Best Lens For Wedding Photography
A really common question I get asked is from people shooting their first wedding, so they want to know what is the best lenses for wedding photography they should get.
I’m going to question up a little and say what gear you need to have, and why you SHOULD NOT use 18-200 mm lens and SHOULD have 4 different lenses: portrait, macro, wide-angle, and zoom lenses.
One lens for wedding photography
Sometimes you need to limit the number of lenses you use at the wedding ceremony because of the constant change of them, or you have a limited budget, or you just start to shoot weddings and you would like to have a good portrait lens and a high-quality zoom lens in one shell.
Many beginners buy a versatile lens for this matter. It's true - these lenses are very attractive, their versatility makes the photographer’s work much easier. They have lightweight, near 500 g, unlike specialized lenses (800-900 g each one). They are relatively cheap (about $400-500). Because of a big focal length, it is used as a wide-angle, portrait, macro and telephoto lens in one body. This is the main reason why people buy it.
But don’t forget about the minuses it has. Again, because of a huge selection of focal lengths, it can work well only at 50mm as my practice shows. If you shoot 18-25 mm the image can be very soft like on the example below. I call it a Go-Pro effect.
At the 100-300mm, your macro photo will receive an unpleasant vignetting and focusing time can last forever. Also, you need much light to make the photos look clear, so do not even think about taking photos in dark rooms or in the evening.
In the average range of about 50-80mm, these lenses show themselves quite well, the only problem is a long time focusing. It is important to understand that it is impossible to replace all lenses by purchasing one lens for wedding photography. I do not recommend buying any universal lens, but let’s review them.
Tamron 18-270mm f / 3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD – about $320, Dec 2010
SHARPNESS. The portrait pictures have good sharpness in the center of the photo at 18 mm using wide-open aperture. The corners have some kind of softness, but gradually acquire sharpness through f/8.
Although using a 28 mm center photo has good sharpness, the middle photo area, and the corners are still quite soft. To improve the overall quality of the photo, set the aperture value to f/5.6, and f/8 will sharpen the whole shot.
The wide-open sharpness in the center of the frame becomes even worse at 35 mm, and the middle and corners are still quite soft. Using 50 mm, your photo will look much softer than 35 mm. At 700 mm, the photo is even softer, and 100 mm demonstrates quality, like at 70 mm, but with softer angles. At 200 mm, there is a noticeable degradation of sharpness, and 270 mm will make your photo completely soft, especially in the middle and in the corners.
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300 mm f / 3.5-6.3G – about $550, Aug 2014
GOOD AUTOFOCUSING FOR PORTRAITS. Nikon AF-S DX is a great alternative to Tamron 18-270 mm with excellent autofocusing. In low light, it will take a little trouble. Noticeable distortions are few, with the 18 mm and 50 mm installation the largest are observed, but with other settings, there is no distortion. The same goes for distortion and chromatic aberration. Sharpness in the center is really nice, the angles are also quite good. The design is quite comfortable. The lens is light, working with depth of field is difficult, because of excessive depth. Also, bokeh is not the best.
Best lens for wedding photography - portraits
Most of the time you will need to take pictures of the newlyweds because most of the events at the wedding are tied to them. From the beginning of the ceremony to the night party, you will need to capture them. Sometimes you will need to isolate the bride and groom from the rest of the guests. To do this, you need a quality lens that creates beautiful bokeh. This will allow adding a certain intimacy to wedding photos as if there is no one else besides the newlyweds.
These lenses provide the necessary focal length and a different depth of field. The main disadvantage is usually a fixed focal length, so you need to go around the territory of the wedding to make good portraits.
Canon portrait lens 50mm f/1.2 L USM - about $1,099, Sept 2006
BOKEH. Canon portrait lens 50mm is a lens that must necessarily be in the arsenal of every wedding photographer. Among its advantages is that it is not very wide and focuses on the most important thing. With this lens, I shoot almost 50% of the ceremony. By purchasing this lens, you can take great pictures with the effect of bokeh. Even at a distance of about three meters from the subject, everything around will be pleasantly blurred, but at first, it will be a little difficult to achieve, because if the bride or the groom gets too close to the object, some parts of the body can also be blurred. If you have a Nikon camera and what to receive the same results, choose AI-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2.
POOR LIGHTNING. Another useful advantage of the 50mm is the ability to use it in the rooms with low lighting without a flash, just by placing an ISO 800 that will also give you clear pictures without defects. Despite its release date, Canon EF 50 mm is one of the best portrait lens in 2017.
Sigma 50mm f / 1.4 DG HSM Art Lens - about $750, Apr 2014
ASSEMBLY. This lens is a good alternative to Canon portrait lens 50mm because it is cheaper, an assembly is much better and safer.
BOKEH. The bokeh effect is more pleasant, focusing is much easier and faster, and the sharpness of this lens is simply incredible. A little vignetting may appear, but it leaves at f/2. Sigma 50mm perfectly suited as the main lens and deservedly takes its place among the best lenses for family portraits.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L Ii Usm - about $1390, Feb 2012
WORKHORSE. Perhaps the best lens for wedding photography Canon 60d owners and the most frequent choice among wedding and portrait photographers since 2013. This is the workhorse that will be on your camera most of the time because of its versatility. Someone calls this lens - "a lens for the lazy". The 24 mm - 70 mm lens is ideal for head and shoulder portraits, as well as half-body portraits and portraits of the entire body. It is also suitable for small group shots, but as soon as you accumulate too many people in the frame, it is best to go to 16 mm - 35 mm. Even if I have a 16 mm - 35 mm on my camera, and I need 30mm, I'll still choose a 24mm-70mm f2.8L lens. This lens has excellent sharpness from the center of the photo and up to the edges if stopped down a bit. Its wide open has a pleasant softness, which I love. After all, if the lens is too sharp, it can reveal every defect of people and background, which is not very good for portrait and wedding photography. If you have a Nikon camera and what to receive the same results, choose Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED.
NO IMAGE STABILISATION. Due to the lack of image stabilization in this lens, I'm trying my best to increase the shutter speed in dimly lit buildings by raising ISO, but fortunately, my camera does an excellent job at high ISO and noises only appear in rare cases. Considering all proses, Canon EF 24-70mm is the best lens for wedding photography and videography from Canon.
Best lens for Nikon D7100 for portraits - Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 85 mm f / 1.4G - about $1100, Aug 2010
FIXED. Unlike the Canon 85mm, this lens is lighter, cheaper, and is one of the sharpest Nikon mid-range primes, which was released in the last time. Many photographers refuse to use 85 mm because of the long focus time, despite the fact that it can create amazing wedding portraits. I really love this lens, and I use it exclusively for staged portraits of the bride and groom. Since this is a fixed lens, you need to do more work by zooming in and out. For Canon users, I recommend Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM.
But your efforts will not be in vain, as the portraits become cleaner, the backgrounds become softer, and this is the best lens for wedding photography and videography in low light conditions. This is one of my favorite lenses because it is very fast, small and extremely reliable, so I never part with it. I used this lens with my Nikon, so I can safely say that this is the best portrait lens from Nikon. A good alternative would be Sony wedding lenses, especially the Sony Zeiss Batis 85mm f / 1.8. It has excellent image stabilization, and it is very sharp even with a fully open aperture and maintains high image quality at very close focusing distances, even when shooting a video. Considering its portraits quality, I can say that this is one of the best lens for group photos from Nikon.
Best Macro lenses for Wedding Photographers
A macro lens is an excellent tool for wedding photography, which can be used for various artistic and creative things, as well as for close-up photography of wedding rings, entertainment and wedding treats, and decorations. This list can be extended endlessly. Since these lenses isolate the object well, they are great for photographing small details.
Canon EF 100mm f / 2.8L IS USM Macro Lens, $650, Oct 2009
SHARP. This Macro L series lens has a remarkable image quality and is the best macro lens for wedding photography from Canon. You can use something like 70-200 mm, but this will not give you the same quality and focus at close distances. With 100mm from Canon, you get an excellent and sharp picture with a wonderful bokeh in the background.
CREAMY BOKEH. Using it, you can stop all the way down to 2.8, with a whitish bokeh but a limited depth of field, for example, the ring will be in the frame, and the table or casket in which it lies is evenly blurred. In low light, it needs additional lighting, but since this kind of lens is used mainly in the daytime - this will not be a problem.
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens, Oct 2011, about $600
FAST FOCUSING. A feature of this lens is very easy focusing. It creates incredibly sharp images, which allows you to approach very closely to the subjects of shooting, not "hunting" a focus.
HEAVY. Despite the fact that it is made of plastic, it is quite heavy. Honestly, unlike Canon 100mm, my hands got tired during its use. It can also be used for portrait photography, although I would not recommend it, since all the small inaccuracies on the skin, such as pores and wrinkles, this lens will show in full. I can make it the best lens for wedding photography Nikon produced for food and wedding sweets.
Tokina AT-X 100mm f/2.8 PRO D Macro Lens, about $350, March 2006
EASY INTERFACE. The Tokina 100 mm Macro, thanks to the focal length, can be used as a macro lens or a portrait lens. This lens is very easy to use. The difference between the center and the corners is surprisingly insignificant. The curvature of the field and distortion are simply absent. VIGNETTING. It is also very suitable for vignetting and distortion. This lens makes incredibly beautiful bokeh, allowing you to focus attention on the most important, without being distracted by the background. It is the best lens for wedding photography due to price/quality ratio.
SLOW AUTOFOCUS. Speaking of the disadvantages of this lens, compared with more modern and expensive lenses, there is slower autofocusing and lack of image stabilization. The vignetting of the Tokina 100 mm Macro, expressed in the stops, is surprisingly low. Its direct competitor is the more expensive Canon 100 mm 2.8 IS Macro. Despite the clearer fraction from Canon at full aperture, it is more sensitive to illumination than The Tokina 100 mm Macro.
Wide-Angle lens - the best lens for group photos Nikon & Canon
Wedding photography also means working with the interior, and since all important wedding buildings usually have a fairly small size, you need to calculate everything properly, given the number of guests in the photos. Yes, you can move away from a little by zooming in with a tele lens, but this is not the best solution. Having done this, you can not photograph much with a long focal length. You must use a wide-scale shooting to photograph not only the bride and groom but also their guests.
To place all the guests of the wedding in the frame a wide-angle lens will help you. Moreover, if you use a long focal length, people in the frame will look tiny with an excess of background.
The big drawback of wide-angle lenses is how they change the perspective and have distortion. So making group photos do not go too close. The photos taken too close may have slightly strange proportions. The objects that are close to the camera will be much larger than they actually are. This makes such lenses unsuitable for some types of photography as portrait or macro.
Canon 16mm - 35mm f4L IS USM, $810, May 2014
DIMLY PLACES. Having used Canon 16 mm - 35 mm, I must say that this is an impressive ultra wide-angle lens and is the best Canon lens for portraits of groups. Despite the fact that the widest aperture can only be f4, I do not need ultra-wide apertures, and it fits the type of wedding photos I like to shoot. This Canon has a 4-stop image stabilization, which is important for taking pictures in dimly lit places. If you’re a Nikon user, choose Nikon - Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED.
NO OVERSATURATION. The best lens for wedding photography canon 60D may have. It is made of the highest quality materials and contains excellent optics and glass, confirming its status as a professional L-class lens. There is good sharpness throughout the frame, even using wide open, and the colors are pretty bright, but without oversaturation. According to many photographers’ comments, the image quality of this lens is even better than Canon's 16mm - 35mm f2.8L.
Nikon 35mm f/1.8g AF-S DX - about $180, Feb 2009
CEREMONY OUTSIDE. Nikon 35mm f / 1.8g AF-S DX is the best lens for wedding photography Nikon produced and can replace most of the wide-angle lenses on the market. It will not set you too wide, because it shoots the angle that your eye can catch, excluding all distortions at the corners of the picture. This lens is good for wedding decorations, like a photo of the ceremony place and newlyweds during the vow. This lens will also be a good choice for various group shots.
If you use a Canon camera - Canon EF 35mm f / 2 IS USM Lens.
The best lens for group photos Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G - $300, May 2017
NEW MODEL. Nikon 10-20mm is a new 2017 ultra-wide lens from Nikon. This means that it works with a limited number of cameras - Nikon cameras.
LARGE ANGLE OF SHOOTING. It is very light and compact, and unlike Canon 16 mm has a large angle of shooting. Can catch small distortions in the corners, but they are not critical. In low light, the lens does not show itself so well, but I can safely say that this is the best lens for wedding photography from Nikon for its outdoor events, since it will allow you to capture the entire ceremony at once. If you shoot with Canon - Sigma AF 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM should be your choice.
Canon EF 24mm f / 1.4L II USM, about $1100, Dec 2008
SMALL ROOMS. Canon EF 24mm is a lens that can compete with the Nikon 35mm, but it shoots much wider and is perfect for photos of small rooms with good lighting. Autofocusing works very accurately and the sharpness of objects in focus is remarkable. The effect of the bokeh, which is often disgusting in wide-angle Сanon lenses, is quite good here.
If you have a Nikon body - Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED is recommended.
Best Zoom Lenses for Wedding Photographers
MASSIVE. Despite the fact that they are massive and heavy, I would not take bridal pictures without them. These lenses make you, the wedding photographer, literally inconspicuous.
DISTANCE. You do not have to stay with people too closely, causing them some embarrassment - take pictures of sincere emotions and happy moments from an adequate distance. These lenses will play a special role during the ceremonies since you will need to keep out of the way. This will allow you to capture the most memorable moments of the wedding. Given the fact that majority of weddings are held in little churches, a wide aperture of f / 2.8 allows more light to penetrate the lens, creating brighter photographs, even by 200 mm. It creates a beautiful bokeh at f2.8, and the compression that you get, increasing from 150-200 mm.
CHURCH. In fact, 70-200 mm is the best lenses for wedding photography to shoot in churches. The recommended models are: Canon 70-200 f / 2.8L IS II, Nikon 70-200 f / 2.8 E VR, Tamron 70-200mm f / 2.8 Di VC USD G2.
If you need a longer zoom having the same distance, you can take pictures in DX mode. Remember about enough amount of pixels for cutting, so you can straighten or change your result in post-processing.
TRIPOD. The 70-200 mm - a wonderful focal length for smarmy portraits. Using 200mm I usually stop about f / 4 or f / 5.6 at a shutter speed of 1 / 200-1 / 400th, then the sharpness of the picture is staggering against the whitish bokeh background. Also, use your built-in lens collar by holding it by hand or fastening it to a tripod. If you don't use a tripod, do leaning on something fixed, like a wall or with your hands clasped to something strong, reducing the camera's shake. This is notably necessary if you using these lenses for portrait photography with the longer focal length.
Summing up about the best lens for wedding photography
Nikon and Canon have a lot of prime lenses because they offer us to change them more often, rather than become attached to one model. A lot of criticism about 18-300 mm and superzooms is due to the fact that I want to show people what to expect from such lenses before they spend their own hard-earned thousands of dollars.
While visiting various seminars and meetings of photography enthusiasts, I met many beginners, most of whom owned one lens for wedding photography of 18-200 mm. It turns out that they chose these lenses only because someone recommended it to them and assured that these lenses are for any situation an. I often see people with 18-200 mm, then with 16-85 mm. Unfortunately, most of them do not provide professional wedding photography services, moreover, they use only an automatic mode. They naively believe that 18-200 mm is their magic wand, which itself does everything. And because of the high demand for these lenses, Nikon increasingly focuses on them, rather than on simple and good DX primes and zooms. I would like to believe that no universal 18-200 lens won't be called the best lens for wedding photography Nikon 2018. And instead of expensive and inefficient 18-300 mm lenses, will begin to make simple and high-quality 16-85 mm lenses, which are the best lenses for wedding photography I know.
For shooting unique events in our life like weddings, besides having the best camera for wedding photography, you also need to have high-quality and high-resolution lenses to permanently capture these precious moments. First, this is a wide-angle lens, a zoom lens, a macro lens, or a combination thereof.
These lenses are necessary to capture every event, from landscapes to ceremonies and couples as well. Using the above reviews, now you know not only how to choose the best lenses for wedding photography and videography, but also how to shoot a large number of people in small rooms, how to adjust the quality of the photo, and how to create a romantic and soft photo.