You actually sing the title of this entry to the music of Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear the Reaper. Last weekend I had the terrific opportunity to photograph the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra. Part self serving and also part helping a non-profit by giving them some stock photography for various uses. I was very pleased with the results. The full set of photos is located on my pro-photo site or by clicking on any image below.
I went in armed with my Nikon D7000, a Nikon 24-70 f2.8, a Nikon 70-300 VR and a bag full of flashes, stands and umbrellas. I also had my backup gear in the car. Since I was going to take photos during during rehearsal I was initially thinking I would be able to use some supplemental flash to help things along. In my head I was fearing high ISO and mentally only wanted to go as high as 800 for an upper limit. Of course I was thinking D90/D300, but the D7000 is just so fantastic and has usable ISO to 6400 in the right circumstances.
Everyone says get glass first and I did with my 24-70, but really you have to pick your own poison. f2.8 to f5.6 is one stop. ISO 800 to ISO 6400 is 3 stops. Of course there are other motivations on glass, but if you don’t plan on shooting everything at 2.8, the high ISO will pay off in spades.
When I started shooting the orchestra I realized quickly that anything I had planned was out the window. I didn’t use the flash once. It just wasn’t going to work for what was going on. Instead I had to rely on a high ISO. I started out shooting manual at ISO 1250 and also took a bunch of photos in Aperture and Shutter priority. If you look at the ISO 6400 photo below, you will see even that is quite good and that was only using +20 luminance noise reduction in Lightroom (BTW this photo did not make the cut due to motion blur, but if you click on it you will see the one that did). Thats 3 stops over the ISO 800 that was my target.
Oh yeah, and you did read that right. A Nikon 70-300 VR (f4.5-5.6) strategically trying to keep it under 200mm for sharpness. If you have been reading my blog for any time you know a 70-200 is on the list, but I’m still so happy that I upgraded from a D90 to a D7000 first. The 70-200 would give me one stop better (in addition to a bunch of other things), but the ISO gave me more wiggle room overall. The 70-200 is still on the list once Nikon fixes its new pricing model, or possibly a Sigma 70-200 OS, as I used one at APMS with very good results.