A Guide to Wedding Photographer Gear
The biggest question I get aside from where my clients come from is what gear do you use. I wish I could say my choices have always been super thought out. A lot of it has been trial and error. I want to give you an idea of why I use what I use and what are the most important pieces of gear for photographing weddings.
To start out here is a graph of how much I used each lens over the last 6 months.
– This is all the stuff I carry on me at all times or have in my hands, The bag itself is a large tenba messenger bag I also have an extra strap on it which is my back saving secret. The extra stap goes on my right shoulder while the main one goes on the left so it distributes weight like a knapsack.
Canon 5D Mk iii – I do not think canon or Nikon are superior. The first camera a got when I was 16 was canon and once you start getting lenses I don’t think it makes a ton of sense to switch.
Sigma 50mm 1.4 ART – I’ve had this since it came out. It is my most used lens for wedding photography by a long shot. Perfect for mid-length as well as super up-close portraits, landscapes and interior shots. The big question is why not the Canon 1.2 L ? I tried it, I found it was too slow to focus. The Sigma ART series is sharp but also extremely fast to focus. They are the first third party lens I’ve had an I don’t intend on going back.
Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART – I got this lens after getting the 50mm last year. I wasn’t sure about it at first. I never used a 35mm that much for weddings before I got this. It is now my third most used lens. It is not a good at focusing as the 50mm but it is still crystal clear when it catches and normally fast to focus. It has more issues than the 50 focusing if there is strong backlight.
Canon 70-200 f2.8 is – I had a hard time buying this lens at first. I was still starting my business. Money was tight but I needed a long lens in order to catch things that were further away and initially that is how I used it. After watching Susan Stripling I learned what a powerful lens this is and for that reason it is my second most used lens because of one word COMPRESSION. It is the most flattering lens for portraits I have. I use it 1/3 of the time at 85, 135, and 200 so it is getting a lot of range. It could probably be replaced with the lighter 200 and 135 mm but I think the IS makes up for it’s added weight.
Canon 85mm 1.8 – I don’t use this lens very much anymore, I use it for one shot during getting ready. I think I might stop carrying this one everywhere I go.
– I carry 8AA high output batteries I use Powerex 2700 MAh rechargeable because they are such high output but also affordable
– 1 extra camera battery
– Memory Card Case with 4 Sandisk CF and SD cards that I shoot to separately
– A small reflector that fits in the back of the bag and can double as sun protection for the lens on a bright day
– A small piece of rip-stock (a white waterproof fabric that can be used as a diffuser or more regularly for couples to sit on and protect their clothes from a dirty bench.
Here is a breakdown of how I use all my lenses; the numbers are for the first 6 months of 2015.
The main bag (A Lower computrecker) is where my camera lives before it is on me all the rest of the stuff are thing that get used later in the day or only on rare occasions
Flash – Nissin MG8000 – After burning out 2 canon flashes in a year I knew I needed to switch. I typically shoot at lower iso’s so my flash puts out lots of power. This one holds up. It has a quartz flash tube which basically means it won’t overheat. IT is as expensive as the Canon but for my money way better. Yes I did try the Quantum too, the infared sensor is not very good so focusing in low light can be tricky.
GoDox Propac This goes on me during the reception only. It adds juice to my flash, I used to use the quantum but this is cheaper, lighter and lasts longer. Enough said. I think the build quality is much worse but I have yet to have issues.
Things I don’t use much
Canon 5D Mkii – Just a backup camera
Canon 24-105 – Came with my 5D Mkii and wish I had not gotten it, I almost never use it
Canon 16-35mm mki – I got this lens when I was 16 and had a crop frame. I still use it occasionally when I want something super wide but I find I rarely want to go wider than 35mm
90mm Macro- I use it for photographing rings and not much else. Buy a cheap one and you’ll be fine. I used to use step rings, but this is just easier.
We use studio lights for the reception as well as family portraits. It is a big part of my look. It gives me control and drama. I used to use Bowen lights but switched a year ago to the Alien bee 400’s They are cheap and light and they work. The main thing with them is the Vagabond battery pack. It is amazing. I’ve had packs before but these are cheap and go forever. I can’t recommend them enough. We use Non-ttl pocketwizards.
I throw 2 in one bag that lives in the car one is a 4×6 silver white which we use a lot. I’ll go more into this in a further article. I also carry a 52inch silver black which get’s used less.