Budding wedding photographers are often faced with a difficult decision to make. How to choose the right lens for the big day?

When you start out as a wedding photographer you will probably cling on to every single piece of optics that you own. As you grow in experience you will realize that you are probably using two or at the most three of those on a regular basis. The rest are all baggage. As you grow a little more your lens indulgence will give way to a clearer vision and you will master the technique of working with a single lens throughout a wedding.

When it comes to weddings, the break-neck speed at which these events flow never allow you the luxury to change lenses frequently. If you absolutely must have two lenses on you, you might as well carry an extra camera body with it. That way you won’t risk losing precious moments while you are changing lenses.

Candid wedding photographers love the 50mm prime. F/1.8, f/1.4 and the f/1.2 all these are in great demand from journalistic wedding photographers. Another prime that is an excellent all-season choice is the 85mm. Canon makes an excellent f/1.8 USM lens. If you want to splurge the EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM is a lens that you can look at. There are similar choices from Nikon and other brands.

But if you ask me I love the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm zooms. Both f/2.8 and both L lenses, sharp, versatile and reliable. They complement each other perfectly and cover the essential focal length reach that you will require to shoot a wedding. The 70-200mm works as the main lens when it comes to making the official portraits of the bride and the groom. The 135mm to 200mm range gives a good perspective. Facial features look normal with anything over 100mm.

But by that I am not suggesting that a 50mm lens is unsuitable for portraits. If you are going to use a 50mm lens for portraitures try not to fill the frame. Shoot from a distance to cover the body from waist up and the proportions would appear better. Of course there are other techniques involved like the camera angle and posing but you should still pick the right focal length for the job.

One more lens that I would personally want to carry but don’t always is a macro. This would be for photographing the accessories, the rings, the shoes, the finer details on the bride’s dress and of course the wedding jewelry.

In any case the maximum aperture that your lens must open to should always be a minimum of f/2.8 or wider. This gives you the option to shoot in dimly lit rooms and still get away with usable photos. Often churches and barns and such other places don’t have enough natural light to work with. At certain venues you can’t even use external light sources. A wider aperture becomes a life saver.
Plus, a wider aperture allow you to play around with a shallow depth of field. Shallow depth of field is useful for those mushy background blurs that tend to melt away like Swiss chocolate.

A newly launched, rather resurrected, lens that is making some serious ripples is the Petzval 58. The beautiful bokeh control effects of this resurrected 19th century lens makes for some stunning photos.

Journalistic wedding photographers can shoot a wedding with nothing but a 50mm prime attached to their camera. Other wedding photographers will swear by their 24-70mm. The thing is the choice of lens depends on the style of photographer you are and your photographic vision.