Music photography: the best cameras to get great gig shots

Choose the camera and kit to suit your skill level and venue

Best cameras for photographing gigs

So... You have a ticket to see your favourite band or singer performing at your local venue and you really want to take some decent pictures to remember the event by.

You've read the details printed on the back of your ticket and photography is allowed, but it says that "professional" cameras aren't. Normally this means cameras with interchangeable lenses, although bridge cameras will sometimes be disallowed too, depending on how staff at the venue interpret "professional".

The latest compact digital cameras take good pictures in low light, which makes them ideal for capturing a concert from the crowd.

Best cameras for photographing gigs

A general rule of thumb to follow to ensure you will be allowed to take your camera into the venue is that the camera should be small enough to fit in a handbag or coat pocket.

Due to the difficult lighting that can be faced, a camera that takes good images in low light, with some manual control, is often preferable. Although not completely necessary, having manual control will enable you to override the exposure, which will often be thrown wayward by the lighting used at the event.

Because you may be unable to get physically close to the stage, a good zoom with image stabilisation is also something to look out for.

The following cameras should be able to do a decent job of capturing the scene at a concert from the crowd. However, it is worth noting that if the lighting isn't favourable, almost every compact camera will struggle.

Canon Powershot SX230 HS

Best cameras for photographing gigs

Price: £200/$250

Specs: 14.1MP, 1080p video, 14x image stabilised zoom

Sporting a 14x Image Stabilised lens, a 14.1MP rear-illuminated CMOS sensor and some manual control, this camera promises to be ideal for taking images at a concert from the crowd, due to its performance at high ISO sensitivities. The slim, compact design shouldn't raise too many eyebrows from staff at venues, either.

Read our full Canon Powershot SX230 HS review

Fuji Finepix X10

Best cameras for photographing gigs

Price: £400/$600

Specs: 12MP EXR sensor, 1080p video, 4x zoom with bright f/2-2.8 aperture

Although this camera doesn't offer the zoom range of others mentioned here, the 12MP EXR sensor, coupled with the fast f/2-2.8 lens, make this camera ideal for taking images in low light conditions. The excellent build quality should help the camera to survive the rough and tumble of a concert crowd, too.

Read our full Fuji Finepix X10 review

Panasonic Lumix TZ30/ZS20

Panasonic TZ30

Price: £329/$349

Specs: 14.1MP, 1080p video, 20x optically stabilised zoom

Panasonic has long been synonymous with superzoom compact cameras, and its Lumix TZ30 camera should be quite well suited for capturing live music from the crowd, thanks to its 20x optically stabilised zoom and an aperture priority mode. The touch AF and shooting modes should make shooting with the camera held high a little easier too.

Read our full Panasonic Lumix TZ30/ZS20 review