Going to Verona Opera - what lens? what settings?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by david_brown|29, May 8, 2016.

  1. Hi, we are lucky to be going to see Aida at Verona in July. This is the second time we have been. First time took a few 'snaps' with D7000 and AFS 35mm F 1.8. The link to one is here:
    I will be able to have a small monopod but was wondering what lens to take? I would like some more close ups. I have got a Nikkor 50mm AFD 1.8, a Nikkor 105 AFS and a few zooms - 55-200, 55-300 and 18-200. I did not bother with the zooms before because I thought they would be too slow.
    I also wonder about what is the max ISO I should use. I usually just have the camera set to Auto ISO (!)
    David Brown
  2. Do you know where your seats will be? My gut would be the 105mm, but if you're further in the back, that may still be short for close-ups.
    As for the max ISO, test for yourself at which point you find noise to become objectionable. We all have different standard for that; it's very easy to find out for yourself what would and what would not work.
  3. Sorry, I am having trouble evaluating the EXIF of the linked photo, displayed: "ExposureTime: 10/600 s; // FNumber: f/1; // ISOSpeedRatings: 1100;"
    Light is unlikely to be brighter this time. - so simply figure out what your VR zooms provide under the conditions you found last time with a monopod? - If you'll get similar seats as last time, I'd grab the 55-300 in case it is any good and VR.
    Somebody might suggest 200mm f2 and 70 200 f2.8. Both are heavy and expensive.
    You can check the "still bearable" high ISO performance at home in your dimmed living room on some knickknack in the corner. - Also test the VR functionality that way.
    Done with that ask somebody to be so kind and do some slow gymnastics in the dim, so you can get an idea what kind of motion blur you'll get.
    Sit down & evaluate later. - Yes, it is a big compromise... But a good idea to test the lenses you own instead of reading up on the Internet. - I'd do a 200mm wide open comparison shoot out among the 3 you have.
    Good luck!
  4. If you want pictures of the stage then at least a telephoto of 200-300 would be good. A lens with VR would be good though if you use a monopod I would take shots with and without the VR on just to cover the options. I suggest you manually crank up the ISO at full aperture until you get a reasonable shutter speed. I suggest you are in the best place to decide the right combination of aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc at the time and in the light available. You can carefully examine the results by magnifying the images on your screen. Be ready to adjust your settings if the light varies.
    Fow wide shots the amphitheatre would need a very wide lens indeed to get the whole sweep of it. When I was there I decided to go with stitching and used a 85mm and 6 or 7 shots.
    Don't forget your cushion!
  5. Please have consideration for your fellow opera goers many of whom, like you, will have travelled a long way with great expectations. Imagine how you would feel if, as a non-photographer, you were sitting next to someone who was fidgeting around with a large camera and lens on a monopod and firing an intrusive shutter at inappropriate moments, it is bad enough when you have to put up with coughing (I went to a performance of Winterreise by Ian Bostridge at the Barbican in London a while ago and the coughing in between the individual songs made me think I was visiting a tuberculosis ward). A further distraction is the display of the taken image on the camera screen. Even more annoying - to me - is seeing people watching the entire opera on the back of their phones/ tablets!
    Having vented my spleen I must go on to say how I took photographs - without even disturbing my family sitting next to me - when we went to the open-air opera in Taormina. I took along my Panasonic GX7 - which has a silent electronic shutter - together with the Panasonic 35-100 f2.8 lens (which I had bought at the airport on the way out - I had been unable to pick one up beforehand). This set-up is very discreet and I have also used it to photograph - with permission - a cello/ piano duet during a performance and both performers and audience were oblivious of me. I got some really good images of the operas in Taormina (I Pagliacci and Caverlia Rusticana - very appropriate for Sicily) and I particularly liked the one attached showing Pagliacci with his 'unfaithful' wife, her lover, the one who spilled the beans and the clown.
    I very much envy you going to the opera in Verona, my wife and i have only been to Verona once and it was just after the opera season had finished so we only saw the staging being taken down when we visited the arena.
    Best Wishes
  6. Agree with Ian 100%. Nothing is more annoying than having a photographer periodically blocking your view, and flashing you with unwanted chimping. Then clicking away during quiet passages. I think a monopod would be a particular irritation, but not as bad as a tripod (I've seen those too). Of course others may be doing this with their phones, but usually these are required to be switched off. In my case I would probably take my Canon with a 35mm or possible the 24-70 and take a few shots of the environment (stage and crowd) and leave it at that. I certainly would not try and document the performance - a sure way to not really appreciate it in my view and to what end? You probably need something like 1600-6400 ISO 1/125-1/500 at f2.8 mix and match combinations.
  7. May I ask what opera did you see during your first trip to Verona (incidentally, the town of my birth)?
    Reason for asking: "Aida" is an opera, that benefits from particularly lavish mass scenes - which however are rather difficult to arrange in a normal theater. The Arena doesn't suffer from such space constraints, which is the reason why "Aida" always figures as the main attraction of the season there.
    This seems to suggest to me that while close-ups might be the main subject of photographic interest in other operas ("Traviata", "Tosca" etc.), in the case of "Aida" wide-angle shots covering the entire presentation are at least as important.
    This is the more so, in that having already been there you would certainly know that the acoustic with the Arena is very poor. Music and singing are less important than scenic arrangments there.
  8. I must agree with Ian here. I am a lifelong opera lover and a lifelong photographer. I have never taken a photo at an opera, even in an outdoor arena, out of common courtesy for my fellow patrons. Are you that inconsiderate of your fellow attendees who are there for the music just to get a photo to show you were there? And as long as I am on a roll, how about the inconsiderate boors who have an uncontrollable need to check their messages and mail multiple times during a performance? What can possibly be that urgent that cannot wait until between acts?
    It is selfish behavior. Your desire for a photo during a performance does not trump the audience's expectation of enjoying the experience without distraction. This applies to any performance - not just opera.
    If you were sitting next to me at a performance and whipped out a camera and began shooting pictures.........

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