10 Must-Know Camera Settings to get Concert Photography

ten Must-Know Camera Settings designed for Concert Photography

10 key camera settings for concert photography

What are the best concert pictures settings, and how can you use all of them for great results?

Settings are a key part of getting awesome live concert photos, especially in low-light circumstances. If you get your settings right, the results will be spectacular. When you get them wrong? Your own shots will be blurry, unpleasant, and just all-around bad.

That’s exactly why, in this article, I’m going to share ten settings for concert pictures. These are the exact camera settings I use in my very own concert shooting, so you know they work. (And I actually promise: They’ll help you immediately boost your career! )

Let’s dive right in.

The Rolling Stones
The particular Rolling Stones
Nikon D800 | 185mm | f/4 | 1/320s | ISO 1600

1 . Use Manual setting or Aperture Priority

When I started off performing concert photography, I used Aperture Concern mode . I would call in the aperture, my camera would set the shutter speed accordingly, and I’d hit the shutter switch.

And in general, Aperture Priority is effective. It’s great for beginners since it partially automates the publicity process, giving you one much less thing to worry about.

But after capturing for a while, I recognized that only Guide mode would give me the flexibility I was right after. I wanted to set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – and then change every setting on the fly based on my requirements.

So depending on your level of experience and comfort, pick one of such two options.

(Also, if you do select Manual mode, make sure to frequently check your LCD preview and your histogram to ensure your exposure is correct! )

second . Use your lens’s widest aperture setting

Struggling to decide which lens to make use of for concert photography? I usually give the same advice: use fast lenses and capture them wide open.

Set your aperture towards the smallest f-number your zoom lens allows, which will give you the greatest aperture opening. That way, the most possible light hits your sensor.

A wide aperture is especially essential in low-light concert pictures. If possible, shoot with an f/2. 8, f/1. 8, f/1. 4, or f/1. two lens.

If you’re a beginner on a budget, I’d recommend grabbing a 50mm f/1. 8 lens , that is cheap, features a wide optimum aperture, and offers surprisingly wonderful image quality.

3. Use a fast shutter speed

Maybe you have been to a concert in which the artist was running and jumping from one side of the stage to the other?

This type of action makes for some good photography – but to freeze such movement, you have to use a fast shutter velocity.

Generally, I set my shutter speed to 1/200s or faster (and depending on the amount of action, you may want to push this particular even higher. )

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus
Nikon D800 | 340mm | f/4. 8 | 1/320s | ISO 1600

4. Boost your ISO

The higher your ISO, the less light you need to get a proper exposure – and concert photography, where gentle is generally limited, this is a crucial setting to get right.

Your camera’s ISO range likely starts from 100. But if you’re shooting a low-light concert, I’d recommend kicking this as much as 1600, 3200, or even 6400. Otherwise, your shots find yourself far too dark (or you will be forced to drop your shutter speed, which will introduce blur).

Unfortunately, a high ISO does come with a significant tradeoff:


As you push your ISO through 400 to 800 to 1600, you start to get small flecks of color plus light that look pretty bad. The specifics is determined by your camera (modern sensors do a very good job associated with minimizing high-ISO noise! ), but you should always be cautious whenever boosting the ISO. Just raise it when absolutely necessary, and be mindful of your specific camera’s high-ISO capabilities.

5. Make use of spot metering

Spot metering limits your camera’s exposure readings to the center of the scene – that allows you to determine the publicity based on a small subject (e. g., a face). It works especially well when your subject matter and background are differently lit.

So when shooting concerts, the artist will often be lit by a spotlight while the rest of the stage continues to be dark.

Therefore here’s what you do:

First, switch your camera to spot metering mode.

Then place the artist’s face in the middle of your viewfinder and memorize the recommended exposure settings.

Finally, should you be using Manual mode, you can dial in the settings, then compose without worrying about fluctuating meter readings. If you’re making use of Aperture Priority, you’ll need to lock in the exposure; that way, you don’t end up with different exposures as the performers jump around your viewfinder.

If you don’t like spot metering and it’s giving you bad results, you can test the matrix/evaluative metering setting. The camera will take a mild reading at several factors in the scene, and this can function – but you’ll wish to be on the lookout for overexposed faces, specially when the background is dark.

Atari Teenage Riot
Atari Teenage Riot
Nikon D700 | 50mm | f/1. 8 | 1/2500s | ISO 1600

6. Use the middle autofocus point

Are you aware that different autofocus points function different levels of accuracy?

It’s true. Peripheral autofocus points tend to work fine in good light, but the performance weakens because the light drops.

Whereas the center autofocus point remains efficient in both good lighting and bad.

That’s why I suggest you make use of the central focus point within low-light situations. It’ll be the most accurate, and it’ll ensure you get the particular sharpest results, no matter what the performer is doing on stage.

If you don’t want the artist to sit smack-dab in the heart of the frame, you’ll have to use a focus-and-recompose technique; just push your shutter key halfway down to focus on the particular artist’s face – this can lock focus – then adjust your composition until you get the desired framing. Once you’ve nailed both concentrate and composition, press the shutter button the rest of the method.

Note: To make use of this focus-and-recompose technique, you’ll need to set your digital camera to One-Shot AF , also known as AF-S. Otherwise, the camera can focus continuously while you reframe your picture.

(You can also set up back-button concentrate , which many photographers – myself included! – love. With back-button AF, you use a button for the rear of your camera to lock focus, then make use of the shutter button to take the particular shot. )

7. Use Car White Balance

White balance combats unwanted color casts in your scene, plus it’s important to use if you want good-looking photos.

However , I recommend you deal with white balance after taking your photos, during post-processing. So set your camera to Auto White Balance , then ignore the WB environment until you’re back at home.

You see, in case you shoot in RAW , the white balance is completely flexible. Whether you determine the white-colored balance setting at the time of catch or whether you wait until you’ve opened up Lightroom days later makes absolutely no difference.

Other than that setting the whitened balance during a concert is difficult to do, especially when you might have different lights flashing all over the stage. So do yourself a favour and leave the whitened balance setting for another period.

Skunk Anansie
Skunk Anansie
Nikon D700 | 85mm | f/3. 5 | 1/500s | ISO 1600

8. Use burst setting

Your camera’s burst setting , also referred to as constant shooting, lets you do rapid-fire photography.

Along with burst mode activated, you can shoot five, ten, or perhaps sixty frames per second, depending on your camera.

And this is hugely helpful in concert photography, for two reasons:

  1. If you take several shots within a row, at least one of them will most likely turn out sharp even if the other people aren’t in focus.
  2. Multiple photos improve your chances of nailing the perfect frame.

Now, I don’t recommend you set your own camera to its high speed continuous shooting mode and employ it nonstop. You’ll run out of storage space pretty quickly, plus you’ll just end up with thousands of unnecessary photos.

But I do recommend analyzing the situation, then – when you’re ready to capture split-second action photos – turn on burst mode and use it judiciously.

Make sense?

9. Never use adobe flash

This is a fast tip:

Don’t use flash at a concert.

For one, you’re not allowed; imagine 10 photographers bursting their sensations all at the same time.

And straight expensive pictures don’t look great. For good flash photography, you’ll have to position your flash off to the side of the artist (i. e., you’ll need an off-camera flash), which isn’t really feasible in a concert setting.

Korn concert photography settings
Nikon D700 | 130mm | f/2. almost eight | 1/250s | ISO 3200

10. Shoot within RAW format

Here’s your final live concert photography setting, and it’s a big one:

Always, always, always capture in RAW.

If you shoot in JPEG, your camera will certainly automatically add processing, like contrast, saturation, and clarity. And while it might look nice, it’ll limit your post-production independence, so you won’t be able to further enhance your concert photos.

On the other hand, if you shoot in RAW, the camera won’t process your photograph at all. That way, you can modify parameters such as exposure, white-colored balance, saturation, contrast, plus clarity lengthy after you hit the shutter button.

(In other phrases: If you’re careful and deliberate with your editing, you can make your own photos look a lot better! )

Must-know concert photography settings: final words and phrases

Now that you have finished this article, you’re well-equipped to capture some stunning concert photos. And for fast reference, here are the concert settings I recommend:

  1. Manual mode
  2. Your lens’s largest aperture
  3. A quick shutter speed
  4. A high ISO
  5. Spot metering
  6. The middle autofocus point
  7. Auto White Balance
  8. Burst setting
  9. No adobe flash
  10. RAW format

Therefore the next time you’re out shooting a concert, make sure to call in those settings. Your photos will instantly improve!

Now over to you:

Which of my recommended settings do you use with regard to concert photography? Do you have any additional settings you love to use designed for concerts? Share your thoughts within the comments below!

The Prodigy
The Prodigy
Nikon D800 | 85mm | f/1. 8 | 1/320s | ISO 1600

Zola Jesus concert photography settings
Zola Jesus
Nikon D700 | 50mm | f/1. eight | 1/200s | INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG 1600

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Matthias Hombauer

Matthias Hombauer

is a self-taught music photographer. This individual has  a Ph. G. in molecular biology, yet has quickly realized that he wanted to combine his two passions, music and photography, instead.
Currently, Matthias is based in Vienna/Austria plus   works for nationwide and international music journals as well as record labels and bands in order to capture the astonishing moments during a rock phase performance. Check out his brand new blog on How to Become a Rockstar Professional photographer

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