Capturing the NAMM Show with a Canon EOS 7D

February 24, 2010

Photo Gear

Dave Wilson, a.k.a. DPE’s Computer Wiz Kid at Heart, takes pictures and plays guitar – like myself and many of our photographer friends, including Scott Kelby!

In this post, Dave, who is the developer of my 24/7 Photo Buffet app, shares his experience at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show, where he took some pictures and videos . . . and heard some great music. Take it away Dave!

The Event
My son, Steve, and I recently attended the NAMM Show, a gigantic music product trade show held every January at the Anaheim Convention Center near Disneyland. We attend each year because we love being surrounded by great musicians, cool guitars, new music software and hardware, and live rock and roll.

Rick Sammon loaned me his Canon EOS 7D so we could take photos and movies. I used my Tamron 18-270 mm zoom lens as the only lens. It’s not Canon glass, but it’s extremely versatile. The combination did a great job, as you’ll see. Everything was shot handheld, usually at an ISO between 1600 and 6400. We carried two 8GB Compact Flash cards, which was not enough storage. They would have been fine for the hundreds of RAW images, but we also took movies! Movies eat cards! You cannot have too much storage for movies.

Live Music

There  are free shows all over the place every day, including the NAMM lobby (pictured above). How cool!

Show Floor

Our favorite booth was the Paul Reed Smith booth. He makes great guitars, and is an excellent guitarist and cool guy. PRS Guitars sponsored a bunch of free, live shows. One show featured great young blues guitarist Davy Knowles, along with wonderful blues singer Amy Keys. This photo of Ms. Keys is from a RAW file with the ISO set at 3200. For this kind of dimly-lit room, you either need an f/2 lens, or high ISO, or both. Since my lens does not gather much light, we needed high ISO.

Outrageous Rocker

Paul Reed Smith provided two free shows featuring Ted Nugent, a great guitarist and really funny guy. His politics, of which he is quite proud and vocal, are way to the right of Attila the Hun, but man, can he rock! Again, we needed ISO 3200 for the up-close-and-personal photos. We also needed to shoot RAW, because music-show lighting is all over the map. I had to correct the color balance for every photo in Adobe Camera RAW.

I’m not saying that Steve and I had good seats, but I walked on stage and high-fived Ted after he played a great version of Johnny B. Goode. A show highlight was a guitar shoot-out between Ted Nugent and Paul Reed Smith. The prize at issue cannot be described in polite company, but the show was hilarious. Ted Nugent, is always R-rated, by the way.

Click here to see a short video we shot of Ted and Paul Reed Smith playing Cat Scratch Fever.

We set the 7D to the lower HD setting for 720p videos (rather than 1280p) to save card space. The good news was that the EOS 7D took good movies. But they were not as good as they should have been for three reasons:
1.    I didn’t fine tune the color balance before taking movies (I’ve been spoiled by correcting RAW photos later).
2.    The camera’s microphone overloaded on live rock and roll. We had an external mic, but didn’t learn how to set the 20 DB pad until too late. You need to pad the incoming audio to keep it from clipping.
3.    We didn’t manually close down the aperture, which means that the depth of focus was often too limited. The 7D doesn’t autofocus movies, and it’s too hard to do it well manually. Better to have a smaller aperture.

The Canon EOS 7D, coupled with the Tamron 18-270 zoom, was a great combination. It did everything we asked of it. And the NAMM Show was awesome.

P.S. Rick: Thank you for loaning me your Canon 7D!

This post was written by:

- who has written 171 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Canon Explorer of Light Rick Sammon has published 36 books, including Exploring the Light and Digital Photography Secrets.

When asked about his photo specialty, Rick says, “My specialty is not specializing.”

You can follow Rick on twitter at and visit his website at

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One Response to “Capturing the NAMM Show with a Canon EOS 7D”

  1. Sean McCormack Says:

    Hey Rick,
    Even with the pad you’d still be subject to the awful AGC on Canon’s HD-DSLRs. It’s a real pain. I’m recording separately with a Zoom H4n instead.


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