Have any of you concert photographers gone full mirrorless?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by wookiee, May 24, 2015.

  1. Hi All
    I'd like to get opinions from those of you shooting any type of live shows. I mostly shoot metal/punk bands in smallish clubs and the lighting is mostly always crap to really bad!
    Currently I'm halfway between 2 systems. I'm using a Fuji X-E2 with 27/f2.8 and a Canon 5DmkII with Sigma 85/f1.4 for these shows. I bought into Fuji as I wanted a take with me everywhere camera and for documenting my 2 small children. The Fuji has excelled for this purpose.
    I'm at cross road right now. I'm starting to get invited to bigger shows where all other photographers are using Canon/Nikon with 24-70 and 70-200 f2.8's. To be realistic its not affordable for me to purchase another full frame body and lens. But kinda affordable to buy another mirrorless (ie Fuji XT-1) and lens. Even the new Fuji 16-55f2.8 ($1400 AUD vs Canon 24-70 $2200 AUD) is an $800 savings.
    Some observations so far: I find the EVF a big advantage over my 5D in low light situations. The ISO performs better on the Fuji. The Canon locks focus better than Fuji but not dramatically so. (the focus comparison probably isn't fair as the focal lengths are different.)
    So I'm wondering do any of the pro's shooting big shows with nice lighting shoot mirrorless?
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I've seen exactly one person in the pit shooting with mirrorless and I happened to know him, he told me he was a last minute fill-in for one of the other pros. I'm sure a good photographer can shoot with anything and get some decent shots. I'd be more concerned about the limitations of a single fixed focal length lens. Usually, I'm expected to turn in shots that show everyone on stage and some close-ups. Hard to do with one lens, especially if performers move up close to the edge of the stage. I'd looking at investing in lenses rather than a new body no matter which current body you use.
    I deal with low light clubs and dive bars with flash. Many have such bad lighting that there is no alternative. With the bigger shows with good lighting, fast zooms are the best way to get better shots.
  3. Hi Jeff
    First up I you gave me some great tips when I was first starting out a few years ago regarding using flash back when I had a 40D and 17-55 f2.8 lens. Thanks for that.
    I find with the small venues my current combo of a 41mm FF equiv and 85mm does the job. But as you say zooms at bigger shows with better lighting are a better option. I think I should have asked in this post how does the Fuji 16-55mm f2.8 compare to say the Canon 24-70 or Nikon equivalent. Not long after posting this I came across this article which I found interesting. I think I'll be saving for this lens.


  4. I have gone mirrorless for concert photography, although classical rather than rock, with a Sony A7ii and an eclectic set of lenses by Sony, Leica, Zeiss and Nikon. The A7 has in-body image stabilization (IBIS) which works with any lens, and is highly effective. My most useful lens in this situation is a Sony 70-200 f/4. With useful images at ISO 12,800, I can use shutter speeds fast enough to capture moderate action - 1/60 or faster, and little need for flash.
    I can't speak directly for Fuji lenses, but they have excellent reviews for image and build quality. My own experience comparing the A7 to a Nikon D3 with a trio of f/2.8 zooms is tilted decidedly toward the Sony. While I use Nikon lenses on the A7 where needed, they are almost soft-focus by comparison with the smaller, simpler lenses designed for mirrorless cameras. Wide open, they are sharper than the Nikon lenses stopped down to f/5.6.
    Mirrorless cameras are generally quieter than cameras with mirrors - definitely better than Nikon and on a par with Canon. A better choice for concert photography might be the Sony A7s, which has a completely silent electronic shutter and ISO useful to over 100,000 (and 4K video in the mix). While not completely silent, the A7ii is about the same as a Leica, and can be used with discretion without disturbing others.
  5. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I have gone mirrorless for concert photography​

    Can you post some of the results so we can see how it worked out? Hard to tell from the words.
    Mirrorless cameras are generally quieter than cameras with mirrors​

    I don't think Shane (or I) are shooting shows where "quiet" is a factor.
  6. I don't often shoot concerts (except some daytime outdoor ones at near stage distance) but would want to have a camera, mirrorless or not, with a very high reactivity. Many shutter (+ metering + AF) response times are simply too slow for anticipatory action use, although I admit that a motor and less than critical facial expressions can sometimes overcome that handicap. If I was shooting with flash, I think I would give priority to a camera viewing system that had little or no image blackout at exposure, in order to see my subject at that point.
  7. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    If I was shooting with flash, I think I would give priority to a camera viewing system that had little or no image blackout at exposure, in order to see my subject at that point.​

    Why does this matter? The time is so quick an experienced concert photographer will know whether or not they captured it. Or, with virtually any modern digital camera, live view can be used and you don't have to look at the screen at the moment of capture. My experience is that it's not a factor ever.
  8. The window of human perception is roughy 30ms (about1/30th of a second). If the camera shutter is faster than that, no problem
    However, even when focussing action is finished or taken out of the equation (i.e.,at pre-focus conditions), a normal high quality DSLR or mirrorless camera will exhibit about 100 ms shutter lag (1/10th of a second; the D1x has 80 ms, the D300s 160 ms) Some compacts have as much as 0.5 to 1 second, but we can forget those for this discussion. Seeing the subject at the time of shutter opening is very useful to me and "not a factor ever".
  9. This was taken yesterday afternoon. I can't show members of the orchestra, but am probably okay with this crop, 6.6 MP from a 24 MP image. The metadata is probably intact, but it was shot with a Sony 70-200 f/4 at 200mm, 1/250 second and ISO 4000. There is very little lag in the shutter. I have no difficulty timing the shot, especially when I know every note in the music (Brahms Symphony #1). The A7ii is live view in the eyepiece.
  10. Once the A7ii shutter release is half-pressed, the lag is 0.023 seconds. A Leica M3 is considered fast at 0.020 seconds. When you take the shot, the image is held for a fraction of a second - long enough to judge the take - then returns to live view. The net effect is barely more than a flicker.
    Auto focus takes between 0.100 and 0.230 seconds, on a par with consumer level DSLRs. The Sony 70-200 actually seems faster than the corresponding lens on my Nikon D3, but I have no way to measure the lag except subjectively. I rarely use selective fire, but the Sony will run 5 fps practically indefinitely - 50 shots or more. The D3 slows from 9 fps down to about 1.5 fps after a dozen frames.
    Live view is not contunuous, but very fast nonetheless, with a stroboscopic effect that takes getting used to. Due to visual lag, the conductor's baton in the photo above would appear to have three or four unblurred iterations in viewfinder.
    Manual focusing is much easier in the Sony than the Nikon. The viewfinder gain is automatically bumped so everything looks like daylight, and the magnification can be bumped 6x or 10x. MF is only slightly slower than AF, and doesn't hunt between shots. Oddly, the viewfinder can be hard to see in actual daylight. It helps to remove my glasses for a better eye seal with the finder. There's a sensor on the front of the camera to automatically adjust the viewfinder gain.
    I'm not selling Sony cameras, but I hope the things I describe show that the A7ii can be used for both general and speciallized photography. At this point, the only real advantage of the Nikon is longer battery life between changes or charging. On the other hand, batteries are easy to change, inexpensive ($50 for Sony brand), and about twice the size of a piece of bubble gum.
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It's obvious from that shot that the shutter speed isn't high enough. That can be fixed with a combination of higher ISO and a faster lens. It's also a massive crop that will result in noise when blown up. And, finally, it doesn't show a good response time. Compare that shot with these and you can see why a different setup would be better. That doesn't mean mirrorless is a bad solution but that's not a good solution.
    It's also not what it appears Shane is looking at, based on his comments. This shot would probably be closer. It's shot at 6400 at 17mm with a full frame camera. It convinced me that I need to pick up a wider lens for this stuff.
  12. Shutter not fast enough! What's wrong with blur to indication motion? The face is sharp down to the eyelashes. Sorry if it isn't the kind of concert you shoot, but it works for me. It is unlikely at my age and inclination that I will ever attend even one rock concert - jazz and gospel occasionally, but nothing requiring hearing protection.
    There are union rules against showing symphony musicians in photographs, hence the severe crop. Cropped or not, one like it it was good enough to be featured in next year's poster for the orchestra. The closest I can get during a performance is about 35 feet. I have longer and faster lenses , but it's not necessary. I don't recall you saying anything about a 300 mm or 400 mm lens in your concert kit either.
  13. Shane, I'm glad you asked this. Thanks.
  14. I rarely use selective fire, but the Sony will run 5 fps practically indefinitely - 50 shots or more. The D3 slows from 9 fps down to about 1.5 fps after a dozen frames.
    So you're comparing a 2014 mirrorless camera with a 2007 DSLR, and it's a fair comparison? A 2014 DSLR, the D4s can shoot over a hundred shots in full resolution NEF at 11fps without slowing down, and with some cards indefinitely, until the card runs out of space. An important practical question regarding 5fps use is whether the Sony can display a real-time image between frames when used at high fps; from what I understand, some mirrorless and SLT cameras introduce an additional viewfinder delay when used in a continuous shooting mode that throws off timing relative to single shot viewfinder delay, which is shorter. I can imagine it is difficult to learn to predictively compensate for variable delay in the viewfinder depending on fps rate selected, as well as the additional delay in low light. This is one of the many reasons why I prefer optical viewfinders.
    Shutter not fast enough! What's wrong with blur to indication motion? The face is sharp down to the eyelashes.
    The timing and composition could be more dramatic, and even the face is a bit blurry due to the use of a slow(ish) shutter speed. With active subjects, 1/1000s is a good starting point and would likely show a different level of sharpness in the eyelashes, assuming correctly focused. Intentionally showing movement blur is a difficult technique to master and for that purpose I think the movement should ideally show the whole range of arm and baton movement instead of just a small fraction of it. In that case, of course, the face won't be sharp, either but the emotion and sense of movement would overwhelm the need to see the facial details. I would choose either showing full range of movement shown using a slow shutter speed (1/10s to 1/20s maybe) or having everything pin sharp (1/1000s, 1/2000s) to me anything in between looks just sloppy, neither here nor there. But I won't argue this is not a matter of subjective judgment.
    I personally prefer f/1.4 to f/2 lenses for indoor concert photography.
  15. The Sony live view is interrupted only for an instant before it returns to live view. The interruption is much less disruptive than with a DSLR.
    As I noted, the shutter speed was 1/250. However the tip of the baton is moving very quickly (ca 15 mph), and one expects to see evidence of motion. What you might see as motion blur in the face is probably the limited DOF, combined with graininess cropping away 75% of the original image. Here is a 1:1 crop of the details...
    Classical music is a completely different universe than rock. I was wrong to confuse the term "concert" in the current context. The posture and expression should be flattering to the conductor, not to satisfy some artistic whim. The drama is in the music, not bizarre costumes or gyrations. I have better photos of this conductor, but with a D3 rather than the Sony. That has nothing to do with the camera, just opportunity. The following photo is about as far as I get from the classical music world...
  16. I'm a bit hesitant about going totally mirrorless for concerts, based on my experience with the Fuji X100s. One bad thing with its EVF in particular is that in poor light, the frame rate at which it displays what is going on in front of it slows down significantly. (As I'm really happy with my D700 and the collection of fast glass I've built up for it, I've been negligent about keeping up with the latest and greatest in the mirrorless field, so I don't know to what extent this affects other cameras with EVFs.)
    The first time I shot a gig with it, I consistently found that what I captured was not at all what I saw through the EVF. This puzzled me greatly at first, until I remembered reading about this phenomenon when I was researching the camera. So what I had to end up doing was keeping both eyes open, my right eye to frame the image with the EVF, and my left to actually see what was going on in real time so I could determine when to fire. I was moderately successful, but it was quite exhausting--I need to talk with mates who are drummers and find out how they managed to achieve separation between their various appendages, and see if I can apply a similar technique to my eyes.
    I tried changing to the optical viewfinder, but even switching off everything I could, I found that in low light, it was impossible to use this effectively either. The X100s projects a bright white frameline box that I haven't been able to figure out how to turn off--I don't think it actually can be--and this was so bright that it made it practically impossible to see through it just what was going on onstage.
    So for right now, with the really fast glass available, the high frame rates, and the powerful autofocus systems (both in terms of acquiring focus and driving the lens to achieve it), I'm finding that for my purposes high-end DSLRs are much preferable and yield better results.
  17. I've tried mirrorless for live theater photography where silent operation is a must. I had hoped to replace the bulky and awkward sound muffling blimps for the SLR. It's a serious compromise due to:
    • Blackout between frames, even with cameras capable of ultra-fast frame rates.
    • Laggy real-time viewfinders with some cameras in dim lighting.
    I've alternated between the Nikon V1, which has no viewfinder/LCD lag, even in dim lighting, but which does suffer from shot-to-shot blackout at 5-30 fps, and mediocre high ISO performance; and the Fuji X-A1, which has excellent high ISO performance but very laggy view in dim lighting and the same shot-to-shot blackout.
    I had high hopes for the V1 because the silent electronic shutter eliminates the need for a sound muffling blimp. But it's effectively limited to one composed shot and a sequence of guesswork followups. And the mediocre high ISO performance effectively limits it to 800, maybe 1200. It's better than the silent Olympus digicam I used 10 years ago, but it's still a far cry from contemporary APS and full frame sensors. The Nikon 1 System has no f/2.8 or faster zooms. I can use my fast manual primes but it's awkward - there's no focus peaking or focus confirmation aids.
    The X-A1 mechanical shutter isn't totally silent. It's not as loud as an unmuffled dSLR, but it's too loud to shoot from the audience first row, which I'd prefer. So it's out. Too bad because the in-camera JPEGs are excellent. Saves a lot of time in editing.
    Ideally I'd prefer something with an optical viewfinder like the X-Pro 1, but it's lacking in several areas:
    • No silent shutter.
    • No face recognition AF. Since it's not a true rangefinder I'd need to use the quasi-manual focus.
    • Not suited to Fuji's excellent stabilized zooms.
    For reasons other folks have described here, mirrorless isn't quite ready to satisfactorily replace the dSLR for some low light performance and action oriented photography.
    At the most recent classical music, ballet and opera performances I've attended all the official photographers and photojournalists are using full frame dSLR. They're either using sound blimps or long telephotos to shoot from the wings or tech booth far enough away to avoid distracting the performers or audience. And photography from the audience area is prohibited because glow-winky LCDs are a distraction, and due to copyright issues.
  18. the short answer is "no." my current systems are Fuji XE1 and Nikon D3s. i use the Nikon for about 98% of my concert/club work, either with 24-70+70-200 (for big shows with photo pit) or 35/50/85 1.4 primes (for smaller clubs and venues where lighting is poor). i also have a 15/2.8 fisheye and a 17/3.5 i sometimes use for wide shots. i dont use flash all that much, preferring the look of available light and the faster frame rate i can get from not having to wait for flash recycle times. at these shows, i'm typically upwards of ISO 3200, sometimes upwards of 6400. that's full-frame territory.
    the issues with the Fuji X cameras are autofocus speed, poor subject tracking--i rely on AF-C--and lower top ISO limit, as well as the small, laggy EVF. i have taken live action shots with the XE1 and 35/1.4, but i dont feel confident enough with the Fuji to replace my DSLR. the XE2 has better AF than the XE1, as do the XT1 and XT10, but still not quite as good as high-end sports DSLRs. if i was going to be a mirrorless concert shooter, my ideal camera would probably be the A7s with fast primes.
  19. With useful images at ISO 12,800, I can use shutter speeds fast enough to capture moderate action - 1/60 or faster, and little need for flash.​
    1/60 isn't fast enough for most types of live music which involve non-seated performers.
  20. The A7ii will track faces, and can be trained to recognize up to 10 specific faces. It's not 100% reliable unless both eyes are visible, and somewhat slower than normal AF. When it works, it is fantastic. It places a box around each face in the field of view, but highlights the one used for focus. The fastest AF uses a single spot in the center of the finder. There is a optional pre-focus feature that locks on before you press the shutter release. Focus is supposed to lock once you half-press the shutter release, but pre-focus can continue to work, stepping on a focus then re-compose strategy.
    I'm saying it can work, but perhaps not as well as a DSLR. Before making a switch, it would be good to rent or borrow one for a job. I carried both for a couple of months before leaving the Nikon behind. Then too, my application is not as demanding nor as competetive.
  21. To Arthurs comment at 11.09 a long time ago when doing child portraits with a Leica I tumbled to the idea of working with both eye open to not prompt copycat kids closing one eye to match me :)
    I continued to work this way to ensure I see if the talent blinked with my SLR and continue now with digital ... it solves a number of problems :)
  22. Classical music is a completely different universe than rock.​
    Edward, the OP is not shooting classical, so your comments, while informative, aren't completely intuitive to this discussion of whether mirrorless can work for (non-classical) concert photography. That said, i did see a photog yesterday with an A6000 shooting Oakland Carnaval. But i think he was shooting video with that; as soon as the procession stopped and the performances started, he switched to a Nikon d800.

    also, if we're talking Sony, the biggest issue with them currently (now that they've addressed AF somewhat with the A7ii and A7s) is the lack of pro-spec zoom lenses. a f/4 lens is not ideal for dim nightclubs, and you can't always raise ISO to 12,800 or whatever because stage lighting may overexpose weirdly. Besides not having any 2.8 FE zooms as yet, the primes that are available are incomplete.

    another thing is that Fuji fanboy article linked to earlier completely contradicts itself. first he says: "Changing ISO is no where near as quick as using the 5D mark III. Continuous focus is no where near what any DSLR can do (nor do I expect it to be), and finally, focusing on a high contrast subject that has very strong back lighting can really throw Fuji’s auto focus off, resulting in focus hunting and missing shots. " then later on, he says he just used single focus (AF-S). it looks like he got a bunch of good shots at 1.2 with the Fuji 56 (of course we're not seeing the shots which didnt work), but in my experience, a sliver of a focus plane doesnt mix with the focus and recompose method with moving subjects. i almost never shoot my fast lenses wide open for that reason. thus, his blog -- on the Fuji site, which means they probably paid him to produce it -- is somewhat sneaky in showing results which wont be largely replicable for the majority of users. in all likelihood, the 1.2 shots we're seeing were slower moments during the shows. i always take such articles with a grain of salt, because they aren't completely objective.
  23. getting back to the OP's situation, i'm not sure why you would spend $2500 on an XT1 and 16-55 specifically to shoot concerts with when that same money will get you better performance metrics elsewhere. a used D3s is only $3000 at KEH. if you sold the 5Dii and the sigma 85, you should be able to get $1000 for the body, $750 for the lens. that gives you a total budget of $4250, enough to cop a used D3s and a used 28-70/2.8, which would give you about two stops of ISO performance over an XE2 or XT1, AND a new 85/1.8 G. a new d750 is about $1000 less, and the d610 less still. even if you wanted to keep it mirrorless, $4k+ buys an A7s, and a couple fast primes, which is what you're limited to with FE mount because no 2.8 zooms exist yet.
    bottom line is, no matter how good the Fuji APS-C bodies are in terms of image quality, a current full frame body is always going to have an inherent advantage in high-ISO. You need high-ISO for shows with no flash allowed, i.e. pro photo pits. there's a reason you see Canon, Nikon and 2.8 zooms i pits -- they are complete systems optimized for professional-level performance. Fuji and Sony aren't quite there yet. even the guy who wrote that Fuji blog used a 5diii for that same show, which sort of answers whether mirrorless can stand alone at this point.
    so, yeah, sell the 5dii, as that's what's holding you back the most, and use the proceeds to buy concert-specific kit. continue to enjoy the XE2+27 combo for street, candids and fun.
  24. Thankyou for comments.
    The last show I shot Napalm Death had terrible lighting. Dim, and often all blue or red which is why I went the B&W conversion.
    On initial import to Lightroom the cull rate due to out of focus shots was 40% for Fuji and about 25% for the Canon/Sigma combo. Maybe this isn't a good comparison as different focal lengths were used? As I said in my initial post the Fuji's ISO performance is a fair bit better than the Canon 5DmkII. But I'm comparing 2013 tech with 2009. (I don't like to go over 3200 with the 5D) Wonder if the 5D mkIII is much better? I'm not willing to change systems now I'm very happy with Fuji and Canon.
    The rebel in me doesn't want to use what everyone else is using and the banker says Fuji.
    Sounds like I need to rent some different combo's and try for myself.
  25. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I would love to shoot Napalm Death. Unfortunately, they last played here on a night I was shooting another show. Nice pix, especially given the circumstances.
  26. very few venues which feature punk bands are gonna have bright lighting. but you knew that. anyway, im not saying you cant shoot bands with a fuji system, just that it will be challenging. i started out with a d80, which couldnt go above ISO 1600, and was challenged above 800. a 5dii is also challenging for this kind of work. i get the wanting to be different thing, but you've picked the one area of shooting fuji excels the least. if you are hard headed enough to insist on fuji, i would probably go for faster lenses than the 16-55 and 27mm. i have the fuji 35/1.4 and use a 50/1.4 a fair amount with my D3s kit, but i'm not bullheaded enough to think i can get the same results i do with my nikon system with a fuji.
  27. also, if we're talking Sony, the biggest issue with them currently (now that they've addressed AF somewhat with the A7ii and A7s) is the lack of pro-spec zoom lenses. a f/4 lens is not ideal for dim nightclubs, and you can't always raise ISO to 12,800 or whatever because stage lighting may overexpose weirdly. Besides not having any 2.8 FE zooms as yet, the primes that are available are incomplete.​
    The lens situation is evolving quickly for full-framed Sony cameras. In particular, Zeiss has stepped up to the plate in collaboration with Sony and on their own with fast prime lenses. I'm not sure f/2.8 defines a Pro zoom lens any more than 1:1 defines macro photography. Sony's philosophy regarding f/4 zooms is in keeping with a smaller, lightweight system. What's one stop really mean? The gap in fast autofocus primes is addressed by Zeiss in their Batis line, which is supposed to start shipping early in July, starting with a 25/2 and 85/1.8.
    I'm not convinced autofocus is the best choice for many situations, including concert photography of the rock kind. Autofocus tends to be slow in dim light, and hunting is a major problem when you're taking repeated shots for the best composition and expression. Subjects like the singers in my example and the one above don't move much fore and aft. Manual focus opens up field of lenses to include fast primes (and zooms) by Nikon and Canon. (Certain Sony/Minolta lenses can be autofocus with the right adapter, but tend to be very slow.) Zeiss has two manual focus lenses in their Loxia line - a 35/2 and 50/2 - which integrate well with the Sony A7. Focus magnification can be programmed to engage any time the focus ring is moved, which is much faster than pushing a separate (programmed) button and more accurate than any rangefinder or ground glass.
    The Sony A7 is a long way from the A600 and NEX line. It is likely that updated versions of the 7s (12 MP, ISO 100,000+) and 7R (36MP, no AA filter) will be released before the end of the year. The A7ii has in-body image stabilization which works with any lens. My sample shots were hand held. I get useable results with a non-VR 300 mm lens as slow as 1/60, and 1/4 second with a 35mm lens. (I know the subject can still move, even with image stabilization, but that's what timing and luck is all about.) Sony (who also makes DSLRs) predicts that moving mirrors will be largely obsolete in 5 years. Considering their progress since the beginning of 2014, I wouldn't take that prediction lightly.
  28. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I'm not convinced autofocus is the best choice for many situations, including concert photography of the rock kind.​

    Works fine for me and I shoot rock concerts every week. Other photographers working the shows also use autofocus. I find that actually doing something is a better gauge of what works and doesn't work which is why I recommend getting advice from rock photographers. I shot fights professionally for a number of years and all of us used autofocus, and motion is far more constant than even the most dynamic rock band.
  29. Subjects like the singers in my example and the one above don't move much fore and aft.​
    this is the opposite for most action photography, obviously. autofocus is actually the main thing you need, especially in low-light when stopping down and zone focusing isn't possible.
  30. Sony (who also makes DSLRs) predicts that moving mirrors will be largely obsolete in 5 years.
    Sony hasn't made DSLRs (at least with that name) in some years. They moved their DSLR mount cameras to a fixed semitransparent mirror system with EVF that they call SLT. No optical viewfinder. Of course their marketing people will say that moving mirrors will be a thing of the past because they have no cameras with moving mirrors to sell, even today. I personally dislike EVFs and am not likely to buy a camera without an optical viewfinder. There is variable delay in the EVF (depending on fps rate used and light level, in low light there is greater delay than in bright light), and update artifacts when following a moving subject passing by, making it difficult to focus on the subject's expression (in whole body shots) and time shots precisely. If one doesn't interest oneself with precise timing and framing of a moving subject (which requires a short, fixed delay so that one can anticipate the movement) or emotion, then I suppose EVFs are fine. I hope Fujifilm and Leica continue their development of non-SLR based cameras with OVFs, if no one else will, so that those who desire a smaller camera and no moving mirror can have alternatives to EVF.
  31. I'm not saying an EVF is the best solution for rock concert photography, but there are misconceptions which need to be cleared up before anyone can make a conscious decision. I have three Leicas, an M2, M3 and M9-P. The M9 is in my "mirrorless" kit, but the camera that gets used is the Sony A7ii.
    The Sony A7 EVF updates about 60 times per second (17 ms). There is no noticeable delay. The capture time is very short, so some moving objects can exhibit a stroboscopic effect (e.g., the conductor's baton and drum sticks), which is somewhat distracting, but means moving objects do not have any noticeable blur.
    Some effects are due to the action of image stabilization. This occurs with optical finders and IS (VR) lenses too, and can't be turned off or reduced without affecting the IS performance. In the Sony A7, effects such as IS can be turned off in the viewfinder, yet remain active for the actual shot.
    Sony currently has 42% of the digital sensor market. If they have abandoned moving mirrors, there is a solid marketing strategy behind it. Zeiss apparently agrees, and has thrown its full weight behind developing lenses for the Sony FE system.
  32. I'm not saying an EVF is the best solution for rock concert photography, but there are misconceptions which need to be cleared up before anyone can make a conscious decision.​
    actually, i dont think the EVF is the deciding factor, here. not by a long shot. to reiterate, with concert photography, you are shooting things that move in tricky lighting environments. AF capability is probably factor #1. No mirrorless system to date is as good in this area as even mid-range offerings from Canikon. the Sony A7ii and A7s and Fuji XT1/10 are improved from their predecessors, but AF in low-light is still a known weakness. Factor #2 is probably high-ISO performance. A Fuji XE2 may beat a Canon 5dii (great stills camera, but not known for its stellar AF, either), but in a best case scenario no one realistically expects an APS-C sensor to be clean above ISO 3200. The VF/EVF/OVF would probably be factor #3, tied for frame rate.
    But it's not just cameras. Lens selection is a big part of the equation. To date, Sony's offerings for FE have been slow to roll out. They've gotten some help from Zeiss, but still lack 2.8 standard zooms, as well as a full set of fast primes. Thus, they can't been considered to be a complete system. if i was a sony FE shooter, i'd be looking at the 55/1.8, the 28/2, and not much else. Fuji is a little bit better in this regard. it's possible to get 2.8 standard and telezooms, as well as 16/23/35/56 and soon 90mm fast primes. But you are still giving up like 1-2 stops compared to a modern full frame sensor in terms of ISO. that's the difference between 1/60 (blurry motion) and 1/250 (freeze most action), so is is field-relevant. What that means in real terms is, equipped with the proper lenses, an XT1 will be right on the edge of acceptable performance. you can get back some of what you lose from sensor sensitivity with shooting 1.4 lenses, but then the less-than ideal UI of Fuji's AF implementation comes into play. there's an extra button push to move around the AF selector, which means operation is less than intuitive. and i wouldn't recommend using AF-S or focus and recompose with extremely shallow DoF. So this becomes less action photography and more "wait for an appropriate break" photography.

    Getting back to the OP, i already said this, but if my budget was $2500 for new gear and i had an XE2 and 5dii, i would sell the 5dii and get what i can for it now -- around $1000. $3500 would buy a 5diii + some money for lenses, or as mentioned, sell the sigma 85 too and get a used nikon D3s or D750, either of which will smoke both of those bodies, plus the XT10, in any performance metric you'd care to name. to me, it's not about brand loyalty, it's about performance. spending $1000 on a crop-body 2.8 zoom doesn't seem like the smartest decision, when you can spend less and get the same-specced lens for a full frame body in the used market, or even something like the tamron 28-75 for $500 new. an XT1+16-55 seems like the sexy choice, but if i was trying to break into the concert shooter scene, i would forget about being sexy and concentrate on getting gear without limiting factors.
  33. on the subject of the Sony A7ii's low-light performance, i found this expert review illuminating:
    "AF performance remains much like the A7: fast enough under most situations, but slowing noticeably when the light level drops, or with a slower lens. Accuracy is fine when there’s enough light, but again – when it gets darker, you’d better get a second shot for insurance. The camera has a tendency to pick a different distance every time you refocus, especially if the background and foreground distances aren’t that different. It has PDAF pixels on the sensor, but the reality is it still won’t track as well as a traditional DSLR. There are pre-focusing options as well as eye-sensor triggered AF start, but they don’t really speed things up that much and have quite a noticeable effect on battery life. Viewfinder and LCD refresh rates are both fast enough for most uses, but you might be aware of some lag if you’re shooting rapidly moving objects."​
  34. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I don't know enough specifics about the mirrorless camera Shane is looking at but Eric is right on the criteria for the kinds of shows you are shooting. Unless I'm using flash, I shoot shows at 6400, there isn't much choice if you want to get decent shots. And I depend on high quality AF (I use the 5DMk3.) Oddly enough, these are the same things that mattered during my sports photography career, when I photographed professional fights. Maybe not all that different than the mosh pit at some shows I've been to :) While the light is much better, especially when there's lighting for TV, the action is much faster and needs to be stopped. People often assumed I used the camera I shot with then (IDMk3) because of the high frame rate but that wasn't it, I actually set the lower frame rate. It was the AF and high ISO, both of which have improved since then. It's the same point, once you've done it enough times, you know what matters.
    To Shane, if you're dead-set on mirrorless, I'd suggest borrowing or renting - not sure how easy that is where you are - and find out how it works. I'd also suggest taking along the dSLR just in case it's obvious it's not working.
  35. "Have any of you concert photographers gone full mirrorless?"​
    No, but I am testing a new mirrorless kit that is smaller, faster, lighter, and quieter than my SLR kit.
    16mm f/1.4 Fujinon
    23mm f/1.4 Fujinon
    56mm f/1.2 Fujinon
    70-210mm f/3.5 Vivitar (Nikon F mount)
    Nikon F to Fuji X Adapter
    Fuji X-Pro1 mirrorless body

  36. right now, Fuji is offering better lens choices for APS-C than Nikon -- there's no corresponding 16/1.4 or 23/1.4 DX Nikkor, and the 58/1.4 is frightfully expensive and aimed at FX users. but an XPro would be about the last camera i'd want to shoot action.
    Unless I'm using flash, I shoot shows at 6400, there isn't much choice if you want to get decent shots. And I depend on high quality AF (I use the 5DMk3.)​
    Fuji's flash system is not in the same league as Nikon's, which is another issue. Even with good high-ISO performance, you occasionally run across situations where you do have to use flash because of poor lighting. that happened to me last night at the Oakland Indie Awards.
  37. When I upgraded from my Canon 40D to the Canon 5DmkII the difference in ISO performance was huge. I had lusted after a full frame camera for some years for this reason. At the time of purchase the retail price of the 5DmkII was 1500 GBP (I was living in Britain at the time) and the soon to be released 5DmkIII was 3000 GBP. It was a no brainer to get the mkII. I'm currently seeing 2nd hand 5DmkIII's on ebay for $1200-1500 AUD (now live in Australia). Unfortunately the 5DmkII is only fetching $500-600. So for around $1000 out of pocket I could migrate to the mkIII as an option.
    Jeff are you using the mkIII? and did you have a mkII previously. I know the AF is much better on the mkIII but is there much in it when it comes to ISO performance at 3200 and above?
    Eric it will be interesting to see how Fuji firmware update 4 (XT-1) performs with all the new AF features? I don't expect it to out perform the Canon 5DmkIII or Nikon equivalent but how close or not will it be I wonder?
  38. Unfortunately the 5DmkII is only fetching $500-600. So for around $1000 out of pocket I could migrate to the mkIII as an option.​
    i was quoting KEH used prices. might depend on condition/ shutter actuations.
    it will be interesting to see how Fuji firmware update 4 (XT-1) performs with all the new AF features? I don't expect it to out perform the Canon 5DmkIII or Nikon equivalent but how close or not will it be I wonder?​
    i like the fact that Fuji continues to put out firmware updates after cameras are released. unfortunately, the things encountered in concert shooting, such as low light, low-contrast backgrounds, seem to be the bane of mirrorless cameras. if Fuji keeps developing software algorithms, they will eventually be able to eke out better performance in these situations, but there's still an inherent disadvantage in a smaller sensor competing against a larger one when it comes to light sensitivity. one bonus of mirrorless cams is the ability to place AF points throughout the entire frame, but these tend to be accurate only in good light. my understanding is that the PDAF points needed for low-light and tracking performance are more tightly clustered. ive said this before, but my feeling is that we are one generation away from mirrorless AF being "good enough" for sports/action. the XT1/XT10's improvements are a step in the right direction. im hoping all camera makers will realize this is a feature we want. it's disappointing that canon has for years crippled some of its bodies, including the 5dii, with subpar AF systems (although the same could be said about the nikon Df). for instance the G1X compact would be a really great camera if it didnt suffer from shutter lag, which is inexcusable at that price point.
  39. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Jeff are you using the mkIII? and did you have a mkII previously. I know the AF is much better on the mkIII but is there much in it when it comes to ISO performance at 3200 and above?​

    I went from the 1DMkIII to the 5DMkIII. I will have to wait for another MkIII before I change again :) I never had a MKII of anything.

    The 1DMkIII had faster AF than the 5DMkIII but the newer camera has better tracking and much better setup with more controls and an easier user interface.
  40. Thought some of you might find this interesting. Check out the photographer in the bottom right using what looks like an old rolex. He has promised me a look at the images when there back from processing in a week! :)
  41. it


    I don't shoot concerts but seems to me mirrorless would be a decent option. High ISO on some of these is incredible. Even my little Fuji XT1 blows away my 5DMK2 at high ISO.
  42. Hey! Bumped into this thread while looking for concert photos taken with the Loxia 35mm. I'm a concert photographer (not my job, but sell to local bands) and use an A7. I work in manual focus, for which the A7 works really well. My main concert lenses are: Contax G 45mm f/2 (Ulata adapter), Sony FE 28mm f/2, and Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited. I sometimes sub the Pentax 77mm for the Contax G 90mm f/2.8 if there will be more light or I want to go as light as possible.
    I have no interest in stadiums or big venues and love small clubs and bars. I ❤ poorly lit, cramped, and loud :D
    There are lots of concert photos with this setup can be seen at my flickr. About half of what I have up at flickr is from concerts.
  43. Hi Aaron
    Since writing this post have sold off all my DSLR gear and moved totally to Fuji. Like you I'm shooting all the small shows supporting local bands in generally poorly lit venues. I love it though. Presently I"m shooting with Fuji's mid range priced camera the XE2 and inexpensive 27mm pancake lens. Its doing the job just fine for me. I actually find the EVF such a huge help in these situations. Thanks for sharing your flickr.
    If you see mine all concert pics in this album are from the fuji.
  44. Looks good, Shane! How does the XE2 do for AF in those kind of settings? I don't think I could rely on my Sony A7 for AF for most concerts I do, too much hunting. The A7RII could handle it (shot my only wedding with one), but I don't have a sense of how well Fuji does for low light AF.
    I also like having an EVF for super low light. Makes manual focus possible in settings where I don't think I could be effective with a DSLR (at least for MF) or a rangefinder (Contax G1 and Fuji G690, never had a Leica).
    Thanks for sharing yours! Followed. Looks like that Fuji 27mm works pretty well for you, certainly a nice focal length for the kind of concert shooting I do.
  45. The AF is pretty good considering the bad lighting. I'm hoping to buy Fuji's flagship model the X-T2 within the next year. From all I've read the focusing on this camera is really top notch. My next purchase will be there 56f1.2 prime. Perfect for low light.
  46. My experience with taking concert photos is that depending on the type of performance it is, it demands a certain type of camera system.
    I recently took a D800 with a 70-200 f2.8 to a mostly acoustic music concert in small intimate venue. Every time I took a picture, I feel like everyone around me is staring at me and cursing because of the sound of the loud shutter.
    At a rock concert probably doesn't matter but I wished I had a newer mirrorless system that has a full electronic shutter.

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