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You are watching a free tutorial from Wedding Workshop | Photographing The Couple.
To view the entire course, upgrade to Premium or purchase it in the SLR Lounge Store.


Favorite Lenses Used For 10,000 Couples Portraits

Which lenses should you use throughout a wedding day?

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, has more to do with the specific look and style of imagery you are trying to capture than anything else. Some lenses lend themselves more to journalistic or environmental images while others are more appropriately used to capture traditional portraits. Whatever lenses you decide to pack, it is important to choose the right ones for the job.

You will also want to consider how much weight in gear you want to carry. When covering a 14-hour wedding, the last thing you want to do is lug around gear that you will not really need or use. We suggest taking no more than 3 lenses for a couples portrait session to allow you to move efficiently and think more creatively.

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If you don’t already own an arsenal of lenses and are considering which make and model of lens to buy, we recommend buying the best gear that you can afford without burying yourself in debt. As one could probably guess, we have found that high-end lenses deliver consistently sharper images, which saves time and energy in several ways:

  • Fewer shots to nail focus
  • Lower overall image count
  • Less culling time in post

To determine which lenses we use most, we looked at over 10,000 of our very own wedding day couples portraits and this is what we discovered:

Our top 3 lenses for wedding day coverage

35mm Prime: 28% of 10,000 images

Though it is a prime lens, the 35mm is great for a wide range of shots, from wide landscapes to medium portraits. Be careful, however, not to frame subjects toward the edge, especially when closer up, to avoid distortion.

Purchase our favorites from Canon, Nikon, and Sigma.

50mm Prime: 25% of 10,000 images

The 50mm prime is another great portrait lens that also can be used for wider and closer up portraits, but again, not too close. Like the 35mm, the 50mm lens will also exaggerate facial features and any lines or objects along the edges of the frame.

Purchase our favorites from Canon, Nikon, and Sigma.

24mm Prime: 23% of 10,000 images

This environmental portrait lens works well for wide landscapes. The exaggeration of objects toward the edges of the frame can be used to turn wider images into epic landscape portraits that allow the environment to wrap around the couple, especially when shot with the aperture wide open.

Purchase our favorites from Canon, Nikon, and Sigma.

[REWIND: HOW WE SHOT IT: USING OFF-CAMERA FLASH IN THE SHOWER]

Our runner-up lenses for wedding day coverage

85mm Prime: 10% of 10,000 images

Also known as a true portrait lens, the 85mm prime offers great compression and background bokeh at wider apertures. You can also stand closer for more intimate portraits because the 85mm does not distort the image along the edges like some of the wider angle lenses.

Purchase our favorites from Canon, Nikon, and Sigma.

70-200mm Telephoto: 8% of 10,000 images

With a great zoom lens comes great versatility. The 200mm focal length works wonders for environmental compression shots, making the background appear much closer than it actually is. Shooting farther away can also be beneficial for taking candid portraits, as the photographer is physically removed from the scene and the zoom and compression still allow the viewer to feel that they are in the moment with the couple.

Purchase our favorites from Canon, NikonSigma, and Tamron.

90mm Tilt-Shift: 4% of 10,000 images

Perhaps more than any other lens, the tilt aspect of the tilt-shift lens literally uses focus to direct the viewer’s attention to the subject. While a shallow depth of field from other lenses with similar focal lengths and apertures also use a limited focal plane to draw focus, the tilt effect further minimizes the sharp areas of the image, and the soft look of the image is perfect for wedding day couples portraits.

Purchase our favorites from Canon and Lensbaby.

This article relates directly to a video from our Photographing the Couple workshop, where you can learn how to pose, light, capture, and post-produce creative and inspiring couples portraits just like those that you see above. Upgrade to SLRL Premium now to enjoy full streaming access to this workshop and many others in our extensive library!

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Wedding Workshop | Photographing The Couple