Best wedding lens
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Old 10-27-2005   #1
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Default Best wedding lens

I'll be helping to shoot a wedding for a friend. First time, so I don't know much about it.

What is the single best lens for wedding work? I'm referring to lens range and speed, not brand. Thanks.

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Old 10-27-2005   #2
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Default Re: Best wedding lens

You don't mention Full Frame or crop factor?
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Old 10-27-2005   #3
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Default Re: Best wedding lens

Can't think of a "single" best lens range. Are you going to be shooting posed formals? Of couples only? Of groups? Or are you going to be shooting candids? Do you like to be "in your face" when shooting your candids? Or do you like to be a distance away? I guess you could cover it with a 28-300, but that is very heavy. I'd rather have a 24-70 and a 70-200. But sometimes find that I also need something wider (16-35).

Speed is easier. Get the fastest lens you can (2.8 or better preferred) for faster accurate focusing. Will you be using flash or ambient light? Indoor or outdoor?

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Old 10-27-2005   #4
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Default Re: Best wedding lens

John, I'll be running around doing candids, so I'd need a zoom of some sort. I was thinking something in the 20-70 range, but I'm not sure if I'd want something with a longer range.
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Old 10-27-2005   #5
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Default Re: Best wedding lens

As the other guy asked, what size sensor? With a 1.5 or 1.6 crop sensor 70mm should be OK for the long end (about equal to 105mm on a FF camera). But 24 on the short side might not be wide enough for groups or for working in cramped places.

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Old 10-28-2005   #6
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Default Re: Best wedding lens

If you have to limit yourself to using only one lens for wedding work, the single best lens is either a fast normal lens (f/1.4 to f/2.8 ) or a fast mid-range zoom (f/2.8 slight wide to slight telephoto).
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Old 10-28-2005   #7
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Default Re: Best wedding lens

Based upon what I used professionally for weddings with medium format system (with values rounded to typical lens FL for convenience ...


groups, as wide as: 50mm (MF), 35mm (35ff), 21mm (1.6 crop format)
wider introduces to much possibility of perspective distortion unless you stand exactly square to the front of the group!

head & shoulder portraits, as long as: 150mm (MF), 100mm (35ff), 65mm (1.6crop)

Shooting med format, the fastest lens (75mm normal) was 2.8, but the rest were only f/3.5. A faster lens is handy for easier focus, but with AF it is less problematic than visual focus manually!

So a 24-70 falls short in the wide angle range if you are using typical dSLR. Don't know what brand you use, but Canon's 17-85 covers the range of FL perfectly, but is a tad slow for max aperture. Some of the wide range aftermarket lenses fit the bill nicely.

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Old 10-29-2005   #8
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Default Re: Best wedding lens

Many years ago when I was working for a portrait studio, the owner supplied his wedding photographers with a flash unit and a Yashica-Mat 6x6cm twin lens reflex camera with an 80mm f/3.5 lens.. That was the only time I was limited to using only one lens for wedding work.

Later I purchased my own Mamiya 6x6cm twin lens reflex with three lenses (80mm f2.8 normal lens, 55mm f4.5 wide-angle, and a 180mm f4.5 telephoto. The 55mm I used primarily for shooting large group shots, the 180mm I used primarily portraits, and the 80mm I used for everything else.

I am now using a 6x7cm with an f/3.5 normal lens and a 6x9cm with an f/5.6 wide-angle lens for the formal wedding shots. Since I am using multiple flash units for the formal shots, I can use slow lenses.

For candids (with or without flash), I use a 35mm camera with at least 4 lenses (24mm f/2, 35mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, and 180mm f/2.8. If I am shooting an outdoor wedding, I may substitute a 35-70mm f/2.8 zoom for the 35mm and 85mm lenses.

As I stated in my previous post, if I had to limit myself to only one lens to shoot a wedding, I would use either a fast normal lens (f/1.4 to f/2.8 ) or a fast midrange zoom lens like the 35-70mm f/2.8 or the 28-70mm f/2.8 for the 35mm camera. The reason I recommend fast lenses is in case you have to take shots in low light situations without flash.
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Old 10-29-2005   #9
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Default Re: Best wedding lens

I also shot my first weddings with a TLR, in my case a Rolleiflex. I later experimented with the Graphlex XT (or was it XL) which was a rangefinder medium format camera that used film magazines (very neat for switching rolls of film). I then gravitated to the 6x7 Pentax which looked like a 35mm SLR on steroids. Problem with that camera is that it the only sync was at 1/60 second because of the focal plane shutter (Pentax later came out with a leaf shutter lens for that camera. I did not like the Hasselblad because of the loud clunk of the mirror when I made my exposure. I used all of these cameras wit their "normal" focal length lenses which depended upon format size.

I finally decided on the 6x6cm Mamiyaflex, first the C33 and later the C330. I used 55mm, 80mm and 180mmlenses (always wishing they had made a 150mm for that camera). I found absolutely no problems with these focal lengths and since I used multiple flash, the relatively slow apertures didn't bother me at all. On a 1.6x crop camera these lenses would be about equal to (if my math is still working O.K.) about 22mm, 30mm and 75mm.

This combination is pretty close to the standard 24 to 70mm mid range zooms like the Canon L models. Sure it takes a little practice, talent and ingenuity to do groups with a lens that is not particularly wide, but on the other hand, you never have to worry about distortion.


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