Paul McCartney in Booklyn, NY 9/19/17
Probably the concert of a lifetime – 3rd row, center section seats to see Paul McCartney.
I had been looking forward to this show for a long time. I was anxious to see what kind of shots I could get at that close a range. To shoot the concert, I rented the Sony a7rii – the same camera I used for Peter Gabriel and Sting last summer. Although I had my issues with the camera for that concert, I thought the photos were outstanding – some of the best I had every taken – so I had high hopes for being just as successful with McCartney. The final results – mixed.
Can’t Hold The Sony a7rii Vertically – What?
You probably won’t believe me, but as I started shooting, I naturally turned the camera portrait-wise to get a full-frame shot of McCartney, but this hung the camera. A notice appeared in the viewfinder to power cycle the camera, but that didn’t work. I had to remove the battery, wait a few seconds, then reinstall the battery and turn the camera back on. It took several iterations before I realized that rotating the camera caused the problem. I even tried turning the camera in the opposite direction, but had the same results – complete lock up. So, I stopped rotating the camera the rest of the night.
The downstream effects from the lockup issue was that I lost a bunch of the custom settings I made to the camera. The most significant was losing the MOVIE start button. Every time I removed the battery, I had to reprogram the custom button settings to get the MOVIE button back. You can imagine how painful it was to have to stare into the viewfinder to navigate the menu system instead of watching the concert. My friend put it best – “For crying out loud, there was a Beatle on stage!”
I didn’t realize it until I got home, but the settings for recording video were lost when I restarted the camera, thus, all the footage I captured was in HD and not 4K. Disappointing to say the least. The footage looked great, but it would have sweet to see in 4K. I’ve included the videos in this post. The 5-axis stabilization in the Sony a7rii is very impressive. I was using a 200mm lens, and the shake is quite minimal making for very watchable footage.
This is always a touchy subject – what focus mode to set the camera in. I played with all the modes during the show. I thought I got the best results from AF-C (continuous) and focus area Wide. I had high hopes for Flexible Spot-M, but I found that that camera was just getting lost and, worse, I found it difficult to get the subject back in focus. I programmed the camera for Back Focus. Thankfully this customization did NOT go away when the camera locked up.
I had high hopes for using aperture priority mode and setting a minimum shutter speed for when the camera should take over and change the ISO for exposure. However, the camera really couldn’t deal effectively with harsh, contrasting lighting. In the end, I set the exposure manually and let ISO be auto. That worked great. It guaranteed no blurry pictures.
Battery Usage – Good!
I turned off the back monitor completely to maximize power. I left the camera on all night. McCartney played for almost three hours and I only went through 1 and 3/4 batteries (I brought four to the show). So that was quite a positive since I know mirrorless cameras just eat batteries. I assigned one of the custom buttons to turn on the back monitor, so it was easy to bring up to spot check a photo here and there (one of the customizations that did not reset with the camera lockup).
McCartney was Great
I know this sounds like being a fan-boy, but McCartney was great. He played almost three hours – a total of 39 songs. That’s in addition to the 50-minutes he played during the sound check. He played bass, acoustic, and electric guitars, the piano and ukulele. I hope I can be that productive at 75 years old.
I took about 2600 photos during the show. Below are the best. Enjoy!