Wedding photography is one of the most diverse and challenging genres that a photographer can take on! One minute you’re taking macro photos of a ring or other jewelry, and the next minute you’re capturing a formal portrait of an entire family. Plus, of course, you’ll spend several hours doing photojournalism, capturing one of the most important days in people’s lives.
It is no wonder that this job of capturing a wedding will require a diverse array of lenses! The challenging conditions often include low light plus fast-paced action, so you will need to choose your lenses carefully. It goes way beyond focal lengths and apertures, too!
In this article, I will name the three must-have Tamron lenses for the Sony E-mount that I think every wedding photographer should own. If you have all three of these lenses, then I guarantee you’ll be ready for anything!
Of course, every artist has a different creative style, so you may have different needs or preferences. As a wedding photographer of 15+ years, these are the most important things I look for in an optimal wedding photography lens:
I like lenses that can do more than one thing. Often, this means an f/2.8 zoom that can be used in many different conditions to capture a lot of subjects. However, I also find that even a prime lens can serve multiple purposes. For example, a macro lens that is the right focal length can also double as a portrait lens! Oppositely, some portrait lenses also are good enough for macro photography that I don’t need to own a dedicated lens just for those 3-5 photos out of the thousand-plus I’ll capture on a wedding day.
I specialize in various cultural ceremonies, such as Hindu wedding ceremonies, and these types of weddings often require working 14-16 hour days, or longer! For this reason, I dislike heavy, large lenses, no matter how good they are. Especially as the wedding reception is winding down at the end of a long day, I prefer to have the lightest possible lens on my camera.
- IMAGE QUALITY
Specifically, I care about wide-open sharpness. For my creative style, I capture virtually all my images at f/2.8 or faster. If I am photographing a large group of people, I simply take the extra minute to line them up perfectly so they are all in my plane of focus. Therefore, I don’t care so much about vignetting or chromatic aberrations, but I care a lot about wide-open sharpness. I also really appreciate lenses with aesthetically pleasing bokeh, of course.
I need my equipment to be able to last 5-10 years or more. It’s a business expense, and that’s my goal. I may upgrade a camera body every 3-5 years because mirrorless technology is changing so rapidly, but especially when it comes to lenses, a good optic is a good optic, and I want it to last. Personally, I’m not picky about the materials used; it’s more about the actual construction and quality control. I’ve seen hefty, all-metal lenses literally rattle apart and have screws fall into my hand while I’m taking pictures, and I’ve seen “high-grade plastic” lenses survive innumerable drops and bumps yet still work perfectly. Either way, I’m going to be rough on my gear, and I need it to not fail in the middle of a job.
Yes, all four of these needs on my shopping list are present in the lenses I’m about to recommend! For me as a wedding photographer, one of the most exciting things in the last 5 years has been the lenses that are arriving for full-frame mirrorless, and especially Sony’s E-mount.
Finally, these lenses are lighter, smaller, and yet still amazingly sharp and well-built. Tamron’s E-mount lenses, believe it or not, are actually what got me to finally give up my trusty DSLR and switch to mirrorless.
Without any further ado, let’s dive in!
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2
If you’re a wedding photographer, this is the first lens you should buy for your Sony full-frame mirrorless camera. Yes, I know, you might have a favorite focal length and love working with primes. Many wedding photographers make their best photos with their favorite prime! However, like it or not, this mid-range f/2.8 zoom is going to be a huge help in many types of active situations.
Truth be told, a lot of wedding photographers in years past were justified in complaining about the popularity of the “bread and butter” lens, the 24-70mm f/2.8. Honestly, a lot of 24-70mm f/2.8’s just weren’t very good! They were big and heavy and expensive, and yet many of them weren’t even very sharp. Some were prone to mechanical failure and costly repair, too.
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is different. It’s lightweight, compact, and relatively affordable. Additionally, the image quality is excellent, with great sharpness throughout the zoom range, and beautiful bokeh. For weddings, whether it is details, candid moments, or formal portraits, bokeh repeatedly plays a big role in creating a unique aesthetic.
In short, this is a much easier lens to carry around all day long, and the payoff is worth it. I do miss the 24mm end of the zoom range, but at the end of a long day, my right wrist is absolutely grateful that it’s hoisting such a lightweight, well-balanced lens.
Are there any other drawbacks? I honestly don’t miss optical stabilization, for what it’s worth, because sensor-based stabilization (IBIS), which is present on all of Sony’s current full-frame mirrorless cameras, is more than enough help for this focal range.
This G2 version of the original 28-75mm f/2.8 does add a Fn button as well as a USB port for firmware updates, and I’m really happy to see both compared the the earlier generation Tamron E-mount zooms which have a more minimal design.
As someone who is used to having an AF/MF switch on the lens, I would highly recommend using the Tamron firmware utility to program that Fn button to perform AF/MF switching. You’ll still have to use a button on your Sony body to switch between AF-S and AF-C modes, however personally I just leave my Sony cameras in AF-C all the time now because they’re that good at nailing and tracking focus!
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD
Okay, now that we have got the “mandatory” lens out of the way, the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 is the one I’m truly in love with. As a wedding photographer with a 16-year-long career, my wrists and shoulders are not happy about how much a 70-200mm f/2.8 weighs.
The portability and balance of the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 make it my all-time favorite f/2.8 telephoto zoom for wedding photography, hands-down. This is saying something, because the percentage of images I capture with my telephoto f/2.8 zoom will range from 40% up to 60%, depending on the environment.
Sharp as a tack and rendering beautiful bokeh, it is what working professional photographers would call the lens that pays their bills. It’s definitely a workhorse, and like the 28-75mm f/2.8 G2, it’s built to withstand full-time work duty.
The only thing missing, like the 28-75mm f/2.8, is VC stabilization. While mid-range focal lengths work great with in-body stabilization, (IBIS) telephoto focal lengths do benefit more from optical stabilization versus sensor stabilization. Having said that, I personally find that with the image quality that Sony full-frame sensors are producing these days, my exposure triangle can afford the extra shutter speeds to keep my images perfectly sharp.
All in all, here’s what it comes down to: if I could, I wouldn’t “improve” this lens by adding the weight and cost required to include VC. Furthermore, the lens is lightweight and well-balanced enough that I don’t miss a tripod collar/foot. Like some of Tamron’s other E-mount lenses, I do wish it had an AF/MF switch, which I don’t think would add much to the weight or price, but other than that, it’s perfect.
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD
Last but not least, a lot of wedding photographers, myself included, spend quite a surprising amount of time going wider than the standard focal lengths. As useful as a mid-range zoom is, I prefer to get up-close in the action, and capture a wider view of venues and other details.
Whether it is a packed dance floor, or a gorgeous church, temple, or any type of sanctuary interior, I reach for this lens. In fact, unless I absolutely need to cover the mid-range for specific types of environments, I honestly find myself jumping back and forth between the 17-28 and the 70-180!
As with the other two lenses, this lens also gets a recommendation because it just completely obsoletes most older-generation ultra-wide zooms. They were big, heavy, and sometimes not even very sharp! Since many wedding photographers may have rarely needed to go wider than a 24-70mm f/2.8, I was loath to encourage spending a lot of money, and lugging around so much weight, just for a few images at, say, 16mm or 17mm.
The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD, unlike its DSLR ancestors and most mirrorless-made competitors, is downright tiny, and relatively affordable, too. This, to me, makes it absolutely worth the compromise of zoom range compared to, say, a 16-35mm.
Honorable Mentions | Best Tamron Lenses For Wedding Photography
As a full-time wedding photographer, those three lenses are the actual, real-world preferences I’ve had in recent years. I quit 24-70mm f/2.8’s the day I got my hands on that original Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. I said goodbye to 70-200mm f/2.8’s the day I got my 70-180mm f/2.8. You get the idea!
Of course, photography is a subjective, creative artistic craft, and everyone is different. I also love primes, in case you’re wondering, and as a gear reviewer I have access to a lot of them! If you let me, I would lug at least a half-dozen lenses to every wedding, with zooms and primes covering almost every focal length. Honestly, though? That’s just not necessary. One or two primes that hit your absolute favorite focal lengths can be an amazing tool, but other than that, the above three lenses will literally pay your bills.
Having said that, are there any other Tamron lenses that I would recommend for wedding photography? Yes, absolutely. Based on your own personal preference, you could absolutely love one of these three lenses…
Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di III VXD
This modern marvel almost made the list! The reasons why should be self-explanatory to everyone who has ever photographed a wedding: the one-of-a-kind zoom range and fast aperture(s) make it behave like a prime lens at its wider zoom range, and as a whole it almost replaces both a mid-range zoom and a telephoto zoom.
In other words, you could argue that you’re getting three or four lenses in one! With wedding photography, where constantly switching lenses is definitely suboptimal, this is a huge advantage.
Having said that, this lens is a massive beast, and personally as I’ve mentioned, I do prefer to minimize the amount of weight that my wrists are supporting, because so many of my workdays are 12-14 hours or longer. That is why I’m partial to the winning trio of lightweight, compact lenses.
Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD
This lens is made for DSLRs, but the Tamron 35mm f/1.4 Di USD stands alone as one of the best 35mm f/1.4 primes ever made. That makes it absolutely worth mentioning, of course, because in my opinion, 35mm is a perfect prime focal length for wedding photography. It’s useful for almost everything from details and venue shots to candids and even formal portraits.
You’ll have to use an E-mount adapter to pair this Canon/Nikon DSLR lens with your Sony full-frame mirrorless camera, but it’s still definitely worth considering.
Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a lens for the wedding photographers who use APS-C cameras. Although they might have been seen as inadequate in years past, today’s APSC camera bodies, especially from Fuji and Sony, are highly capable and ready for professional work.
With that in mind, the Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 is a professional-grade constant aperture zoom that is good enough to make even full-frame shooters jealous! With its 4.1X zoom range, you’ll find yourself needing to change lenses fewer times. Of course, for a complete APSC setup that any wedding photographer could use, match this lens to the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 which I’ve already recommended, plus the APSC 11-20mm f/2.8.
Conclusion | Must-Have Tamron E-Mount Lenses for Wedding Photography
All in all, the best lenses for wedding photography have come a very long way in recent years. All the best lenses that were ideal for weddings used to be heavy, expensive, and some were a serious compromise in ways that I found unacceptable.
Finally, with lenses like this Sony E-mount trio, I honestly feel like these could be career-long investments for many wedding photographers.
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