Shooting a gig (80s rock band - X-T4, X-T20, Viltrox 85 Mk II)

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Rightsaidfred
Rightsaidfred Senior Member • Posts: 1,678
Shooting a gig (80s rock band - X-T4, X-T20, Viltrox 85 Mk II)
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Dear Fujians

I recently opened a thread on shooting a gig, What white balance for rock band (indoors gig)?. Again, many thanks for the helpful replies.

It was my first gig shooting, and it was a really great evening. I took my X-T4, X-T20, XF 23/2, XF 35/1.4, XF 50/2, KamLan 50/1.1 Mk II - and based on the advice I received in my rock band indoors gig thread, I went for a Viltrox 85/1.8 Mk II that I had an eye on anyway. I did not want to spend the money for the XF 90/2, and the Viltrox received an excellent rating from Opticallimits. Going for the Viltrox turned out an excellent idea. In fact, it was my most used lens that evening. Btw, having two bodies was good but I could have done the evening with only one.

The band is happy with the photos, and so am I. Let me share a few learnings and photos.

Musicians on the same stage can be lit extremely differently.

The spotlights changed all the time. Sometimes there was even strobe light. But in average, the 'front team" was often in relatively good light - Vivian, the lead singer, Vilim, vocals and guitar, Jochen, bass - while Roland, the keyboarder and Alex, the drummer were mostly obscured in more or less complete photographic darkness.

You need a short shutter speed. Use as fast lenses as possible. Don't care about ISO. Just use auto WB.

Performing musicians move fast. I played with ss and always checked immediately by zooming into the image with the rear command dial. To freeze the movement, 1/250 s was sometimes not enough, so I often went up to 1/400 s or 1/500 s. Sometimes I was lucky with 1/60 s to show the movement of the drum sticks. My ISO ranged all the way from base ISO through 12800. Not sure about a classical music concert - but with a rock band, high ISO is simply no problem. The grain even looks good. WB was the least problem - I just used auto WB.

Spotlight is a very harsh light. Expose to the highlights. Adapt in post.

Spotlight is incredibly contrasty. As I was advised in my former thread, I exposed to the highlights. I applied integral light metering mode but I dramatically reduced exposure based upon my impression in the viewfinder and the blinkies. I quickly found out that a reduction of 3 f-stops was sometimes not enough, so I assigned exposure compensation to the rear command dial and this way could reduce by max 5 f-stops. This turned out good. My thumb played with that exposure compensation dial all the time. Sometimes I used manual exposure. Most importantly, I rather underexposed to avoid blown out highlights. As expected, I needed to post process every image. The faces were often too dark which needed to be corrected in post to look good. I often selectively (using masks) had to lift a lot of f-stops in post. The nearly ISO invariant sensor is an asset.

85...90 mm is a good focal length for gigs.

I was not allowed to enter the stage. It turned out that I shot most of my images with the Viltrox 85 mm Mk II. Very happy with its performance - optically and AF wise.

Fujifilm AF performed great.

My equipment performed really well. No complaints. There are so many complaints in this forum about AF - I cannot confirm this. I used AF-S, focus on the eye, and I always pressed fully through (did not use the half press). I have virtually no AF misses. If images were bad, it was due to framing, facial expression, body posture, mic in the way. Also the Viltrox 85/1.8 Mk II performed great (both optically and AF wise). The manual KamLan was very difficult to use because of the fast movement of the musicians, so I quickly put it back into the pocket.

Sorting and post processing takes a lot of time.

It turned out that I shot 1623 images that evening. I was in need of a method to rank the images. I chose darktable, my standard converter. I had shot in Classic Chrome. It turned out that Stewart Sowerby's LUTs which belong to my standard workflow were not applicable with the monochrome spotlight - a fact that was no surprise to me, in fact, I had expected this. I knew this already from former images with monochrome areas (such as violet petals or artwork). So I did not apply a LUT, I made an own color balance RGB profile that approximately resembled Classic Chrome. This part was actually not much work. The profile did not have to be accurate- because the light was weird and monochrome anyway, hence, the exact color tone plays no role. What took most of the time was the sorting and the local exposure corrections. I assigned 1-5 stars to every image or rejected images. I ended up with 172 images (4 or 5 stars) that I shared with the band. I could have spent even much more time with the rating of the images - but I needed to find an end some time. Because of my demanding job, I can do that sort of things only at the weekends. For local exposure correction, I worked an awful lot with masks which is super straightforward with darktable. Weird but a matter of fact - local exposure correction was really necessary to finally leave a natural impression. All this sorting and post processing took me a lot of time, about 12 h. But it was good to shoot a lot. Maybe 500 images would have been enough for the evening but I am convinced it is necessary to shoot a lot.

Sharing some images.

Please find more images on SmugMug, https://martinlang.smugmug.com/Gallery/Munich-City-Knights/

Vivian, the lead singer. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm Mk II, f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/250 s.

Alex, the drummer. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm Mk II, f/1.8, ISO 8000, 1/250 s. Yes there is grain. So what?

Vilim, singer and guitar player. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm f/1.8, ISO 4000, 1/500 s.

Vilim, singer and guitar player. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm, f/1.8, ISO 640, 1/400 s. Why the grain? Because I lifted exposure in post.

Roland, keyboarder and guitar player. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm Mk II, f./1.8, ISO 4000, 1/250 s.

Bit of a fun shot. Alex, the drummer, with a kazoo. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm Mk II, f/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/250 s.

Roland, the keyboarder. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm Mk II, f/1.8, ISO 10000, 1/250 s. Any problems with the grain?? Nope!

Jochen, the bassist. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm Mk II, f/1.8, ISO 5000, 1/320 s. Look at the incredibly harsh light.

Vivi and Jochen. X-T20, XF 23/2, f/2, ISO 1600, 1/500 s.

Vilim, singer and guitar player. X-T4, Viltrox 85 mm Mk II, f/1.8, ISO 800, 1/250 s.

Feedback and comments welcome.

Regards,

Martin

 Rightsaidfred's gear list:Rightsaidfred's gear list
Fujifilm X-T20 Fujifilm X-T4 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS +6 more
Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 R WR Fujifilm X-T20 Fujifilm X-T4
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