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10/29/2012 02:04:03 PM · #1
Taking a Camera to a Concert?

We all know what type of images to expect when a credentialed professional takes professional gear to a concert. But what about when you don't have a credential to get you up close or backstage or when you don't have professional gear?

Last night, I found out.

As soon as I got our tickets to see the Counting Crows, I called the venue to inquire about what type of camera gear I could take. I knew the Crows have no restrictions on taping, recording, or photographing their performances, but I also know that not all venues respect the band's leniency. Not unexpectedly, I was told I could bring a dSLR, but no lenses longer than 4". Great: my shortest lens is my 50mm f/1.8 (yeah, the little plastic one that runs about $80).

I wanted to make an end run around the venue by trying to get a press pass, but was too busy to make that happen (if only it was as easy as just picking up the phone, but it's not).

So I resigned myself to making due with what I could. I took my droid x2, my wife's Canon PowerShot A3100 IS, and my Canon 7D with only my 50mm. Even though I would rather have been loaded down, I was also fairly curious as to just what was possible. Below are some examples of what I got with the various cameras.

The droid
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(see it large)

The PowerShot A3100 IS
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(see it large)

The 7D
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(see it large)

For all intents and purposes, all of these are almost good enough for the web. However, I don't have much faith in the quality of print I'll get from either the droid or the PowerShot.

All the same, I'm still curious...

I'd love to see what people were getting with their iPhones, iPads, and other various cameras.

I'd love to see your concert images, as well! I'm talking about point-and-shoot and cell-cam imagery, or dSLR short-lens imagery. Anything but professional long-lens stuff. If you have anything, please post some here.

Now here's my best image from the evening:
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(Click here to see the 8x12)

Ok, here's the scoop: this is a composite of 5 vertical images stitched with GigaPan stitch. As soon as I got to my seat and took a test shot with the 7D, I knew a stitch would be the only way I could come close to getting the image I wanted from the evening. I shot enough to get a feel for the lighting and how to focus. Once I felt dialed in, I shot a couple practice panos to get a feel for the motion of shooting a hand-held pano in the dark.

I was ready. I took a deep breath and fired off about 9 frames. The trick is moving quickly from frame to the next, but pausing before firing to avoid any unnecessary blur. You can only hope that the stage lighting doesn't change radically between frames.

On the whole, it was an incredibly successful evening. Beyond learning the limitations of my phone and cell-cam and without the burden having a ton of gear to keep track of, I was able to enjoy an incredible evening of music with my family.

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10/29/2012 03:35:34 PM · #2
was only listening to some crows today :) good gig?
10/29/2012 04:02:48 PM · #3
Originally posted by Giles_uk:

was only listening to some crows today :) good gig?

probably one of the best. they're great musicians, have a great catalog of their own stuff, huge catalog of covers, and they really mixed it up. duritz was full of energy and in a great mood. i really was torn between wanting to shoot it and wanting to just experience it...
10/29/2012 05:25:59 PM · #4
I've pretty much only shot with my Canon S3 (or similar) so "lens size" was never an issue, but it has pretty horrible noise even at ISO 400 ... :-(

I shot a bunch at a show with Tom Paxton and David Maloney at the Freight & Salvage back in March; all handheld from about 100 feet away, f/3.51, ISO 400, 1/15 sec. The close-ups are at (35mm EQ) 352mm, the medium shots at 124mm, and the widest at 85mm.

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Assorted concert shots I've previously entered/posted:

Close enough for the flash to help: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/645/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_490832.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/645/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_490832.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Heavy Metal club: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/738/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_593958.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/738/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_593958.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Outdoor amphitheater: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1599/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1023605.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1599/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1023605.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' School multi-use room: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/596/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_445260.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/596/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_445260.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Stitched panos:

Theater hall: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_763716.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_763716.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/977/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_754928.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/977/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_754928.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Gymnasium: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_860477.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_860477.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
10/29/2012 05:54:30 PM · #5
Great pictures Skip, and a great thread..I'm always interested in what type of shots people get at concerts...

One of my Bon Jovi shots from Asbury Park this year..Nikon D70 and 50mm f/1.8

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10/29/2012 09:10:17 PM · #6
thanks, tommy, and cool shot!

love the panos, paul! pretty cool what we come up with when we're forced to deal with making the most of what we got.

i'm tempted to buy one of those fat suits they use for tv/movies and put in a lens smuggling pouch...
10/29/2012 11:59:20 PM · #7
Well, I hope this is okay as it kind of goes against your rule of "Anything but professional long-lens stuff." But I am far from a professional even though these were taken with a Canon 70-200MM f2.8L is II on a 7D. And I had no credentials.

These are from the post game concerts following Tampa Bay Rays' games. Luckily, so far, they don't seem to care what kind of camera or lens you have for these concerts. If you can get it into the games, you can bring it into the concerts. So I take advantage, because I know how difficult it is to get this camera lens combo into almost any concert without credentials.

There are more in my portfolio.

All are 1600 ISO.

Gavin DeGraw:
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Dj Afrojack:
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Earth, Wind, and Fire:
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Message edited by author 2012-10-30 00:00:11.
10/30/2012 12:32:25 AM · #8
Originally posted by Skip:

i'm tempted to buy one of those fat suits they use for tv/movies and put in a lens smuggling pouch...

I'm so sorry to hear about your "knee injury" ... I highly recommend using a cane any time you're going to be in crowded situations on foot, like in a concert ... ;-)

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10/30/2012 01:44:40 AM · #9
No problem, just invite them to your parties. : )
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10/30/2012 10:23:34 AM · #10
Several months ago I saw Dave Matthews in the Tampa, FL area. The arena said no cameras with the ability to change lenses. I decided to take my Olympus OMD-5 with the 45mm 1.7 lens which in the world of micro 4/3rd is the focal length of 90mm. The camera and lens is so small I hoped it would be taken by security as a simple point and shoot. I made sure the camera was the only thing in my smaller camera bag...with the lens changing button facing downwards...the security took a long look at it and let it through! I was so happy and loved the concert.

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10/30/2012 12:48:02 PM · #11
Originally posted by Skip:

thanks, tommy, and cool shot!

love the panos, paul! pretty cool what we come up with when we're forced to deal with making the most of what we got.

i'm tempted to buy one of those fat suits they use for tv/movies and put in a lens smuggling pouch...

My trick...I put the camera in the front pocket of my hoodie...and carry the hoodie in one hand...when they are "frisking" me..I just lift up the hoodie kind of folded over like it's all that is there. They never check it for some reason. I've even smuggled my D300 with the 85mm in that way too.
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