroll down through the posts, you will find a post about the book that I had mentioned.
#7. "RE: Is this camera good for concert photos?" | In response to Reply # 0
I have shot a few events with my D5000, and it is definitely up to the task. As others have stated here, it's all about the lens. Here are two examples:
a kids play: http://www.jimrosengarth.com/?page=albumhome&id=9
battle of the bands: http://www.jimrosengarth.com/?page=albumhome&id=19
Both are stage events and both had what you would expect for stage lighting. The kids play was held in a church where lighting was less than optimal. I shot both with the Nikkor AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8. I used to have the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, but the pictures it took weren't worth looking at (I am a perfectionist though). You have to spend money on good glass to get good pictures, but it all depends on what you are willing to put up with. Pro lenses (constant f/2.8) give pro results if you know how to use the camera, the downside being they are expensive. I got a used copy of this lens for $800, and that's about half what it would cost new.
Good luck with your photography!
#8. "RE: Is this camera good for concert photos?" | In response to Reply # 7
bryant1976 Registered since 14th Oct 2009Wed 30-Dec-09 07:30 PM
I'm relatively new to DSLR's and have purchased my first D5000 a few months ago...and am loving every minute of my purchase. My Nikon D5000 for Dummies is great! Everything is broken down into lamen terms and the book's author explains details that I was very impressed with. His example photos are excellent and he even goes into explanation of how he achieved those images with settings on the camera. For a beginner, it's excellent and for those on the advanced side of the house, it would still be good. I don't think you'll go wrong with the purchase. JMO
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#11. "RE: Is this camera good for concert photos?" | In response to Reply # 9