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Field Review: Sony a580 (Day 2)

by Julius Motal on 02/05/2011

Mara Levi of The Pushovers

On December 21st of last year, I had the good fortune of being invited to a coworker’s concert at Union Hall in Brooklyn. I work with Chris Takita at Starbucks, and he plays lead guitar in the four-piece Melissa Li & the Barely Theirs. I offered to shoot the concert as both a favor to him and more practice on the a580. All shots shown were taken with Minolta glass.

The total square footage of the concert are of Union Hall is not a significant amount. It fills up fairly fast. My decision to stay at the front proved to be a wise one as I wouldn’t have to maneuver my telephoto lenses above heads or between shoulders.

With a few minutes to go until the concert, the lighting proved to be troubling. There were three lights suspended a few feet away on both sides of the stage. Red, blue, and yellow lights converged on the center point. The red and blue were more pronounced and did not mesh equally, creating some rather distorted purple haze.

That's not quite right.

No matter how I tried to manipulate the a580’s settings during the preshow warm-up, I could not get a decent image. I switched between Program, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority, and Manual. White balance was constantly changed. ISO moved up then down then up again. The other photographers and videographers there noted similar troubles with regards to the lighting. Fortunately, after consulting Melissa Li, the lighting was adjusted, and the shots grew in quality and clarity and decreased in purple hue.

Just a bit blue. Just a bit.

My mainstay for the evening was my 50mm lens. The aperture hovered in and around f/2, and the ISO stayed at a snug 1600. I dodged Single Shot Advantage in favor of Speed Priority Continuous so that I wouldn’t miss a beat. Pardon the pun.

There were four bands on the bill for the evening. The concert was dubbed Women on the Loose, four musical acts with female leads. With Melissa Li & the Barely Theirs hosting, there were periodic announcements. One such announcement came when there was a development at the bar. “So the bartender crafted some special drinks for this evening,” said Melissa, “To turn Women on the Loose into Loose Women.” After a hearty har-har, the music continued.

Of the four acts, I photographed the middle two. I spent the first act, Chelsea Z, getting a feel for the environment, taking several test shots to gauge the new lighting. It went well, I think.

Chelsea Z

By the time the second band, The Pushovers, took the stage, Union Hall was at maximum capacity. I claimed my space in the small alcove at the front between the stage and the first jagged row of concert goers.

Given my distance from the performers, the 50mm proved excellent for getting solid shots with most of the subject within the field of view. The a580 did well with the lighting, and took a rapid succession of shots with ease. I tended to stick with manual focusing, but on the occasion I did want to use AF, the microphone came out rather well.

Look at the head of that microphone.

The a580 did extremely well, and the BlackRapid RS-7 was an invaluable companion. The a580 even shined when my hands got a bit clammy with the high levels of shared body heat. There was no slippage thanks to the grip.

The a580 was a solid companion for my first foray into concert photography.

In the next post, the a580 goes to Thailand.

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