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Seeking shooting tips for the theater environment

Started Mar 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Re: Seeking shooting tips for the theater environment
In reply to Rich Gibson, Mar 16, 2014

Theater varies enormously in the amount of light used for different scenes.  And spotlights often throw off camera metering.  The suggestion you got to spot meter off the faces is a good one.  Thats what usually makes good pictures, the quality of the faces.  You need some F2.8 or faster lenses to deal with dark areas.  And preferably f2.8 zoom lenses.  Although i have a Nex6 for walkaround work, i decided to stay with Pentax for the theater work.  I have several f2.8 Pentax zooms.

F4 constant aperture zooms will do in a pinch but can't do some of the dark scenes.  If you want to get there inexpensively, an f2.8 Sigma 60mm lens might be a useful choice - thinking of that myself.  One could also use f2.8 manual lenses and do area focuses with f3.2 or F4 for a bit more DOF.  Even with AF lenses i'll often use an AF lock with my Pentax if there is a lot of action in a general area.

Of course, a FF camera has about a stop of light advantage for the theater but i haven't chosen to go that direction - yet

As to what to photograph, the wide area scenes are not so much in demand as pictures with 1 or 2 folks interacting and displaying action or emotion.  So if you are picking 1 or 2 manual lenses to go with, 50-135mm range, aps, is a better range to go with than wider, IMO.  YMMV.  Also, don't get frustrated because you are camera limited in some light or scene conditions - thats theater for you.  Take the shots you can and enjoy!  Also, don't overlook rehearsals, if you can get permission.  Some great candid shots are available in rehearsals, often with better lighting.  BTW, in the theater i work at, flash is a  no-no.  Also turn off all beeps and all focus assist lighting.  Actors don't like to be distracted while on stage.  And some won't hesitate to tell you.

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Phil B
Pentax K-3(Best APS Camera) Nex 6, 5n, Epson R3000, 3880

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