Gear To Bring

Shoot From The Pit: Gear To Bring

I get a lot of questions about what gear is best to bring for the workshop so I wanted to get into some more detail.
Two bodies and two lenses are best if you have them. That’s so you can quickly switch from “wide” to “tight” and back again when the action is happening right in front of you (which it will!). It’s also smart to have two setups in case something happens to one of them and you need a backup.
Which bodies and which lenses are best?
Lenses: Zoom lenses are better for concerts than primes, because it gives you more versatility in the photo pit as the action is moving closer and further away from you. For the wide lens, a 24-70 or 24-105 is best. For the long lens, a 70-200 is great for theater or arena shows. For stadiums, even longer lenses are best if you have them. The 100-400 or 100-500 is a fantastic option, although those work best with newer digital cameras that look good at high ISOs like 6400. If you only have a 70-200 at a stadium, a 1.4X or 2X tele-converter is another option.
There are some monster lenses in that range like the 200-400 f/4, but be aware that tripods / monopods are NOT allowed in the photo pit. If you bring one of those lenses, be prepared to hand-hold it during the show.
Bodies: You’ll want to get high shutter speeds to freeze the action (I’ll be teaching techniques for dealing with low light and fast action during the workshop), so that means you’ll be shooting at relatively high ISOs. Newer bodies will look better at higher ISOs, so leave that 15-year old digital camera at home if you can. High ISOs will be even more important if you’re shooting with longer lenses like the 100-500 because the aperture is smaller than the wide angle lenses.
While I recommend two bodies and two lenses to cover the show, feel free to bring more lenses if you want! I encourage everyone to go up top and make a wide shot during the show, so having something in the 11-24mm range is helpful. Many photographers also like to use specialty lenses like a fisheye, tilt-shift, or anything else that can be fun to try out. Just make sure you have a way to carry it during the show – ideally a small waist bag or sling bag so it doesn’t get in the way (of you or the fans!).
We have a photo room where you can leave your bag during the show so if you’re not sure what to bring, then bring it all. I’ve had some photographers bring a 14-24, 24-70, 24-105, 70-200, and 100-500 with multiple bodies. Usually after the opening act, they settle into what they want to use for the main event.
If you only have one camera with the kit lens that came with it, you’ll still be able to make pictures for sure. You just won’t make “as many” because you’ll be partially limited when the action is further away and your shutter speeds might have to be a little slower.
What about flash? Flash is usually not allowed near the stage at a a concert. You might want to bring one to photograph fans or anything else away from the stage, but it’s not needed for the show itself.
No matter what you use, I promise you will learn a lot and have a great time. See you in the pit!
David Bergman