Concert photography with a Hasselblad?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by anacalavera, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. Greetings to all of you!!
    I want to know if a f2.8 lens will be wide enough to photograph at a concert?
    And have been looking for color 120 film with a higher iso... I only know of the 800 one. Is pushing the film one stop higher be helpful?
    I guess it's going to be difficult (for the moment) since my Hasselblad 500 c/m has no lightmeter. Perhaps I will need to buy another viewer. Right? Which one do you guys suggest? And where to get it at a reasonable price?
    Sorry. I am new at medium format photography. Just got a Hasselblad this summer and craving to shoot color photography.
    Thank you for your attention towards my concerns!
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    You haven't provided enough information. What kind of concert? How far away will you be? Can you use flash? Speaking as someone who shoots a couple shows a week, I can't see how this can be answered without more info.
  3. Well, "wide" relates to focal length and not aperture. 80mm f/2.8 might be good in daylight but you'll have to be fairly close to the stage. I'm not sure if anything is made with a really large aperture for the Hasselblad. Perhaps Edward Ingold or Q.G. DeBakker can chime in since they have a lot of expertise with the 'Blad.
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It's not about the camera, it's about the focal length relative to where the shooter is and the lens speed relative to the lighting. There's nothing different about shooting a concert with a 5D with a 50 and a Hassleblad with the 80 except the speed of the lens. There needs to be a lot more information, I realize that the amount of light also needs to be understood.
    Also, the lighting becomes an issue with stage lighting if the lights are gel'd, especially with changing colors of gels. This is one reason why flash is often very useful.
  5. f2.8 will be fine if you get close enough.
    For indoor concert, or night time outdoors, I would use flash, as well as slow shutter speed around 1/15 second to also register ambient light /stage lighting. This can record some blurred but atmospheric movement to liven the images.
    I used to take stills for a theater company in the 1970s. Then I used a TLR 6x6 with tungsten film without flash. It was a requirement maintain the drama of the theatrical lighting. But I was also allowed to be on the stage during rehearsals.
    Most recent concert shots were with a Leica M3 and 90mm f2 lens, wide open and without flash. 10 meters from the stage. Hand held 1/25th sec. 400 ASA film
    Is it a job? .. or just something you want to do. Don't forget to enjoy the concert!
    Without some practice in different situations, it is not fair on yourself to expect the best shots out of this. But then, you may be lucky. And I hope you are ;-)
    Cheers, Kevin.
  6. This is not really a brand specific question.

    I agree with Jeff that we do need more information.

    But assuming a stage show, lit by stage lights, with you sitting somewhere in the audience, f/2.8 may be wide, i.e. fast, enough. But 80 mm may well be too short.
    I disagree that using flash could be a solution. It will disturb the performers, will not be powerfull enough to be of any use (and if it would be, it would kill the mood set by the stage lights), and doesn't produce very attractive lighting.

    Stage lights are quite powerfull, but rarely used as a 'constant' light.
    If you can, go to the venue before the concert, ask to be given a chance to measure the light on stage as it will be during the concert.
    Next best will be to use a spotmeter during the concert.
    Now to brand specific the "what finder" bit. It depends on your budget, what you like, etc.
    The PME45 45 degree metered prism is a very nice thing. Unreversed viewfinder image, good magnification, and a perfect meter offering three modes (center weighted, spot and incident).
    But expensive.
  7. Kevin,
    If f/2.8 is fine "close enough", it will be fine from the back of the theatre too.
    Why, it will be still if you were shooting from the moon!
  8. f2.8 will be fine if you get close enough.
    Your distance from the subject has no effect on whether f2.8 will be sufficient. If, for example, the "proper" exposure of the performer is f2.8 at 1/50 second, it will be the proper exposure whether you are 2 meters from your subject or 20 meters from your subject.
    As others have noted, there's no way to know whether f2.8 (and 800-speed film) will be fast enough to photograph the concert you're going to attend. I regularly photograph local shows (a couple of times a month), and the exposures I need vary widely depending on the venue and where a performer stands relative to the stage lights. Friday night, I was often shooting at f2 and approximately 1/50 second at ISO 1600, but the "correct" exposures ranged from about 1/10 to 1/200 seconds depending on the particular shot. I've photographed other shows where I was typically using ISO 3200 and f1.7 at 1/20 second.
    My most-used lens for photographing shows is a 50mm on a full-frame "35mm" DSLR, but I'm usually right in front of the stage.
    One issue I'd be concerned with about using a Hasselblad is focusing in dim light. Depending on the focusing screen, it could be very difficult to focus accurately on a moving subject in typical club lighting conditions.
  9. It has been done! The British music industry photographer David Redfern comes to mind as an example of a Hasselblad user, as does the shot of Muhammed Ali (Cassius Clay at the time) knocking out Sonny Liston (can't remember the photog's name, I believe he used Ektachrome 64 and big strobes suspended above the ring). In both these cases, lighting levels were generally high - agree with others that focusing in poor light may be tricky, even if you can achieve correct exposure.
  10. I have used my Hasselblad with the 80mm f/2.8 lens to take pictures of street performers holding a "concert" during the day. Worked just fine and I could get close.
    If I were to do it inside I would use my 110 f/2 lens and a 400 or 800 speed film. But you most likely don't have a focal plane shutter Hasselblad so 2.8 is it for you.
    To do a concert well you need to get close and on stage if possible. Then worry about the camera.
  11. First of all, I thank you guys for your very useful responses.
    Ah! Sorry for not being specific. I want to photograph at rock, punk, metal concerts being between the barrier and the musician. Maybe at stage. Hopefully!
    Now that I think about it, I have shot with a 35mm camera... and usually the f1.8 is the widest aperture I use for this kind of photography along with the kodak p3200 iso film. Haven't shot at f2.8 before. I guess this is going to be quite problematic unless using a flash. Thank you, Jeff Spirer for bringing out the use of flash.
    I know flash is not allowed, but people who have point and shoot cameras use flash all the time.
    David Bebbington; thank you for mentioning David Redfern. I like some of his works ;)
    Anthony Oresteen, which Hasselblad do you own?
  12. "I know flash is not allowed, but people who have point and shoot cameras use flash all the time."
    And I'm sure they get great photos.......
    Personally I think the issue is iso speed. I often take official photos for this venue:
    I seldom stray from 2.8/iso 800-1600. So yes, MF is possible, but you have to be able to find a film that gets you the results. I typically use a tripod, and shoot from just off stage left, or next to a sound booth straight on.
  13. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I shoot at 1600 almost always if I can't shoot with flash. A daytime outdoor show will have adequate lighting for lower speed, but it just doesn't work in a punk/metal show, which is what I usually shoot, without flash or digital because of the lighting. The attitude towards use of flash is changing because of the proliferation of point and shoot cameras, here in San Francisco there are only a handful of venues that don't allow flash now.
  14. Most of my cameras are without meters, and I wouldn't go buying an expensive prism finder for this. One without a meter will do, and get a hand-held meter which can then be useful as an all round tool, not just for the Hasselblad.
    When I said "close enough" earlier in the thread, it was obvious I was referring to the 80mm Planar, being the only f2.8 lens in the Hasselblad range, and I was considering the angle of view. With stage work, and again it depends on what position you can shoot from, the 80mm will allow you to encompass the group and give you margin for some cropping of the image as well. For some of my stage work, I was on the stage itself for tighter group shots, individuals and maybe two in dialogue, but was off the stage up on a step ladder for wider views, and further back in the stalls for a full stage view. TLR with 80mm f3.5 lens.
    Film: I would not push Fuji 800Z at all. You can yes, but at the expense of colour and the grain becomes ugly. In fact for best results I prefer it at 640 ASA. 400H is nice. And the Portras too, 400 and 800. May I suggest you search the film forums for comprehensive discussions on this.
    It is not necessary to go spending a lot of money. One of my favourite technical authors is Johnathan Eastland, who in a Leica Compendium, in reference to buying additional lenses etc., says. "If you can't dig any deeper into your pocket, try digging deeper into your imagination."
    But just for fun, if money were no object, for that task I would have a 203FE with 100mm F2 lens, and a battery of 24E magazines, loaded with Portra 400, and for good measure, why not a gyro stabilizer. Then you could forget about camera shake, and the only movement to consider will be the folk jumping around on the stage.
  15. Kevin,
    Now that you brought up the 200-series.
    The 80 mm isn't the only f/2.8 lens in the Hasselblad range.
  16. I think Kevin means the 110mm f/2 not "100mm F2". And as QG mentioned, there are the 50mm f/2.8 and the 150mm f/2.8, both outstanding lenses.
    Ana, I have two 2000FC/M bodies, a 500C, and an EL/M. At this time I would not reccomend getting a 2000 series body; if you want a focal plane Hasselblad the 200 series is the only real choice.
    But for a lot less money you could get a Mamiya M645 1000s, the 80mm f/1.9, and a 150mm f/2.8.
  17. I've tried it a few times with my Kiev and a 80 or 180 mm 2.8. Mostly for club concert's. Apart from the difficult light the other hurdle to take is that you only have 12 images per film and in a camera without film cassettes like a hasselblad or something of the same form. I can tell you that it's not funny trying to load the film in near darkness while the concert is going by past you.
    With some thumping from the dancing audience thrown in for good measure.
    No matter what camera, this one is an acquired taste
  18. Came across this somewhat by accident!
    I do a bunch of gig photography, all of it on an EOS 20D with an 85 1.8 (or is a 2.0.. its not here right now, so not sure), iso wise its pretty much always at 1600 and never with flash, it kills the stage lights in the photos.
    Add to that, at a general 3-4 band night i'll shoot 700+ photos.
    Much as I like my hasselblad.. I couldn't imagine using it for gigs, not saying it couldn't be, but seems a whole lot of 'hassle'! The lighting changes, fast movement.. all adds up to 'difficult', to me, it would be making something harder than it needs to be.
    I'll also add, I'm a bass player.. Photographers with flashes p*** me off when on stage! flash is bad ok?!

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