Photographing at a concert may seem daunting at first, don't worry, there are no rules, there are only advantages. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you next grab your camera and head to the photographers' pit.
On most occasions you will be told you can only be in the pit in front of the stage for the first 3 songs of each act. This may seem like not a lot of time, however, you'll be surprised how many shots you can get in that time and remember, once out of the pit, you can still take shots. Some photographers tend to forget that the crowd play a part in the day, so, capturing a moment with both the artist/band and the crowd in the frame is always a win.
You will find that organisers prefer you to not use flash, this is to cause less distraction for the performer and audience. No flash may sound like a harder job, but, you will begin to realise this is great. Why would you want to kill off all the lighting that has been set by the light production team? Why not show what the audience are seeing?
'THERE ARE NO RULES, THERE are only advantages.'
You need not worry, the artist/band will be well lit and better yet, many will have amazing lights as a backdrop. This will force you to think artistically.
With no flash, a fast lens is preferable. Ideally a lens with an aperture of f/2.8. Now you can get as low as f/1.2, or, in some cases f/1.0, but, these are commonly on prime lenses. Prime lenses are great, the are amazing at letting in light, however, they lack versatility. When you have artists/bands performing, you have to be ready for anything so I always recommend a standard zoom lens. My go to lens is a. 24-70mm f/2.8. This gives you the option to go wide or zoom in for a tight shot.
With the shutter speed, its all about knowing what the goal is. As artists tend to move around, you must think about whether you want motion blur or not. I usually stay between 1/80th of a second and 1/200th of a second as I like to catch the act with minimal motion blur.
Despite having a low aperture, you may still be crying for more light, this may be a result of your high shutter speed. You will need to be careful. Where my Canon 5D Mark III can go to a higher ISO without destroying the image, this is not the same for all cameras. Test it out, take shots at each ISO and see the results. When the pictures become too grainy and discoloured, there's no point going any further.
Crop-Sensor cameras commonly have a lower ISO peak threshold, but, this is always improving with new technology.
For me, on the 5D, I never go higher than 6400 ISO at a push. Remember, you can also make improvements to the images in post-production.
Whatever you read, hear or see from others, always remember, these are just preferences. Try new things and have fun. There are no rules to taking a great image, there are only advantages. You can go to a concert with just a prime or a telephoto lens, it's always up to. If we all took images the same way, there would be no fun in that.
Any quick tips you would like to share? Please feel free to drop it in the comment section :)