Somewhere in the previous week I took an afternoon to photograph a bunch of marketing images for the folks at Esther's Follies. EF is a live theater located right smack dab in the middle of Sixth Street (the Austin eq. of New Orlean's Bourbon St.) and they specialize in hilarious satire skits of current politics, Texas archetypes, weird reality televison shows and much, much more. The writing is biting and witty. The cast is wild and pretty. And they have Ray. He does incredible magic tricks. Think David Copperfield only better and smarter.
I tossed a bunch of lights in the car and headed downtown but when I got there we decided to do all the shots with the stage lights. I brought along the Sony a57 and the Sony a77 with the idea that I'd end up using the a57 if we went low light. I pretty much ended up shooting everything at ISO 800 and using both cameras. Weird revelation: If you expose corrrectly there's a lot less noise in the a77 files that we're led to believe. And the a57 files are clean at 800, given the same care of exposure.
Live theater rocks. If you're in Austin you owe it to yourself to check them out:
I used two different zooms on this job. I used the remarkable and amazing 16-50mm 2.8 and I used a worn and dusty Minolta 24-85mm lens. Both of them were more than adequate. The former is sharper overall than the later but unless you are pixel peeping like a maniac I don't think you notice much difference, if your technique is sound....
If you want to get good practice comping, riding exposure and focusing on the fly then find an exuberant and energy filled theater group to work for. Get your cameras set up and then dive right in and start making photographs real time. It's tougher and funner than it generally looks.... And I've got to say that auto exposure is a non starter with a predominantly black background.