Choosing the right camera settings for concert photography can be difficult, even for experienced music photographers.
As a concert photographer, here's some of the major camera setting that I recommend for shooting live music:


When you're shooting music, manual exposure is the ideal mode most of the time. The variable of contrast ranges of a typical stage performance can easily trick the camera - from bright stage lights to deep shadows. Shooting in manual exposure will let you stay locked into that front-lighting rather than using automatic settings.


f/2.8 or less. The reason is simple: it lets more light into the camera, and allows you to use a faster shutter speed to freeze motion and/or a lower ISO to increase the sharpness. Which brings us to the next topic:


When I get to photograph rock shows in a big arena, I will aim for something around 1/500 or faster, as it is a luxury I usually can afford when the lighting allows it for shows of this size. These productions are normally very well lit, and I can then use a lower ISO, faster shutter speed and f/2.8 on my aperture.
For smaller venues, I might have to lower my threshold for shutter speed. We need to allow as much light in to the camera as possible and might have to risk getting some motion blur. I try to be as careful as possible to not make the motion blurs too obvious. This is somethings you need to take into consideration. For photographing drummers and freezing their moves, I try to aim for a shutter speed of 1/1000 or faster, while a slow moving vocalist may let you get away with 1/100 or even slower.


Any modern full-frame or APS-C camera should deliver very good quality up to ISO 3200, if not ISO 6400.
My own personal preference is to shoot in the 1600-6400 when possible as with the cameras I use, this range is a good balance between higher sensitivity and image quality.All this said, I would never hesitate to crank up the ISO to whatever produces the best exposure.

And last but not least: ALWAYS SHOOT IN RAW :-)

So to recap:
Exposure Mode: ManualA
perture: Wide Open
Shutter Speed: 1/200 or faster (relative)
ISO: 1600-3200 (or whatever gets the job done)
File format: RAW

DØMT @ Vaterland, Oslo 08.03.2020