When it comes to wedding photography, it goes without saying that there isn’t a single type of lens that can cut it all the time. And that’s why every wedding photographer ought to have at least one of each of the following type of lens.
1. The Wide-Angle Zoom
Any wedding photographer who knows his stuff shouldn’t lack at least a set of quality wide-angle zoom lenses. It should be preferably 17 to 35 millimetres in length and an aperture of around f/2.8. This kind of lenses will provide you with a relatively wide depth of view making it easier to have a vivid foreground and background. They are also indispensable when it comes to versatility in indoor photography and enclosed areas like crowded dance floor or a cramped up conference/banquet room.
Remember that while a standard lens enables you to take in more detail, a wide-angle zoom lens gives room for more reactions, emotions, and an accurate atmosphere.
Therefore, this means that when shooting with a wide-angle zoom lens, you’re likely to capture a better outlook of things happening simultaneously around a subject. Which, of course, explains why they have the ability to tell ‘ a story within a story.’ In other words, you’re likely to reveal the story behind a shot better when using a wide-angle lens than with standard one.
Again, considering that most of the time wedding atmospheres are very time sensitive, such a definitive photography lens allows you the convenience to snap as many subjects, emotions and actions as possible, within a short time.
When used in an expansive venue such a ballroom or church, a wide-angle lens can also magnify the spaciousness and grandeur of the setting. Which, in any case, is the whole point of photojournalistic wedding photography.
However, as much as wide-angle photography lenses have an upper hand in such settings, you still need to be judicious or discriminative of the actions and scenes you hope to capture using these lenses. For starters, bear in mind that using this type of lenses can result to an unattractive body distortion especially if the subject in question is up-close. So if you’re not careful, your subjects will appear shorter, stockier or with non-proportional arms/legs. Unless, of course, you want a client scolding you for ruining her trim figure and making her appear as if she’s put on 20 pounds on her big day!
Thus, if you’re planning to use this lens, try putting the bride/groom as far from the wide-angle distortion as possible. Besides, remember that wide-angle photography lenses can introduce unwanted elements or distractions into the frame, thereby ruining what would otherwise be a picture-perfect photo.
2. Wide-to-Telephoto Zoom
Apart from Wide-angle lenses, wide to telephoto zooms are the next very important type of lenses in modern-day wedding photography. And these are mostly lenses that have a focal length of around 20-70mm but with an opening of f/2.8. This range is still good enough to allow you to take a selfie or a group photograph but still accurate enough to reproduce emotions and facial expressions with a desirable degree of detail.
You can still use a wide-to-telephoto zoom lens to reproduce three-quarter portraits with a striking amount of detail and at the same time avoid the unwanted effects of wide-angle photography distortion.
In fact, a seasoned wedding photographer can rely on only wide-to-telephoto zoom lenses to make all his shots in a wedding.
3. The Image-stabilised Telephoto Zoom
Although they tend to be relatively more expensive than other standard lenses, image stabilised telephoto lenses are also very essential in any comprehensive wedding photography kit. As far as the focal length is concerned, the telephoto zoom boasts of a 70-200mm with a matching f/2.8 aperture. In fact, such a focal length is all you need to capture a congregation from a distance, e.g., at the furthest end of the aisle. It also enables you to give the subjects in focus more space, especially in candid shots.
Most image stabilised zoom lenses have a focal length long enough for one to take close up photos but when standing reasonably far away from the subject. For instance, you can easily capture the image of the groom and the bride exchanging vows when standing several feet away from the couple using a telephoto zoom. The same applies to taking group photos where the zoom feature allows a photographer the luxury of snapping away a row of bridesmaids/groom without necessarily having to switch the lenses.
Nonetheless, perhaps the greatest advantage of using a telephoto zoom lens is its ability to reproduce a nicely blurred background but when still maintaining a sharp foreground. And this is possible regardless of whether you’re using a small-sensor body or a full-frame one, i.e., as long as the focal length is between 200 to 300mm. Also, you don’t have to be an expert behind the lenses to isolate an intrusive background or block out curious onlookers using these lenses.
Lastly, another advantage of having an image stabilised telephoto zoom eyepiece is that it’s possible to make use of the small sensor camera’s 1.5X crop-factor to your advantage. The 205/2.8 end of a standard zoom, for example, effectively morphs into 300/2.8 when using such a lens. In reality, buying such a lens separately would cost you around $4000.
4. The prime lenses
Unlike zoom lenses, prime lenses have essentially fixed focal lengths. And due to the lack of the variation, they tend to have superior optical capabilities than zoom lenses and wider maximum light apertures.
So, if you’re an aspiring photographer, be sure to stock up some of these lenses as they tend to come in handy in portrait and close-up shots. Furthermore, even if you already have the 3 lenses discussed above, having one or two fast prime lenses wouldn’t hurt as they are already inexpensive, light and quite compact.
Finally, faster prime lenses are comparatively the best when a regular f/2.8 is not sufficient to capture a shallow depth of view or a motion-stopping shutter speed as desired. An image that needs 1/25 seconds in shutter speed using a f/2.8, for instance, will only need 1/60 seconds at a prime f/1.8. If you’ve been in photography long enough, then you know such a difference can result in the distinction between a blurry image and a sharper one.