Best Lens for Concert Photography

Best Lens for Concert Photography

The best lens for concert photography should have large maximum aperture, fast and intelligent autofocus, long zoom range, built-in image stabilization, and a weather-sealed body. If you’re looking for this kind of lens, read about 10 best lenses for concert photography designed by different camera brands below.

best lens for concert photography

What Is the Best Lens for Concert Photography?

best lens for concert photography

I recommend you buying a pair of zoom lenses 24–70 and 70–200 mm with a 2.8 aperture. The images taken with a wide-angle zoom have a striking effect, since you may shoot the whole band or capture the most part of the audience.

Best Lenses for Concert Photography in 2019:

1. Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 DG HSM Art

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Pros+
  • Great picture quality
  • Fast and noiseless autofocus
  • Smooth movement of the focus ring
  • Almost metal body with the metal lens mount
Cons-
  • Haven’t’ been found
 

Available for Nikon, Canon, and Sigma, this lens is a representative of an Art series from Sigma Company, famous for its optical properties, such as a full-frame zoom lens with a constant f/2 aperture ratio, typical solely of its representatives.

Optical lens construction is rather complicated and consists of 18 elements in 13 groups, among which we may find aspheric lenses as well as low-dispersion elements.

The main advantage of the construction is that it does not have a so-called “trunk”, i. e. while zooming and focusing the front part of the lens does not move ahead. I haven’t found significant distortion or unwanted effects, such as chromatic aberration, vignette, and etc.).


2. Samyang SY14M-C 14 mm f/2.8

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Pros+
  • Cheap
  • Great build quality and original design
  • Flare-protective multi-layer coating
  • Ultra-wide viewing angle
Cons-
  • Slight distortion
  • Not lightweight
 

This concert photography lens by Samyang has manual focus but there is also the internal focus information in the viewfinder (at least Nikon offers it). I can claim that it is a pleasure to work with this lens, actually. The focus ring turns very smoothly making the focus extremely sharp.

There is no lose play in the aperture ring and it stays solid when you set the aperture. Although it is developed in a plastic body, this lens may compete with expensive L lenses in quality.

Moreover, the plastic does not seem low-cost. You may correct lens distortion in Lightroom or Photoshop, which provide a special profile for Samyang. The images are bright and sharp and little distortion in the corners is not a big deal.


3. Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 DI-II VC PZD

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Pros+
  • 15x zoom range
  • Good build quality
  • Compact
  • Internal focus
Cons-
  • Slow autofocus
  • No stabilizer modes
 

Tamron 18-270 mm is considered to be the lightest and the tiniest 15x zoom lens across the camera gear market. It is one of the best lenses for concert photography thanks to its portative size, light construction, new Piezo Drive (PZD) AF system, and VC picture stabilization technology.

It is quite difficult to take sharp images shooting at long focal lengths. Luckily, this concert photography lens comes with an integrated VC technology so you will not get blurry pictures.

Moreover, correct settings will help achieve better results. All you have to do is to set ISO up to 12-13000 and the optical exposure equal to 1/200 or 1/300s.

With such adjustments, the parameters will compensate each other and you may use illumination solely accessible in the hall. Furthermore, the events on the stage will look realistic in the frame.


4. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

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Pros+
  • Great sharpness
  • Qualitative color reproduction and flare protection
  • Good image stabilizer
Cons-
  • No mount for a tripod in the kit
  • Average performance in back and side light
 

Concert photography equipment must be very qualitative. The camera has to meet two main criteria ‒ low noise level with high ISO values and the speed of frame by frame shooting; and, of course, the qualitative lens, like this one.

  • If you like this camera brand, read more about the best Nikon portrait lenses you can buy for any budget and purpose.

Modern NIKKOR lens is a perfect alternative to the professional premium lens. The developers did not compromise on picture quality and equipped it with the improved VC system.

This technology minimizes the camera vibration and is useful in low light conditions and for capturing fast-moving objects. There are two VC modes: average ‒ for an every-day shooting, and active ‒ to minimize high-frequency vibration of a camera which is essential for shooting concerts.


5. Sony FE 24-70mm f2.8 G Master

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Pros+
  • Natural and realistic shades
  • Metal body
  • Dust and water resistant
  • Preferable ultrasound motor
Cons-
  • Bulky
  • Lacks an aperture ring on the body
 

Powerful zoom, ultra-fast autofocus, and high power resolution are the main advantages of this model. Thanks to the constant maximal aperture, you may get qualitative images even in poor lighting without changing the exposure settings on the whole focal distance range.

The convenient location of the switch, regulating change from manual to auto focus and focus hold buttons make the shooting a pleasant process, allowing you to control it without any difficulties. Water and dust resistance is essential for concert photography lenses since you may shoot in severe weather conditions.


6. Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art

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Pros+
  • Composite material resistant to temperatures
  • Soft case and petal lens hood included
  • Smooth bokeh
Cons-
  • Inconvenient to focus when you fold the lens hood
  • Random focusing errors
 

This is a modern lens, the first that Sigma produced for the Art line of the Global Vision series. It is among the best lenses for concert photography due to the unique concept and lens design of the new development.

The 35mm focal length paired with the Sigma technology opens new possibilities to render your artistic vision. The Hyper Sonic Motor provides noiseless operation, high speed and accurate autofocus.

The floating focusing mechanism provides incredible optical performance with the objects situated closer. You can take pictures from below, behind or from the side, or climb onto a balcony and shoot from above.


7. Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8

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Pros+
  • Little distortion
  • Pleasing color rendition
  • Decent performance with back and side lighting
  • No Live View focusing problems
Cons-
  • Chromatic aberrations
  • Slightly iridescent rays and some glare
 

This low-budget Chinese 50mm is fitting for many genres and is usable on both full-length Nikon and Canon DSLRs and their crop factor companions. The model replicates the design of the basic 50mm fixes of the photo industry giants, however, not modern, but from the past generations.

Its design includes 6 optical elements in 5 groups, which move inside the lens barrel during focusing. On maximum aperture values (up to f/1.8), the lens blurs the background well, allowing you to emphasize the main object.


8. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II

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Pros+
  • Great sharpness between 12-16 mm
  • Manual/auto slip ring – super effective once you learn to use it
  • No zoom creep, great assembling
Cons-
  • Short focal range as opposed to other lenses
  • Slightly noticeable vignetting at 11mm
 

This Tokina model could be the best lens for concert photography within the mid-price range. It is the cheapest ultra-wide model which performs great in poor light with an f/2.8 aperture.

Initially manufactured for the EF-S crop sensors, the device can successfully be mounted on the full frame cameras, which, however, can cause strong vignetting at focal length below 15mm.

If you remain above 16mm, your full-frame will take good shots with possibly some vignetting. The f/2.8 aperture works great at night so you’re free to shoot with no tripod on 11mm focal length. The zooming and focusing processes occur inside the barrel. So, accidentally hitting it won’t damage the mechanism.


9. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

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Pros+
  • Sharpness even on the edges
  • Bright colors
  • Optical Stabilization
Cons-
  • Occasional focus fail
  • Not compatible with USB docks
 

The color rendition looks natural and pleasing. Vignetting is noticeable at 2.8 aperture, but it isn’t critical. This Sigma lens also produces images that are sharp edge-to-edge on a full frame camera already with f/4. It tolerates side and back illumination well not giving you problems with glare.

Chromatic aberrations are completely absent. Neither appeared the color fringing (purple and green edges over blurred areas) that is so common for such lenses. The bokeh is soft, even and pleasant to the eye thanks to the rounded aperture with 9 blades.


10. Fujifilm Fujinon Lens XF 35mm f/2 R WR

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Pros+
  • Dustproof and waterproof
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Instant focusing
  • On-body aperture control
  • No geometric distortion
Cons-
  • Occasional glare upon backlight
  • Some vignetting at wide apertures
 

The expression “a little goes a long way” is the best characterization for this model, because, for its size and weight, the results are unexpectedly high. It is the best lens for concert photography as it combines low price among models for the X-mount system cameras with high-level photos.

The relatively high f/2.0 speed is perfect for shooting in conditions of insufficient light, which is what concerts are generally known for. Small details are well defined both in dense shadows and in bright lights.


Top 10 Best Lenses for Concert Photography

Image Camera Features  
Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art
Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art
OUR CHOICE
  • Large max aperture
  • Fast autofocus
  • Long zoom range
Check PRICE
Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 DI-II VC PZD
Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 DI-II VC PZD
BEST ZOOM
  • Compact
  • Internal focus
Check PRICE
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR
BEST TELEPHOTO
  • Image stabilizer
  • Great sharpness
Check PRICE
Sony FE 24-70mm f2.8 G Master
Sony FE 24-70mm f2.8 G Master
PROFESSIONAL
  • Water resistant
  • Ultrasound motor
Check PRICE
Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8
Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8
FOR BEGINNERS
  • No distortion
  • Fast focus
Check PRICE
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX ii
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX ii
BEST WIDE-ANGLE
  • Auto slip ring
  • No zoom creep
Check PRICE
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
  • Bright colors
  • Optical stabilization
Check PRICE
Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3
Fujifilm Fujinon Lens XF 35mm f/2 R WR
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • No distortion
Check PRICE
Samyang SY14M-C 14 mm f/2.8
Samyang SY14M-C 14 mm f/2.8
  • Cheap
  • Flare-protective
Check PRICE
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art
  • Smooth bokeh
  • Petal lens hood
Check PRICE

How to Choose?

Make sure to consider all the crucial criteria when choosing the best lens for concert photography:

1. Focus System

Applying precise focusing, we put the emphasis on the image. The challenging shooting conditions and wide aperture give a small depth of field, so focusing errors often happen even with the best lens for concert photography.

Achieve accuracy by using a manual selection of the focus area and focusing on those objects that you consider important for the particular shot. The choice of emphasis should be conscious and clear.

2. Shutter Speed

Among camera settings for shooting concerts, the most important one is the shutter speed. For grand occasions on big stadiums with powerful lighting, I shoot at 1/250 or higher and consider it a luxury.

More often you deal with small and dimly lit clubs where staying between 1/100-1/200 is preferable. This will allow you to avoid most motion blur and give the camera more stabilization without calling for stronger illumination.

Going below that value, you will get smudged shots, especially shooting a dynamic band. Recommended Setting: 1/100-1/200, faster whenever possible.

3. Additional Equipment You May Need

XQD Cards are another useful purchase for longer events. This format is way better than CF and SD. It is reliable, has a compact form factor and the highest processing speed for its class. Using several DSLRs for an event, I fit within 64GB of space, shooting the whole concert all-access.

  • Choose a good SD card holder to keep your memory cards in one place not to lose at the concert.

Finally, a body strap will make a big difference, especially for heavy and bulky lenses. Whenever you work with two cameras, wear the harness system. It will situate cameras at waist-level for you to grab at any moment and evenly distribute the weight on your shoulders.

Take care of your hearing and purchase earplugs to avoid suffering from the loudness. They are available in different sizes and materials and can vary from really cheap to expensive. They will not fully mute the sounds, only lower the intensity while letting you hear the music.


Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments. read more