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Brandon - Thanks. What I was trying to illustrate here for Dave was that lenses sometimes can make a difference, but how you use them matters as well. Dynamic framing and expression are really important for great performance shots and more often than not, tighter is better. When I shoot these types of images, I'm really trying to convey the feeling and mood of the music through a different medium, which isn't all that easy. Performers, at least these ones were never still for even a moment, so capturing that micro-second that tells the story and is still acceptably sharp is never easy. The last shot of Tom was only 1/60th with a 200mm 1.8 and the 1.4 on top. A 60th with a 280mm is not easy when people are moving, but it can be done. Same with Dawn's ass - just enough movement to tell the story but sharp enough to keep it interesting. I've literally got another thousand of this band and more of the current bands Gee plays with.
I would say to Dave that getting to know the groups is the best advice. I'm treated as part of the band wherever we go and whenever I can, I try to befriend the lighting technician to have him/her work the lights in my favor. We're really at their mercy and some many clubs are beyond dismal in regards to lighting, with the worst being the ones that are changing every third of a second or timed to the beat. Other clubs like The El Rey Theater here in L.A. have some of the best stage lighting I've ever seen - the shot of Joel Easton playing his one-string slide.
Most of what I shoot in clubs is on a carbon Gitzo with an RRS-55 set pretty loose, so I can have the support but also be able to move at will. I'm also using single point AF points chosen with the thumb toggle switch and every AF lens and converter combo has been AF Micro Adjusted to each 1DsIII body.
I'm not so much about a lot of heavy lifting in post with images shot at 1600 ISO. They really fall apart fast if you need to open them up too much, but I am fully about processing at least three different tiffs from the RAW and blending them to their best advantage in Ps. No reason not to try and pull the most out of each image. Canon hi iso files have a lot of magenta-green color noise that needs to be dealt with. The luminance noise doesn't bother me nearly as much
It also might be interesting to see how auto-bracketing is going to work with the new cameras hitting the market soon. Think about a 1Dx shooting a five shot bracket in under half a second. In any event, I'm very curious to see how the 1Dx and/or 5DIII perform in real world minimal lighting situations and not the test images we've seen floating around the web so far.