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MUST HAVE lenses for wedding photography?

Hey guys,

I am interested to hear everyones views on the MUST HAVE lenses you feel are needed in your kit to successfully shoot a wedding.

I am on a budget, but have exactly a year to buy new kit and upgrade what i already have.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

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thewilliam2 2 1.3k
19 Jan 2019 1:05PM
I'd have thought that the must-have lenses will depend on your chosen style and whether you use full-frame or APS bodies.

My wife uses APS bodies and, for many years, used just the 17-55mm and 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lenses plus the 50mm f1.4 prime. Then she added a fisheye.

Be in a position where you can have any item of kit fail and continue shooting. I generally assisted so my wife had access to the lenses in my bag in the event of a problem.
Thank you for your comment, I didn't mention the body I'm using sorry. I'm using a Canon 100d APS body. I currently own the basic 18-55mm lens and I also have a 50mm 1.8 lens too. I'm looking to invest in others, as I'm aware i will need more than I have.

It is for a friend's wedding and I've photographed another friends wedding just on the 18-55mm lens and she was more impressed with my shots than the two photographers she paid.

However this wedding I'm doing in January 2020 is 2 days, I get my hotel covered and paid so I really want to up my game. So thankful for any advice at all Smile
thewilliam2 2 1.3k
19 Jan 2019 2:04PM
Will this wedding be the first of many, or just a one-off?

The Nikon 18-55 kit lens is optically excellent but unsuitable for serious professional use for a number of reasons and I'd expect the Canon equivalent to be much the same quality. The so-called "pro" lenses are designed and built for hard professional use and are weather-sealed so they can be used in the rain. The 17-55mm is two stops faster than the kit lens at the long end and this can make life a lot easier. The f1.8 prime is usually worth having because it's only two-thirds of a stop slower than the f1.4 and generally a good performer.

If you're charging for your services, make sure you have proper insurance. The household policy will almost certainly exclude professional use and you'll need Public Liability plus Professional Indemnity cover. This need not be expensive idf you go to a specialist insurer.
I'm hoping to gradually make it into my business, I did modelling myself for many years after i had studied photography. I am hoping to start doing newborn photography this year and expand to events and such in the future. I hope that answers your question Smile

Would you recommend that I invest in a 17-55mm lens?

Thank you also for the information about insurance, I'm glad I've got such a long time to prepare for this and upgrade my equipment. I've read articles who recommend you have like 7 different lenses for the day, and my budget won't cover that at the moment.
Philh04 Plus
14 2.1k United Kingdom
19 Jan 2019 2:36PM

Quote: I've read articles who recommend you have like 7 different lenses for the day, and my budget won't cover that at the moment.

Caveat... I am not a wedding photographer... I would ignore advice like that, keep things as simple as possible, as William says two lenses at most, a short zoom and a longer zoom, if you are carting around 7 different lenses and trying to change them whilst working is asking for disaster and missing shots.

What is important is that you have back up equipment, if things are going to go wrong they will and if you only have one camera body or one lens you are stuck (Even as a studio based professional I have back up equipment)

Quote:What is important is that you have back up equipment, if things are going to go wrong they will and if you only have one camera body or one lens you are stuck (Even as a studio based professional I have back up equipment)

Do you suggest I purchase a back up body as well then? I've found a lens I would now like to buy to upgrade my current kit, it will work well for what i want. But I notice you suggest an extra camera body too, I'm guessing this is essential? But would also save time on changing lens too?
Philh04 Plus
14 2.1k United Kingdom
19 Jan 2019 4:24PM

Quote:But I notice you suggest an extra camera body too, I'm guessing this is essential? But would also save time on changing lens too?

Yes to both, even if you beg, steal or borrow a second camera body (well not steal), you simply need to make sure that all eventualities are covered...
thewilliam2 2 1.3k
19 Jan 2019 4:52PM
In my first post of this thread, I urged you to have backup kit so that any item can fail without spoiling your flow. When you're under pressure there's a greater chance of dropping something.

When I assist my wife, she'll sometimes hand me a camera and tell me that something isn't right with it. She immediately gets a replacement and the rapport with her sitter doesn't falter. It's then up to me to sort out what's wrong and it's normally a control dial or wheel that's slipped. The great fashion photographers, such as Testino, generally work the same way.

We've always used a set of functionally identical camera bodies so that we don't need to think when switching from one to another. If you shoot with two bodies, wide zoom on one and telephoto zoom on the other, then you need a third as spare.
thewilliam2 2 1.3k
19 Jan 2019 5:05PM
Some years back at a seminar, the American photographer Joe Craig told of an occasion when an assistant hadn't make sure that the camera was properly mounted on the tripod. When Joe Craig touched the camera, it fell off and smashed on a stone flagged path. The wedding group gasped in horror until Joe Craig casually kicked the camera into a flower bed and then they laughed. Joe Craig fitted another camera to the tripod and continued as if nothing had happened.

Proper professionals always have spare kit!
19 Jan 2019 5:10PM
OK, from experience, you should have enough kit to allow one item to fail, and to be covered by another. From 17 years experience of wedding photography you need TWO camera bodies, and enough lenses that overlap their coverage, or can double up. I shot weddings on medium format film, so my lenses were 40mm, 75mm and 150mm (think 24mm, 50mm, 100mm in full frame terms). If I had dropped the 75mm or the aperture blades jammed I could have done the groups on a 40mm, and the couple on the 150mm.

As you are on APS-C, consider buying the Sigma 17 to 50 f2.8, very sharp, stabilised and a reasonably wide aperture, so good for dark interiors. Just to prove my point about failure, my example of this is 7 years old, it locked the zoom mechanism solid on me in the middle of covering a demo today, so I had to switch to using my 10 to 20 and 85 lenses, which got me out of a scrape.Generally this lens takes all sorts of abuse and downpours, and I would still reccomend it.

My lens kit for general press work is the same as for weddings, 10-20 (the Sigma 10-20 is better than the Canon 10-22), or the nice and cheap Canon 10-18, a 17-55 f2.8 and a 70 to 200 f2.8 stabilised Sigma. For weddings and events I use two Canon 7Ds, a Mk1 and a Mk2- the Mk1 is cheap now second hand, and would make an excellent 2nd (or main) body, one has a 17 to 55 f2.8 Sigma on it, whilst the other has the 70 to 200 on it. The ultra wide is used rarely on this sort of job.

My 7Ds have built in flash, so that provides redundancy on both bodies if the external flash YOU WILL BE USING fails. Try and get a second hand 580EX Mk2- the 7D can control it off camera, it can be bounced, and it's showerproof.

Then you need spare cards, which you will change regularly (or use both card slots in a 7D Mk2 bought second hand).

Of course, your kit lens provides redundancy for the 17 to 50/55 f2.8. Hire a 70 to 200 f2.8 or f4 for the weekend, frankly don't bother with the ultra wide at this stage. The mid range on one body and the 70 to 200 on the other will be fine. There's no need to have 7 lenses. Yes, I've used a fisheye on weddings, and a 300mm f2.8, but I think I can count their uses on one hand. Yes, a wide aperture 85mm would be nice, along with a nifty fifty, but in reality mine just stay in the bag if I have the two camera body/lens setup round my neck. No client is going to get excited about bokeh!

Finally, read, read, read. Not photo mags, but wedding magazines. Consider buying theRotovision Pro Photo guide to wedding photograph, probably easy to find in Amazon marketplace.

Oh, and get a diffuser cube for the external flash, and a big white reflector.

Good Luck

Chris_L 5 5.2k United Kingdom
19 Jan 2019 6:13PM
You asked about lenses. It does depend on your style and how close you like to get to the action.

Use your basic 18-55 when the action is unpredictable, zooming in and out to frame your shots if you can't move fast enough.

If you are shooting the happy couple in the grounds of the hotel then get your 50mm prime out and open the aperture up, take your time.

Despite what other say about changing lens there's time to change lenses at certain points during most wedding days. Women tend to take their time to get ready on their wedding day.

If adding to your kit try then try to get another really good prime lens, the likes of these

A 35mm is versatile but on APS-C go for a 24mm, you will need that extra width in many rooms

Whilst you don't get a wider view with a 24mm prime than turning your 18mm-55mm kit lens to 24mm you will find that a decent prime will tend to give you better image quality and let in more light.

Shot at a wide aperture it will also blur the background thus isolating your subject.



You should be able to get shots approaching this kind of quality from your 50mm, if not then you need to learn how to get the best out of it


The other approach is to go for a high end zoom. The Sigma Art zooms are fantastic, The Canon L series zooms, like the 24-70 and 24-105, are good workhorses. The 70-200 is another good choice but there are plenty of other lenses I would buy first as it's possibly the least versatile for a lot of weddings but great for others.
19 Jan 2019 6:34PM
I'm thinking the 24-70 might be a bit pricey (unless you mean the f4), and we are looking at APS C.

You can pick both the older 35mm f2 and 24 and 28mm f2.8 Canon EF lenses up quite cheaply now if you don't want IS.

The 24-105, both old and new versions is very sharp, but a bit narrow for APS-C.

As to primes being 'better', I flogged my 35mm f2, that I bought as an APS-C 50, as it never got used (in film days I used 35mm all the time), my 85mm f1.8 came out to play for the first time in ages today, simply because it dropped in my pocket. There's not a lot in t between a good zoom and a prime nowadays. In the 80s I used to lug 24, 35, 50, 100, 200 with me, so getting my first zoom took some doing, breaking down prejudice about them. Nowadays, the versatility outweighs any perceived edge in image quality.
Chris_L 5 5.2k United Kingdom
19 Jan 2019 6:52PM
That must be the shot in your PF, I wouldn't have bothered getting the 85 out and using it at f5.0, it makes it look like you blurred the background in Photoshop.

Quote:There's not a lot in it between a good zoom and a prime nowadays

I dunno Phil, I think that there's enough.

I compare your zoom photos to the photos this lass took with a prime and I don't know if the difference is due to one of you being a better photographer or one of you preferring different lenses.
thewilliam2 2 1.3k
20 Jan 2019 1:07PM
Another thought: you must register with HMRC as a photographic business within 90 days of starting. We "start" a business when we first ply for trade which means placing an advert or setting up a website.

This isn't entirely negative because an accountant will tell you how to offset your start-up costs against earnings from your day job.

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