As you can probably see, I love taking photos at concerts. I haven’t always had my DSLR on me, though, and I certainly didn’t start off with taking my DSLR to concerts. Sometimes, you’ve got to make the best with your point and shoot camera (aka the lens does not come off). Just remember, concerts are a hard situation for any camera, but especially for your point and shoot. There are a few tricks you can do, though, to get better shots.
Get a decent camera. Sorry folks, but that $100 5x zoom camera is not going to do you any good. You might as well not even bring it, to be honest. There are plenty of moderately priced point and shoot cameras available. I’d look for something with high zoom (at least 10x, but truly the more, the better) and good low-light handling. In my own experience Sony camera’s have excellent low-light software, so I recommend the mid- to higher-priced Sony’s. Nikon and Canon are direct competitors of Sony and have very similar models. I’d expect to spend about $250 for a decent point and shoot that can handle the tough situation of a concert. Now, onto when you’re actually at the concert.
Get as close as possible. Seems easy enough, right? Get as close to the stage as you can. You’ll get the better light, which is most important. If you have a high zoom on your camera, use it! BUT do not go past your optical zoom and into digital zoom. Digital zoom is when it just enlarges the pixels and makes it a gross blurry mess. This is one of those times where the 20x zoom and up can come in very handy.
Don’t use flash. Ever. Ever, ever, EVER! If you’re close, this will just wash the musicians out (and I imagine it’s just plain irritating to them). If you’re more than 5 feet away, it’s just going to light up the peoples heads in front of you and all the dust particles in the air. The flashes on point and shoots are not meant to go very far, so it’s actually best to turn it off.
Automode probably won’t cut it. Use the different scene to figure out what works best. Sometimes sport works well. Sometimes low-light portraits work well. It really depends on the situation and your cameras capabilities. Don’t be afraid to test out the different modes to see what comes out best. I usually do this during the openers, so when the headliners come on, I’m ready.
Keep it steady. Try to keep your arms and camera in as much as possible. Use your own body to stabilize your shot. This will produce clearer, more in focus photos. I know it’s tempting to hold your camera way above your head and shoot, but it’s not likely you’ll get any good photos that way.
Don’t take photos the whole time. As a courtesy to those around you, don’t have your camera out the whole time. Right at the beginning is perfectly fine, but then take some breaks and just enjoy the concert. I know when I’m actually taking photos, I have to concentrate more on enjoying the show, so put it down for a bit and just have fun!
I hope this post helped out a little bit. Low-light, fast moving concerts are seriously the hardest things for a point and shoot. It’s really a lot of hit and miss when you’re taking photos at one. Keep trying, mess with your settings and use your camera as a tool to get the shot you want. The camera does a pretty good job at guessing what you’re taking a picture of, but it’s not all-knowing. You will have to invest a little bit more money into a better camera (pay attention to how it handles ISO and noise, as well as the zoom capabilities) and more time into learning how to use it properly in a concert situation. It’s definitely worth it, though, when you’ve got shots from your epic concert to cherish forever.