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7 Best Cameras for Concert Photography in 2022 [Expert Picks]

Concerts are cool, and shooting them is even cooler. Flashing lights, smoke effects, and moody lighting result in scenes that are incredibly exciting if you can capture them right. And that’s the real challenge: finding a good camera for concerts that can adequately deal with challenging lighting and flashing strobes.

You need to look for concert cameras that can focus quickly in low light, has exceptional low-light performance, and has the ability to shoot through flicker while quickly adapting exposure settings to match the lighting. While most cameras can take good photos, they will struggle in low light, and you need to know what to look for. This is where I come in.

The cameras I’ve shortlisted for you have been tested in the field and vetted by experts to identify models that will suit your photography style, regardless of budget. These cameras will not let you down in a concert setting, no matter what you pick.

7 Best Cameras for Concert Photography in 2022

What you’ll find below is a list of the best cameras for recording concerts at various price points to slot into whatever budget you might have. Each of these cameras is specifically chosen for having excellent low-light performance and extras like the ability to shoot through flicker.

  • Sensor Resolution: 60.2MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 30 FPS
  • Battery Life: 670 shots
  • Weight: 1.47 lbs

The Sony Alpha 7R IV is a large camera, but that also means it has a large, comfortable grip, which is exactly what you need on long shoots at concerts. The camera’s ergonomics are a step up from the a7R III and feature more tactile buttons and customizability.

Why is it suited for Concerts?

The 60.2MP BSI-CMOS sensor here is perfect for the challenging lighting conditions at concerts. Coupled with an impressive real-time tracking auto-focus system that has a special low-light mode, you’re not likely to miss a shot. The camera also does a stellar job of tracking people in low light, which is great if you’re trying to focus on, say, the DJ or friends.

On the video front, the camera shoots high-quality 4K 30 fps video, albeit at an 8-bit color depth. This happens at either a full-frame pixel-binned readout or via a 1.8x oversampled crop. In either mode, image quality is excellent, with the pixel-binned mode being better suited to the low-light requirements of concert shoots.

Connectivity & Inputs

Sony’s covered this camera in ports. You get the usual micro HDMI and USB-C (5 Gbps) ports, of course, but you also get a micro B port to help with accessories and charging, as well as dual 3.5 mm audio jacks and a flash sync port. Wi-Fi is rated at 802.11ac and is paired with Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC for seamless connectivity.

Battery Life

The NP-FZ100 batteries that Sony’s using here are powerful and help the camera survive for 670+ shoots. Shooting judiciously, a single battery could easily last an entire concert session, even if you’re shooting short video clips for social media.

Is this camera right for you?

The a7R IV is a large, comfortable camera with excellent image quality, superb AF tracking and packs in features optimised for low-light Gig photography. For professionals, this is the best concert photography camera to have by your side.

Pros
  • Low-light AF mode
  • High-resolution images
  • Large, comfortable body
  • Excellent lens selection
  • Superb subject tracking features
Cons
  • Huge file sizes
  • Compressed RAW quality isn’t grea
  • Sensor Resolution: 20.1MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 60 FPS
  • Battery Life: 360 shots
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs

Canon camera bodies tend to be comfortable and rugged, and the Canon EOS R6 is no exception. At 1.5 lb, it is slightly on the heavier side, but you’re also getting excellent weather sealing (you must save the camera from spills). The button layout could be improved, but you do get a lot of customization options.

Why is it suited for Concerts?

The R6 has two stand-out features that make it a good camera for concert photography: Dual Pixel II autofocus and 8 stops of image stabilization that help you capture sharp images at long exposures. The camera also shoots HDR photos in a 10-bit HEIF format, making concert images pop on HDR-ready displays.

Stills aside, the R6 is one of the most proficient video cameras you can get. It’s among the only cameras in this price range that can shoot full-frame, oversampled 4K 60 video, and because there’s no line skipping, quality is impeccable. Low-light video performance is equally impressive, and with Canon’s color science, you’re in for a treat!

Connectivity & Inputs

Connectivity isn’t a problem on this camera since you have access to a high-speed, 10 Gbps USB-C port as well as 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Dual audio jacks and a micro HDMI port allow monitoring, and dual UHS-II class SD card slots take care of any backup needs.

Battery Life

Despite using LP-E6NH batteries, battery life is a little below average at just 360 shots. CIPA ratings for battery life are usually very conservative, of course, but I’d still recommend getting a battery grip for longer concerts. 

Is this camera right for you?

With best-in-class AF, IBIS, and class-leading video performance, the R6 is a no-brainer for concerts. It’ll track subjects in nearly any lighting, can shoot through flicker, and you’ll get some impressive long-exposure shots with that IBIS. You just can’t go wrong with an R6.

Pros
  • 8 EV of IBIS with compatible lenses
  • Dual Pixel II AF is superb
  • Face and eye tracking
  • Low-light performance
  • 10-bit video recording
Cons
  • Tends to overheat easily
  • Poor battery life
  • Sensor Resolution: 45.7MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 30 FPS
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
  • Weight: 1.49 lbs

With a comfortable, weather-sealed body and great ergonomics, the Nikon Z7 is a photographer’s dream. The buttons and UI is well laid out, and for Nikon’s first attempt at a mirrorless camera, this is indeed impressive.

Why is it suited for Concerts?

Nikon has always boasted of excellent color science and incredible low-light performance. Given that this sensor comes from Nikon’s seminal low-light beast, the D850, performance in the flaky lighting of concerts is impressive. Paired with a 493-point hybrid PDAF system and excellent tracking features, you will get your shot regardless of lighting. 

The new Nikon Z-mount is specifically designed for mirrorless cameras and features a smaller flange distance. This allows the Z7 to support lenses as fast as F0.95, which are perfect for low light and concerts. Full-frame, 10-bit, 4K video via HDMI is a bonus.

Connectivity & Inputs

802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combination keeps the camera connected to your phone for easy pairing and quick transfers. For I/O, you get a 5 Gbps USB-C port, dual 3.5 mm jacks for recording and monitoring audio, and a mini HDMI output that can send 10-bit N-Log signals to an external recorder.

Battery Life

400 shots per charge is a bit on the lower side, but this is a 45.7 MP camera using XQD cards, so the trade-off is worth it. Nikon does offer battery grips with vertical controls if you need something that will get you through longer shoots.

Is this camera right for you?

Nikon Z7 is the first full-frame mirrorless Z-mount camera from Nikon, and while it has a few rough edges, it offers features that only more expensive cameras can match. Incredible sensor and robust AF tracking features qualify it as one of the best cameras to record live music.

Pros
  • Special low-light AF mode
  • ProRes RAW output over HDMI
  • Seamless wireless connectivity
  • Supports F0.95 lenses
  • Good subject tracking
Cons
  • Average battery life
  • Small buffer for burst shots
  • Sensor Resolution: 24.2MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 60 FPS
  • Battery Life: 460 shots
  • Weight: 1.57 lbs

Panasonic’s full-frame mirrorless cameras tend to be quite large and heavy, but the Panasonic LUMIX S5 is the exception. It’s only slightly larger than competing Sony bodies while offering great ergonomics and a compelling feature-set.

Why is it suited for Concerts?

The Achilles heel of Panasonic’s cameras has thus far been its slow, unreliable, contrast-based AF system. The S5 still uses contrast detection but in a newer Depth-from-Defocus form that significantly improves AF speed and tracking in stills. For concerts, this can actually be better than PDAF because contrast-based systems are slower but often more reliable.

Image quality is, of course, exceptional and the JPEGs from this camera are usually good enough that you don’t need RAW. Oh, and you get a class-leading 14 stops of dynamic range.

Since this is primarily a hybrid video camera, the video capabilities of this camera are impressive. You can record 4K 30 video at full 10-bit 4:2:2 internally (for 30 min) as well as externally (unlimited) and can record 8-bit video with no restrictions. AF performance can be a problem, however, and I’d recommend sticking to manual focus for concert shoots.

Connectivity & Inputs

Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Bluetooth means that wireless data transfer is incredibly fast. For the rest, you get micro HDMI with 10-bit output and RAW support, a 5 Gbps USB-C port, dual 3.5 mm audio jacks, and a 2.5 mm remote input.

Battery Life

Battery life is decent at 470 shots, but with the right power bank, you can power this camera directly via USB. This is extremely useful in long shoots as well as during interviews. The DMW-BLK22 battery used here offers 15% more capacity than the previous model.

Is this camera right for you?

The Panasonic Lumix S5 is primarily a video camera with great still capability. If you need a hybrid camera for concerts, but one with a larger focus on video than stills, the Lumix S5 is a good choice.

Pros
  • Excellent JPEG quality
  • Phantom power for mics
  • Great low-light performance
  • Exceptional dynamic range
  • Live-view composite mode for light trails
Cons
  • CDAF is unreliable
  • Focus flutter in video
  • Sensor Resolution: 24.2MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 30 FPS
  • Battery Life: 710 shots
  • Weight: 1.43 lbs

While not as fancy as some of the newer models available today, the Sony Alpha 7 III does still boast of a robust body with excellent ergonomics that lend themselves well to long shoots. Weather sealing could be better, but this is also a much cheaper body than the others on this list.

Why is it suited for Concerts?

The a7 III’s BSI-CMOS sensor has a dual-gain output, meaning it offers a high dynamic range low ISO option alongside a low-noise high-ISO option. This is perfect for concerts as you’ll be dealing with low light and will need higher ISOs to shoot.

Being an older body, AF performance isn’t as good as it is on the newer a7 IV or a7C, but it is still exceptional for a camera in this price range. For stills, you get excellent face and eye tracking, as well as a 10 fps burst with a deep buffer. Perfect for concerts.

Connectivity & Inputs

Sony’s excellent Wi-Fi + Bluetooth-based connectivity mode will keep your phone and camera in sync at speed. A 5 Gbps Type-C port and dual 3.5 mm audio jacks, not to mention micro HDMI output and NFC support, round out the features.

Battery Life

Battery life is one area where the a7 III truly shines. With a CIPA rating of 710 shots, you’ll easily get double that figure in real-world use. This is more than enough to get through long concerts on one charge, and you get enough extra charge to shoot short video clips.

Is this camera right for you?

The Sony a7 III might be an older body, but its excellent dynamic range, superb AF system, and impeccable low-light performance mean that it still holds its own against some of the best and even some of the more expensive cameras out there today.

Pros
  • Excellent dynamic range
  • AF performance is superb
  • Class-leading battery life
  • Low-light performance
  • Good pricing
Cons
  • 8-bit video output
  • Low-res EVF
  • Sensor Resolution: 30.3MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 60 FPS
  • Battery Life: 370 shots
  • Weight: 1.45 lbs

Canon is an old hand at designing camera bodies, and it should thus come as no surprise that the Canon EOS R is as well designed as it is. The large grip is great for long concert shoots, and you could even mount long lenses on this without issue. The button layout and feel could be improved, however.

Why is it suited for Concerts?

The EOS R has slightly less dynamic range than some of the competing cameras, but Canon’s color science is unmatched, and JPEG quality is so good that you’re hardly likely to miss it. To add to that, you get the excellent Dual Pixel AF that works great even in low light and an incredible 5,655 AF points to choose from for some truly unbelievable AF tracking.

Additionally, the camera features a decently quick burst mode with a comfy, 100-shot buffer. You also get 4K 30 video in a 1.8x crop and HD slo-mo at 120 fps if you need it. The camera can also output a 10-bit 4:2:2 video to an external recorder.

Connectivity & Inputs

Bluetooth LE 4.1 and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n aren’t the best in class but are still great for fast connectivity and easily and quickly transferring stills. The micro HDMI port can output 10-bit video to an external monitor, and you get dedicated 3.5 mm jacks for a mic and headphones. A 5 Gbps USB-C port also doubles as a USB charging port.

Battery Life

A-rated battery life of 370 shots is quite low, even for a mirrorless camera. Thankfully, Canon offers a nice battery grip and compatibility with LP-E6N batteries that let you easily extend battery life when needed. However, judicious shooting can still get you over 1000 shots from a single charge.

Is this camera right for you?

As a single-shot stills camera, the Canon EOS R can hold its own with the best. For concert photography on a budget, the EOS R will get the job done, and really well at that. Video performance does fall a bit short, however, so only consider this camera if you need it for stills.

Pros
  • JPEG quality is great
  • Excellent low-light tracking performance
  • Dual Pixel AF
  • Great handling
  • Lens selection
Cons
  • Cropped 4K video
  • Dynamic range is a bit low
  • Sensor Resolution: 24.5MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 30 FPS
  • Battery Life: 380 shots
  • Weight: 1.29 lbs

The Nikon Z6 is easily among the best-built cameras out there, and with great weather sealing at that. Ergonomics are spot-on and haven’t changed much since Nikon’s DSLR days, offering a familiar UI and button layout to long-term Nikon shooters.

Why is it suited for Concerts?

When it comes to concert photography, the 24.5 MP BSI CMOS sensor in the Z6 impresses with its low-light performance when shooting RAW. JPEGs show a bit more noise in low light, so you will want to avoid those.

Autofocus tracking is excellent even in low light, and there’s a dedicated AF mode for low light that will help capture subjects in especially dark environments.

The 273-point AF system isn’t best in class, but it is reliable and fast for most scenarios. If you shoot video at concerts, you’ll love the fact that the Z7 can output a 10-bit 4:2:2 N-log as well as ProRes RAW to an Atomos Ninja recorder. The faster readout of the sensor also means that silent shutter and video is more usable.

Connectivity & Inputs

Nikon’s Snapbridge wireless connectivity feature is present here, using 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to maintain connectivity between the phone and the camera. The usual assortment of ports, including 5 Gbps USB-C and dual 3.5 mm audio jacks, are present, as is an MC-DC2 remote control input.

Battery Life

The 380-shot rating for battery life, 310 with an EVF, is relatively low for a mirrorless camera. That said, concert photographers have reported shooting over 1200 shots per charge on the same battery. You can also pick up a battery grip if you’re worried about battery life.

Is this camera right for you?

The Z6 is basically a lower resolution version of the Z7 but with a faster sensor and comparable video quality. Its more affordable price tag coupled with excellent low-light performance and AF tracking makes it a compelling camera for taking pictures at concerts.

Pros
  • 12 fps burst
  • Dedicated low-light AF mode
  • Excellent face tracking in low light
  • JPEGs are of high quality
  • ProRes RAW output
Cons
  • Single XQD card slot
  • Subject tracking is difficult to engage

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of camera do you need for concert photography?

It would be best to have a camera with excellent low-light performance and good autofocus tracking for people. A camera with a dual-gain sensor is preferable for keeping noise in check.

What lens do concert photographers use?

Concert photographers tend to use fast telephoto or wide-angle primes as larger apertures are better suited for low-light photography. Nikon’s Z-mount lenses have a shorter flange distance and tend to offer large apertures.

What are the important settings for concert photography?

It’s essential to set an auto-ISO range and minimum shutter speed target to ensure that your shots don’t end up blurry. It’s better to have a noisier image than a blurry one. If you have a dual-gain sensor, set the ISO to the camera’s higher-gain setting.

Do concert photographers use flash?

Sometimes, but remember that flash photography is only useful in concerts when taking portraits. However, if you’re going for more moody shots, you’ll want to avoid using one.

Verdict

Sony A7 IV is the best concert camera out there. With excellent AF tracking and impressive low-light performance, not to mention its great dynamic range, the A7 IV is the perfect camera for you. If you’re a Canon user, the R6 isn’t a bad option either.

  • For shooters on a tighter budget, my recommendations goes to the Canon EOS R6 and its incredible AF system and low-light performance. The Sony Alpha 7 III comes in at a close second.
  • Nikon users will appreciate the Nikon Z6 for its more affordable price tag and image quality that matches the more expensive Z7. Go for the Nikon Z7 only if you want high-res images.
  • Lastly, the Panasonic LUMIX S5 is an amazing choice if you’re a hybrid video shooter and are comfortable shooting in manual focus.

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