August 18, 2010

wedding photography – best lenses

With this recent review of the Nikon 24mm f1.4 the question came up about which lenses I use when photographing a wedding, and how I use them.

How do you juggle the various lenses you have for weddings and decide which ones to bring to a wedding and when to use them? Do you carry them all and just use them when you feel, or do only take specific lenses knowing what the wedding/venue will be like and know in advance that you will certain lenses at various times during the day?

Choosing which lens to use while photographing a wedding, is obviously an extension of your own style. It affects how you want to portray your subject, or the scene, through choice of depth-of-field, perspective and angle of view … or even through some special effect, such as a fish-eye lens or tilt-shift lens.

While the specific lens you use for any shot might be motivated by stylistic choice, there are also practical matters that come into play.  Sometimes the lens I choose will simply be the one already on my camera.

I also like having a wide arsenal of lenses available to me to use.  There is a reassurance in this idea, that I have the best and fastest that is available.  I want any limitations that exist, to be my own as a photographer, not because of my equipment.

So here’s how I juggle lenses and cameras …

I want to keep the discussion of lens choice away from a specific system for now, and will then later on go over the specific lenses I either use or would recommend for both Canon and Nikon.

I use three full-frame camera bodies.  My two workhorse lens with which I photograph 90% of the wedding day, are the 24-70mm f2.8 and the 70-200mm f2.8 … the third body is the one I use to rotate any other lenses on. I have the 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 zooms nearly permanently assigned to a specific camera.  Not changing lenses on those two primary bodies mean that I significantly reduce the chances of dust on my camera sensor.

My main two bodies both have a speedlight on them, along with a battery pack attached to the strap.  The third body doesn’t have a flash.

On the third body, I rotate a variety of lenses:
- fish-eye
- ultra-wide zoom
- macro lens: 100mm / 105mm f2.8 macro
- fast medium portrait lens:  85mm f1.4 / f1.2

I carry these (or a selection of these) in a Crumpler 7 Million Dollar shoulder bag (B&H), with me where needed.  I discarded the partitions, and just have it as a big hollow flexible shoulder bag. I keep everything in Tamrac Big Wheels rolling strongbox (B&H), and work out of it, or keep it in my car … or chained to a table in the reception room, using a bicycle lock.  But during the bride’s prep and the ceremony, I will have the smaller selection of lenses and third camera body with me in the Crumpler bag.

I have, but rarely use the 50mm f1.4  prime lens.
It just doesn’t seem wide enough, nor tight enough.

I’d like to use the same wedding of Kristy and Tom that I showed with this recent post, to illustrate where I’d use these lenses, and the results I get:

24-70mm f2.8

As much as I love using my 70-200mm f2.8 zoom, the 24-70mm is really my bread-and-butter lens. It is the one lens without which I can’t even imagine photographing a wedding.  From bride’s prep to the ceremony to the formal and romantic portraits, all the way to the reception, I have this lens on the one camera on my shoulder at all times.  It is the lens I would instantly reach for if anything came up unexpectedly.

70-200mm f2.8

I do believe the 70-200mm f2.8 really only makes sense on a full-frame camera body.  Then it becomes an ideal portrait range.  On a cropped sensor camera, it is a little too tight.  The 70-200 then is the lens I use for portraits, and for use during the church ceremony.

It is also the lens I use during any of the formal dances.  I’m most definitely not going to step on the dance-floor and tap the bride and her dad on the shoulder to smile for the camera, like traditional wedding photographers might.  The distance that the 70-200 allows me, lends itself to being more of an observer during the wedding.

The photo at the top of this article was shot with the 70-200mm f2.8 at maximum aperture, using the available light in the room.

The 70-200 has to have image stabilization / vibration reduction.
This is essential in low light, as is the f2.8 maximum aperture.

When working outdoors where I have the space, I ever prefer using the 70-200 for the formal portraits and family photos.  I really like the compressed perspective that the longer focal length allows.

ultra-wide f2.8 zoom

I really like using this lens for scene-setters such as an all-encompassing view of the church interior and the reception room interior.  The dramatic perspective also makes for interesting romantic portraits.

wedding photographer – Park Savoy, NJ

The venue here is the Park Savoy in Florham Park, NJ. For a wedding photographer it’s a great venue, offering a  number of photogenic spots.

fish-eye lens

In my opinion this is a specialty lens, bordering on being gimmicky when over-used. But it can be effective.  Here is a full-frame shot of the bride, using a fish-eye lens.  (I used wireless TTL flash here to bring the exposure for the bride and the sky more in line with each other.  The slaved speedlight was held up high by my second photographer standing to my left.  It was used as direct off-camera flash.)

100mm / 105mm macro lens

This lens is essential for close-up details.  Here is a shot of the couple’s rings, using the cake topper. The image below of the rings on the ring box, is from another wedding, just to show the use of the macro lens.

I also photograph the bride’s details such as her jewelry and hair-pieces and such.  And then the lens is often just handy for a close-up portrait.  This is why I favor the 100mm / 105mm range for the macro.  The 50mm lens would be too wide on a full-frame camera to use effectively as a tight portrait lens.

This portrait of Kristy was with available light only.  It is typically a photo I would do with the 85mm f1.4 / f1.2 at close to max aperture for that distinctive shallow depth of field of the 85mm lens. But this day I had the 105mm macro handy.  It works too.

There it is in a nutshell. I rely heavily on two top-notch fast zooms, that I carry with me – each on a camera body with a speedlight. Then I mix it up with a variety of lenses for a few shots, using a third camera body.  It’s a lot of weight to carry, but I try not to carry everything simultaneously. I’ll put the bag down, and perhaps one of the main cameras, when I can.  However, the security of the equipment is a huge concern.  It also remains a constant balancing between the need for flexibility and moving fast … yet having the right equipment on hand.

lenses I either already use, or have used or would recommend for Nikon:
(with B&H affiliate links)

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED AF-S VR II

Nikon 16mm f/2.8 AF  fisheye
Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S (my review of this lens)
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S (my review of this lens)
Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR  macro

for the crop-sensor Nikon DSLRs, I would recommend:

Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G AF-S DX
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX
Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G DX  fisheye

lenses I either already use, or have used or would recommend for Canon:
(with B&H affiliate links)

Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-f4 Di LD
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (my review of this lens)

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM (my review of this lens)

for the 1.6x crop-sensor Canon DSLRs, I would recommend:

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 macro IS USM

Other posts on the topic of wedding photography.

 

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{ 57 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Neil vN August 19, 2010 at 12:13 am

.. and right as I post this article, Nikon announced the Nikon 85mm f1.4G AF-S

Neil vN

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2 Briand August 19, 2010 at 3:42 am

Neil, thank you for sharing this.

i always check every link you give in your article.

i would like to know, is the 70-200 “breath” annoys wedding photographer?
do you feel it annoying in the wedding day pratically?

thank you

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3 Neil vN August 19, 2010 at 4:14 am

Briand .. as I mentioned in my initial comments about the new Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR II, I don’t think I would even have noticed the ‘breathing’ in the focal length as you focus closer.

In comparison to the previous Nikon, and direct comparison with the new Canon 70-200mm f2.8 II, I can see the focal length is significantly shorter at minimum focus. But honestly, I will happily work with the lens regardless of that. No drama.

Neil vN

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4 Shig T August 19, 2010 at 4:44 am

Hi, Neil

Today, Nikon has introduced AF-S 24-120mm F4.0 VR also. This is one of lenses I have been waiting for, and so have lots of wedding photographers around the world, I guess. Although I’m a Canon shooter and have to stick with it for now, I am willing to have some Nikon gears eventually. I would love to know what you have to say about the lens, compared with Canon EF 24-105mm F4.0 and am looking forward to it.

Shig

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5 Neil vN August 19, 2010 at 5:08 am

Shig .. I had the original Nikon 24-120 … and wasn’t impressed by it. It had huge amounts of barrel distortion and pronounced vignetting at 24mm .. and noticeable softness the closer you get to 120mm.

I’m hoping that with this new lens being the 3rd generation, that its optical formula might have improved considerably. I have a test copy on order, and will report back on it as soon as I have it.

The Canon 24-105mm f4 is an excellent lens. It is sharp enough to be the go-to lens for general photography and on-location portrait sessions with a couple.

Neil vN

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6 John Ahern August 19, 2010 at 5:12 am

When I saw this post I just went wow, can’t believe a question I asked ended up as a full article!!!
It was nice to read that I’m doing something similar to you Neil, I have two camera bodies, D3 and D700, I put the 24-70mm on the D3 and it never comes off, dust is the main reason for this. The 70-200, 14-24 and 85mm then swap around on the D700, as it has a dust vibration system I don’t worry about it that much.

John

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7 Eefje August 19, 2010 at 5:58 am

Hi, Neil

Suuuuper interesting post!! Thanks!

What would you do if one of the bodies breaks down? Hopfully not! But what if…

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8 Neil vN August 19, 2010 at 6:21 am

Eefje .. thanks!

I’m not sure I quite understand your question though. Are you perhaps stuck on the idea that I might not change lenses?

If a body breaks down, like one recently did, I continue working with the other body / bodies.

Neil vN

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9 Lance August 19, 2010 at 7:01 am

That is a lot of stuff to carry around. I can’t see how you would carry two bodies with flashes and that Crumpler bag, and maintain any kind of mobility. Do you have someone who just carries some stuff and hands you what you need?

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10 Neil vN August 19, 2010 at 7:27 am

Lance .. I prefer handling my own equipment. It just frustrates me when an assistant moves a camera away from where I put it down.

You need to consider *where* I work during a wedding shoot.

– At the bride’s house, I can easily leave my bag in a corner and work from it as needed.

– In the church, I put the bag down in a front pew, and just work with two cameras most of the time. (I do keep an eye on it though.)

– With the portrait sessions here outside the chapel on the university grounds, I put the bag and one camera down.

– With the portrait sessions at the venue, I can just put the bag down where I am .. and shoot with what I need. For example, with the ultra-wide shots of the bride and groom, the Crumpler bag and the one camera was somewhere on the ground.

– At the reception, I work with two cameras for a while since I need the 70-200 for the first dance and parents’ dance and the speeches. Thereafter I put it away in the locked rollercase and just work with the one body and the 24-70.

So while I do have the muscles to carry this stuff around for a short while, wedding photography need not be more of a physical endurance test than it already is. ; )

Neil vN

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11 Steve August 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

Niel,

Do you not recommend the Canon 24-70 2.8 L? I’ve seen you recommend it before, but also talk of quality control issues with Canon, and also not recommend the 24-105L for its poor bokeh.

Also, since you recommend the 24-105 f4, would you recommend the 70-200 f4 IS? It is much lighter, sharp wide open, but lacking that extra stop (which it gains back through IS). Any thoughts?

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12 Neil vN August 19, 2010 at 9:16 am

Steve … the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L is a lens that I feel very ambivalent about. The various copies I have used, all displayed a tendency to back-focus at unpredictable times. Also, as you zoomed closer to 24mm while focused near infinity, the lens tended to give mushy soft images. But it really is the only option if you want a mid-range Canon zoom with an f2.8 aperture. So I had to use it when I needed the faster aperture.

But I found the Canon 24-105mm f4L to be much more reliable and consistently sharp lens. I felt much more confident using it, especially for can’t-mess-up times like the family formals.

But, it is easier to blend flash with available light at wider apertures when working indoors .. and then for more candid moments, where I could shoot more and edit later .. then I’d have to shoot with the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L … but it isn’t a lens I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Neil vN

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13 Gregory August 19, 2010 at 9:39 am

“Great post”, thanks for feeding us the good stuff.

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14 Stephen August 19, 2010 at 10:12 am

I have to agree with the 24-70mm f2.8 being a workhorse lens, and I’m not a professional. I get a lot of mileage out it.

The revamped 24-120mm f4 should be better than its predecessor, but I think that f4 is going to be a limiting factor in some lighting and creative situations. In that regard, I would still go with the 24-70mm f2.8.

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15 Tam August 19, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Hi Neil,

Thanks for sharing yet another very useful and informative post. The images definitely help us appreciate the choice of lens.

On a side note, I have question regarding the two back-lit photos (one of the bride and the formal group photo). The light on the subject(s) looks impeccable. Was this available light or did you use any flash (direct/softbox) to balance the exposures.

Thanks,
-T

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16 Neil vN August 19, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Tam, those formal portraits of the bride and the family … mostly available light, with just the slightest touch of on-camera fill-flash. The trick here is to have their backs to the light and just use the open shade.

Neil vN

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17 Jeff August 19, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Great post once again. Wondering when you stated you attach your battery pack to the camera strap, how do you do this and have it stay in one place?

Maybe a pic up on the flickr group?

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18 Neil vN August 19, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Jeff, I just fold the flap of the battery pack into the strap loop. For details about the plate to which I attach the strap so that the Nikon can comfortably dangle in this vertical position like a Canon camera, check out the link.

Neil vN

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19 Tee August 19, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Infrequent poster here, Neil – would appreciate your advice.

Time has come to update my kit. I have 50 F1.4; 14-24; 35-70 (2 generations old pro F2.8 zoom) and 70-200 (VR1) on D700′s; shooting occasional but not all that rare wedding. I use 24-70 often, being lucky enough to be able to borrow it for free, but never wanted one, as a) I have similar 35-70 (not as sharp at F2.8 however); b) can borrow 24-70; c) hate 24-70′s bulk and heft – 35-70 is tiny, light and joy to use in comparison; d) 24-70 lacks VR – for what it costs it really should.
But time is here to replace my mid-zoom – I just gotta have my own modern optic, and, as of today, there are two choices 24-70 and the new 24-120 F4.
24-120′s advantages are obvious – lighter, smaller, 4 stop VR thingy, extra reach, lower cost (even though cost isn’t a factor in this decision at all). Given 24-120 is a sharp lens (there is hope: new 16-35 F4 is remarkable – I borrowed one), what is your opinion on getting 24-120 over 24-70? I know 24-70 is your “main lens”, but is that extra stop really worth it for you? And would your limitations/opportunities change at all if you had a VR to compensate and could go up to 120 (let’s disregard for a sec that you have a 70-200 on another shoulder :)

Thanks so much for any thoughts you may offer!

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20 Neil vN August 20, 2010 at 12:25 am

Tee .. I had the Nikon 35-70mm f2.8 and it is a fine lens. Focusing is slower than an AF-S lens, and the push-pull zoom design was a awkward … but it was the first zoom I used that made it shockingly obvious how much sharper a pro-quality zoom lens is than the run-of-the-mill general-purpose zooms.

The Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 beats it hands-down though, and I can’t imagine not using this lens.

Re the 24-120 f/4 … see my comments above. I’m waiting for a review copy, and hope to have good news about it. : )

Neil vN

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21 Brian August 20, 2010 at 10:42 am

Neil thank you for another useful post!

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22 michael chee August 20, 2010 at 10:46 am

I still cant believe that is just a fill lights…. ;) Experience does really pay off :)

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23 Sheri Johnson August 20, 2010 at 2:27 pm

very good information and I like the example images

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24 Eric Cullen August 20, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Hi Neil Great post as usual and great book too.

I am confused over the choice of Lenses for shooting weddings with a D300s.

You say that the 50mm is not wide enough on FX, yet you recommend a 35mm on DX which is the same.

I have 17-55 70-200mm, 35mm, and 60mm Nikkor lenses.
24mm would be nice, but ouch the price

Cheers Eric

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25 Neil vN August 20, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Eric … even though I don’t use the 50mm much, I do have it in my bag. And I will pull it out at times. As such, I do recommend having it anyway. When it is necessary, it is necessary.

Neil vN

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26 Dave R August 22, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Neil,

A photographer friend heard I was just taking up photography as a more serious hobby, and he highly recommended reading your blog to start – I’ve already learned so much in just the last several weeks – thank you for sharing your knowledge!

I do have a question on the lenses you recommended – I just bought a Canon 550D as my first SLR, and I see you have a list of lenses recommended for full-frame cameras, and then a couple for the 1.6x crop factor SLRs (like the 550D) – I don’t quite understand. Do the other lenses not work with the camera, or do they produced some undesirable outcomes? I’m very intrigued to play around with the 70-200 f/2.8.

Thanks!

Dave

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27 Neil vN August 22, 2010 at 8:52 pm

The lenses specifically made for the crop-sensor bodies, (EF-S), don’t work on the full-frame bodies. The full-frame lenses do work on the crop-sensor bodies … but the range is affected. So if you want the equivalent of the 28-85 range, you’d have to look at the 17-55 EF-S lens.

It’s a matter of what you need and like.

Neil vN

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28 Leif August 23, 2010 at 2:45 am

Hi Neil. Thanks as always for your articles. The Crumpler 7 Million Dollar bag does a redirect @ B&H to a slightly newer model, and I’m not sure if your affiliate code survives the switch.

Cheers

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29 Neil vN August 23, 2010 at 5:18 am

Leif .. thank you for the heads-up. I’ve updated the link now.

Neil vN

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30 Al Guzman August 23, 2010 at 10:28 am

Hey Niel, I’ve had the same issues with the 24-70 f2.8 canon lens, some photos are sharp and others tend to be a little soft or back focused. I thought maybe it was the lens that needed a Micro Adjustment but that did not help either. Just the lens issue i guess.

Thanks for the article.

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31 Frank August 23, 2010 at 11:23 am

Hi Neil, I notice you wear very comfortable clothing in your location shoots, including soft-soled shoes. For your formal weddings, with all the camera equipment you need to deal with, are there any steps you take to ensure maximum comfort and flexibility throughout the day/evening, especially when it comes to shoes, jackets, etc?

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32 Neil vN August 23, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Frank … I don’t wear a jacket, unless I am actually cold. The idea of wearing a tux or a jacket in the summer heat while running around with all that equipment is just insane.

The one piece of clothing that is really great, is the Nike Dri-Fit shirt. I sweat so much that I can’t have a shirt cling to me, or worse, show white sweat stains during a hot day. That’s the best piece of advice I can give the guys. Clothing for women? Not so much. I do know about lingerie though.

Neil vN

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33 Frank August 23, 2010 at 8:21 pm

You crack me up Neil…thanks for all your valuable advice. Btw, just so the sponsors of your website know, your business model works. I’ve purchased products from B&H and others soley on the basis of your recommendations, and have been pleased with the results. Sounds like a win-win-win to me…

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34 Joshua Segraves January 26, 2011 at 12:09 am

Neal,
Your site is incredible. BY FAR the most useful resource on photography I’ve found. I really have enjoyed the On Camera Flash book as well.

I still haven’t quite figured out a system that I’m completely satisfied with when shooting wedding and I’ve found this post extremely helpful.

Having a tough time visualizing your setup of having a dedicated 24-70 body and a 70-200 body, with a third body, lens and a Crumpler bag. Can you post a picture?

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35 Neil vN January 26, 2011 at 12:42 am

Joshua, I don’t carry the 2 cameras (w/ lenses) and the Crumpler bag all on me WHILE shooting. I put at least the bag down.

At the bride’s house or hotel room, I will only have one camera (w/ lens) in my hands. The other stuff is on the floor somewhere under a table. And so on.

Neil vN

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36 Brad KIng May 8, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Hi Neil – I’m assuming you still have the 2 D3 bodies. What kind of body do you use for the third that doesn’t have the flash?

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37 Neil vN May 8, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Brad, for an easier digital workflow, all three bodies are the same. Nikon D3. It also helps me while shooting since all camera controls are identical. I want to not-have-to-think about my camera controls.

Neil vN

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38 Norman May 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Neil_ I’ve just finished my first read of On-Camera Flash. At a quick count I own 45 books on photography, but your 126 page issue on speedlite techniques is exactly what I need to fill a gap & move me on. Looking forward to my 2nd read. Thank you_ Norm H. Dunedin N.Z.

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39 Lou Recine June 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Hi Neil
I shot a Wedding on the weekend it was the first time with 2 Bodies Both with a Flash attached.

It was an outside ceremony.
I put the body with the 70-200 Down on the ground near the back and kept the 24-70 with me ,

However I found I didn’t have the 70-200 when I needed it and always had to go back to get it.

( Dumb Question Time ) But I just want to clarification.

When you shoot a ceremony do keep both cameras on you. D3 w 24-70 + D3 w 70-200
and set one camera down when you reach the position.
Or do you keep the D3 w the 24-70 with you and 70-200 at the back for Long shots.

The other problem I had is when was I walk with both bodies with flash attached ‘ D3s with 24-70 + D2x w 70-200 ‘ one on each shoulder is that the lenses tend to stick out and the cameras bodies bounced back and forth ” I feel like a bull in China Shop ” going though door ways and tight quarters etc.

Im looking at attaching my strap -vertically as described in attaching-the-nikon-neck-strap-vertically Post

http://neilvn.com/tangents/2008/12/04/attaching-the-nikon-neck-strap-vertically/

Will this help or do I have to live with Bull In a China Shop feeling .

Thanks for the Help.

Lou

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40 Trev June 6, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Lou,

I use a belt system, with a Spider Pro attachment system hanging from the Think Tank Steroid belt.

I originally got the full Spider Pro system, the Spider Pro itself and belt but I found the belt a little light on so ordered the adapter plates from Spider Pro and got the much wider and fantastic support of the Think Tank Steroid Belt.

So I have a camera hanging on my belt, D3s with 70-200 lens & flash, so if I need it, I quickly sling the other D3s with 24-70 over should, unhook [it actually slides up and out of the ‘holster’ use that, then put it back so nothing is hanging from shoulders all the time, only a little bit.

You can opt to get 2 Spider Pros, have on in front of belly to slide the camera you are using into that, pull out the other camera, use it and swap, etc.

It’s absolutely fantastic with great weight distribution, found my shoulders have a much deserved reprieve by end of day.

There are various holes to screw attachment with different angles so you can play around to get camera to hang right.

Plenty of videos to watch at Spider Pro website. Choice is up to you of course.

Spider Pro: http://www.spiderholster.com/single-camera-system.html

Belt: http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/steroid-speed-belt-v2-xl-xxl.aspx

Actually you can see how I mounted mine in this discussion about mounting Pocket Wizards here: http://neilvn.com/forum/discussion/comment/957#Comment_957

Trev

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41 Neil vN June 7, 2011 at 1:24 am

Lou .. just for you – how to carry your camera over your shoulder without getting that “bull in a china shop” effect.

I carry both cameras like this .. one over each shoulder.

Neil vN

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42 Sue June 26, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Hi Neil

My friend wants my help with her childrens portriture business. I used to use a Nikon D3100 with the kit lens, but did not like the results. I now want to upgrade to a Nikon D7000. I would like to become a wedding photographer (maybe in 5 years time once a have enough experience).

I only have a $2300 budget for now. Therefore I will buy the body only. I consider buying a Tamron 17 – 50 F/2.8
In the future I would like to buy a Nikon 70 -200

Am I making the right choices? would you recommend other lenses?

Sue

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43 Neil vN June 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Sue – sounds like you’re on the right track. The D7000 is a more responsive and more fully-featured camera than the D3100. Certainly for wedding photography. The Tamron f2.8 zoom is a good direction. You need fast optics.

Neil vN

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44 Sportymonk August 20, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Back to that Nike shirt that absorbs perspiration (ok, sweat) . When I second shot, in a church I wore black slacks (comfortably cut so nothing ripped when bending), a black t-shirt, and a black button up short sleeve shirt. BUT now I am doing a beach wedding just after Labor Day down in NC and frankly I am wondering if it would be better to wear some slight kaki slacks and a dark blue or black polo shirt.

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45 Sportymonk August 20, 2011 at 7:22 pm

BTW for the D300 crowd, what do you think of the 80-200 f/2.8? Know it doesn’t have VR but seems to be a good lens.

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46 Neil vN August 21, 2011 at 4:53 am

Optically it is a great lens, but Vibration Reduction / Image Stabilization is essential for modern wedding photography. It allows you to shoot hand-held in light that is much lower than you’d be able to comfortably shoot in without VR / IS.

Stabilized lenses are very much part of what help defines my style as a wedding photographer.

Neil vN

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47 Leigh Cooper September 5, 2011 at 6:53 am

Hi Neil,
Thanks for this VERY insightful article, however how do you juggle between all these cameras and lense without an assistant? I’ve got both the lenses you refer to and 2 bodies however…where do you keep them and where does the one go when you using the other?!
Thanks!
Leigh

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48 Shival June 28, 2012 at 12:14 am

I need one expert advise from you…I will be covering my first Indian wedding of a friend of mine…phew…bit scared..anyways….Your article mentioning “You cant remain student always” really kicked me out of my lazy pants. I will be using 70-200 4L and 24-105 4L(rented) and will take 50 1.8 also. The cameras will be 600D and 550D..I know these are not sufficient and are no way near the pro range. I am just starting out and on low budget. Please advise what things I should take care? I will be covering the rasams in the morning and then the wedding in night .its a farmhouse so mostly open space…I dont have anyone to assist me I am on my own….how to manage the energy levels throughout the day as its hot in India and what about using flash I will be taking 430EXII. Also, should I keep both the cams on my shoulders the whole day…Please advise as your advise can make wonders and it will further motivate me to move in photography.

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49 Amirul July 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm

wow that’s make it easier to get the whole picture of what lenses to use for wedding photography. i always get a headache on which lens to use but i guess it depends on what shot that we want to make later on that will be the determining factor on what lens will be used for the shot. Thanks for the useful information! :)

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50 Ozmanguday August 12, 2012 at 12:11 am

Hi Neil,

I’m geared with the D7000, dx 35 1.8 – Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS and Nikon 85mm 1.8G. I have shot a few weddings with these. The 35mm I hardly used. It appears the 17-50 I have used mostly at 17 and 50mm ends rather then somewhere in between.
I would like to invest in a telezoom. The Nikon 70-200 VR II is a bit out of my reach for now, as I want to save for a FF camera first. I have been considering the Sigma 50-150 2.8 OS (at the cost of needing a new lens when going FF (though I will keep my DX as back-up for sure)or the Sigma 150 Macro 2.8 OS (at the cost of not be able to zoom). What can you recommend for DX as a tele/telezoom?

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51 Jessica Braithwait January 14, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Thanks for a GREAT post!

Why is there a $1,000 difference between these two lenses?

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

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52 Neil vN January 14, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Jessica, the version 2 lens is noticeably sharper when used at f/2.8 and the stabilization of the new lens is also more aggressive.

Here is my review of the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II lens

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53 Steve Fuller January 27, 2014 at 4:02 am

Great write up! I shoot with canon primes 35 and 85mm, but certainly need something wider on occasions during a wedding day so the 24mm is an interesting option.

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54 Johan Jooste February 1, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Hi Neil, if I may ask, are you actually Afrikaans speaking (referring to your surname)? I am from Namibia and have followed you somewhat, would do more so soon. You say the 70-200mm, f2.8 is too long for crop cameras, what would you recommend in it’s place then? I want to get me the 17-55mm, f2.8 and then a longer zoom for weddings on two bodies as well. Thanks for your time.

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55 Neil vN February 1, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Yup, I’m Afrikaans, and originally from Jo’burg.

There’s no real alternative to the 70-200mm focal length for the crop-sensor cameras that would give a similar range as it would on a full-frame camera. If anyone has off-brand suggestions, they’re welcome.

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56 RsZ May 20, 2014 at 10:14 am

For sure there is…:)
Sigma 50-150 F2.8 EX DC OS HSM – razor sharp, fast, accurate with lovely bokeh, almost as good as Nikkor if you ask me…

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57 Foto Nunta Brasov July 8, 2014 at 7:42 am

Great reviw, i shot with 35mm and 100mm + 85 mm for portraits.

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