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6 Must-Have Lenses For Wedding Photography (2019 Update)

By Pye Jirsa on January 12th 2019

Wedding photography is unique in that it encompasses several genres of photography: fashion, portrait, architectural, product, macro, family, and sometimes even travel photography. Few genres demand more from photographers and their gear.

In order to deliver a complete wedding photography product, you’re going to need lenses that allow you to capture each of these aspects with artistry and creativity. In a perfect world, we’d have the finances and manpower to haul every available lens to the venue; in reality, we’re limited to a handful of lenses, each of which needs to be accessible, high-quality, and versatile.

Here is a subjective list of 6 must-have lenses for any given wedding.


Let us guide you in your photography journey with the best photography education and resources. Browse our complete, comprehensive solutions below and take the next step in your photography.


[Check Out: Free Engagement Photography Guide]

1. 70-200mm

This is my favorite lens. It creates a beautiful bokeh (blur) at f/2.8, and the compression you get when you’re zoomed in from 150-200mm gives your image a look that’s hard to achieve with any other lens. It also allows you to get in close to the action without disrupting the moment.

The 70-200mm also allows you to capture candids, from the tears at a wedding ceremony to the laughs at a wedding reception.

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2. 50mm

This is another one of my favorite lenses. The 50mm focal length is great for portraits, and it can save the day when the light starts to drop; the wider aperture allows you to depend less on your flash and it creates a softer, more natural look for your subjects.

The 50mm also allows you to create stunning portraits, as the low aperture creates the shallow depth of field that softens your subjects’ skin and makes them pop off the page.

[Related: Canon RF 50mm F1.2L Lens | Hands-On Review]

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3. 24-70mm

The versatility of the 24-70mm zoom lens is critical for smaller spaces. For example, a tea ceremony in a Chinese wedding is commonly held in a living room. The 70-200mm would be too compressed for this situation, and the 50mm would not provide enough versatility, as you typically don’t have much room for movement.

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4. 100mm Macro

If your bride and groom are spending thousands of dollars on the details of a wedding, they are sure to appreciate you capturing the event in detail. With the 100mm Macro, you can capture detailed shots with the same quality and detail as product advertisements in magazines. Add your touch of lighting and creativity, and you get ring shots like the one below.

Be sure to check out Wedding Workshop 6 | Photographing The Details for an in-depth overview of how to capture details that get shared and published.

[Free Tutorial: How To Shoot Killer Wedding Details ]

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5. 16-35mm

Sometimes the 24-70mm lens just isn’t wide enough to capture everything you want. The ultra wide angle helps you capture the environment. Venue and landscape shots also provide a great addition to your wedding day coverage, as they set the scene for the day and allow you to take full advantage of the scenery, especially at beautiful venues.



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6. 85mm

When this article was first published in 2009, the 85mm f/1.2 was in our honorable mention category, but we’ve since fallen in love with this focal length. The 85mm lens is a true portrait lens that doesn’t distort the image the way that some wider-angle lenses do (such as the 24mm or 35mm), especially along the edges of the frame. This lens also offers great compression and background bokeh at wider apertures.

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The original article also included the 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens which we no longer use. Funny how quickly trends can change!

What do you think? What are your must-have lenses?

If you haven’t done so already, check out our Lens Wars series, the ultimate visual guide to real world differences between a whole host of Canon professional zoom lenses and primes. In total, we tested 25 Canon lenses valued at over $40,000 dollars starting from 17mm to 300mm focal length.

CREDITS: All photographs by Lin and Jirsa Photography are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. john Hernandez

    The photographer is from San Diego? I know those locations. USD, Balboa Park and Torrey Pines GC ;)

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  2. Madalyn Beckham

    If you could take only one lens to a wedding, what would it be and why?

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    • Christopher Lin

      24-70mm …. Not because it gives you the best look, but because it gives you the necessary versatility for any situation.

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  3. Jerry Dallons

    Wonderful article …. I’ll place in order what IMO should be purchased and why. I shoot Canon but most of the big manufactures have similar cameras/lenses. A wedding photographer must use a FF dual slot camera as your primary. A second FF IMO is a must though it can be a single slot body. I had an SD card go bad during a wedding and had no idea. 25% of the shots were unrecoverable. For this reason I went out an purchased a two slot FF Canon. Currently I use a Canon 5DIII and a Canon 6D. I always place the primary use lens on the 5DIII and then a specialty lens on the 6D. I shoot 95% of the pictures on the primary camera. 

    IMO the first lens that you should buy is a 24-105 as it is the most versatile. In a pinch one could shoot an entire wedding with that one single lens. The second lens should be a 70-200 with IS. I personally use a f/4 version simply because it is so much lighter than the f/2.8 versions. As long as I have enough light I prefer the f/4 and if shot wide open is as solid as the f/2.8 at f/4. The third lens should be a 100mm f/2.8 macro. Great for the detail and it also makes for great prime when you need light. The forth lens would be a fast 50mm. I use the f/1.4 version. When you need light and can’t use flash the 50mm is a must. The 5th lens I purchased was a 85mm  f/1.8. Beautiful creamy backgrounds and again a great lens when you need light. The 6th lens was a 24-70 f/4. I purchased it because my 24-105 had a issue and needed repair but I had a wedding the same week. I keep both as the 24-70 range is a must and I like the backup. Wedding photography requires backup. I thought about buy a 7th lens which would be a 16-35 f/2.8 II. However it would be used sparingly but destination shots are important or when your in the brides ready room and it’s tight.  

    So during an outdoor  ceremony (about 70% of the weddings I shoot are outside) I’ll place the 24-70 on the 5DIII for the processional. After the processional I switch to the 70-200 on the 5DIII and then place the 24-70 on the 6D.

    During the posed portrait time I’ll used the 24-70 for the group shots (on a tripod). Then I’ll use the 85mm for the couple as I can go shallow and get that nice creamy look. The 70-200 is great for portraits when you want great compression. 

    During the reception I’ll place the 24-70 on the 5DIII and set it up for off-camera flash. I place the 24-105 on the 6D for a walk around with an on-camera flash. This is great for walking around the tables or the cake cut off in a corner. I own 5 Canon 600-RT flashes. I use 3 for the primary setup. One on-camera for for fill, one for my primary and one as a kicker. Then one goes on the secondary body for the walk around. the 5th unit is for backup. 

    I could go on an on but I’ve covered the primary uses and the setup … hope it helps a few.

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  4. Satya Yaya

    If you have to choose nikon 16-35mm f4 and 24-70mm f2.8 for wedding which one would you choose?

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  5. Shahid Roy

    Great tips and information about the lenses for wedding photography. Thanks for share this blog.

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  6. Alexei Cristea

    [Alexei Cristea has deleted this comment]

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  7. Shaun Hill

    I think these are great lens suggestions and the article makes for good reading. I can see that it is a lot of weight to be carrying and can see that changing lenses can mean missing a shot but when working in low light conditions without flash you do need to work with such lenses.

    I was wondering what you keep your lenses stored in when working with these lenses? Do you have one bag or multiple? I am looking for specific brands and models.

    I have come up with my own list of kit for weddings and need storage manageable/portable solutions for the following:

    Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens
    Canon 35 mm f/1.4L II USM Lens for Camera
    Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens
    Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM
    Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
    Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
    EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens
    Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM Lens
    Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II USM Lens
    Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II USM Lens
    2 x Canon EOS 5D Mark III with battery grips
    8 x Canon LP E6N Rechargeable Battery
    Relevant lens hoods
    Canon Camera Remote Control Cable TC-80N3
    2 x Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT Flash
    Canon 5743B003 ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter
    4 x 2550 mAh High Performance Panasonic Eneloop Pro XX Rechargeable batteries in Kraftmax Battery Box 16 Pack

    Any suggestions?

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  8. Fred Lombardo

    I love my Sigma Art 35 1.4 and the Canon 135 2.0. I will replace the 135 with the Canon 100mmL Macro Lens for detail shots and even for portraits. If I could add a fourth lens it would be the 20mm 1.4 Art by Sigma. I don’t have this one but it’s on my next to do list for lenses.

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  9. Amanda Rodriguez

    Great article!!Which lens filters do you recommend the most for shooting a wedding or portraiture during harsh light conditions, such as mid day sunlight? My point is to try avoiding blown out skies and undesirable shadows. TIA

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  10. Mark Flores

    I love this article. I have been shooting weddings for more than a year and now I have completed my lens kit of this list of 6 must have lens for Wedding Photography. I do not know why but the last lens that I got on the list was the 85mm. I have the Sigma 85mm F1.4 results from it are amazing. Canon 85mm F1.2L is just too slow compare to this one. Some fringing but nothing that can’t be fixed in post. 70-200mm F2.8L Mark II IS is an amazing lens, I always use it in the reception, it is like a sniper. Great for candids. You cannot shoot a wedding without one. I also own the previous version the 70-200mm F2.8L NON IS and I find that there is about 1 stop difference that I can achieve with the IS. Definitely worth the extra cash. I agree with the people that you do not need the luxurious gears if you really know what you are doing. But having the luxurious gear when you know what you are doing makes your quality much better, faster, and easier to work with. Don’t worry to the people who are just starting out. If you are serious. You will get there. Start with the 50mm, 85mm, and you will definitely get more Client’s down the road to buy more lenses.

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    • Britney Block

      Hello! I am just starting out in the photography world. I have a canon rebel t5i and I have the 18-55mm lens and I am looking to buy a new lens but I don’t exactly know which one would be the best to buy! I’d like to start slowly doing weddings. I can’t afford to buy all lenses at once so which one do you think is the most inportant one to buy? Thanks :)

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  11. Heiko Alan

    The bag – 2canon 5d markiii
    24-70 2.8 II
    70-200 is II 2.8
    50 1.2
    2- canon 580
    2 profoto b2s
    Nice tripod.
    Red bull
    Gummy worms
    Protein bar
    * a lot of skill in organizing people and adapting to different personalities. *

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  12. Justin Gilbertson

    Wedding’s are not so much about quality, as versatility. Having a bunch of primes just limits your creative ability(unless you are really good). A lot of times I see a shot one way, only to zoom in and take the same shot and like it better when looking in post. Sometimes you have to push ISO, but i’d rather do that then be stuck at 1 focal length. I like my 18-200 for most things even though I get a little bummed out with soft corners). Last weekend I shot a wedding and had only 30mins to shoot bride/groom/both/wedding parties.

    My Top Lenses:

    Any super wide angle. Even DX (Just incase you get trapped in an elevator or something) 5%
    18-200 or 28-300 3.5-5.6 VR (for walk around, and just in case you have limited time) 70%
    70-200 2.8 (For the ceremony) 15%
    35 1.8 or 50 1.8 or 85 1.8 or 135 1.8 (for bride/family) (pick your favorite weapon) 10%

    Then pick your creative tools:
    Tilt-Shift Lens

    However I should mention that I shoot a lot of flash, not a whole lot of natural light. A natural light photographer might want a completely different set-up.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about quality as most people don’t care much. Plenty of amazing weddings were shot with a D200/D2x where ISO 400 was the max. Nowadays ISO 3200+ is usable, especially with grain reduction programs.

    Just my 2 Cents

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  13. Gareth Beynon

    I use a 24-70 2.8 L and 70-200 2.8 IS L on a canon 6D. Total cost about £2800. I started weddings this year…

    Here’s the results:

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  14. Sedric Beasley

    I come back to this article and read the responses and It’s interesting to me that a wedding can be broken down into different sections and It would be nice to get granular in lens choices for each section of the wedding. For example, what do you like to use during the ceremony, the formals, the getting ready shots, the detail shots, etc. This would be very helpful to other photographers to further make the case for the different lens selection choices.

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  15. Terry Ryman

    18-55 f3.5-5.6 is your standard kit lens which came with the camera wen u purchased it (correct me if i’m wrong). in most cases these lenses are fine for normal use and wat all the no. means on the lens is very important. for your kit lens, at 18mm the minimum is at f3.5 u cannot go any lower (try it out), which is how wide the lens can open to allow light in. the smaller the no. the larger the opening and there4 mo light.
    at 55mm the minimum is f5.6. every lens is indicated in this way, so if u were to purchase the 24-70 f2.8 mkII, u will notice the lens doesn’t hv f2.8-3.5 bcos the lens can open at f2.8 from 24all the way 70mm wat the pro wld call a fast lens n naturally mo xpensiv.
    the 75-300 f4-5.6 is good for outdoors bcos at f4 it’s too slow for indoors and pushing ur ISO will only make ur photo hv mo noise. there4 always try to use the lowest ISO i.e 100
    a good lens range 16-35 or 17-40 for wide and 24-70 for mid n 70-200 for zoom. u will know wat u need wen u get deeper into photography. all 3 lenses will hv different cost based on the f/stop u purchase. example 70-200 hv f2.8 model n f4. if u hv the $ than hell why not buy the best otherwise there are many too choose from
    my advice as u r a beginner, start by learning ur camera, read the manual n know ur camera inside/out. setup the camera to its optimum or to your preference. center focus point is regarded as the most accurate so i only use the center focus point. wen ur dun with that, calibrate all ur lenses with your camera, u may hv to read up on that but it will make ur lens dat much mo sharper wen u find the sweet spot. take a lot of test short again to find the sweet spot of ur lens from f3.5 to say f11 in between after zooming in ur photo u will at certain f/stop notice the picture is at its sharpest…bingo! remember that f/ no. it will b different for every lens.
    the so called one lens for everything is debatable but a good start wld be the 24-70. njoy

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  16. Terry Ryman

    buying an expensive lens will not make u a better photographer, poorer perhaps. If u intend to make money frm photography thn yes u will need a relatively good lens bcos ur customer expect d best. Shooting in low light u will need a fast lens i.e f2.8 n below, naturally d lower d f/ no. the more expensive.
    u did not mentioned wat kind of photography r u in2, wedding, landscape, sports etc.
    People use 70-200 f2.8 zoom lens in wedding bcos some times u r restricted from taking photos too close. Some churche’s hv conditions n by using a zoom lens ur able to hide wthout being noticed which is a good thing.
    in general if u use ur current lens u will need a flash for indoors unless ur able to live wth hi ISO. switching to lower f/ no lenses will hlp to reduce d ISO level but having a flash is almost a must for wedding if it’s ur business. Focal length will depend on ur shooting style. Some photographers will shoot an entire wedding just wth 2 lenses others 4 or mo. As mentioned is dis article, d mo u shoot d better u understand ur needs for which lens compliments ur shooting style. Understanding of composition n exposure is more important in my views. Good luck wth d lens choices

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    • Nadeem H

      Thanks Terry. Apologies for not being clear enough, some pasting issues was there too.
      As I am new and have only 18-55 and 75-300, my understanding is that these are not good enough for e.g. low light and group pics in small hall, and in order to take nice portraits and indoor wedding/party pics. So I believe I need to go for a good wide angle prime for indoor and even group pics. What I am looking for is one lens for family / individual portraits and wedding / party/ group pics…. just for personal purpose as secondary photogph. Just started learning so no commercial in mind :). In short, am looking for just one more lens that I can use to shoot entire wedding/party/group/portrait as secondary photogph. I understand its very challenging but I am not looking to compete with any professional wedding photographer also. Just for mine satisfaction as hobby and some good results.. If its at all possible :) ?

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  17. Nadeem H

    Have gone thru your articles and some others and shortlisted the followings in descending order (again, its based on what I read from your and few other articles ). Would appreciate if you can pls help me select the best lens for me which complement my above collection of lenses.
    1. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras – AED 1255
    2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens – AED 1000
    3. Canon ES 70-200 f/4L (0r 2.8) – USM – AED 2249 (I am puzzled if this a zoom lens, why people are suggesting for wedding pics?)
    4. Canon 50 mm f1.8 – AED 300 (Cheapest, so until its very different form 50mm f1.4, I can go for this)
    5. Canon EF 35mm f/2 (1.4) IS USM Lens – AED 2000 – Costly for me, so until it have great value, I will not go for it 
    6. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens – 1800 AED – Costly for me

    Dear all experts, Pls help, as my couple of days Research & plenty of choice has confused me to the core.
    Thnx a ton in advance.


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  18. Nadeem H

    Excellent and detail article. Very impressive. I read this and similar articles., and request your help to find the best lens to complete my personal arsenal of lenses. Would appreciate your advise. I am new to the world of photography and purchased Canon EOS 600D. Along with that I got the below basic lenses i.e. EF S 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6 and EF S 75-300 mm 1:4-5.6

    With these two, I am able to take general purpose and distant pics. Now what I am also looking for a lens for family portraits, individual portraits and wedding / party pics…. just personal. One lens that I can use to shoot entire wedding as secondary photogph, party in one go without changing.

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  19. Agus Halim

    Thanks for the information

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  20. Ben Webb

    I am assuming that all these focal lengths are for full frame sensors

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  21. Sedric Beasley

    I will rent good lenses until I can afford them in the line of business.

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  22. Steinar Knai

    I use MFT equipment, so my favorites are the 75mm 1.8, the 12-24 2.8, 25 1.8, 42.5 1.2 and the 9-18 zoom, soon to be replaced by the 7-14 2.8. With these lenses I can make any picture that I need to and I use the 75 1.8 for ring shots and their likes instead of carrying a macro that I almost never use. The whole kit weighs no more than about 7 lbs, including the EM1 body. I am considering changing the 75 1.8 for the 50-150 2.8 zoom, but I am not sure whether it is the right move, so for the time being, it stays the way it is.

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  23. fiona walsh

    Can I have your opinion?

    Which lens? >
    50mm 1.4
    50mm 1.8

    same question for the 35mm

    and lastly, sigma art 35mm or Nikon/canon 35mm? (I’m a Nikon wedding photographer, looking to use my 25-70 2.8 less in order to gain sharpness and better bokeh)

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  24. Richard Bremer

    Great article! My two cents, the (Tamron) 24-70 and (Nikon) 70-200 are real must-haves in the field of wedding photography. As I am a Nikon shooter, I’d say the Nikon 14-24 is a big nice-to-have, as are the Sigma 35mm, 50mm, Nikon 85mm and Sigma 105mm macro. But with the first two I can make 90 to 95% of the shots I want.

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  25. Hans photoWerks

    Thank you all, enjoyed reading all the discussion here and have learnt a lot!

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  26. Fernando Lachica

    Wedding photography is great for experienced people because it takes to be 100% shoot to have?

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  27. Anshul Sukhwal

    Thanks a lot, Pye, for the extensive review about the perfect lenses for portrait photography. This will be indeed helpful. :-)

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  28. Kurk Rouse

    I believe primes like the 50mm and 85mm (f1.4 or f1.8) are perfect for indoor shooting because of that extra stops of light they provide. When it comes to the ceremony and reception, zooms like the 24-70mm and 70-200mm f2.8 really excel .

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  29. Terry Ryman

    Your 6 must have lenses are very common with today’s choices of wedding lenses. presumably this is targeted at the pro and not amateur otherwise it’s open to a variety of lenses. As mentioned, indeed 7k is a small price to pay for what could be prosperous business venture. I find that in this business there’s just too many different style of photography to predetermine that a specific lens is a MUST have per say and reading this article confirms just that although many hold the same lens me included. Your business will target certain customers based on your style of shooting and the use of lighting and naturally the choice of lenses. I use the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 IS for indoor church whilst others would use the 24-75 f2.8 II. Now this is a debate that could last for years but there’s no right or wrong. I use the Tammy because it has IS and it’s also much cheaper and weighs less. No double the glass is not as sharp as Canon’s but what it lacks is enhanced with Photoshop. As a photographer you will know when a photo is good based on composition, details along with colours etc. It’s like buying a computer that has 2.5 ghz cpu speed and comparing that to a 3.0 ghz cpu… which is faster? could even tell? Ask your customers, by looking at this photo, can you please tell me what lens did i use and model and while your guessing, please also give me the brand. Would they know, would they even care, hell no. They just love your style of photography. lets be clear that the MUST have lens covers all the bases from long telephoto, wide (ultra-wide) and macro which basically is your safe zone. I use the 17-40 f4, why? It’s sharper than the older 16-35 when I bought it at that time, never tried the MKII and with today’s camera being good with low light even at 6400 ISO plus my faithful Photoshop, I literally get away with murder all the time. Again, use what works for you. Perhaps I’m just a terrible photographer but I still use my 50 f1.8 II the only plastic boy in my bag but it works and gives me some awesome photos. Needless to say, I post process ALL my photos, every single one. I have changed my camera body 3 times for better sensor and low light capabilities among others and my lenses remain the same but all are below f2.8 except for the 17-40 f4 which I think is still a good lens. Again, all these lenses are pointing to your coverage area i.e zoom, wide and macro. If canon made a super Lens i.e. 15-200 f1.8 IS, that would be the only lens I need. Thanks for sharing

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  30. Sathiaseelan Pitchai

    70- 200 F2.8 VRII is the best that you can use even for Landscape Photography.

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  31. Jae Hammond

    Great article. But for someone who does not have the $7000 budget to start with would you invest in the Third Party lens set with the same focal lengths or use most of the budget and save to get the better canon glass one at a time over a period of time and keep doing jobs with the gear you have at the time and hire the rest in the mean time.

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    • Jeff Pence

      I started using a canon 28-135 with a 50d and used just that for 2 years with flash. After that I upgraded to 6d and added a 70-300 IS. And shot almost 4 years. This year 2016 I purchased my first L lens 24-70 2.8!and results made a huge leap. But I also watched YouTube videos non stop for better use of camera. I neede a better backup camera to replace the 50d so as I was looking for a 5d mk 3 I ran across a 6d on eBay with a 50mm 1.2 and 85mm 1.2. Wow! Game changer. So my opinion would be get a 24-70 2.8 ii and just use that at first. Wait until you can afford the L glass except get the 50mm 1.8 for $125 right away. Rent the 70-200mm 2.8 IS ii until you can justify buying it. Then add the primes as you go.

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  32. Daniel Parnis

    You only need 3 or 4 in your bag in my experience. Here’s what I use on a 5d3: sigma 35 1.4art, sigma 50 1.4, sigma 24-105 f4 art, Canon 70-200 2.8 L . I used to use a 17 – 40 L but 24 mm is wide enough on full frame. I could shoot a whole wedding on the siggy 35 though. But it’s not always suitable to get in some positions with it. The 24-105 is perfect for outdoor ceremonies. F4 is plenty fast on a good high iso camera plus the extra depth of field yields more keepers. 50 1.4 is perfect for indoor ceremonies as is the 70-200. But like others have said these large telephoto lenses are bulky and if you’re trying to shoot photojournalistic, natural shots they make the subject camera aware too easily.

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  33. Austin Swenson

    I think that I would agree with a lot of the choices here. 70-200 f2.8 no doubt, it’s a must. Some kind of fast prime? I might go with an 85mm 1.4 and then a 24-70 f2.8. In my experience shooting weddings just part time, I don’t think I would really say that a 16-35 is super necessary, but I can see how people would flock to this in other locations/circumstances, I just haven’t ever needed the wide angle option.

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  34. Rui Pinto

    Hi! Just one opinion for a starter in this business, it’s a better option to start with a 17-50mm or buy a 28mm to join with a 50mm 1.8 that I already have? I do more video than photo.
    Thanks a lot!

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  35. Stephen Hunt

    This article was updated in April 2014. Is there a reason the sigma Art series don’t make their way in this group?

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  36. Tyler Friesen

    good suggestions. New sigma line up will possibly change some of my lenses around.

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  37. Stuparu Sorin

    how about 17-40 f4 from Canon anyone uses ?

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  38. Franziska

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    The home bleaching method may lasts up to several months but it is more dependable on the lifestyle of the patient.
    This powerful tooth stain removing pen works so well we’ve asked for more trial pens for us to use.

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  39. Trevor Sowers

    For me it’s the 24 50 135 I also carry the 85 and 200 but the first 3 are my staple lenses. Sold off most of my zooms as I just wasn’t using them.

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  40. Oscar

    I started with a Canon T3i, a 40mm F/2.8 pancake, and an 85mm F/1.8. I slowly started adding more things to my arsenal–umbrella flashes, soft boxes, a Canon hot shoe flash–and customers were more than happy with the results. For portraits, I never ran into a problem.

    However, for event photography, I noticed some drawbacks. Changing lenses or trying to capture shots in reduced areas becomes very tricky. Thanks to savings and my tax refunds, I have now upgraded to the 5D Mark II and have also bought the 135mm F/2L. Though I need more practice, I can see the results are much better than my crop camera. I have yet to do a full wedding, but I intend to add the 24-70mm F/2.8L II, and the 100mm F/2.8L Macro IS in the near future. I believe the 135 (candid shots), the 24-70 (group flash shots), and the 100 Macro (wedding details) are all the lens you need for a wedding.

    I find it distasteful to criticize others’ photography or skills. It wasn’t too long ago that I was on a crop camera with so-so lenses. It takes time (and money) to acquire the best gear.

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  41. Fotograf Profesionist Arad, Nunta, Botez

    Great article! At weddings i use D800 + Nikon 50mm f/1.4G + Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S + Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S :)

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  42. josh

    This article always makes me cringe. You need something wide, something medium and something long. make sure it’s fast enough / sharp enough / accurate enough to get the shots you need. and that’s it.

    some of the stuff on SLR Lounge is REALLY REALLY helpful but they always seem to be trying to push this cookie-cutter wedding/couple brand with the same posed images and corny concepts. their images and processing are always spot on from a technical standpoint but they often (but not always) lack any genuine emotion or connection. It’s like paint-by-numbers for photography and it’s especially evident whenever they talk about gear. “Must-Have Lenses” and of course it’s all the same boring ass kit: Get out your 24-70 and shoot this, then get out your macro and shoot the “creative” ring shot, then get out your 70-200 and get that compressed bokeh portrait… YUCK… it’s all about helping non-creative people get the same “pretty good” images over and over. Seriously, these guys just recently within the last year or so finally advocated that people stop doing train track shots not because its corny and awful and boring but because it’s “not safe” and someone might get hurt. They do things for engagements like plan fake picnics with wicker baskets of empty wine bottles and have “spontaneous” tandem bike rides. There is no substance to that kind of photography.

    Take off the training wheels, take some risks, quit with the wedding formulas and let your vision and your clients personality be your focus, not your gear or a shot list you got from Lin & Jirsa.

    And I know when you read through these comments you see people saying over and over how this is more for “beginners” but why the hell are beginners shooting weddings again? If you need to see what SLR Lounge says so you can build your wedding kit then there is a good chance you probably shouldn’t be shooting a wedding yet.

    Build slowly. Learn the basics, then start shooting portraits, couples, families, smaller events, and by the time you’re ready to shoot weddings you’ll already ready know what you like and what you need. Seriously there is no magic formula of gear or shot lists to make you good. Shoot a lot. That is the only advice you need to follow.

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  43. L.M.

    In reality you can shoot quality weddings with two lenses. Invest in a full frame camera, first and foremost.

    24-70 f/2.8
    70-200 f/2.8

    Tamron has a very excellent 24-70 and Sigma make a great 70-200. No need to go with Nikon or Canon. I have many hours on my Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 DI VC USD and it’s held up fantastic.

    I also own the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS FLD and it’s been a fantastic lens for me.

    You can rent a 100mm macro when you have weddings, just work it into the price. Eventually save up and buy yourself one. I’m a huge fan of the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD.

    Alternatively you can get into a very wide lens like the Sigma 12-24. I know that it’s a variable aperture, but it’s hard to beat the quality for $700

    Put a Gary Fong Lightsphere Universal Cloud on your flash and skin tones are 100 times better. (no the collapsable one)

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  44. G.W.

    Thanks for the information as well as everyone’s input. I wonder, would the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art be a better choice or Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?

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  45. Singh

    Hi Guys, this is probably the most informative articles on the net regarding wedding lenses! But I still feel its inclined for photographers that are currently shooting weddings as the article and most of the replies are somewhat biased towards the canon 2.8’s (both the 24-70 and the 70-200). They are great lenses, but are they a ‘must have’?

    I’ve been shooting (properly) for about 2 years and been learnt from some of the best pro’s in my locality. I now am starting a small wedding photography business and I know when you start out there are loads of other expenses that one must consider. So i guess my question is will the following equipment not suffice?
    Main body: Canon 70D
    2nd body: Conon 100d (with 50 1.8 constantly on it)
    Canon 24-105 f4 IS L
    Canon 70-200 f4 IS L
    canon 10-22
    2 speedlite 430 ex ii


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  46. Bryant

    I will be shooting my first wedding next month! I have a 6D and my first camera which is a rebel t3. just ordered a 85 prime. I have a 50, and the L series kit lense. would you say I am good to go in a small church with flash allowed? Or, should I rent a 70-300 L series lense for the day?

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  47. Hjalmar

    I don’t shoot weddings but I intend to do in future. I mostly shoot company events and for those I carry the 70-200mm f2.8L IS II and the 24-70mm f2.8L, with these I capture 90% of shots. The remaining 10% is shared by the 16-35mm f2.8L II and the 15mm f2.8. Sometimes I add the 100mm 2.8L IS when I don’t want to carry the 70-200mm lens which is insanely sharp.

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  48. harry

    Want to try my hand in small weddings business.. Thinking about getting a canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6l IS USM for my Canon Mark III…what are the thoughts and concerns with this lens. If I bump up my ISO how will it fair indoors?

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  49. Mr. Pablo

    Here`s how i work.. 6D with a Sigma 70-200 2.8 DG OS and a Sigma 35mm 1.4.

    Cheaper than the mark iii and way cheaper, it has more value by far in my opinion since it comes down to image quality, ISO and focusing. It does the Job superbly and I can save for glass.

    SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM:
    Fast silent focusing, great sharpness and solid lens. Not weather sealed though but for half the price of the canon version, ill buy a shooting bag if in the rain.

    SIGMA 35mm 1.4 Art series
    One lens to rule them all, great bokeh, sharpness, focusing and build quality. If I had to choose one lens for a wedding it would be this one hands down.

    Macro adapter:
    Pop one of these to the 35mm and shoot rings and details, you loose light so use a tripod, but the pics will come out great. Not worth buying a lens.

    Backup gear:
    70D with a 50mm 1.8 (the cheap one) charged up and with a clean memory ready to go (in my car trunk in case my bag gets stolen or i get mugged). I also have an old T2i body on my camera bag just in case.

    SDXC 64GB Extreme Pro 95/mbps. I used to shoot with multiple 8gb memory cards for safety, but i realised changing memory so often wears them out quickly. Now i use this reliable card and replace it every 4 to 6 months.

    Yongnuo Flashes 560 II:
    Since i shoot manual flash anyway I don’t use TTL, so they are great powerful and reliable flashes, also used off camera mostly with Yongnuo RF-603 Transmitters.
    Although I use flash just in some situations where it has to be used or for an artistic purpose, mostly i depend on the lenses and natural light.

    Lowepro backpack, Lowepro lens pouch, Lowepro belt with spider pro clamp. there i place the 70-200 or the camera, both have the attachment pins.

    This lens como of a zoom lens and a prime works great and keeps me light and practical with the lenses always on me.

    Thats it! hope someone may find it useful!

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    • Lenny Carlo

      currently just starting to learn my MKIII with Sigma Art 35/1.4, and the Zeiss Makro Planar 100/2.0, sharpness all over!! :)

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  50. SAMC

    Apologies for the type errors, bloody smart phone tablet LOL!

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  51. SAMC

    What an interesting read!
    I can see almost everyones point of view all with merit. I do the occasional wedding, only really for friend /friend of friend. With this in mind I am not going to invest in such an exspense being mainly at this time into Lanscape …SO…(and I’m supprised no one has mentioned this? ) I HIRE the lenses for the day and factor that into the price I charge . This allows the Photographer after completing his or her Recon of the Venues and going through with the couple what shots they want you can then make a descision on what lenses (Even another Full frame body) to hire. I’m in the UK, There are many Photographic Hire firms that cater for AM/Semi pro and Pro….Firms like…LENS LOCKER, LENS FETISH (yes really ! LOL) , LENS Pimp (No am not joking :-) Google them! )

    My point is unless you are getting to the point where you are doing a half a dozen or more weddings a year, and/or other work (Or play photography wise) you do warrants investing in the optics required , Why not Hire ? I understand you may want to get used to equipment, but it’s an option surely? Also you can Hire to test out what YOU think of the lenses peformance .

    As we all know the cameras sensor can make a diffeence and Noise/ISO performace. The new EOS 6D which has such a stunning low light capability (Hence a HUGE fav for low light and Astronomy Photographers ) as well as the 5mk iii of course if you have an lens that is stop or two slower than you like tbut your camera body with the latest sensors would that not help at least ? I’ve read some Photographers dismays on many of the Flickr Groups being very disapointed in the 16-35mm F2.8 ii , he regreted imensly giving his brother his 17-40mm f 4 !! Which has a remarkable reputation for an f4 lens ! Another says the lens he uses a lot at weddings is the Canon 20mm F2.8 (A must he says) The last wedding I did I Hired 24-70 F2.8 , 50mm f1.2 and borrowed a 70-200 f2.8. I used a 5D mkii and a 60D (yes a 60D, which with the L lenses REALLY suprised me!, though the next one it will be a 6D and 5D mkiii.

    I agree with the choices , the primes are a good idea ,They are STUNNING but one Photographer rightly said, unless there is two of you or you have four bodys around your neck, chopping and changing lenses when a shot could be happening that you missed is not what you want. Three bodies is MAX, one as a back up and with the lens (prime high speed) which you will only use for some shots in your plan (for example) is ready to go.

    So If Wedding Photography is your long term goal then Hire, and as you make profit slowly invest in the lenses that have impressed you and clients.

    Thoughts ?

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    • mugur ic

      Hi, nice comment do you have here. But I have a question : what do you think about pentax or nikon slr ?

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  52. Sully

    Having all the lenses in the world is great but having the right lens on the camera at the right time is more important.
    Having the right settings is just as important. Some moments are gone in a flash.
    When I shoot weddings or other events I shoot with 2 bodies, one with 24-70 and the other with 70-200 both with flashes on I case they are needed. The settings I preprogram into C1, C2, C3 on both cameras to different general lighting conditions. This allows me to spend less time figuring out where I put the lens cap and more time on the moments I was hired to capture. Shooting in RAW is just as important as having the right gear. You wouldn’t shoot a wedding with chrome your would shoot it with negative film. But this is just my two cents…

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  53. CT Wedding Photographer

    I have to disagree with this article. First, I don’t know anyone who uses 6 lenses when shooting a wedding…4 tops. Newbies out there..hear this…I’ve been doing this a long time.. You DO NOT NEED 6 LENSES. You DO need a few 2.8 lenses though. A 24-70, a 70-200, and a macro will let you cover a wedding perfectly fine. Everything else is based on your creativity. Get an ultra wide if that’s your style. If not..then don’t. Get a 1.4 if you want to go super shallow…but not everyone shoots at f/1.4. And, if you’re fairly should probably shoot with a little more depth of field anyways. With the ISO capability of today’s cameras combines with anti-shake/VR…you can always bump it up if you need more light than 2.8 will give you. f/1.4 is more for creative purposes. As for everyone shooting primes at a wedding..I assume you have second shooters helping with the coverage? If not, please tell me how you are not missing things or cropping the heck out of things in post.. Because to me, shooting a wedding solo at fixed focal lengths would be like shooting with handcuffs on.

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    • eli

      Hey, I shoot with primes 90% of the time and I don’t miss moments. The reason to that is because I have a spider pro belt with two D3s’s dangling on both sides. “Zooming” in or out using two bodies only takes two seconds (literally) Therefore I don’t use zooms. I only use my 70-200VRII at 200mm 2.8 for portraits and 16-35VR for wide shots (few shots) other than that, I have my 28G and 85G/58G on both sides.

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    • Tom Rose

      Completely agree. Six lenses is far too many. Two bodies, one with a 24-70 or some other wide-moderate tele, and the other with a 70-200 (i.w. the “standard” professional’s set-up) will do the job. Maybe a 100mm macro in the bag, if the close up abilities of the two zooms are not up to the task.

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  54. Fotograf nunta Iasi

    Gret article! Some pro gear indeed. I like the idea of buying top glass not some cheap one only to have it. I shoot a lot with 500 mm 1.4

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  55. VAL

    Thanks. Excelent.

    | |
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  57. Simple Nikon CLS Wireless Flash – How We Shot It | Photography Tutorials and Lightroom Tutorials by SLR Lounge

    […] Yes, in high-pressure professional situations you need a system that you can trust absolutely.  It has to fire every single time without fail, and to deliver flawless sharpness at all apertures from center-to-corner.  That’s why we as wedding photographers invest years in finding the best wireless flash solution, (click here) …and why we invest many thousands of dollars on lenses. (click here) […]

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  58. Ujwal

    Those six and those f1.2 lenses are perfect if you have an assistant or two, but if you work alone, you have the 24-105mmF4 L IS from Canon and 24-120mm VR lens from Nikon can easily do more than 80% of the work unless you must shoot wide open.

    For 20% of the things to shoot and the wide open look/ indoors/night , get a fast prime – i.e. 50mm F1.4 / 1.8 or if money is not a problem then F1.2
    and keep a good quality close up filter in your jacket pocket for the closeup shot of ring.

    But again a lot of things depends on your shooting style.
    Some people are content with just two fast primes, some shoot 90% of stuff with their 70-200, some just shoot 50mm or 35mm/ X100 camera.
    Its a weird world of lens choices and people’s style of shooting.

    Personally, I prefer a couple of extremely versatile lenses as my primary lens ( 24-70mm F2.8 VC from tamron or 24-105mm from Canon) and 70-200mm f4L IS as second lens ( its easy on my wrists and neck), both of which fast and tack sharp.

    The 85mm f1.8 comes out only when the guests are seated and the 50mm and 17-40mm come out only when the guests are on the dance floor. Once my favorite lenses as a nature photographer- the 100mm macro gets used for only about 5 frames for the ring shot.

    What’s best for you depends only on you and no one can say which lenses should be used for wedding photography.

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  59. Ronnie

    Great article about the lenses.I have Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 ,Canon 50mm F/1.8 & Canon 70-200 F/2.8 IS II.I photograph mostly chinese wedding and found 70% of the image are at 24mm.I see you have 24mm F/1.4 on your equipment list.How you guys make use of it?The bokeh from 24-70 F/2.8 don’t seems to be very pleasing.

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  60. Fotorumba

    I mostly disagree. First: ring shot is far from nice. Next: 70-200 is way too bulky for PJ style and even other style when you must carry it for 6-12 hours, I tried once and that was enough . My gear is simple like that: D700+24-70 F2.8 in hands and D700+85 f1.4 hanging on my shoulder. Results are here , no one will convince me to sweat carrying full bags of equipment, you can use a lot of gear or only few and deliver same results in the end of the day, often you miss shots while considering lenses or changing them, I see no sense in calling all these lenses “must have”, I consider it just an opinion of one or two overPR’ed photographers targeting to beginners who did not find their style and work flow yet. No offense please, just my 2 cents. :)

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    • Jill Schindel

      How can you call the author of the article “overPR’ed” and say “no offense” in the same response? Doesn’t make much sense to me.

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  61. Ryan Yoast

    Just picked up an 80-200 2.8 for Nikon new for $1000 grey market. It is a great substitute to the 70-200 vr ii at less than half the price. Its heavy but I would never complain about that, even at my current 110lb I have no problem carrying this on my D3s. Its not about complaining about the weight, its about the quality you bring to your clients! These lenses are what it takes to do just that. Below is a self portrait with the 80-200, apologizes in advance for the lack of a smile, haven’t quite mastered that just yet. I guess that’s why i’m behind the camera and not in front of it!

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  62. CK

    Just one small thought on the Canon 24-70 F2.8:  It weighs a ton.  By the time you load up your 5D with a vertical grip, flash, diffuser, etc. and throw on this lens — you better be pumping iron in advance.  If you’re not part-timing as a MMA instructor, you might consider the 24-105 F4.0.
    I rented each, shot a wedding with each — and went with the 24-105.  Less sweating, more shooting.

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    • James

      What about low light situations. I have that lens.. but am considering the 24-70 for a wedding. Thanks.

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  63. Apo5

    What for 16-35 if you already have 15mm fisheye :)

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  64. Jon wright

    great article as have my first wedding coming up soon, many thanks

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  65. Hector M.

    I noticed you posted this article in 2009. Are these still your top 6 lenes? If not what are you guys using now?

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  66. Hector M.

    what are your feelings about the 50mm 1.2

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  67. Irina

    Very helpful! Thank you! Just one qustion: is there a big difference in quality between 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.8? 

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  68. @ Photographer San Antonio

    I have to agree with getting good glass. I shoot weddings professionally every weekend. I do not charge thousands. I charge 500 and still use pro glass. I have a 28-70 f2.8 It is a very nice lens. I also use a lower end lens on DX a superzoom f3.5-5.6 18-200mm for backup camera that I wear! I will be getting an 70-200 f2.8 as soon as I can afford it. I also use a 35mm f2.8 and find that with today’s digital cameras and high ISO 2.8 is as low as I need. 1.4f lenses were great with film but are not needed anymore and are far too expensive in my opinion.

    I spent 850 on the 28-70 – $500 on the 18-200 the 70-200 is over one thousand used.

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  69. Hector Alanis

    Very good article.  The wedding is a one time event in the life, and is very important for the photographer catch the moments.  I am not a pro, but I have been as second shooter in weddings and a good glass is very useful for dificult situation. I´ve  lost a lots of catches because a I don´t have a 2.8 prime.  But my 70-200 2.8 has been very useful.

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  70. Catherine Lacey Dodd

    Great. I’ve opted for the 35/1.4 of late over the 50/1.4. Fab in almost no light.

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  71. Paulashe1961

    I’am in question on the ring photo.

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  72. Derek

    Just wondering what your thoughts are on 24-70 vs 24-120 if it was a choice? 24-70 is the better lense but is having the versatility of the 120 better?

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  73. Vj One

    Most pros don’t want to use off brand glass. But I have seen results from the off brand glass that are stunning to say the least. Photography is much like DJ-ing. To which I practice both crafts.( I am a much better at the latter).
    In DJ-ing world, to be acknowledged as a “pro- dj”, you have to have that angelic glow in the dark apple logo. Fellow DJ’s and promoters give you the benefit of a doubt once you power up the 2000+ laptop. Does that make you a pro-dj? I don’t know. Do the patrons care? Nope. They want to have a good time…they want to dance. The DJ can walk in with a DELL inspiron running windows XP and still make people dance the night away. (Nothing against DELL) Because he knows how to do his job well with his “non pro” equipment

    Same as photography. I had a Sony point and shoot (400 bucks worth) and could produce just as good if not better pics than some of the photographers I hired for my DJ-ing gigs. Does that make me a pro or make him a whack? Now I own a 7D and the 24-70L. I must say, the camera takes better pics than my point and shoot but when I hand it to someone else, they can’t get the same great pics I can ….consistently. Now, I am an advanced amateur taking impressive pictures with a pro body. I am not a pro, but my understanding of aperture, ISO and shutter and my familiarity with the 7D allow me to produce pro-like results.

    Its the marriage of good equipment and acquired skill and experience that make a good photographer. My point, a puppet is just a doll without it’s puppeteer. Its not just the equipment.

    And the canon lenses look sexxy too. Who can argue with that?

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      Strongly agree with vj one about that to take amazing pictures you dont need to have a camera for $5000.I used to shoot pictures with point and shoot 12mp GE camera,even the previous point and shoot camera had less mp.Please visit my website to check out the pictures and to value it.
      Its good article Iv found it on google simply trying to get an answers which lens are useful for weddings and other type of photography cose just trying to buy my first lenses and to cut expenses choosing more optimal choice for different situation and little confused variaty of lenses.

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  74. Photographers01

    Oh this is SO perfectly written.Nice captures.


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  75. Josefu

    Awesome article here, I agree with Fotograf Profesionist Nunta.

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  76. Fotograf Profesionist Nunta

    You can actually cover whole weddings with just a 24-70 and a full frame camera. New cameras also have lots of megapixels that translate into room for cropping so a 24-70 2.8 can become almost a 24-105 2.8, especially on cameras like the new D800.
    A 100 2.8 can actually be all that you need as a telephoto lens and be a cheaper replacement for the 70-200
    I also don’t think a fish eye is “must have”, that look is not for everyone.

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    • chaim01

      Not really. When you shoot vertical at 70mm there is distortion at the ends and the body does not look properly proportioned. I agree with Fotorumba. You need some kind of tele. I also use the nikon 85 1.8 and it is a perfect low cost supplement to the 24-70 that avoids most of the distortions.

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  77. Emma Margaret

    This is a great article! I’ll keep these tips in mind.

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  78. Hankersonphotography

    Thank you for sharing this info…love you work..and I pray that you continue to do great things. Hank.

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  79. 1picture=1000 words

    I just entered the Wedding photography business, last engagment i used a 18-55 EF-S lens, my pictures keep out pretty good but these six lens just makes it 100 times better. Great work and great article, Good luck in being unique in your way.

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  80. Arkadi

    I don’t like 70-200.. it is bulky. I think everything is a question of equilibrium.. I don’t wanna run around loaded with equipment. I keep one body at hands, 16-35 for any case, 35 1.4 60% of time, 85 1.2 30% of time. I live macro lens and fish-eye in a trolley. You can see the results
    I think there could be drawn a line between those who use tele and those who use 35sh lenses. I think the last breed of fols love more people and love being inside of action.

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  81. Anonymous

    You write amazing article ,You capture nice wedding photographs.I use 24-70mm  f2.8 lens for capture wedding photographs.Thanks for sharing information.
    wedding photographers bristol

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  82. Deirdre Ryan

    I have a 90mm Macro 2.8 Tamron and a 11-18mm 5.6 Tamron Canon mounts and a 18-135mm Canon lenses. I learn to work with what I have. My goal is to get the 70-200 Canon and the 50 1.4 Canon. However since the earthquake who knows when the prices will go down and the availability :(

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  83. Dare

    35L & 135L will help you a lot in weddings

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  84. Vu

    You got quite a list there. For the most part, we have similar taste. Have you tried the 35L & 135L as a combo though? Beside having most of the lens you mentioned w/ me on my last assignment, I found myself shooting w/ the 35 & 135 80% of the time.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Indeed, personally I have found that the 35, 85 and 135 combo does very nicely at eliminating the need for a 24-70 and 70-200 almost entirely. Would we completely sell off those 2.8 zooms though? No, it would be professionally irresponsible to have such a limited coverage and no backup. Of course if we fall in love with primes and barely ever use a zoom, that might be a great reason to opt instead for the likes of the Tamron 24-70 and 70-200, but you get the idea.


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  85. 6 Must-Have Lenses for Wedding Photography – Digital Scrapbooking Community – DesignerDigitals

    […] Must-Have Lenses for Wedding Photography 6 Must-Have Lenses for Wedding Photography __________________ my Site and Blog Nikon Shooter Member NAPP, […]

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  86. Cathy

    Great article. I tend to rely on my 24-70 f2.8 for a lot of the work. I like the 70-200 VRII for the close ups, placing of the rings etc. I’ve been able to get some great shots with a 50mm and pro mist filter for bride portraits.

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  87. Britton

    Good choices with the exception of the 50f/1.4 . That lens is poor at focusing in low lighting conditions. The 35f/1.4 is the one to get.

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  88. HurleyG

    Quite a good article. I believe you’ve got your choices right on. I used to use a 70-200mm f/2.8 for every wedding I shot, but for the last two I used my 85mm f/1.8 and the results were surprising. I’ve always heard that prime lenses are the best way to go, and I’ve definitely got to agree. Very nice article. Thank you.

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  89. Igor Klajo

    Thanks for this small lens roundup to have at weddings. I think this is the lens collection you should have now only for weddings, but for all kinda events. I myself just started to get the real stuff together, have the 70-200mm f/4L. I had to get something better than I had before and I couldn’t wait got get enough money for the f/2.8 version. Now I see I should have waited because I often take photos in low light condition where a flash is unwanted.
    My next lens on the buy list is the 50mm f1.4 and then the 24-70mm f2.8. These three lenses are enough to do the important thing done. Like stated here, with a fisheye and a wide angle zoom lens you can have some photos with the special touch, so these two lenses will be one day mine as well ( I hope ).

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  90. Martins Kikulis Photography

    For me the best wedding lens ever is Nikon’s 14-24 f/2.8! Sometimes I shoot all wedding from start till end just with that one lens. That’s how much I love it!

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  91. John Donnelly

    Been a while since I’ve used my film camera. I have a fantastic 35-200 that covers mostly everything. I have a 28mm wide angle and a 500mm fixed for anything else. Enjoyed your article, some really great pics!

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  92. Lorena Monjardim

    70-200 2.8 L IS is definetly my baby!!

    I love my 50 mm L 1.2 but it is an artistic extra equipment in my pack.

    My 24-70 2.8 L is used only in small rooms or where 70-200 is impossible to use.
    (my hus uses it more than i do)

    I agree with the authors about large apertures..

    Nice article!

    2.8 is my smallest choice!

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  93. Pye

    Brandon, I would have to agree that I love the additional range on the 24-105mm. But, to be honest, we bought one to try out, then ended up selling it because it simply just wasn’t fast enough in low light, and it seems like we are always shooting low light. Do you typically use your 24-105mm during the day or in well lit areas? I am curious, what would be your 5 or 6 staple lenses?

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  94. Samantha

    Scotty, I think most successful wedding photogs would say it takes so much more than just lenses, cameras, and equipment to be good at what you do.

    And Mike, I also think everyone has their own style of shooting. Some of my best weddings were shot on only 3 lenses (16-35mm, 50mm, and 70-200mm). But, I would definitely have to agree with the authors picks on these lenses.

    The lenses listed are quite standard and staple lenses. Though I would have to say I hate shooting on the 24-70mm. I would rather use a wide and a 50mm prime to cover that range. I don’t really like the look and feel of the bokeh on the 24-70mm, I feel like everything comes out looking too standard.

    I would have to say that anyone that doesn’t think a fisheye is an amazing lens, hasn’t shot enough weddings =). It creates some of the coolest effects for wide angle shots and dance floor shots.

    Here are my favorites (in order):
    1) 70-200mm F2.8 IS
    2) 50mm F1.4
    3) 16-35mm F2.8
    4) 15mm F2.8 fisheye
    5) 100mm F2.8 macro
    6) 24mm F1.4

    The 50mm F1.2 is nice, but I find that it’s impossible to shoot anything moving at F1.2, and around F1.8+ I can’t really tell the difference between the 50mm F1.4. So, might as well stick with the cheaper lens.

    Kudos to the author, loved the article.

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    • Yorch

      hahaha dude thats my setup for weddings, i used to shoot with the 24-70mm f2.8 and never be happy and it is heavy as hell, now i change it for the 24mm f1.4L ii and its other world to me, with these 6 lenses i shoot a wedding very well and they pure quality

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Really nice setup! That will take care of everything.

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  95. Brandon

    In my experience, the 70-200 is great, but doesn’t work well in small chapels, as it just can’t back out far enough. The 24-70 is ideal, but the 24-105 is far more versatile in situations where a little extra zoom compression is necessary.

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  96. Scotty

    Great! Now all I need is $7,000 and I’ll be a successful wedding photog! Dx

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    • Dustin Gardner

      Haha I know the feeling. I’m currently shooting with a Sigma 70-300mm 
      f/4-5.6  Macro, a 50mm F/1.8, and a 28-90mm f/3.5-5.6, but, weird as it may be, I get beautiful shots, and, they love the shots as well (The families)

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    • Marek Trela

       You can only get mediocre pictures with these lenses. If you are serious about wedding photography you better save up some money and buy quality glass.

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    • Pablo

      I don’t know if I’d say “you can only get mediocre pictures with these lenses” is an accurate assessment.

       Of course the quality of glass is incredibly important and plays a larger factor in image quality than anything except perhaps the photographer’s skill, but that doesn’t mean the shots a photographer gets with these lenses are mediocre at best. 

      To the same extent, I don’t think it would work to say “You can’t take amazing pictures with an APS-C camera”, or “unless you’re shooting Medium Format you’ll never produce a good image”.  These are all tools, and they do as they are told (within their limits).  If you know the limitations of your equipment and understand how to make it work for you, you can go a long way with lesser quailty gear.

       I’d say that under challenging conditions it is true, lower quality, slower lenses will have a hard time producing great images, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, especially if you really know what you are doing.  I’d rather have a wedding photographer with lower quality glass who really knows what they are doing than a novice with tons of equipment and not enough skill.  

      That’s not to say you shouldn’t invest in good glass, no doubt you should if you are making money off of your photography and/or want to further the capabilities of your equipment.  I have some very good glass, and I am blown away by the differences between the good glass and the much lower end stuff I have shot with (and some that I own).  That being said, I have produced some great images with lower end lenses under less challenging situations.  To Dustin I’d say save your money, buy a high quality lens or two that fits your needs, you’ll be impressed with the differences, and so will your customers.  Beyond that, shoot with what you have, and make the equipment you have work for you. 

      Not everyone has the money to buy $5,000 or $10,000 plus in lenses, and not everyone is in the position to need to make that kind of investment either.  That doesn’t mean they can’t produce high quality images, or that they shouldn’t try.  Everyone starts with lower quality gear unless they are independently wealthy.

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    • Lcruz0811

      Thanks for this comment! I find that way too many people look at gear and not creativity. I shoot with an entry level canon and have gotten some awesome images out of it. I know people who have the new 5d mark III and their images lack creativity. You can get amazing shots with anything you just have to try. 

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    • Mike Moon

      That’s because the camera is not as important as the glass. I’ve been doing weddings for 7 years, (I do about 30 per year) and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a church ceremony without 2.8 lenses. You’d be much better going with an off-brand 2.8 lens than spending the same amount on a Canon-brand 3.5-5.6 lens. God forbid you’re stuck with 3.5 minimum aperture in a dark church with a no-flash rule! 2.8 lenses are REQUIRED for professional wedding photography. If you can’t afford them, rent them. — The camera is not as important. You could shoot a gorgeous wedding with a Canon 20D and 70-200 2.8 IS USM II lens, but not the reverse with a MkIII and 3.5-5.6 lens. 

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    • Me

      @me: I think you guys should focus more on your own photography and creativity than others.. And gotten it not even a word by the way!!

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    • Mike Moon

      Regarding the comment, “I’d rather have a wedding photographer with lower quality glass who really knows what they are doing than a novice with tons of equipment and not enough skill.”,

      I agree with you, but it’s unfortunate clients get fooled into paying for either one. Neither is acceptable. 2.8 glass is the cost of entry in wedding photography. Not even a great, skilled photographer can shoot a church wedding without flash with non-2.8 lenses. — Shooting “a” wedding is one thing. Marketing yourself as a professional photographer without 2.8 glass is another thing. That’s not OK.

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    • AMP.ed Photo

       That’s not a very nice thing to say. People can get amazing pictures with any camera/lens setup. You may not be able to zoom in and see the open pores as much, but clients can still absolutely adore their images. They may have to rely on flash much more, but there is nothing wrong with shooting with these lenses.

      The main ways this would bother me (if I was shooting those lenses) is that I couldn’t shoot in low-light very well without a flash, and having Uncle Bob there with the top of the line camera and all the lenses mentioned in the article, and yet you’re getting paid to shoot the images with a lower quality camera/lens setup.

      That being said, people have to start somewhere.

      Last point, Dustin mentioned he was shooting families, NOT weddings. So your point is moot.

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    • Omar Spence

       Lens selection is most challenging when you are just starting out. Not all of us get to start with $7k, but having started from a tight budget, one thing I learned is to stay far away from zooms until you can afford the best. There are no good zooms around for less than $1500. Fast primes give you the best bang for the buck, the supposed versatility of a zoom for the same price is just an illusion which dies quickly when it comes down to the results. And anything slower than F/2.8 is mediocre.

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    • Mike Moon

      Why is this too much to ask? A $7,000 investment for your own business? The problem with the industry today is that too many people can fool clients into thinking they’re professional photographers with a $2,000 investment and decent portfolio. In the real wedding photography world, you’re stuck with more lighting scenarios than you’d encounter in a year of studio shooting. Dark churches with no-flash rules, blazing sun with no shade, all in the same day! Can you shoot a wedding without the lenses that comprise a $7,000 investment? Yes, — especially if you rent them. Can you shoot 10 or more weddings a year without investing $7K in lenses? — You shouldn’t even try. Clients don’t deserve that.

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    • Mike Moon

      Sorry Scotty, I missed the sarcasm till now. I think you’re point is that investing in the lenses won’t make you a professional without the talent, skill and experience to match the investment. I agree with you 100%!

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    • Matthew Saville

      I think that Mike Moon has made a good point, investing $7,000 to start a business is actually a laughably small amount compared to the startup costs of most every other type of small business. Some people have to take out a business loan for a quarter-million dollars in order to get their business going! $7K is a drop in the bucket considering that if you book your first few years in earnest and charge a fair rate, you could be bringing in $100K or more per year with minimal overall experience, and just sheer talent plus $7-10K worth of gear.

      On the other hand, Is there really a life-threatening difference between f/3.5 and f/2.8? Nope. I’ve shot in dark churches at f/4 quite a lot actually. All I have to do is use a monopod / tripod, and/or bump up my ISO a little bit. In fact I’d take a stabilized f/4 70-200 over an un-stabilized f/2.8 70-200 for church ceremonies ANY DAY, considering that the action is quite low and hand-holding technique is everything.

      So, on the one hand, don’t feel limited or disqualified by gear. If you know what the heck you’re doing, you can accomplish quite a lot with almost any gear.

      On the other hand, of course, if you’re serious then it’s definitely necessary to “suck it up” and invest in your profession.

      I don’t know why people think that these two notions can’t go hand-in-hand, because they surely can!


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  97. mike

    Ten? Ten lenses? Non sense. I shoot with a 17mm, 50mm and 180mm. 90% of my images are with the 50.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Mike, that’s probably because you’ve been shooting for a while and you know your style very well. I’m in the same boat as you, I’d love to shoot an entire wedding with just a 35 and 85 combo. That’s really all I need 99% of the time.

      However we certainly can’t encourage new photographers to show up to a wedding with nothing but a 50mm, of course. For the inexperienced wedding shooter, that could be disastrous.


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    • Rafael Steffen

      That is cool that you have your style set!

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  98. Xsightn

    Nice article though all Nikon, we get the picture
    I have to agree with Goodson, the 14-24 2.8 is a great addition for Nikon shooters. Yet to get one though but am working towards it

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  99. Jon Phillips

    I recently added a 200mm f/2.8 L series to my arsenal. I found that when I was using a 70-200, I was always shooting at 200.

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  100. Dana Goodson

    I’m a Nikon shooter so I’ll have to mention the 14-24 2.8. It’s costly but I opted for this instead of a fisheye to use on my D700. It’s incredibly sharp and I don’t have to worry about any edge distortion. I love that I’m able to get some pretty dramatic images due to how wide it is.
    Thanks for the article. Very informative. :o)

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  101. Michael

    Great short article on wedding lens recommendation.
    I would tend to agree with most suggestions, however,
    in my opinion the Cann 85 1.2L is just too slow for
    weddings, you miss 90% of the shots. It’s great to
    impress people with, but the 85 1.8 is far more
    practical and gives you a far higher keeper rate.
    And it can double duty for the telescopic compression
    effect of the 70-200 2.8 with a far faster aperture.
    The 70-200 2.8 is a brick to carry around during an
    8 hour plus all day wedding event. Just my thoughts.

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    • Matthew Saville

      I feel the same way; everybody I know who uses the 85 L for weddings often talks about how they usually leave the lens at f/3.5 or f/4, ironically. You’re much much better off getting the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 if you’re addicted to bokeh, or the Canon 85mm f/1.8 if you’re addicted to focusing snappiness.


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  102. olivier

    85L is not great … it’s magical…
    135L should be mentionned … much sharper than the 70-200f2.8

    but for me the number one lens is the 35L….35mm is just perfect, so close to natural vision and at 1.4 beeing abble to isolate a subject with the narrow dof with a wide angle lens is amazing

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    • Matthew Saville

      I agree, the 135 and 35 are gorgeous lenses that should definitely be considered!

      However as far as “must-have” lenses are concerned, it’s tough to recommend such specialty items. We could expand this article to simply be “the top eight” or “the top ten” lenses, but I guess we had to draw the line somewhere.

      Personally, I’d definitely rather have a good 35 and 85 instead of a 24-70, and a good 135 instead of a 70-200. But making these types of decisions is more difficult for anyone who hasn’t been shooting weddings for ~10 years, lol. ;-)


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    • Brian Jarreau

      You only need 3 of these lenses to shoot a wedding.
      70-200, 24-70,100 macro
      Everything else is extra and not necessary. It’s nice to have a real wide angle lens, for about 20 shots- then the thrill is gone. (Unless you have a client who like the wides- otherwise they complain )
      If you need a web article to tell you this or make you feel better about your choices, stop! Go shoot 2nd behind a pro and learn how to use light.
      Gear doesn’t make a good photographer, it helps a good photographer work better and faster.

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