Concert Photography with the Nikon Z6

I was recently invited to photograph Canadian country music icon Michelle Wright, when she performed at North Battleford’s Dekker Centre. I’ve photographed many concerts over the years, including lots of quiet jazz and classical performances, where the click of my shutter seemed larger than life and hard to ignore. Now that I’ve entered the world of mirrorless photography with the Nikon Z6, I wanted to see how things would change.

Most concerts are in low-light situations, but I already knew the Z6 was more than capable of producing sharp and clean images at high ISO settings. The big question for me was the shutter noise, and the new silent photography setting.

The regular shutter of the Z6 is already noticeably quieter than Nikon DSLRs like the D850, thanks to not having to raise and lower a mirror for each exposure. There’s no loud ‘clack’ of the mirror like my older cameras, but the shutter itself still made noise. When I switched on silent photography (final menu item under Photo Shooting Menu), the camera truly became perfectly silent. I wasn’t too worried about interrupting the entire theatre with my shutter sound, but I know even a quiet shutter can be annoying for the person I’m sitting or standing behind, so the option to have the shutter be perfectly silent is a life-saver.

One other feature that came in handy was the Monitor Brightness setting. Located under the Setup Menu in Nikon’s system, I cranked the brightness all the way down to -5. That way, I was able to review photos and check focus by zooming in, all without causing a massive blue glow to suddenly appear in the crowd like someone checking their phone. I don’t shoot a ton of concerts, but if I did, I would set -5 brightness and silent photography to one of the Z6’s user setting banks (U1, U2, U3), making it easy to change all of the critical settings at once instead of fiddling around in the menu system.

One final caveat that I noted. When looking thorough the EVF, the sensor will always try to display an image that’s ‘properly’ exposed. In the case of a stage that’s 99% pitch black with brightly-lit performers in the remaining 1% of the frame, the EVF image would usually be massively too bright. This is helpful for being able to see in the dark, but it’s NOT an accurate gauge of the final exposure that you’ll record when you press the shutter.

Using Format