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I am interested in wedding photography. I currently have a 50mm f1.8 lens. I am going to purchase my first full-frame camera soon. I can only afford one lens right now, so I need to decide between body + 24-105 f/4 kit lens or body + 70-200 f/2.8. Which is the best choice ?

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    Equipment recommendations are generally not allowed, but in any case you should probably tell us what kit you have now and what you want. If you have an APS-C body already (something I've happily shot weddings with myself, BTW) then consider a cheap flash. Flash is an essential for wedding photography and the techniques of flash are very important. More important than the lenses, IMO. – StephenG Aug 17 '17 at 19:49
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    @StephenG I'd disagree with that. Flash can be important, but ultimately, not all weddings want flash usage. If they don't, then lenses are EXTREMELY important as they impact the ability to capture the shot in low light without a flash. – AJ Henderson Aug 17 '17 at 20:08
  • @aj-henderson I think perhaps you're looking at this from the perspective of shots in critical moments of the wedding service. However when I talk about wedding shooting I include the reception and other shooting around the wedding and for this I'd use flash extensively usually. YMMV of course. – StephenG Aug 18 '17 at 1:52
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    @StephenG - yeah, I'm not saying flashes aren't useful. They certainly are. I love my flashes, but in terms of what I'd recommend first, lens would be top, then flash. Flash is good for taking it to the next level, but there are jobs you can't do at all without a good lens. – AJ Henderson Aug 18 '17 at 2:59
  • Not to be qualified as a full fledged answer, but here you go. Check out Richard Barley on YouTube and Google. He is a professional wedding photographer. His workhorse lens of choice is 24-105 and he gives his reasoning behind it. He also uses 70-200 f4. Exactly the two focal lengths you are comparing. Worth hearing from people with wealth of experience and Richard is one such source. – insignum Aug 18 '17 at 17:45
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So I need to decide between body + kit lense or body + 70-200 f2.8. which is the best choice ?

Of the two, the EF 24-105 f/4L is the better choice, considering that you say you're interested in wedding photography. Presumably, that means that you'll be taking photos of people at close and medium distances, and a 70-200mm lens is just too long for that kind of thing.

However, both a full frame body and either of the lenses that you mention are pretty big investments. Make sure that you have a good understanding of what you're buying and how it'll work for you. Yours is a pretty basic question, which is fine, but it gives the impression that you'd benefit from more research before you start spending your limited funds. For example, it seems strange to limit your range of choices to just two lenses. Many photographers prefer a 24-70mm lens, for example. And you haven't mentioned which full frame body you're looking at; if you're thinking of one of the current 5D models, you might be better served by going with the lower budget 6D (or a used body) and spending more on lenses, lighting, etc. Don't limit your choices before you understand what you need, and don't spend your money before you know what you'll be getting.

  • At a push I guess the 50mm lens would work for closer-range shots, but I agree the 24-105mm would be my first choice instead of the 70-200mm. – Charlie Joynt Aug 17 '17 at 21:33
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Assuming you are looking at new cameras and lenses, you might want to consider buying second-hand and discover that your budget might cover an older full-frame body (say a 5D Mark II), the 24-105mm f/4 general-use lens and a 70-200mm lens (will the f/4 do, or do you need the f/2.8?) with some spare cash for a flash.

Along with the 50mm lens you should have a reasonable but basic kit bag. If you still have an APS-C body then you might want to hang on to that as a second body (with the 70-200mm) so you don't have to swap lenses.

  • You really need f/2.8 or faster for most weddings. Even if the ceremony is outdoors in daylight (and then you need some big flashes to fill the shadows) the reception rarely is. – Michael C Aug 18 '17 at 8:25
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I use an EF 24-105mm f/4 L to take more photos with my main FF camera than probably any other lens. But while it can be a good wedding lens when used with flash, it is not a great wedding lens. The f/4 maximum aperture is a bit too limiting to be your primary wedding lens. For that one of the 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms is better.

If you can't swing the cost of the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II, the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC is a very good alternative. While not quite as sharp as the new Canon, it is better than the original EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L (and my classic 24-70/2.8 is still very good - it's sharper than my 24-105/4) and it offers Vibration Compensation which is Tamron's version of IS. Sigma has announced a new stabilized 24-70mm f/2.8 ART lens that is supposed to be available in the USA on August 24, 2017. Until it has been in the wild long enough for real world reviews and tests to be done we won't know where it stands in relation to the others, but if it is anything like most of Sigma's recent ART lens releases it will be a great lens. Tamron is also expected to release a G2 (generation 2) version of their 24-70/2.8 in September 2017. The newer version will be compatible with Tamron's Tap In Console, their answer to Sigma's USB Dock that allows end users to update lens firmware and do detailed lens calibration via their own computer.

If you are going to shoot weddings you are pretty much going to need a 70-200mm f/2.8. You might could get by with an EF 135mm f/2 (phenomenal lens - especially for the price) and a good 1.4X extender/teleconverter for your telephoto needs, but by and large the two essential zoom lenses for wedding photography are a 24-70/2.8 (or a 16-35/2.8 + a 50mm prime) and a 70-200/2.8. Some wedding shooters only use fast primes (24, 35, 50, 85, 135, etc.) and that works too, but you will find it difficult to shoot weddings with an f/4 lens as your primary lens.

My advice is to get the best 24-70/2.8 you can afford and go from there.

I love my 24-105/4. It is a rock solid workhorse. It takes a beating and just keeps on going. It gives very good (but not great) image quality. It's performed in the pouring rain, when getting run over on the sidelines at sporting events, when being bled on, and in spite of being dropped on solid concrete. But it is not my first choice when I am shooting a wedding or other event where it is just too dark for f/4 to work. Then it is time for my 24-70/2.8 or my fast primes.

  • Wouldn't suggest Tamron 24-70 for professional event work. Focusing is not stable enough to be relied upon in critical situations. – insignum Aug 18 '17 at 16:54
  • @insignum I know more than a few wedding and event photogs that are more than happy with it. The forthcoming G2 version should be even better in that regard since the Tamron Tap-In Console will allow detailed AF calibration of the lens. – Michael C Aug 19 '17 at 4:14

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