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Best Lens for wedding photography

Rick Viars II , Dec 09, 2009; 08:24 p.m.

Hi, I'm in college not formally trained in photography but have always had a knack for it. My parents recently started a wedding and events business at our house. I have been incredibly busy and have realized that the lens and flash that came with my canon 30D is just not sufficient in low light situations. Can anyone suggest a good all-around lens and flash that performs well in low light (i.e. receptions inside or at night)? I have a budget of around $700 for both. Also should I look for new or used. Thanks!



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Angel Bocanegra , Dec 09, 2009; 08:41 p.m.

If you go third party lens you might find a f2.8 standard zoom for aps-c less than $700. The "classic" range is 24-70 or 15-xx for aps-c. A 430ex should do fine. If you dont mind primes, then the 50 f1.8 comes to mind, but it might be too tight for aps-c. Ideally, you could get a used ef-s17-55 f2.8 for $750usd plus a 430ex used for around $200.

Rick Viars II , Dec 09, 2009; 09:21 p.m.

Thanks! I might be able to squeeze some more money out of my parents. If so, is it worth spending the extra and getting Canon brand?

Angel Bocanegra , Dec 09, 2009; 09:47 p.m.

Yes it is worth it, given the IS for low light shots and USM for quiet and fast auto focus. This lens will give you quality images and will not disappoint.

John Crowe , Dec 09, 2009; 10:21 p.m.

Definitely buy used if you can find what you want at a good price. IS is not such a great idea for weddings since there is always some movement of your subjects and if you place too much confidence in the IS system you could end up with a lot of blurry images.

Once you can afford it, you could likely put a zoom on one body and a prime lens on another. I'd start with a used Canon EF 17-35mm f2.8 L. They have a few at keh.com in the $700 USD range. For less than $100 USD a Canon EF 50/1.8 could be a nice addition too.

Do some research on previous model flashes like the Canon 580 EX I, 550 EX, and even 540 EZ. You may be able to compromise on some less required capabilities while gaining some extremely important ones while spending less money.

Down the road you could consider a couple more primes like a 24/1.4 L or 35/1.4 L, and either an 85/1.2 L or 135/2 L.

Andrew Robertson , Dec 09, 2009; 11:13 p.m.

Pretty much the all time classic wedding photography camera is the Rolleiflex with the Planar 80 f/2.8 lens.

You could easily get similar results with a 50mm lens. Also, as the L lenses are generally too shallow in terms of DOF to use wide open with really good, reproducible results (you will miss some shots due to the DOF being too shallow), so consider lenses such as the 24 f/2.8, the 35 f/2, the 85 f/1.8, and the 135 f/2.8 Soft Focus as well. You could get the whole lot for the cost of one of the L lenses.

Michael Madio , Dec 09, 2009; 11:25 p.m.

Regarding the lens, get a Tamron 17-50 f2.8. Regarding the flash, go with a Canon EX model (e.g. 420, 430, 550, 580) or an auto flash (e.g. Sunpak 383, Nikon SB-24/25/26, etc.).

Mark Anthony Kathurima , Dec 10, 2009; 01:21 a.m.

Tamron's 17-50 f/2.8 now comes with image stabilizer (VC) for Canon mount. From what I've read and the users I know who own one for wedding work, it is a very good lens and looks to be within your budget. On a 30D that would likely be your most-used focal length at a wedding

Matthijs Claessen , Dec 10, 2009; 03:08 a.m.

At that budget I'd say Tamron 17-50/2.8 non-VC plus a speedlight 270 because it's head can tilt.

More budget will equal more choices...

Abraham Bowman , Dec 10, 2009; 11:31 a.m.

With only $700, you are kind of stuck, in my opinion. You would need at least 3 flashes and a speedlight transmitter to get good lighting. You’d need diffusers and a full frame camera, if you want to be able to use a decent lens. The lenses that I would use would be an 85mm L, a 24-105mm L, 50mm f/1.4(or 50mm L), and a 16-35mmL just for kicks. But… you only have $700…. So, if I were you, and being that wedding photography is mostly about lighting…. I would sell the camera you have now and upgrade a bit… chances are, you’ll only be able to afford a crop sensor camera. I’d then buy a few flashes and a speedlight transmitter with a few diffusers to go with the flashes. I think the EF-S 18-200mm IS lens should be okay. & dont forget to use FILTERS.


But I’d save your pennies and then once you have enough… ask your parents for a little money and go big. Practice bouncing light, too…. In the long run, you’ll be happy that you saved your money for it all. After all, patience is a virtue.

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