Wedding photography is challenging to say the least. During the average wedding shoot, you will photograph the couple, the wedding party, the ceremony, the venue, the gifts, action on the dance floor, perhaps even the food at the reception. You’ll be expected to capture great pictures indoors and out, often starting in the morning and going well into the evening. As you learn in courses for wedding photography, one must be a master of macro photography, capturing portraits, taking clear pictures of people in movement, and so much more.
A successful wedding photographer obviously needs a lot of skills. They also need the best equipment for the job. After all, there are no do-overs in the middle of a wedding ceremony. One of the most essential items you will need is a good lens. In fact, it’s not so much a matter of finding the best lens for wedding photography, as you know from our guide to camera lenses there are a large selection of lenses that allow you to capture photos in a variety of situations. With this is mind, the fact is you will need multiple lenses to successfully execute a wedding shoot.
So, which lenses should you bring along? What factors should you take into consideration before you make any purchases?
We’re here to help. In the following paragraphs, we’ll explore some of the most common scenarios that wedding photographers face. Then, we will share our photography tips and lens recommendations for each of these situations.
What Lenses to Use For Wedding Photography? Start With a Good Work Horse Lens!
Before you consider all of your choices for the various situations you might encounter at a wedding, you should pick one workhorse lens. This will be a lens that will work in a wide range of situations, and that you can trust to be reliable. Here is our recommendation.
The Canon 70-200mm f/4L is for Weddings
This isn’t the cheapest lens, but it is one of the best. Canon lenses are well respected for a reason. Not matter what the shooting conditions are, you can count on this camera lens to perform. In fact, if you can only afford to add one lens to your collection, this is the one to grab. It has image stabilization, fast zoom, and it’s weather sealed. That means you can keep shooting outdoors, when the weather goes south. Count on this lens as one of the top lenses for wedding photography.
Capturing Important Moments Discretely
Weddings are full of touching moments. As the wedding photographer, you are expected to capture these moments without being obtrusive. There’s also the added challenge of photographing your intended subjects while other guests are often in the way.
You need a lens that will allow you to zoom in on your subjects while keeping a respectful and comfortable distance. We have two recommendations.
The Best Lens For Discreet Shooting: 70 – 200mm f/2.8
This lens allows you to zoom in during moments when you want to be as inconspicous as possible. Even better, the compression at 150-200mm helps you to get an image that you just can’t with other lenses. Finally, you can achieve a great bokeh effect at f/2.8.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 FL ED VR lens: This is definitely the high end camera lens. We think it’s worth the investment for dedicated wedding photographers. You’ll get some of the best image quality with this lens. If you can afford it, it may become the prime lens in your collection. It features, six ED glass elements, a great background blur at f/2.8, four focus buttons, tripod collar ring, and it’s great for continous shooting.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens: The Canon lens is the less expensive of our two featured models, but it has some great features including a detachable tripod collar, internal focus, weather sealed coating, four ultra low dispersion elements, and an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/32.
Photographer on The Go
As a wedding photographer, your job is to capture the most meaningful, memorable moments. You have to be observant, and work quickly. You also need a lens with a focal length versatility.
This will help you as you capture a variety of shots such as a wide angle photo of the wedding location, or an up close and personal shot of the first dance. So, how do you quickly capture amazing photographs at different angles, without swapping out lenses and missing the action? We like the following lenses for this:
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8
First, this is a great lens for shooting in a confined space. It let’s you see width and depth both. We also think this is one of the best lenses for emerging wedding photographers. Our two choices of photography lenses for capturing the action are:
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8: Canon? Many professionals will tell you that your business is not complete without this lens. It has an aperture range of f/2.8 up to f/22. It also features an ultra-sonic focus motor, lens coating to minimize ghosting, and a 9 blade circular diaphragm. You’ll be able to capture photos on the go at the ceremony, and during the reception.
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8: This is an excellent model for low light conditions, something photographers often encounter as they shoot wedding receptions. It has smooth focus ring and zoom operation, sturdy construction, and can help you produce some bright, art quality photos. This lens is slightly less expensive than the Canon if you are looking to shave a bit off of your budget.
This isn’t portrait photography, you won’t have any control over the lighting during the wedding or reception. You certainly cannot predict the lighting that you will have outside. You need a lens that can handle a lot of variety. What can you use to make your subjects look amazing in any light conditions?
A 50MM lens has a wider aperture. This means you won’t have to rely on your flash, something that’s pretty important for photographs taken during a wedding. This lens also creates a shallow Depth of Field. The result is a softer look that really flatters your subjects.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM: This is definitely the more expensive of our two choices here. If you have that money to spend, we definitely think it has features that make it one of the best lenses for capturing those stunning wedding photos.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G: This is less expensive than the Canon 50mm, but still has many great features, and is among the best for wedding photography. It has a fast aperture range from 1.8 to 16 making it great for low lighting, integrated coating for great color in your shots, and a silent wave motor for precise autofocusing.
Capturing The Details up Close
Some of the coolest pictures are close-ups. The couple’s rings, the bride and groom’s hands clasped together, a close-up shot of the bride’s gown or hairstyle, even a sweet photo of the bride whispering something to the flower girl are all memorable wedding photographs.
The couple wants you to capture all of these amazing details. You just have to bring along the perfect lens for shooting up close and personal. Here’s what we like:
Lens: 100mm Macro
A Macro lens like this are great for capturing stunning details up closes. If you want an image such as a close-up of the plating at the reception, you’ll want a macro lens like the following two in your collection.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Auto Focus Lens: The Canon EF 100mm is a great lens for taking, sharp, detailed photos up close.
Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR Lens: If you happen to prefer a nikon, this one is similarly priced to the Canon with very similar attributes.
Capturing Amazing Location Shots
A couple might spend months looking for the perfect locations for their wedding and reception. Once they find a place, it’s not unusual for them to shell out thousands of dollars, or to be placed on a waiting list just to have access to their dream location.
After all that work, they are going to want you to capture amazing shots of each location. You know, those great, wide angle shots are always a hit. You’re going to need the best ultra wide angle lens to get those coveted landscape and venue shots for the wedding album. Take a look at our recommendations:
You need a great wide angle lens for these shots. With a 35mm lens, you won’t have to contend with geographic distortion. Both your subject and your background at the wedding will be clear and crisp.
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L USM: This works as both a wide angle and portrait lens. That’s good versatility if you are still building your collection of lenses.
Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED: If you want the same features, but prefer to travel light, try this option instead.
What do I Need For Wedding Photography?
Now that you have some great photography tips and suggestions for prime lenses for capturing stunning photos at weddings, let’s take a look at some of the other equipment you might need to complete your selection of gear. Remember that shooting weddings is quite lucrative, but your business depends on your ability to be prepared with photography lenses, and other equipment. The best wedding photographers have their bags supplied with:
- A Spare Camera in Case of Emergency
- Extra Batteries And Memory Cards
- Speedlights to For Dark Spots Like The Dance Floor or Evening Weddings
- A Flash Diffuser For Portrait Photography When There’s no Time For Other Lighting
- Umbrellas And Strobes When The Weather Nixes Outdoor Photography
- A Decent Camera Bag to Ensure You Look Professional On The Wedding Day
- Tripods For Shot Stabilization
Finally, the best wedding photographer will bring their expertise. There’s a great reason that wedding photographers pursue one passion. They have the opportunity to use their creative talents to help couples capture and commemorate the best moments of their lives. You can do that by learning great photography techniques, and building a great collection of gear that includes the best lenses for wedding photography.
Final Thoughts on Choosing The Right Camera Lens For Your Wedding Photography
As you build your brand, you will find that wedding photography requires you to be prepared for a variety of situations. A change in the weather, a last minute decision by the couple, or any number of other factors could send you back to your bag, and into your collection of photography lenses. You’ll need the best collection of photography lenses in order to satisfy your customers, no matter what you encounter.