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Photography Question 
Michael Warnock
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2005
 

Wedding Photography: Lenses, Etc.


Hey, everyone ... I am going to my sister's wedding in October and have been asked to act as a secondary photographer to cover the reception and the like. It's mainly for candid shots, but I am looking at this as a chance to see what it's like to shoot a wedding. So, I'd like to pick your brains regarding lens selection for such situations. What would you use? Currently, I have the 18-55mm/4 lens that came with my D-Rebel and a Canon 75-300mm/4.5 EF lens.

What focal lengths would work best here and would using faster (heavier) glass be of any benefit?
Cheers,
Mike.


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6/14/2005 4:28:42 PM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Assuming you don't have one already, I'd go for a good, powerful accessory speedlight before upgrading lenses. The built-in flash is only good for subjects within about 8 feet, and is too close to the lens and too direct to avoid "red-eye" even with the (annoying) red-eye reduction feature.
In addition, the speedlight will have a patterned near-infrared autofocus assist light that is much more effective, faster, and less annoying to subjects than the built-in flickering flash assist.
Re: Lenses - the ones you have cover all the focal lengths you are likely to need for the wedding, especially the 18-55. The 75-300 would have limited use - maybe shots from a balcony in the back of the church, or very tight close-ups. Wider apertures (f/2.8 zooms, f/2 or f/1.4 primes) will give better autofocus in low light, faster shutter speed, and/or use of lower ISO settings, and less depth of field (more background blur), but at much greater cost, size/weight, and lens switching in the case of primes.


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6/15/2005 7:09:26 AM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  You mentioned candids. The 18-55mm lens will let you walk around the reception, and the dance floor taking candids, without the dreaded, "Wait, hold that pose while I back up some more."
And a big ditto to Jon's suggestion of getting a Speedlight. I wouldn't go with anything smaller than the 420EX.


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6/15/2005 7:25:02 AM

 
Michael Warnock
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2005
  Thanks for your input. That's what I was hoping I would here from you folks. I really did not want to have to shell out for faster glass at this point. A speedlite it is!

Cheers,
Mike.


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6/15/2005 11:25:43 AM

 
Ford    Relax a little before they are announced to enter the reception. Make sure you stay out of the way of the primary photographer's shots and avoid doubling their flash. Watch your shutter speed, and everything else will be a piece of (wedding) cake. I just shot my sister's wedding, and I was nervous up until the reception, had a Long Island ice tea and felt more relaxed and had fun and made great shots. My sister thinks I should start my own biz, but I think she is just being nice. I'll load up a gallery when I have time and let you all decide


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6/15/2005 3:43:06 PM

 
Ford   


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6/15/2005 3:44:12 PM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  "Make sure you stay out of the way of the primary photographers shots and avoid doubling their flash."
A very good point! Besides "doubling the flash", you also do not want to be autofocusing while the hired professional is shooting, because the AF assist light of the speedlight can leave a faint but visible red spot on the bride's dress.


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6/16/2005 6:59:41 AM

 
Ford    Funny you say that, Jon, because someone had their camera focus red light on the subject and I thought great, I'll miss the moment, so I shot it anyway. To my surprise, no red dot. I thought maybe the sensor can't see that.


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6/16/2005 7:46:16 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Good fortune! I'm thinking about it and maybe ... Many DSLRs, including Canon's, have an IR filter incorporated in the anti-alias filter over the sensor. It may have filtered out the near-infrared AF assist light ... or ... It just happened to quit emitting right when you took your shot ... or ... Your flash overwhelmed the weak red light. Dunno (shrug).


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6/16/2005 11:21:58 AM

 
Ford    Well, I did a test. My camera can see the red light from another focus finder. Just got lucky last time.


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6/19/2005 11:18:04 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  I'd rent better, faster glass. You're going to have trouble at a reception with f/4. Also, with your flash, without being able to suck in more ambient light, your flash shots will not look natural. Also, ALWAYS bounce the flash, DO NOT shoot straight onto your subject.
HTH,
Jerry


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6/19/2005 12:26:10 PM

 
Maria Melnyk   Hey, did anyone mention that the flash needs to be on a bracket? You can't have a flash on the camera, and then turn the camera on it's side for vertical shots. You'll get ugly side shadows, plus it's very amateurish to do it that way. Can you get a 28-105 lens? That will be the most versatile. The 70-300 will just get in your way. So buy that speedlight, bracket, cord (to attach that flash to the camera via the bracket), and if you have about $120-$250 more, get that lens.


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6/21/2005 12:35:30 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  AHHHHHHHH! No bracket, please. Yuk, yuk! EWWWWW!

NO BRACKET.

Just bounce!


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6/21/2005 12:47:41 PM

 
Jennifer Hopper
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/30/2004
  I am getting the impresion you don't like brackets... What do you do if the reception hall has 20 foot ceilings?


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6/21/2005 1:11:27 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  I hold the camera in one hand, my flash in the other. I do this whenever I can't bounce.

But, I have brackets in my car just in case I get really desperate. Since I have one of everything, I just keep it all in the car because, you never know.

But, one time, I had a wedding outside. It got very dark (no ambient light at all except the moon, which didn't help). I was bouncing off the concrete. It produced some cool effects for dancing reception shots.

Sometimes, I have my assistant hold a white reflector, and he/she chases me around. I have him/her hold it behind my camera, and I have my flash facing backwards. This works very well with 20ft ceilings.

I would only use a bracket if...hmmm. I can't think of a reason.


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6/21/2005 1:25:36 PM

 
Maria Melnyk   Jerry - I'm almost afraid to make a comment here, but I'll do it and see what happens.
I sometimes bounce the flash even when it's on a bracket. I use one of those pocket bouncers. I also occasionally use diffusers right over the flash.
But yes, in the bride's home I do, I do bounce the light off the ceiling. (Except at one house; the ceiling was a dark hunter green!)
I truly respect your advice, and I have hand-held the flash before, and that gives much better modeling, but for me it's easier to have everything in one hand. That's all.
Mike - Do follow Jerry's advice if possible. If not, don't put the flash right on the camera; if you're not going to hand-hold or bounce it, then use a bracket.
OK; now I'm going to run and hide.


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6/21/2005 3:08:20 PM

 
Norbert Maile   Your 18x55 will work great in the tight areas but you won't get that shot across the dance floor. Try renting a high end Canon lens like around a 135 and 1.8. you need to let the light in and a rental will not only be cheap but give you a chance to try it out. "L" glass is the best and is usually 1.2 but the next down at 1.8 will focus faster. Have fun !!!


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6/21/2005 10:20:54 PM

 
Ford    well I wont flip out on you , just a simple response. If you can get the 550 it swivels up in the vertical and horizontal position


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6/22/2005 8:21:38 AM

 
Maria Melnyk   The 420EX swivels up the same way also; it's less expensive but not as powerful. I do urge you though to get an additional lens that will handle either 105 or 135mm. If you can't or don't want to rent an "L" lens, you can get the 35-135, or a 28-105, or the 28-135IS (Image Stabilizer). But renting is a good idea. Leave the 70-300 at home, or keep it in your camera bag as a just-in-case spare.


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6/22/2005 11:43:07 AM

 
Michael Warnock
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2005
  Thanks to all who have replied thus far.

Maria, could you expand on why the 70-300mm will not do for 105 and 135mm focal lengths? It covers both FL. I don't understand the recommendation to get another lens for these FL's.

Mike.


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7/16/2005 9:59:10 PM

 
Maria Melnyk   Hi, Mike. Yes, of course your 70-300 will do for the 100 and 135 focal lengths. The reasons to get another lens aren't as great as I made them sound, though; I suggested it for rather small reasons, and these would become bigger reasons only if you were to continue shooting weddings.

Most of my wedding photography is in the 28-135mm range. Very often at both the ceremony and the reception, and for outdoor location shots, I take one photo at 28 or 50mm, and then I zoom in right away to 105 or so for a close-up. Here are a few examples:
1. The vows and ring-exchange: - I might take a wider angle to get in both the bride and groom, and then take the next shot a second later of a close-up of the bride's face, or just their hands.
2. The first dance: - A wide angle getting them full length, then I zoom in for an immediate close-up.
3. The bouquet toss: - Zoom in to get the bride holding up her bouquet, then zoom out for the toss.
You can't do the above series of shots quickly with either of your two lenses.

Another reason - the Canon 75-300 is not as sharp as the 28-105 or 35-135. The difference is minimal, but if you continue to shoot weddings someone will eventually notice. I have the 70-200 f/3.5-4.5, which they don't make anymore, but it's sharper than the 70-300. During the ceremony I use three cameras. On one I have my 35-135 lens and on another I have the 70-200. (The 3rd is around my neck and has my fixed 85mm f/1.8 for available light shots.) I do not use the 70-200 at the reception; I feel the longer lens is too cumbersome and not at all needed. You will probably find that to be true of your 70-300.

I hope this all helped a little. Some photographers (especially in the olden days) don't have zooms at all; they only have fixed focal length lenses and do everything just fine without owning a 28-135. I merely tried to explain what you can do with one. So please feel free to save your money, and I'm sure you'll do a great job with the two lenses you have. You'll probably use the 18-55mm 90% of the time - and that's a great wide angle you have there, which is terrific for those fun dances they do at weddings. (I have to switch to my 19-35mm when I need wide.)

Have fun and good luck!


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7/17/2005 12:05:50 AM

 
Michael Warnock
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2005
  Thanks Maria. Your reasons make good sense. I suppose one must minimise time spent fiddling to be able to capture those priceless moments.

Cheers.
Mike.


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7/17/2005 8:06:59 AM

 
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