D700 Wedding Photography Questions

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by christopher_carille, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. Hi Everyone!
    I know the first answer I'll get is "Don't shoot weddings!" or "Leave it to professionals," but I am going to be doing a huge favor for a couple friends of mine by shooting their wedding in August. I've taken some advice already and am having them create a shot-list and assign members from each side of the family to corral people, and I will do a walk-around of the inn that the wedding is taking place at, with the bride and groom. I also will be bringing an assistant along to help with lens changes and set-ups, and will have scouted outdoors photo situations and an indoors alternative. Furthermore, there will be two other friends of the family (one from groom's and one from bride's) there that will be taking photos as back-up.
    So I have a couple questions...First, I will be using a D700 and I have a few lens choices. I would like to know what suggestions people have for a walk around out of the following: All Nikon, AF-S VR Micro 105mm f/2.8, 50 f/1.4 D, AF-S VR 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 G, and the AF-S 14-24 f/2.8
    Second, any suggestions as to where I should stand during the exchanging of vows? I ask because the last wedding I was at had the photographer set-up behind the priest photographing out. (I do plan to discuss more with the bride and groom)
    And lastly, since I normally am a nature photographer that shoots while on backpacking trips...any other suggestions outside of what has been mentioned already? Thank you in advance for any advice, I really do appreciate any help.
     
  2. you are actually leaving yourself in a bind with the lens choices. If you want to shoot wedding formals, you can probably get away with the 50, but if you have to back up further and there is a wall behind you... the 14-24 is too wide to shoot that kinda stuff. I would seriously look into renting a 24-70 for the day, or buying one, or look into any of the tamron or sigma alternatives. If budget is a concern, even a nikon 28-200 would do.
    There is no subsitute for a mid range zoom at a wedding!
     
  3. Leave the 70-300 at home. Get ahold of a good sigma or nikon 18-50 or 18-70 zoom.
    As for where to stand... A lot (80% plus) depends on the person performing the ceremony. The only consistency about them is their inconsistency. I've done Catholic weddings where if I had wanted to stand behind the Priest and shoot out... I would have been damned to hell forever and barred from ever shooting in that church again!
    Ask the bride / groom for input...but at the end of the day - the person performing the ceremony sits the rules and if you want cooperation and sucess - you follow their rules. Some will say it's up to you, others will tell you what is and isn't allowed and will give you guidelines to work in.
    Good Luck
    Dave
     
  4. I'll second Robert's point re- requiring some mid range focal lengths for people events like weddings. I also think renting a 24-70mm for your D700 is a wise choice, renting an additional flash unit might also be warranted if the indoor venues are particularly dark. You appear to have put plenty of forethought into your shoot. Hope all goes well.
     
  5. I agree the 24-70 would be perfect and get a majority of the shots. The 50mm 1.4 on the D700 is a nice full length portrait lens and you can use it for candid shots of small groups of people 2-3. If the lighting is not great the 1.4 will come in handy and allow for nice shots without flash. At least using fill flash in most situations is best though to keep from having shadows on people's faces.
     
  6. "but if you have to back up further and there is a wall behind you... " - your 14-24/2.8 Nikkor is perfect lens so you would not to have back up at all perhaps, unless you wish. You usually have to back up with much longer lenses to frame your subjects, but not with this wide lens.
    The 20-24 mm range of this lens is fully usable for weddings in small quarters and larger crowds. Since you have 50/1.4 Nikkor, and this wide lens, you are already set for the wedding. Of cource 24-70 would be better but is not necessary, if you operate your lenses properly, doing the hard work on framing and approaching the subject.
    Quality of pictures could improve with experienced use of flash(es) if allowed, but D700 should handle low light well.
     
  7. i will have to agree on the need for a medium zoom. the 14-24mm/50mm combo will do the trick but it will need a great amount of skill of framing ---- a lot of "leg work".
     
  8. I have done weddings with 24-70 only and it works fine, but.. it would have been nice with the 14-24 too for larger groups. I would not have signed up for the jobs without the 24-70, so why not rent one? And go for it! There are always a first time.. Have fun.
     
  9. first of all, that's a nice kit for nature photography, IMO. for weddings, not so much. probably the 50/1.4 is best out of the bunch you mentioned for walk-about. but if you're going to do the conventional wedding thing, you really will need the fast mid-range zoom people are talking about, too. as for where to stand during the ceremony, that brings up a second lens decision. i use an 80-200/2.8 D lens, so i can shoot from different vantages around the church, and still remain somewhat out of the picture myself. i doubt you can make the 70-300 work for you in that role, mostly b/c of the limited max aperture. since you have the opportunity to check out the venue with the couple, that would be your best opportunity to figure out how you're going to make your gear work for you.
     
  10. How much people photography experience do you have? If you have to ask lens questions and people photography isn't your area of expertise, you should not be doing this. It's like someone asked me to photograph an arctic fox for a cover of a nature magazine. No can do.
    If you really are going to do this, I would get the 24-70/2.8 zoom to use most of the time, with 105 used for close-ups. You can use the 50 for low light and for groups, the 14-24 for interior pics of the church but I'd avoid using the 14-24 a lot for people images even though this might be vogue - it's just tasteless. The gap between 50mm and 24mm is way too wide; in most weddings most of my shots are in this range. 24mm is too wide for people photography in general, and 50mm will put you in a situation where you won't be able to include important elements in the shot when working close. A 35mm prime would close the gap well enough if you don't want to spend the money for the 24-70. I have done all primes weddings but I have a fairly good idea of what is going to happen and when. This is something you also need to know. It's not sufficient to react to what you see; you need to be always in the right place.
     
  11. None of these lenses is ideal for wedding/event except for maybe 50 f/1.4. For weddings you need a 24-70 f/2.8 for group shots and a 85 f/1.4D for individual or couple portraits.
     
  12. The 24-70 would make life easier but you could get away with what you have if you are carefull. I would make the 50mm 1.4 the walk around lens and concentrate on what I can capture rather than worry about what I may miss. Take some time to make some really nice Bride and Groom portraits and while you are shooting the reception try get a shot of everyone that attends you don't need to make an individual shot of each person just make sure the everyone appears in a photograph. If you can try to get some shots of people milling around in front of the church before the ceremony.
     
  13. Where you position yourself during the ceremony itself will dictate the lens you'll be needing. You may first inquire with the officiating priest (and not the bride) on their policies regarding photographers shooting from the altar or standing directly behind them. If the ceremony is not in a church...say in a park/beach or some community hall, you may have a better chance of shooting more of the couples faces than their backs.
    Both the 24-70mm (or the 28-70mm) and the 14-24mm should serve you well. It's a good thing you already have your D700 though you may want to rent a D300 as a back-up or to mount your 14-24mm.
     
  14. FWIW, last weekend I was so affortunate being invited to an exceptional wedding ceremony and party. There was a very experienced photographer and his flash assistant, using on an EOS50D a 16-35/2.8L most of the time and a Sigma 50-150/2.8, don`t know if attached to another 50D. Every shot, including outdoors (nice sunny day), were taken with the flash head over the camera.
    During the ceremony the only lens I saw was the 16-35, and the photographer walked all around the altar at the right and left behind the priest. The flash assistant at the opposite simetrical side. I cannot imagine this kind of work without a zoom in this range, for sure many opportunities could have been lost without it.
     
  15. I greatly appreciate EVERYONE'S advice! Its pretty easy to see, after reading every response, that the 24-70mm would be the ideal lens choice for the wedding. Now I am left with a dilemma...I have yet to buy the 14-24mm, so there is the option of buying the 24-70mm before the wedding. I believe I'll have to rent both the 14-24 and the 24-70 to determine the final decision of which to buy. I do agree that the 24-70 would be a great portrait lens and ideal for the wedding/ceremony situation, but I will also be traveling to Belize and Honduras the next couple months and the 14-24 would be ideal for shooting the Mayan ruins, but after hearing the responses about the 24-70 that may have to be put on hold.
    I also am really glad to hear that I should discuss my limitations as to mobility around the alter, with the priest and not just the bride and groom. I had no idea that he/she would have a say. I'm sure the wedding I'll be attending in August will be more lenient as it will not be a religious wedding...I know I said "priest" above but I was unsure what to call the person at the alter.
    Jack ~ I think I may also look into renting a D300 for the day, as that would also make life a little easier.
    Ilkka ~ I know that jumping into wedding photography is probably the least forgiving field to start at, but I am just trying to do a couple a favor that otherwise would have no photos taken due to price. I am very humble, and know that I won't produce the same quality as a professional, and have told the bride and groom... but I do plan to take all the advice I can get and go into the wedding with a plan and flexibility to adjust...remember everyone starts out as an amateur, its the ones willing to take the risk and to work towards improving that eventually end up successful! :)
    Once again...THANK YOU ALL soooo much. Hopefully I will succeed in applying the advice given and produce some great shots for the couple. If so I'll have some nice posts in a couple months...or I'll be giving them my camera as a wedding gift! ;-)
     
  16. I took photos of a wedding over the Labor Day weekend last year. It was an outdoor wedding, but there were opportunities for close-ups before the ceremony inside a private home and afterwards at the dinner. I used my primes (20mm f2.8, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.4) and an 80-200 mm f2.8 zoom and was able to stand where I wanted (although I had to compete with guests). So if I was using a D700, I would mostly use the 35 and 80-200.
     
  17. Be careful with the 14-24 for photos of large groups. People toward the edges of the photo will look stretched out horizontally in an unflattering way. This is not a flaw of the lens; it's just what happens with an ultrawide.
    If you use the 14-24 for wide shots of the inside of the chapel, fine. But it's not a good idea for squeezing a large group of people into the frame.
     
  18. Hi Christopher, I have just had a very similar situation regarding shooting a wedding as a favour to a family member. I shot the whole thing over 2 days solely using a D700 with a 24-70 and can't recommend the combination highly enough.
    As an extra point I would definately advise bringing a flash unit as well. I brought along an SB900 and was so glad I did when I was told during the ceremony I was only allowed to be along side the registrar looking at the couple and out to the guests. The back of the room was a whole wall of windows and without the flash I would have struggled not to silhouette many of the shots.
    Good luck, have fun with it.
     
  19. Leave the 70-300 at home. Get ahold of a good sigma or nikon 18-50 or 18-70 zoom.​
    No. And no. The 18-50 and 18-70 lenses are designed to be used with DX camera, not FX cameras like the D700. Also, these lenses aren't fast enough for a dimly lit church, especially if the service bans flash. Forget the 18-70 and buy the 24-70 f/2.8 G. The 70-300 (if it's the VR version) would be good for catching some isolated shots from a reasonable distance or even from the back of the church. I'd keep it in the bag just in case.
    Now I am left with a dilemma...I have yet to buy the 14-24mm, so there is the option of buying the 24-70mm before the wedding. I believe I'll have to rent both the 14-24 and the 24-70 to determine the final decision of which to buy. I do agree that the 24-70 would be a great portrait lens and ideal for the wedding/ceremony situation, but I will also be traveling to Belize and Honduras the next couple months and the 14-24 would be ideal for shooting the Mayan ruins, but after hearing the responses about the 24-70 that may have to be put on hold.​
    There's no dilemma. The Mayan ruins have been there for a thousand years and they'll be there for another thousand years. Your friends' wedding happens only once. If you're not willing to give them your full commitment you should advise them to let someone else photograph their ceremony.
     
  20. 1.4/50mm lens is a great lens for almost anything that can be photographed. leave the zooms at home. they are slow, 2.8 is as fast as you can get. prime lenses have better image quality than zooms, they are lighter, smaller, and will allow you to move around easier. use the 50 on one camera, and a 28mm on another, and have a 90mm in your bag.
     
  21. As far as buying a new lens, buy the lens that actually want for you own photography. While I understand the concerns of others about needing the right lens for this wedding it is important to remember that Christopher is not selling himself as a professional wedding photographer and probably never intends to be one. Thousands of people shoot pictures at weddings for their friends often with basic equipment such as a D40 with a kit lens. Photographers managed to shoot weddings with TLRs and low ISO film.
     
  22. Hi,
    It will be a little hard on you to shoot wedding with your current lens lineup. You would end up changing lens a lot and might miss some important shots, not to mention the frustration of changing the lens every few minutes probably.
    Not too sure, if you have a second D700 to use as a second camera, each with different lens to cover different focal length.
    Since, shooting wedding is not your prime profession, I would say to rent a Nikon 24-85 (cheap) or Nikon 24-70 (not so cheap), and buy 14-24 (the lens you want for your real passion).
    My 2 cents.
     
  23. Hi Christopher,
    If you are in a dilema, why not consider the 24-70 lens, this is still an incredibly good lens for landscape photography. You could then look at a Pano bracket for your tripod to allow for a good panoramic shot on your trip. Check out the prices of the lenses on CameraPriceBuster.co.uk or .com the 24-70 is about £100 cheaper so you could potentially pay for half of the pano bracket with the change.
    Just a thought.
    You may get a really nice shot of the bride, and groom looking round (you can't resist a peek) as the bride walks to the alter from the back of the church. If you get down to almost floor level this may make an interesting moment.
    Also you could focus on the act of giving and receiving of rings, that is a fairly key moment in the ceremony. It doesn't need to be full head to toe shots, it may just be the hands. Just a few ideas. I'm sure you have loads more.
     
  24. I took photos of a wedding over the Labor Day weekend last year. It was an outdoor wedding, but there were opportunities for close-ups before the ceremony inside a private home and afterwards at the dinner. I used my primes (20mm f2.8, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.4) and an 80-200 mm f2.8 zoom and was able to stand where I wanted (although I had to compete with guests). So if I was using a D700, I would mostly use the 35 and 80-200.
     
  25. I took photos during my sister's wedding two weekends ago. I looked awfully silly, but my shots came out great (at least in my opinion).
    I rented the 24-70/2.8 and attached it to my D40+SB-400 combination. I wanted a "nice" lens to play with so I thought I'd treat myself to Nikon's best mid-range zoom. Even though it was on a DX body, there was only a couple times I wish I'd have had something wider and the 70mm zoom crop (105mm equiv. on FX) came in VERY handy several times. The 2.8 aperture came in handy a lot, especially during the reception where I wanted to stop action (although during dancing, I must confess, I had my 35mm/1.8 on the D40).
    My point is that the 24-70 makes a great wedding zoom with the 2.8 aperture and useable zoom range. You won't be disappointed. I rented mine for $109 for the week from lensrentals.com and had a very painless experience with them.
     
  26. Dan S -
    For a typical wedding - the 18-50 (F2.8 sigma) will be fine even on an FX body such as the D700. The 18-70 Nikon will also work just fine - since the medium length will be mostly for shooting portraits anyhow (with flash - never yet been told I couldn't use a flash for them).
    The 70-300 will be even less useful since it is a longer telephoto and slow lens speed - plus the Image Quality is not there on that lens... While the focal length is nice for standing in the balcony or back of church - the IQ just doesn't cut it. Much better bet is a 70-200 F2.8
    Dave
     
  27. your best bet is to rent the lenses you need for this gig but dont have: 24-70 and 70-200.
     
  28. Eric ~ I agree with you completely and plan on doing so. I have used both before and they are fairly inexpensive to rent for a day (which is all I need them for). Overall, after all the discussion, I have decided to stick with buying the 14-24....it will provide much more use to me outside of the wedding. I will focus on the wedding for the days that need be and then be back to my preferred work/shooting. Thanks again everyone for the help. The advice has been helpful and hopefully will translate in the shots taken.
     
  29. The 18-70 Nikon will also work just fine - since the medium length will be mostly for shooting portraits anyhow​
    A DX lens will force the D700 into 5 MP DX crop mode. I hope nobody ever orders a large print.
    (with flash - never yet been told I couldn't use a flash for them).​
    It's not a matter of permission. It's a matter of creative choices. Fast lenses make available light shots possible in dimly lit buildings.
    The 70-300 will be even less useful since it is a longer telephoto and slow lens speed - plus the Image Quality is not there on that lens... While the focal length is nice for standing in the balcony or back of church - the IQ just doesn't cut it. Much better bet is a 70-200 F2.8​
    No one disputes that the 70-200 f/2.8 G is the better lens for shooting a wedding. I mentioned the 70-300 because Christopher OWNS one. As far as the IQ of the 70-300 not cutting it, that a matter for debate. (Thom Hogan seems to be quite happy with his, and I remember Galen Rowell praising the older ED version of this lens.)
    I also find it curious that you claim that the 18-70 is plenty fast for a wedding but that the 70-300 is too slow. Both lenses have approximately the same maximum aperture range. How can one be too slow and the other fast enough?
     
  30. To play devil's advocate, aren't slower apertures less of a hinderance at shorter focal lengths and more critical at long focal lengths, given the minimum acceptable shutter speed (say, 1/30 for argument's sake)? Perhaps that's his point.
     
  31. I prefer to shoot nature too, but often have been approached to shoot weddings, and I enjoy that too.
    I use the D 700, SB 800, and a Tamron 28-200, Nikon 24-120, 60 F2.8 macro (for close ups of rings, etc), 85 F 1.8 and 105 AF DC F2, and depending on the layout of the Church balcony or loft I also have my 80-200 or 80- 400 AF D VR to take a long shot of the couple at the altar. If I have to shoot in tight spots then I will take my 20-35 F 2.8.
    I see no one suggested that you should be at the wedding rehearsal and have that opportunity to test your equiment and decide where you want to stand, when the B + G should walk slower, where you may want them to stand and face and where the other members of the wedding party whould stand and especially what they should do with their hands. I like the ladies holding their flowers at waist level, I like the gents with their hands behind them. It is also a good time to know who the main family members are that the B+G would want shots of, and if little kids are involved you can tell them how to walk and cue them as to what to do, like throwing rose petals, blowing bubbles or kisses, use thier cuteness to your advantage.
    It is also good to know what kind of lighting is in the place, I once had to request that the spotlights not be used, on another occassion the church was full of mirrors it was difficult to get a flash shot without getting a flash back from the mirrors, and at other times the flowers or planters in the church had to be moved around so it would not block or put in a way that it would enhance a shot.
    Just my 3 cents,
    Eb
     

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