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. Continue reading…

The Hustle: How to Break into Concert Photography (Legitimately)

Before you start getting paid you have to do a lot of free work and network with the proper people.

I’m not going to beat around the bush, not everyone is going to want to hustle and work for free to get these shots. But getting out there,working on your portfolio constantly and thinking outside of the box will most certainly create those opportunities. On most weeks you should have 2-3 opportunities easily available to you to start to get out there. So here are five tips on how to actually have a great beginner concert portfolio in two weeks flat.

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9 Cameras for Concert Photography That Perform Miracles in Low Light

We’ve highlighted cameras that will suit many budgets, and that will allow anyone to get into, or conquer concert photography.

When it comes to concert photography you need a camera that has excellent high ISO output. Concert venues (despite all of the stage lights) are incredibly dark places, so you will need to crank up the ISO to be able to maintain an adequate shutter speed. Fortunately, shooting at high ISOs, and producing usable images is something many modern cameras can do quite easily, there are some that are still better than others though. The good news is that you really don’t have to spend ludicrous amounts of money to be able to break out into concert photography if you don’t want to. Here we will take a look at 9 cameras for concert photography whose high ISO performance is their biggest hit. Continue reading…

8 Lenses That Will Help You Rock Your Next Concert Photography Gig

concert photography

These fast prime and zoom lenses are perfect for concert photography and for the upcoming concert season.

Concert photography is one of the more exciting genres that we can participate in. Not many things are better than hearing the music of our favorite bands, and getting to take pictures at the same time. Having the right lenses can make this challenging genre much easier for the photographer. Whether you are shooting a concert inside in a dimly lit venue, or are outside and have to deal with more distance to the stage, your gear must be able to perform. Here we’ll take a look at eight fast lenses that will help make concert photography easy. Continue reading…

The Thrifty Photographer:How to Shoot Concert Photography on the Cheap

Getting into Concert Photography seriously doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg.

We all know that there is gear out there considered the be the best options for concert photography, but what about the gear that works? And what if you’re on a really slim budget? Well thankfully, no one is really making terrible cameras–and they haven’t been for years. So we’re going to take a look at some of the most thrifty options on the market.

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The Results of Testing the Nikon Z7 vs the Fujifilm X-T2 for Concert Photography

We recently took the Nikon z7 and the Fujifilm X-T2 to an Ataris concert; the results really shocked us.

“Think they’ll mind if I bring a camera?” I said to Reviews Editor Paul Ip in a text message a few hours before we went to see the Ataris together. Ultimately, they didn’t mind at all; that’s the honest truth about how this post is coming together. This wasn’t planned, and it isn’t a formalized test because, well, it would be completely stupid and nonsensical to make this into a formalized test. When Reviews Editor Paul Ip and I decided to use the Nikon z7 and the Fujifilm XT2 to shoot the Ataris concert, we got to the front row of the very tightly packed Kingsland venue in Brooklyn, and we shot. We couldn’t get the center, we couldn’t even really move lest we surrendered our spot. But we made the most of it, and we learned a lot about the Nikon z7 and the Fujifilm X-T2.

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Some of the Best Lenses for Concert Photography for 2018

Using the right lens can take your concert photography from so-so to so awesome!

Concert photography is a fun way to get cool shots but it’s not as easy as you might think. Yes, the lighting is done for you and the performers are doing the performing for you, and yes, you do need to capture a lot of frames, but with concert photography the lens will make the biggest difference for any photographer.

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From Analog To Digital in Concert Photography

Thee Oh Sees photo by Ebru Yildiz. Used with permission.

When we look back through photography’s most iconic images of rock n’ roll, the most memorable shots in music history were captured on 35mm black & white film. Fast forward to today’s primarily digital world, photographers are able to produce images in both black & white and color, without the extra steps of processing film rolls through messy chemicals to create a negative. Photos can now be uploaded from a digital camera with immediate viewing to a wide audience. This advancement in technology has allowed basically anyone to capture images at concerts, blurring the line between photographer and music fan. But has this shift to digital altered the essence of the images created from the live music experience? As a concert photographer myself, I spoke with a couple of current seasoned music photographers who began their careers using analog film, on how the progression from film to digital effects the images they create in the live music scene.


The Strokes photo by Ebru Yildiz. Used with permission.

Say what you will about the debate on film versus digital, but this discussion is specific to live concert photography. Yes, medium format film cameras have a distinctly authentic look that digital cannot emulate, similar to how a vinyl recording will have a much richer, organic sound than a mp3. I’m only talking about rock n’ roll here–dark venue stages, unpredictable lighting, guitar players thrashing around and singers jumping into a crowded room of sweaty music fans pressed against the stage’s edge. No quiet portraits in natural lighting, but one of the hardest situations to shoot film in – live music, which is next to impossible to do with medium format. While photography greats such as Annie Leibovitz and Mick Rock shot black & white film in the 1970’s as that was the only option, we now can choose from a vintage film camera and any digital gear you can afford. We can shoot in color, deciding afterward to convert to black and white using software to create a new look. Or just point your smart phone with one hand, beer in the other, and post your shot to Instagram while the band is still playing.

I used to tell myself that learning photography over 20 years ago on an old 35mm film camera, then developing the negatives in my bathroom, has made me a better photographer than I would be starting with a 21 megapixel digital. If you haven’t experienced the patience required to roll film on a metal spool in total darkness, knowing a small kink can result in permanent disaster, I suggest you experience the sweat this induces at least once. Today I feel that it wasn’t really the analog process, but the amount of time, energy, and tenacity it took to get even one image worth printing on paper, that made me a better photographer. But there is something truly magical about this process that cannot be derived in Photoshop. According to the photographers I spoke with, no digital camera released yet is replicating the authentic look achieved only with actual film.

aptbs planning on what to do during the show that night. olie suggests robi should leave towards the end of the show and head back to the storage closet where a drum would be set up and he will continue to play there. and eventually they set up a little station and all 3 finished the show there in the bar area.

From “We’ve Come So Far – Last Days of Death By Audio” photo book by Ebru Yildiz. Used with permission.

Brooklyn music photographer Ebru Yildiz has shot plenty of film, which she still uses for portrait work, but now prefers digital to capture her live music images.

“I think the most important thing you learn with film photography is to choose your frames carefully, instead of shooting in [burst] mode.” says Yildiz. Limited to 36 shots on a roll, you choose every shutter click wisely, rather than blasting away in burst mode on a 64BG memory card, hoping to edit them down to a few good shots. This limitation alone makes you a better photographer.

When shooting film, Yildiz would limit herself to one roll per band at a show. Now with digital, she can shoot many more images but still retains the method of “less is more”. While talent is not reliant on gear, technical expertise certainly offers an upper hand; and unless you learn the relationship yo shutter speed, aperture, and ISO completely, no amount of guessing in auto mode will ever provide consistent results. This is the distinction between taking just a photo of a band and making great images that won’t be forgotten in music history.
Andrew WK By Ami Barwell  Andrew WK photo by Ami Barwell. Used with permission.

Without the option of chimping on an LCD screen, how do you know you’ve captured solid images with correct exposure at the exact moment the singer was midair using film? Well, you learn your camera settings like the back of your hand, in all manual, so well you can envision the correct aperture and shutter speed with every flashing stage light. Trial and error, and a steep learning curve you climb.

Ami Barwell, a UK-based music photographer has been shooting concerts on 35mm film for 20 years, and still never, ever shoots digital.

“Digital cameras are far less accurate and cannot cope with extremely low light and fast-moving conditions; I find digital live music photography painful to look at.”

BRMC 2 By Ami Barwell
 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club photo by Ami Barwell. Used with permission.

Barwell is fast; she can change 7 rolls of films in a dark photo pit during a band’s set, then develop and scan images within 24 hours for publication deadlines. “My turnaround is equally as quick as the majority of digital photographers. So it makes no difference to publications – and they get better quality results on film.” But as Yildiz states, and I find true for me, most publications we work with require a next morning turn around, so upload time need to be less than a few hours. It’s also nice to get some sleep at night.

Both Barwell and Yildiz agree digital cameras are absolutely no match for the look and feel of a true 35mm black and white film photo. Yildiz says people often ask how to get the same “treatment” on her images that inspire them, as in filters or effects, with the biggest inquiry being in her film images. “Funny thing is when I am working on film photos, the only thing I do is increase the contrast, so there is actually no single treatment all!”

So, your Lightroom Black and White Film filter packs are not going to look like you ran Tri-X 400 through developer, it will look like your laptop generated what it thinks is the look of film.

BRMC By Ami Barwell

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club photo by  Ami Barwell. Used with permission.

A digital image can often look grossly over-processed, and no amount of adjusting in post can correct for a terribly exposed image. Film seems to be a bit more forgiving to imperfect exposure or extreme highlights and shadows from stage lighting. Often times it’s the absence of perfect digital tones and smoothness that gives film it’s uniquely raw look- which is an advantage to a music photographer striving to stand out among the masses of cameras in a photo pit these days. Yet, the higher ISO offered with digital cameras allows shooting the movements of a band in almost total darkness. In Yildiz’s words,“Higher ISO is the single most important advantage with digital cameras. You can make photos without flash, and that is pretty crucial for me.”

I still haven’t decided yet to switch back to film. But as said by rock photography legend Jim Marshall, armed with an old Leica M3, “Its never been just a job, its been my life.” Coming from the only photographer permitted backstage to shoot The Beatles final concert, its clear that dedication was the reason he’s created iconic images of the greatest musicians of all time, not because of the latest gear or luck. Whether using film or digital, always experiment, embrace the struggle, and never do anything in auto. There has never been one great band that played their instruments in auto mode.


Shooting Concert Photography: Tips From the Photo Pit Pro (Premium)

Lead photo by Gretchen Robinette.If you are just starting out shooting live music, the essential step to becoming skilled and getting published is to shoot A LOT of shows. Shoot everything! Shoot hip-hop, rock, folk, punk, death metal, and mariachi. There are so many venues, clubs, and stages that do not require a photo pass, so if you don’t have one, don’t let this discourage you from shooting music. Shoot in as many different venues as you can, making all your mistakes on smaller bands, then once you do get a pass, you won’t be fumbling.

I’ve been photographing live music since 2006, and over the years I’ve been smashed against monitors, kicked in the head by crowd surfers, beer thrown on my camera, a couple black eyes, several broken lenses, and a lot of good times. Below are some tips for shooting concerts that I’ve picked up along the way.

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5 Incredible Film Point and Shoot Cameras For Concert Photography (Premium)

The images used in this article have been embedded via Flickr and are copyright their respective owners. Click on an image to be taken to the Flickr page. Lead Image by Tomohisa

If you want to shoot a concert these days you can just get outta here with any ideas of taking your ‘professional’ camera into the show with you without a press credential. Setting aside compact digital options, one idea you may consider is an old film point and shoot paired with a quality high-speed black and white film.

These cameras are small, compact, and most likely won’t be prohibited from an event. We have compiled a list of five film point and shoot cameras that we think have the chops to help you capture some amazing concert imagery from the crowd perspective.




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Special Report: Using the Sony a6500 for Concert Photography

One of the perks of running a large independent photography blog is the fact that I am blessed with the ability to try gear in situations that I may not have ever done before. So earlier last year when Sony brought myself and a number of other journalists to Austin, TX they set us up to be able to play with their new Sony a6500 as a concert was happening. Now, let me frank: Sony did everything that they possibly could to deliver “good lighting” which as you’ll find out reading this month’s content, isn’t the case with most concerts. In fact, it’s only ever been the case with one show I’ve seen, and this is an exception.

Sony stuffed a 24MP APS-C sensor into the a6500, gave it more responsive autofocusing abilities for photojournalists, better video, better high ISO output, and well for a concert photographer that’s all you’ll really care about. You still get that fantastic and fast ability to be able to transfer an image to your phone or tablet so you can shoot it off to Instagram ASAP, and you still get very good ergonomics for something like this.


Concerts and the musicians in them run the gamut of personalities: they can be really crazy and all over the place, or they can be pretty stagnant. In this case, the musicians were mostly stagnant. This is much unlike lots of the punk rock, hardcore and metal shows that I remember photographing when I was still cutting my teeth as a young Phoblographer. This time around though, the cameras have better image quality, focusing, and are smaller.

Shooting Methods

Generally speaking for concert photography, I’m always a person that prefers to use the tried and true focus and recompose method. In real life situations, it’s simply easier unless you’ve preset your autofocusing point, chosen a specific composition and are hellbent on getting a great shot with the framing you’re working with. There’s truthfully nothing wrong with that, but the closer you get to a subject, the more you’ll often find that focusing and recomposing works a lot. Photographers have done it for years, and as long as you shift your plane rather than tilt your plane of focus, you should be alright.


When shooting with Sony’s cameras, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that they’ve got a black and white creative profile built in. I typically like setting this to high contrast and sharpness. Then when I’m shooting a concert, I like to underexpose just slightly if I can in most situations to be able to  do two things:

  • Get more details in the highlights
  • To stop fast moving motion.

Just remember that modern cameras allow you to push files for quite a while, so one or two stops shouldn’t be a major issue with black and white photography.

I’ve shot in pits before, and the “pit” that Sony gave us allowed us to have a whole lot of room. 20 or more journalists were allowed to move freely around with lots of comfortable spaces.

That’s weird.

Any time that I’ve ever been in a pit, everyone has been stacked up on one another. Because I’m short, I’m bound to get a lens or someone else on me trying to use me as a human tripod. But this time around, we were given very free reign. Keep that in mind when and if you ever want to get into shooting concerts.


The Sony a6500 in Use for a Concert

Sony’s a6500 is more than capable of shooting great photos in a concert setting. But to get the most out of it, you’ll want one of the company’s faster focusing lenses like their 28mm f2. This lens is small and also very lightweight, so it works very well with the a6500’s small camera body. You’ll have a field of view a bit longer than 35mm, but it will be workable for the space you’re getting when you’re up against the stage.

The camera also has tracking autofocus abilities which work out well enough in most cases. If you combine it with face detection, you’re bound to get certain hit or miss situations. As musicians move around a stage they go from dark, to light, to red, to blue, or green. These can all throw off a camera’s autofocus algorithms. I strongly recommend using either the center focusing point to initially focus and then let the camera track the subject across the frame. This will also help due to the fact that you’re going to need to turn off the AF assist beam when photographing the performers.

Image Quality


All of my photos were edited in Capture One 10 with the highlights adjusted, a black and white conversion and the exposure changing a bit. Plus, I boosted the clarity a tad. The a6500 does very well at higher ISOs and is able to pull a fair chunk of extra details out of the highlights. Even when pushing the shadows, the camera isn’t a drag at all. Then when you get into manipulating certain color levels, you’ll see just how much more you’ll be able to get from the camera’s very good sensor.

What’ fascinated me even more is just how good 13×18 prints make when shooting with this camera at ISO 6400. The noise doesn’t really look film-like, but it isn’t bad at all in the situations where you even see noise.

Overall, the Sony a6500 is a rather decent camera for capturing musicians as they perform. Despite the fact that I feel that any camera can deliver great images, there’s still something I personally feel about full frame cameras and their ability to capture scenes at a concert.

But that’s very highly personal.

Concert Photography: Legalities and Licensing Of Your Photos (Premium)

All images in this post are used with Creative Commons Permission.

The Foo Fighters take the stage and perform yet another show, this time in Quebec. Imagine the surprise lead singer David Grohl must have had when he looked down to the photographers’ pit and saw…a cartoon sketch artist! Newspaper Le Soleil sent artist Francis Dersharnais to sketch the show instead of a photographer to protest the Foo Fighters’ photographer’s contract, which gave Foo Fighters all rights to any photos shot by the photographers.

The contract didn’t cover drawings.

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Editor’s Letter: Concert Photography Month

A recent statistic said that getting that one fantastic image at a concert or music festival is worth more to a fan than their train ticket home. Insane, huh? What’s not insane though is that people are constantly captivated by concert photography. It means a lot to them and somehow or another, it’s impossible to not get a photo that makes you feel like the action isn’t happening right in front of you. Is concert photography profitable? Not really. But there are legions of photographers that do it for the fun and the thrill to be able to get into a concert for free even if it means revoking the rights to their own photos.

Speaking of which, this month we dedicate an entire article to that. What’s more, we’ve talked to a few industry professionals who have been in the game for a while and can help you to have a better time in the pit.

Plus, we’ve got our usual run down of Instagram photographers you’re going to want to follow in addition to a few more fun yet evocative pieces that we’re really proud of. La Noir Image continues to evolve with its design too, so expect certain pieces to look more magazine like while others will work better in the blog format. If you’re on a tablet or phone, none of this will matter–as our mobile interface is designed to make things as simple as possible.

As a result of all the effort that we put into these pieces, we’re also publishing a few less times this month. But what we’re publishing we’re ensuring is incredibly high quality and everything is also a longer feature of some sort. I’m still sticking to the philosophy that I want to continue to inspire photographers everywhere; and that when you’re finished reading each article, I want you to be energized to pick up your camera, go out there, and shoot.

If I’m not doing that, then I’m failing as an EIC and a Publisher.

That brings me to the last bit: La Noir Image is an advertisement free website, we try to do what we can, but we’re also running very low on funds. We encourage you to tell all your friends about us and to find a way to convince them to purchase a subscription. Or, if you can afford to throw us some more money, we’d greatly appreciate that.

One more thing: To gain a bigger crowd, we’re going to making all specific artist interviews and features free for everyone to look at. The more premium type of articles will be tutorial, feature, and essay based.

Please enjoy this month’s content. We worked incredibly hard on it and believe it to be fruitful for every one of our subscribers.


Chris Gampat

Publisher/Editor in Chief

PS: If you haven’t downloaded them yet, please remember that all subscribers to La Noir Image receive a complementary custom-made black and white Light preset bundle. You can download it here.

Concert Photography: Nailing the Autofocus in Dark Venues

Getting the photos you really care about at a concert can be an ordeal if you’re in a dark venue. Just naturally, most concerts are in dark venues and the lighting there can make it difficult for a camera’s sensor to be able to focus due to it changing so quickly. Years ago, many photographers used to use the zone focusing method, and that’s still an option if you want. However, if you don’t want to manually focus your lens, then try these tips to ensure that you’ve always got the image perfectly captured.

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Vlad Gheorghiu: Concert Photography And The Moment

Phoblographer (6)

All images by Vladimir Gheorghiu. Used with permission.

Vladimir Gheorghiu is a 22 year old Romanian photographer interested mainly in concert, portrait,  street photography and music. Indeed, visit his EyeEm account and you’ll see loads of this. He’s young, and would like to pursue a career in photography and to tour as a photographer with any kind of band. He’s also the winner of our recent Youth of Today contest with EyeEm.

For Vlad, it’s all about finding a way to convert sounds into images. While most other photographers will go for interaction between the artists and the crowd, Vlad goes for a more ethereal, cinematic, and even painterly look.

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Tim Bottchen: Concert Photography and the Business Side

G. Love & Special Sauce playing The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis on August 5, 2015. Speakers in Code.

G. Love & Special Sauce playing The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis on August 5, 2015. Speakers in Code.

All images by Tim Bottchen. Used with permission.

Photographer Tim Bottchen is based out of St. Louis, Missouri. He got into photography at a very young age when he Dad was fascinated by it. The art influence continued into his college years where he received a Bachelors of Fine Art in Graphic Design and started working on multiple global brands at an Ad Agency as an Art Director. After a decade of big agency work, he jumped to New Balance and became their Lifestyle Photographer.

“When I’m not shooting sneakers, I’m shooting beer, concerts or classic cars.” says Tim about his concert photography. In his pitch email to the Phoblographer, he describes his work as “No flash, first three songs, fast and loud.”

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Starting Small in Concert Photography

Local Festival To Refine Your Concert Photography gservo-02287-20140713-2

If you are a photographer who enjoys music, we’re positive that you’d had the urge to be a concert photographer. It’s a hard field to get into, and if you really want to improve, you have to sell your soul on occasion to get close to the stage. The are a lot of hurdles in the way to getting better at this style of photography. But one of the biggest issues newer photographers can have is access–but local free festivals provide an excellent opportunity for practice that doesn’t cost your soul. Here are some tips to use them to your advantage.

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New to Film Photography? Here Are 3 Film Emulsions You Need to Try

Film photography never died: it only evolved into something much better.

Fact: some of us have never shot film before. Others amongst us are just getting into it. In 2021, film photography co-exists with digital and is in demand by lots of clients. There are lots of the mainstays like Portra, Tri-X, and Velvia. But there are also lots of options out there that aren’t traditional. And we’ve reviewed a bunch of them. So we dove into the old Reviews Index to look at our many years of film photography coverage. Here are some of our favorite emulsions.

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Blast From the Past: 7 Photography Projects That Still Look Good Today

We go into the archives and share photography projects that still hold value today.

Everything moves at a fast pace in the digital era. What’s relevant today is forgotten tomorrow. Photography is no different. With so many photographers around, publications are constantly delivering new and exciting work to their audience. But as new work emerges, previous work doesn’t need to lose its value. So to keep the fire alive, we share photography projects from the past which still remain strong today!

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The Best Fujifilm Lenses For Every Genre Of Photography

The lineup of Fujifilm lenses is impressive, and no matter what you shoot, you’ll find a great one.

Are you thinking about joining the Fujifilm family? Are you already a member but aren’t sure which lenses to pick up? Have no fear, we’re here to help. Navigating the lens marketplace can be difficult, and it can be challenging to choose the right lens for a given genre of photography. However, this roundup will show you which Fujifilm lenses are the best for specific jobs. Whether you shoot sports, events, weddings, landscapes, macro, or anything else, there are Fujifilm lenses for you. After the break, you’ll see that we have broken down the 10 most popular genres of photography, and the Fujifilm lenses we believe will give you the best results.

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