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best wedding lenses

pete gaitan , Dec 19, 2008; 05:29 a.m.

I am fairly new but am really confused with the different types of lenses. I own a Nikon D90 and was asked to do a favor for a friend and shoot their daughters communion. The whole set up will be very similar to a wedding with a church fase, a reception and formal pictures with the daughter and godparents. I would like to know which lenses would be best and please specify exactly what the difference is with these lenses. I am confused because why when I look at a telephoto 70-300mm lense f/3.5 there is a lense that's similar in specifications as the other one but one costs 800-1grand. I have been researching in tons of books and online and they all say buy this specification but i would like to be shown a link so that i can see it and compare. I'm a visual type of guy.


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Peter Hamm , Dec 19, 2008; 07:40 a.m.

You should go to the wedding forum and search on this topic, you'll probably find lots of discussion.

You'll get a lot of recommendations for the excellent 17-55 f2.8. That and a decent flash like the SB600 or SB900 will be great. (Yes I know you probably can't shoot with flash inside the church, but you'll want it for the formal photos. For that, depending on how big you're printing and such, you may be okay with the kit lens.

Carl Becker , Dec 19, 2008; 08:44 a.m.

I agree completely with Peter. I will add that from what I have read a 80-200 f2.8 zoom seems to be the other lens used often. Research and post to the wedding forum for best results.

Alvin Lim , Dec 19, 2008; 09:01 a.m.

Pete, I guess the lens that you are referring to is the 70-200mm f2.8? It is hugely different from the 70-300mm f4.5-5.6? While both are VR, the 70-200mm f2.8 is a fixed aperture lens and is a much faster lens than the 70-300mm f4.5-5.6. While VR is good for static shots, it is not that useful for moving subjects. The comparative lack of depth of field is another reason why people go for the 70-200mm over the 70-300mm. I have seen some of the pictures shot using the 70-200mm and boy is that lens impressive.

As Peter mentioned, the 17-55mm f2.8 is an excellent choice for wedding. Should you intend to use one and want to use flash, you will need an off camera flash like the SB600, 800 or 900. The on camera flash will likely cast a shadow from the lens (the same applies for the 70-200mm f2.8).

Depending on how brightly lit the church is, you may do very well the the D90's kit lens or you can go for the Nikon 50mm f1.8. The latter is a cheap, sharp and fast lens which coupled with the ISO capabilities of the D90 should serve you pretty well.

Pete S. , Dec 19, 2008; 09:21 a.m.

It depends on what kind of church it is. Wedding pros have to be able to shoot in any church (even dark ones) so they usually won't buy anything slower than f/2.8. The 70-300 f/4.5-f/5.6 is not suitable for this kind of photography.

Have a look at http://photo.net/learn/wedding/equipment

There are lalso enses from Sigma, Tokina and Tamron that can suit you as well, depending on what focal lengths and bydget you are looking for.

Tim Knight , Dec 19, 2008; 09:33 a.m.

Pete, Are you interested in doing professional work? If the answer is yes spend the money and get the above recommendations. If not purchase the Nikon 50/1.8 prime lens for those non flash shots and adjust your ISO up to get higher shutter speeds( your feet will be your zoom). You didn't say what lenses you already have so assuming you purchased a kit zoom with the D90. Buy a SB600 flash for those other shots not taken in the church. A tripod will also be needed for those posed shots. Now assuming you want to go professional but can not afford the recommended professional glass mentioned above take a look at the Tamron 17-5/2.8 for your wide zoom and the Sigma 70-200/2.8 for your zoomed shots. The next thing you will need to do is go where the communion and reception will be held and take some practice shots so you know what type of lighting you are going to have to deal with. Here is one of the best sites to study all of the mentioned lenses stated above. http://www.photozone.de/reviews

pete gaitan , Dec 19, 2008; 10:04 a.m.

So I'm guessing that the 70-200mm lense is a telephoto and not a combination wide/telephoto lense. I am really confused at which ones to use. Zoom, Tele/zoom, wide/tele.....this is where i get lost.

Tim Knight , Dec 19, 2008; 10:17 a.m.

Pete, What lenses do you have? Do you really feel you are ready to take on this job? Just because you have a DSLR doesn't mean the pictures will automatically turn out great. How much time do you have before this communion happens?

Lex Jenkins , Dec 19, 2008; 10:46 a.m.

Pete, take a look at some of the excellent illustrated tutorials on this site:
NY Web Photo School

Other than that, you should have a fast midrange zoom, something in the approximate range of roughly 24mm or more on the wide end and 50mm or more on the long end. The 17-55/2.8 AF-S Nikkor is an excellent choice, but there are several good, affordable f/2.8 midrange zooms from Sigma, Tamron and Tokina.

Avoid variable aperture zooms, the types that range from f/3.5 at the wide end to f/5.6 on the long end. At a maximum effective aperture of f/4.5-f/5.6, many cameras will have difficult autofocusing quickly and accurately in the dim lighting often encountered in churches and many social events. Autofocus cameras work best when they can see more light. That's where a fast lens comes in.

Telephoto zooms will seem appealing because they allow you to work from longer range. But it's best to get comfortable with working up close. When the photographer relies too much on long range sniping at weddings and events, there will invariably be problems with objects between you and the subjects. Often, other people will walk in front of the camera, stand between you and the subjects and try to steal the shots (yelling "Look *this* way!", while you're trying to get the subject's attention). You need to be up close to maintain control of the situation. The only time I've found a telephoto zoom like a 70-200mm essential is at outdoor weddings and social events. It's been useful indoors, but I could have done without it in most cases.

You'll also want a supplemental flash. The built in pop-up flash on almost any camera will create a harsh appearance and red-eye effect with many people. See the online tutorial link I mentioned for examples.

Rob Piontek , Dec 19, 2008; 11:12 a.m.

I'd suggest you get the 50 1.8 first. The 2.8 zooms might not be fast enough. The 50 1.8 is cheap, and almost as fast as they come. It's a good focal length for the ceremony if you have room to move around. You could be in trouble if you're too close to the action, but you could test whether a 50mm will work beforehand with your kit lens at 50mm.

Also remember that your kit lens, probably an 18-55, is not so slow at 18 mm compared to a 2.8 zoom. So you could consider your kit lens a fixed 18mm, and switch between it and the 50mm.

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