Concert Photography: These Cameras and Lenses are Real Rockstars

If you want to try your hands at concert photography, just know that these cameras and lenses will help you score incredible images.

As we head deeper into summer, more and more concerts come to our cities, and that means that more and more photographers try their hands at concert photography. This exciting, yet challenging genre of photography requires fast lenses so that you can shoot in low light, and it requires cameras that can handle high ISOs easily.  There are plenty of cameras and lenses on the market that are suitable for concert photography, but this roundup will focus on our favorite cameras and lenses that will help you capture all of the on-stage antics.

Concert photography is an incredibly challenging genre of photography. You’ll typically find yourself in low light situations, which means you need lenses with wide apertures, and you’ll need cameras with excellent high ISO performance. If the concert you’re attending is outside, there is always the chance of inclement weather moving in too which means your gear will need to have some weather sealing (though there are ways around this). Fortunately, most cameras these days are pretty good when it comes to weather sealing, and low light performance and exceptional lenses with fast apertures are becoming more affordable all the time.  Let’s take a look at some cameras and some lenses that will really help you conquer concert photography.

 

Cameras for Concert Photography

 

concert photography

All of the cameras listed below are perfect for concert photography. They are rugged, yet very versatile, they perform miracles in low light situations, and they can focus, and track with ease. All of these cameras offer weather sealing too, so there is no need to worry if a quick rain shower blows through while you’re outside. Perhaps most importantly, all of these cameras will open up access to some fantastic lenses that will really help make your images look incredible. If you need a new camera for concert photography, check out five of our favorites below.

 

Fujifilm X-T3

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Brand new 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 Sensor
  • Brand new X-Processor 4 Image Processor
  • Excellent weather sealing
  • Very solid build quality
  • Excellent image quality
  • In body RAW processing with built-in film simulation profiles
  • Versatile RAW files
  • Amazing video capabilities
  • Dual SD card slots (if your workflow requires it)

Cons

  • Battery life can use some improvement
  • Lacks in body image stabilization
  • Low light performance is improved over the previous generation X-T2, but hit rates during high-speed, low light situations still leave much to be desired

Buy now ($1,499): Amazon

 

Nikon D500

 

concert photography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fast, accurate autofocus
  • A dedicated thumb joystick on the back for changing AF points
  • The new touchscreen is an interesting and welcome addition
  • Integration of Wi-Fi is welcome
  • Top notch build quality
  • Battery life that refuses to die
  • Such a good camera that we honestly think that it’s overkill for a lot of people

Cons

  • Pretty big and tough to get into some messenger bags

Buy now ($1,496.95): Amazon

 

Sony A7R III

 

full frame cameras

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Weather sealing
  • Lots of RAW file versatility
  • Sony a9’s autofocus
  • Nice ergonomics
  • New battery makes shooting with it for prolonged periods so much better
  • RAW files work fantastic with Capture One
  • Touch screen capabilities for shooting
  • Fast shooting capabilities
  • Silent shooting abilities

Cons

  • No one is going to actually use the Pixel Shift imaging mode because it’s so complicated to work with and few people want to use Sony’s own software
  • We’d love a top LCD screen
  • We’d love to navigate the menus with the Touchscreen capabilities
  • Sony got rid of the PlayMemories apps and therefore all abilities to do more with the cameras such as the touchless shutter. It absolutely baffles us as to why Sony doesn’t just put all that stuff into the cameras.
  • Wireless flash capabilities need to be enabled via the menu in order to use them

Buy now ($2,798): Amazon

 

Pro Tip: If you want to make absolutely sure that your cameras are protected from the elements, then you should really consider using a weatherproof camera and lens cover. These weatherproof camera and lens covers simply slip over your gear in seconds, and they are just as easy to remove. Why take the chance when you can give yourself a piece of mind for just a few bucks.

 

Canon EOS R

 

concert photography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Weather sealed like crazy
  • Autofocus is good
  • Protects the sensor when off
  • Canon’s menu system is still simple
  • Ergonomics feel nice
  • With a lightweight lens, it feels just as nice as a Sony camera.
  • These are some of Canon’s best RAW files that I’ve seen in years
  • Good battery life
  • Fast Wifi transfers, though not as simple as Sony’s

Cons

  • Needs Dual SD cards
  • Needs a joystick
  • The magic touch bar is odd and could use refinement.
  • Optimizing the way the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed dials work, such as the automatic metering for ISO, not cool
  • Canon needs to improve or change their Face and eye detection.
  • Bigger than Sony, but the L lenses are about on par with their G Master glass

Buy now ($1,999): Amazon

 

Panasonic GH5s

concert photography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Weather sealing
  • Great autofocus in most situations
  • Focus peaking for manual focus lenses
  • High ISO output is great
  • Because this is a 10.2MP Four Thirds sensor, the pixels are more densely packed and therefore give off pretty detailed images.
  • Tactile things on the buttons that make you realize what they are

Cons

  • That’s a lot of money to pay.
  • Detail loss above 6400 is a bit too much

Buy now ($2,197.99): Amazon

 

Lenses for Concert Photography

 

Quality lenses are just as important when it comes to capturing spectacular images, and if you want to be able to capture some stunning concert photography images, you’re going to need lenses that can produce razor sharp images when they are being shot wide open. Fortunately, you can pick up some seriously stunning, razor sharp, fast aperture lenses for really reasonable prices these days. Check out some of our favorite lenses for concert photography below.

 

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art

 

concert photography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Damned good build quality
  • Super sharp wide open
  • The fact that you’ve got wide to normal focal length range at a constant f1.8 blows our minds
  • Fast to focus
  • Perhaps the absolute best concert photography lens that anyone can get their hands on

Cons

  • APS-C only; but that isn’t really a con. Sure, everyone wants a full frame version
  • Positively nothing else

Buy now Canon ($648.29): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($624.08): Amazon

Buy now Sony A ($649): Amazon

Buy now Pentax ($689): Amazon

Pro Tip: The last thing you want to do when your practicing concert photography is run out of storage space. It can be quite easy to get trigger happy when you’re at concerts, and memory cards fill up incredibly quickly these days. Make sure you pack a couple of extra fast SD cards in your pockets so that you can access them quickly during the gig.

 

Tamron 85mm F1.8 Di VC USD

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Super sharp image quality
  • No focusing issues with the Canon 6D or other Canon SLR cameras
  • Fast focusing
  • Weather sealing
  • Nice feel in the hand
  • Vibration compensation built in is a godsend
  • Fantastic color
  • A unique look that makes everything seem like it’s got quite a bit of Clarity in Lightroom increased
  • Beautiful bokeh

Cons

  • Quite honestly, not a single thing is wrong with this lens

Buy now Canon ($749): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($749): Amazon

 

Olympus 45mm F1.2 PRO (Micro Four Thirds)

 

concert photography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fast F1.2 Aperture
  • Excellent manual focus control
  • Quick and accurate AF
  • Weather resistance
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • Price, you can get a lot more lens for the same money (or less) in other systems
  • Weight the lens is a substantial chunk of glass on most Micro Four Thirds cameras

Buy now ($1,199): Amazon

 

Fujifilm 90mm f2 R LM WR

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Superb image quality
  • Weather sealing
  • Great bokeh
  • Very sharp image quality
  • Makes great use of Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome and Astia film renderings
  • Well balanced with both the X Pro 1 and the X-T1
  • Lightweight lens
  • The focusing ring feels really big and beefy.
  • Surprisingly fast and accurate focusing
  • Pretty much no distortion
  • Perhaps the single best portrait lens that Fujifilm has made for the X series camera system–even better than the 56mm f1.2.

Cons

  • Fujifilm’s largest prime lens to date of publishing this review
  • No image stabilization

Buy now ($949): Amazon

 

Pro Tip: There are no two ways about it, your lenses are going to dirty when you’re out shooting concert photography. Dirt, dust, water spots, fingerprints, you name it; all will end up on the front element of your lenses. The best thing to do is to carry a basic lens cleaning kit with you at all times so that you can take care of whatever might be on the front of your lens. You’ll be surprised just how little it can take to ruin your images, so be prepared to clean on the go.

 

Sigma 135mm f1.8 DG HSM Art

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Sharp
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Fast autofocus
  • Not as contrasty, so better for skin tones
  • f1.8 aperture
  • Weather sealing
  • Not as heavy as the 85mm f1.4

Cons

  • Not a darn thing

Buy now Canon ($1,102): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($1,120): Amazon

Buy now Sony E ($1,234): Amazon

 

Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2

 

concert photography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Good for skin tones
  • Delivers lens flare nicely
  • Sharp output
  • Fast autofocus capabilities
  • Weather sealing
  • Fairly lightweight
  • Image stabilization built-in

Cons

  • While we like the lens flare, others may complain about it

Buy now Canon ($1,299): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($1,299): Amazon

 

Fujifilm 50-140mm f2.8

 

concert photography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Internal zooming keeps things reasonably compact
  • Wonderfully sharp images
  • Very nice bokeh, if that matters to you
  • Tripod collar makes for a good grip
  • Weather-sealed

Cons

  • Prepare to drop serious cash. This lens ain’t cheap
  • The focusing ring moves a bit too slowly

Buy now ($1,599): Amazon

 

Sony 70-200mm f2.8 OSS G Master

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Nice bokeh
  • Fairly compact for a 70-200mm f2.8 lens.
  • Good build quality
  • Can focus pretty fast with the latest cameras

Cons

  • Pretty pricey!

Buy now ($2,598): Amazon

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.