Wedding Photography Gear Setup

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by michael_knight|1, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Hi guys,
    I was asked to take wedding photos of my friend. It's considered my first that I'll get small compensation for. I have the following equipments in my arsenals:
    • Sony A700 (not full-frame)
    • Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8
    • Sony Fisheye 16mm
    • Minolta 50mm F1.4
    • Minolta Flash 5600 HS D
    I dont think that's enough for wedding photos. So, I'm thinking to rent 2 more equipments:
    • Sony A77 (unfortunately, A850 full-frame is rented on that specific day)
    • 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM
    I have the following questions to you all:
    1. what do you think I need to setup my gears combo?
    • if I could get my hands on A850, I'd pair A850 with 24-70mm, and A700 with 70-200 (any comment?)
    • but if with A77, should I pair A77 with 24-70mm, and A700 with 70-200?
    • which lens will get used more often?
    2. where should I attach my flash?
    • should I attach the flash to the 24-70 or 70-200?
    3. when do you normally use the 70-200mm? (is it worthwhile?)
    4. I'm thinking to leave behind the 50mm, but bring along the Fisheye. with the 1.5x, the curve is not too severe, and it may be useful in very short distance. (any comment?)
    Thanks a bunch for your input
  2. Ranuff, be prepared or an onslaught of comments suggesting you not doing this job and don't take them the wrong way.
    Your first gig should not be a friend's if you can avoid it. If you can't get out of it, do what you can to get a 2nd shooting
    gig beforehand so you have a little experience beforehand. Make sure you have a back up flash unit. If your local shop
    doesn't have equipment you need, check online sources. Many people on this forum use and recommend use of those
    rental services. We need more info on the venues to know if the 70-200 is worthwhile. If you are stuck at the back of a
    church, yes. If not it probably isn't critical and I would spend the money on getting an extra flash. Practice with your
    flash tons beforehand! Including use of fill flash outside. Newbs often forget how important that is. Absolutely shoot in
    RAW. And if you want to do your friend a real favor, help them pay for a pro who has done this before rather than risking
    your friendship and their wedding photos. Still bring your camera and take some shots like candids and detail shots.

    For leaving lenses why ever leave ones behind unless you are traveling and don't have room. The 50 1.4 will likely be
    your best friend with it being so fast. If you are stuck in dark rooms where flash isn't allowed. People have shot whole
    weddings with a 50mm. A fish eye, not likely o be nearly as useful. For very short distance, what are you shooting with
    it? Getting ready shots? Unless it is of the whole scene the distortion may be problematic. You don't want to use a lens
    like the 16mm for a head shot, the nose will look very big.
  3. 1. Definitely the first option is best. But if not, I'd pair the A700 (your most 'familiar' camera) to the 24-70mm and the A77 withe the 70-200mm. The 24-70mm will get the most use. However, if it were me, rather than rent a 70-200mm, I'd rent a zoom in the 17-55mm range.
    2. Flash should go with the 24-70mm (or 17-55mm if you get one).
    3. I use a long tele for ceremony shots, given enough light, and for sniping candids, as well as intimate/close-up images of the couple so you don't have to stand on top of them. If a dark, church wedding, I'd much rather have wide aperture primes. Whether it is worthwhile for your wedding depends on the ceremony venue.
    4. The curvature on the fisheye is still distinctive, even with a cropped sensor camera. I'd still consider it a specialty type lens, and not to take the place of a wide angle at all. If you don't rent the full frame--that is where you are lacking.
    I would be planning to rent a back up external flash.
  4. well, actually it's not exactly my friend. a friend hooked me up to this. so I actually never met the B&G.
    they have 2 sets of weddings. the first one, on earlier date, where they engaged a pro (I guess). the 2nd one (a week apart), it's a smaller set of wedding. and it's more towards different side of family. so, on this 2nd ceremony, I guess they don't want to spend big bucks for pro again. not even church ceremony, I think.
    in this part of the region, ppl live in small condos (like 1200-1500 sq-ft). the morning session will be at the groom's parent's place. I'm afraid if the distance between sofa & TV wall is too narrow, my 24mm cannot capture. worse if the sofa was already against a wall. But, I hear you on the concern with fisheye. I never planned to take portraits with it. it's just for some group photos (like groom & all bride's maids or bride with all the groom's men all cramped in a sofa) in case my 24mm is not wide enough. and I'll only use it as a last resort.
    typical local scene here when the groom has to do crazy things to fetch the bride in a narrow corridor (like 2 meters wide only). so this could be when I need fisheye (1.5x) to capture whole scene.
    thanks for the 70-200mm input. I'll find out more about the dinner venue. I doubt it'll be useful in the morning session, as it'll be only indoor in small cramped space.
    your point taken for the 50mm. what if flash is always allowed? do you still see it being useful, as I have 24-70mm?
    Thank you very much
  5. that is a good point Nadine.
    hmm, maybe if I can rent Zeiss 16-35mm F2.8, it'll be more useful than 70-200mm? then I don't need to bother with fisheye. why didn't I think of that?
    do you ever use 70-200mm for wedding dinner? ever find it useful for the dinner event?
  6. Ranuff, I love the bokeh I get on my 50 1.4 and even more on my 135 2.0. It just isn't the same on my 24-70. I use the
    24-70 when doing group portraits and have the lighting with flash just right at a certain distance and "zooming in with my
    feet" will effect how strong the flash is. Plus even when flash is allowed sometimes capturing the scene in natural light is
    still nice. I get your concern about the bride in a tight corridor, but frankly if you are taking a shot of her that close up with
    that fish eye she will look distorted, and most brides I know don't want a shot like that. And the rule i recently learned from
    rick sammon is when you think you are close enough, get closer. I found myself in post always cropping in closer. Better
    to just do that in camera that day. The emotions you capture close up are often more powerful shots. Now I am not saying
    physically get closer, but rather use a longer focal length. For moments like that you dont need full body shots. And for
    your group shots I still wouldn't use ithe fisheye It will make the people on the ends look funny. Instead don't shoot them
    all in the tiny space or work with levels. Some sitting on the couch, some on the floor and some standing. People just in
    a straight line won't be a very flattering shot, especially all squished on a couch, and a fish eye will just make it even less
    flattering. Fish eyes/wide angle zooms I use for specific purposes, ie from the back of the church to get the whole scene
    as the bride walks up the aisle, reception hall shots showing the whole venue set up, dance shot with groups of people as
    the distortion kind of gives the image a sense of motion, or group shots of over 100 people in a small space and with low
    ceilings keeping me from taking the shot from above allowing the crowd to be deeper and looking up. The nice thing
    about the 50mm and higher is that the scene looks more accurate to what we naturally see. So if you are using a prime,
    zooming out isn't an option on the lens. You step back as best you can, or recompose the shot rather than taking a
    distorted shot.

    Is the dinner just food or is there more to it? Having the longer focal lengths to get candids and speeches can be extra nice. But the extra flash is way more important than the 70-200
  7. I'm not saying the 70-200mm won't be useful. You do need to find out about the other venues.
  8. thanks guys,
    so if I were to only rent:
    • A77
    • 16-35mm F2.8
    where would the flash be more useful on? 16-35mm? or 24-70mm?
    I'm guessing maybe 24-70mm... feel free to correct me...
    if by any chance I could get my hands on A850, I'd think the best lens for the A850 is the 16-35mm.
    Thanks again
  9. First you need to realize that if you take compensation at all you go into a professional catagory which opens you up for law suit. I would suggest by your comments - "using a fish eye for groups" That you have never used a fish eye - you cannot use this for formals unless you are want to get some funky look which anyone on the edge is going to be 3x their size. While I am all for having people get into this business - I cringe when I hear people like you ask this most basic questions which has disaster written all over it.
    There was a simlar thread on antoher forum and not one of the photographers photos came out in focus - he had forgotten to use a single focus point and the camera picked the wrong spot. While I have no idea what your level of experience is - I would encourage you to understand that you shouldn't shoot a wedding without liablity insurance - especially in someone's home.
    You shouldn't shoot a wedding if you have to ask what lens you should use. You shouldn't shoot a wedding - even a second wedding if you don't know how or where to use a flash - these are simple questions you should know if you shoot a wedding. You would be better off getting point and shoot and photographing the wedding for free.
    While I am all about feeling supportive of photographers - I have real issues in suggesting anything but don't do it... I believe that it is unprofessional to suggest to anyone to go shoot a wedding when they have no experience.
  10. My first hesitation to what you're trying is that you're renting the A77, a camera, I'm assuming, you're unfamiliar with. Learning the operation of a new camera on the fly, especially at a wedding, which can't be reshot, has its risks (if the A77 is your only option then rent it several days in advance and practice with it A LOT). It would be better if you could rent another A700, if one was available, so there'd be no learning curve.
    Also, I'd leave the fisheye at home unless your customer has a very large sense of humor or you're photographing clowns.
    Scope out the wedding location in advance, if possible, to see if you're more likely to need a telephoto or a wide zoom, though ideally I'd suggest you rent both a wide angle, like a 10-20, and the 70-200 (which can come in handy for tight crops at a distance).
    Also don't forget macro shots of the ring--can any of your lenses focus close enough or do you also need to add a macro to your list?
  11. I shake my head. Posts like this make me wish i hadn't renewed in October......
  12. Ranuff, you are still asking which to put your flash on. this disturbs me. Frankly if you don't have with you at least two
    bodies you are comfy on, two lenses of normal focal range, and two flashes you are comfy on, you shouldn't take this gig
    or any other for that matter. Gear fails, plain and simple. Youmust have redundancy built in. Even if this is not the big
    affair it still will be important to the bride and groom who you should meet beforehand for both your sake and theirs, and
    sooner rather than later. You need to be honest with them with your experience level, get a contract signed, or else you
    are just asking to be sued. But just to be clear if you decide to still go ahead with this gig, which I think is Ill advised, you
    at a minimum need to rent a second body and second flash. Those two things are FAR more important than more
  13. I guess you have a valid point from redundancy point of view. Thanks for reminding me.
    in most weddings I attended to (as a guest), I saw their wedding photographers with only single flash and 2 camera bodies. and those are the pros, paid thousands of $. so it kinda makes me wonder...
  14. They also may have pocket wizards being tripped by the camera. So sometimes it looks like I have no flash on, but I
    have the flash off the camera. Also, did you then go and look at their gear bags to see if they had extra flashes with
  15. I have a camera too. Can I be a photographer? :)
    Really, the obsession with "gear" synthesizes precisely why this (or any other non professional person contemplating shooting a wedding) shouldn't do it. Timing, anticipation, knowing your equipment well (and knowing how to get the best results from it) are far more important. There are no redoes in a wedding.
  16. Given you don't actually know the bride and groom and are getting paid for this, without any previous wedding photography experience, I am also dubious about the wisdom of taking this job for money. I would be less dubious if you took the job for no money (for experience), with the clear understanding that you do not guarantee any results. Even if you did this, there are better ways of breaking into the wedding photography field, with less risk. Just because the event is the couple's 'second' event, I would not assume they will not care if you don't live up to their expectations.
    Still, I am just going to answer your questions and leave it at that. If you rent the cropped sensor body with the 16-35mm, I'd put the flash on the 16-35mm body. On a cropped sensor camera, even the wide end of this zoom may not be wide enough in the cramped hallway scenario. Again--you might use the fisheye, but you are definitely going to get distortion still, so be very careful how you place your subjects in the frame. I've photographed Asian weddings with similar scenes--the groom 'picks up' the bride at her room at her parents' house, in narrow hallways.
    I'm sure the professionals you've seen have extra and back up gear nearby. Again--you need a back up external flash.
    You still don't know about the rest of the venues?
  17. "be prepared or an onslaught of comments suggesting you not doing this job.."
    Haha he wasn't wrong! But of course this is to be expected in this forum. You can skip past condescending and unnecessary remarks like Robert's above.
    Judging by the equipment you have already aquired, I'm guessing you are a somewhat experienced photographer. Don't let people scare you off, as long as you manage the couple's expectations properly (and are charging less than a pro), just go for it.
  18. If you're shooting APS-C I would be looking for an APS-C standard zoom. From my experience, mixing 35mm/full-frame lenses on APS-C doesn't work very well, except for the odd prime. So I'd be looking at something wider. The 16-35/2.8 is great on 35mm, but is a bit of a waste on APS-C. Just get a 16-50/2.8 or similar (there are louds out there). Don't skimp on that lens, as it's the one you'll likely use most, so get it right. Similarly, as others have mentioned, if you're a prime shooter a 35/1.8 is cheap and easy to find.
    I'll leave the heckling / abuse for others on here, as they generally seem pretty good at that from what I've read ;-)
    If you want any more specific system advise I can likely help as I do shoot a-mount and have for a long time.
  19. Matthew , just for the record, I'm a she not a he ;) also I have found that just because people have lots of gear doesn't
    mean they know how to use it properly. I teach private lessons and once had a student with a 70-200 2.8 is L series and
    he didn't know about aperture or shutter speed and had been shooting on the green rectangle setting. I am not saying
    this is the same story with the OP. You just can't make any assumptions of experience based on gear. Another wedding I
    was at a guest had a 5dmkii she was shooting with. She told me it was her first big camera, by which she meant her first
    slr. She too had it on the green rectangle auto setting.
  20. "I'll leave the heckling / abuse for others on here, as they generally seem pretty good at that from what I've read ;-)" ------- Ditto from me.
    I use a fisheye at just about every wedding. I don't use it a lot but find most younger clients like the effect on a few shots. For instance I do table shots where I hold the camera over the table and ask everyone around it to look up into the camera. It can be useful at other times too, but keep it's use limited. To make this work well you really want a fisheye in the 10mm range.
    I also think you will need something wider than 24mm on an APS-C body. 16mm should be enough, but in a small room you will likely be wishing for something even wider at times. Renting or buying a 10-20mm zoom would fix the problem, but as you get wider you will get perspective distortion of heads/faces near the edges. Usually I find It safer to not go wider than 17mm except when I really need the wider view.
  21. Hi Ranuff,
    Once a wedding starts, it goes like wildfire. To make sure you don't miss critical moments and events and that you don't make mistakes in camera setup, it's important to have equipment you are intimately familiar with so that you can drive it instinctively. If you're not really adept with your equipment set, you will miss shots, get stuff out of focus, have too slow shutter speed, miss exposure, and make all sorts of mistakes. There are no retakes at a wedding.
    That said, you can shoot an entire wedding on your A700 and 24-70. Sure, it would be nice to have a wider lens (17-55 on 1.5x crop) and it would be nice to have a long zoom like a 70-200. I would rent a lens only if you have a second body to mount it on.
    Because cameras do fail, it is important to have a second body. It should be identical to your main body so different menus or behaviors don't throw you for a loop. I don't know how different the Sony cameras are from each other. I shoot a D3 and can handle a D3s, D3x, D700, or D300 without a problem because the menus are nearly identical, but when I upgraded from a D90 to the D3 it took me 2-3 months before I felt like I could fly by wire on the D3 despite the cameras being very similar.
    As for the 50 f1.4, it could be helpful for portraits with narrow d-o-f, but you can shoot the whole wedding at f2.8 and f8 and be quite happy, so the 24-70 should be fine. As for the fisheye, very few people can use it effectively in a wedding situation and even then, only in a very few shots. If you spend time tinkering with the fisheye, you'll miss critical moments you could capture with the 24-70. I'd leave the fisheye at home. Some have mentioned getting a macro lens for ring shots. If you don't already have one you probably haven't practiced the skills to use it effectively, particularly for ring shots which are difficult. Instead, compose a shot with the rings placed artistically by the flowers and linens and use the 24-70 at its closest focusing distance.
    I would definitely get a second flash and make sure you know how to use it. Is it set up for FP sync? Does it do iTTL? Do you have flash modifiers? Do you have practice with flash techniques like bounce flash and various modifiers? Straight flash is too harsh for most wedding situations. If you don't already have a modifier, I'd go get a Fong dome. It is the easiest to use without a lot of practice.
    Do you have enough batteries? for the camera? and the flash? I bring 4 batteries for my D3 and 2 for my D90.
    Do you have enough memory cards?
    How many exposures will you take at the wedding? If you plan to take 1500 exposures, you'll need 32Gb, assuming you are shooting raw.
    Does your camera accept 2 cards? If so, bring 2x the memory and set it for duplicate recording so you are protected in case of card failure. If your camera accepts only 1 card, use smaller cards and swap them often, so you only lose part of the wedding, not the whole thing, if a card fails.
    I normally bring 128 Gb of cards, 4 x 16 Gb and 2 x 32 Gb. I should probably buy some more cards. If I don't rent a second D3, I have a 32 Gb card and a 8 Gb for my D90. I used to have a second 32 Gb card for my D90 but it failed, thankfully not at a wedding.
    If you have only one flash, I'd put it on the body with the 24-70. I'd strongly consider getting a backup. Is the wedding indoors or outdoors?
    Hope this helps!
  22. I watched two chaps "professionally" shoot a wedding last weekend. They had spiffy equipment and several big umbrellas. They shot endless pictures of terrible poses of families and groups against ugly door frames, crooked pillars and on and on. I guess they were shooting "PJ style" because not once did they do anything to create a dress shot that looked like anything or fix even one awkward stance. They must have at least caught a few key moments with the multiples of exposures they made of each bad pose. The umbrella on the pole that flashed seemingly 80,000 times, of course even when they weren't in the room, was so annoying I wanted to fling it.
    So, in addition to all the advise you were given here, my two tidbits are:
    1.) Pay some attention to the details and what is in the backgrounds of your shots, move yourself or them if it doesn't look good.
    2.) Be observant and catch moments that matter, expressions, little magical happenings and so on. Don't use PJ as an excuse for bad photography, it's not. True PJ takes observance and talent. Keep your equipment simple and get the shots, you need to get the shots, not play with excess equipment.
    Set up two cameras each with a basic lens and flash and be ready to shoot. Then when you're ready exchange one for a longer lens to get some detail shots. Practice an some people ahead of time in different light so you know how to balance your light and flash.
  23. Although one of my favorite lenses is the 70-200 L IS Canon. Here's the problem, I hardly ever use it at a wedding, except from the back of the church/teple/outside/whatever. Even then you can crop an image with a shorter lens.
    BRING A TRIPOD and use it!
  24. I'm against shooting over an ASA/ISO of 800 or so. This of course doesn't mean I never have. With my setup, a Canon system with L lenses, the color and the quality of the images pop out a lot better at 800 or less. This is where the need is for a good tripod. I like the swivel head ball on the pod. Often this kind of head is expensive and usually more then the cost of the tripod. It is wicked fast but this is a setup that will last a lifetime and you can be pretty sure you will get the shot at a low ASA setting, without grain/pixels.

    Try to use the 24-70 about 85 to 95 percent of the wedding.

    Bring enough batteries. A good safe count would be to change your batteries every 100 (flash powered) shots. You may be able to get 200, but why take a chance.

    I'm sure a lot of shooters here will disagree with me and tell me that they shoot weddings at 6400 or something. Whatever works for you and the couple, mainly the couple.

    I've shot at ASA 3200 several times for a B&W shot I was looking for and it worked great. I got the perfect effect I wanted.
  25. of course I'd use the fisheye only when really stuck with cramped space. I've used it before with like 8 ppl cramped in one sofa. and the composition worked well. with the 1.5x crop factor on A700, it's not that bad.
    I'm not a total noob. I helped 2 of my cousins' weddings before (both in 2005) in Canada using:
    • Minolta maxxum 35mm film camera
    • 28-135mm F4-4.5 (the secret handshake)
    • 50mm F1.4
    • Minolta Flash 5600 HS
    • Fuji Reala 400 and Kodak CN400 (B&W C-41) films
    • Canon G3, as my digital back-up
    • 1st gen minolta flash, paired with G3 in manual mode
    I didn't charge them anything, after all, they are my close cousins. and I was their primary photographer. I always bounced my flash. when I couldnt bounce, then I used diffuser.
    Nevertheless, thank you for all your constructive criticism.
  26. Ranuff, checkout It's a Minolta/Sony forum with great knowledge and friendly members.
  27. of course I'd use the fisheye only when really stuck with cramped space​
    This statement is exactly why you shouldn't be shooting any wedding.
  28. Francie, so it is more clear and constructive to Ranoff could you explain why you think the fish eye would be a poor
    choice in that particular situation. I Tend to only use super wide angles in very large spaces. I think the description of the
    Sony lens on amazon puts it well "Get a fascinating perspective on landscapes, cities, crowds, and special events with
    the Sony SAL-16F28 16mm fisheye lens. Designed for Sony Alpha digital SLR cameras, the unique lens offers a 180-
    degree angle of view and extraordinary corner-to-corner sharpness. As a result, the lens achieves crisp, clear detail from
    roughly 8 inches to infinity, with an exaggerated perspective and intriguing visual distortion that's beyond the ability of the
    human eye. When mounted on a Sony Alpha DSLR-A100, it provides a 110-degree angle of view with a 24mm focal
    length (35mm equivalent)." I use that type of lens for the distortion, not because I am limited by cramped spaces.
  29. Vail: "Frankly if you don't have with you at least two bodies you are comfy on, two lenses of normal focal range, and two flashes you are comfy on, you shouldn't take this gig or any other for that matter. Gear fails, plain and simple. You must have redundancy built in."
    Yes, yes, yes. And, very similar to what I was mentioning.
    Fisheye is a non-issue, what does it matter if you make some shots with that?
  30. No problems taking some shots on it. But if you have only so many bodies and only so many hands to shoot with, you
    want to be kitted up with the best gear you have for the situation. I would still bring the fisheye. I just wouldn't use it for
    the situations the op mentioned.
  31. I would recommend you decline and they will respect you for this. As others have said here, you do not have enough experience to shoot a wedding.
    Weddings are so important and a bride needs not only a photographer who knows all the technical stuff without even thinking about it but someone who can interpret her needs on the most important day of her life.
    A wedding photographer has to think of poses within seconds sometimes as the sun light is fading, for example, all the while computing exposures and working out balancing the flash. Its tough.
    Get your experience with family portraits, friends in the garden, anything where the pressure is not on because if you are asking these kind of questions now, when the adrenaline is pumping and a piece of your gear will panic.
    Give it a year or even six months depending on how dedicated you are then go and shoot alongside a pro at a wedding. Don't ask him to pay you just ask that you want to gain experience.
    You didn't say whether you actually want to shoot the wedding. Perhaps you do but you must ask yourself if this is really a field you want to get into. Or is this just a one off. If its the latter, I wouldn't bother.
    There are many more fun areas of photography!
    Hope this helps.
  32. I have a camera too. Can I be a photographer? :)
    I don't think so. A latest Iphone might qualify you for such though.
  33. I don't shoot weddings, but I've recently been starting to shoot similarly fast-paced "events" in the entertainment field. I've found that the following set-up worked well for me:
    Primary, short-range, flash-equipped body:
    Nikon D7000 + 17-55mm f/2.8 + Nikon SB-800 Speedlight + Quantum Turbo high-voltage battery pack + Newton FR2 rotating flash bracket.
    Secondary, long-range body without flash:
    Nikon D3s + 70-200mm f/2.8.
    I use the flash-equipped body with a short zoom, wide enough to accommodate groups in tight spaces, and long enough for single head shots at short distances. Since all of the short-range stuff is flash-fired, the noisier cropped-sensor body still performs very well and maintains a very low noise floor. The second body, I use for high-ISO (hence the assignment of the full-frame body), available-light candids, and employ the long zoom for added reach.
    Although most of the other photographers at the events I shoot at carry two full-frame bodies, I've noticed that most use a near-identical set-up. They use the short-zoom body with a battery-pack powered flash, and the long-zoom body, sans flash, for available-light candids.
    You'll also likely need a rotating flash bracket to shoot both horizontal and vertical shots:
    1. Newton FR2 rotating flash bracket + Newton dedicated cord holder (required). Best damn flash bracket period. Expensive.
    2. Stroboframe Stroboflip VH2000. Does the job. Cheap.
    Again, I don't shoot weddings, but I assume you'd need a more capable lighting set-up for the formals. But, as others have mentioned, with the level of expertise evident from your questions, I agree that it's probably best if you decline this offer, and begin shooting as a second shooter for a while first.
  34. I'm currently watching on creative live acclaimed fashion and beauty photographer Michael Jordan Smith. He is talking about branding and style. He was just concentrating on how gear is NOT what makes you a great photographer, it is what is in here "points at his chest". It made me think of this thread and the discussion. You should definitely check him out:
  35. Whatever you do, DO NOT rent a Nikon D3s, D700, 85 & 35 1.4 G and a couple of SB900's. You will never want to shoot your Sony again.

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