As a concert photographer, I am a minimalist. I like to bring the least amount of equipment to get the job done because I am actually there for the music more than I am for photography. Plus, it makes me a bit crazy when I saw a photographer show up for three songs with enough gear to shoot a royal wedding. Especially if it’s a singer-songwriter. I mean if we are talking an arena show with KISS or Pink Floyd, yeah, bring the arsenal, but otherwise, I would argue the best photographers can’t get everything they need with one body and two or three lenses.
As a devoted Nikon shooter, I was thrilled to hear that they would be releasing a full frame mirrorless. I pre-ordered one right away and waiting months to get my hands on it. Is the future of photography a mirrorless one? Read on to get my hands on review where I’ve shot 5 shows here in London over the past two weeks pushing this camera to its limits regarding low light, unpredictable lighting, and fast-moving musicians.
But first, a bit about the camera itself. Nikon launched with the Z6 and Z7 and the first three lenses in their new S-Line range: a 24-70mm f/4 standard zoom, a 35mm f/1.8 wide-angle prime, and a 50mm f/1.8 standard prime. The new mount diameter also allows for lenses with maximum apertures as fast as f/0.95, with a high-end manual-focus 58mm f/0.95 S Noct prime lens expected sometime this year. After much research, I decided on the Z6 as it’s rumored to perform better in low light with faster burst speeds (12fps frame rate). and higher ISO capabilities. My main camera is a Nikon D850 and I was looking for something smaller, faster, and with smaller files. This camera offers a lower 24.5-megapixel resolution and not as many AF points as the Z7, but it’s much cheaper, offers a wider ISO range, full frame (no crop) 4K video and I got a screaming deal on it!
For existing Nikon DSLR users who are looking to make the switch to the new mirrorless cameras, or who want to shoot with one alongside their current Nikon DSLR kit, there’s a new FTZ mount adapter that will be compatible with approximately 360 Nikon lenses, 90 of which which will support the Z6’s full AF speed.
So let’s see what this thing can do in the field.
Shooting with the 24-70 f4 – I love that this lens is light and compact, but at f4 it struggles with the unpredictable lights of a concert, especially in very low light. I think it did really well for the two bands below, but the lighting was quite good.
Polaris – ISO 4000 Shutter 1/125 F4
Polaris Crowd Shot – ISO 3200 Shutter 1/200 f4
Beartooth – ISO 3200 Shutter 1/160 f4
Shooting with the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 using the adapter – The adapter works brilliantly, but it adds weight to the camera and with the heavier Nikon lens on it, the balance is thrown off. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially with a 70-200 on it, but once you do it performs flawlessly.
ISO 800 Shutter 1/400 f 3.5
ISO 1250 Shutter 1/200 f2.8
ISO 180 Shutter 1/200 f 2.8
ISO 1000 Shutter 1/160 f 2.8
Swervedriver – ISO 10000 Shutter 1/125 f2.8
Swervedriver – ISO 2000 Shutter 1/125 f2.8
Shooting with the 70-200 f2.8 using the adapter – Architects at Wembley Arena
Pushing the ISO – I was photographing Swervedriver in London and they are notorious for performing in the dark. This is shot at ISO 52000
Video – The video is amazing!
Swervedriver performing in near darkness
One interesting thing to note is that the 5-axis in-body image stabilization lets you shoot at remarkably low shutter speeds with minimal shake. This can add a new level of creativity to concert photography in situations where flash is not allowed and you want to capture a bit of motion blur while the rest of the frame stays relatively sharp.