Choosing a Lens for Wedding Photography - Stepping into Wedding Photography Part 2

Choosing a Lens for Wedding Photography – Stepping into Wedding Photography Part 2

Recently Charles Clawson from wrote a post here on DPS called Stepping into Wedding Photography. Today he follows this up by looking at how to choose the right lens for Wedding Photography. Charles is a Nikon guy so this is reflected in his recommendations for Wedding Photography lenses (although a lot of his advice applies to others also) – but we’d love to hear your suggestions for other brands in comments below also!


Choosing the Right Lenses for Wedding Photography

So you’re serious about stepping into wedding photography, you’ve starting getting experience and your portfolio is growing. Now you want to know what gear the pros are using so you can start building your own formidable wedding arsenal.

The problem is, when researching how to invest that hard earned cash, you get a different answer from as many photographers as you choose to ask. The reason why is simple. There is no perfect wedding kit and every photographer will swear by this lens or that camera body.

Without asserting that it’s the equipment that makes a good photographer, here I hope to present some basic suggestions and let you take it from there. Some of the information I present here is Nikon specific, only because that is what I have experience shooting with. I hope that others will share suggestions in the comments on makes and models not included here.


Choosing a Wedding Portrait Lens

First things first, every wedding photographer needs a good portrait lens.

One of the more technical aspects of portrait photography, and perhaps a new concept for beginners, is the importance of camera-to-subject distance and its relationship with the focal length of your lens. You already know that if you put on a wide-angle lens and shoot your subject up close, it appears enormous in relation to everything in its surroundings. The closer the subject gets to the lens of the camera the more exaggerated this distortion becomes. This phenomenon is sometimes called foreshortening and can be used for some very cool creative effects.

The problem you can run into however is this same effect manifesting itself where you don’t want it. The famous “big nose, tiny ears” look may not go over well with a bride (unless she has a small nose, big ears complex). Even small changes in the position of your camera can change the overall feel of your image.

I came across one scientifically developed study on the topic, which involved showing similar compositions taken at different focal lengths to a sample of reviewers. After filling out a questionnaire on each image, it was discovered that closer portraits gave a subtly more soft and intimate tone, while shots taken at further distance made the subject appear stronger or firm in nature.

There seems to be a sweet spot in which images appear most pleasing to the human eye. So in short, to avoid unwanted foreshortening and achieve natural looking perspectives of facial features or body parts, a good rule of thumb is to try and shoot portraits from a distance of around 3-4 meters or 10-15 feet. (Of coarse when it comes to photography, rules are more like loose guidelines, as you often want to achieve a certain look that falls outside of the norm.)

In order to accomplish this you need a lens with enough magnification to let you stand at least that distance from the subject, but not so far that you have to shout in order to communicate. For 35mm film and full frame cameras, 85mm is often described as the best portrait focal length. Because of the 1.6x crop that occurs with smaller sensor cameras, a small sensor equivalent might be the 50mm lens. This of course all depends on the type of portraiture being taken. Longer focal lengths, all the way up to 200mm are great if you have the room maneuver. Remember, longer focal lengths combined with wide apertures exaggerate the blurred backgrounds that nicely isolate the subject from the distracting background details. Below are a few my personal suggestions. Look for equivalents made by your manufacturer of choice.

Good Wedding Portrait lenses:

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 – US $100

A great lens for an unbeatable price. Every photographer should look into getting this or a similar lens.

Nikon 85mm f/1.4 – US $1000

Considered by some to be the best portrait lens ever made by Nikon. It’s an extremely sharp lens, for both your photos and on your wallet.

Nikon 105mm f/2.8 – US $750

This lens provides a great portrait focal length and has the added ability of taking stunning macro (close-up) shots such as wedding rings, cakes and bouquets.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 – US $1,600

Probably the only telephoto-zoom you’ll ever need. Aside from portraits, for events where you can’t get up close and personal a 200mm lens is crucial.


Choosing your walk-around lens for Wedding Photography

As nice as it would be to shoot with only prime lenses, having 3 cameras around my neck with 3 more lenses attached to my belt isn’t really practical and will only serve to intimidate partygoers. Having a high quality zoom lens makes life much easier and you wont miss any shots messing with your gear. Wide-angle zoom lenses, sometimes also called standard zooms, to the rescue.

I find the best lens for wedding photography to be a lens that covers somewhere around the 20-70mm focal length range with an aperture of f/2.8. This ideal range lets you get wide enough to avoid constantly reaching for a dedicated wide-angle lens and close enough to capture facial emotions in your candid shots. It also doubles as a good lens for portraits. In the end, this type of lens is on my main camera 80% of the day. Again, sorry Canon users but here is a short list for Nikonians to research.

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 – US $1,700

A new lens to Nikon’s lineup, and replaces the 28-70mm lens. It’s compact, very sharp and has a good focal range.

Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 – US $1,400

The previous standard for this type of lens. Built like a tank, but almost as heavy as one too. Not quite as wide as the newer Nikon lens above, but a great lens.

Nikon 17-55mm – f/2.8 – US $1,200

This was Nikons first DX wide-angle zoom that has the needed constant f/2.8 aperture. Its angle of view is great and versatility unbeatable. Having used this lens and loved it, the only caution I would give is to seriously consider your upgrade path ahead. This lens will be at a great disadvantage when mounted on Nikon’s newer full frame bodies at reduced resolution. If you plan to stick with the DX sensor, and word is Nikon has more coming down the pipes, this is a must have lens.


Adding Creative Lenses

For the majority of your wedding shots, both photo-journalistic and portrait, the above lenses should have you covered. But as a wedding photographer you need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to get those creative shots that help you stand out from the rest of the pack. These are lenses you won’t use quite as often, but when you need them, they are essential.

First up is a good wide-angle lens to get those cool wide-angle shots. Since your walk-around lens can often go decently wide, it can often be used at its widest setting. But if you want to take it to the next level look into getting a dedicated wide-angle lens. If you have an extra camera body, even an older one, you may just leave your wide-angle lens mounted and grab it when necessary. I prefer the versatility of the zoom lenses, but if primes are your thing there are some great wide angles at the 14, 20 and 24mm focal lengths. Below are two wide-zooms that stand out.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 – US $1,500

Nikon 12-24mm f/4 – US $900

Next in the creative category is a good telephoto lens with a wide aperture. As mentioned above, a nice blurred background can be achieved with wide apertures and long focal lengths. These lenses aren’t only good for blurry backgrounds or shooting events from a distance. I have seen some stunning facial close-ups from creative angles above or below the subject that don’t exhibit the normal distortions of large chins or shrinking heads that come from wider lenses. Below are a few to look into.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 – US $1,600

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 – US $915

Not as pricey as the lens above with similar quality.

Nikon 180mm f/2.8 – US $750

A solid prime lens and a decent price.

Lastly, used even less often but very cool is the fish-eye lens. The angle of view is simply insane. With a fish eye lens you are able capture images with a 180 degree field of view for stunning special effects.

Nikon 16mm F/2.8 – US $760

Again, insane angle of view and also good in low light situations.

Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 – US $600

Same as above, this is an awesome lens for DX cameras, but consider your future upgrades before purchasing. All DX lenses shoot with lower resolution on FX camera bodies.

That about sums it up. There are some great lenses made by Sigma and Tamron that match the quality of the big players and cost much less. The resale value is sometimes lower on these lenses but definitely they are worth looking into. Do as much research as possible before making your big purchases by reading formal reviews as well as user ratings.

Feel free to sound off in the comments with your own thoughts and recommendations.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Chas Elliott is a freelance photographer in the Northern Virginia and DC area. See more of his work at

Some Older Comments

  • Kelly September 16, 2013 02:31 pm

    In answer to some of the above, You have to take into account what your shoots needs are.
    Your shoots needs fall apart if you have the only "wrong" lens eg 1200mm in a small room.

    Under normal shoots I would recommend two lenses.
    A wide angle lens to get the "All Ladies" "All men" All Brides Family All Grooms Family and EVERYONE together.

    I can not stress how important it is for YOU to take charge and arrange the shoots, make sure they are all smiling and not closing their eyes. (They will).

    The other lens depends on the venue and how you like to shoot.
    1200mm is across a ball park... the problem being that you lose control of your subject... but fine for candid shots.

    A fixed lens is usually better quality, produces a better image and costs less than a zoom.
    On a full size frame camera portraits are nice at 70mm to 140mm (Step back or forward to get the frame).
    A good 70mm - 135mm or good 70mm - 200mm lens fits the bill very nicely (Full frame sensor).

    As noted earlier: take into account the crop factor of your sensor when guestimating your shoots needs.

  • Kelly September 16, 2013 01:55 pm

    Choosing the lens size partly depends upon the body's sensor that you are using.
    A full frame sensor combined with a 50mm lens will produce a slight gopher effect.
    The same lens on an APS-C sensor body will produce almost no gopher effect and the lens becomes more like a short portrait lens (1.6 x 50 = 80mm).

    Vignetting can be a problem with wide apertures on a full frame sensor, as well as pin cushion or barrel distortion. Because APS-C systems use only the more central portion of the lens, these problems are slightly mitigated.

    Stopping down the lens uses the central portion of the lens - therefore it is best to get the brightest lens you can afford and step it down for sharpness. Leave it wide open for boke and put a mesh over your lens for softening portraiture for a dreamy look.

  • Martin July 28, 2013 03:34 pm

    Hello Good Day! I just want to consult if Nikon 55-300mm is good for a wedding photography?? I mean this would be a client type of business and I have a little doubts about my lens.. Right now, I have a Nikon 50mm 1.8 and the Nikon 55-300mm..thank you.

  • Tara June 21, 2013 03:37 am

    @Steve - you shouldn't have a problem, as long as you control your aperture.

    Good luck and have fun!

  • Hany June 1, 2013 12:10 am

    when talking about lenses i personally am not such an adventurous in buying Lenses but i have a lot of photographer friends around and when i bought my D7100 i bought the set that fitted me the most after testing almost every lens on the market which are:

    - Nikkor 18-55 F3.5-5.6. ( Kit lens that i kept )
    - Nikkor 50mm F1.8 ( for indoor and low light shooting - weddings/birthday parties/sunset beach photos/..etc - sometimes when i try to film something i use it also )
    - Sigma 18-250 Macro F3.5-6.3. ( this is my walk around lens which i use for almost everything else, portraits/closeups/nature/family/cars/buildings/...etc , its a very good investment which such an excellent range and quality )

    those are the lenses that i found very suitable for my needs and my current "photography level" and all of those lenses all together where below 1k USD. total.

  • tomas haran May 31, 2013 09:44 pm

    Hi Saneesh.
    That is a good question. Your best bet is probably a lens inbetween your two lenses. A 50mm lens would give you a good viewing angle s good one will focis quickly. Also they are very sharp lenses. I hope that helps.

  • Saneesh May 31, 2013 12:15 pm

    I am using Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lense. I am planning to buy Nikon 16mm F/2.8. Which lense should i use to capture motion photographs and video..

  • steve logan April 11, 2013 03:09 am

    Help! I'm taking some shots at my brothers wedding in Cyprus this summer, and would appreciate any tips.
    I have a Olympus E400 and two lenses, one a 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 zoom and a 17.5-45mm 1:3.5-5.6.
    Will the brightness of the sun cause problems?

  • Jerzy Modrak January 9, 2013 04:23 am

    Very helpfull info for every wedding photographer.

  • harjeet October 27, 2012 10:32 pm

    Best lens kit ever in Nikon range-
    14-24 wide angel
    24-70 mid range it covers most of the events
    70-200 portrait nd telephoto lens
    nd in prime 50 1.4g or 1.8 g both are good in dark situation.

  • Mel October 5, 2012 03:46 am

    I have few money! so... :P I need to buy a 50 mm and another one.. just one! hahaha for closer photos like rings... 70-300 is a good option??? like this one...around $590 or other cheaper....???????

    I have a Nikon 3100. .. PLEASE HELP!!!!

  • jamie March 16, 2012 06:37 am

    Thanks for the great photography advice, it was really helpful when choosing a photographer :)

    A great wedding graphic just came through my feed. It's a wedding photography guide for brides and thought it would be something that you might like.

    Hope you like it, and find it helpful, I know I did (as a soon to be bride).


  • Jerry February 7, 2012 11:04 pm

    For all the newbies...

    I have been doing photography as a job for about 3 months now...
    I use a Nikon D7000 for the main camera and have a D60 as backup.
    Flashes are SB900 for main and SB700 for backup (due to the 900 heating issues)
    Lenses I use due to budget - Nikon 18-200 VRII and Nikon .50 1.8 AF-S

    I have mostly done portraits but I have now done my 3rd wedding and am getting booked for more. My advice for weddings is, do small ones first. Call notaries and hook up with them. They are small, fast and easy to manage. Dont charge a ton of money and build your portfolio and skill level. Most "pros" wont touch a small wedding because they wont make the money they want, that means more small ones for us! WOOHOO! :)
    I am now hooked up with the Hilton hotel and Chick Filet for local stuff...your time and energy WILL pay off! Just network and connect with people and businesses!

    Anyway, check my site out at and good luck!

  • tomas haran February 2, 2012 01:44 pm

    How long have you been shooting weddings and how long have you been using your 85mm?
    In most cases a fixed lens is very restricting especially for the ring exchange and first kiss. Being in the back, you may be too far to get detail shots, but it all depends on your style.
    My favorite all purpose lens is a 70-200mm lens. You can be half distance out and then zoom in some if need be. Yes they are big but very versatile. What i would suggest is go with a lens you feel really comfortable with. Visit the venue ahead of time and place yourself where you would stand and see if its wide enough or long enough. Figure out your settings and youll do fine. But weddings move extremely fast. If you can get your hands on a 70-200mm 2.8 you will love it. Good luck and keep us posted.

  • susan February 2, 2012 01:20 am

    Thanks for all the information. I shoot with a Nikon D700 and have a 50mm f/1.4. I have a wedding coming up and have been doing some research on what other lens to buy/borrow. My side shooter is going to have a canon with a 50mm and also is going to have a wide angle zoom. She may be stationary behind the couple. I am more comfortable with primes and wondering if I could get away with a 85mm for the ceremony..standing in the back. The ceremony is not at a church but a country club, with minimal lighting. It is not a large room.

    Any feedback would help. I also have a sb600- which I think would be ok for the room size. any other attachment suggestions would be good. thanks!

  • Tomas Haran January 30, 2012 12:48 pm

    there are some (do your research) lenses from sigma, tamron that do the job very well.
    Look at your budget first and also if you're going to be getting paid for shooting. Most of the time a nikon lens will work better , long run, than another manufacturer. Also, they might be built tougher.
    But I would not count out other brands as optical quality is not far off at all on some of the better lenses from tamron, sigma etc. Budget is the biggest factor. Buy the best lens your budget can afford.

  • Tomas Haran January 30, 2012 12:44 pm

    @why night??
    how did the shooting go?
    I'd highly suggest an sb-600 minimum, and a faster zoom.
    Hope the shots turned out well.

  • Why night?! January 1, 2012 06:55 am


    If anyone can suggest anything to me really quick I would be ever so grateful!

    My first official wedding for family friends, laid back however I'm a perfectionist and want the pics to be spectacular!

    TONIGHT, new years eve wedding wil take place OUTSIDE on a porch. Minimal lighting coming from background from porch lights. They will be standing on the staircase with a panel background of fabric and christmas lights.

    Suggestions on a lens that I can pick up really quick. I am going to try to "rent" one so expense really isn't an option I guess. I really just want great photos with it. I usually experiment a lot when I shoot, but it's a 6 MINUTE ceremony so I really don't have time to play around. I know I can get creative shots with the background lighting but I'm worried about their faces being in shadows.

    So maybe a lens suggestion and/or a a flash suggestion. I can't bounce the lens off a ceiling because it's slight their is only a few limbs above and then a black sky, so I was thinking I needed a diffuser but maybe on a faster flash or more powerful.

    Equipment I already have:
    Nikon D80
    Tamron 18-200 3.5-6.3
    NIkon 50mm 1:1-8
    Nikon SB-400

    Any advice would be helpful. I'm confident in my skill but I want to make sure my equipment will be capable of executing my needs!


  • Shelley St jean December 30, 2011 06:54 am

    Funny looking at all the comments some from way back in 2008, Oh how things have changed since then, this was a great site for me to answer a few questions I had about wedding lenses, thanks everyone. the only other Question I have is... is it really worth the extra cash (sometimes more than $1000) for a Nikon/ Cannon or are the off market lenses up to the chore?????

  • Rick December 21, 2011 10:43 am

    Cannon..Nikon..Nikon...Cannon...Nikon Nikon ..Cannon...Nikon..Nikon...kinda like a chant from some lock step movement..vacant eyed..dragging a bunch of D60s and Rebels behind them...its Christmas time about Jacob Marley chained to a bunch of expensive Nikons dragging a bunch of Cannons..wailing "In life loved them...there was no other look at me" I was looking for advice on taking better pics,,,this is a NikCannonian equipment forum....Im not going to put on either armband...good luck with that..

  • Ilya December 20, 2011 11:17 pm

    So I’m updating on what I said 4 months ago here :) on the above comments :)
    I now shoot with a 5D Mark II body, a Sigma 12-24mm II, 24-70L and 70-200L f/2.8L IS II USM lenses. Big change since September. I don’t shoot with primes at all now (Especially weddings) because I now use two flashes on lightstands, Primes are WAY too limiting1 You NEED a zoom for weddings.

  • sam December 20, 2011 09:15 pm

    wat do u think nikon 18-200 will give better result for wedding photography using on D90's body

  • Megan October 11, 2011 03:47 am


    I really love my PRIME Lens. It is a wonderful lens to shoot with, it does not zoom, but you will get some of the most beautiful pictures from these types of lenses. I bought a cheap one a while back it was only $100 at best buy, I prefer canon's but you can find prime lenses for little money. Check one out!

  • Kathy Fitzgerald October 8, 2011 02:21 pm

    Hi. Just purchased a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 Optical Stab. Zoom lens. Was trying it out tonight. I'm probably doing something wrong, but I was hoping that in low light situations I'd be able to do without the flash, but the images are still too dark. I have my ISO at 640-800. I'm also worried about blurring if the subjects, in a wedding for example, are not on the same plane. My images seem a bit blurry. Was hoping the f/2.8 would open up the aperture enough to allow a high enough shutter speed to prevent blurring as well as allow me to shoot flash free. Am I asking too much of this lens?

  • santhosh September 13, 2011 03:40 pm

    Hi all

    Wedding coming up in Fiji and i need to photography lots of wedding beach shots and also a traditional indian Wedding indoor, there is lots of colors with indian sarees, flowers arrangments etc.

    I have NEX-5 with standard kit, Sony E.Mount 18-55mm Lens and Sony E.Mount 16mm f/2.8 Lens.

    Can anyone please recommed if i can use other lenses using an adaptor to NEX-5. I dont want to buy too expensive lenses either. I am not a professional photographer.


  • santhosh September 13, 2011 09:11 am

    Hi all

    Wedding coming up in Fiji and i need to photography lots of wedding beach shots and also a traditional indian Wedding, withs lots of colors etc.

    I have NEX-5 with standard kit, Sony E.Mount 18-55mm Lens and Sony E.Mount 16mm f/2.8 Lens.

    Can anyone please recommed if i can use other lenses using an adaptor to NEX-5. I dont want to buy too expensive lenses either. I am not a professional photographer.


  • Ilya September 9, 2011 07:32 am

    A 2.8 zoom will be too lmitted for me so I use two primes and a wide angle zoom. I have a 35L and a 135L which are two out of three Canons holy trinity lenses. But I recently sold my Tokina 11-16 f2.8 because I'm switching to full frame (currently shooting with a 60D)

    I think you can get away with two primes for weddings. A wide angle is a plus, but then again, you won't use it as much as a wide angle prime, unless you need to shoot a very large group of people and you cant back up.

  • Ilya September 9, 2011 07:32 am

    A 2.8 zoom will be too lmitted for me so I use two primes and a wide angle zoom. I have a 35L and a 135L which are two out of three Canons holy trinity lenses. But I recently sold my Tokina 11-16 f2.8 because I'm switching to full frame (currently shooting with a 60D)

    I think you can get away with two primes for weddings. A wide angle is a plus, but then again, you won't use it as much as a wide angle prime, unless you need to shoot a very large group of people and you cant back up.

  • Rick September 7, 2011 08:41 am

    I have done several weddings non professionally..meaning I got nothing but the experience..soon I will do my first "paid" engagement. After reading all the articles warning about this and that I guess I should have been more concerned with the weddings that I did.. but I tried to have fun and relax the "subjects" Im a Pentax user and would like some reccomendations on a "wedding lens" in the "K" mount..newer or older ..I can fit both..This is to be an "Irish" wedding at an old inn..mid to late afternoon...outside and inside. Im using a Kx with the kit lens plus a number of older lenses I have collected over time. Reccomendations???

  • Tomas Haran August 24, 2011 11:45 am

    I would like the chance to respond to a couple of the previous posts if possible. I am an amateur photographer shooting portraits and weddings and hope that some of my experience is useful to others on here.

    I would definitely say to learn your camera very well. Are you comfortable shooting in aperature priority or in manual mode? Do you know your lenses and their limitations?
    If so, then the next thing would be to get a good prime lens. Something like a 35mm or 50mm are great starting points and aren't too expensive. Try to stick with 2.8 or even 1.8 as you will get better depth of field with them and really separate the subject from the background.

    The tough thing with buying lenses is that you really have to decide on budget, how often you may use the lens, what prior limitations you're trying to overcome and also what are you taking a picture of.

    Best thing to do is look at reviews and also try out lenses. There are several stores that will allow you to rent lenses for the week or even month. Or, meet fellow photographers and use their lenses.

    Just because a lens is sharp that doesn't mean its right for you. When you find the right lens for you you will love it and want to learn to use it better. Feel free to e-mail me more specific questions if you like. I'm happy to help.

    That is a lens that is very sharp once you get to f6 or greater.
    Every lens has a sweet spot, but with the variable f stop versions this is much higher.
    I have shot several weddings and inside a church or at the reception you want to be at under f4 to be able to get enough light coming in. By letting more light come in the picture will look more natural and it will save you from motion blur.

    In the end lenses are tools and can be used in many capacities if you master them and know their limitations.

    The only way that lens may work is if you had a very powerful flash to use all day, but in a church that may not be an option.

    You will notice that the lenses that are more multipurpose friendly and allow more light are also the most expensive ones.

    As I mentioned to Megan, try out different lenses and play with them and see which ones work best for you and are within your budget.

    If you are on a budget don't forget about Sigma or Tamron versions. Some are exceptional.

    Are either of those 2.8 lenses or have VR/IS? (Image stabilizer)
    If you responded no to either of these then I would not recommend them. (Only if the whole wedding and reception are outside.

    You absolutely need a fast lens that will gather a lot of light.

    You can usually fix a picture that is underexposed. It is very hard to fix a picture that is not sharp or has motion blur.


    i totally agree with you that one camera for a wedding is not a good idea at all.
    Switching lenses, accidentally dropping things, and missing pictures are things you really want to be in control of.

    Have a walkaround lens on one camera and a designated one on the other (a macro, or a zoom, or longer lens)

    Also if you do have an assistant , they can help take pictures as well.

    Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions about anything.

  • Megan August 23, 2011 08:45 am

    I need help.

    I bought a canon T1i with the package lens

    I have spent time learning how to use my camera that I am now ready for new lenses.

    My goal is to do portraits and weddings

    I have been told to buy a prime
    But what else is a good purchase?
    I am very confused by this all.

  • yohyana August 15, 2011 06:30 pm

    i have the nikkon 50mm 1.8 and the depth of field was a potrait photographer..i like to get out of the 'comfort zone' by trying the zoom lens..he recomended me the nikkon 55-200mm f4-5.6 question is,is it suitable for the wedding shots also?and would it be effective also for potrait shot?tq:)

  • Mandy August 15, 2011 10:35 am

    You have a awesome site here. Was well worth visiting for the great articles. Keep it up

  • John July 13, 2011 09:44 pm

    For those who believe that one camera body is sufficient to take on a wedding, you better think twice... what happens if you accidentally dropped or broke your lens from the mount? I do u explain to the bride and groom that you don't have a camera... A second or third body is more than not enough time to change lenses, it's your risk management strategy. Ultra wides like the 14-24 f2.8 is sensational for weddings as well along with the main stable mates 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8... definately need a small prime for when you are deep in the middle of the action at the service... 3-4 speedlights again is a must. FX is a real advantage - more light on a bigger sensor. I shoot with 2 FX bodies and keep two DX bodies as backups - one DX being a d90 will usually have a 10.5 fisheye. Other D300 will have the 50 f1.4g and D700's with the mid and telezooms.... another FX and a DX is kept for the secondary shooter. I love weddings and have invested well before I even booked one wedding.... friend or client.

  • Carissa July 4, 2011 06:31 am

    This was actually a very helpful article. Thank you for taking the time to publish it. I am due to shoot my sister's wedding in August and have been gathering tips for a few weeks now. TY

  • sherman June 18, 2011 02:51 pm

    thanks for al the info on lenses been a portrait photographer for about a year now and have a wedding coming up. Thanks for all the canon post i'm torn between the 75-300mm and the 55-250mm witch one would be a better fit for the main camera body at the wedding ceromony thanks for any help i can get

  • Paul June 6, 2011 01:43 am

    you dont need a full frame can also use the 7 D from canon ...or the T2i or T3i

  • Paul June 6, 2011 01:42 am

    you dont need a full frame can also use the 7 D from canon ...or the TiI or T3i

  • aizatk June 6, 2011 01:13 am

    I believe 24-70mm and 70-200mm is all that you need for wedding photography, on fullframe body of course.

  • steven May 18, 2011 06:10 pm

    the people recommending such slow lenses for something like a wedding are ridiculous. the mentioned lenses are great. so what if the author mentioned only nikon lenses. there are canon equivalents in almost the exact same focal lengths (50, 85, 24-70, 70-200, etc etc). i would be horrified if i knew my wedding photographer was coming with an entry level body and some kit lenses. it's not about the gear i know but an 18-55 will never produce the sharpness or iq a 17-55 will.

  • Rui Monte Da Silva May 8, 2011 05:23 pm

    For the Sony Alpha users some lenses to recommend for Wedding Photography

    APS-C users

    Sony DT 35mm f1.8,
    Sony DT 50mm f1.8 or SAL 50mm f1.4 or Sigma HSM 50mm f1.4,
    Tamron 15-70 f2.8
    Sigma 70-200 HSM f2.8

    Full Frame ( Ultimate lens)
    Sony Carl Zeiss 24-70mm 2.8
    Sony Carl Zeiss Planar 85mm 1.4
    Sony 70-200 f2.8 SSM G

    I am using A700- DT 35mm 1.8, Sigma 50mm f1.4 HSM, Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 HSM


  • Tomas haran May 2, 2011 08:58 am

    From things I have read a 17-55mm or equivalent is ideal for crop sensor cameras and a 24-70mm range is better for a full frame camera. This is only an opinion, but the wider lens will help in tight quarters and large group shots. A decent zoom or 85mm+ would be a good partner for the lens.

    Hope that helps.


  • Janie May 1, 2011 10:45 am

    sorry I meant the 16-35 2.8 both Canon

  • Janie May 1, 2011 10:43 am

    Have a wedding coming up with a large bridal party and trying to figure out if I should get the 17-55 2.8 or the 24-70 2.8 any suggestions?

  • Tomas Haran March 26, 2011 12:15 am

    This is crazy.
    I have been looking to book my first wedding this year and am having trouble finding customers.
    As I read all these posts there are people who still use kit lenses and some who have never used a DSLR camera before shooting weddings.

    You guys are very lucky.

    I live in MA and am struggling finding gigs. Send some my way! lol

    I use:

    Nikon D90
    Sigma 70-200mm 2.8
    Nikon 60mm 2.8
    Nikon 105mm 2.8
    Tamron 28-75mm 2.8

    Thanks for the article! It honestly helped me pick out a couple of these lenses.

  • jim February 9, 2011 12:37 pm

    Has anyone used this lens with a Nikon D3000? I Am thinking about getting this lens to use for shoting a wedding. Let me know what you think, they compair this to a lens the Nikon makes that is $1400 this lens isaround $5--$600 Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Autofocus Lens for Nikon SLR

  • Bogdan Rusu February 6, 2011 11:40 am

    I have the Canon 24-70 f2.8 L and Canon 70-200 f2.8 is L. It is all that I need to shoot weddings, landscaping in any situation. I tested many lenses before nut I tell you those two lens are the best.

  • Zen January 21, 2011 02:25 am

    Jim, I haven't done any weddings yet as I'm a beginner as well, but I was told for weddings, you would really need an SB-900 flash as the SB-600 won't be strong enough. Churches have wide open spaces, so it's critical to have a strong flash and luminous lense. A Gary Fong diffuser would be a must as well. Careful, there are different sizes.

    As for lenses, I'm in the same boat. My first wedding is this summer and I'm looking at buying the best all around lens for weddings since I don't have 2 camera bodies. I was told the sigma 17-55 f2.8 is a must. Supposably better than the Nikkor brand... I think it's worth looking into since it's less than 500$. But is it the only one needed for shooting a wedding? Personally, I don't think so. From what I've seen, most photographers use a minimum of 2 lenses with 2 camera bodies so they don't have to switch lenses and miss any shots. I think what's important is that you have a lens that will let in alot of light especially for shooting in a church. So f2.8 would be a necessity. I have an 18-200 f4.6-5.6 and I was told it won't cut it for inside the church as f4.6-5.6 doesn't let in enough light.. Up to now, this lense has been great for outdoors and in studio with strobes like the SB-600 & 900. As you can see on my website, most of my pics were taken with that lense and they came out great.

    Has anyone used an Orbis? Would it be a great addition to a wedding???

  • jim January 8, 2011 05:13 am

    I have a Nikon D3000 with the two kit lenses that came with it. I am going to be takeing pictures at my first wedding in June i bought a SB-600 speed light and now i would like to buy another lens better than the lenses that came with the camara. I do not want to spend a lot of money being that this is my first wedding. Maybe around $400. Is there any lenses out there that would be an Ok all around lens for a wedding being shot indoors. Can anyone give me a couple lenses that would be OK

  • toddmc November 29, 2010 12:43 pm

    ambrly, if you're getting one lens, get the Nikon 18-200. My partner in our business shoots with a D90 and the 18-200 lens and 95% of her shots are as good as mine using a D300 and 17-55 f/2.8 pro lens. I can shoot in low(er) light than she can with the 2.8 f/stop but if you can use a flash at the wedding, that's not a worry! Good luck!

  • Ambrly November 27, 2010 12:01 pm

    Hi. I am going to buy a nikon camera in the next three months. I have never used that type if camera before. I've seen shots taken by them and I love them. I taking pictures and spending lots if time editing and showing my artistic side. I want to do photography as a hobby and a way to make some extra cash on the side. I have been asked to shoot an outdoor wedding in a few months and I am clueless as to what lenses and or flashes I would need. I am a beginner but I want to make the bride and groom happy. The camera I plan to get is a nikon dslr d500 I believe. It's in that range. So my question is what type of lense do I need to do this wedding!? I want to get upclose detailed shots of the bouquet rings and cake. Also I want some of the shots to have the blurred background. I'll be taking lots of group photos and mostly of just the bride and groom. Can anyone help me out?

  • Paul Nicolson September 6, 2010 04:49 am

    Having the right lens for a wedding is more than just buying some glass to stick on the end of a camera. Weddings can be a mixture stress, pleasure and various problems.

    I shot a wedding 4 weeks ago and the weather forcast said the day would be good. Wedding at 2pm in church then a reception in a marquee in the grounds of a private house.

    Ready to start photos at 4 pm and a hell of a storm came over all of a sudden. It rained and it rained, 100 guest crammed into the marque no space to take photos.

    Now if I hadnt come with my usual gear, including light boxes, 4 speedlites and stands I would have been done for. A full portible battery pack to charge the soft boxes. I was able to get some good shots but only just.

    So many people out there who think they can buy a camera, stick a lens on it and feel ready to shoot a wedding.

    I really enjoy weddings and I get a great buzz when I shoot and get wedding photographs that really make the bride and groom happy. I dont want to put anyone off looking at doing wedding photography but just want people to think its more than just a camera and lens, its the whole day, the hours traveling to the wedding. The image work that needs to be done, the conversion of the raw files, checking every image thats been shot, then putting together the album, the design of the layout.

    Brides and grooms are wanting so much more than just a few group shots.

    So if your thing of getting into wedding photography and then becoming a professional wedding photographer look at the bigger picture. If you do decide its something you want to do, Its a great job with a lot of stress, buzz and some great days.

    Vist my blog for more information on the life of a wedding photographer :-)

    VISIT Peterborough Wedding Photography BLOG

  • Ale July 25, 2010 03:15 am

    I'm shooting a wedding next summer and I currently own:

    Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
    Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM
    Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

    I'm planning to save up & puchase a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens to add to the collection.

    I own a Canon Rebel XS and a Canon 50D: 70-200mm would stay on the 50D and I would alternate between the 50mm and the 17-50mm on the XS.

    Any thoughts? (I do have somewhat of a tight budget)


  • Joe July 8, 2010 02:30 pm

    Question on the prime lenses. I have bought two 2.8 lenses to handle low light in weddings. What really does it gain me over a non-prime lens in shooting a wedding if I am having to go to F4 or higher to make sure the whole wedding party or accents are in focus and not blurred by the bokeh?

  • Paul Nicolson July 7, 2010 10:05 pm

    Yes you would still need a wide angle lens, as some brides and grooms always want the big group shots.

    More than just a wedding photographer in Peterborough and Stamford

  • Bryan Agoncillo July 6, 2010 05:20 am

    So would you ever really need a wide angle lens for weddings then?

  • Frank khamees June 29, 2010 03:40 pm

    thank you for your help this article helped me a lot ...

    just one question i have to ask you guys...

    i have 4 lenses right now and i am beginner
    the lenses i have are

    Nikon 70-200 f/4-5.6
    Nikon 18-55 f/3.5-5.6
    Nikon 50mm f/1.8
    tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6

    and i have Nikon D5000

    is this enough to shoot wedding or i need better lenses

    plus which flash is the best for wedding?

    thank you again for ur help

  • Denver Photographer June 17, 2010 07:10 am

    The 12-24 is only for crop sensors I thought?

  • Pradeep June 12, 2010 03:54 am

    so u travel with all those lenses when you do wedding pics?

  • Paul Nicolson June 1, 2010 10:08 am

    I have always used canon gear for all my wedding photography, Im based in Peterborough near Stamford in the UK.

    Im using a 17-55 F2.8 IS on a 50d

    Also a 70-200 F2.8 IS ii on a 5d Mkii

    Great all round lens, that can deal with everything I through at them.

  • JaiVal May 24, 2010 05:00 pm

    Thank you very much Simo

  • Fotografo Matrimonio May 19, 2010 02:28 pm

    Nice post. I really like the 24-70 mm f2.8 (I use Nikon) its a great lens to cover an entire wedding.

  • Simo May 15, 2010 03:56 pm

    jaival, outdoors maybe. In the church, don't even try... You need something faster and preferably constant aperture throughout the zoom range.

  • JaiVal May 13, 2010 11:45 pm

    What about using a Sony A350 with a 18/200 3.5-6.3?

  • Joe May 1, 2010 03:00 am

    Jen: you're not a black sheep! You need to shop for "Four-Thirds" lenses for your 510. The Zuiko 50mm is a great lens. Also, a less expensive option might be the 35mm Zuiko digital. Keep in mind on the Four-Thirds system they have 2x crop factors, which is more than most (so the 50mm is the equivalent of 100mm on a full frame or 35mm film camera). The prices are very reasonable for the quality.

  • Jen March 17, 2010 07:55 am

    I'm the blacksheep here apparently and have a Olympus e520... What are the two lenses that are a must for this camera and are there other less expensive brands that fit Oly?

  • Del March 9, 2010 11:51 pm

    Thanks for all this info Chas, it has given me some direction but there is still so much for me to consider.
    I have just recently got into wedding photography for some friends and their friends and I am getting more requests for weddings (same deal as Me) so I'm looking to upgrade my lenses. Due to tight finances I can only afford one at a time.
    I shoot with Nikon and was considering the 24-70mm f2.8 as it sounds the best all-rounder, though one of my weddings coming up in a few months is inside a church with poor light. Would this lens still suit? I'm waiting on confirmation if flash is allowed or not. Or would I need to go to a 1.8 prime lens and would this still be suitable for other conditions ie; portraits, children etc?

    Any comments appreciated. Thanks

  • Paul Saulnier February 20, 2010 08:04 am

    well i just got a F3.5 18-200mm Sigma and i love it it on for 300$ ok its not the best in low light but ...i always use it lately ...i also have a 70 -300 4 .5 sigma that for 150 off of a nifty 50 1.8 my canon kit lens that never worked ....a canon 70 -300 that doesnt work ...used it maybe 5 times total ...i will never buy canon lenses again ...way too much money for nothing ...go with sigma ...tamron ...ect ...the only canon lens i have that works is the 50mm ..i also have a tamron 17 -35mm F 2.8 that i love for that little special effect ...its a wide angle lens ...hope this helps for you

  • Taryn February 19, 2010 03:57 am

    I have a Canon XTi and currently own a Canon 50mm f1.8, and Tamron 28-80mm f3.5/5.6. I am shooting a wedding this summer and would like to know what other lens I might need, say for the ceremony. I am worried the 50mm won't do the job, seeing as how I would have to get really close to the action and I don't want to disrupt the ceremony. I love the 50mm but I am constantly moving around to get what I want into the photo. It's definitely a great lens for portraits! I also do not want to spend a lot of money on a new lens. Perhaps some thing under $400, but you know, that's hard. What do you suggest?

  • bigred December 11, 2009 09:44 am

    Thanks, For your advice Chas i need all i can get being a photo nut that wants to get going in this filled. Im going to get the 50mm 1.8 and give it a try. Do you know if the d5000 is a good fit for these prim lens? Also im wondering if it will get the job done in weddings? the d5000 that is. I have been asked to do one n 4 months.

  • Chas December 10, 2009 12:03 pm

    Having had both, go with the 50mm 1.8 for sure. It's a third the price and performs nearly as well. The 85mm would be my first choice. The 105mm would be an alternative if you want macro features as well.

  • bigred December 10, 2009 08:29 am

    i love photogrphy and just got my first dslr camera up from a point n shoot. Its a d5000 and i want to know if this will make a good portriate camera for digital photography useing green screens and wedding photos. If so i need some good advice of some lens that i can start with. Im looking at 50mm 1.4,1.8, 85mm 1.8 and a 55-200 vr.

  • me November 2, 2009 06:01 am

    Did those of you complaining about it being a Nikon based article read that the author specifically uses a Nikon, and that Canon comments were welcome? It was the first paragraph!

    In any case, I am a Nikon user, and shot my first wedding for a friend using two lenses. My 35mm and my 18-135mm. I used the 35mm for the flowers, the rings, and some other detail oriented items, but found that my zoom lens was on the camera mostly. I really thought that I was going to use them the other way around. (35mm more for the portrait style pics etc) I love shooting for friends. In these cases, they are unable to pay for photographers, so before all you professionals get huffy, that is why I shoot for them - it was me, or nothing. This happens often for me, so not only for myself and my hobby, but for these situations, I want to get a better lens. Choosing has been tough, to say the least. There is so much out there, and without physically trying them out, I do not know which one to get! :) I am thinking a zoom up to 200mm. More research is afoot...

  • daniel becher October 16, 2009 02:45 pm

    Hey Chas I did a search on google and the first one I found was ur profile , luck me ur comments are AMAZING!! I just got a bit confused now: With slr NIKON CAMERA DO I HAVE TO BUY?IF I would love to have these lenses:


  • Chas September 13, 2009 12:51 pm

    @James: The 18-200 lens is nice but it's a DX lens. Using it on a D700 reduces your resolution. It also lacks the larger f-stops to give nice bokeh/blurred backgrounds.

  • james September 13, 2009 08:00 am

    what about the 18-200VR II? It seems to cover everything, and with the D700 you can crank up the ISO to 1600 or 3200 with great results so the f/5 sluggishness is not a big deal.

  • razak July 8, 2009 12:36 pm

    For Canon lover

    I'm using :
    17-40L F4
    24-105L F4 IS
    70-200L F4 IS

    for wedding and general
    Superb IQ

  • SalajanV May 5, 2009 08:42 am

    Great article ... it gave me a lot of answers that i was looking for ... i have a question tho ... I was thinking of a combo (the 50mm f1.4 for the portrait part and in the church where light conditions are rather dim and you don't or can't use a flash ... and for the all-around lens the 18-105 mm VR ... don't mind using the flash at the party etc. ... as my budget is a bit low ... ) or the 16-85mm VR at about the same price as the combo ... which would be best for this kind of photography ? i would really appreciate any comments ...
    Cheers and thanks again for a very good written article !

  • Chas February 16, 2009 01:53 am

    The 24-70mm 2.8 wins in almost every situation. Times it doesn't:

    Really dark inside during preparation... I'd switch to a prime lens. 1.8 or even 1.4.

    Ceremony requires I be further from the action, switch to 70-200 2.8

    Reception shots aren't as critical. Put on your creative lenses and experiment when you can.


  • jennie February 15, 2009 04:02 pm

    Which lens do you use the most during preparation (indoor), ceremony (outdoor or indoor) and reception (indoor)?

  • kimphotography January 26, 2009 05:43 pm

    I've done Asian wedding shoots for over 30 occasions now (as a hobby), I 'm using Nikon D300 with 50mm / 1.8 and Nikkor AF-S VR 18-200/3.5-5.6 .. (thank God my old D70 has a replacement now haha)

    i'm eyeing for a faster f2.8 lense 17-55/ 18-50mm Tamron.. and wide angle too like Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 12-24mm f/4 ... but then on the other hand , we all know the market is moving to full frame DSLR (it's not a choice either with Technology evolving so quickly!).

    Hence , my recommendation would probably be prime lenses . Cheers!

  • acierman November 8, 2008 10:18 pm

    well i use canon ...i have the 50mm prime lens ..70-300mm canon lens ..the lens i got with my camera ...and all i can say is that the 50mm prime gives the most crisp and clear shots i have ever taken ...ok can do nice shots with any lens ...but for crisp .....the 50 is awsome ..and i also have a couple of sigma lenses i guess it depends on the user ...i know that my prime is awsome im gonna get a 85mm prime not a pro ...far from it ..but i do like taking pictures ...i suck at weddings ...but i figure with practice ...and all the input from this great sight ...i will be improving every day ...thanks guys and gals for all the comments i get here

  • Gina November 8, 2008 02:05 pm

    Anyone ever use the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens for portraits? The DOF is incredible and the bokeh you get blows the 105mm away.
    Anyone using it?

    Thanks!! Ü

  • Derrek October 22, 2008 11:03 am

    hat is too cool. I'm just learning about photography and photography lenses. I see stuff like this and realize what a huge world is out there in this area. I'm trying to capture some of what i'm learning as I go. Thanks for the great ideas and inspiration. Derrek

  • Chas Elliott September 19, 2008 08:19 am

    Juilan, the 18-105mm is a good all around lens, especially on bright overcast or sunny days. The shortfalls are shooting in low light situations and achieving that shallow depth of field with the blurry background, two things you really can't do without if photography is your profession. I use my 18-200mm VR though anytime I take my camera on trips.


  • julianf September 15, 2008 09:20 pm

    Thanks for the informative article, I've found it very helpful.

    Where do Nikon users think the newly announced 18-105mm VR sits amongst these recommendations?

    Admittedly it's not f/2.8 but the Vibration Reduction has a lot of plus points, no?

  • ann September 14, 2008 01:44 am

    Yes, Ange. I do think it's a very handy lens when you're only taking one camera and need the range, but it isn't great at either extreme end.

  • Ange September 14, 2008 01:38 am

    Yeah I have the 18-200, but I don't use it much since it doesn't have the low fixed f. stop.

  • ann September 14, 2008 01:35 am

    When I was at the store, I was asking about a specific Nikkor full-frame VR lens (70-200/2.8), and he asked if I did photography for hobby or living. Then he said, as best I remember, "Nikon's coming out with new lenses in a couple of months with better glass and VR, so don't buy lenses now." So, I don't really know if he meant that Nikon's coming out with complete new line "all at once." Perhaps he felt that info was more relevant because I was asking about expensive lens, and said I didn't have unlimited money. (BTW, in case I wasn't clear above, the D200 lens I was referring to is Nikkor AF-S VR 18-200/3.5-5.6.)

  • Ange September 14, 2008 01:06 am

    Is it possible for them to make a lens with that much range (24-200) and still keep a 2.8f stop? If so I would be BUYING THAT LENS! What lens did they say Nikon was coming out with soon?

  • ann September 13, 2008 01:28 pm

    Yikes, it absolutely was a typo, or the 18-200 DX I have for D200 partly slipped out.
    The full-frame lens that not only exists, but I have, is the Nikkor 24-70mm/2.8 ED, which is why the 70-200 is next lens I'm aiming for. I promise that the info I got from BH salesperson about new lenses wasn't a typo, though :-)

  • Ange September 13, 2008 12:59 pm

    Ann- I looked all over the internet for the 24-200/2.8 lens, including Nikon's doesn't seem to that a type-o and if not, where'd you find it? That would be the perfect lens...

  • Chas Elliott September 13, 2008 09:33 am

    Thanks for all the comments. I'm glad others shared favorite lenses from other makers. I just happen to use Nikon, thus those are the only recommendations I feel comfortable making. Canon and others are certainly as good.

    Most photographers choose a camera maker and stick with it, simply because of the high prices for lenses and accessories. It usually makes little sense to switch from one brand to another to get the "next big feature". Competition demands that camera capabilities of one brand will catch up and continue to have similar feature lists as the next sooner rather than later. My advice, don't waste money jumping ship to quickly.

    I agree with Brian and live by the adage "A craftsman never blames his tools."


  • Ann September 13, 2008 05:49 am

    For Nikon D700, I have the Nikkor 24-200/2.8 AF-S... ED, but I also want their 70-200/2.8 AF-S... ED, so I went shopping earlier this month.

    Salesperson told me NIKON's coming out with NEW LENSES with better glass and VR in couple of months, so I'm waiting.

  • BrianB September 8, 2008 12:35 am

    While I shoot with Canon, I don't feel the the article biased Nikon gear over Canon, In reading the article (hint,hint) the author simply stated what gear he was familiar with, Nikon makes good gear as well as Canon, The glass is more important, the photographer the most.

    I have had great shots, and I have had shots that "could" have been great, I have never blamed my gear.


  • Rene September 7, 2008 03:29 am

    You sure like Nikon eh? It would be nice if authors were non-biased. No doubt experience with several brands will yield a much more balanced view.

    You are correct about range, and that should be the main point. Let users research the lens that's best for them rather than trying to sell Nikon, or at least present the many other great brands of lenses out there!

    Just my 2 cents. ;)

  • Don September 7, 2008 01:20 am

    What is wrong with the Nikon 18-135 perfect for almost everything

  • smithereens September 6, 2008 11:29 am

    Is the author a Nikon employee? No doubt, Nikon makes some excellent lenses, but so does it's brotherly competetor. A better article would describe focal lengths/distance to subject without listing all the brand-name lenses because it really doesn't make that much of a difference. I've shot weddings for friends and am very much an amateur shutterbug. BUT, I took those pictures while aside a contracted pro (three weddings) and all three of my friends kicked themselves for paying for a pro with all of the "pro gear." Find your own style, your own lenses you're happy with and go forth and do happy things. Cheers.

  • marci September 5, 2008 11:13 pm

    Thanks for the good info!

  • Simo September 5, 2008 02:30 pm

    Bogart: Yes, there is. But lens plays much smaller role in taking good pictures than one would imagine based on all lens-discussions in the Internet.

    Chas: I know I cannot read, but would you then kindly point out where in article you listed some other lens as good lens for wedding.

  • daniel September 5, 2008 11:34 am

    My favorite lens for covering weddings is the Canon 200mm f 1.8 but I am sure that the Nikon 200mm f2.0 would work as well from the back pew in a dark church.

  • paul saulnier September 5, 2008 10:19 am

    well i played with my 50mm prime lens tonight ...its amazing to see how crisp the shots come out

  • bogart September 5, 2008 10:07 am

    Is there really a differnce on lenses with the same specification but different brand. I'm new in photography I already understand the basic about the camera but not yet on the lens. Upon perusal of the comments it seems that the lens also plays a major part in order to achieve a crispy picture.Presently I'm using a 18-55 lens on my 400d cannon camera.

  • Chas September 5, 2008 08:45 am

    Thanks for the Canon recommendations everyone. Also, keep an eye on the news releases before you make any big buys. Some new lenses are predicted for Photokina in a week or so.

    Simo: I never said all good wedding lenses are Nikon. I don't think you read the article. Everyone has different lens choices so I was just sharing my favorites and hoped others would share theirs.

  • Jean September 5, 2008 08:43 am

    I did my first wedding two weeks ago. My Tamron 18-200mm was a wonderful multipurpose lense and did a great job. I also had a Tamron 200-500mm stationed in the balcony in back of the church and got gorgeous close ups of the ring exchanges, candle lighting, etc. No one knew until I presented the prints!

  • nox September 5, 2008 08:34 am

    You forgot to mention the 60mm tilt shift lens, the macro lens and the incredible 600mm super tele. You mentioned just about every other "right" lens that Nikon makes. why did you leave these out?

  • Ange September 5, 2008 08:34 am

    Gerry, the 18-200 is a great lens- I use it a lot for events- but it doesn't give you the nice blurred background that 50mm & 85 mm lens give you with the lower f-stops- perfect for portraits.

  • Simo September 5, 2008 04:40 am

    All good wedding lenses are Nikons?! Yeah right...

  • GerryJ September 5, 2008 12:24 am

    I'm doing a wedding for a friend this weekend and plan on using the 18-200 Nikon lens. I've used it pretty much everywhere and had great results every time. With the D300 I can shoot pretty much without flash using ISO as needed to get shutter speed, and any noise is readily removed in post processing.

  • dialac1 September 4, 2008 11:22 pm

    This is really amazing...thanks for the post

  • paul saulnier September 4, 2008 08:57 pm

    i have the 50 mm...havent used it yet ...doing my first wedding this weekend ...also the canon lens kit ...75-300mm and 18-55...also a 28-80., if there are any tips you can send me ,,,im on look up for acierman let me know what i need to do for tricks ect....thanks people ..i use a canon rebel xti...i think a rebel xt might be better in dark areas ...what do you think

  • stu September 4, 2008 06:50 pm

    @Amandalynn - barring your 50mm, your other lenses are not fast enough for a lot of weddings where you need a wider aperture.
    And of course, you had backup equipment right?

  • Veejay September 4, 2008 06:24 pm

    hi.. i would also recommend the Canon 85mm f1.8 prime lens.. it is sharp and fast.. i think it is perfect for candid and portrait shooting.. i think 100mm macro is also great for portrait and you can use it for macro at the same time.. but i think it would be quite hard to use in a small room.. :)

    i would also recommend this lens..
    17-40mm f4 wide lens.. its not that good in low light but its wider than a 24-70mm f2.8 and i think its quite cheaper than the 24-70mm or 24-105mm.. :) and its still metal.. :)

  • Rosh September 4, 2008 10:03 am

    I don't shoot a lot of weddings these days, but I've always shot photojournalistic style. (I have a photojournalism background)

    And photojournalistic style doesn't mean candids!

    There really is a style to it. You just need, in my opinion, is very wide lens and very long lens. Maybe a 50mm if you are going to be purist about it. Everything else is for everyone else.

    New Media Photographer

  • Aaron Snyder September 4, 2008 10:00 am

    @ange I wouldn't exactly replace my 50mm with the 85mm. I have the 50mm f1.4 and the 85 mm f1.4 without a doubt the 50mm is one of the sharpest lenses I own. However, the 85mm just blows it out of the water. Not only is the lens sharper but the color saturation and contrast is unbelievable the 85mm f1.4's sharpness, contrast, and saturation even runs circles around the 85mm f1.8. Couple the quality with it's ability to soften any background and you will realize how useful the 85mm f1.4 can be to wedding photography. Furthermore the focal length becomes especially useful far beyond just portraiture providing you can be far away from subjects. I often use mine to shoot street candids... Hope this helps.
    -Aaron Snyder

  • Tobias Varland September 4, 2008 07:54 am

    I shoot Canon, and only have two lenses right now: the 24-70mm f/2.8L and the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. I don't need anything else. If I could add two more, they'd be the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II and the Canon 50mm f/1.2L.

  • Bakari September 4, 2008 05:54 am

    In the same category for Canon lenses:

    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
    Canon 50mm f/1.8 or 1.4
    Canon 17-85mm f/4.5 Image Stabalized USM
    Canon EF 24-105 f.4 IS USM

  • Amandalynn September 4, 2008 05:53 am

    I just shot my first wedding last month. It's nice to know that I picked the "right" lenses(a 50mm f1.8, a 70-300 telephoto, and the 18-55mm standard "kit" lens), it would have been nice to get my hands on an 85mm though. Next time.

    Good article.

  • Fernando September 4, 2008 05:49 am

    @ Noir.... the jumping groom gives you the creeps??? its the cost of all these lenses that freak me out! LOL!
    You get what you pay for though.....

  • Scott Zetlan September 4, 2008 04:58 am

    This is great, unless you shoot Canon, in which case the Nikon lenses aren't of much use. But good Canon lenses would be:
    70-200 f/4L IS USM -- will cover the short to moderately long telephoto range, and has great optics
    24-70 f/2.8L USM -- to cover the normal range
    16-35 f/2.8L USM -- wide angle lens

    As a general walk-around lens that doesn't command the hefty price premium of the L-series, try the 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens, which incorporates the image stabilization (aka vibration reduction) for hand-holding at slower speeds. Image stabilized lenses are exceptionally useful for shutter-drag photos; if your camera body handles rear-curtain sync, so much the better.

    The wide angle zoom, in particular, is good for tight spaces like dressing rooms as well as for exaggerating the train of the wedding dress.

    These focal ranges are for a full-frame sensor (like the Canon 5D or 1DS-ii); smaller sensors will have an effective focal length multiplier depending on the ratio of the larger sensor area to the smaller sensor area.

  • Canon Lover September 4, 2008 04:53 am

    D'oh... What about those of us who use Canon?

  • Aaron Snyder September 4, 2008 04:33 am

    Now- lenses are one of those decisions that really need to be left up to the photographer. It'd be ridiculous to say that "This is the perfect wedding lens." It's important to remember what situations and considerations you need to take into account as a wedding photographer. During the ceremony you may not be able to get close to the action, with a crop sensor 85mm is good, on full frame that translates to 135mm. I chose those focal lengths because both Nikon and Canon offer fast primes in those focal lengths. I like primes for their extra speed (wide aperture, F1.4 85mm is my choice prime for weddings.) and quality. Respectively I use my 35mm F2 for a lot of weddings because it is effectively a 50mm on a full frame. The speed (wide wperture) is important because most of my weddings and receptions end up being located in dark areas which may or may not allow flash. I don't like to go wider than my 20mm lens, but some people like a wider lens for their portfolio- so it all comes back to figuring out your style and budget and coming up with a healthy match. Hope I've helped a little... You can see shots on my website ( taken with the Nikon 35mm F2 and 85mm F1.4 displaying the capability of these two wonderful lenses on a Nikon D300 body.
    -Aaron Snyder

  • Ange September 4, 2008 04:10 am

    I have the 50mm lens, what is the advantage other than different shooting length is the 85mm and is it really worth the $$$ difference?

  • Raymond Chan September 4, 2008 02:39 am

    I used my D60's kit lens throughout most of my brother's wedding. What was I thinking! lol. Nicely written article, cheers!

  • stu September 4, 2008 02:32 am

    Glaring omission of the 105DC f2 for portrait lenses - far better than a 105 f2.8 macro.

  • Noir September 4, 2008 12:41 am

    The jumping groom gives me the creeps. Aside from that excellent article.