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Thread: Wedding Lenses

  1. #1
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    Wedding Lenses

    Hi all,

    I need some advice on shooting weddings. I've always refused offers to do so, even when they offered for me to be paid. However I've got some friends who are a bit stuck financially and are doing a wedding in a public park and can't afford a photographer (or anything else).

    So, I've agreed to do it for them for free as I've known them for years. However, this has given me GAS. I want to give them the best possible image quality and I've never shot a wedding so not sure what lenses I would need.

    I've got the Tamron 24-70 and the Canon 70-200 2.8 non IS. Now, I've read that the Tamron is nowhere near as good as the Canon version, is this true? I have no problems upgrading my lens as money is not a problem at the moment but I want to make sure there's actually a difference in quality or the shots will come out better. I've got the 5DS so no need to upgrade the actual camera. Would having a 16-35 be beneficial or 17-40 be better?

    Basically, I want to make sure I've got pro lenses so i can do this more going forward as I have a few other friends in similar situations who have been hinting.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    I think to say the Tamron is "nowhere near as good" as the Canon is a vast overstatement. I have the Canon 24-70 II while a friend has the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC. He gets some excellent pictures from the Tamron. If you were to pixel peep maybe you might see something. But looking over some charts, and these lenses are optically very similar. Skimming through Bryan's review of the Tamron, he seems to note AF consistency and bokeh as the two main advantages of the Canon. Of course, the Tamron has VC. I've seen others that claim that the Canon is just a bit sharper, especially in the corners, but, like I said, I see great images coming out of the Tamron.

    Where you would likely see a sharpness upgrade would be the 70-200 non-IS to the 70-200 f/2.8 II. I would think on the 5DsR, the difference would be noticeable. But I've also heard the 70-200 non-IS has amazing bokeh. Having never shot it, I cannot attest, but I do love my 70-200 f/2.8 II.

    Overall, it seems like you have a very nice wedding kit. What might be missing is a 100 mm f/2.8 macro for close up shots of rings, etc. The UWA lens might be needed, but to me that is usually when you are working in tighter spaces, not a park. But, if you are looking to add something to your kit, the 16-35 f/4 IS is a very nice lens. But, I know wedding photographers like f/2.8 for inside churches/low light. If you believe rumors, the V3 of that for canon is coming soon. There is also the Tamron 15-30 f/2.8 which is well reviewed.

    Also, here is a link of wedding photographer that really likes the Sigma 24-35 f/2. And, of course, I've seen a couple of wedding photographers shooting primes, I've seen the 24 f/1.4, 50 f/1.4, 85 f/1.2, and 135 f/2 all in use. Finally, have you thought about lighting? Outdoors, get that extra splash of light on someone's face? Someone like Sean is better suited, but I'd have at least one 600 ex-rt with me.

    So...in summary...if you want to spend money...photography is a great hobby. But you are honestly in pretty decent shape, in my opinion. I'd probably rank the above suggestions in the following order:

    • 600 ex-rt (v1 or v2)
    • 70-200 f/2.8 II
    • 100 f/2.8 L macro
    • UWA lens


    For whatever it is worth, for weddings (amateur, not pro here), the 70-200 II and 24-70 II are my main "goto" lenses. One or the other is almost always on my camera and I often don't even bring anything other than a flash, backup battery, etc.

  3. #3
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    Hi there, thanks for the reply. I should have clarified I have the 600 flash as well. Today I bought a 110cm reflector also to get some good light on them so I'm looking forward to using it. I hadn't considered the macro for rings, thats actually a pretty good idea, and you just gave me a good idea for a shoot with it.

    I might look into selling my 70-200 then buying the IS. This wedding will be outdoors so if its overcast etc the IS would come in handy with lowering shutter speed etc

  4. #4
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    If it were me, going into it with what you have now and operating on the premise of single-camera wedding shoot, I'd (rent or buy) a 16-35/4IS, along with the 100 Macro already suggested. Imagine for a moment that the day before the wedding, your 24-70 dies: you're not going to survive a wedding with a 70-200. However, if you go into it with a 16-35 and a 24-70, either ONE could die and you're still safe. I'd also rent a 5D3 so you have something semi-comparable that you could fall back on if your 5DS should go on vacation.

    After that, I'd prioritize "getting the shots" over "having the best image quality". A shot with great IQ but taken after the cake smash is not worth nearly as much in memories as a shot that's a little soft but captures the emotion of the day. Honestly, 5DS with 16-35/4IS and 100 Macro (f/2.8 with IS, great for rings, great IQ, not so slow to focus that you're screwed at a wedding) might be all that I'd take in, leaving the 24-70, 70-200, and 5D3 in the trunk (out of sight) to be grabbed if something happens on the spot. As a freebie no-budget wedding, if you (the friend, amongst lots of other friends) were to jump and say "wait a minute, my camera just died, I need to grab my spare", folks will push the pause button and enjoy their company while you make the mad dash to fetch, and they'll keep an eye on whatever gear you park in sight of them while you do it. Rolling with a distinct setup, 16-35 for stuff that's wide (knowing you can comfortably crop to the equivalent of ~60mm while still having 22mp at your disposal) and 100/2.8 IS (which you can crop to 160mm equivalent, if not more) means your lens selection decisions are simplified IMHO. Both of those lenses are killer good on my 5DsR; the 16-35/4IS has completely displaced my 24-70/2.8 (both old model Canon and new) as my "first alarm" lens.

    Now, if I had wedding experience under my belt, an assistant, and preferably a second 5DsR (something about it just blows away my 1Dxes), I'd roll with two cameras and an assortment of primes: 14/2.8, 35/1.4, 50/1.2, 85/1.2, 100/2.8 Macro, 135/2, and 200/2, with 1-2 Profoto B2s on stands (B1s if it's high noon). But that's how I roll...
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

  5. #5
    Senior Member clemmb's Avatar
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    Not a wedding photographer, then do not do a lot of experimenting and equipment changing. Go with the equipment you are familiar with and shoot to catch the moments more than the perfect IQ. I just did a beach wedding recently. My main camera the 1DsIII with 24-105f4 and flash mounted on flash bracket. My backup was my 1DIII with 70-200f4IS. Not my best job IQ wise but got some great shots and they loved the results. I did, however, have plenty of backup equipment in case something failed. For you to have a second body that you are comfortable with and a lens that can backup your 24-70 would be safe. One thing that can slow you down is to switch from a canon zoom to a Tamron zoom because the zoom rings operated opposite from each other. That used to drive me crazy till I got rid of my Tamron.
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  6. #6
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    Expect you will have fun with this. Would recommend renting/buying a backup body even if only so you can have two lenses mounted all the time. It is hard to get the shot when you are changing lenses. For an outdoor shoot you may be wanting more firepower than the 600EX can bring to the game. I find that Einsteins paired with battery packs are a good choice for me. If no assistant is available to hold the lightstand(s) then make sure that you weigh them down very well!As an alternative you could gang together multiple 600EX units. Financially the strobe and battery pack costs far less and will up your game in other situations down the road.
    For lenses the suggestions above all make good sense. The only thing is you need to match the lens lineup with your shooting style. I know it is hard to nail that down without the lens options on hand to determine what your preferences actually are. It wouldn't hurt to rent them for a weekend or two beforehand and get familiar with what they can do and the look that they offer. The better you know them, the more confident you will be in getting the shots you want on the wedding day.
    Good luck and have fun with it!

  7. #7
    Senior Member jamsus's Avatar
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    Hello everyone.

    Yesterday one of my best friends called me and asked for shooting at his weeding (24th June 2017)! He doesn't want a professional photographer for many reasons (price, hate for posing for photo etc).

    I'll be with another photographer girl friend, and we will mostly have to take pictures to pretty everything with no claims on quality etc, just to take some good memories of the event.

    Actually my kit is not tuned for a weeding, i got a:

    60D + 18-135 IS STM, 50 F1.8, 35 F2, 100-400 L IS USM II

    I was thinking (also out of the weeding) some pieces to improve my gear, in particular:

    Samyang 8mm f3.5 CS II < i want this one for many reason, for sport, funny travel\landscape pictures and now i think i can use it also for fun pictures during wedding!

    An external flash (430 EX II maybe, i'm not experienced with it!)

    My real doubts are:

    1) I will need a second body, but i'll probably take another body - personally i prefer APS-C not for the price of the body, but for the lens price & the fact that i use APS-C with 100-400 for wildlife shooting. I'm not a professional and i won't be a professional so i prefer to stay in budget but be more versatile.

    I'm looking in the future for a 70D \ 7D Mark II (if price went down) and my kit could became

    Eventually 70D\7D Mark II + 35 f2(for details) or 18-135 (in open spaces) + Flash

    Second body 60D + Fisheye ready for everything

    The other photographer will take care of what i don't cover

    An alternative could be find the 17-50 Tamron f2.8 (not stabilized) which has a good price for the quality, and use it instead of 35f2 \ 18-135 for general lens and pictures with parents & friends!

    If you have some suggestions, i'm here (and i got a year to study!)
    Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

    Jamsus

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    haha...he may "hate posing for pictures"....but my guess is that the parents and/or grandparents have yet to hear about a lack of posed portraits.....they tend to like those.

    I would get to know the venue a little bit. For Squidy, he is in a park. Will you be in a church? Restaurant? What is the lighting like? Is it day or night?

    Considering your personal aspirations, I would make sure you can do a competent job, but I am not sure I would start building a classic "wedding photographer" kit just for this event. For example, a pair of the better professional wedding photographers I've seen worked almost the entire wedding each shooting with 5DIIIs and a EF 50 f/1.4. They simply "zoomed with their feet" and got some great images. So, that would be equivalent to your cropped sensor and 35 f/2 IS.

    The first wedding I took photos at after getting a dSLR was my sisters. Turned out she hated the pro's pics, and her wedding album is mostly my shots. Back then, 7D EFS 15-85. Almost all shots were f/5.6.

    My wife's Uncle is a pro who used to do a lot of weddings (massive dislike of them now, mostly does corporate/schools/senior pics/etc). I've talked with him and he almost always locks in at f/5.6. Liked the deeper DoF so that he is less likely to miss a shot/moment. Only went to a faster aperture at times when he felt he was more in control of the scene (portraits).

    My point being that while there are a couple of ideas of gear you need for weddings (f/2.8 zooms, or even faster primes). You can and people do shoot weddings with other gear. In this amateur's opinion, the most important things about weddings is documenting the people, event and capturing the key moments. It is often an uncontrolled situation. But, it is still "just" photography. The biggest difference I have seen between pros that I thought were good and those that weren't at weddings was a willingness to work (get angles, get into position) and to interact a little bit with the people (ask groups to pose, go around to each table at a reception and photograph that table, etc).

    So, in terms of your gear, unless you want some gear for another purpose, I would say you need a flash, I have never owned the 430 but am tempted to get the RT version and hear it is good. I known and understand a backup body is important for a pro. But this seems more casual and you have a backup photographer. As it is you spending your own money, I would only purchase a second body if you want one. If your friend is "counting" on you for the shots, then you might consider renting a second body for this event and making this part of your wedding gift.

    Other than that, I would try to get an idea about the location. Work with your friend and his fiancé to see what shots they want. Wait to see if posed shots come back around.

  9. #9
    Senior Member jamsus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayaker72 View Post
    ...
    Thank you very much, you confirmed some of my initial thougs and explained better some other concepts.

    The point is that gear helps (also a lot), but i think i can make my own "way" using feets and practice.

    Probably i won't buy nothing "only for the wedding" - the flash & the fisheye were already in my thoughts and the second body too (my 60D is working hard in those years )! But we are talking about 200$ (180 € in fact) for Fisheye, 100$ for flash (found some cheaper but good version of 430 EX II) and an eventual IInd body, and i got a year to work this off

    Thank you again
    Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

    Jamsus

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamsus View Post
    Yesterday one of my best friends called me and asked for shooting at his weeding (24th June 2017)! He doesn't want a professional photographer for many reasons (price, hate for posing for photo etc).
    Strictly my opinion, but "hate for posing for photo" is perhaps the absolute worst reason in the world to not want a professional photographer. A highly experienced photographer will have the savvy necessary to create the poses that look great while instilling confidence that the awkward position is worthwhile for the end result. Our wedding photographer had my wife all twisted up at one point and she absolutely could not understand what he was going for...the finished image explained it all.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamsus View Post
    Actually my kit is not tuned for a weeding, i got a:

    60D + 18-135 IS STM, 50 F1.8, 35 F2, 100-400 L IS USM II

    I was thinking (also out of the weeding) some pieces to improve my gear, in particular:

    Samyang 8mm f3.5 CS II < i want this one for many reason, for sport, funny travel\landscape pictures and now i think i can use it also for fun pictures during wedding!

    An external flash (430 EX II maybe, i'm not experienced with it!)
    Again, my opinion, but fisheye is rather highly overrated. Get a traditional wide angle lens instead. You need something in the 10-22 range, or maybe a 10-18. That's comparable to a 16-35 on FF, or 16-29 if you pick the 10-18. Master it well, and then consider buying a fisheye.

    On the surface, I'm a huge believer in owning a midrange external flash, so whatever is current (430 of some form???) is the right thing to get. As long as it can be a slave, you can move it off-camera later. However, for wedding use, you need to figure out what you need from a light. If you're indoors, you may need to rely on the flash as your main light source (if the venue will allow it), so you might bounce it off the ceiling if it's white/neutral and not too far up, or you might get it off-camera and shoot through a softening modifier, such as an umbrella or softbox. If indoors, absolute flash power isn't a necessity, but having enough power to still get the shot without having to crank your ISO too high is what matters. I'd suggest a lot of practice, as I've felt that some of my more aggressively flash-lit shots at ISOs I wouldn't otherwise think were high end up extremely grainy. If you'll be outdoors, unless you're doing nothing more than relatively tight half-body shots, power is key, since the flash will need to be back far enough to be out of the shot, ought to be off-camera, and you'll have to stay at sync speed so you can avoid HSS (HSS is a great technology, but inevitably you lose effective power when compared to traditional sync, and you therefore have to bring the flash in closer to compensate). You may want to look at renting/borrowing a Profoto B1 or B2 if you'll be outdoors; the much higher power will buy you enough margin to be able to use a better modifier to improve the look of the pictures.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamsus View Post
    I'm looking in the future for a 70D \ 7D Mark II (if price went down) and my kit could became

    Eventually 70D\7D Mark II + 35 f2(for details) or 18-135 (in open spaces) + Flash

    Second body 60D + Fisheye ready for everything

    The other photographer will take care of what i don't cover

    An alternative could be find the 17-50 Tamron f2.8 (not stabilized) which has a good price for the quality, and use it instead of 35f2 \ 18-135 for general lens and pictures with parents & friends!
    I think you're absolutely crazy to go into a wedding with two bodies and to plan to keep a fisheye on the second body full-time. I'd be looking at 17-50/2.8 on the first camera and maybe a 100 Macro on the second camera, so you have wide/normal ready on one and tight/details ready on the other. You could swap the 100 Macro for a 10-18 for large group shots, keeping the 17-50 handy if there's a magic moment and you want to get something tighter than what the 10-18 would give you while not being limited by a 100mm prime.

    I guess in a sense my bigger theme is to take this seriously, or don't (and if you're not going to take it seriously, treat it as a random day of shooting for which you're not going to influence your purchases whatsoever).
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

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