Looking for the best Point & Shoot to photograph concerts

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by amy_hartman, May 13, 2010.

  1. I'm looking for the best point and shoot to use to photograph concerts. It must be a point and shoot as SLR's are not allowed into most concerts but point and shoot cameras are. Looking for the best in low light shooting and zooming ability. Also hoping to have one with HD video.
    I've looked online at the Nikon Coolpix P100 & P90, which sound great in theory, but their photo quality is poor. So has anyone used one of these Nikons? Or what other cameras are comparable?
  2. For this purpose, I would guess that you really need one of the latest models from whatever maker, since older ones all had fairly low ISOs, slow lenses, and lots of noise.
    Other than that, some of the best of the 'bridge' P&S cameras look so much like a dSLR that they probably wouldn't be allowed either.
  3. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Once you go to the long end of the zoom in a compact camera, the aperture is small enough that any low light capability the camera may lay claims to has disappeared. I don't know what the "best" is because there really isn't one good enough to be "good".
  4. Thanks for the responses so far. It's an impossible task to get what I want since I regularly shoot with a Canon dSLR. The Nikon's I mentioned really sound great but then they rate so poorly in just general photo quality.
  5. Maybe an LX3 or something that would allow you to shoot RAW.Not much zoom range with the LX3 so you would need to do some serious cropping but this is one of the best when it comes to ISO in a compact but nothing is going to come close to a DSLR.
  6. I have a Panasonic previous to the LX3 as my main P&S. I really do like it's quality overall. But miss the lack of optical viewfinder.
  7. Who needs Optical VF for concerts? LCDs are great in dark places especially where you should be alert of your surrounding. i agree with Jeff, there is none good enough...
  8. You will not get much in a viewfinder with a P/S. Even the Canon G11, which is a high quality P/S, has a lousy viewfinder.
  9. I'd look at a Canon S90. F2.0 lens at the wide end and excellent high ISO capability. Good LCD and decent price point for what you get. A lot depends on where you have to take the pictures from. Good luck!
  10. I tend to turn off LCDs when shooting, as for me I would rather be able to rapid shoot if possible. But that's with the big DSLR. I know some P&S have continuous shooting.
    Thanks for all the hints so far.
  11. good luck with your search.
    the smaller compacts dont have a long enough zoom. the long zooms dont have a wide enough aperture. no compact so far is really good above ISO 800. shutter lag is gonna be an issue.
    so, it's hard to make a recommendation here, since you may be disappointed with whatever is suggested.
    there are the high-end P&S usual suspects: s90, g11, or lx3, but none of these are really ideal for music photography. the s90, for instance, is only f/2 at wide angle, which doesnt help unless you're in the front row.
    if you are shooting at big, arena-style venues without a photo pass, you will be shooting from the crowd, sometimes very deep in the crowd. so you need at least a 10x zoom. i'd maybe look at one of the panasonic models, like the ZS3. anything with a bigger zoom is gonna be DSLR-like. should be ok for daytime shows, a little less ok for nighttime shows. with good technique, you might be able to get a few keepers by prefocusing and/or timing your shots for a minimum of stage movement and a maximum of stage lighting. but motion blur is gonna be a b*tch--you'll need a fast shutter to freeze it, but a fast shutter may not be possible with a narrow aperture at long zoom ranges, except in daylight and/or at higher ISOs than you'd like.
    so you're up against a lot of limitations here.
    if i were you, i'd work on getting a photo pass so you can bring in your "good" camera. it's not really that hard to do, you just need an "in."
  12. Fuji F80EXR with 27-270mm (crop equivalent) zoom is the obvious, perhaps only, choice. Unlike Panasonic the colors don't get all wacky in low light. Unlike Canon's S90 the lens goes past 105mm, although the S90 is better above ISO 1600. See Kim Letkeman's blog (Nothing Special) and Dpreview's Fuji talk forum for samples, including this one.


    The EXR cameras are really great in bright light also.
  13. hmmm...sounds closer to what is needed for this application, although the general adage that P&S cameras arent great for anything which moves still holds true... i wouldnt shoot a P&S above 800-1000 ISO anyway if i could help it. bill, have you used this camera specifically for music/concert photography? and how's the shutter lag?
  14. I recently purchased an E-P2. It is very good.
  15. i dont think an ep-2 or one of the G m4/3s would solve the problem for concert photography, even with the 40-150 zoom. IQ would be better than a small-sensor camera but you still have some shutter lag, no EVF, large max aperture at long range, plus it looks like a size-challenged dslr with anything other than a pancake lens on it. not sure it would pass muster with security, and you'd need a telezoom to be able to get the shots from the crowd, in which case you might be better off with a Panasonic FZ35, which isnt a solution either, since it, too, is DSLR-like.
  16. F80EXR shutter lag is short, maybe .24 second based on F70EXR testing. It's basically the same camera with HD video in the 80. Panasonic ZS7/TZ10 is the pocket model with 25-300mm lens and is the obvious choice if you want mostly video. It's similar to the ZS3/TZ7 which might be available cheap or used.

    I like the GF and EP models, but there is still no good telephoto lens for micro-4/3.
  17. Amy,
    If the 24-60mm EQ and price of the Lumix LX3 is suitable, then look no further. You can add a turret or other finder and turn the LCD off.
    ref: http://sfhost.com/fpa/images/turret.jpg
    What the LX3 offers:
    very little shutter lag .012s (this is less than DSLR's)
    great color compared to Canon (JPEG)
    very low pixel density (S90 and G11 might only be comparable in this respect)
    When looking at reviews (check out the comparameter at imaging-reosurce.com) look at the shutter lag (prefocused) and pixel density in addition to image quality at the edges and colors in relationship to other colors.
    The LX3 vs. S90 - the latter has lower image (lens) quality
    LX3 vs. G11 - the latter offers a longer lens and higher ISO but larger and heavier
    If you need a really long lens then check out the Lumix FZ35 - a super value and the IS will help indoors
    Hope this helps!
  18. Wow, these are great responses. I'll check out all the suggestions. I plan to get photo passes someday but for now I just shoot local shows. I just feel kind of naked going to a show without a camera and want to see just how well I can do with a P&S.
    Also, if I'm lucky I might get to go to Bonneroo and hang out with a friend who writes a music blog. He couldn't get photo credentials but could use my help in getting some photos for his blog. So that's the reasoning behind all this.
  19. What about the new Sony Nex-5? It is so tiny, and with no optical viewfinder, and no flash or mirror noise to make disturb people, the only ways it differs from a p&s are its large sensor and interchangeable lenses.
  20. I'm not sure that big lens on the NeX would be considered a compact by security. Try for a pass as suggested and since it's only for weblog...the quality night not matter that much
  21. I would be looking at something like a Canon G11, to the uniformed security guard, it looks like a pocket camera, but it is a full featured camera.
  22. Amy, you may find a rangefinder like a Voigtlander Bessa R just perfect. These can use super fast lenses, look like a compact camera, and of course have the advantage of using film. I have a Canon G10, and wouldn't think about using it for such purposes.
  23. Try the "side-by-side" comparison and the other drop down section on selecting those options you feel strongly about on dpreview.com. An excellent site for reviews.
  24. paul, the samsung does look intriguing...seems like a combo of the g11 and lx3, with some of its own wrinkles added... i would wait for some reviews... i dont know about forgetting zooming, though, 72mm of reach on the long end isnt going to go that far at a music festival. when i shoot festivals from the pit i use a 50-150...if you're way back in the crowd, a 10x zoom is the minimum
    @Amy: bonnaroo has like, what, a gazillion people? good luck getting anywhere near the front w/out a photo pass. you might want to concentrate on crowd shots. i'm just being realistic.
  25. If the stage is lighted pretty well then the G11 would be enough.
    I shot this Christmas Spectacular on Radio City with a G10, ISO 400, manual exp, with 1/250 and f/4.5.
  26. Another vote for the G11. Here's a shot in fluorescent lighting (I forgot to change the WB to compensate for this lighting) shot on Auto-ISO which used a setting of ISO1250 at 1/20s.
  27. Another vote for the G11 for the reasons stated. However, it's a very poor option compared to ANY dSLR. That said, I got some usable shots with mine in a jazz bar, where the entire stage must have been illuminated with a single 45 watt bulb. (The bass player didn't have enough light to read the scores the vocalist was passing around, so we're talking seriously DIM lighting.)
  28. Thanks again for all the great responses on this. I think I'm going to go with the Canon G11 or S90. Size might be the key factor once I see the G11 in person. Though I might like that Samsung once it's out as well.
    @Eric, I know crowds are huge at festivals and if I do go it will be to some of the smaller stages anyway. Plus I love taking crowd shots as well.
  29. Only downside with G11/S90 is no HD video.
  30. @Tommy, no HD video seems to be missing in all these high end P&S. I guess I have to give up something, though I'm not real happy about that.
  31. My vote is for the Panasonic ZS3 or 7. I've recorded HD video in totally dark hall with medium stage lights at 12x zoom with stereo sound on my ZS3. My own kid, of course, playing in Department of Eagles at Cafe du Nord in Ess Eff. You don't need to be in the front row, you can zoom while shooting video, the sound is great, and it fits in your shirt pocket.
  32. Amy, IMO correct choice of the G11. Too early to say about the EX1 but early reviews look promising. I hope to have one for the weekend and first festival of the year.
  33. Have you considered a 35mm film point and shoot? The 'sensor' (which is 'full frame') is much larger than a digital compact which equals more light gathering ability. Just an idea - I haven't tried it myself but I'm considering it.

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