One of the most anticipated shows for me this summer was Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday Tour, simply because her opening slot for Lil Wayne on his I Am Still Music Tour was so much fun to photograph. Knowing that it would be a soundboard shoot, I came prepared with the big guns of the Nikon 500mm f/4 mounted on a Nikon D800, acquired from the ever-fantastic LensProToGo.com.
Hit the jump for the full image set and my detailed shooting notes for how this colossal combo dealt with the fast – and distant – antics of pop rap sensation Nicki Minaj and opener 2 Chains.
First off, I have to give thanks to LensProToGo.com for setting me up with the gear that saved the day for this shoot. Awesome people to work with who have all the toys you want (and, in the instance of this job, need!).
This show was all about the dynamic duo of the Nikon 500mm f/4 and the Nikon D800. I specifically choose this combo to have enough reach and resolution to handle the shooting distance between the designated photo area and the stage.
I estimated that a 500mm lens on full-frame would do the job, and this guess turned out to be just about perfect. It allowed enough for a full-length shot while still being tight enough to provide plenty of resolution even with severe crops. Even with some drastic cropping, even the smallest of the files from this show are 12mp and greater – more than enough for print needs. Add to this what I consider slightly better image quality at equivalent ISO speeds, and the D800 was the first choice for this gig. Even though this camera does lack in speed compared to my Nikon D3, I didn't find it an issue in the least.
Here's a reference shot of the setup:
And here's a shot farther back that shows the whole set up that I used:
See that step stool? Definitely thankful to have brought that. The reason is that when Nicki Minaj is performing one of her huge radio hits, people tend to stand up and get rowdy, even in a theater setting as nice as the Peabody Opera House.
Aside from the obvious benefit of reach (thank you Nikon 500mm f/4 VR) and the flexibility of extremely high resolution (thank you Nikon D800), one benefit to having the biggest camera setup at a show is that it gets noticed.
Despite being way back on the side of the venue and nearly at the back of the house, I got “eye contact” from Nicki Minaj on several occasions as she performed. That's eye contact in quotation marks, because it was more like eye-to-huge-lens contact.
Here's a tighter crop of a full-length shot from above that shows this direct eye contact pretty well.
And of course, this is also an excellent example of just how well the Nikon D800 crops as well – this is a pretty extreme crop, but we're still working with over 6mp of the scene, and, thanks to the killer performance of the Nikon 500mm f/4 VR, this thing is tack sharp. A crop this severe would not have been possible with a camera like the Nikon D3 that I use for my normal shooting.