Shooting a wedding, but not sure what camera gear you need? Take a look at four of the best lens options for capturing the whole wedding day.
Top image via Shutterstock
When shooting a wedding, you will want a few different lenses to work with. In fact, if you’re carrying your lenses with you, it may be best to swap lenses during the day. Lenses that work great for ceremonies may not work at all during the reception.
During the wedding day, you will want to get plenty of intricate details. This includes big things like exteriors of the hotel, church, or venue, down to little things like rings and cufflinks. Now, there isn’t one magic lens that will capture all of these things equally, so here are the four lenses you’ll need to capture the whole wedding day.
Image via The Digital Picture
The 35mm is a wide-angle lens that’s perfect for shooting the entire wedding day. Its compact size also helps everyone on camera act like themselves. They tend not to be very intimidated by this lens. Before the ceremony, you can use this lens to capture the entire room while the bridal party is getting ready. It’s great for capturing a lot of action happening at once.
During the ceremony, this lens is great at setting a feel for the vows. It really helps set the scene, allowing you to focus on the storytelling. At the reception, this lens is wonderful for capturing the bridal party entrances. Not only do you see each couple walking in, you get some great footage of everyone in the background cheering them on. The same goes for the first dance and parent dances. Having the crowd smiling and crying in the background can really take the footage to another level.
Here’s a comparison between the Canon 35mm, Zeiss 35mm, Cooke 40mm, and the new XEEN 35mm from cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC.
The 50mm lens is the go-to lens for photographers and videographers alike. This lens is incredibly versatile. To get the best composition and framing, all you have to do is take a few steps forward or backwards. The 50mm is great for capturing all those candid moments of the bridal party goofing off and laughing. It’s not as wide as the 35mm, which can be beneficial if you are working in tight spaces — like small hotel rooms.
At the wedding venue, the 50mm can capture great details like table tops, the cake, toasts, seating cards, and everything in between. Where the 35mm was great at capturing the couple and everyone celebrating behind them, the 50mm will allow you to draw more focus on the couple.
This video from Digital Rev aims to narrow down the best 50mm by showing off several brands of glass.
The 85mm is great at capturing wedding footage in a journalistic style. The 85mm is one of the most popular lenses used for portraits. One of the best reasons to use the lens is the great low-light capabilities. It’s much easier to work at a distance and still get a nice clean image during dark wedding receptions.
It’s fantastic during dances, and is the opposite of the 35mm. Instead of seeing the couple and the guests in the shot, the 85mm will blur out the background and give you a really nice image of just the couple. The bokeh it produces during the wedding reception is excellent. One of the downsides is the weight. You will get tired of carrying this thing around.
Check out this breakdown from Adorama comparing 22 different 85mm lenses.
I feel like every wedding videographer will tell you that this is THE lens to have, but it’s really only good for ceremony. Your money will be better spent getting a nice 50mm. That said, if you shoot a lot of big weddings, the 70-200 is still essential. You’ll want to make sure you have a lens with image stabilization.
This lens will help you hide in the back and go unnoticed by guests. You can easily capture some nice close-up shots as well as quickly zooming out to capture the whole bridal party.
Check out this comparison between the Tamron 70-200, Sigma 70-200, and Canon 70-200mm lenses from Tony Northrup.
Bonus – Specialty Lenses
The following lenses aren’t the best for every wedding or videographer. However, they are great for very specific reasons.
If you’ll be flying your camera on a Steadicam or Glidecam, the 14mm is a great lens simply because you won’t have to keep adjusting the focus. Most 14mm lenses have a hyperfocal distance of three feet, so you can get pretty close or be back a bit and not have to focus.
If you are planning to get footage of the wedding rings or some dress details, a 100mm macro is the way to go. You’ll capture some great little details, but that’s pretty much the only thing you can use this lens for. It will sit in your camera bag the rest of the day.
What are your go-to lenses for shooting weddings? Share your kit in the comments below!