Concert photography can be a lot of fun and give you many opportunities for amazing shots, which is why it’s vital that you have the best lens for concert photography in your kit. 

There are many lens options to choose from, and you’ll likely want more than one lens for any concert photography you end up doing, but the good news is that there are multiple high-quality options that make shooting a concert a breeze.

Photo by Wendy Wei Licensed Under CC0

Top Zoom Lenses for Concert Photography

Finding the best lenses for concert photography can help you capture memorable shots in any level of light, and having a good quality zoom lens is essential. If you can only have one zoom lens in your kit, we recommend shooting with one of these for any kind of concert photography.

Canon

Canon is a well-known brand in the photography world, and they have a few excellent lens options you’ll want to check out:

  • Canon EF 70 200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
  • Canon EF 16 35mm f/2.8L III

The Canon EF 70 200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is one of the go-to lenses for concert photography and festivals where you may be shooting in low light conditions. Using the Canon EF 70 200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, you can typically get the performer’s full body at 70mm, but at 200mm, you can get crisp headshots. 

Other excellent features of the Canon EF 70 200mm f/2.8L IS II USM include the inner focusing system with the manual focus option and it’s compatibility with 77mm filters.

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III is best suited for a smaller stage or performances where you want to capture multiple members. This full-frame lens allows for a wide-angle shot at 16-35mm, which is necessary if you’re going to catch a little bit of the artist, the crowd, and the stage set up in a single shot.

Tamron

Tamron has several lens options suitable for concert photography, and we recommend the following options:

  • Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 DI-II VC PZD
  • Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD GEN 2

The Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD GEN 2 is an excellent option for when you are farther from the stage, which is where 400mm comes in handy. If you’re too close, you’ll end up with more of the crowd than you might want, and this option works best with reasonably good lighting.

Sigma

Sigma offers two lenses to consider, and both of them are part of the Art series:

  • Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens (Canon EF Mount)

The Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 DG HSM Art is a full-frame option with excellent autofocus that is both fast and silent. This lens has a mostly metal body and a smooth focus ring in addition to a constant aperture ratio of f/2 but manages to avoid certain pitfalls of this type of lens, such as distortion or chromatic aberration.

Other Worthy Options

We’ve covered many of the best lenses from popular brands, but there are more zoom lenses out there that are equally good. If you want to be a concert photographer, you might want to consider having one of these in addition to one of the lenses we’ve already covered:

  • Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR
  • Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II
  • Sony FE 24-70mm f2.8 G Master

The Sony FE 24-70mm f2.8 G Master is an excellent option because it’s water-resistant, dust resistant, and features a metal body. You’ll also get the most realistic shades, high powered zoom, and fast autofocus at a performance with this model. 

Despite how bulky it is, there’s a maximal aperture that allows you to get fantastic images with almost no lighting, and you won’t have to mess with your exposure settings very often, either.

For a mid-priced option, the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II offers a convenient manual or auto slip ring and excellent sharpness between 12 and 16mm. This model has a relatively short focal range compared to other designs, but it doesn’t suffer from zoom creep, and it works well in poor lighting with an aperture at f/2.8.

Top Prime Lenses You Need

Photographing a concert well requires more than just a zoom lens, although you can get away with a minimal number of lenses for concert photography in general. Below are the brands and prime lenses we recommend for shooting any kind of gig photography that involves minimal light, moving subjects, and other challenges.

Canon

When it comes to prime lenses, we recommend the following options from Canon:

  • Canon 35mm f1.4 L USM II (Canon EF)
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is an excellent prime lens choice when a performer is in particularly poor lighting, and this lens works well because it lets in the light you so desperately need in those situations. To gather this much light, you might have to sacrifice some of the focal length, but this is the best lens for concert photography in poor lighting at an affordable price.

Sigma

Sigma’s Art series of lens options offer an excellent aperture between f/1.2 and f 2.8 for low light conditions, and we recommend these options:

  • Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art (Canon EF)
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art
  • Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

For outdoor performances, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art outshines other options as its composite material resists temperatures, and it comes with a petal lens and soft case. This modern piece of hardware is part of their Art line and features a unique design concept with silent operation and an autofocus feature that is super fast and accurate.

The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro is an excellent option for capturing super vivid colors, and while there’s a little vignetting noticeable at an aperture of f 2.8, it’s not terrible. This model does provide optimal sharpness across the entire image, even on the edges, and the optical stabilization is excellent.

Other Worthy Options

The best lens for concert photography is one that provides the easy-to-use features you need to get memorable shots in these uniquely challenging conditions. We’ve covered some popular options, but below you’ll find other excellent lenses for concert video and beginner concert photography:

  • Sony Zeiss 50mm f1.4 (Full Frame E Mount)
  • Fujifilm Fujinon Lens XF 35mm f/2 R WR
  • Samyang SY14M-C 14 mm f/2.8
  • Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8

If you are focused on minimizing distortion but capturing colors well, the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 is affordable and multi-purpose but does tend to suffer from chromatic aberrations. It’s not a modern design, but it does include the design basics found in hardware from industry leaders at a much lower price point.

Photo by Luis Quintero Licensed Under CC0

How To Choose Lenses

When you’re shooting at a festival or other performance, you want to make sure you have the best lenses in your kit for low light conditions. Capturing these moments means you’ll need to consider your lens options carefully and choose a lens with the best of these features:

  • An autofocus system and intuitive manual focus
  • A fast shutter speed
  • A large aperture without sacrificing too much focal length or shutter speed

Finding the best camera that works with your lens is often a matter of what hardware you’re used to using and if you want to capture video during the concert. Beginners might want to stick to concert photography before branching out to video to get used to shooting with a variety of lenses and the other unique challenges present.

You’ll also want to consider the additional accessories and equipment you’ll need, such as an SD card holder, XQD cards, body straps for your camera, and earplugs.