If you are looking for the best lens for concert photography, you may want to consider several factors, such as its autofocus system, aperture, and image stabilization. Below, I’ve handpicked my favorite products based on these features. Continue reading on to learn more about why they matter.
Concert photography has its own set of challenges, just like every type of photography. The chances are that you have no control over the lighting conditions when shooting in live music events. You might also have difficulty focusing on the subject since they tend to move on the stage.
However, having the right camera equipment can help you take great photos at concerts.
With that in mind, we scoured the web to determine the best lenses for concert photography. We then handpicked the top five products on the market to narrow down your choices.
We also included a handy buying guide below for photographers clueless about which features to consider.
Without any further ado, let’s jump right into our top picks!
A Quick Comparison of The Top Concert Photography Lenses in 2021
|Editor’s Pick||Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G||Maximum Aperture: f/2.8|
Focal Length: 24-70mm
Filter Thread Size: 82mm
Dimensions: 8.3 x 5 x 5.5 inches
Weight: 3 lb
|Best Telephoto Lens||Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM||Maximum Aperture: f/2.8|
Focal Length: 70-200mm
Filter Thread Size: 77mm
Dimensions: 7.8 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 3.18 lb
|Best Prime Lens||Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM||Maximum Aperture: f/1.8|
Focal Length: 50mm
Filter Thread Size: 49mm
Dimensions: 1.54 x 2.72 x 2.72 inches
Weight: 0.35 lb
|Best Wide-Angle Lens||Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art DG HSM||Maximum Aperture: f/1.4|
Focal Length: 35mm
Filter Thread Size: 67mm
Dimensions: 3.7 x 3.03 x 3.03 inches
Weight: 1.47 lb
|Best Budget Lens||YONGNUO YN50mm f/1.8||Maximum Aperture: f/1.8|
Focal Length: 50mm
Filter Thread Size: 52mm
Dimensions: 3.27 x 3.15 x 3.27 inches
Weight: 0.26 lb
5 Best Lenses for Concert Photography
Here is a rundown of the top lenses for concert photography. Each one has a bright maximum aperture and an autofocus system to help you capture detailed photos.
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G – Editor’s Pick
The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G is among the best lenses for concert photography.
It features standard focal lengths ranging from 24 to 70mm, which gives a concert photographer versatility when shooting subjects. So whether you are standing at the photo pit with fellow press photographers or the actual stage, this zoom lens makes it easier to adjust your composition and capture compelling photos.
The Sony lens also has a large maximum aperture at f/2.8. It allows more light into the sensor for reliable performance in low-light events, such as concerts. At the same time, it offers a narrow depth of field to emphasize the subject. Plus, the 9-blade aperture creates a stunning bokeh effect in your photos.
Moreover, this zoom lens includes extra-dispersion glass elements and two aspherical elements. The former delivers impressive detail and texture, while the latter minimizes chromatic aberration.
Finally, it boasts smooth and quiet autofocus, owing to the Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM). This technology is compatible with Sony cameras to reduce spurious motion and keep focus on the subject.
Most reviews for this standard zoom lens were positive. But if we were to point out its flaws, it would be its heavy build and high price. It also lacks image stabilization, which is disappointing considering it is a pricey lens.
However, we think the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G is worth buying. It delivers bright and detailed photos, ideal for concert photography.
- Versatile zoom range
- Bright aperture
- Narrow depth of field and stunning bokeh effect
- Fast, accurate, and near-silent autofocus
- Superb optical characteristics to reduce aberration, flares, and vignetting
- Expensive lens
- No image stabilization
- Pretty heavy construction
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM – Best Telephoto Lens for Concerts
If you need a lens with a longer reach, consider the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM.
This telephoto lens offers a focal length ranging from 70 to 200mm. The shortest zoom length at 70mm can capture portraits or full-body shots of the singer when standing from a photo pit. Meanwhile, the longest focal range of 200mm brings the subject closer, ideal if you are far away from the subject. It is also a versatile lens, giving you more options to capture a flattering angle for artists.
Meanwhile, this Canon zoom lens has a bright maximum aperture of f/2.8. It enables more light to hit the image sensor, making it ideal for low-light or concert photography. It also creates a narrow depth of field to isolate the subject from the background, especially useful for a tight framing.
Furthermore, it features optical image stabilization. This technology provides up to 3.5 stops of shake correction to enable shooting handheld or at slower shutter speeds.
There is even a fast and near-silent autofocus system to ensure in-focus images. This USM technology also offers a full-time manual focus for total creative control.
On top of all these benefits, this telephoto lens is dust and water-resistant, owing to the weather sealing. Thus, it is an essential workhorse lens for concert photographers and other professionals.
However, before buying this zoom lens, it’s essential to know its downsides. First, it is pretty bulky and heavy. So if you will be shooting for a long time, make sure that you consider this factor. Second, the lens is also expensive because it is part of Canon’s line of high-end optics.
Nevertheless, we think the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM is worth it, considering all its advanced features. It is one of the best lenses for concert photography.
- Telephoto focal range offers unique isolation and longer reach
- Impressive low-light performance
- Accurate, fast, and quiet AF performance
- Image stabilization corrects camera shake
- Weather-sealed lens
- Heavy and bulky
- Expensive lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM – Best Prime Lens for Concerts
Those looking for a prime lens to carry in concerts can consider getting the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.
This prime lens has a fixed focal length of 50mm, which delivers a natural perspective similar to how our eyes see things. It is ideal for smaller and intimate concerts where the artist wouldn’t probably move around a lot on the stage.
Meanwhile, there is a large aperture of f/1.8 to ensure reliable performance in low-light situations. It also offers a shallow depth of field, ideal for portraits or close-up shots of the singers.
What’s more, the Stepping Motor (STM) technology provides fast and near-silent autofocus. It helps you capture sharper and more detailed photos than before.
All these benefits come in a lightweight and compact package. Plus, it is also affordable, perfect for those on a tight budget.
Despite these advantages, there are a few downsides to this prime lens. First, the plastic construction may feel cheap and flimsy. There is also no built-in optical stabilization to correct camera shake. Some users also pointed out that autofocus was inconsistent; it focuses instantly in daylight, but it slows down a bit in dim-lit conditions.
Nevertheless, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is still one of the best prime lenses for concert photography. Therefore, we recommend buying it if you will document a smaller music show.
- Natural perspective without distortion at 50mm
- Great in low-light situations
- Narrow depth of field to make the subject stand out
- Compact and lightweight lens
- Relatively affordable price
- Lack of image stabilization
- Plastic construction feels cheap
- A few users said the autofocus is slow in low-light situations
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art DG HSM – Best Wide-Angle Lens for Concerts
Do you want to capture the singers together with their fans? If so, a wide-angle lens like the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art DG HSM might meet your needs.
It features a fixed focal length of 35mm, which is wide enough to fit more elements in the frame without introducing distortion. Therefore, this wide-angle lens is ideal if you want to shoot from the audience’s perspective or achieve various unique angles.
The Sigma lens also has a large maximum aperture of f/1.4. It allows you to use faster shutter speeds and achieve bright images in low-light situations. It also creates a shallow depth of field and stunning bokeh to draw attention to the subject.
What’s more, the prime lens includes both special low dispersion (SLD) and fluorite low dispersion (FLD) glass elements. These offer superior optical performance by correcting axial and chromatic aberrations.
On top of all these benefits, a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) and a floating internal focusing system ensure accurate and quiet autofocus.
However, some users said that the AF performance is inconsistent in dim-lit settings. A few even noticed vignetting in their photos when using this wide-angle lens.
The pros outweigh the cons, though.
For this reason, we still recommend the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art DG HSM for concert photographers. It can help you capture photos from interesting angles and perspectives.
- Wide-angle field of view for capturing unique angles
- Impressive low-light performance
- Stunning bokeh and narrow depth of field
- HSM technology provides silent autofocus
- Superior glass elements can correct aberration
- Autofocus performance is inconsistent in low-light situations
- Some users reported vignetted photos when shooting with this lens
YONGNUO YN50mm f/1.8 – Best Budget Lens for Concerts
If you are a budding photographer who wants to shoot intimate concerts, consider getting the YONGNUO YN50mm f/1.8.
This prime lens gives you great photos but won’t break your bank. The fixed focal length of 50mm offers a natural perspective without noticeable distortion. It is suitable for capturing portraits, whether it is a half-body or head shot.
Meanwhile, the maximum aperture of f/1.8 enables you to use slower shutter speeds in low-light conditions. It can also isolate the subject from the background by introducing a shallow depth of field.
Furthermore, this standard lens features multi-coated glass elements. It can correct lens distortion and chromatic aberration to deliver detailed photos.
It can even support manual and autofocus functions. However, some users said the AF motor is noisy and slow in dark conditions. A few also said that the photos were not as sharp as they expected.
But considering that the YONGNUO YN50mm f/1.8 retails for less than $100, we think this prime lens is worth considering. It is one of the best budget lenses for concert photography.
- Affordable price
- Versatile 50mm focal length
- Reliable performance in low-light conditions
- Shallow depth of field
- Compact and lightweight lens
- Loud and slow autofocus
- Soft photos
How to Choose the Best Lens for Concert Photography
Here are the factors to consider before buying a lens for photographing concerts and live events.
When shooting concerts, it is essential to emphasize the singer or performer.
That is why you will need a lens with a fast and accurate autofocus system. It will help you keep the artist in focus, even if he moves a lot around the stage.
This way, you can focus more on the composition or framing of the subject instead of pulling the focus manually. The result is clearer and sharper photos.
Concerts usually happen in dim places, where only a few light sources are directed at the musician. Therefore, if you want to capture high-quality images in such events, having a lens with a large maximum aperture is crucial.
Choose a lens with an aperture from f/1.2 to f/2.8. These f-stops mean a larger lens opening, which allows more light into the sensor. It will help create brighter and higher-quality images in low-light situations.
In addition to this, a brighter aperture also offers a shallow depth of field and a stunning bokeh effect. It can effectively isolate the subject from the background, ideal for portraits and close-up shots of the artist performing on stage.
Some concerts prohibit photographers from carrying their reliable tripods. In instances like these, a lens with built-in optical image stabilization is handy.
This technology can correct camera shake and vibrations, ideal for handheld shooting. It also allows you to use faster f-stops at the same shutter speed, perfect for low-light situations like concert photography.
No one wants to carry heavy lenses when taking photos. So, you have to consider the weight of the lens before buying a lens for concert photography.
The load will only lead to more camera shake and fatigue, especially if you are shooting handheld. In turn, it can affect the image quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use a kit lens for concert photography?
Technically, yes, you can use a kit lens for concert photography. But perhaps the better question to ask is: will a kit lens offer the same high-quality photos as a non-kit lens? Unfortunately, the answer is probably no.
That is because a kit lens does not have a large maximum aperture. And as previously discussed, the aperture is an essential factor to consider when taking concert photos as it allows more light into the camera sensor.
Another reason why a kit lens is not suitable for concert photography is the average autofocus performance. Many models cannot offer fast and precise AF in low-light conditions such as concerts.
What is the best lens for concert photography?
The best lens for concert photography will depend on a lot of factors. These include the type of photos you want to achieve, personal preference, and budget.
But if we have to choose the best one on the market today, it would probably be the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G. It offers a versatile zoom range, bright aperture, and reliable autofocus system. These features are all essential in concert photography.
Primes vs. zoom: which is better for concert photography?
The prime vs. zoom lens debate has been going for a long time. But to be frank with you, both lenses are great for concert photography because they bring unique advantages missing from the other, and vice versa.
Prime lenses offer sharper images due to lesser moving glass elements. They also usually have a brighter maximum aperture to deliver clear photos in low-light conditions. However, they feature a fixed focal length, which requires you to move closer or away from the subject if you need to adjust your perspective.
In contrast, zoom lenses have a variable focal length that gives you more versatility when shooting. However, they usually don’t offer the sharpest images because of their smaller aperture. It is important to note, though, that high-end zoom lenses can rival prime lenses.
Choosing between these lenses will come down to your needs and preferences.
There you have it—our top choices for the best lenses for concert photography. Each product on this list offers a bright aperture and reliable autofocus to help you capture sharp photos.
But if we only have to recommend one, it would be the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G. It has a variable focal length, ideal for shooting portraits and unique perspectives. Plus, it includes a bright maximum aperture and a fast AF system to ensure bright and detailed results.