Concert photography with the Leica M (type 240)

Nine Inch Nails lead singer Trent Reznor on stage in Copenhagen.

Nine Inch Nails lead singer Trent Reznor on stage in Copenhagen.

Last week I photographed a Nine Inch Nails concert in Copenhagen for the two Danish papers Ekstra Bladet and Politiken. 

I'd normally shoot concerts with my dslr because of the autofocus and the frame rate but this time I wanted to see what I could do with my Leica.

Whether the lag of autofocus would be an advantage or not I wasn't really sure on before the concert. It might work out great because the lighting conditions and smoke on stage can make it difficult for the camera to focus correctly but on the other hand it might be difficult to manually focus and frame fast enough with the artist moving about on stage.

The lag of a high frame rate wasn't really a big concern. Shooting with a traditional dslr I usually return home with to many photos that I never use and I've found that the "slow" frame rate of the Leica forces me to think more about what kind of situation I want to capture and what photo I want.

The Leica turned out to be a great concert camera. I brought my dslr just to be safe but I only used it for some closeups sins I currently doesn't own a telephoto lence for the Leica. 

The focusing was a bit tricky in the beginning but after having shot the first three numbers of the opening act, I'd already gotten the hang of it and was ready for the main act.
I think that it helped me get more usable photos focusing manualy, which was good since I could only shot three frames per second.

The slow frame rate (compared to a dslr) didn't prove to be a problem. I only ran in to buffer issues a couple of times and in general the buffer was adequate. It was fun to shoot more consciously, than I'd usually do. Normally I'd fire off the six frames per second of my dslr as soon as I'd see a hint of something useful on stage but now I was forced to actually look at what the artist was dooing and then decide if I wanted to capture that scene. I found that it wasn't that hard to see the good situation and capture it at the right moment using only one or two frames. I can't say I didn't miss a pic or two, but you will never not miss a good photo once in a while no matter what gear you use.

Using the viewfinder was a great experience because it gave me a clear idea of what was going on outside of the frame so I could decide if I wanted something else in my frame or not.

All in all I think the Leica M is a great camera for concerts and I'm definitely using it next time.