Because of my switch to shooting mainly film due to the sudden absence of digital cameras in my lineup I needed to check wether concerts are still doable with the gear and option available to me.
THE WEIGTH and THE WANTON BISHOPS played a gig in the Arena Wien and so this presented the perfect opportunity to see how far I can go in an all analog way.
I decided to go with the Bronica ETRs – a 645 medium format camera with manual focus – as the size of the negative promised quite good grain in these situations. With it’s 50mm f2.8 lens – which has roughly a 35mm field of view in 135 Format terms – it seemed like quite a good fit for the task at hand.
As for emulsion I went with the Kodak Portra 400. The internet seems to be quite convinced that this film pushes beautifully – and that’s just what i needed to do. At EI3200 i ran with a shutterspeed of 1/60th and hoped for the best. The comfortably fact that film handles overexposure very well allowed me to just dont care when the lights turned up suddenly. On digital I used to dial the shutterspeed around alot due to changing light. On film I just expose for the darkest scene and let the light flood the film. It only gets better with more light – no clipped highlights.
So: how did that all go?
50:50 i would say. The camera was the wrong pick: Manual Focus, 645 Format (and with it shallow depth of field) and lowlight don’t go that well together. Also the flare on the 50mm was majestic – but those old coatings are just not up to today’s standard when it comes to preserve contrast in a situation when a light source is nuking the optical chain. On the other hand i find the film performed superbly: The grain is totally acceptable for my standards and one bears in mind that this is low light colour photography. Considering the fact that digital has all trumps in its hand for concert photography (better shadow detail, but highlight clip, modern sensors, AF designed to chase squirrels on speed), film photography totally works for concerts – given the right camera and the right film.
My next step will be to load up my Canon EOS 3 with this emulsion, get me somewhere a halfway decent lens for the system (which was purged in favor for the Fuji X-System) and just do this whole thing again.
The images were scanned using the Epson V600.