For anyone interested in pursuing live music photography, AKA “low-light environmental action portraiture,” the issue of the most appropriate equipment is an inevitable question. Below are my recommendations for the best cameras and equipment for music photography.
Buy Yourself Something Nice
If you find this page or any of the other content here at www.ishootshows.com, please consider supporting this site by purchasing your photo equipment through the below affiliate links to B&H Photo Video in New York City or Amazon.com.
What's in My Bag — Cameras for Concert and Music Photography
I shoot with two cameras for my music photography work. The reason is that it cuts down on lens changes immensely and this efficiency allows me to focus more on capturing the moments I want to. I almost always prefer to use two identical cameras at the same time, this is simply to have identical platforms — the controls are the same, the image quality is identical, and I can set up the cameras exactly the same as far as customization.
My current setup 100% mirrorless. I have two Nikon Z 9 that I use as my main bodies, and I have one Nikon Z 7 that I have as a supplemental camera. In addition, I have a Nikon Z 50 in my kit as a personal camera that's a super compact option that does 4K video.
Nikon Z 9
My main camera is Nikon's flagship mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z 9. This camera features an exceptional balance of speed and resolution, with a max 20 fps in RAW (up to 120fps in JPG) and a 45.7 megapixel sensor. Add in blackout-free EVF and exceptional next-gen autofocus and the Z 9 is easily the most powerful mirrorless camera Nikon has ever released.
My secondary camera these days is the Nikon Z 7. The 45.7 megapixel full frame sensor offers a very clean file even at high ISO and the maximum 9 FPS is fast enough for most situations. In addition, the compact form factor offers a great size to weight ratio it. The Z 7 and Z 7II are examples of excellent do-it-all cameras that excel at nearly everything.
The Nikon Z 50 is the smallest camera in my bag, which is a fantastic walk-around option for me or for grabbing video on the go. I love the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 kit lens for an ultra-compact camera that has a great 20mp sensor and 4k video capability. This camera packs a lot of features into an ultra small form factor, which I love.
I use three zooms as my main lenses for music photography: the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8. These lenses cover 14-200mm in a highly effective manner, all in a fast f/2.8 aperture. For concert photography, the constant aperture is a tremendous boon. These lenses rule the arena, amphitheater, and larger club shows.
With all of these three zooms, I never hesitate to shoot wide open if the situations calls for it; they offer excellent image quality at f/2.8 with no exception.
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8S
The Nikon 14-24mm offers an ultra-wide perspective that brings a very unique look to live music photography. This focal range has been a favorite of mine for years and made some of my most favorite images. I love using this lens up-close and personal for maximum effect.
The Nikon 24-70mm is my bread and butter lens, and the mirrorless S line lens for the Nikon Z mount is the best midrange zoom I've ever used. This range is utilitarian and covers wide angle to short telephoto, making it ideal for stage front photography.
Right after a midrange zoom, I consider a good 70-200mm an essential piece of kit for live music photography. A must-have for close-ups and drummer shots at larger arena & amphitheater shows, as well as for festivals. This telephoto range brings the action to you.
This new 50mm f/1.8S for the the Nikon Z system is a tremendous lens. The sharpness and contrast wide open even at the very corners of the frame make this lens a monster in dim lighting. A must have for the Nikon Z system in my book.
Just starting out? Please see my article Choosing Lenses for Concert Photography first. Considering the ubiquitous low light of indoor venues, song limits, energetic performances, and the generally frenetic pace of rock shows, the proper gear can ease some of the intimidating constraints of concert photography.
Help Support www.ishootshows.com
If this article or any other content on www.ishootshows.com was helpful to you, please consider supporting this site and grabbing your next photo gear purchase through one of my affiliate links:
Simply clicking through any product links on this site helps me bring you free content like the photography tips and gear reviews regularly posted on www.ishootshows.com, and naturally it doesn't cost you a cent more.