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Wedding Photography Equipment

This guest post on wedding photography equipment was submitted by F.C. from Camera Tech.

Image by man's pic

Image by man's pic

So you’re desperately keen to go into wedding photography — or maybe you’ve made a start. The only problem you’re faced with is the equipment: and there are a lot of choices.

Firstly, the most important thing to realize is that the camera and/or lens isn’t going to cut it on its own; you’re not going to see a magical difference. Your equipment can limit you, but at the end of the day it boils down to the photographer.

Cameras

Now, when considering a camera in wedding photography, you need to measure up your needs and your means. It all depends on your budget, but what if you can get it all? Pro-grade cameras aside, let’s consider prosumer models.

For Canon and Nikon, full frame bodies are readily available for not-too-expensive prices. Full frame bodies are extremely useful in wedding photography because of their low-noise capabilities, the sensor being larger. 2-3 stops can normally be gained in a full frame body as compared to a normal APS-C dSLR. This means that ISO 3200 can be used instead of ISO 800 and still have about the same amount of noise, and the shutter speed can be raised two whole stops: necessary, as weddings are normally conducted in not very bright light. If you only have one camera, it should be a full frame body.

A short note here: you should always get two bodies. There are two main reasons, these being 1. backup and 2. not having to change lenses (as much). So you could have a 24-70mm on one body, and a 70-200mm on the other, thus covering the whole field should you need to alter your field of view. You may not be able to buy a second body, but you can rent one. Make sure, however, that if you’re renting equipment, be they lenses or cameras, that you also rent them beforehand to get the feel and experience with them first, before the actual day.


And here we come to the second body, which can be a full frame — or an APS-C body. Why an APS-C body, if the ISO handling isn’t as good? Because an APS-C sensor has a 1.6x or 1.5x (Canon/Nikon respectively) crop factor, and this is applied to lenses for the field of view. Note that while full frame lenses can be used on ‘crop’ bodies, the other way does not work (the APS-C lenses denoted by DX or EF-S, Nikon/Canon respectively). So, by using a 70-200mm f/2.8 on a APS-C body, you effectively get around 300mm in f/2.8 as a maximum — not bad, considering the prices of a normal 300mm f/2.8! The decision to weigh the choices for the second body (full frame vs. APS-C) is ultimately up to you, and it isn’t an easy choice.

Which is why some photographers use three bodies. Again, renting is the wisest choice until you can get hold of one yourself. A third body can be cumbersome to have on yourself, and normally is stashed in a bag.

Lenses

And so we come to lenses. Look to lenses with wide aperture (large f/-numbers) as these allow more light in. For instance, f/2.8 gains a whole stop in brightness from f/4. The shutter speed can then be changed to a faster speed to adapt. The ‘bread-and-butter’ lenses for a wedding photographer is the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 (IS). With these two lenses, you can shoot a complete wedding, from reasonably wide to telephoto (you would obviously use the 24-70mm on a full frame body to take advantage of the wide-angle). A lot of photographers also use an ultra wide angle lens, such as the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8. However, lens choice is a very personal thing. While those two are enough, some photographers have shot an entire wedding with a 50mm and that alone.

A common question that arises is zoom vs primes. It depends on what you are comfortable with. Zooms tend to be slower (aperture), and the maximum for a zoom is f/2.8, while primes go down to f/1.4, etc. A good prime kit consists of a 24mm (or wider), 50mm, 85mm and 135mm (and/or a larger telephoto). The 85mm is not necessary, but then again, it can only take one lens to shoot a whole wedding (not advised, however!).

Some take a mix of lenses; different lenses for different parts of the wedding. Dance shots and formals are normally conducted in wide angle shots, while the ceremony might have a wide angle shot with the congregation as well as a close up of the couple exchanging rings.

Flashes

Another major decision is flash. You can choose not to use flash or not, and the place the wedding is being held in may have their own rules on that. However, if you’re keen on using flash, a speedlight/speedlite is a necessity. A SB800/900 or 580 EX II is preferable, but a SB600 or 430 EX II will also do the trick. A diffuser or bouncer is also very helpful. Make sure you know how to bounce and manipulate flash, as bare flash is not always quite completely appealing.

Strobes can also be used. These or speedlights/speedlites can be used on stands, particularly effective during the dances. These can be wirelessly triggered using remotes. Umbrellas and/or softboxes are also frequently employed during formals as well.

Other things to remember:

  • memory cards. The most important thing is to get lots of memory; fast cards can help if you want to capture that moment (and not miss), using continuous shooting. Make sure you have enough memory to cover at least 600 shots: how many gigabytes will depend on whether you shoot RAW or not, and the megapixel count of your camera
  • tripod/monopod. These are absolutely vital, but they do help. Some photographers choose to employ both a monopod and a tripod, and some simply use one or the other.
  • remote shutter release. Use this with the tripod for the formals for more stability
  • lens cleaning materials. Brushes, lens pens… whatever you use to clean your lenses, bring them along. You never know what can happen
  • duct tape. Yes, it’s true: if it can’t be fixed with duct tape, it can’t be fixed at all! If not, duct tape is still handy to have along

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  • http://www.eghamlin.com Ed Hamlin

    @jesse Kaufman I apologize if I have troubled you in anyway, I would encourage experimentation to see what works best for the photog. Yes it is difficult when you really dont have what you would desire. Wehn I entered the digital age of 35mm I too din’t have the budget to afford a FX body. I spent about 3 month reading, rereading, reviews by numerous individuals and finally made my decision to purchase a D80, with to highly regarded by some, 18-55mm and 55-200mm vr dx lenses, not the perfect lenses but they produce. I do operate with several different pieces of glass now though.

    Yes the FX body is definitly the way to go when shooting usable light. Otherwise the DX bodys are just as good for the quality of the images when at ISO’s of 1200 and below when considerind a D80 or lower compable model. D90 I think performs a bit better but if you are going to throw down there go for the D700 or comparable. By now you can tell I am a nikon man, albeit i have owned Cannon, Pentax, Kodak, and others in film though.

    My choice for portraits and weddings would be 2 Nikon D3 bodies, 70-200 f2.8 & a 50mm f1.4 on my DX I use a 50mm f1.8 and 55-200mm.

    By the way the 18-200 is a pretty good lens. I repeat a quote by a pioneer in Photography, “it is not the camera that makes the picture, it only captures what is seen by the photgrapher, who creates the picture”.

    What I say isn’t an imperical truth, it is what I have found to work most of the time, based on my expeirence and knowledge beginning in 1970. To me you are a good photgrapher because of one simple character trait, you don’t settle for what is good, you want better. You can’t go wrong, You are the guy I would spend months shooting with because the last shot may have been good but you want a better shot.

    When I go my D80 I just began using it, not really learning all of it’s capablilities. Well a funny thing and then I will stop, I like using existing light, not a real flash/strobist. I was sitting in my livingroom with family and had shot a couple frames and I wondered, what can I do with my on camera flash, which I hate because in it’s normal setting it looks like flash, unatural, blah blah blah. Well I found out it has some very interesing settings, and I began to play around and achieved some very interesting effects. And actually produced some nice portraits, not exceptional but nice, sears style (hopefully I haven’t offended anyone), point is I began to realize that I needed to go further with the capability of my camera. How can I really capture what I see and want to create. thus my encouragemtn to you, keep working on using what you have. when the time comes for the FX body you will be well ahead in becoming a great Photographer, I don’t consider my self good. Hope this helps.

  • Jesse Kaufman

    @Ed Hamlin oh no, you haven’t troubled me in the least! I’m on this website for one thing and one thing only: to learn as much as i possibly can about photography :)

    Yup, I started out with a “DSLR-like” Panasonic FZ-10, but have since upgraded to the XTi … quickly got frustrated with Canon’s 18-55mm kit lens and bought the Sigma 18-200mm zoom lens w/ optical stabilization (which, unfortunately, I’ll have to replace if I get a full-frame … or only use it on my XTi as a backup) and just recently acquired Canon’s 50mm f1.8 prime (and LOVE it!)

    On my Canon (depending on lighting situation), I’ve been really happy with ISOs up to 400, but sometimes 800 is even a bit too grainy … 1600 gets frustrating to me most of the time, which is why i’ve really been getting into shooting with artificial light (or a combination of artificial and natural) … *someday* i’d like to step up to something like the 5D Mark II (or whatever a similar level camera will be once I can afford it) … I’ve had no experience with Nikon, but absolutely love my Canon! :) Nothing against Nikons at all … I’d like to play around with one and see what difference there are :) … most of my photographer friends own Canons, so I’m able to ask them questions and not have to “translate” across brands, which is nice … most of my other gear, however, is 3rd party like Opteka (battery grip), Sigma (lens and flash), etc … been pleased with them and feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth … they’re no L-series, but then again at this point in time (VERY early in my photography career) I just cannot justify that kind of money ;)

    “To me you are a good photgrapher because of one simple character trait, you don’t settle for what is good, you want better. ” … i love that quote! that’s how i feel … constantly trying to push myself to learn new techniques, figure out how i could’ve done my last shot better, etc, etc, etc … I’m finally getting to the point, however, where I’m getting really happy with my shots, which is good, because it’s too easy to get frustrated and feel like giving up! It’s encouraging because I like what I shoot, but I can still see room for improvement! :) (I started with very amateur photography about 6 or 7 years ago, but didn’t really get “serious” about it until this year, so I’ve got lots to learn still!)

    Too many thoughts to write down about your last paragraph, but the issues you felt with being frustrated with “typical” flash is exactly what i’ve been working at overcoming lately (and having a lot of fun, too!) … thanks for the encouragement and I really appreciate your comments!! If you’re interested, I have my stuff on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/glandix … it’s a mix of “real” work and more “snapshot” type stuff, since i started out more doing just snapshots … BUT i can already see improvements since I found this site! :)

  • http://www.eghamlin.com Ed Hamlin

    @jesse Kaufman, Hey I saw a lot of potential!!! Some encouragements, Like I said before, I think, learn your camera body inside and out and what it can do with each of the lenses you have. So go out and shoot in your back yard front yard, where ever, shoot oh 1400-2000 frames, different focal points same subject, aperature setting, shutter speed,DOF, scene compression with the 18-200, low light, golden hours. Shoot it up.
    Next, what really gets you excited to shoot,? Me it is two things, landscapes and people. Both can draw such emotion, what you create should make you laugh, cry, create curiosity, and so much more. What do you want people to see? Why? What do you want them to feel physically and emotionally. If you develop your voice with that in mind you will see everything in a different light. LOL

    Caution – If I stopped for everything I every saw I would never get to where I intended to go, LOL. I often return to a location for people and landscapes, different times of day and even night. ( Side note – I have two invaluable pieces of equipment a monopod and tripod, lightweight and inexpensive and I used them about 75%of the time.)

    Then as my wife says, “go deeper”. Keep pushing, I encourage people follow the passion that is inside, that thing that motivates you and makes you step out even though you scared to take that step.
    Ever a question hit me up, I may or maynot have an answer. JMHO (Just my Humble Opinion)

  • http://www.eghamlin.com Ed Hamlin

    @jesse Kaufman check out this blog great advice http://photodino.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/photo-tips-o-the-day-part-2

  • http://www.photographymadesimple.co.up photomadesimple

    This crop factor X1.5 magnification stuff can be useful. For one thing – a 50mm lens (acting as a 75mm on a Nikon or a 80mm on a Canon) is a lot cheaper than the 85mm it replaces. An 85mm 1.8 can act as a 142mm 1.8, which is a great long fast lens in certain situations (comedy clubs particularly good here). We really love the 28-105mm 3.5 Nikkor which acts as a 42-160mm. We have shot whole weddings on this lens except the big group shots, and even these really only require an inexpensive 18-55 DX kit lens – you really don’t need a very wide lens for weddings up to 300 guests. So if you are trying to do weddings on the really cheap – get a D70, 28-105 f3.5, 18-55mm DX and an SB600 with a lightsphere. See Ken Rockwell for his opinion on the 18-55, although he never got on with the 28-105 I think he had a bad one. If you want newer, get a D90.

  • http://jason-g.com Colorado Wedding Photographer, JasonG

    Great post… Our philosophy on gear is to keep it as simple as possible. Weddings are wonderfully challenging events to shoot (that’s why we love them).
    Our Gear:
    2 Nikon D700s
    70-200 2.8
    24-70 2.8
    50 1.4
    85 1.4
    SB600 (reception primarily)
    AlienBees 1600 (reception primarily)
    6 Ebay remote flash triggers (simple, inexpensive, we bring six just in case we need backups)
    Vivitar 285h flash (reception primarily)

    We can carry everything (except for the AlienBees Flash) with us anywhere. We use the natural light provided by mother nature for 95% of our images.

    We use flash in two scenarios.
    1. Formals – if shot in the middle of the afternoon under harsh sunlight (and there are no options to find shade)
    2. Reception – especially for indoor receptions.
    Note: The flash is rarely on camera. We love off camera flash (hats off to all the strobists out there). We have a bunch of ebay wireless triggers for our flashes. We’ve used Pocket Wizards in the past. They’re great, but very pricey. Our ebay triggers have been rock solid.

  • http://www.nevervoid.com Antony Pratap

    I usually shoot with a fixed-focal (prime for portraits) and a wide (for groups).

  • http://www.photographymadesimple.co.uk photomadesimple

    Fair enough, prime lenses certainly give you that professional shallow depth of field look, but using them unobtrusively for candids is difficult, because you can’t zoom. We use primes for dresses and room details, and zooms for candids. We certainly would not, under any circumstances, use one lens for the whole job – you see a lot of people with 18-200’s, but this is a jack of all trades master of none lens. If I could do a good job with one lens I’d not be staggering around with a bag full of kit!

  • Photo Hero Needed

    Hi there

    I’m about to buy my first SLR camera – until now been on a borrowed one to collect funds.The view is to go professional in Wedding/Event & portrait photography. I’m enrolled on course but wanted you opinion on camera selection and price range: should I go for an expensive ( for my pockets) Canon Mark ii or a cheaper slr?

    The more expensive one would save me upgrade and last a long time – but perhaps throw me in the deep end in terms of level.

    Kind of last and all opinions will be greatly received.

    Many thanks

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/ ChristopherakaPaul

    To “photo hero needed”, I would like to give you the best advice I can give to any person going into prOfEssiOnAl anything…….take your time, do your research online about the business and its pros and cons, research any equipment and software people recommend by using the reviews online, check out what the pros do, get books, get videos, work as an assistant to someone and learn from what they do right and wrong and set goals of excellence, but most of all…take your time.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/ ChristopherakaPaul

    To “photo hero needed”, I would like to give you the best advice I can give to any person going into prOfEssiOnAl anything…….take your time, do your research online about the business and its pros and cons, research any equipment and software people recommend by using the reviews online, check out what the pros do, get books, get videos, work as an assistant to someone and learn from what they do right and wrong and set goals of excellence, but most of all…take your time.

  • http://oludare.biz/weddings/index2.php?v=v1 Dare

    Professionals do not know how killing it is to lose your own reminiscences whenever your digital photographer experiences specialized “problems.” That’s the reason why you must constantly purchase specialist photography enthusiasts that understand their own stuff. Don’t ever scrimp upon event pictures. Ever.

  • http://www.pradeepsanyal.com Pradeep

    useful article!

  • Vincent Emmanuel

    Just a typo in the 4th paragraph.

    For Canon and Nikon, full frame bodies are readily available for not-too-expensive prices. Full frame bodies are extremely useful in wedding photography because of their low-noise capabilities, the sensor being larger. 2-3 stops can normally be gained in a full frame body as compared to a normal APS-C dSLR. This means that ISO 3200 can be used instead of ISO 800 and still have about the same amount of noise, and the shutter speed can be raised two whole stops: necessary, as weddings are normally conducted in not very bright light. If you only have one camera, it should be a full frame body.

    I think it should be ISO 800 instead of ISO 3200.

  • http://Underconstruction Steve Johns

    This is the best exchange of views on the subject which I have come across! I am not primarily (or even usually) a wedding photographer as such, but I have recently done a couple of weddings “reportage” style using 5D II and 7D Canon bodies. I don’t like the Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L (and to tell the truth, I am hanging on like grim death until its replacement comes out), so my EF-S 18-55 f2.8 stayed on my 7D throughout, with excellent results. Apart from that, I limited myself to my Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L and Canon 24-105mm f4 L on the 5DII, and that (with some occasional off-camera and bounced flash) did the trick. However, the lighting – even at night (!) was pretty good, and the couple anyway asked for a “story” shoot. This Summer I shall be doing a more formal wedding with some more challenging lighting situations, so out goes the 24-105mm and in comes the 70-200mm f2.8L IS II. I shall also finally take the plunge to invest in the Canon 85mm f1.2 L II and a second flash unit etc… My Sigma 15mm f2.8 Diagonal Fisheye might also come along for the odd quirky shot. I think that this – combined with planning and scouting out the lie of the land etc. beforehand should cover most bases. Does anyone have any additional (or better) suggestions.?

  • http://www.pvhproduction.com Adrew Miller

    Great digital photography ideas & equipment you have shared here, keep it continue.
    Thank you for sharing
    wedding photographer melbourne

Some older comments

  • Steve Johns

    January 3, 2012 08:42 am

    This is the best exchange of views on the subject which I have come across! I am not primarily (or even usually) a wedding photographer as such, but I have recently done a couple of weddings "reportage" style using 5D II and 7D Canon bodies. I don't like the Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L (and to tell the truth, I am hanging on like grim death until its replacement comes out), so my EF-S 18-55 f2.8 stayed on my 7D throughout, with excellent results. Apart from that, I limited myself to my Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L and Canon 24-105mm f4 L on the 5DII, and that (with some occasional off-camera and bounced flash) did the trick. However, the lighting - even at night (!) was pretty good, and the couple anyway asked for a "story" shoot. This Summer I shall be doing a more formal wedding with some more challenging lighting situations, so out goes the 24-105mm and in comes the 70-200mm f2.8L IS II. I shall also finally take the plunge to invest in the Canon 85mm f1.2 L II and a second flash unit etc... My Sigma 15mm f2.8 Diagonal Fisheye might also come along for the odd quirky shot. I think that this - combined with planning and scouting out the lie of the land etc. beforehand should cover most bases. Does anyone have any additional (or better) suggestions.?

  • Vincent Emmanuel

    November 7, 2011 01:33 am

    Just a typo in the 4th paragraph.

    For Canon and Nikon, full frame bodies are readily available for not-too-expensive prices. Full frame bodies are extremely useful in wedding photography because of their low-noise capabilities, the sensor being larger. 2-3 stops can normally be gained in a full frame body as compared to a normal APS-C dSLR. This means that ISO 3200 can be used instead of ISO 800 and still have about the same amount of noise, and the shutter speed can be raised two whole stops: necessary, as weddings are normally conducted in not very bright light. If you only have one camera, it should be a full frame body.

    I think it should be ISO 800 instead of ISO 3200.

  • Pradeep

    October 1, 2011 09:20 am

    useful article!

  • Dare

    July 23, 2011 04:05 am

    Professionals do not know how killing it is to lose your own reminiscences whenever your digital photographer experiences specialized “problems.” That’s the reason why you must constantly purchase specialist photography enthusiasts that understand their own stuff. Don’t ever scrimp upon event pictures. Ever.

  • ChristopherakaPaul

    April 30, 2011 11:59 am

    To "photo hero needed", I would like to give you the best advice I can give to any person going into prOfEssiOnAl anything.......take your time, do your research online about the business and its pros and cons, research any equipment and software people recommend by using the reviews online, check out what the pros do, get books, get videos, work as an assistant to someone and learn from what they do right and wrong and set goals of excellence, but most of all...take your time.

  • ChristopherakaPaul

    April 30, 2011 11:59 am

    To "photo hero needed", I would like to give you the best advice I can give to any person going into prOfEssiOnAl anything.......take your time, do your research online about the business and its pros and cons, research any equipment and software people recommend by using the reviews online, check out what the pros do, get books, get videos, work as an assistant to someone and learn from what they do right and wrong and set goals of excellence, but most of all...take your time.

  • Photo Hero Needed

    April 28, 2011 06:01 am

    Hi there

    I'm about to buy my first SLR camera - until now been on a borrowed one to collect funds.The view is to go professional in Wedding/Event & portrait photography. I'm enrolled on course but wanted you opinion on camera selection and price range: should I go for an expensive ( for my pockets) Canon Mark ii or a cheaper slr?

    The more expensive one would save me upgrade and last a long time - but perhaps throw me in the deep end in terms of level.

    Kind of last and all opinions will be greatly received.

    Many thanks

  • photomadesimple

    August 6, 2010 07:35 pm

    Fair enough, prime lenses certainly give you that professional shallow depth of field look, but using them unobtrusively for candids is difficult, because you can't zoom. We use primes for dresses and room details, and zooms for candids. We certainly would not, under any circumstances, use one lens for the whole job - you see a lot of people with 18-200's, but this is a jack of all trades master of none lens. If I could do a good job with one lens I'd not be staggering around with a bag full of kit!

  • Antony Pratap

    August 5, 2010 04:08 pm

    I usually shoot with a fixed-focal (prime for portraits) and a wide (for groups).

  • Colorado Wedding Photographer, JasonG

    April 24, 2010 06:31 am

    Great post... Our philosophy on gear is to keep it as simple as possible. Weddings are wonderfully challenging events to shoot (that's why we love them).
    Our Gear:
    2 Nikon D700s
    70-200 2.8
    24-70 2.8
    50 1.4
    85 1.4
    SB600 (reception primarily)
    AlienBees 1600 (reception primarily)
    6 Ebay remote flash triggers (simple, inexpensive, we bring six just in case we need backups)
    Vivitar 285h flash (reception primarily)

    We can carry everything (except for the AlienBees Flash) with us anywhere. We use the natural light provided by mother nature for 95% of our images.

    We use flash in two scenarios.
    1. Formals - if shot in the middle of the afternoon under harsh sunlight (and there are no options to find shade)
    2. Reception - especially for indoor receptions.
    Note: The flash is rarely on camera. We love off camera flash (hats off to all the strobists out there). We have a bunch of ebay wireless triggers for our flashes. We've used Pocket Wizards in the past. They're great, but very pricey. Our ebay triggers have been rock solid.

  • photomadesimple

    January 24, 2010 04:18 am

    This crop factor X1.5 magnification stuff can be useful. For one thing - a 50mm lens (acting as a 75mm on a Nikon or a 80mm on a Canon) is a lot cheaper than the 85mm it replaces. An 85mm 1.8 can act as a 142mm 1.8, which is a great long fast lens in certain situations (comedy clubs particularly good here). We really love the 28-105mm 3.5 Nikkor which acts as a 42-160mm. We have shot whole weddings on this lens except the big group shots, and even these really only require an inexpensive 18-55 DX kit lens - you really don't need a very wide lens for weddings up to 300 guests. So if you are trying to do weddings on the really cheap - get a D70, 28-105 f3.5, 18-55mm DX and an SB600 with a lightsphere. See Ken Rockwell for his opinion on the 18-55, although he never got on with the 28-105 I think he had a bad one. If you want newer, get a D90.

  • Ed Hamlin

    December 12, 2009 11:26 am

    @jesse Kaufman check out this blog great advice http://photodino.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/photo-tips-o-the-day-part-2

  • Ed Hamlin

    December 12, 2009 07:59 am

    @jesse Kaufman, Hey I saw a lot of potential!!! Some encouragements, Like I said before, I think, learn your camera body inside and out and what it can do with each of the lenses you have. So go out and shoot in your back yard front yard, where ever, shoot oh 1400-2000 frames, different focal points same subject, aperature setting, shutter speed,DOF, scene compression with the 18-200, low light, golden hours. Shoot it up.
    Next, what really gets you excited to shoot,? Me it is two things, landscapes and people. Both can draw such emotion, what you create should make you laugh, cry, create curiosity, and so much more. What do you want people to see? Why? What do you want them to feel physically and emotionally. If you develop your voice with that in mind you will see everything in a different light. LOL

    Caution - If I stopped for everything I every saw I would never get to where I intended to go, LOL. I often return to a location for people and landscapes, different times of day and even night. ( Side note - I have two invaluable pieces of equipment a monopod and tripod, lightweight and inexpensive and I used them about 75%of the time.)

    Then as my wife says, "go deeper". Keep pushing, I encourage people follow the passion that is inside, that thing that motivates you and makes you step out even though you scared to take that step.
    Ever a question hit me up, I may or maynot have an answer. JMHO (Just my Humble Opinion)

  • Jesse Kaufman

    December 12, 2009 07:01 am

    @Ed Hamlin oh no, you haven't troubled me in the least! I'm on this website for one thing and one thing only: to learn as much as i possibly can about photography :)

    Yup, I started out with a "DSLR-like" Panasonic FZ-10, but have since upgraded to the XTi ... quickly got frustrated with Canon's 18-55mm kit lens and bought the Sigma 18-200mm zoom lens w/ optical stabilization (which, unfortunately, I'll have to replace if I get a full-frame ... or only use it on my XTi as a backup) and just recently acquired Canon's 50mm f1.8 prime (and LOVE it!)

    On my Canon (depending on lighting situation), I've been really happy with ISOs up to 400, but sometimes 800 is even a bit too grainy ... 1600 gets frustrating to me most of the time, which is why i've really been getting into shooting with artificial light (or a combination of artificial and natural) ... *someday* i'd like to step up to something like the 5D Mark II (or whatever a similar level camera will be once I can afford it) ... I've had no experience with Nikon, but absolutely love my Canon! :) Nothing against Nikons at all ... I'd like to play around with one and see what difference there are :) ... most of my photographer friends own Canons, so I'm able to ask them questions and not have to "translate" across brands, which is nice ... most of my other gear, however, is 3rd party like Opteka (battery grip), Sigma (lens and flash), etc ... been pleased with them and feel I've gotten my money's worth ... they're no L-series, but then again at this point in time (VERY early in my photography career) I just cannot justify that kind of money ;)

    "To me you are a good photgrapher because of one simple character trait, you don't settle for what is good, you want better. " ... i love that quote! that's how i feel ... constantly trying to push myself to learn new techniques, figure out how i could've done my last shot better, etc, etc, etc ... I'm finally getting to the point, however, where I'm getting really happy with my shots, which is good, because it's too easy to get frustrated and feel like giving up! It's encouraging because I like what I shoot, but I can still see room for improvement! :) (I started with very amateur photography about 6 or 7 years ago, but didn't really get "serious" about it until this year, so I've got lots to learn still!)

    Too many thoughts to write down about your last paragraph, but the issues you felt with being frustrated with "typical" flash is exactly what i've been working at overcoming lately (and having a lot of fun, too!) ... thanks for the encouragement and I really appreciate your comments!! If you're interested, I have my stuff on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/glandix ... it's a mix of "real" work and more "snapshot" type stuff, since i started out more doing just snapshots ... BUT i can already see improvements since I found this site! :)

  • Ed Hamlin

    December 12, 2009 06:41 am

    @jesse Kaufman I apologize if I have troubled you in anyway, I would encourage experimentation to see what works best for the photog. Yes it is difficult when you really dont have what you would desire. Wehn I entered the digital age of 35mm I too din't have the budget to afford a FX body. I spent about 3 month reading, rereading, reviews by numerous individuals and finally made my decision to purchase a D80, with to highly regarded by some, 18-55mm and 55-200mm vr dx lenses, not the perfect lenses but they produce. I do operate with several different pieces of glass now though.

    Yes the FX body is definitly the way to go when shooting usable light. Otherwise the DX bodys are just as good for the quality of the images when at ISO's of 1200 and below when considerind a D80 or lower compable model. D90 I think performs a bit better but if you are going to throw down there go for the D700 or comparable. By now you can tell I am a nikon man, albeit i have owned Cannon, Pentax, Kodak, and others in film though.

    My choice for portraits and weddings would be 2 Nikon D3 bodies, 70-200 f2.8 & a 50mm f1.4 on my DX I use a 50mm f1.8 and 55-200mm.

    By the way the 18-200 is a pretty good lens. I repeat a quote by a pioneer in Photography, "it is not the camera that makes the picture, it only captures what is seen by the photgrapher, who creates the picture".

    What I say isn't an imperical truth, it is what I have found to work most of the time, based on my expeirence and knowledge beginning in 1970. To me you are a good photgrapher because of one simple character trait, you don't settle for what is good, you want better. You can't go wrong, You are the guy I would spend months shooting with because the last shot may have been good but you want a better shot.

    When I go my D80 I just began using it, not really learning all of it's capablilities. Well a funny thing and then I will stop, I like using existing light, not a real flash/strobist. I was sitting in my livingroom with family and had shot a couple frames and I wondered, what can I do with my on camera flash, which I hate because in it's normal setting it looks like flash, unatural, blah blah blah. Well I found out it has some very interesing settings, and I began to play around and achieved some very interesting effects. And actually produced some nice portraits, not exceptional but nice, sears style (hopefully I haven't offended anyone), point is I began to realize that I needed to go further with the capability of my camera. How can I really capture what I see and want to create. thus my encouragemtn to you, keep working on using what you have. when the time comes for the FX body you will be well ahead in becoming a great Photographer, I don't consider my self good. Hope this helps.

  • Jesse Kaufman

    December 12, 2009 05:43 am

    @Ed Hamlin i'm basing my input on shooting a whopping one wedding, so it's probably over simplified anyway ;) ... and in my case, i really didn't have room ... it was on an outside balcony and even when i was using my 50mm prime for portraits, i didn't have much room to work with! granted, i only own a 1.6x crop camera ... a full frame would've given me more room to work with

    and yup, it's one of the laundry list of things that's up to personal preference in photography ... one of the most wonderful, yet frustrating things about photography ;)

    i guess my thinking is if i'm gonna us a wide angle, i want to get the full capabilities of that wide angle :) ... but then again, until i can afford a full frame camera, i won't really be getting that anyway ;) ... i do like the "extra zoom" (in quotes, since it's obviously debatable) when i use my 18-200mm, however!

  • Ed Hamlin

    December 12, 2009 05:35 am

    @Xsightn & @jesse kaufman It si a tough choice to make. This is a consideration that I try to keep in mind when framing up people mostly. I tend to leave some space around the people so I can perform post crops, if you try to frame it up perfectly in the camera and something is slightly off you won't have room to crop so that brings up the lens perspective/crop issue on a DX frame. This means If I want to shoot at 70mm I am going to be a bit farther away, do I have room to do that at a wedding? don't know, more often than not, yes. I think it comes down to style and what work for the Photog. JMHO

  • Jesse Kaufman

    December 12, 2009 02:41 am

    @Xsightn I'd probably use the 70-200 on the crop camera and the 24-70 on the full frame ... that way, you really get the full wide angle ... i would guess (anyone, feel free to correct me if i'm wrong) you'll see more of a benefit of the full frame on the 24-70 lens than you would the 70-200 ... plus, you get a little extra "perceived" zoom on the 70-200 by using it on the crop (keeping in mind all the discussions above as to how crop factor affects the picture size, since it seems to be a pretty complicated subject and touchy to some) ...

    but, that's just my personal opinion if i had both a full frame and crop frame as well as the lenses you have ... i only have a crop frame with a 50mm prime and 18-200mm zoom ... but, if you get the pictures to look the way you want, who cares? :)

  • Xsightn

    December 11, 2009 04:40 pm

    Nice article but nothing new here really.
    Great for new or inexperienced photogs though.
    Assuming you do have a main body(FX) and a backup body (DX), which lens would be best on either if you had to work with say a 70-200 and a 24-70.

  • Ed Hamlin

    December 8, 2009 07:35 am

    I want to add a bit more to my comments above. When it comes to equipment, I think it has been outlined very well, an APS-C body 10mp or mor ewill work well and shoots wunderful images sharp and clear with good quality lenses. Thus I would say if you cannot afford a 70-200 f2.8 high quality lens then pick up two primes as a min. 24mm and a 135mm. You will work harder physically but they work really well and you will be very happy with the results. Additional lighting, if you can't afford some good strobes, then you can get creative and use a variety of things to provide a lowcost DIY supplemental lighting, goe to Lowes or Home depot and check out the work lights especially the ones that have the squeeze clamps and the big metal reflectors. So get creative and experiment and try different bulbs.

    I shot most of a wedding with a 50mm with a D80 and no additional lighting. I had a lot of really awesome shots. But this is about equipment, work and while you work then build your equipment. My three recommendations for weddings are a D3 or D700 or both; lenses should 24mm, 50mm, 135mm, 70-200mm f2.8, and the comfort of shooting with primes that way the most important piece of equipment is ready on the day of the wedding.

    Then as others have mentioned above, spares of everything, batteries, some tape (gaffers is the best), spare bulbs for what ever supplemental lighting you may use. then little goodies that will make you the hero, they have been mentioned.

  • izam

    December 8, 2009 03:22 am

    Great Info..helping me to "open my eye" with wedding photo shoot..thanks for all guys who sharing a lot of ussefull knowlegde..

  • FC

    December 5, 2009 01:57 pm

    As aforementioned, there was a mistake in my article (wide aperture is thus a small aperture).

    Concerning the crop factor (or focal multiplication factor): this article is primarily targeted towards those looking to enter wedding photography, and so adding this in could prove more confusing. However, for the sake of correctness, Zalmy does quite have it covered.

    On an APS-C body (assume Nikon, with a crop factor then of 1.5x), the focal length of 200mm is still 200mm. But you get an effective field of view of 300mm on a full frame body. For the sake of simplicity, I didn't expound on it in the article, but there it is. :)

  • Zalmy

    November 26, 2009 02:39 pm

    "You say “by using a 70-200mm f/2.8 on a APS-C body, you effectively get around 300mm in f/2.8 as a maximum”. I find this confusing and disagree, please correct me if I’m wrong. I would argue that it doesn’t give you a 300mm lens. (1) The magnification is that of a 200mm lens. (2) the perspective is that of a 200mm lens. What it does give is a crop of the whole image if it were captured full frame. At best I think you could say that the image will enlarge more, because you have a higher pixel density, than if you used a full frame camera and cropped it."

    Since you asked to be corrected (and please correct me if I am wrong, I'm still quite the beginner).
    You are right on 1 and 2, however since the photo is going to be cropped you have to move back the amount of the crop. For example if your subject is 20 feet in front of you and you have a full frame camera with the lens set to 80mm. In order to get the same picture with a cropped sensor (lets say 1.5 for easier math) you would have to have a focal length of 50mm (x1.5=80).
    Now since you are still 20 feet away the perspective has not changed (the perspective is a direct consequence of your distance from the subject, it has nothing to do with the focal length) and you will have the same exact photo (except with a slightly deeper depth of field, as that is a consequence of the focal length).
    Therefore, what you would need a 300mm lens to fill the frame on a full frame would only take a 200mm lens on a 1.5x crop factor camera, to capture the same exact photo
    (On the other hand you could claim that you could take the pic at 200mm with a full frame and then crop it to match what the cropped sensor camera captured with the same focal length) .Did that make sense?

  • Ed Hamlin

    November 24, 2009 04:59 pm

    I have shot a few weddings, becasue of my natural style prefer Primes,they're fast, and I love working with natural light, and many good primes are less expensive than fast zooms. I shot a wedding in Tucson in the late afternoon, and used a grad ND and also a cp filter. it works well so you don't have the wedding party and others looking into the sun. ( This happened at my sons wedding and everyone is squinting, harsh light the faces, Not Good!)

    If you can afford it, get some good strobes and shoot through umbrellas for outside, inside I like the monolight/strobe set up just like shooting portraits. The fill llight softens the harder outside light. Remember small light is hard, Big light is soft. and the sun is small for it's position in the big scheme of things. Also a large reflector can soften outside light with out buying strobes. you can get holders and stands talk a friend or tow in coming to help if you can't afford an assistant. I will trade services sometimes.

    The best equipment you have for shooting a wedding is yourself. I think the reason my son's wedding photos were terrible is the the photographers we from a city I won't name but thery were not from Tucson. They were not prepared mentally. They arrived with no time to really get the feel for where they could shoot to get good shots. My advice, if you have never been to the wedding venue or the reception venue take the time to visit them for 5-15 minutes take a few shots of hwere you think you want to shoot. see what the light is like. Plan ahead, and hopefully you have had some face time with your clients if possible to map out their special needs. Just my humble opinion.

  • johnp

    November 23, 2009 09:04 am

    Chester I sometimes use a bracket to attach my flash to at weddings. I use an old one that was actually off a medium format film camera but it works well. I find it enables me to then use both the popup camera flash and bounce the main flash giving me two on camera light sources but only if I know beforehand that there will be a white ceiling or wall I can take advantage of. I wouldnt bother with it otherwise as it makes the camera very bulky and awkward especially if you are also carrying a second camera. It does ensure however, as someone else remarked, your camera will be bigger than that of the father of the bride.

  • Larry J Foster, PPA Certified

    November 22, 2009 09:49 am

    I would personally challenge those who are considering wedding photography to work more on light control. Anyone with a PNS camera can take a picture and it will look just like the picture you just took with your on-camera flash. Regardless of the name or how "good" that flash is, it is still a single light source coming from the camera. If your pictures look just like what the customer can shoot, why do they need to pay you? Learn light control. Learn how to use off camera lights. Your images will look better and they will look different. And different sells.

    Larry J Foster
    (23 years in business and 800+ weddings.)

  • Paul Christopher

    November 21, 2009 07:38 pm

    [img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4077654014/in/set-72157621240744322/[/img]

    [img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4099963180/in/set-72157621240744322/[/img]

    [img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4099383041/in/set-72157621240744322/[/img]

  • Paul Christopher

    November 21, 2009 07:30 pm

    I like the suggestion by Ryan (on November 18th, 2009 at 7:05 am) who said to use more cards with smaller memory so as not to lose a great number of data in case something goes wrong.

    I would also like to ass that what I do as a wedding photographer is carry along my laptop and transfer the data to my laptop during a break. You could use your secondary caemra while doing so or use a card reader in the meantime.

    A "break" you say!!! Yes, for example, I consider it quite impolite to take shots of people eating, so I use such a period to have a snack and download data.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/sets/72157621240744322/

  • Peter

    November 21, 2009 02:53 pm

    Color Correction gels, if you're using flash.

    In churches, where you might have some issues with the stained glass windows, you can take out any discolorization while retaining the "feel" of the environment with a CTO.

  • hal mooney

    November 21, 2009 12:53 pm

    "In the olden days..." of film, I dropped finished rolls in the deep left pocket of my suit jacket, while fresh rolls were kept in the right pocket.
    Now, with digital cards, I use a black passport belt with a zipper. It not noticeable, but always in my control. Empty cards are in my pocket, but full cards go in the belt.
    That way they can't get lost, misplaced, or accidently put back in the camera.
    And the posters are right that many small cards are safer than a few high-capacity ones.

  • Ghislain

    November 21, 2009 04:38 am

    I do not agree with people arguing about a 200mm on an APS-C sensor. If you stand somewhere, take a picture with at 200mm with an APS-C and take a picture from the same position with a 300mm on a full frame you will get the (almost) same picture. If you show both picture printed at the same size nobody will be able to tell which conbination of body/lens it was. So if you look at it this way, it's like getting a 300mm 2.8 lens if you were using a full frame.

    I say almost because there will be a little more depth of field on the APS-C picture because a 200mm lens has more depth of field than a 300mm lens. You may also see a difference in sharpnest but this depends on the body and/or lens used, it has nothing to do with APS-C vs full frame.

  • Justin

    November 21, 2009 02:26 am

    I just shot my first big wedding. Lots of smaller stuff before and I finally learned why I need more than one flash. Mine just kept getting overheated, what a pain, people waiting for their portraits and me going, "hold, hold, hold"

    I had with me my:
    5D MkII
    40D
    24-70mm 2.8 L
    70-200mm 2.8 L IS
    100mm 2.8
    50mm 1.8
    580EX II
    My straight from Hong Kong PWs
    and a couple tripods which I didn't really use

    Also, my website is pretty new, feel free to check it out and a few of my photos of the wedding
    http://www.frittsphoto.com/people/wedding2/index.html

  • incapete

    November 20, 2009 11:18 pm

    Ha, serves me right for complaining about errors.... I don't seem to be able to edit my comment so just skip over the bit where I get confused and think the 5d2 is a crop body...

  • incapete

    November 20, 2009 08:32 pm

    A nice article but it jars with me a little because of a few errors- the large aperture=large f/stop is the most glaring one so it would be great if it was editied before you start giving people the idea that shooting a wedding at f/16 or f/22 is a good idea.

    Also the tip on using a long lens on a crop body is a great one but the example given has another error in it - using an f/2.8 lens on a crop will make it act like an f/4. So you're 70-200mm f/2.8 more like a 300mm f/4, at least in terms of depth-of-field.

    The last point is that the newer high-end crop bodies have amazing high-ISO, low noise abilities - something like the Canon 5D mark2 actually makes a great wedding camera - a lens like the EF-S 17-55 f2.8 IS or the EF 17-40 L makes a great wide zoom on the crop sensor so don't discount these bodies even for your primary camera.

  • Mark

    November 20, 2009 12:45 pm

    Only duck tape? I believe in murphy's law so i bring

    -white out (if the bride drops something on the dress)
    -tide to go (if any one drops something on the dress)
    -sewing kit ( I used this one before and I save the day too.)
    -small mirror (for the bride)
    -super clue
    -finger nail top coat clear (for her legs if it starts to rip. dont remember the name for it)
    -safety pins (for sewing)

    Im only a beginner wedding photographer and i used most of the stuff already..

  • Chester Johnson

    November 20, 2009 11:22 am

    Does anyone use a flash bracket? I have another wedding to do and have been thinking of obtaining a bracket for my D200 and SB800. I have been placing the flash on the hot shoe but I think I can do better with a bracket.

  • photomadesimple

    November 20, 2009 06:42 am

    If you really don't know that a 2.8 gathers more light than a 3.5, you shouldn't be buying a full-frame camera unless you have a huge budget. The camera body really doesn't matter that much, except it can be embarrassing if the father of the bride has a bigger camera than you, but we all know that bigger doesn't always mean better with kit.

    D2X and D50 as a spare (yes really)
    We use a 50mm 1.8
    85mm 1.8
    28-105mm 3.5
    70-200 2.8 VR
    18-55mm kit lens (yes really) for big group shots.
    SB800 flashguns.

  • Chris Biele

    November 20, 2009 04:43 am

    I'm about to drop about 10k on my gear, so thanks for the tips. I won't be doing just weddings, but also portrait, product, interior and landscape. I'm going the Nikon route and using my Pentax K10d for backup until the D700 update hits. Here's the list so far:

    D300s
    12-24 Sigma
    24-70 Nikon
    70-200 Sigma
    45 pc-e Nikon (for cool portrait and product effects)
    sb900
    2 x sb600
    Orbis Ring Flash
    some HonlPhoto and Lumiquest light modifiers
    PocketWizard Mini and Flex's when available

    Now I just need a bigger bag. Oh my poor knees.

  • Harry Joseph

    November 20, 2009 03:49 am

    A set of filters comes in handy also, such as star, soft focus etc.

  • Elise Walker

    November 20, 2009 12:02 am

    You don't know how traumatic it is to lose your memories when your photographer experiences technical "problems." That's why you should always invest in professional photographers who know their stuff. Don't ever scrimp on event photography. Ever.

  • johnp

    November 19, 2009 10:23 am

    Kiran when I thought I had lost the memory cards of a wedding it wasnt the bride's tears I was worried about - it was her right fist!
    Fortunately we located them so she will never know how close she was to not having wedding photos although my assistant did have some backups on her camera. It brought home to me the need to really check and double check that those cards are secure at all times. Being so small they can so easily be dropped or mislaid.

  • irene jones

    November 19, 2009 04:26 am

    http://ijphoto.net/portfolios/wedding/reception#39

    Visit my website for more photos with blur during a wedding.

  • irene jones

    November 19, 2009 04:25 am

    What no tripod? This will make shooting during a dark reception or ceremony where no flash is allowed difficult don't you think? You can only crank up the ISO so far, at a certain point you may have to stop hand holding. Plus blur can be an effective story telling device. [img]http://ijphoto.net/portfolios/wedding/reception#39[/img]
    Some of my favorite shots I've done at weddings include blur, and most definitely the sturdiest tripod I can find.

  • ZAFAR

    November 19, 2009 03:35 am

    while making photograph of bride and the bridegroom, it should be remember that God has made
    the face to look at different angles. This is job of person holding camera that what angle is the best to show
    maximum beauty. It may be ignored if there is photogenic face in front of your camera lens.
    2. The bride is always in make-up while the bridegroom is often without it, so it may the notice about
    the arrangement of lights falling on your model's face to minimise the glare often appear on face .
    ZAFAR,
    zafar273@gmail.com (92 42 - 0302 450 5868)

  • hfng

    November 19, 2009 02:58 am

    I hate weddings!

  • Dikar

    November 19, 2009 12:18 am

    So it's approximately
    2 X Nikon D700 = $5.000
    Nikon 24-70 F/2.8G = $2.000
    Nikon 70-200 F/2.8G VR = $2.000
    2 X SB 900 = $800
    ====
    $9-10k

  • Eric Mesa

    November 18, 2009 10:55 pm

    Very good tips. As others have said, don't forget the batteries. And, no matter what you normally do, throw some brand new alkaline batteries into your flash. I did that (coupled with the extra battery pack) for the last wedding I shot and I couldn't believe how fast that baby recycled!

    I've gotten some great images with my 350D and 400D as my main body, although I'm sure it would have looked sweeter with a full frame body. It's too bad most people get married in a poorly lit church, because you have so many more options when it's an outdoor wedding. In a dark church you basically are stuck at f/2.8 and the lowest ISO you can manage.

    Here's the stuff I've done: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericsbinaryworld/collections/72157600269396726/

    Some I was just a guest and some I was the official photog.

  • MeiTeng

    November 18, 2009 10:36 pm

    What a timely article. I will be shooting a friend's wedding this Saturday and a first wedding photo assignment. I have limited equipment - 1 camera body only and no flash. I will be shooting mainly with my sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4/5 and if time permits, will try to switch to my tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 in between...hopefully. Otherwise, I just have to make the best use of my wide angle.

  • Nasim Mansurov

    November 18, 2009 06:23 pm

    As the other readers pointed out, please remember that an APS-C sized sensor DOES NOT increase the focal length of the lens. There is a big confusion over this and please do not be fooled that your 70-200 f/2.8 can become a 300mm f/2.8!

    A sensor does not change the effective focal length of the lens - all it does, is it crops the image.

  • Jeffrey

    November 18, 2009 05:46 pm

    Awesome post!

    In a lot of these posts they talk about 2 bodys so you don't have to switch lenses (lets just ignore the fact it's also for backup). Now what if you, like I do, have a lense that covers all the way from 18mm to 200mm (Nikkor 18-200mm VR II)? Use the backup with a prime lens (50mm) or something?

  • Kiran

    November 18, 2009 04:31 pm

    Great post and tips!

    I agree with some of the important pointers highlighted by the commenter here. Such as having backup batteries and using smaller memory cards. This all makes sense in shooting such an important event. Can't imagine dealing with teary brides :D

  • Amy

    November 18, 2009 02:01 pm

    Great tips. Always useful info on this blog.

    Amy

    wedding photographer colorado springs co

  • Alan Nielsen

    November 18, 2009 11:40 am

    for me I use:
    2 x Canon 5d
    24-70 2.8L
    70-200 4.0L
    50mm 1.4
    100mm macro

    I keep the 24-70 & 70-200 during the ceremony, reception & formals, and use the 50 & 100 before & after. I do use the 50 for individual shots.

    My first weddings were shot with a Rebel XT, with a 50mm 1.8 and a 17-85.

    In the end, I agree with this statement the most "Your equipment can limit you, but at the end of the day it boils down to the photographer." I've always said that it comes down to the eye behind the camera and not the equipment.

  • Richard Lehoux

    November 18, 2009 10:14 am

    Be carefull to not underestimate the 5D Mark II because this article label it "prosumer". Many professional use this camera. It has the same level of image quality then the more pricey camera (See Dyxomark) of Canon but is not as bulky and heavy.

    Correct me if i'm wrong but I think the prosumer camera are double digit like the 50D and the professional single digit like the 7D, 5D and 1D. But i'm maybe wrong with the 7D...

  • Steve Arnett

    November 18, 2009 10:01 am

    Interesting article, but I wouldn't be so definitive on the gear list.

    As someone mentioned, might want to correct the Smaller F-Number error... Also, the claim "while primes go down to f/1.4" because they actually go wider. Canon's 50 and 85mm f/1.2L's are some fantastic pieces of glass!

    85mm not necessary? Ok, sure whatver. But I couldn't imagine shooting without mine. On my crop-sensor Nikon, 127mm is a fantastic range for portraits.

  • Tyler Ingram

    November 18, 2009 09:45 am

    I played around at a wedding (as a guest) with my 17-40 F4L and it wasn't bad, though I had to shoot a lot of it at ISO1600. My XSi won't go past 1600. The 16-38 f2.8 would be great if I could afford it! The 24-70 f2.8 I thought was not as wide as I wanted on my XSi so I didn't opt for that. I do more outdoor things anyway.

    Though I did find that using the f2.8 on my 70-200 was great too. I would love to get more into it, and I would get a second camera body as well, if I could afford to...

    I thought about using my Sigma EF-530 DG Super, but at the time I had no idea how to use it. Now I do, so I probably would look at using it at the next wedding I'm a guest to!

    Another cool lens I've seen used for some pretty stunning photos was the use of a Fisheye lens. Like the Sigma 15mm Fisheye. But I guess that is a bit more creative/artsy then some people might want at their wedding. During the reception I thought the use of it was pretty cool.

    Thanks for the post! I'm always looking at info about shooting weddings etc!

  • Steven Lilley

    November 18, 2009 08:50 am

    You say "by using a 70-200mm f/2.8 on a APS-C body, you effectively get around 300mm in f/2.8 as a maximum". I find this confusing and disagree, please correct me if I'm wrong. I would argue that it doesn't give you a 300mm lens. (1) The magnification is that of a 200mm lens. (2) the perspective is that of a 200mm lens. What it does give is a crop of the whole image if it were captured full frame. At best I think you could say that the image will enlarge more, because you have a higher pixel density, than if you used a full frame camera and cropped it.

  • Eric

    November 18, 2009 08:36 am

    There isn't anything wrong with a APS-C sensor as the main body if it has good high ISO. The Pentax K-X (of which there is no mention of pentax in the whole article) Can shoot up to 12,800 ISO and is very usable up to 6400. The IQ rivals many of the full frame camera and is easily best in class at its $550 entry level price.

    I know you may shoot with a different brand, but why does everything have to be, "the Canon 70-200..." or "the Canon 580 EX II". Any flash that has the power and features you need will work. I used a fully manual lp120.

    Also, on a 1.5/1.6 crop sensor, a 200mm lens will only give the field of view of a 300mm lens, not the reach. If you need to use a 300mm on full frame, you will still need a 300mm on a crop sensor. The crop factor won't get you closer.

    If you know how to use your gear and really know how, regardless of brand, you can shoot a wedding. You need to be fast and not fumbling around in menus looking for settings. Know how to shoot in low light. Know how to get shots in quickly changing lighting.

  • johnp

    November 18, 2009 08:30 am

    Another thing you'll need are spare fully charged batteries especially if you are using a lot of flash, on or off camera. A secure system of retaining those precious memory cards is a must. I thought I had that sorted with one wedding, keeping them in a small bag which half way through the wedding I stored in the back of my car. When arriving home 30klms away after midnight they were nowhere to be found, they had dropped out of the car in the dark when loading the gear into the car. In total panic I drove back to where I had parked the car and, to my joy, the bag was sitting right where I thought it would be. I keep that bag attached to my belt now.
    Not actually equipment but a couple of energy bars and a flask of water also will help keep you on top of things.

  • Scott Ingram

    November 18, 2009 08:21 am

    Batteries!!
    Never underestimate the small things like how many batteries you burn through with a flash during a wedding.
    I love the Sanyo eneloop. Rechargeable, high capacity, and fast. This plus a battery pack (such as the Canon CP-E4 ) for the flash is so handy. Nothing is worse than having your flash go dead (or slow) when you need it the most.

  • Ryan

    November 18, 2009 07:05 am

    I haven't really done any wedding photography myself but 1 piece of advise I think really applies here is to use smaller memory cards but have more of them.

    I can't imagine the pain of explaining to a bride that you lost half her wedding because one of your cards failed. For example, instead of a couple 16gb cards, go with 16x2gb cards. The switching may be annoying at times but if 1 card fails you only lose 7% of the photos instead of 50%

    just make sure you come up with a foolproof system to know which cards have been used, you don't want to grab a full one by mistake!

  • Kenneth

    November 18, 2009 06:52 am

    Excellent advice, but I'd change just one thing: replace the duct tape with gaffers tape. Yes, it's a bit more expensive, but it's just as strong and sticky and doesn't leave the sticky residue that duct tape does. I always have a roll of gaffers tape in my bag.

  • Jesse Kaufman

    November 18, 2009 06:52 am

    Thanks for the tips! Wish I would've had them a few weeks ago, though ;) ... I shot a friend's wedding using my XTi and both the Sigma 18-200mm zoom and Canon 50mm f1.8 prime ... I was pretty pleased with the turnout ... granted, it definitely would've been nice not to have to change lenses, but I'm doing this on a tight budget while I'm working on building my portfolio (and gear list) ... the Sigma equivalent of the 580EX II came in quite handy as well as a Gary Fong inverted dome diffuser (the wedding was outside in harsh sunlight on a windy day) ... in my case, i also used a circle polarizer on both lenses, which helped me get the colors I wanted from the sky and the Colorado mountains in the back ... obviously those filters came off when the party went indoors!

    in my situation (very informal wedding), I shot everything handheld ... with how bright it was, I was able to use a nice, fast shutter speed, so camera shake was nonexistent

    anyway, just my experience / gear shooting my first wedding :) ... thanks again for the tips! the recommendations on the lenses is very helpful to help my decide on my next lens :)

  • Steffen Zahn

    November 18, 2009 06:45 am

    "wide aperture (large f/-numbers)" that should be small f/-numbers

  • Ian Lozada

    November 18, 2009 06:33 am

    One other thing about full frame versus APS-C. Because of the smaller sensor and the de facto increase in focal length, a full frame camera will take sharper pictures than the same lens/settings compared to an APS-C sensor. The camera shake is accentuated in the longer focal length camera.

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