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What aperture and ISO for indoor weddings

Will King , Jun 09, 2006; 10:52 p.m.

I'm shooting my first wedding next week and have a few questions. I'll be shooting with a 5D and 20D, primarily with 2 lenses: 70-200mm F/2.8 IS and the 24-70mm f/2.8. It's a indoor wedding at a church. It's a typical church with typical lighting. I'll have a 580EX flash mounted on the 5D and probably use the camera flash for the 20D. My questions are, what ISO should I go with. I know I'll have to test it when I'm there before the ceromony starts but typically what ISO is best for indoor weddings? My second question is what aperture should I choose. I want to go as wide as possible to gather as much light as possible but also want to be able to get decently sharp shots. Would f/2.8 or 3.5 suffice or is that too wide? Thanks inadvance for the tips.

Responses


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Ryan Brenizer , Jun 09, 2006; 10:59 p.m.

There's really no way for someone sitting here to answer that question. Put the settings to whatever you need to get the shutter speed and DoF you want. If the light is low, bump up the ISO; if the light is good, don't. There are no magical wedding settings. As you know, your cameras are pretty darned good at high ISOs, so just do whatever works.

Will King , Jun 09, 2006; 11:07 p.m.

I realize that. I want to shoot with the lowest ISO possible but I'm just concerned that shooting wide open at f/2.8 might cause to the DOF to be too shallow. I't my first wedding so I'm just a bit nervous and want everything to be perfect. Can I get a concenus on what everyone elses typicallys shoots at? I know f/2.8 will cause the DOF to be too shallow for a group shot but would it be acceptable to use on just the bride and groom?

Michael Mccullough , Jun 09, 2006; 11:13 p.m.

If you shoot that wide 2.8 you have a higher risk of blur on the plain of the subject you want in focus. My last wedding I used 5.6 a lot. I'm not sure how to best answer your other questions.

Kari Douma - Grand Rapids, Michigan , Jun 09, 2006; 11:15 p.m.

I use studio strobes just for that reason. I don't like shooting at high ISO's or wide apertures on the formals inside the church. I try to shoot at ISO 100-200 for formals. With groups I try not to go under F8. The ceremony is a different story. I shoot no flash and use ISO 800-1600 at 2.8.

Gary Nakayama , Jun 09, 2006; 11:19 p.m.

By typical lighting I'm going to presume you mean typically dim. Unless it is a modern design church, many older churches are dim to DARK.

If its anything like my nieces wedding...the environment will drive your decisions, and you simply make the best of it.

With the tele zoom, I shot ISO-1600 with the lens WIDE OPEN (f4), and still some of the shots were down at 1/15 and 1/30 sec. No flash. The primary photog brought a monopod, just for that reason. Even with his Cannon 80-200/2.8 he was shooting SLOW shutter speeds. If you don't get enough light you end up shooting at a SLOW shutter speed, which will make camera motion a larger problem, which will in turn cause blurred shots.

If it is a DARK church, you have no option but flash. Then I hope you have practice shooting flash in wide open spaces. The distant backgrounds can really mess up the auto/TTL flashes.

If you have not been to the church, go there this weekend at the same time of day with your camera and evaluate the light. Don't go in blind. You want as much advance info as possible, so you can plan.

One BIG tip. Tape a post-it, to the back of your camera with ISO-1600 written on it. That way before you go outside in the sun, you "hopefully" will see that and remember to drop the ISO level to 200, which is more appropriate for outdoors. Or use auto-ISO if you are comfortable letting the camera choose the ISO level...I'm not.

gud luk Gary

Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA , Jun 09, 2006; 11:20 p.m.

On a 20D, f2.8 is not all that wide, as far as DOF is concerned. Especially if you are shooting from the back of the church. Actually, f1.4 is fine if you're shooting from the back of the church. At that distance, your depth of field is plenty if you want the couple in focus. For formals, it's another story.

I would go with 400 ISO unless it proves to be too low, in which case I would move to 800 ISO. I personally don't have any problems using a tripod, so I don't go above that. You can if you want to. When I shoot in a church during the ceremony, I am typically wide open. If I have my 50mm f1.4 lens on, I might be at f1.4. You realize that there are different parts to the ceremony that require different DOF. The processional and recessional are normally shot with flash and you want to be more conservative for a margin of error as well as the fact that you are much closer to your subjects. I would not attempt to shoot processionals without flash. Also, I would rent or borrow a flash for the 20D--on camera flash looks pretty bad unless you're just using it for very low level fill.

Steve Hovland , Jun 10, 2006; 10:34 a.m.

Although many photographers are horrified by on-camera flash, I think most viewers don't give a rip. They are interested in the content of the pictures, not the technique.

I would use a shoe flash rather than the built-in flash to avoid bad red eye problems in dark places. You really do need redundancy when you shoot events- at least two camera outfits, maybe 3.

You can get a Sunpak 355 AF for under $100 and it will do a nice job.

Tape a piece of Rosco Light Tough Frost or Rolux over it to reduce the hardness. Rolux will soak up about 1 stop, less than the Stofen, while providing a good effect. Light Tough Frost soaks up less than half a stop.

Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA , Jun 10, 2006; 12:57 p.m.

Also, you can go to dofmaster.com and download a free DOF calculator and figure out to your heart's content, all the various DOF you will get from your gear. Remember you get an apparent "more" DOF with crop cameras.

But just to make your life easier and answer your question...Start with ISO 400, especially for the processionals. I'd use f5.6 and flash for the processionals. Do a search on focusing techniques for processionals. Once the ceremony starts, and you can't use flash, quickly meter various areas or use AV or TV to determine if you can continue to shoot without either upping your ISO or getting your tripod out. Remember the handholding rule of thumb in relation to focal length, although you have IS. Try to shoot during the "quiet" times, where there isn't much moving going on--pauses between speaking, etc. As stated above I don't like to go above ISO 800, but many people do, and with the help of noise reducing software, you can get some very decent images. One thing--don't underexpose. Underexposure makes noise even worse looking. During the ceremony, shooting from the back of the church, use the widest apertures you have--f2.8. At the kiss, switch back to flash and a smaller aperture as you walk closer to them (you're off the tripod now) and prepare to shoot the recessional with flash--I'd also remember to switch back to ISO 400. Formals in the church--use f5.6, ISO 400 or 200--smaller aperture if you are not secure about focusing for groups. I use a tripod for formals and drag the shutter. Find out before the wedding what rules the church may have re flash and moving around during the ceremony. You may make a great plan for shooting only to be shot down by restrictive rules, or lack of rules--if you can do anything you want, do it. I've run across officiants who refuse to do any re-creations of images because they give you free rein--you're supposed to get everything on the spot.

Aaron Lee - Minneapolis, MN , Jun 11, 2006; 03:10 a.m.

One thing to keep in mind is that your 20D and especially the 5D can go all the way up to 3200 ISO and get great prints - AS LONG AS YOU EXPOSE PROPERLY and all the way to the right on your histogram. Push the exposure as high as you can go without blowing out. Jammey Church has demonstrated this several times in this forum.

Heck, I shot ISO 1600 on a little Rebel XT and with DxO the noise was barely visible (Jammey does an even better job with ISO 3200 and pushing the exposure to the limits.)

You are much better off using high ISO and exposing properly than using a low ISO and underexposing.

Aaron Lee


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