This is going to be a quick and easy guide to what camera to get when starting concert photography. I literally get this question daily. I keep telling people to go to dpreview.com – which is good, it’s an amazing site you can compare cameras side by side, and they even have these fantastic buying guides. So do that. But I figure rather than just tell you what to get, I teach you how to understand what you need. There are a lot of cameras, and they all do the same thing more or less – take pictures – some just do it better than others. So, here is what I suggest. Oh, yea, video version.
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Music photography. Dark, lots of weird colours, fast-moving lights, sweaty environments with people falling on your head while you try to create or capture art. Welcome to the ever-challenging life of a music photographer. Once you get past the wild, uncontrolled yet kind of controlled hectic-ness of a concert you can really start to hone in on your photography skills. Of course, these skills develop over time while you do it with the help of a tool – well, a few tools. We are talking camera bodies – oooo Lala – and camera lenses.
First things first. Cameras, they are like computers. They get old, they get crappy, and you are going to have to get a new one. Lenses, they are like I have no idea what they are like. Give me an analogy, and I’ll add it in here later – but they last forever. Seriously, people are using lenses from tens of years ago. So they are an investment that will last. Lenses can also cost much much more than your camera body—something to keep in mind when purchasing gear.
Alright, you probably have a few things to take into consideration if this is your first time buying a camera. Firstly, and most importantly – how much money do you want to spend? Because obviously, like most things in life – the more money you spend, the better your camera will be. Well, there are a few exceptions *cough* Leica *cough*. Just kidding, the cameras are fantastic. But seriously, that is how it works. Now, do you need the top of the line camera to take pretty good photos? Of course not – you just need something that works, and works for the job you are doing.
Pros turn to “fast” lenses when it comes to sports photography. It’s because they have to capture live actions as speed is the name of the game. But what are the qualities that constitute a fast lens and why it is preferred? More importantly, how can one know which is the Best Camera Lens for Sports photography?
As a professional, you need a lens that offers more speed and range while covering a sports event. Using your go-to lens is probably going to disappoint you later when you review the results. To get a fast burst and processing rate, you need the right DSLR camera. However, to capture high contrast, sharp, and vibrant sporting moments, the right lens is crucial.
Your lens choice affects various aspects of your images, including the field of view, the details in the picture, and perspective. The same idea applies to food photography. The lens you choose affects the look and feel of your food photos. If you’ve ever wondered what factors you should consider before getting a lens to use for your food photography, photographer Lauren Caris is here with some guidelines.
Table of Contents
- 1 What should you consider when buying lenses for different activities?
- 2 What camera and lenses are needed for Sports Photography?
- 3 How to Choose the Best Camera Lens for Sports?
- 4 What to consider if you’re doing food photography?
What should you consider when buying lenses for different activities?
Establish how much you want to spend. You are going to have to spend a couple hundred at least – or maybe you are getting something used off Craigslist although I do not suggest this with cameras unless you know how to test for a broken sensor or something of the sort. Cameras break in ways you might not even know, and it will just cause you some stress.
Next is the system- or the brand. Whatever you want to call it. The big ones are Canon and Nikon– and they are reliable and always going to work. Canon and Nikon have DSLR – or Digital Single Lens Reflex. They are pretty much the same thing for the most part, and I wouldn’t stress—just personal preference. Recently Sony has been taking over with their Mirrorless cameras, and I understand why. Don’t spoil yourself on your first camera. The most crucial part is that your camera can operate in full manual mode. This will allow you to take full control of every image and really learn how to use your camera.
Now there are a few things that come into play when looking to shoot a concert and I will tell you about them. Unfortunately, most of these things make cameras a bit more pricey, but we will try our best here.
You want a camera with a fast burst speed. Just a few photos a second should cut it. You don’t need the twelve frames a second that some of the top-end cameras do, just something so that you can start taking pictures when someone jumps up in the air and by the time they land you have already taken at least three images.
Quick Auto Focus
You want to be able to lock onto your subject and hopefully keep that focus, and this allows you to press the shutter (take the photo) without delay. Fractions of a second are crucial with fast-moving subjects.
This also has to do with your lens and your focus- but having a camera that can take a photo quickly is critical. You want to press the shutter and immediately have it click. If it doesn’t do this, do not get the camera, You will always capture the moment after the moment you want, and it’s very frustrating. Please go to a camera store first and try them out. You have to see it for yourself.
If you are going to be shooting outdoor festivals, this is something to keep in mind. Most cameras as they increase in price will always have this, but some of the cheaper ones won’t. However, a plastic bag over your camera (make sure you guy a hole for your lens) will work just fine!
All DSLRs, for the most part, will have great battery life assuming you don’t play Tetris on your touchscreen in between bands or something. Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, just aren’t as great. The most recent release of Sony is much better – but I would stray from the older mirrorless cameras if this is a concern for you.
Honestly don’t worry about Megapixels. They matter, but not as much as they make you think they should. Just don’t get a camera that is more than five-ish years old, and you should be solid.
Low light Performance
This is the hardest one. Well, it’s one of the most expensive things. The annoying part is that once you can probably afford the best low light performance camera – you won’t even need it. Usually, the bigger the show/production – the more bright the lights are! I photographed Coachella a few weeks ago and was shooting at 100 ISO. Generally, the higher the ISO can go on a camera – the better it is at low light. So if your camera can only go to 6400 ISO, you are probably going to want to never shoot with it at 6400 ISO. But if it goes all the way to some ridiculous 100s of thousands of number, it probably performs just wonderful at 6400 ISO.
As you get more and more expensive cameras, you are going to start wondering why this Canon is $5,000.00 more than this other Canon? They look almost identical. And the reasons won’t make sense off the bat, in fact, you probably won’t notice that big of a difference other than the sheer weight and size of the things especially when you are starting out. The camera does take *better* photos the more expensive it gets. But that doesn’t mean that your cheaper camera isn’t capable of taking great photos. When you start to realize daily what your camera does not do very well AND it is effecting your shooting …. well – that is when it is time to upgrade.
What camera and lenses are needed for Sports Photography?
If you don’t know what a fast lens is, look at the sidelines or photographers pit, the next time you are watching a professional sporting event. You will witness huge and expensive lenses focusing in on the action, attached to monopods because of their weight.
500mm and 600mm lenses have wide apertures of f/4 whereas 300mm and 400mm lenses can be opened to f/2.8.
Their shutters can be set to faster speeds because of all the light coming into the camera body through these wide openings. And this fast shutter speed gives the expression “Fast Lens.”
Another gain of these lenses is the chance to produce beautiful bokeh. Rather than being pulled away by distracting elements in the background, you can keep the focus of the viewer on the action.
Being an expert sports photographer, you need sharp and high-contrast images. Plus, you’ve to upgrade to high-end lenses if you wish to earn a few bucks as a professional photographer. You need specifically designed lenses for action photography and fast-paced sports.
For sports photography, high-end zoom lenses or ultra-fast primes are essential. Superior focus fall-off, as well as speed, makes the difference between pro and amateur sports photos.
While buying a professional level lens, you should look for zooms with a maximum aperture of f/2.8. Moreover, throughout the zoom range, this maximum aperture should remain constant. Don’t forget that with the boosted prices of such lenses, you get the engineering and extra glass elements.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM (or IS II USM)
This is a “Canon Sports Photography” lens for professionals with a tither budget. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM is a great option for indoor sports photography. It can deliver clear and well lite images of good quality.
If you can get a little closer, it can also be used for outdoor sports events. The closest focusing distance of Canon EF 70-200mm is just under 5 feet away, and it is also equipped with an Ultrasonic Motor (USM).
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM
Although “Canon EF 100-400mm” is a bit expensive as compared to others, but it is worth the price. It is one of the best canon lenses for sports photography. You get amazing image quality through this super-telephoto lens. Plus, it is lightweight than other telephoto lenses.
The photographer gets perfectly focused images easier and faster, thanks to its ultrasonic motor. The only demerit is that you can experience issues while using this lens in a bad light. The background also tends not to blur, but it is common with some of the other same level lenses as well.
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II USM
Among Canon Sports Photography lenses, Canon EF 400mm is one of the best. It is a super-telephoto lens that comes with an ultrasonic motor and provides image stabilizer. It is surely the Best Camera Lens for Sports that offer stunningly clear images.
You can capture fast-paced sporting events with its accurate and fast AF. In case you want to bring focus to key players, you can get benefit from its diffuse background blur feature. You can shoot rain or shine with Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II USM as it is equipped with weather seal.
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II
This is a great Nikon lens for Sports Photography. Nikon 70-200mm is often considered as a great lens for portrait photography. However, it is a highly versatile lens and offers several benefits to sports photographers.
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II is a little heavier than other lenses but durable. Its incredible ability to focus in low light with accuracy and speed makes it one of the best-rated lens. This lens operates with a silent wave motor system. Plus, it offers a standard to telephoto zoom range with image stabilizing.
Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF Zoom
Nikon 80-200mm is a fast and accurate medium telephoto lens. It allows the photographer to uphold its fast aperture speed through the entire focal length.
Furthermore, the focus delimiter switch can help ease the lens from searching for where to focus. Thus in return, it helps in capturing the key moments in the game.
The Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF Zoom is incredibly durable. It is designed with an all-metal frame. It is compatible with full-frame DLSR from Nikon, the one that has a built-in autofocusing motor.
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM
The Sigma 70-200mm with an f/2.8 aperture can stop the action in low light. It can also create a strong background blur. It is equipped with Sigma’s unique Optical Stabilizer (OS) function.
Thus, it is easy for sports photographers to perform telephoto shooting. This system makes shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible.
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM has two distinctive modes. Mode 2 is designed for panning subjects whereas Mode 1 is ideal for general photography.
How to Choose the Best Camera Lens for Sports?
Whether you are shooting with a high-end mirrorless camera or a DSLR, there are a plethora of choices for lenses. One may find himself/herself in confusion to find the best lens for catching the action?
LensMatrics can help you to let yourself out of this situation. We advise you to look for these three qualities while buying the Best Camera Lens for Sports. These can help you find the finest choice whether you need the ‘Best Lens for Baseball Photography’ or ‘Lens for Indoor Photography’.
Being a sports photographer, you need a lens that can autofocus fast. In case you need one with a silent wave motor (SWM), go for the Nikon lenses. These offer a much quicker autofocusing option. You’ll find the Best Nikon Lens for Indoor Sports Photography. Those who are looking for a canon lens should go for the USM lenses. These are faster than other non-USM lenses.
For Indoor Sports Photography. Those who are looking for a canon lens should go for the USM lenses. These are faster than different non-USM lenses.
To capture the fast pace of sporting events, you will need a fast lens. An ideal lens is the one that offers an f/2.8 or lower speed. However, as compared to a lens with an f/4, such a lens comes at a much steeper cost.
In some sports, you will need to choose a longer one, but other sports you can get away with a short lens. Hence, selecting a telephoto lens depends upon the fact that what exactly you are going to be shooting.
This lens should have the capability to support a teleconverter and must fall into the 300-400mm range. Thus, you will have some extra length if necessary.
What to consider if you’re doing food photography?
KNOW YOUR SENSOR
The focal length of your lens determines how much of the scene is being captured by the camera. The longer the focal length, the less of the scene will be in the frame. When choosing the focal length for your setup, note whether you’re using a full-frame camera or a crop-sensor camera.
If you have a full-frame camera, the lens will perform as it is intended. For instance, a 35mm lens will form an image just like a 35mm lens should. But, if you have a crop-sensor camera, bear in mind that crop factor will come into play and the image will seem as if it has been slightly zoomed in. For instance, the crop factor of Canon cameras is 1.6, which means that the image formed by a 35mm lens on a crop body will have the look of an image formed by a 56mm lens (35 * 1.6).
Also, bear in mind that if a lens is made for a crop sensor camera, it will not perform well on a full-frame body. As the image circle of the crop lens will not be able to cover the entire full-frame sensor, the resulting image will have heavy vignetting.
EFFECT OF FOCAL LENGTH ON PHOTOS
The shorter the focal length, the more of the environment the camera can capture around the subject. And the longer the focal length, the more you can isolate a subject. A lens with a longer focal length creates a zoomed-in effect and helps to fill your frame more. The following images were shot from the same camera and the same spot but with a different lens having different focal lengths.
You may think that by using a wider lens and by moving closer to the subject, you can achieve the same look like that from a lens with a longer focal length. However, lenses work differently. Wider lenses tend to exaggerate anything closer to them. The subject will start looking funky if placed close to a wide-angle lens.
Examine the following images, which were composed, so the bread appeared to be of the same size when using lenses with different focal lengths (by varying the camera position).
PRIME VS. ZOOM LENS
A prime lens has a fixed focal length. You can neither go wide nor zoom in using a prime lens. The only way to do so is by moving the camera away from or closer to the subject. On the other hand, zoom lenses have a variable range of focal length, 24–70mm, for instance.
For food photography, Caris prefers a prime lens to a zoom lens. The important reason being that a prime lens is excellent at what it does in one focal length rather than being a right lens at a lot of focal lengths. The optical performance of prime lenses makes them an excellent value for their worth. If you find working at some specific focal lengths, try to get prime lenses close to those focal lengths for the best results.
Lenses with an aperture ring that can open up wide are called fast lenses. They let in a lot of light, allowing you to use faster shutter speed. Their aperture values can go to low values like f/1.8 or f/1.4 or even f/1.2, and so on. At such aperture values, the lens will have a very shallow depth of field, giving you a very blurry background. Caris likes to shoot somewhere between f/2 to f/5.6 depending on whether she’s shooting straight on or top-down.
Macro lenses have a magnification of 1:1, meaning that they can reproduce a full life-size image of the subject on the camera sensor. Macro lenses allow you to get close to the subject and capture details. Although macro lenses are mostly used in nature photography, you can use them for food photography, too. For instance, you can use a macro lens to capture the details of fresh produce by getting close to it.
Lenses that have better optical quality have fewer issues like chromatic aberration and distortion. Choosing to get a lens that has better optical quality pays off. Compare the optical quality of lenses from different manufacturers in different usage conditions before deciding to buy a lens.
Here lenses that she uses for her food photography: a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art, a Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, and a Sony 90mm f/2.8 G macro lens.
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
Mostly used when she’s doing top-down shots
Not used for straight-on shots because of the perspective it gives
Perfect for capturing big table scenes
- Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8
All around lens
Used for top-down shots that aren’t too wide, for a smaller table or for a detail shot of a dish from above
Great for straight-on shots as it has no weird perspectives going on
Renders great background blur
- Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
Caris’s favourite lens from the bunch
Perfect for straight-on photos
It gives a great view due to the longer focal length
Great quality bokeh
The macro capability allows her to take detailed shots.