While it’s true that camera gear is only as good as the photographer using it, a photographer can also by limited by the equipment he uses. Concerts are an incredibly difficult environment in which to shoot; the lighting is poor, you’re shooting in low light, you have to fight for space in a cramped photo pit (or worse, at the soundboard!). Sometimes, you won’t even have a pit, and are stuck in the middle of the crowd. Because of these factors, you need equipment that can, not only produce great photography in low light, but also withstand the occasional beer spill.
Nikon D600 (with battery grip)
The Nikon D600 was the first of the “affordable” full-frame (FX) cameras produced by Nikon. Because of the larger sensor, the D600 is able to take images with greater clarity, and vibrance, especially in low light.
Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8
Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR II
Tamron 2x extender
With the exception of the Tamron extender (which isn’t strictly a lens), the two Nikkor lenses listed are considered to be the best focal lengths for concert photography. At 24 mm, the lens is wide enough to get solid group shots of the band on stage, or a full-body shot if the artist is close to the lip of the stage, while 200mm can zoom in far enough to get pictures of the drummer, or head shots of the artist on stage.
The 2x extender (a holdover from when I was still using Tamron lenses) doubles the focal length of my 70-200, giving me 400mm of reach, which is a must have when shooting from the soundboard (because a 400mm 2.8 lens can cost well over $10,000).
It’s always the smaller items that can make or break things for you. They’ll be outlined here.
BlackRapid Cargo Strap
The camera strap is what the camera hangs off of. Most cameras will come with one, but lots of third party companies manufacture their own. I’m a fan of the BlackRapid strap, as there is no weight on my neck from the traditional strap; I especially like the Cargo, because of the compartments that it has. I can store extra memory cards inside, and ear plugs in the cell phone pocket (the cell phone pocket on the strap is designed for iPhone; alas, I’m an Android user).
Mentioned above. I use high fidelity ear plugs, which can easily be found online, or at music stores. The pair I use cost me $20, but I’ve been able to rest my head against the speaker stack with these on, without any ringing in my ears.