The "perfect" wedding photography lens

dwarven

EOS RP
CR Pro
Dec 12, 2019
268
393
California, US
Long story short: I may be shooting my first wedding next year for a friend I've known for 16 years. I most likely won't be charging him.

My question is, if you could take only one or two lenses to a wedding, which ones would they be? I really like the idea of only needing one or two fast primes, like a 35mm and either a 50 or 85. For any seasoned wedding photographers, what do you usually use? The body I'll be using is an R6.

When I got married a little over a year ago, the photographer had two camera bodies and was always going back and forth to her station to swap lenses and all that. I didn't mind at all, but it must have been very overwhelming for her since you could tell she was somewhat new to it. I don't want to be a chicken running around with my head cut off. I'd like to simplify the technical aspects as much as possible so I can put all of my focus into getting good composition and lighting.
 

Bdbtoys

R5
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2020
292
224
Some wedding photographers really like the RF 28-70 2.0 for it's rendering and versatility. It covers a wide range of focal length and is suitable in various lighting... plus it can get close to that prime look.

I have tried the lens myself (in non-professional settings) and found it wasn't for me. The images were beautiful, but the weight combined with the diameter of the lens was a bit too much for me in the setting I was going to use it in (think more run and gun for extended periods). However, if I was going to do event photography specifically, it would be at the top of the list. But beware... it's size/weight must be taken into account.

Realistically speaking, the only reason I didn't keep it, was the 24-70 2.8 was better suited to my needs (when paired with a few fast primes for when I really needed it). But, if I had a 'real' need for the 2.0, I would have kept it (your use case would be one of them if done enough). Also I have to admit, I'm still building my RF collection and I needed other lenses first, and like most people, am limited by funds.

For 2nd lens I would go the 70-200 2.8 as others mentioned.

Edit- added 2nd lens
 
Last edited:

HenryL

EOS R5
CR Pro
Apr 1, 2020
186
398
I know several wedding photographers, and I've worked an occasional job or two with them over the years. Every last one of them has, at a minimum, a 24-70 and 70-200 in their bag. Some have a prime or two as well for specific situations according to their style...but among this group their has always been agreement that the two zoom kit is essential. YMMV.
 

unfocused

EOS-1D X Mark III
Jul 20, 2010
5,846
2,988
67
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
Two bodies. One with a 70-200mm f2.8 and one with either a 24-70 2.8 or a 24-105 2.8 4. If you were more experienced, you could consider a prime, but this isn't about what you like, this is about capturing the event for your friend and it's best to not take any risks. If you only have one body, stick with one of the 24mm zooms.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: dwarven

dwarven

EOS RP
CR Pro
Dec 12, 2019
268
393
California, US
Some wedding photographers really like the RF 28-70 2.0 for it's rendering and versatility. It covers a wide range of focal length and is suitable in various lighting... plus it can get close to that prime look.

I have tried the lens myself (in non-professional settings) and found it wasn't for me. The images were beautiful, but the weight combined with the diameter of the lens was a bit too much for me in the setting I was going to use it in (think more run and gun for extended periods). However, if I was going to do event photography specifically, it would be at the top of the list. But beware... it's size/weight must be taken into account.

Realistically speaking, the only reason I didn't keep it, was the 24-70 2.8 was better suited to my needs (when paired with a few fast primes for when I really needed it). But, if I had a 'real' need for the 2.0, I would have kept it (your use case would be one of them if done enough). Also I have to admit, I'm still building my RF collection and I needed other lenses first, and like most people, am limited by funds.

For 2nd lens I would go the 70-200 2.8 as others mentioned.

Edit- added 2nd lens

Yeah, the 28-70 is a behemoth, but it's a beauty alright.

I know several wedding photographers, and I've worked an occasional job or two with them over the years. Every last one of them has, at a minimum, a 24-70 and 70-200 in their bag. Some have a prime or two as well for specific situations according to their style...but among this group their has always been agreement that the two zoom kit is essential. YMMV.

Thanks for the advice. The 70-200 f/2.8 is probably my favorite lens ever, but I'll have to rent the 24-70 since I don't think I'd use it again unless another wedding came up.

Two bodies. One with a 70-200mm f2.8 and one with either a 24-70 2.8 or a 24-105 2.8. If you were more experienced, you could consider a prime, but this isn't about what you like, this is about capturing the event for your friend and it's best to not take any risks. If you only have one body, stick with one of the 24mm zooms.

Everyone is saying to go with that combo so I'll most likely do that. Thanks.

If it was one lens, 24-70 f2.8. If two lenses 35 f1.4 and 85 f1.4.

With the R system I’d happily use the more modest 35 f2 and 85 f2, or the 24-70 2.8 zoom until you get a real handle on your style.

Yeah, the 35mm f/1.4 just seems so perfect for a wedding. I'll probably bring that as well.
 

Joules

doom
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,527
1,811
Hamburg, Germany
This year was the first time I took pictures at a wedding with my gear. I used my 80D and had the Sigma 35 mm 1.4 (55 mm 2.2) for portraits and EF-S 55-250 mm 3.5-5.5 IS STM (85-400 mm 5.6-9.0) as my long option. 430EX II as on camera flash.

I had made it clear upfront that I only take modest pictures of people and have never done a wedding, so we agreed that I would only take supplementary images, in a addition to professionals also hired to cover earlier sections of the event.

The 35 mm was well suited to capturing the guests in pairs of two or three when they were seated and also great for full body shots in well lit a hall adjacent to the dining room. The long zoom was definitely handy, and used for speeches as well as other moment were getting closer would have obstructed the view of many other guests.

But I don't think I have gained all that much from the very long reach, and would have gotten better results with a wider aperture and more defined bounce light by standing closer to the speakers at times.

I had the EF-S 24 mm as back up for going wide, but no need arose for this. If I had been the only one taking pictures, a greater deal of flexibility afforded by the zooms could have been required.

In the end, it worked out well for me though. Of the bride pairs favorites, a lot of them were taken by me. I guess in part because I could cover the later parts of the event where the guests eased up quite a bit. But also because the professionals who I 'competed' with used rather antique gear - An original 6D and a 5D II - and somewhat odd settings that in total resulted in a substantial number of slightly out of focus images and some where the bright dresses were completely blown out. Issues that you will of course not have with an R6 and that even my 80D could handle suffiently well.

All in all, having talked about the expectations and having been given a list of what moments / subjects were of particular importance for the bride pair was very helpful for keeping calm and also enjoying myself (being a guest too, after all).
 

docsmith

EOS R
CR Pro
Sep 17, 2010
1,033
472
I am not a wedding photographer, but often see some variation recommended:
  • Wider perspective shots: 16-35 f/2.8 or prime equivalent
  • More intimate shots: 70-200 f/2.8 or prime(s) equivalent
  • Wedding ring/detail shots: 100 mm macro
  • General photography: 24-70 mm, or 50 mm
A lot of videos on this topic:

Best Lens for Wedding Photographers: Breathe Your Passion with Vanessa Joy - YouTube

My Wedding Photography Lenses and Cameras for 2020! Taylor Jackson - YouTube

How to Photograph a Wedding with Prime Lenses - YouTube
 

Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
If you are the only / main photographer at a wedding you really need two camera bodies, ideally both identical. Imagine if your camera failed; what are you going to do ? It is very unlikely to happen but once I had a camera fail and that was when the mirror fell out of one of my 5Ds (Not the 5DS !)

Probably the most ubiquitous lens from pro wedding photographers is a 35/1.4, but the "best" lens can be somewhat venue specific, and if you haven't any wedding experience I would always use what you are used to. Having said that you have to have a range in the 28 to 85 ball park. Personally if this is your first wedding I would not get involved with longer lenses such as 70-200mm, 135 or 200 primes. On the day you will find that time is suddenly very very short !

I think what works very well are two identical bodies, no straps, on a quick release belt such as the Spiderpro, one body with 35mm, the other with either 50 or 85mm depending on where you are.

One word of advise I would give is don't fall in the the trap of trying to use too shallow a depth of field.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jd7 and navastronia

YuengLinger

Godzilla needs boxing lessons.
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,483
1,932
USA
Many good suggestions here. I've done a few weddings, and that was enough--though I might do another for a friend with limited means. Sorry, but I've never liked attending weddings. My own was absolute minimalist: Just a friend as a witness, and in the splendor of the "nicest courtroom" in a small county's courthouse. Fortunately the bride, to whom I'm still ecstatically in love with after 20 years, didn't mind at all! The money we saved went to first-last-and-security deposit, plus a three day honeymoon. :rolleyes:

Now what others so far seem to be missing is that you said "next year." Unless that means the first week or so of January, it seems you should have time to scout the location and better understand the capabilities and limitations of the gear you currently have. I heartily agree with the advice I learned the hard way a few times: Don't use gear you aren't 100% familiar with in pressure situations. Just adds to the stress, in my experience.

Even if you can't go practice in the actual location, you should be able to get a good idea of what the lighting and space will be like. You could ask your friend to help you practice in similar conditions with different lenses. If you have a speedlite of some sort, practicing bounce flash might really open up some more lovely opportunities.

Just practice, practice, practice. Yes, I watch youtube videos, but I could watch 100 hours and never learn as much as in three hours of trying some of what I'm seeing myself. Make it muscle memory and you will get so many great shots without even thinking about it.

Ok, the 24-70mm 2.8 is my lens when I can only carry one lens for an event. The 35mm 1.4 II is nice for very low light and some creamy backgrounds after you've gotten the required ceremony shots safely on your card--but remember you already have 35mm in the 24-70mm. If you have a macro for details, and it isn't too much extra to carry, consider bringing it.

Could you do more formal portraits with more time to arrange clothes, lighting, and setting before the big day? Engagement photos (or just lifestyle) of the couple beforehand will also give you practice with them, and you can learn so much about flattering angles, their interactions, and so much more.

Sounds fun! If you don't mind weddings, that is.
 

Bennymiata

EOS R
CR Pro
I've done a number of paid weddings and I've found the 24-105 F4 to be my most used lens.
I usually pair it with a 16-35 for group shots.
Unless you are in a large venue, my 70-200 hardly ever gets used.
It's very romantic to use only primes, but it can also be very frustrating.
I also have a 24-70 F2.8, but I find I really miss the 70-105mm reach when usiing it.
You'll also need a couple of good flashes. I now use Godox V1's, as they have great light fall off.
 

navastronia

EOS RP + 5D Classic
Aug 31, 2018
665
767
I've shot one elopement and one wedding, and used a 35/1.4 and 85/1.8 pairing with 2 identical 5D bodies. I carried the cameras on straps and switched back and forth. That combo was enough for most anything, but for dancing at the reception, I put on a 14/2.8 and got up close with everyone to really make it feel like the audience was partying along with the guests.

Speaking to several professional, regular wedding photographers in the last year to ask for their advice or to work as a second shooter, I was surprised how few seemed to care that I was using cheaper fast primes, but did care a lot that I had old bodies that maxed out at ISO 1600 and created a grainy image then; every single one said that the most important thing to them was good high ISO performance up to ISO 6400 or even 12800, if absolutely necessary.

After selling my 70-200 2.8 L II, which everyone told me was essential for wedding work but no pro I talked with ever seemed to care much about, I now work entirely with primes. I hope to shortly have an 85/1.4 to use in conjunction with my existing 35/1.4. My new, cheap setup for weddings/events/portraits will be 2x EOS RP bodies, Samyang RF 14/2.8 AF, Sigma EF 35/1.4, Samyang RF 85/1.4 AF, and Canon EF 200/2.8 L II.

Best of luck to you, whatever you go with!
 
<-- start Taboola -->