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Concert/Band photo HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by cakek, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. cakek

    cakek Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 29, 2012
    Central Florida
    Hi, I am new to the forum and new to cameras with LOTS of options!!! I always owned point-and-shoot cameras because they were simple and easy to take with you. But I ended up getting dirt in the lens of my Canon and they wanted a lot of money to fix it. So I purchased the Olympus E-PM1 kit because I wanted to have more options for low light situations but still have something fairly compact. Last night I took my camera to it's first band performance to get some great photos. However, when I got home and looked at them on my MAC they were just as bad as a compact camera. I played and played with that thing all night and the photos that partially came out were the ones that I shot in Auto mode. I could not get anything to work in any of the P-A-S-M modes. But then again, I don't know what I am doing. SO, can anyone give me any advice on what mode to shoot in, setting in that mode, so on so forth. I don't like to use a flash if I don't have to. Any help to get started would be greatly appreciated!!!!
  2. ISO1600

    ISO1600 Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 17, 2012
    Abilene, TX
    what lens do you have? Most likely the problem is shooting too slow of a lens (small maximum aperture, like f3.5-f6.3) and poor high-ISO performance.

    Most smaller concert venues i've been to, you need fast lenses (faster than f2) and good noise performance above ISO 1600 usually... Unless you can use strobes, which changes everything.
  3. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    You have a great camera, now you need a great lens. The Olympus 45mm f1.8 will cost as much as the camera but works really well for concert photos.
  4. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    If you can sit up close, the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 is another great choice. Wider depth of field at wide-open aperture, compared to the Oly 45mm f1.8.

    If you're way in the back, you're going to want the Oly 75mm f1.8. But ALL of us want that lens, except for the price! :) 
  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Try setting it on aperture priority, centre weighted or spot metering, and set the ISO to Auto or or at least 1600 and give it a try.

    A faster lens will help, but metering where the light actually is will help keep up the shutter speed... If you use Auto it will be reading that large areas of dark around the performer and giving you too long an exposure

    The shots in this set were taken in a very dark bar with almost no stage lighting using a GH2 set at 5000 iso and using the 45/1.8 and the Pana 25 1.4 as I recall... maybe the Pana 20 1.7 as well

    Shutter speeds were in the 1/30 to 1/80 range as I recall

    Blues at the Hotsy Totsy - a set on Flickr

    P1010688 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    • Like Like x 2
  6. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Concert shooting is very challenging because the lighting is usually poor, changing, and musicians are moving around at various speed.
    The main thing is really watching the shutter speed to freeze motion. I try to use Shutter Priority , 1/100 if lighting allows. Then you have to push ISO as high as possible so image quality remains acceptable to you. with EPM1 you can probably go as high as 1600 or 3200 ( I am just guessing, I don't have it).
    I suppose you could also do Aperture Priority, setting it at max wide and setting ISO as high you want to force camera to calculate best shutter speed. That might actually be better now that I think about it.
    You will struggle with kit lens unless lighting is very good, because its max aperture is not wide.

    Here, I use 20mm / 1.7 lens. As you can see I did not follow my own advice here :mad:  using Program mode, which resulted in pretty slow speed of 1/60. A lot of my other photos from the same show came out rather blurry as a result.
    DMC-GX1    ---    20mm    f/1.7    1/60s    ISO 640

    Good luck.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. cakek

    cakek Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 29, 2012
    Central Florida
    Thanks everyone!! I really appreciate all the suggestions!! I will print these out and try all of them. I do like the included photos and the settings that you guys used. Its one thing looking at a wonderful photo, but i like to know how that person shot it as well. I am going to look into a new lens as well soon.
  8. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I strongly suggest a long lens with a fast aperture (f/2.8) which will isolate the subject and toss the background OOF. Unfortunately µ4/3 doesn't have much to offer in native lenses. Filling the frame will eliminate a lot of clutter which tends to be distracting, so typically shoot on the tight side. Proper exposure is difficult because of spot lights and dark backgrounds, so shoot and chimp ... adjust exposure.

    Slow shutter speed to emphasis movement:
    E-M5    ---    300mm    f/5.6    1/45s    ISO 400

    #2 non-µ4/3 examples:
    Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II    ---    200mm    f/2.8    1/200s    ISO 1600

    Canon EOS 20D    ---    200mm    f/2.8    1/200s    ISO 1600



    • Like Like x 1
  9. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    A poor man's substitute for the excellent Olympus 45mm is any legacy 50mm f1.8, usually under $40 with adapter. This will require some work to manual focus on an EMP1 w/o a VF2/VF3 viewfinder, but you only do it once when the performer is by the microphone. Another nice legacy lens for concerts is something like an 85mm f1.8, but they start at over a hundred dollars. This is really a jumping jack for MF, but can be done with the lens resting on your lap or something stationary.

    I set the shutter around 1/200 in S mode, ISO at 1600, and see what I get. I can't trust the exposure meter under spot lights anyway. With a legacy lens, then I will adjust the aperture until the reviewed shots look alright. If the aperture is really dialed down, then the shutter speed can go up, or the ISO comes down. With a native lens, I adjust the EV and again change the shutter/ISO to get back to a reasonable combination.

    With the PEN's, my ability in PP isn't good enough to get better results in RAW. Others are masters at this.

    Get close as you can. The 40-150 zoom is a slow lens, but is a good addition for an M43 camera anyway.

    Don't enable IS with video on the EPM1. It does bad stuff if the camera moves. That means you really have to be steady when shooting video w/o it.

    EPL1 with 40-150 at 1/200 f8 ISO 2500
    E-PL1    ---    135mm    f/8.0    1/200s    ISO 2500

    EPL1 with 135mm legacy zoom 1/160 f2.8 ISO 2000
    E-PL1    ---    0mm    f/1.0    1/160s    ISO 2000

    Finally, I think my EPM1 could have done this.
    ISO 1600, 40-150 zoom @ 105mm ISO, 1/320, f5.1 with OMD
    E-M5    OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F4.0-5.6    105mm    f/5.1    1/320s    ISO 1600
  10. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Those are some pretty bright concerts some folks are at...

    I was shooting footage of a small Dan Mangan gig last night. Took along the E-M5 with the 7-14 for 'overview' shots of the crowd, ended up in the 1/10th range at F4, ISO 2000 or so I believe. Worked fine for capturing the scene, the crowd, the combination of lights at play. Lighting changed a fair bit, though, so I shot a decent amount of stuff with my 5DII + 135L wide open (F2.0), shutter at around 1/100-1/150, ISO at around 3200 to 6400 (which is 'switch to black and white' most of the time). Still reviewing the shots, but got some great ones.

    I have the 45/1.8, but it wouldn't have given me the reach or the subject isolation, and the gig was close to home and camera-friendly, so the 5DII came along. I still love the handling on the Canon, but it's absurdly huge and heavy compared with the E-M5, and I kind of miss being able to chimp in the EVF. And I miss the IBIS. I probably could have achieved the same/similar shots with the E-M5 and the 75/1.8 at ISOs around 1600 or maybe even slightly lower.

    My general approach tends to be:
    - Set aperture (usually pretty wide open)
    - Adjust ISO to achieve reasonable shutter speeds (depends on lens choice and IS availability)

    If lighting is more or less constant but there are a lot of flashy lights that confuse the hell out of the camera meter, I prefer to shoot manual - fiddle around a little, lock down values, and ignore the meter. Works well in a lot of situations, but would not have been ideal for this gig.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. cakek

    cakek Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 29, 2012
    Central Florida
    OK, I have a chance to go and shoot 2 weekends away at a small club. Where everyone will be standing except for the outer perimeter, where those people will be sitting. I have the chance to rent the Oly 45mm and the Oly 75mm from lensrentals.com. 3 questions, do you think the Oly 75mm is too much reach for a small club and has anyone ever rented from lensrentals.com before? Also, can anyone recommend a reputable "lens rental" company? I checked locally by me (orlando) and no one seems to rent the 4/3rds lenses. Thanks for all your help and suggestions!!!!
  12. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    I've seen folks recommend lensrentals.com on here before, shouldn't be a problem. The 75 will help you get some great close-in shots but it all depends on how close you plan to get to the performers. I got this shot with the 45mm kneeling right at the edge of the stage:

    E-P3    OLYMPUS M.45mm F1.8    45mm    f/1.8    1/125s    ISO 800

    If I were back eight to ten feet the 75 would have worked fine.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I've rented from lensrentals.com and it was a great experience. They ship fast, you keep the original box and when you're done just drop it off at Fedex, all done and no hassle.

    You probably do need a faster lens to shoot effectively in dark concert venues. However, before you go buying or renting any more gear, I'd suggest learning more about exposure. I always recommend Understanding Exposure to people new to photography. It's a great book and I've said many times it made me a better photographer 5 minutes into the book. Working through it will help you understand the full relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO, which in turn will help you understand why some photos do or don't come out and how to increase your rate of "keeper" photos. With a little more info under your belt you'll make much better use of a fast lens and/or all the settings and features on the EPM1, which are what will really set it apart from a typical P&S.

    I usually shoot in A (aperture priority) mode, with auto ISO and let the camera pick a shutter speed. However, if you need to freeze movement then shooting in S (shutter priority) to force a faster shutter speed will be better. However, in low light situations that will require you to open the aperture to the max and push the ISO up to make sure you get a bright enough exposure. Pushing ISO will add noise, so it's all a give and take. That's where a bigger aperture on the lens will help, but reducing the ISO sensitivity required.

    Good luck!
    • Like Like x 1
  14. rfortson

    rfortson Mu-43 Veteran

    You'll get there. You've got the tools (well, maybe a faster lens will help). In the meantime, I'd recommend these two books to get you up to speed faster.

    The Digital Photography Book (Vol 1) - Scott Kelby

    Understanding Exposure - Bryan Peterson

    Kelby's book is full of quick tips on how to shoot in a variety of situations. It doesn't delve into the theory but rather just says what settings to use for different situations.

    Peterson's book explains the relationship between aperture, shutterspeed and ISO and how you need to understand all three to get the exposure you want (there's not one proper exposure, there are many and you need to pick the one you want).

    Both books are easy to read and will really help you not waste time or money in figuring out your photography.

    Good luck!
    • Like Like x 2
  15. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2011
    Depends on how small. I've shot at the Recher, Sonar, and Ram's Head in Baltimore where nation wide acts roll through on a regular basis. I generally don't use anything longer than a 24-70 f/2.8L on a full frame camera and rarely break out my 70-200 f/2.8L IS. I'm usually using my 14-40 f/4L which would eqaul a 7-20 on an M43 camera. The 75 would be a 150mm equivalent FOV on a FF camera and I can't see that being very useful in a small club. Plus, keep in mind that the longer the lens, the faster your shutter speed will have to be. Image stabilization will never change that; you may be able to use a slower shutter speed than normal, but the longer the lens, the faster it will have to be.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. kenez

    kenez Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 18, 2012
    I took these at a Peter Gabriel concert (Lou Reed showed up too) using my original EP-1 and the 14-42 kit lens. It helped that I was pretty close but I thought they came out pretty well given that set-up isn't known for exceptional results in low light situations. I was in Aperture Priority mode. Shutter speed on most 1/125-1/160 and ISO 640-800, F5.1-F5.6. I am looking forward to trying out my E-M5 in a concert setting.

    Attached Files:

  17. saud

    saud Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 5, 2012
    Concert/Band photo HELP

    It doesn't delve into the theory but rather just says what settings to use for different situations.we can good snap shot with this beautiful cameras and we can get fine printout on good papers.
  18. rkell

    rkell Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2012
    Those turned out well, but that's not really much of a low light situation. At f/2.0, you would have been able to shoot at base ISO 200 at around 1/250 sec. or faster. The bigger the concert and venue generally, the brighter the lights and the easier the shooting. The tough stuff is at smaller venues, especially the ones that frequently rely heavily on low-output LED lights (usually tuned to a purplish mush).

    It's the difference between a venue like this:
    [shot with M.Zuiko 45mmm at f/2.0, 1/320 sec., and ISO 400]
    E-P3    ---    45mm    f/2.0    1/320s    ISO 400

    And a venue like this (4+ stops less exposure than the shot above):
    [shot with M.Zuiko 45mmm at f/1.8, 1/80 sec., and ISO 1600]
    E-M5    ---    45mm    f/1.8    1/80s    ISO 1600
    • Like Like x 2
  19. kenez

    kenez Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 18, 2012
    It was actually pretty dark in the venue for much of the PG concert but here is an example of a shot I took at a small club using my XZ-1 at F2.2, ISO 800, 1/160 sec. In my opinion, this camera applies a little too much NR by default but considering the fact that you can slip it in your pocket and it is very discreet I think it does a pretty good job. I shot Raw + JPEG but honestly the JPEG's were fine. My favorite lens for concert/plays is the 4/3 35-100mm F2.0 but now you are talking non-discrete!

    Attached Files:

  20. cakek

    cakek Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 29, 2012
    Central Florida
    I want to thank you all for all the suggestions!! Boy they are going to help!! I got the book Understanding Exposure last weekend and read the whole thing!! I just got the Oly 45mm from lensrentals.com today and shot a few photos with it and WOW! I will be shooting a band tonight and tomorrow night as well. Wish me luck. I will post the good pics afterwards.
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