Filming videos or taking pictures at concerts and shows can be difficult. When it comes to cameras in general, the different applications and use will ultimately depend on which environments you foresee yourself snapping photos and filming videos in. Luckily in this day and age with the rise of advanced DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, most solutions out there will be feasible for a wide range of activities and most likely provide nice enough quality for all settings you’ll be in. However, when it comes specifically to low-light environments such as concerts and live shows (some of them, at least), we want to make sure we’re covered in all areas to ensure those moments are snapped ideally. Whether you’re planning on photography or filming videos for your own band or perhaps have just grabbed tickets to your favorite artist in a few weeks and you want to make sure those memories are captured as best as possible, we’ve got you covered in this guide.
How to pick a camera for concerts
Money is always a deciding factor when shopping for electronics and gear, especially digital cameras. We have quite a range in here. For some, a few of these concert cameras aren’t going to be anywhere near your budget, and that’s OK. Don’t feel the need to spend a few grand if you’re planning on going to a few shows a year. Others however may be in the mood to grab a highly advanced camera not only for a concert or two but other uses as well. Or perhaps you’ll be filming shows as your job, or want to make sure your band can see each and every movement to improve every gig you play? Regardless of your intentions here, money will definitely be a factor. Don’t be afraid to save up after reading, or settle with a decent camera that won’t cost an arm and leg either if you’re OK with it.
When it comes to the different camera types in the world today, we have some options. There are quite a few “types” in the world, but we wanted to simplify it to the top 3 to make it easy, especially for concerts. Here are the following three types we recommend:
- DSLR cameras: As one of the most popular camera types in the market today, DSLR cameras are famous for not only their overall picture and video quality, but their ability to switch in and out of lenses, giving them the term ‘interchangeable’. They’re quite affordable when it comes to ‘advanced’ cameras, although lenses can start get costly if you do want to buy a few to have handy. Keep in mind they’re the largest (and by largest, they still fit in your hands) in this guide, so if you wanted versatility or portability, a different option may be better.
- Mirrorless cameras: As one of our favorite camera types in the world today, mirrorless cameras have a different internal build (they don’t have a mirror like DSLR, which helps speed up the processing system as well give us way better autofocus). They’re slightly more expensive than DSLR cameras, but if you can afford one, you will not be disappointed in not only the quality and feel they give you photos and videos, but the smaller size (the lack of mirror also helps with a sleeker, compact build) as well. They too have interchangeable lenses.
- Point-and-shoot cameras: If you’re concerned with going to a concert and not being allowed in with an SLR, we highly recommend grabbing a point-and-shoot, such as a Lumix, since it fits in your pocket (typically) and you won’t be hassled by security. These look like what people used to call a classic ‘digital camera’ back in the day. They’re the smallest of the bunch and provide excellent portability (most fit in your pocket); however, they don’t have as advanced of a build as DSLR or mirrorless camera, and of course not as great of quality. They still do provide feasible photo and video quality (some even film in 4K) for those wanted to spend a bit less on their concert camera. We have a few in here for good measure.
Do you want a video camera as well? The word ‘camera’ may entail just photos or videos as well. Luckily, all of the cameras we include in here have video capability alongside their normal features. Keep in mind a few factors for this, however — what resolution do you want (4K or 1080p)? Are you going to be holding it the entire time or mounting it to a tripod? What about audio? Feel like looking into camera specifications? Number one for our use today since many live shows and concerts are indoors — a solid ISO is crucial. Read our guide on learning about ISO in cameras for more info — essentially the light that’s captured becomes adjusted in your camera and the easier it is to find a nice indoor shot. The higher you go however, the more your pictures \ video becomes a bit ‘grainy’.
Lastly, what other gear are you going to need for your show and live concert filming or photography? The main point we say this is for those who are intending on filming videos with their cameras and are concerned with the second half of capturing live events, shows and concerts: audio. Now don’t get us wrong, a lot of these cameras will give us feasible sound recording alongside our videos. However, it will by no means be professional. As we asked previously, if you are intending on filming videos and also need sound to be tip-top, look into external camera mics (it will depend on which camera you buy first, so worry about this later). You can then sync the video and audio files later in your video editing software.
The best cameras for concerts and live shows
Sony Alpha a6000
We absolutely love our a6000 that’s sitting right next to us as we type this. Sony’s camera here is a high-tech mirrorless digital camera to kick off our list that is as versatile as they come, and is our pick as the best camera for concerts, live shows, venues and more. Equipped with a 24.3MP, APS-C-sized Exmor, APS HD CMOS sensor, and BIONZ X image processor, it’s safe to say that his is a camera that will definitely provide you with some extremely high-resolution photographs that you desire during your shows. In addition to great photo specs, this camera comes with Full 1080p HD movie capabilities with marked low-light quality and ISO sensitivity of 25600. More than capable of detailing your image exactly how you want it, this is a camera that is great regardless of not only for difficult lighting but also the distance that you are from your target. Imagine being at a concert and being able to capture memories as if you are sitting front row, and you have the Sony Alpha a6000.
The zoom isn’t “crazy” but you still get enough optical zoom to capture what’s on stage from pretty far back — unless keep in mind you can buy special zoom lenses (will cost money, of course) if you were super concerned with this. Lastly, this concert camera is best known for its fast Hybrid AF (autofocus) system (one of the biggest standouts of mirrorless cameras — no need to twiddle with the lens to get your focus, and in particular for concerts, nobody wants to do that while enjoying the show). We love this pick as the best camera for concerts for a number of reasons.
Here we have a DSLR camera by Nikon that will without a doubt enable you to create the image you’re looking for. Optimal for large events when there are many distractions, the cameras incredibly sharp 20.9MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor make this camera one of the best for concerts of all kinds — although it’s a bit more expensive than our previous choice. As versatile as they come, this camera is also great for adventure seekers and world travelers too since the lighting compatibility with it is amazing. On top of it all, and for this cost we’d hope for something like this — you have 4K UHD recording at 30fps — perfect for those who were concerned with having the best quality videos of their concerts.
You can also use the 10 fps Shooting for Up to 200 Frames feature, not to mention the 3.2″ tilting touchscreen LCD is easy to handle if you feel like adjusting some settings in between songs. Lastly, built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC help with easy uploading after the show, or even during if you want to sync it with your phone and upload a pic or two on Facebook, Twitter or IG. If you are looking for breath-taking, sharp, detailed photos that not only come from a high-resolution sensor, but also a 4-image processor to handle all of your data cleanly, you will find it in the Nikon D500.
The X-T10 enables photographers to now have a compact high-quality camera that comes with 920K-dot tilting LCD, as well as great dials for better operation. This light-weighted camera features a real-time viewfinder which provides options that offer a whole new set of choices when it comes to adjusting your photo to how you want it to look. There are also a few other features we feel standout from other picks: an advanced ‘auto mode’ for some intelligent, fully automatic shooting for less hassle, built-in flash, 920K-dot tilting LCD screen for easy navigation, as well as 16.3MP (X-Trans CMOS II image sensor with ultra sonic vibration cleaning system).
The top plate of the camera comes with three precision-milled aluminum dials that gives the camera the optimal feel and also allows the photographer to adjust shutter speed as well as the shooting functions. This is an underrated quality when it comes to digital cameras as now you can solely focus your concentration on the picture. Long story short, if you are looking for a camera to do all of the dirty work for you, don’t look any further than the Fujifilm X-T10, because this another great pick as the best camera for concerts and live shows.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
The 5D Mark III is another one of our favorite choices as the best camera for live performances and is a high-performance, full frame, high-resolution camera that is a great choice for added versatility, especially in crowded settings. It was also one of our favorite picks for cameras for weddings due to the overall quality and popularity it has in the semi-professional photography world. It’s definitely a lot more expensive than the previous few picks listed prior, but hear us out first. The optical technologies that come with this camera make this truly a special camera. Firstly, it’s “full-frame”, meaning the have a lot larger sensors than normal DSLRs (equivalent to 35mm film, which is the highest you can buy before getting into $5k+ cameras). The cameras 61-Point High Density Reticular AF and its extended ISO range of 100-256000 make this a great camera choice for weddings and one of the best camera choices for concerts, as it is very strong for still photography with little to no hassle when using it.
In addition, the cameras highly capable video technology (although only at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) 60fps and not 4K like a few others) enable the camera to have many more options as you can now film your favorite moments with extremely high-quality footage just as you would expect from your photographs. With the cameras 22.3 Megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor, and its DIGIC 5+ Image Processor, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a pick equipped to deliver enhanced sharpness and does a great job of displaying the meticulous attention to detail that you are probably shooting for. It’s worth the money if you have it, although we’d recommend this one for those who are concerned with photographs and not just video.
Panasonic Lumix LX10
Let’s talk point-and-shoot cameras now. Built to deliver from any and every angle, the Large 1” 20-megapixel sensor and beautiful LEICA lens offers great brightness with added colors that will make your live show picture come out super clear and warm. This compact camera is also equipped with a whopping 4K Ultra HD resolution video recording allowing you to also film your moments in live form, making this one of the best cameras for concert goers, shows, and large presentations who need power in a smaller size. A lens-mounted control ring enables DSLR-type exposure and its compact body should not fool you as this is also a very durable camera that will be hard to break down.
If you are in the photography business or just looking for a professional grade camera that can be held in one hand and carried in your pocket (not really recommended but why not?, we’ve all done it), this is one that will certainly provide the image quality of your amazing show memories that you are looking to emulate. The Panasonic Lumix LX10 is a great option as the best camera for concerts for those need versatility and extra portability, not to mention film some videos in 4K to etch those songs in stone.
Blackmagic Design Production Camera
Let’s talk something a bit more professional, and only geared towards those concerned with supreme video for concerts. The camera by Blackmagic Design has a compact design that comes with an EF Compatible Lens Mount that will enable you to choose better quality optics to elevate your ability to take advantage of its large Super 35 sensor. This is a camera that appears a bit too small to be considered a professional grade camera, however when you dig a little bit deeper, it’s not hard to see the high-tech features that make this little guy a force to be reckoned with. Designed with world-class optics, this is a camera that is going to capture all of the finer details to create a sum of its parts picture, regardless of your event. The cameras 4K Super 35mm Sensor with its built in SSD recorder makes this one of the best concert cameras, as well as a great choice for film-making on the side.
Even more impressive, and a bit advanced for those who know about it, is the CinemaDNG RAW (4000×2160) format. You aren’t getting watered down, compressed popular file format that loses quality — you can have the raw clip to alter it as you please in post-production. The Blackmagic Design Production Camera isn’t like any other camera in here and will only be geared towards a few of you, but for those who are concerned with professional video quality, this thing is amazing. It’s unfortunately becoming more rare, but is still available if you look hard enough.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
Here we have another one of the best cameras for concerts that creates inspiring photography that appears as if professionally taken. Although larger than point-and-shoots and mirrorless cameras, the body is quite lightweight and waterproof, and although not recommended to splash at will, can help in the long run for longevity. A few other features we love: an advanced 5-axis image stabilization mechanism, full 1080p HD video, 10fps sequential shooting, a nifty 81-point selectable autofocus, and Wi-Fi compatibility. The cameras ‘Touch and Swivel LCD monitor’ offers the user to have easily accessed variable angle positioning, making those tricky shots a whole lot easier to access.
One of the most convenient features, especially for those of you beginners, is the cameras highly advanced autofocus and manual focus options that does a great job of capturing fast paced events. Sporting events and concerts are great uses to put this camera into action, as it’s autofocus will do a great job of grabbing the details. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II comes as a nice alternative in between a point-and-shoot and DSLR and could be just the right pick for you — it’s not too expensive, either, landing in the middle price-point of this guide.
Sony a7S II
Here’s another brilliant Sony mirrorless camera that makes it’s ranks as the best camera for concerts for quite a few reasons. The cameras extra sensitivity, wide dynamic range, and accurate focusing makes this bring us top-notch performance and pinpoint accuracy. The a7S II is specifically great for live performances as it has been created with all of the required details that enable it to be considered first in its class.
The cameras 35 mm full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor and 12.2 megapixels are just a few numerical specs to keep in mind, but what’s more impressive is the video capabilities: UHD 4K at 30fps & 1080p at 120fps recording. The image stabilization in this one is also quite unmatched — 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE is a specific feature that allows the camera to look for five types of shaking that may occur and even it out (yes, it’ll happen at a concert of course), helping build our confidence when using it at times hectic live events. allow for a high-resolution camera that will be sure to capture your required lighting. In addition, the camera offers a BIONZ X image processing engine that goes the extra mile in realizing the detail in which you are seeking, especially for minimizing any outside noise while filming your movies. This camera is one of the best in the business, so don’t be surprised if you find that your next professional photographs are taken by a Sony a7s II.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7
Nearing the end of our guide, Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-G7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that offers great image quality, especially for its compact nature and light-weight feel. Let this camera take over for you, as its unambiguous autofocus enables the user to have a simplified time detailing the photographs in which they are searching for. The combination of great fast-paced autofocus, three 4K ultra HD video pause and save modes, DSLM image quality, as well as Wi-Fi sharing for easy uploading of your memories makes this a popular one among digital camera heads.
This is a pick that is particularly creative for shows, concerts, music festivals as it offers not only a conveniently compact design, but also an interchangeable lens and additional accessory options for added versatility. In terms of specs, you have 16.8MP, SD memory card compatibility (also SDHC, SDXC), as well as a micro four thirds mount. We also love the expandable screen as you can see in the photo, a feature that isn’t necessarily a must but one that we feel stands out since DSLR’s cannot do this and it gives us the style of an old-fashioned camcorder. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 is just another great pick as the best live show camera for those concerned with not only photo quality but video capabilities as well.
Last but not least, we wanted to end the guide on a high note, and here we have quite the beast. When it comes to precision and world-class quality, this is a full-frame DSLR camera that is optimally positioned as one of the best cameras out there not just for concerts or performances, but really anything you can think of in the professional photography world. If you are looking for a speedy, incredibly precise camera that is more than well equipped to emulate one of a professional photographer, you can find it in Nikon’s D5. Its main features include it’s FX-format 20.8 MP, full frame, CMOS sensor and EXPEED 5 image processor, setting itself apart from other high-tech cameras out there. A large sensitivity range that is budgeted up to the most we’ve seen in this guide at 3280000, which is perfect for any type of lighting you’ll face in the live show realm.
Not to mention the 4K UHD for video creators, this camera truly exemplifies durability and versatility. Incorporating a whopping 99 cross-type sensors for even better accuracy, this camera truly lets you take away the stress of obtaining the shots that you are looking for. Here with the Nikon D5 you will find a professional camera that is more than worth the price if your budget is higher than most in the world searching for a guide like this. It’s famous in the professional photography world and isn’t for those who just need a camera for concerts, but one that will set up a career in photography and videography.