Mary Bridget Davies as "Janis."
A little over a year ago I was pacing through the Zach Theatre auditorium at the technical rehearsal seeing "A Night with Janis Joplin" on stage for the first time and trying to predict where I needed to be, minute by minute, to get good photographs for marketing and promotion.
I'd purchased two Panasonic S1s and some great lenses and I had already shot the big Christmas play just before the tumble into 2020. One of the cameras I had over a shoulder was equipped with the 24-105mm f4.0 Lumix lens while the other was outfitted with the big, heavy 85mm f1.4 Sigma Art lens. The image above was done with the Sigma.
The Panasonic S1 cameras were (are) a good choice for theatrical photography because their sensors are among of the best performing when it comes to high ISOs. I was shooting the camera with the 85mm at ISO 1600 but mostly because I was interested in setting a fast shutter speed (this was at 1/400th) and I wanted to stop down just a little bit. But as I become more and more experienced with the cameras I found I have no trepidation about using them at ISO 6400 and, sometimes, even up to 12,800 ISO. The files clean up nicely. The sharpness and saturations remain good.
I really wish the theatre was back in full scale production, inside the main theater building, because I'm very interested in shooting a show with a Leica SL2 or SL on one shoulder and a Lumix S1 on the other. It would make for a great comparison between not just the image quality differences (if any) but also the overall usability of each camera.
It's one thing to walk around and point a camera at stuff that's not moving or changing much and trying to catch a live show on a stage with ever shifting lights. That, for me, is the litmus test.
The 85mm was great. Thankfully, so is the new version. And it's smaller and lighter.
Pix from rehearsal below: