3 Lenses To Spice Up Your Wedding Photography

If you’ve been anywhere near the wedding world, you will completely understand why the 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses are labeled as the work horses of wedding photographers.

Don’t own these work horses? Perhaps you have some primes then! Maybe a 35mm, 50mm or 85mm and a 100mm? Put them on 2 different cameras attached to your waist so you can go back and forth between a wide shot and a tight one? If you own any combination of the above lenses but have been looking for a way to spice up your shots, we’ve compiled a list of 4 uncommon lenses that may have never seen wedding work. 

Warning: Renting any of the below lenses may result in you receiving odd looks and getting extremely awesome photos. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

1.) Canon 200 f/2.0 L IS

The Canon 200 f/2 L IS and Nikon 200 f/2 AF-S ED VR II lenses aren’t for the faint of heart. You’d better pack your first aid kit too, because these lenses are SHARP.  Now I bet you’re saying, I’ve got a 70-200mm f/2.8, how much better can this lens be?  We’ll let you keep thinking that for now. The fewer people who know about how awesome these are, the more who will be scratching their heads about why there is just something better about the images you get with these lenses.

Both are equally good.  At 200mm though, these primes can be a bit tricky to shoot. That all ends once you see the jaw dropping bokeh and compression. They are so good you’ll be finding new up ways to use it. Table details at 200mm? Yes please! Downsides…they are a bit heavy, but you can handle it. We promise. If support is a major concern, grab a monopod to help you out.

Also, not that it really matters, but this lens is a conversation starter. Nothing says you’ve made it like a $6,000 lens that looks like it just dropped out of orbit off the Hubble telescope. Seriously, enough with the asinine analogies, just give this lens a shot! You can thank us later.

2.) Canon 11-24 f/4L & Nikon 14-24 f/2.8G AF-S ED

If you’re bored of the basic 24-200mm range covered by most wedding pros, the Canon 11-24 f/4L and the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8G AF-S ED will get you out of your comfort zone. These ultra-wides are perfect for scene setting photos and wide vistas. Nikon does have an edge here in the aperture department being an f/2.8 but the Canon trades speed for an insane 11mm full frame focal length.

These lenses are a ton of fun to shoot because you’ll constantly be amazed at how much you can cram into your shots. You’ll also marvel at the number of times you accidentally include your feet, or worse, your waistline, in your shots. 

Which takes me to my next point, the distortion.  Thankfully, you’ve got two choices on that front:

  • Shoot it properly by keeping your sensor perpendicular to the ground (i.e. level with no camera tilt).
  • Just embrace it and distort stuff on purpose. Fun feeling dance floor photos are perfect for an ultra-wide!

That really annoying guest who’s been making less than helpful photo suggestions all day? Set that lens at its widest setting and get close, really close 😉

3.) Tilt Shift Lenses

Ahh yes, the lenses that began the Instagram filter. Despite a period of reckless use from the wedding industry about 5 years ago, there is still a place for the tilt shift lens on the wedding day. Nothing is more therapeutic than slowing down to use manual focus and taking your time to compose a shot. Both the 24 & 45mm focal lengths are great. I’d recommend the 24mm if you’re going for the whole miniature wedding thing. The secret for that shot is to get a high vantage point. The 45mm for both Canon and Nikon is my choice for portraits. It’s close to the normal 50mm focal length and gives you some composition control. It’s also great for hiding downright ugly or distracting elements behind some pretty blur.

Now you’ve probably been reading about these lenses and enjoying these tilt shift photos but did you know wedding photographers actually use tilt shift lenses totally backwards? They were originally conceived so that you could correct for distortion and actually get MORE things in focus. I’m not saying you have to do this, but it would be a whole new thing to try, kinda like a bonus level for the tilt shift!

Some things you’ll want to know:

  • Use a tripod if you can, it will really help.
  • Be conservative on the aperture, don’t shoot it wide open and expect perfectly sharp results. You don’t have to go full tilt for every shot, subtlety is key.
  • Plan to practice a bit before your shoot so you’re familiar with what things do.
  • Review your images in the field to make sure you’ve got the things you want sharp actually sharp.

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