I thought it would be helpful to create a tools and resource page that you can always come to for all of your concert photography needs. I’ll add to it as I learn more, but you’ll notice that in the future I will reference this page quite often. I recommend bookmarking it for your reference and convenience. Click on the pictures or on the underlined headlines to get more info.
BEST POINT AND SHOOT CAMERAS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY STARTERS
Check out some of the best point and shoot cameras for concert photography. This is my run down of the best compacts for great gig photos.
The Sony Cybershot RX100 is the "best value for money" point and shoot concert camera around. It offers a high ISO sensitivity, it´s lightweight and provides an accurate autofocus system.
The Canon PowerShot G3 x has an impressive optical zoom range of 25x which creates a 24-600mm zoom lens. This is an extremely useful feature when photographing a concert from a distance.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is light weight and it's large sensor and fast lens gives extremely good image quality, but it lacks a bit in zoom capabilities.
BEST DSLR CAMERAS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY STARTERS
What you’ll want to get when starting out is a crop sensor Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera. Crop sensor DSLRs are mostly available as a kit package together with a lens and around $300 - $600. If you want to learn more about concert photography on a budget read here.
If you´re looking for an affordable entry-live camera for concert photography the Nikon D5100 is a great choice. Read my review of the Nikon D5100 here. The ability to shoot at high ISO settings makes it a no brainer of you´re on a budget. There is also a newer model, the Nikon D5200 available.
The Nikon D7100 is a great DX format camera for shooting concert photography mostly due to the great low light performance. Read my review of the Nikon D7100 here. This model is halfway between a semi-professional and a full frame camera. There is also a newer model, the Nikon D7200 available.
The Canon EOS Rebel T5 is your best choice if you prefer Canon cameras. With an ISO setting of up to 6400 it´s suitable for low light concert photography and a good camera to start your career with.
BEST LENSES FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY STARTERS
Another lens that works great when starting out is a 35mm lens (f1.8 for Nikon and f2.0 for Canon) This focal length will allow you to get a wider shot of the band when standing directly in front of the stage in small clubs.
BEST NIKON DSLR CAMERAS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY PROS
I am a full-frame sensor Nikon shooter. Due to the larger sensor size (compared to a crop-sensor camera), the sensor doesn’t warm up as fast, thereby producing less noise in your photos at higher ISO settings. With these cameras you can set ISO values of 6400 or 9000 and still get great photos in low-light stage conditions. The quality of the BOKEH is also breathtaking and if you are using the best lenses made by your camera brand, you will literally be blown away by the results. Canon offers equivalent camera gear, so this list is also useful for Canon guys.
The Nikon D500 is a DX-format camera and got a DPReview Gold award for being the "most-well rounded DSLR we´ve ever tested, and among the very best". I also heard raving reviews from concert photographers. So this might be your choice as well.
I absolutely love the D700 camera and it's my workhorse for concert photography. With it's 12 Megapixel resolution and an ISO capability up to 25600 it delivers great, quality photographs. The D750 is the newer model and sets new standards for low light photography. If you´re in the market for a new camera definitely have a closer look at the D750.
The D800 is a beast of a full-frame sensor camera. The resolution of 36.3 Megapixels is getting close to the resolution of digital medium-format systems. The D810 is the successor of the D800 and your number choice when it comes to portraits.
BEST CANON DSLR CAMERAS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY PROS
The Canon 7D Mark II APC sensor camera is the equivalent of the Nikon D500. It´s 10 fps shooting and blazing fast autofocus set it apart from other Canon models. If you´re searching for the best crop sensor camera for Canon, this is it.
The Canon 6D is the equivalent of the Nikon D750. It´s ability to shoot at very high ISO values makes this camera perfect for low light photography. Wether you get a Nikon or Canon is totally up to you and it´s more a personal preference than knock-out features.
The Canon 5D Mark II/III and IV have been the go-to camera bodies for professional concert photographers. You´ll spot more of these bodies in a photo pit than anything else. If you want to play in the top game, don´t look further and grab one of these.
BEST NIKON LENSES FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY PROS
I have both prime and zoom lenses in my camera bag. As you're rather limited in your forward/backwards movement when in the photo pit, the zoom ability is crucial in concert photography. Sometimes, the artist will constantly be on the move, so it's easier to follow him/her with your zoom lens. On the other hand, there are shows where it's so dark on stage that a prime lens with an aperture of f1.4 is your only option.
This is my go-to lens in smaller venues and my favorite zoom lens. The autofocus is very fast and the photos are tack sharp, even at f2.8. Having the zoom option let's you get a tight headshot as well as full body portraiture. At 24mm, you're also able to get the whole stage into your frame.
The 70-200mm f2.8 is the state of the art lens. The focal length of 200mm is essential if you plan to shoot bigger venues, such as festival stages. This lens gives you the opportunity to take both headshots and half-body portraiture shots. In addition, you can also get the drummer who is most likely hidden at the very back of the stage. This is a back-breaking lens (almost 1.5 Kg/3.2 lb!) but the quality it delivers is worth it's weight and price.
The 14-24mm f2.8 is one of the best ultra wide angle zoom lenses available. It´s fast and shows a great edge-to-edge sharpness. If you´re searching for an awesome wide angle lens for Nikon, try this one.
This is my favorite portrait lens, which I also use a fair bit when shooting concerts. Nikons best lens is able to deliver a bokeh (out-of-focus area) that is breathtaking. But be warned: the autofocus is not very fast and when shooting at f1.4, the depth-of- field is so narrow that you can easily get out of focus photos.
BEST CANON LENSES FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY PROS
This is is the newest version of the highly acclaimed 24-70mm f2.8 standard zoom lens. It´s superbly sharp even at f2.8. Having the zoom option let's you get a tight headshot as well as full body portraiture. At 24mm, you're also able to get the whole stage into your frame.
DPReview commented "Its combination of exceptional optics and quirk-free design even manages to steal the crown of "Best in Class" This is the go-to lens when shooting on bigger stages such as festivals or for tight headshots.
The 16-35m f2.8 is Canons top ultra wide angle zoom lens. It´s fast and shows a great edge-to-edge sharpness. If you want to capture the complete band on stage this lens is a must.
BEST THIRD PARTY LENSES FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY PROS
14mm on a full-frame sensor camera is the widest you can get. Have a look at Nikon or Canon 14mm f2.8 lenses and you'll cry after throwing $2000 out of the window. Want to hear the good news? The Samyang (aka Pro Optic, Rokinon, Bower, Walimex) lens costs $330!!!! Holy crap, that's more than six times cheaper!!! So where's the rub? The Samyang is a manual focus lens, but with the internal focus information in the viewfinder (at least Nikon has this), it's a breeze to work with. The photos are tack sharp and I can live with some distortion in the corners of my photos. The 14mm f2.8 is my go-to lens if I want to capture special perspectives.
BEST MIRRORLESS CAMERAS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY PROS
The Fuji X-T1 is my go-to crop sensor mirrorless camera when I am on tour or on holidays. It´s compact, lightweight and I love the analogue touch. If you want to have an all purpose camera, stop searching and grab this Fuji. It´s successor the XT-2 has even better ISO and Autofocus performance.
The Sony Alpha a7II is the first full frame mirrorless camera and is the only one that offers in-body image stabilization. I tested the a7II and the camera delivers outstanding image quality. The downside is the short battery lifetime, which they hopefully fix in the future.
BEST EARPLUGS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY
Protect yourself from tinnitus and hearing problems when photographing at gigs. But which are the best concert photography earplugs? Here is my suggestion based on the fit, protection, sound and price of the earplugs.
My number 1, entry-level earplugs are the Downbeats. There are two versions - short and long stem versions. I found it easier to remove the version with the long stems. They come in one size and with a -18db sound reduction and a good sound experience in the photo pit, the Downbeats are a good choice if you´re on a budget.
I've worn the Alpine MusicSafe Pros for the past few years and they've never let me down. They're the only earplugs on the market that offer three exchangeable filter sets for low, medium and high protection. I use the last filter the most. With their double silicon flange, they fit perfectly and are comfortable to wear for a long time (I had them with me on tour).
Isolates have a solid metal core of Titanium which creates a sonic barrier deep inside your ear to block noise. The earplugs come with Earfoams in small, medium and large sizes. I tested them at the Asking Alexandria concert (95dB in the pit) and was surprised by their performance. The sound experience was great and I could clearly distinguish the different instruments, just at a lower volume.
BEST CAMERA STRAPS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY
The HoldFast Gear Money Maker is a high-grade leather harness designed to hold two cameras near your hips. The harness is put on backpack style and worn with the straps laying in an "X" pattern across your back for added support. When you need to shoot, the Speed Clutch mechanism allows you to easily slide your camera along the harness to eye level. One of the best camera straps I have ever used.
The BlackRapid Curve (RS-7) Camera Strap is a lightweight strap and is the simplest and most versatile of the BlackRapid straps. It's designed and shaped to fit perfectly around your shoulder. The weight of your camera is evenly distributed for the ultimate in comfort. Highly recommended.
PORTABLE FLASH SYSTEM
The Elinchrom Ranger Quadra is a compact portable 400Ws battery flash system that I am using mostly for backstage portrait work.
OTHER MUST-HAVE GEAR
There is other gear that you need as concert photographer such as storage cards, a camera straps and a camera bag to securely transport your gear. The options can be overwhelming and therefore I want to share my "4 Must-Have Camera Tools" here.
4 MUST-HAVE TOOLS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY
Download my free PDF which includes 4 of my must-have tools I use at every concert shooting (and they are not a camera or lens)
I use Adobe Lightroom 99% for my post production of my concert photography work. This is THE only tool you'll ever need.
I love MOO cards. You can even have different of your own concert photos on this little cards. Great for your offline marketing.
I believe that nowadays you're screwed without an online presence. A webpage is a must and here are two companies that I use for my webpage How To Become A Rockstar Photographer.
SiteGround is a great and cheap option when you´re just starting out. They offer wordpress specific hosting and have an awesome 24/7 customer service. It´s also one of the cheapest option you´ll get. The best thing is that you don´t have to have any IT skills. They also offer a free transfer to their servers.
All my websites are running on the servers of Traffic Planet Hosting and I truly love them. They provide super fast loading times of your websites and have the best 24/7 customer service I have ever seen. This option is for you if you also want to start with your own blog. Since website speed is a crucial ranking factor for google, I highly recommend to check them out.
If you´re searching for a WordPress Theme for your Blog look not further and get Thrive Themes. I have tried dozens of Themes already, but I am blown away with this company. They are the only ones who offer a graphical interface to build your homepage and are beautifully designed that you can start right away.
PHOTO BUSINESS SOFTWARE
You might know the situation too well. A band asks you for an estimate to use your photos as press photos, in magazines or as CD cover and you have no idea what to charge for? FotobizX is the one that I am using. It can not only handle all your estimates and invoices but also includes FotoQuote, the industry standard pricing guide for stock and assignment photography with over 300 stock photo pricing categories. In addition it also includes Releases and Forms as well as Terms and Conditions for different assignments. This program was really a game changer for me.
You can also get a -10% discount using the code 'STR0216'
Shooting the Rockstars is my first 5 weeks online Academy to become a Concert Photographer and start living your passion. This step-by-step video course will help you to understand the technical requirements as well as the network/marketing needs in order to kickstart your concert photographer career TODAY.
I love to read books and as you might know there are thousands of them about photography available. It's hard to know which ones are worth your time. Here is my list of the books I would consider as must-reads.
This is my step-by-step guide (PDF) that explains all the topics you need to known when you´re starting out with concert photography. From your first concert, the right gear and camera settings to building up your awesome concert photography portfolio. This is a must read for everyone who wants to kickstart her/his career.
Photographers are among those creatives that just don't want to focus on business. I made the same experience and therefore I suggest to read this book and get your business to another level.
Austin Kleons Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered is a great little companion. This book will be a revelation to all of you who are wondering how to make your work visible and findable. It's filled with Illustrations, quotes, and stories and it's one of my favorite book.
Zack Arias answers over 100 questions about photography that he fielded directly from his '1000 questions' Tumblr project. These are questions that range across all aspects of the photo industry. It's a great read and highly recommended!
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