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by Aditya

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I am new to photography. I have Canon 1000d (with 18 -55 mm lens). My basic interest is wedding photography.

I am planning to get a prime and a telephoto lens. So, my dilemma is:

  1. Should I go for 50mm f/1.8 or 50 mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8

  2. For a telephoto zoom... should I consider 55-250mm IS??

kindly suggest.

ps: Please note that I am mainly interested in shooting weddings....

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Take a look at the following article, it provides some pretty good info on your question: weddingdocumentary.com/for-photographers/… –  jon2512chua Mar 27 '11 at 13:07
    
I am no expert, but I have not so good experience with 50mm f/1.4 for weddings. To cover 3-4 people, you have to be standing away. And you don't get enough time to rearrange yourself because everything happens so quickly. But if they are posing for you, 50mm is a good pick. –  mixdev Sep 4 '11 at 23:48
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The main problem here, is that wedding photography REQUIRES some of the most expensive equipment available to get results that the industry requires. The barriers to entry of this type of photography are higher then many other types. I would rent/steal till you get the funds necessary to jump all the way into wedding photography - and spend the big bucks! –  dpollitt Sep 20 '11 at 21:06
    
@dpollitt As per my response below, I do not agree that it REQUIRES it. However I do agree it makes life a lot easier and if you can afford it, do it. –  Mike Jun 8 '12 at 8:54
    
@Mike - As the question asked they are "mainly interested in shooting weddings". You shot a wedding as a guest, this is not the same thing. I've added comments to your answer with details why I disagree with you. –  dpollitt Jun 8 '12 at 13:17

11 Answers 11

I'd (strongly) consider renting a lens or two:

  1. Try them out and figure out what works for you.
  2. You can afford to use better lenses than you can afford to buy right now.

Remember that even though you're just starting out at this, and may not have the money to buy the best lenses, the people getting married will only (we hope) be doing this once. At least in my opinion, when you're shooting a wedding, it's a moral obligation to turn down the work unless you're honestly prepared to do the job right.

Along with the lenses, I'd point to having a spare camera body as essential for a wedding. If nothing else, I'd pick up an older film body and at least a half dozen (or so) rolls of something like Vericolor (film specifically intended for portraits). Even if you're not as proficient with it, having something to ensure you don't miss truly crucial shots is a lot better than nothing (and you can pick up mid-range film bodies really inexpensively any more). Again, you might consider renting a spare body instead, at least for the first few times.

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I've never rented from lensrentals.com, but they have a fantastic blog. :-) –  khedron Sep 20 '11 at 1:27

I can see that your budget is rather low. But if weddings are in question it would still be much better to get one of the first two zooms.

Zooms:

  • EF 24-70/f2.8 L USM lens - this is the perfect wedding lens with excellent sharpness and contrast, but lacks IS
  • EF 24-105/f4 L IS USM lens - the downside of this one is that it needs a bit more light than the first one, but has a great IS function, which makes it comparable; exposures will be longer but IS will make sure they're sharp
  • as a third option I'd suggest the EF-S 17-55/f2.8 IS USM lens - very sharp but non-pro lens (non L); prices somewhat similar than previous two; this is a strictly cropped factor lens
  • as the backup option (in case you're really tight on money) I'd suggest the EF-S 15-85/f3.5-5.6 IS USM lens which costs less (about half the money compared to the first one), but it produces rather great photos for its cost; since you're using 1000D I guess this is the lens for you; not exactly a wedding lens but still very good value

Prime

To complement indoor wedding happening it would be great to complement one of upper lenses with the widest open made-for-portraits lens EF 85/f1.2 L II USM. Huge glass, but it may be very much out of range for you.

Of those primes that you mention I'd go with EF 85/f1.8 USM. It will give your subject a bit more room (on your camera this is actually a 136mm lens) and the lens is still fast enough for indoor portraits.

But I wouldn't recommend buying 55-250 because of its rather low quality. After a while (when you earn enough) you'll rather get a pro EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM lens if you find out you actually need it. A 24-105 zoom may be enough for what you'll need.

Optimal single lens solution for starters like yourself

There's also one single lens that you may very well consider (and suits your camera and to some extent also your budget) and that's the EF-S 18-200/f3.5-5.6 IS. It has huge zoom range but it performs quite well despite this huge zoom range. It also doesn't have USM which means it will focus a bit slower, but therefore it also costs less. Since its IS is very good this means that even though it doesn't open as much as others, it will be possible to make good shots even inside. For a person getting into wedding photo this will be it. It's very wide for those group shots and whole scene shots, and also very narrow with IS that will produce satisfactory portraits. It costs about 600$ but you could get away with a single and very versatile lens that is much better than the 55-250 on the longer end. Much better. It won't be as sharp as your 85 prime (at same focal length), but you could work with this single one for some time before earning enough money to buy yourself better ones.

One last opinion

If you're mainly shooting wedding photography and if you do/will get paid for it, then I would suggest you buy yourself a great lens. You will earn money with it and the better images you get out of it, the more satisfaction your clients will get and more business will be there for you (if you can also make great intriguing photos). It will definitely pay itself off in rather short time. It all depends on the amount of weddings you shoot. I know that a wedding photographer in my country costs anywhere from 400€ and up. For about 800€ you get very excellent results and higher prices then depend more on prominence and photographer. But the difference between 400€ and 800€ is sometimes staggering.

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The lenses you have mentioned, every single of them costs more than twice the price of both lenses hes interested in. His budget is around 400$ for two lenses where each of your suggested lenses are between 800$ - 1400$. Also he has mentioned hes using a crop body (1000D), so please make sure you read the question carefully before answering "if you use one". –  fahad.hasan Mar 27 '11 at 12:35
    
@ShutterBug: I removed that afterwards yes. And I did provide a few less expensive lenses in the recommendation and an opinion he should consider. –  Robert Koritnik Mar 27 '11 at 12:48
    
If the EF 24-70/f2.8 L USM was perfect, it would include IS! –  dpollitt Sep 20 '11 at 21:03

As your question is very subjective, I'll refrain myself from suggesting any other lenses. It seems you're in a tight budget, so considering those, 50mm f/1.8 and 55-250mm IS is the best deal for you. But both of these lenses are not ideal weeding lenses and more specifically I'd not recommend 55-250mm IS to anyone other than who are in a very very tight budget.

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Thanks!!I am just starting out. So a prime in the beginning will do. But I can save up for a better zoom lens. –  PRK Mar 27 '11 at 11:47
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Keep in mind that you can always rent the lenses you need and that way you can also try out a few lenses before making your decision to buy one. –  fahad.hasan Mar 27 '11 at 12:02
    
ShutterBug: to be honest I don't know whether it's possible to rent lenses in our country. It would definitely be very unusual. –  Robert Koritnik Mar 27 '11 at 13:50
    
@ShutterBug: I just wanted to say that renting of lenses may be unusual in some countries or even unavailable. Who rents out lenses anyway? Photo-shop? Resellers? Who? –  Robert Koritnik Mar 27 '11 at 14:33
    
@Robert Koritnik Lens rental services aren't that uncommon in countries such as America or Australia (where I'm from). There are web-based companies that specially deal in lens rental, and there are also camera shops that rents out equipments as well. I don't think ShutterBug's advice is irrelevant even though where prk does not have any camera rental services, as it may benefit any future readers of this question. –  jon2512chua Mar 27 '11 at 17:32

The previous comments very nicely describe the many technical characteristics, benefits and deficiencies, of these very useful lenses. I want to add a comment from a more abstract level. Ask yourself what sorts of photographs you will have to take and what sort you may want or like to take.

You have to have the ability to take superior portraits, individuals, couples and groups, both large and small. You should get the sharpest lens you can manage for these shots. You are likely to to shoot some artistic compositions in natural light and low light, too. For example, imagine shooting a portrait in the light of a large stained glass window, or catching the lights reflected off the water.

You also will shoot large groups, e.g., multiple whole families. For that, you should have a quality wide angle with a flat field of view. For many years, my primary lens was a Nikkor 35mm, a rather expensive lens in its day. Of course, it worked well for sizable groups, but, also, I learned how to get close enough to people to get good close-in results with it. That's a social, not a technical skill, and you should appreciate the extent to which such skills underlie your technical decisions. You may shoot such large groups or shoot in such confined spaces that you'll need a 24, but such a lens is not likely to be worth it for you as you begin. Just avoid such shots. Similarly, I hardly ever used a telephoto, just a 105 for portraits, but I expended effort to make a telephoto unnecessary for me.

When you're trying to capture dynamic events, dancing, partying, so forth, you have to be able to get a well-framed shot quickly, thus, a zoom is invaluable. Nevertheless, you can always resort to post-production to enhance the photos you manage to get. Post production takes time and costs you money, however.

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While the 85/1.8 is a great lens, I'd suggest something shorter for a first prime, 85mm is quite a tight focal length on your camera. Which means one of the fifties. Personally I don't consider the 50/1.4 worth the price premium over the 1.8 version; I've had one but sold it and later got the 1.8.

For the tele zoom lens you are quite frankly in a bit of a bind. I'd not want to touch indoors tele photography with a barge-pole if all I had was a slow (ie. non-f/2.8) zoom. IS is well and good in and of itself, but quite useless for people photography in low light; IS freezes camera shake but does nothing at all to freeze a moving subject! So - in my opinion it's a 70-200 f/2.8 (or equivalent; perhaps a 50-150mm f/2.8) or nothing. Anything slower forces you to use a flash. Do you have one? The internal flash will not be enough! As a budget(ish) two-lens setup I'd look at a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 as a normal zoom paired with a Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 as the long zoom. (Yes, I know it may exceed your budget.) Plus an external flash, a Canon 430EX at a minimum, 580 if possible. Throw in the 50/1.8 and you should be prepared for most situations.

And, frankly, if you are going to charge people money for wedding photography, as opposed to doing it as a hobby, you absolutely have to have a second camera body. Just in case the first one fails for some reason - the advantage is that you can have a different focal length on each body and not have to waste time changing optics in the heat of battle. A wedding is one of those things that absolutely cannot be re-shot if you mess up the photos then and there.

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I realise you've asked about lenses and you're on a tight budget, but to emphasise something Staale S mentioned, strongly consider an external flash such as the 430EX or the 580X!

Regardless of the lens you use due to the nature of their architecture, many wedding venues (churches especially) have large areas of shadow which will require artificial lighting.

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I have the 24-70f2.8l and its is the best lens I have, I use it for everything, I also bought the 100mml2.8 and that is great to, but for you to just start out, even use the lens that came with your camera.. I have the canon 60d and canon xsi for backup.

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You need to make a list of the shots you want to get and then break down how you can achieve these shots, thinking about this up front is going to allow you to come up with work arounds for not having ideal lenses. You should maybe visit the venue where the wedding is to be held to help with this. After this you have a better idea which lens is going to be good for you right now. The 18-55 kit lens you have is probably not going to give great image quality but can still be useful outdoors so on what sound like a very tight budget I would probably go for one or two primes if you can afford it. The 55-250mm lens on a crop body isn't a good focal range for weddings so I would recommend you stay away from that one. In addition to your kit lens your going to at least need a 50mm prime. This is probably the minimum you can get away with and go for the widest aperture you can on this lens because a lot of wedding photography tends to be indoor low light, using the kit lens for wide angle group shots they're going to have to be outdoors in good light. If you can possibly afford it I would also go for a 24mm f/2.8 prime for the group shots and not have to rely on the kit lens at all. Cheaper smaller aperture zoom lenses with IS are not good for weddings in my experience as you are photographing people who move about so faster lenses are always better.

If you can't hire lenses where you are you may consider looking at second hand lenses but if you do make sure you get these from a dealer where you can make sure they are good before you buy not from the internet.

The best single lens for weddings has to be the 24-70 f/2.8L or for crop bodies like your 1000D the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM is also good. These are both probably out of your price range for now but are the ones to save up for if your serious about wedding photography.

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Ok, you need a better camera for wedding. And you need more money for the lenses. The dim light, tight spaces and moving subjects forces you to have a professional, full frame camera. However I will not enter in details since the others already touched these points above.

Considering the above (IOW the lens bellow work also on FF) I would recommed:

  • Canon 50mm F/1.8 - Very good as a starting point. You can use it also on FF, very cheap (the best price/performance ratio around, very good on dim light. It is a little long on crop sensor tough.
  • Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC - It is ~ 1000€ but it is better than Canon 24-70 (Mk I) and it has also a stellar Image Stabilizer (VC - Vibration Control in Tamron's terminology) giving you 3 stops lower. With your camera be sure that you'll need it. If you cannot afford it, you can buy Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 which is a little longer, doesn't have IS ( ;-( ) but it is one of the best deals arround. But beware F/2.8 is a little slow (!) for your camera in indoors in which the weddings are happening.
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For what it's worth, I did shoot a wedding once-upon-a-time, when I was just starting to get into photography, with my Canon EOS 350D, the crappy plastic EF-S 18-55mm kit lens, and for some shots, the equally crappy EF 75-300 f/4-5.6 USM III.

I wasn't the main photog, I was just a guest. But having been asked to just take some other, fun, photos, just followed him around a bit and got 'in' on the shots he was taking with his 5D mk II & 24-105L. I also just took randoms of my group of friends there at the reception, where the main photog was elsewhere.

But you know what? It's my photos that they have in the picture frames on their walls and on their mantlepiece now... :)

I'm not saying it's the best, but it can be done on the cheap cheap. :-)

However, if you want some nice portrait shots, you'll want a lens with a large aperture that does a nice narrow depth of field. As someone who has just migrated from APS-C to full frame, I'm only too aware of the differences between the two now. Most people would say 85mm is a great portraiture lens. And it is...on full frame. On an APS-C body, such as your 1000D, it will appear quite 'long' and you'll find yourself having to get back quite a lot just to frame the image you like it. My MOST used lens was/is my EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. It equates to 80mm on full frame, which is very nice. A nifty fifty will allow you some great low-light shots of the happy couple whilst blurring the background nicely and will be a lot sharper than the kit 18-55 @ 50mm. Whilst I have the f/1.4 version - I'm sure there's nothing wrong with the f/1.8 version either, which can be had for less than £100. A real bargain of a lens...

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I voted this down. The reason being, as a guest, taking shots "here and there" or "randoms" is not the same thing as being the relied upon consistent photographer. This is where many inexperienced wedding photographers really show that they are amateur. I'm not saying your shots weren't great, or that the couple cherishes them. I'm saying that using that equipment in varying wedding reception halls and churches will not be adequate. It simply won't hold up to the demands necessary for quality professional wedding photography. –  dpollitt Jun 8 '12 at 13:10
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...continued: You might get some great "artistic" shots that are toned nicely or look good in black and white with grain, but overall, anyone would miss important key shots and pieces of the day with equipment like that. Not to mention that the quality from those lenses isn't really professional IQ. –  dpollitt Jun 8 '12 at 13:15

Wedding is a special occasion and you should not really skimp on the lenses. If you are just getting into wedding photography, find the best lens you can, rent it out for a day(for a relatively cheaper price e.g. in US borrowlens.com/ziplens/local brick&mortar stores).. and use the money you get from shooting weddings to buy the lens you want.

Which lens you get depends on the photographer, I've seen awesome wedding pics with ultra wide angle lens and with telephoto.

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