Les Miserables at The Mac would certainly be a challenge but I specialise in Theatre and Drama Photography. I know that for some this can be seen as a bold claim. But this is how i started off in photography, almost 10 years ago.
I started with a little Fuji bridge camera and had no appreciation for points like full frame or cropped sensors, the difference those made as well in these environments as well as things like high ISO noise or depth of field. Les Miserables at The Mac would be a tough job.
The tricky thing about theatre photography is that the space is usually dark, unevenly lit with fast moving subjects.
To get a decent shutter speed to make sure the subjects are sharp you need to increase the ISO. Easy. But on many budget cameras with cropped sensors the more noise on the image. This means blacks and blues look like they have static. One of the main things with full frame sensors (or FX) is that they are much bigger, 35mm in fact. As a result of the extra size there is less ‘static’ or noise in the image.
This performance was rather unusual in terms of time scales. Les Miserables at The Mac would be something different.
The premiere show was Friday 3rd August 2012. This its self is not unusual but considering the performers were only cast 5 days previously is an exceptional feat that they were able to pull of this show!
Another important ingredient is aperture. Even shooting at a high ISO of 3200 plus, shutter speeds still will be relatively low. To help this the aperture of the lens needs to be as big as possible. F2.8 is good, but F1.8 or lower is better. On pro zoom lenses you will have to settle with F2.8. To get anything lower you will need to move to prime lenses.
I use the mighty Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 lens. Couple this with the Nikon D3s and low noise at high ISO and you have a winning combination!
I really have to take my hat of to the kids at Music Theatre 4 Youth and the staff around them. To put on Les Miserable at The Mac within a week and do it well is a true testament to the skill of the performers.