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Thread: wedding lens

  1. #1

    wedding lens

    I am going to be shooting my first wedding in September followed by another one in October. I am pretty new to photography yet but they are family/friends on a budget so I agreed to do be their photographer. I have a Canon 7D that will be my main camera but then will also have a Nikon D5000 for backup/extra. I am wondering what would be the best lenses to have on the cameras. I was looking at getting a canon 1.4/50mm for portraits but I don't know if this is a good lens to use for a wedding so before I buy that, I wanted to see if there would be better options. I currently have the Canon 18-135 mm lens and the Nikon 18-55mm lens. Thanks ahead of time for any input on the matter!

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: wedding lens

    Without wishing to put a dampener on all your plans, I would urge you to read all that's been written on here about shooting weddings. If you go towards the bottom left of this page you'll see 'View Tag Cloud'. Click this and then choose Weddings. Have a read of the threads in here.

    Essentially what you'll read is that unless you have a lot of photography experience under your belt, have a comprehensive array of equipment including more than just one body; e.g. lots of backup battery and memory resources, etc etc. - don't touch weddings. You haven't mentioned in your post what lighting equipment you have.

    I notice you are also talking about having a Canon and a Nikon as back up. Are you confident about mixing makes like this?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 28th January 2011 at 07:55 AM.

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    Re: wedding lens

    a 1.4 would be good for indoor church if they dont allow flash, i am not a wedding photographer but did my mates wedding on the cheap, i used nikkor 1.4 50mm ,35-70mm for the portraits and 70-200 for the true candids,
    one tip i found useful is to get a list before the wedding of all the main shots from the couple (ie uncle tom with aunty mary ,groom with all his family, bride and groom cutting the cake etc), glad i did that because on the day the bride just went to pieces,cheers martyn

  4. #4

    Re: wedding lens

    Excellent advice from Donald. I have done a wedding with 'standard' equipment. It is stressful and highly frustrating. Even if I were inclined to do a wedding again I would not go near it without a Canon 70-200 f/2.8. In church and indoors generally you will have far too much running around to do with a 50mm prime. The other lenses simply will not cut it indoors. The mix of brands is a further hassle in what will be an already stressful day. I am not saying it cannot be done with the gear you have but for an inexperienced photographer it will be like digging the channel tunnel with a spoon. To be honest with you for the money a better combination would be a 500D and the 70-200 rather than the 7D and the 50mm.

    Having said all that you are in exactly the same position as many of have been. I agreed to do the wedding, they have no money, you have a big camera...all the usual. It is very good experience for any photographer just be very open with the couple and explain that in the worst case scenario they could end up with better photographs from the guests. I don't doubt your ability but they have to be made to understand that a big camera does not equal pro quality photographs. Once you lower their expectations you can enjoy it.

  5. #5

    Re: wedding lens

    I understand all the concerns about doing weddings without being a professional and having all the professional equipment. The people I am doing the wedding for also understand this and I agreed very hesitantly to do their weddings. As for the concern of mixing brands, I used to have the Nikon D5000 prior to getting the Canon so I am not worried about getting mixed up with the functionality differences (I am actually borrowing it back from my sister). If that's what the concern was about?
    Also, without wanting to be rude and being unappreciative of advice, my question was what lenses would be best to get for shooting a wedding taking into consideration the cameras I have-not whether or not I should be shooting the wedding in the first place. Thank you nomadr for just answering my question even though you may have been thinking the same thing as Donald And Wirefox for still incorporating an answer to my question.

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    Re: wedding lens

    a friend of my daughters wanted me to take their wedding, it was going to be huge and i didnt want the responsibility with not having done one before, in the end i agreed to go along and take some candids, it was a great experience without the pressure, i learned alot from watching the main tog, little things like placing the people in the shade and using fill flash rather than have them squinting into the sun,
    he was a bit put out with me being there but after i explained he was the main guy, i would NOT be shooting over his shoulder and if i get in the way tell me to move, he was ok after that,
    so if you can attend a wedding beforehand and see the experts in action it might help,cheers martyn

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    Re: wedding lens

    If you are going to shoot portrait indoors with low light, the 50mm f/1.4 is a pretty good lens however I find the output better if I shoot at f/2.8 and sharpest if done between f/4 and f/8. But you would need a good light source already. I would suggest you try it out at the store and compare it with the 85mm f/1.8. I find the 85mm so much better than the 50mm f/1.4 for portraits. And if you could still dig inside your pocket, go for the 100mm 2.8 But since these are primes, you have to zoom with your feet.

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    Re: wedding lens

    >>As for the concern of mixing brands, I used to have the Nikon D5000 prior to getting the Canon so I am not worried about getting mixed up with the functionality differences (I am actually borrowing it back from my sister). If that's what the concern was about
    The backup is in case one camera stops working. If that happens then all the lenses that fit the broken camera become useless. You would then want to make sure the other camera had a suitable set of lenses. In other words you need to carry twice as many lenses if you are using two camera brands.
    Last edited by Donald; 27th January 2011 at 06:54 PM. Reason: Put quotes around first section

  9. #9

    Re: wedding lens

    Also, without wanting to be rude and being unappreciative of advice, my question was what lenses would be best to get for shooting a wedding taking into consideration the cameras I have-not whether or not I should be shooting the wedding in the first place
    What a direct answer on a photographic forum...unheard of. In reality the people on this forum will have a genuine concern that you may be jumping in at the deep end. Most of us have been there so we feel duty bound to express our concern to a fellow photographer. It would be pretty dull on here if we just answered the questions asked.....check out Katy's threads

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: wedding lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    . It would be pretty dull on here if we just answered the questions asked.....check out Katy's threads
    Oh, are we meant to answer the questions asked!!

    Brenny - you are, of course, perfectly free to take on whatever photographic assignments you choose. However, as Steve has pointed out, this is site where members seek to offer constructive help and advice to fellow-members (it doesn't have to be taken). My comments were informed by two parts of your original post:
    a) You state that you are fairly new to photography and,
    b) You are asking what lenses you should use at a wedding.

    If your experience level is at the stage of you needing to ask what lenses you might want to use (and that's perfectly appropriate for a person who is fairly new to photography), then I was led to question whether you understood the demands that would be placed upon you in shooting a wedding - probably one of the most demanding assignments that a professional can face, never mind someone fairly new to photography. I think you'll find that most of the highly experienced members on here consistently say that they wouldn't touch a wedding shoot. It is a highly specialised field of photography.

    But if you feel ready for the challenge, good on you. Go for it.

    EDIT - In addition, you may find it helpful to look at how a hugely experienced professional (David Zizer) approaches the task. The webcast seminar here (you'll find Zizer's on the right hand menu bar) is primarily about lighting a wedding shoot, but he does cover what lenses he tends to go with.
    Last edited by Donald; 28th January 2011 at 07:56 AM. Reason: See above

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    Re: wedding lens

    Quote Originally Posted by brenny130 View Post
    I was looking at getting a canon 1.4/50mm for portraits but I don't know if this is a good lens to use for a wedding so before I buy that, I wanted to see if there would be better options.
    Many will suggest a fast prime like the 50/1.4 for low-light environments (like churches where flash usually isn't allowed), but the big problem with shooting wide-open (eg F1.4) is that you'll have a VERY small depth of field. Case in point; a portrait shot from 2m away - on a 7D - at F1.4 with a 50mm lens will have a depth of field of about 8cm, so you'd need to be very confident about where you're placing your AF points, or you'll end up with off-plane subjects being very out of focus.

    Personally, I'd never take a prime to a wedding shoot; they're just not versatile enough. Since the high ISO performance of modern cameras is so good, personally I'd be taking an EF24-70mm F2.8L USM & an EF70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II (by way of lenses, but also an arsenal of off-camera lighting for portions of the day where flash was permitted).

    In agreement with everybody else, I might add that the common misconception is that most (all?) non-photographers (eg brides and grooms) is that (a) they will have seen a lot of stunning wedding photos, and (b) assume that "this is what modern cameras make it easy to capture", not realising that it's actually THE most demanding type of photography that there is ... so they implicity expect something of a high quality. What completes the "recipe for disaster" is new-to-wedding photographers not realising what they're in for. It's a sink-or-swim situation. Most sink.

    I like to compare it to manned space flight in that "failure is not an option".

    PS: Wedding Photographer veteran Al Jacobs has a good section on his website that you may find of value.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 28th January 2011 at 08:39 AM.

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    Re: wedding lens

    I would suggest a that a Canon 24-105 L and a good bounce-able flash would be very good medicine, especially in combination with a 70-200 IS. The 24-105 is an f/4 and has internal stabilization and a great working range. Most of your shots at a wedding will be with non-moving subjects and in lowish light. The IS lenses will be great for this.

    There is also no substitute for a good flash and knowing how to use it - indoors and out.

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    Re: wedding lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Gingerbaker View Post
    and a good bounce-able flash
    So long as the bounce is sideways to give a flattering directional quality, and not a ceiling bounce that's going to produce an unflattering "office lighting / racoon eyes" look eh?

    There is also no substitute for a good flash and knowing how to use it - indoors and out.
    Never a truer word spoken!

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    Re: wedding lens

    and always remember, your only as good as your last photo, there is always someone at any wedding that might do better,
    cheers martyn
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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: wedding lens

    Quote Originally Posted by brenny130 View Post
    my question was what lenses would be best to get for shooting a wedding taking into consideration the cameras I have
    I haven't read beyond that point so I might be duplicating other advice . . .

    Assume the 7D will be the main camera.
    The question cannot be answered without more information re the location the size of the Wedding Party and the rules of engagement especially apropos Flash Usage and Your Movement (during the Ceremony).

    However, these points will assist you I am sure they outline a bare bones kit:
     Ideally a normal FoV fast Zoom (EF-S 17 to 55/2.8 IS) would be the main working lens.
     A fast longer lens for Available Light in the Church (if Big Church) and also for tight Portraiture EF85F/1.8 is ideal
     A Fast normal FoV Prime for low light work generally Choose: EF24/1.4L; EF28/1.8; EF35/1.4L. Personally I would choose the 24/1.4 because it is the most flexible.
    Those three lenses and a 7D (and skill) will cover mostly 90% of all Wedding situations and with skill one can crib the other 10% quite easily.
    Some notes
    The 50/1.4 and or the 50/1.8MkII is a nice lens but does not have as practical and wide range use on APS-C for Weddings as a wide fast prime (e.g. 35mm to 24mm)
    The 70 to 200/2.8 (any one of the three) are very nice lenses and very expensive in comparison to the 85/1.8. I am not interested in beginning a lengthy debate about the 70 to 200/2.8 for wedding use on an APS-C camera but suffice to say I have found very few APS-C Wedding Shooters who pull the quantity of images with that lens (beyond about 100mm) to warrant the expense. The reality often is less than 5% of saleable images are pulled between 100mm and 200mm and of those 50% could have been shot with the 85 and cropped in post production.

    RE your back up camera:
    Basically if your 7D goes down you need to use the Nikon to complete so the worst scenario is during the Processional and the Church has a No Flash / No Movement Rule.
    To be covered as best you can (without getting a full second bare bones kit) I suggest you rent a fast 24 and a fast 85 for the Nikon.


    WW
    Last edited by William W; 31st January 2011 at 04:23 PM.

  16. #16
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    Re: wedding lens

    More links I throw on the pile:

    Wedding Photography Workshop's suggested equipment lists for Canon and Nikon.

    lensrentals.com's "FWIGTEW and Other First Wedding Acronyms" piece on things not to do when renting equipment for your first wedding shoot.

    the fredmiranda board's wedding forum sticky "Please Read Before Posting" post.

    Jeff Ascough's blog post on preparation for a wedding shoot.

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    Re: wedding lens

    Last year one of my staff asked if I would shoot their wedding, they had very little money so couldn't afford a professional and as I've known her and the husband to be for ages they hoped it would keep things simple and informal.

    Thing is they do about half a dozen weddings a year themselves for a little extra income but this was to be my first ever wedding - yup - nightmare!

    I didn't have bags cash lying around to spend on kit so I was going to have to pretty much shoot with what I had available. I did end up buying a Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8 - I'd wanted one since its launch anyway - as a 'standard' lens to shoot the low light stuff and give a me bit more room to play with than my 50mm, the 1.5 crop makes it too long at times.

    I didn't have any 'Pro' lenses and frankly I wasn't that bothered. What I did was work with the kit I had. The 70-300mm isn't f2.8 but if you shoot from a little further away then you still get fantastic background blur. The 16-85mm isn't f2.8 but it does have VR and as people aren't running about at a wedding I managed without the fast shutter speed a brighter lens can offer over VR one.

    You don't say if you are getting any money for doing the wedding, similarly I don't know your own financial constraints so recommending a lens will be difficult - I'll have a bash though.

    The Canon 50mm f1.4 is a fantastic lens and you will get some simply stunning portraits out of it. Yes the fixed length will make you run about a bit but we all used primes for many more years than we have been using zooms. Remember though the Canon 50mm f1.8 is also an excellent lens and can be had for well under 100 making it my first recommendation.

    I would say you will get a better range of images if you had something longer than 135mm so if the budget allows then look at a 70-300mm (if you're rolling in cash then a 70-200mm f2.8 will be even better) from either Canon in the shape of their EF 70-300mm I.S. lens or Sigma with their APO O.S. version. If the budget can stretch a little further than the much overlooked Canon 70-200mm f4 L Series lens is a belting good bit of glass and if you make do without the I.S. then it is really not that expensive making it my second recommendation.

    At the end of the day you want to do the very best you can for the people getting married - they just want to get married and have some better than average picture. Anyone with a good eye using any kit will be able to do this.

  18. #18
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    Re: wedding lens

    Brenny, I am a fairly new photographer myself and recently went to a friends wedding as a guest. I used a Canon 50mm f1.4 in the church and at the reception taking some candid shots. Its a great lens in low light environments but the limitation is its reach and narrow depth of field especially if you cant or dont have an off camera flash. I took some serious shots and the groom loved them but I certainly wouldnt take on the task with this lens alone to do a professional job. You would need a 70-200 or a 24-70 mm f2.8 at least to save you from having to do a lot of the capturing with your feet. David A Ziser who Don referred to has a great book on wedding photography called "Captured by the Light" New Riders publishers. It is well set out and beautifully illustrated. His arsenal consists of a Canon EFS 17-85 IS f4-5.6 lens believe it or not for groups recentltly superceded by a Canon EFS 18-200 f3.5-5.6 IS, a 70-200 f2.8 IS in addition to the 50mm f1.4. As long as your friend does not expect too much get out there and enjoy shooting. If you are a photographer with an eye for composition you may even surprise the lot of us!!!!!

    Nasseem
    Last edited by maloufn; 31st January 2011 at 12:27 PM.

  19. #19
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    Re: wedding lens

    Wedding coverage has changed throughout the years. It seems lately, that brides are more inclined towards the "photojournalist approach" to weddings rather than the more formal approach which was common in earlier times. However, the mothers of the bride often seem to like the formally covered wedding. BTW: the MOB often controls the purse strings.

    I shot my first weddings using a 4x5" Speed Graphic camera and flash bulbs and then gravitated through various medium format systems to settle on a Hasselblad 6x6cm system. I shot with a single camera and a single 80mm lens (although I also had a second camera and 80mm lens immediately available as a backup).

    The only other lens I ever used for weddings was the 150mm which I used for head and shoulders portraits.

    I graduated from flashbulbs through many different electronic flash units.

    Based on my referral business, my clients were quite satisfied with my work.

    IMO, a talented photographer can shoot a wedding in the "formal" manner with less equipment than if he or she wanted to accomplish "photojournalist" coverage.

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