On his return to the stage mere months after his release from Riker's Island, Lil Wayne's I Am Still Music Tour rocked the Scottrade Center and 12,000 fans strong with support from Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Mix Master Mike and Travis Barker. Even from the soundboard, I have to say that this was a pretty spectacular show.
- Nikon D3
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR
- Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR II from BorrowLenses.com
- Nikon TC-17E II 1.7x teleconverter from BorrowLenses.com
Camera & Lens Support:
- Bogen 3021 Tripod
- Wimberley Gimbal Head from BorrowLenses.com
Lil Wayne, just like on his I Am Music Tour, was a soundboard shoot for this 2011 tour. I guess once you go soundboard, you don't go back.
Overall, production on this tour is pretty huge, with a nice LED wall behind Lil Wayne at the back of the stage and relatively plenty of spotlights on Lil Wayne himself. I say relatively, because strangely enough, Lil Wayne was the most dimly lit of all the performers on the I Am Still Music Tour (with the exception of Mix Master Mike).
I'd say that Lil Wayne's front lighting was actually a good 1 to 1 1/3-stop darker than that of the other acts of the evening. While this would not at all have been an issue with a pit shooting at f/2.8, when you factor in the huge lenses and slower f-stops used for a soundboard shoot, 1-stop of light of conventionally bright light does start to have meaning.
Regardless, Lil Wayne's setup was a good step up from his last arena tour and the LED walls behind him did a lot to add interest, especially as defocused highlights.
Renting The Big Gun
For soundboard shoots, the normal and seemingly ubiquitous 70-200mmm f/2.8 just won't even begin to do the job – not on an APS DSLR, let alone a full-frame camera like the Nikon D3.
To help close the distance, I rented the big Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR from the folks at BorrowLenses.com. However, on the full-frame Nikon D3, even 400mm isn't really sufficient for a far soundboard shoot in an arena, so I also grabbed the Nikon 1.7x teleconverter for an effective 680mm at f/4.8.
This put me at a very comfortable range, and overall I thought this was an excellent setup for this tour. The 400mm f/2.8 gave me enough reach with the 1.7x teleconverter that I had a balance between a full frame of the performers with room to crop, without being too tight that I would have been cutting off limbs or incurring massive tracking issues.
To support this combo, I used my old Manfrotto 3021 tripod and rented a Wimberley Gimbal Head from BorrowLenses.com. The gimbal head did wonders to make managing the weight of the 400mm f/2.8 as easy as possible. If you're shooting a with a super telephoto and have the luxury of a tripod for an event shoot like this, my advice is to go for a gimbal head.
BorrowLenses.com definitely provided the goods to tackle this big show – highly and effortlessly recommended the next time you have a soundboard shoot and need to rent gear!
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