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good zoom lens to use on 7D for concert shoot ?

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Pierre Paré-Blais
good zoom lens to use on 7D for concert shoot ?
on Oct 16, 2011 at 3:41:23 pm

I'm going to be shooting some concert footage on a 7D, and I'm thinking I should maybe rent a good zoom lens for the event. simply because my own lens kit only has prime lenses (a 24, 50 and 85). The only zoom I have is the rather not so versatile and slow 17-55 lens that came bundled with my first DSLR (t2i). Since I want to avoid having to switch lens too much during the concert, and since I'd like to vary the framing of what I shoot, but will not really be allowed to move much during the concert (it's in a classical hall), I figure renting a versatile zoom would be my best option to have all my base covered.

because I'm renting, and it's a one day affair, price isn't an issue. so you can go crazy with your suggestions!

I am concerned about speed tough, I have no idea what lighting condition I'll be faced with during the event... so I need to be prepared for the eventuality of having low light conditions. an ƒ2.8 would be ideal, I'm afraid that a 4 would be taking a bit of a risk.

I need something that goes into the telephoto range to get some close-ups and tighter framing on stage, how much of a telephoto I'm not really sure. because I will only be allowed in the hall the day of the concert I kinda have to be prepared for anything. I do know based on hall specs, that I should expect to be about 30' from the stage...

I was thinking maybe the 70-200mm ƒ2.8 L would be a candidate but I'm worried that on an APS-C cam the field of view would be too narrow at 70 for my widest shot, any thoughts? I am shooting an ensemble of 20 musicians and 2 dancers performing on a roughly 36' stage and I would like to have some wider shot of the full ensemble. I could consider renting two lens because during the concert there will be 2 spoken interventions which don't really interest me, I could use these to switch lens, but 2 lens would be my maximum.

thanks for any suggestions and comments, and if you think I'm approaching this the wrong way do let me know (constructively please), I am still a fairly unexperienced DP, and live events aren't my specialty, so still learning...



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Richard Harrington
Re: good zoom lens to use on 7D for concert shoot ?
on Oct 16, 2011 at 4:07:37 pm

I'd suggest renting. 2.8 zooms that don't vary through zoom will set you back 2k plus

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: From Still to Motion, Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques

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Phil Balsdon
Re: good zoom lens to use on 7D for concert shoot ?
on Oct 16, 2011 at 9:12:42 pm

At f2.8 you will be restricted to lenses with a zoom ratio of only 3 to 1. Unless you are in a very large area the 70-200 is not going to give you a good wide shot. The Canon 24-70 might be more practical but not give a great close up. The 24-105 might be better but it's f4.

To be honest, with all the other complications involved of shooting a long duration concert with a single DSLR camera (shot duration, audio quality and lens focal length) I'd consider renting a regular video camera for this shoot. Most these days will record for the duration of the concert, come with a zoom that is at least 10 to 1 and a suitable f stop, and record good audio quality, especially if you can get a feed from the concert desk.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.

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Pierre Paré-Blais
Re: good zoom lens to use on 7D for concert shoot ?
on Oct 16, 2011 at 10:25:53 pm

Thanks Phil for your thoughts.

I thought about that, but truth be told, this is a small gig for friends which I'm basically doing pro-bono for fun and practise, with the possibility of using the footage in an upcoming doc project, which I am currently co-developing with a director friend. While the Ensemble I'm filming don't mind paying for my lens rental (about 35$ for a L lens in Montreal), I think the price of renting a good video cam might be a little high for them, and since the doc isn't in production yet, any money would be coming out of my own pocket at this stage. There is a possibility I might have a fellow cameraman's EX-3 in my possession at that time, in which case of course I'd make good use of it, but it's not guaranteed I can use it as he tells me the camera might be locked in another shoot the same day. I might also have acces to a panasonic AG-HMC 70P, to use as a static b-cam. but the quality of image I find to be so-so in my experience, specially in low light situation.

so I think I'd still like to try out a lens with my 7D, if only for experience sake. The concert is also very short, about 1h, with only 45min of music I'd say, plus the sound I'm already taking care of separately, recording with a soundevice (stereo sound capture, it's classical music so no mixer feed).

Pierre P. Blais
Multimedia performance and VFX artist
Pierre P. Blais Productions
Perception Films

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