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Best Lenses For Wedding Photography According To 13 Top Wedding Photographers

By Hanssie on May 6th 2016

It’s all subjective of course, the question of which are the “best” lenses for wedding photography. Aside from different camera systems and different glass, everyone has a different shooting style. But like with their children, everyone secretly has a favorite (just kidding), and we’ve polled SLR Lounge’s Best 100 Wedding Photographers to see which are the absolute best lenses for wedding photography. There was one lens (and focal length) that came up more than once; can you guess which?

Here’s what a few of them had to say.

1. KENNY KIM OF KENNY KIM PHOTOGRAPHY

See more of Kenny’s work on his website.

Kathy Benetatos & Phil Hiotis Wedding Images

Kenny’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens – This is an essential lens for all wedding photographers. I see so many wedding photographers trying to get away without one, and you can see the quality difference. It probably gets used only about 20 mins during the wedding day, but it will separate the quality of your work from others.

It’s perfect for capturing studio-like quality detailed photos for your clients. The body is extremely light for an L-series lens, and it can also be used for shooting portraits. This is a very affordable L lens offered by Canon. My second shooters have seen the difference that it makes, and I know some of them went out and bought one for themselves the very next day.

[LEARN: How to Shoot Killer Wedding Details]

2. Dave Paek of Dave Paek Photography

Check out more of Dave’s work on his website.

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Dave’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: My single favorite lens for wedding photography is the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G for its size, weight, and cost.  However, I found myself using the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 more and more because of its versatility, fast AF, and sharpness – especially in tandem with my Nikon D810, which resolves beautifully. Firstly, the 35mm is my favorite focal length not just because it’s a “storytelling” focal length but because I think photographically in terms of 35mm as my base focal length.

For the above scene, I used the Sigma 24-35mm.  I wanted to have the ability to go wider as it was shot in a small and shallow lap pool. Since space was a bit constricted, as this pool was only about four feet deep on the shallow end (which is where we were standing), I decided to go in closer at 24mm to create the illusion of a deep and dark abyss with some help from an off-camera strobe. Lastly, I love the way this lens’ contrasts and the way it renders color – although those are highly subjective points.

3. Sean LeBlanc of Sean LeBlanc Photography

Check out more of Sean’s work on his website.

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Sean’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: One of my favorite lenses for wedding portraits is the Nikon 200mm F2. The lens offers incredible compression, razor sharp images even at F2, lightening fast autofocus, smooth bokeh, three-dimensional look to my images.

4. Ashley Fisher of Ashley Fisher Photography.

Check out more of Ashley’s work on her website.

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Ashley’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: My favorite lens is the Nikon 85mm f1.8. It’s inexpensive, lightweight, fast focusing, and creates beautiful portraits. If I could only have one lens without a huge budget, it’d be this guy.

5.  Christina Blanarovich of Christina Zen Studio

See more of Christina’s work on her website.

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Christina’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: I love my 80mm Zeiss lens for my Contax. I shoot with it for 80% of the day. I love the intimacy I can achieve with it and the bokeh; the way this lens creates such depth is to die for. My images are very much about the emotions of the couple on a wedding day, so this lens allows me to get close enough and still maintain a softness that draws the viewer in.

6. JD Land of Twisted Oaks Studio

See more of JD’s work on his website.

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JD’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: I absolutely love my Sigma 35mm Art.  It is super versatile for me on a wedding day.  It allows me to be in close with my couples and not have to worry too much about distortion on the edges of my frame. It is also wide enough to allow me to step back and tell a more complete story with my composition.  In a bind, I could shoot an entire wedding with this lens.

7. Mantas Kubilinskas of Mantas Kubilinskas Photography

Check out more of Mantas’ work on his website.

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Manta’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: My favorite lens at the wedding is Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art. I love this lens, because it makes me and my clients feel that you are there at that moment, in that image. Working with this lens is so fun and it pushes you to be as close as possible to your clients. The closer you are with your subject, the better the image you will get. Do not be afraid to step in and you will be rewarded.

[Free Tutorial: Learn to Pose Couples, Brides and More]

8. Scott & Melissa Hopkins of Hopkins Studios

Check out more of Scott and Melissa’s work on their website.

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Scott & Melissa’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: I love my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II. The focal range has always been my favorite; it allows me to remove myself from the scene so I don’t interfere.

9. Jay & Sandi Cassario of Twisted Oaks Studios

Check out more of Jay & Sandi’s work work on their website.

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Sandi’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: I like to stick to just 3 prime lenses on the wedding day, the Sigma 35mm, Nikon 85, and my favorite lens that I tend to shoot throughout most of the day is the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G. I love the 58mm focal length; it’s perfect for how I see things, and the bokeh from this lens is just ridiculous. Jay likes to shoot a little wider, so the 58 is also a nice compliment to how he shoots.

10. Easton Reynolds of LuRey Photography

Check out more of Easton’s work on his website.

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Easton’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: The Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 is one of my favorites. It’s so versatile and I love not having to move to get the perfect crop. It allows me to capture the exact comp I have in my head without having to reposition myself. This is key for me to make sure I am not missing moments.

11. Crystal Stokes of Crystal Stokes Photography

Check out more of Crystal’s work on her website.

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Crystal’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: My fave is the Sigma 35 Art. I believe it’s the lens that is the closest to how we see the world with our eyes. However, it is when we step in close to our subject that it truly shines. It allows us to share a very unique version of an otherwise ordinary perspective, and invites the viewer into the moment.

12. Trevor Dayley of Trevor Dayley Photography

Check out more of Trevor’s work on his website.

Photos by: www.trevordayley.com

Trevor’s Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: I love the Canon 90mm Tilt-Shift because I can create some interesting effects, drawing the viewer’s eye to certain areas of the image.

13. Chris Lin of Lin & Jirsa Photography

Check out more of Chris’ work on their website.

Chris’ Pick for Best Lens for Wedding Photography: This is a tough question because I love different lenses for different scenarios. I love wide lenses for stunning beach scenes and sunsets; 50mm and 85mm primes for intimate portraits, and 100mm Macro lenses for jewelry and rings. But If I had to choose one, I would go with the Canon 70-200mm f2/8 II.

This lens allows me to stay unobtrusive throughout the day for great candid moments. It’s also consistently my reliable lens when it comes to sharpness and focus performance. The compression and bokeh when you’re fully zoomed in at 200mm is difficult to duplicate with any other lens.

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What are the 6 MUST-HAVE lenses for wedding photography? Check out this article to find out.

If you are a SLR Lounge Premium Member, be sure to check out our Wedding Workshop for more wedding tips.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

26 Comments

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  1. Marriage Photography

    The Best Lenses for Wedding Photography. 50mm f/1.2 – 1.4. As Jasmine’s go-to lens, the Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens gives her the versatility she needs to shoot in a wide variety of conditions.35mm f/1.4. 85mm f/1.2 – 1.8. 70-200 f/2.8. 100mm Macro f/2.8. 24-70mm f/2.8. 50mm f/1.4.

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  2. Lee G

    Interesting to see what different photographers use.
    Macro lens comes in clutch for those detail shots. I rented a 70-200MM for an event and loved it. I liked being able to zoom in & stay out of the way during certain moments then go back in and get slightly closer to interact and direct for certain shots.

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    • Dave Lyons

      Like I said below… the tokina 100mm 2.8 macro might just be the best deal on any lens. Every time I use it, it just blows my mind, Super super sharp, colors and punch lack nothing. It’s a very nice portrait lens as well, i use it on anything I can. Although i’m not a huge fan of the tokina method of switching between mf and af. I’m just thankful that wasn’t one of my lens that got broke flying off the POS 3lt tripod I’d just bought… it’s too bad it screwed up my too D700 tho

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  3. A R

    Best = Essential ?
    We could all of us write an extremely pertinent description for about just any lens to justify it to be on a wedding
    (but manufacturer do that already !!!!).

    Who replies here (as i do) to that article ? :
    Did we really need those claims made in the article , don’t we have enough of our own experience to know what lenses are good at and what we/I need ?
    Also, what lens’ will remain in the photographers-bag when you take away his “BEST wedding lens” ? -Just crap, secondary, if not useless..?

    I will let myself fall into the “delicious” facility here to “share and comfort” my(or our?) need to be accepted in our(or only me? lol) never-ending thrive for good – no, better gear..

    I haven’t read all posts here (in response to what comes down to the theme “what lenses are best for weddings..”),
    but I did notice one who points out that, surely, (to be fully logic) one should perhaps specify for which occasion exactly in a wedding.. witch also should lead to : The time factor in a wedding (or any reportage).
    As ALWAYS and particularly in photography :
    All is FIRST about to do the right decision as to where one sets, and resets, or adapts, and nails down, but maybe one better “renounces altogether to”, or rather better does reset.. ..our
    CURSOR of COMPROMISE.

    My today’s (not tomorrow’s) “conviction” that I myself(!) minimally need, and hence are “best” “basically” for a wedding are :
    11-24mm and an optimal 24-70mm, each on a separate camera.
    Plus maybe a Portrait-lens, with an extension tube for macro (plus flash, reflectors, blablabla)

    Then, on the other extreme,
    ad a 3rd camera-body with a bag full of specialized primes, carried by an assistant..
    (Meaning that factors such as speed, weight, category of expected results, within finance, all lead to such variable imperatives, – and limitations, that the “best wedding lens” is of course indeed the best – provided it is used at what it does better then an other one in that context-. lol)

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  4. A R

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  5. Stephen Jennings

    I miss a lot of shots with the Sigma 35 on my d800 .. on the 750 it doesn’t seem to miss as often, but still, the only lens I ever miss shots with is the Sigma. I have not used it since getting the usb adapter but still, overall, I’m hesitant to use it.

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  6. David Wilkins

    I have the Sigma 35 art for Sony and I agree it is a beautiful lens but for me nothing can beat the Sony Zeiss 135mm 1.8 which I use in conjunction with the 35mm on a pair of A99’s

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  7. Cedric Labour

    the 35mm is a go to lens for me too!, sadly apsc, i almost always want to go wider! why im thinking my next buy would be the sigma 18-35mm, judging by critics it should be a good purchase!

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  8. Rohan Mishra

    Love this article. Great to see some amazing photographers sharing their favorite lenses. That makes me curious to know about their camera body as well ;-)

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  9. Colin Woods

    Great to see Sigma’s Art lenses in the list. Giant kilers.

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    • Hanssie

      Sigma has really changed the game in the recent years! Good for them!

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    • Colin Woods

      Yes, it wasn’t so long ago that their name was jokingly called an acronym for seriously inferior glass made for amateurs. There aren’t so many sigma jokes now with so many full time professionals having these in their bags. Serious competition is good news for us consumers.

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    • robert s

      I started with sigma lenses when doing weddings. all 2.8 ex lenses. the nikon version were twice and 3 times as much and it couldnt be it was twice or 3 times better.

      after buying my first used nikon 85 1.4 AIS, I realized why my images never had that pro feel and look. I was so disgusted with sigma. I was one of the few who balked when they released the 35 1.4 “ART”. pff..another gimmick I said. then the reviews came in. with my disgust and loathing them came admiration for doing something not on par with the OEM but surpassing them. the hardcore fanboys still wont consider sigma art worthy but its just stubbornness. notice all the sigma art lenses chosen.

      I salute sigma for the recent push for these amazing lenses. they outdo any lens by the OEM. dying for them to bring an 85 1.4 and a 50-80 f2 zoom.

      BTW AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS THIS BIG ISSUE OF THE TEXT JUMPING WHEN IM TYPING? the new design brought some good to it but you forgot to add the already good from the previous design.

      that 90mm TS shot would be perfect had he hit focus and not cropped the top heads.

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    • robert s

      cant delete the comment

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  10. Jody McNary

    Great Information!!

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  11. Kyle Stauffer

    Very cool to see how each style and game plan differs!

    Perhaps I need to get out of my comfort zone a little… but I tend to shoot a combo of 24-70/70-200 during the ceremony and rock the 35 1.4 Art and 85 1.8G combo throughout the reception. I have found the Tokina 100 macro meets the needs of fine detail as well.

    Thanks for the article!

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    • Hanssie

      Yes, me too. That 24-70mm is just so versatile, it’s easy to leave it on almost the entire day.

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    • robert s

      yes, its a good lens but makes one lazy because its “convenient” not versatile haha

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    • Dave Lyons

      the tokina 100 macro is my fav lens these days

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  12. Justin Haugen

    Great picks here!

    I’m really surprised there aren’t any 24 1.4 shooters. I went back and forth between 24 and 35 and realized the 24 was wide enough to be the widest lens I’d ever need on a wedding day, and that I could use it in the intimate style you would see with a 35 if you get close enough and be mindful of composing within the middle thirds and not at the edges.

    It definitely takes some practice but it has become a favorite for environmental portrait work.

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    • Mantas Kubilinskas

      I love my 24mm, but once I mastered 35mm It’s even better :)

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      We’re on the same page w/ you, Justin. We definitely favor the 24, though we are 24 and 50 shooters. And throw in an 85 and a 45 tilt.

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    • Derek Olson

      I agree.. I love the Nikon 24 1.4! When I use a 35mm I feel like I’m stuck in purgatory, where earth is 24mm and heaven is 50 or 58mm.

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  13. Pye Jirsa

    What a great article, loved reading about everyone’s insights into each lens and focal length.

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  14. Devin Robinson

    Love those lenses! Good insight from some great photogs! thanks guys!

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  15. Mantas Kubilinskas

    So excited!!! Super ultra duper amazing article Hanssie!

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