Wedding photography with 50mm lens.

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by phineas_tarbolde|1, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. A friend of mine has asked me to photograph her wedding. I am not a professional, but I've been told I take nice photos. Recently my equipment was stolen. I have a Nikon DX frame (1.5x mag factor) DSLR and a 50mm. 1.4 AF prime lens. No flash other than the built in camera flash for some fill.
    Do you think it is possible to cover an outdoor wedding (afternoon) with a 50mm lens. The wedding will be be fairly small (~10-20 guests). I would step back to get group shots since I dont have a wide angle lens. Obviously the super wide angle shots will not be possible.
    Thoughts? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. There's stepping back, and there's stepping back for group shots with a 50mm lens on a DX body. You could find yourself needing to be over 30 feet away. The real issue then is going to be your ability to communicate with your subjects without shouting at them. Especially if there's music playing, etc.

    If you're working outdoors in passable light, you could greatly improve your options by just getting your hands on any of the 18-50/70/105 kit lenses. Perhaps $100 or so, at most? One of those would seem like very cheap insurance against the limitations of having only a 50mm lens for social shooting on a DX body.

    Any chance of picking up an SB-600, or at least renting one? Your pop-up strobe is only barely serviceable for fill. Which camera body do you have available? Sorry to hear about the theft of your gear.
     
  3. Let me start with the basic warnings. (1) Don't do this. It looks easy but it's not, and not only is it harder to get good results that you can imagine, it's also rather stressful. (2) You shouldn't even think about shooting a wedding if you don't have a backup camera. (3) If you expect to have to take any flash photos, be aware that the results you'll get with your on-camera flash are simply not going to be very appealing.
    OK, got that out of my system. You are free to ignore all three warnings. If it's a very tiny wedding, if the bride and groom know that you aren't a pro and simply can't afford somebody with experience, if they really truly are willing to be happy with whatever you come up with, then go for it.
    *
    Now, to your question. The basic answer is, yes, you can shoot a wedding with a 50mm lens.
    Your 50mm lens is fast (f/1.4). Sounds like the wedding will be outdoors in good light, and if that's true, perhaps the speed won't matter as far as light is concerned, but the wide aperture will help you get narrow depth of field if you want it. So far so good.
    However, be aware that, on your camera, a 50mm lens is a near telephoto lens. You should practice a little with it and see what you think. If you are outside and have sufficient room to maneuver, it might be just fine. Just be aware that, to take a group photo, you may have to step back 25-30 ft. You won't just be missing the "super wide angle shots," you'll be missing ANY wide angle shots. A shot of the entire congregation will be possible if you can step away. If you want to take shots inside the dressing room, well, that may be difficult without something more normal. (In the dressing room, or for that matter any time I'm closer to the subjects, I prefer to go with a 28 or even a 21.)
    I shoot almost exclusively with prime lenses myself, but I take a range of lenses with me to a wedding, picking at least three or four from the lenses I have (21, 28, 35, 40, 50, 70, 105...). And I take a couple of zooms just in case. If I had to shoot a wedding using just one prime, I'd probably prefer to use my 40 rather than my 50, even though the 40 only goes to f/2.8, while my 50 goes to f/1.4 like yours. (My Pentax cameras have the same "crop factor" as your Nikon: 1.5x.) But I could do it with the 50 in a pinch.
    Good luck.
    Will
     
  4. Actually, I'll be using a Fuji Finepix S3 Pro. I have access to a manual focus 35mm 1.4 and a manual focus 85mm lens.
    I do have an old Tamron 20-40mm f2.7-3.5 AF which has never given me tack sharp images...so I'm leaving that at home.
    Thanks for your advice.
     
  5. Phineas,
    Why did you all of a sudden switch equipment. You didn't specify this other equipment in the OP. What happened to the 50mm lens and Nikon DX body?
     
  6. Actually, I'll be using a Fuji Finepix S3 Pro. I have access to a manual focus 35mm 1.4 and a manual focus 85mm lens. I do have an old Tamron 20-40mm f2.7-3.5 AF which has never given me tack sharp images...so I'm leaving that at home.​
    Like Ryan, I'm a little confused by the change in info here. You didn't mention this stuff in your original post, and now you're not mentioning the Nikon + 50mm. When you mentioned the Nikon, were you simply thinking about the Fuji's sensor size (which I gather = the Nikon's) and the fact that the Fuji uses a Nikon lens mount?
    Anyway, couple comments on the new info.
    The Fuji Finepix S3 Pro, from what I can tell, is a 6MP camera. That's okay, if a bit small by today's standards.
    The two lenses you mention now—35 f/14 and 85—make a fairly nice pair of primes for shooting a wedding. But there are two problems.
    I'm not really sure now, but I'm guessing you still have just 1 body. That's a problem. I shoot with a least 2 bodies, and I'd have the 35 on one body and the 85 on the other (if I were shooting with those 2 lenses). That way I could simply switch bodies as I needed. But you will have to make a decision about what lens to use for a while and kind of stick with it. Changing lenses too frequently is a time waster and also risks getting dust into the camera. So the first problem is, if you do have just 1 body, having 2 prime lenses, even good ones, isn't going to be as useful as having just 1 zoom.
    The other problem is the manual focus. Now, perhaps this isn't a problem. If you have used these lenses a lot and you happen to be good at fast manual focus, then you have my admiration, indeed, I'm a bit jealous, because I myself am not good at this any more. I manual focus only when I'm shooting portraits or macro or something else where I'm not rushed or pressured. Otherwise I rely on autofocus. I tried using manual focus a while ago shooting sports, and the results were awful. It's certainly POSSIBLE to do this with manual focus lenses. But if you aren't already an ace at manual focus, then either (a) PRACTICE as much as you can before the wedding, and/or (b) take your time when shooting, accept that you'll miss a lot of shots, but take the trouble to confirm the focus before you click the shutter.
    As for the Tamron 20-40, that's a pretty good focal range for this job, not as good as, say, 18-55, but not bad. And if it's an outdoor wedding, that aperture range (f/2.7 -3.5) isn't bad either. I think "tack sharp" is overrated. Look back through the history of photography: few of the greatest photos in history are really "tack sharp." Now, if the lens sucks, it sucks. And I too prefer high-quality lenses—that's one of the reasons I use only primes. But I would not hesitate to use a pretty good zoom lens instead of a really good prime, if the zoom allowed me to get the shots I needed to get, and the prime didn't. So you have a choice to make there.
    As I said, good luck.
    Will
     
  7. I second the multiple bodies comment as well as the 6mp limitation of the Fuji camera. I would suggest a couple of things:
    1) If you still have the Nikon and 50mm lense, USE IT! You can still use the Fuji camera on the side, but the Nikon will produce better results (newer technology, better focus, more MP, etc).
    2) Ask the people paying for the photos how large they would like to be able to print. A 6mp camera just will not print as well as the Nikon. 6 mp isn't bad, but it does not look as good as when it is printed really large. If they just want 5x7's then it should work fine.
     
  8. Ryan,
    I agree with your followup completely. But I'm not sure he actually has a Nikon at all. He just said he had a "Nikon DX frame" DSLR. He didn't specify a model. The Fuji uses a Nikon F-mount (or so I understand from the page on the Fuji at Amazon.com). I suspect he was simply saying that he had a Nikon-mount camera with the Nikon DX 24x16mm sensor format.
    Although if I'm right about the camera, then I'm not sure what happened to the 50mm lens...
    Will
     
  9. My father used to do weddings with a Rolleiflex and a Rolleicord - both with standard focal length lenses. So yes, it's nice to have options but it can be done with just one focal length.... or three... or however many lenses the o.p. has now.
     
  10. You can cover a wedding well with any gear, if you are skilled. Not having a wide angle and flash will just make it less convenient, and may have consequences re the final set of images. Whether those consequences mean much to you or the couple is not something we as professional wedding photographers can decide for you.
    For instance, you may be lucky and there will be lots of nice, even shade all around. If so, you will be able to get lovely images without needing flash or anything else. The bride may not care about large group shots, there might not be any music playing, and you have the 20-30 feet you'll need for a full length shot of up to 4-6 people (in that nice, even shade). You may have lots of time to get your shots. None of your gear breaks. If all of this happens, you will not need anything else beyond what you have there.
    Part of the reason wedding photographers have a variety of tools, and back ups, is because they must be prepared for anything--and more often than not, the conditions we face are adverse--if not completely adverse, at least partially adverse (at a time). So up to you whether you want to take the chance that everything will work in your favor, and it might, or might not.
    Steve Smith--yes, Rolleis were used all the time for weddings, but the normal lens could be easily used for group shots (maybe a subject distance of about 10-12 feet). A normal lens on a Rollei is 80mm, on a 35mm full frame, it is 50mm. The 50mm on Phineas' camera (cropped sensor) is equivalent to an 80mm telephoto on a full frame. It is mildly difficult to use such a focal length for group shots.
     
  11. One more thing to add...if you aren't a professional, I would be hesitant to shoot a wedding with a manual focus lens. If you don't know exactly what you are doing, you can lose a LOT of shots. Just wait until you have to deal with a bride that is upset with her wedding shots (hope you never have to)!
     
  12. Sorry for the confusion.
    I have a Nikon mount Fuji Finepix S3 Pro with 50mm AF 1.4 Nikkor lens.
    I do have access to MANUAL focus 35 1.4 and 85 1.4 lens Nikkor lenses.
    I have an old Tamron 20-40 AF lens.
    I thrive on limitations and thought I could pull it off with a 50mm lens.
     
  13. Its quite curious that on the one hand some say that even a 6 MP is good enough for decent enlargements (which pros did a few years ago) on the other hand suddenly according to Ryan it should be fine if making 5x7s.
     
  14. I don't know about Nikon manual focus lenses on the Finepix, but if you can use the 35mm on it, you could indeed shoot the whole wedding with it. The question would be, would the manual aspect slow you down and if so, would it matter.
    6 megapixels is fine for wedding images. I wouldn't want to crop a lot if the image is to be enlarged beyond 8x10 though.
     
  15. I have a Nikon mount Fuji Finepix S3 Pro with 50mm AF 1.4 Nikkor lens.​
    As I suspected. :)

    I do have access to MANUAL focus 35 1.4 and 85 1.4 lens Nikkor lenses. I have an old Tamron 20-40 AF lens.​
    So, I take it, just one camera body?
    Rethink all the warnings above. Then, if you feel brave (or reckless) enough to proceed, I'd say, put the 50mm on the camera and plan to use it mainly, but take the other lenses with you just in case. The 35mm is a more "normal" field of view lens on your camera, but personally, I would value autofocus more than the difference in focal length. That's just me, and others might very reasonably disagree.
    And I'd really rethink that Tamron zoom, as well. Is it this lens?
    Tamron SP AF 20-40mm f/2.7-3.5 Aspherical (IF)
    If so, the ratings on that web page make it look like an acceptable lens. This is really a Hobson's choice, but as an academic exercise (which is all it is for me), if I could use only one lens for a wedding and the choice was 20-40 zoom vs fast 50 prime, well, it would be a tough decision. I'd probably go with the zoom, if it was (as you said) an outdoor wedding, and I wasn't going to be hurt by the fact that the zoom isn't terribly fast. On the other hand, if light was going to be low, I'd prefer the much faster 50mm lens. (NOTE: If light is low, then the manual focus 35mm isn't so appealing, because manual focus in low light is hard!) The other consideration is, how close will you be? If you use the zoom, you are probably going to be shooting mostly in the 30-40mm range, perhaps often at 40.
    Will
     
  16. Its quite curious that on the one hand some say that even a 6 MP is good enough for decent enlargements (which pros did a few years ago) on the other hand suddenly according to Ryan it should be fine if making 5x7s.​
    Standards change. These days, even compact cameras now have 10MP or more. But 6MP is fine for most purposes, if you can take decent pictures. Certainly fine for 4"x6", 5"x7", and possibly even 8"x10". (Can't recall if I've ever printed an 8"x10" from one of my 6MP cameras. I think I must have though.) The resolution of your camera is the least of your problems. :)
    Do be aware that, if you are doing 6MP captures, you have fewer pixels to spare, so you should try to frame your photos efficiently. The #3 camera in my bag is a 6MP camera and it can take nice photos (if I do my job right).
    Will
     
  17. 5x7 was more of an exaggeration than anything else. Of course, you can make a decent large print...but we are talking about a wedding (a one time event that the bride can't ever get reshot). The point was that if you take a newer digital camera and make a 16x20 or 20x30 print and an older 6mp camera with the same sized print, you can see a noticeable difference in quality. I know a lot of photographers that didn't switch to digital until the D200 and some until the D3. They chose to shoot with film because they liked the enlargements better.
    By the way, I was referring more to practical photography...in which you have to crop shots to get exactly what you want. It is very difficult to frame every shot just the way you want it in the moment. For example, when the bride and groom are at the alter...it is nice to be able to have some pixels to spare so you don't have to be in their face with your camera.
    Also, it isn't "suddenly according to Ryan." A lot of pro photographers that are light years ahead of me have shared their opinions. I didn't just "all of a sudden" come up with my opinion. In fact, I know pros that didn't even switch to digital until the D3 (for full-frame).
     
  18. Phineas,
    Just wanted to let you know that my intention was not to insult your equipment. I shoot with 2 D80's. If I could, I would shoot with 2 D3's. I just can't afford it.
    To put it in perspective, I won't shoot a wedding with what I have. It is too important to most brides, and I don't want to ruin a lovely woman's most important day. That bride is on display, and if you can't do her justice, then don't shoot the wedding. Both you and her may regret it.
    That is just my opinion on wedding photography. I love shooting my wife and daughter to experiment and am slowly getting better. I would just hate to experiment during a wedding. If you do the wedding, then I wish you all the best. I just wanted to give you a fair warning before proceeding. It could save you some frustration and disappointment.
     
  19. I thrive on limitations and thought I could pull it off with a 50mm lens.​
    WHAT? May I be blunt? Go thrive at your own wedding. Don't you dare turn in poor pictures of someones very special day just because you think it is a lark. You need all the help you can get. You should say no and get them to hire a photog or at least prevail upon a friend who takes the wedding seriously.
    May I propose that you rent equipment? If you can't do that borrow some. Don't even think about shooting a wedding without a flash. And don't even think about shooting a wedding without a back-up camera. And while you are renting get a good zoom to use. Even an 18-70 would be better than what you propose to do. They are cheap enough you could probably get one on ebay and resell it after the wedding. If there is a college near you maybe you can get a student with a good camera and lenses to work with you.
    Tell me Phineas; do you have the skill to handle the bride in white and the groom in black, outdoors on a sunny day in the afternoon? That is the kind of situation that makes me cringe I can tell you and I am 100% certain that I know how to do it. Fortunately your S3 has pretty good dynamic range. Do you know what that means to you?
    You will do it because you really don't think that this is that big a deal. At least for you it isn't. This may only be a 20 person wedding but I bet I can get an Amen from my fellow wedding shooters here when I say that I do not consider a small wedding as any less worthy of 110% effort on my part. You are walking into a minefield. The only difference is that if you step in it someone else gets blown up.
    I've said enough. I have a real pointed point of view when I see someone playing fast and loose with a friend's wedding.
    I hope you do a wonderful job for the B&G's sake.
     
  20. Tough one, but I would do it if I had to.
    Consider asking if they would mind getting you a kit lens for $100 to improve the coverage?
     
  21. Normally I don't agree to the pro's shouting out loud "don't do it without tons of equipment and years of experience!", since all of this has to grow somewhere and I had to start at some point as well. I don't even care about the one lense solution: sometimes it's better to have just one fast prime lens, and a good one too, if you know the lens well enough. What bothers me however is the one body. I don't shoot on a pro level, i.e. I don't earn my living with photography, shoot weddings only if time allows it, maybe 2 or 3 times a year, and got started with used film bodies and fast prime lenses. BUT: even on my very first wedding, with an old worn-out Leica R4 and 50mm / 90mm primes, I got me a second identical body as backup. With the 90 on the black body and the 50 on the chrome one, not only was I fast in switching lenses, but I always had a backup hanging round my neck in case one body failed (it never did) or film would end at the wrong moment (it always did, Murphy's law). So, while I would not worry too much about the lens, I would certainly try and get a second identical body and eventually a flash. With just one body and no backup, I don't know if I would do it.
     
  22. it

    it

    Sure, just zoom with your feet.
     
  23. bms

    bms

    As someone who recently was in a similar situation (granted I had two bodies, but what I felt where inadequate lenses), here is my suggestion: if your friend does not want to hire a pro for budget reasons (which I suspect is the case), ask if he/she could spare the money to rent camera and lenses for you. You can probably get another body, a 24-70 and a 70-200 for a week, maybe even two SB-600, for $400. Then, use the beginning of the week to practice, practice, practice.....
    It may seem weird to ask, and cameras/lenses don't make for good photography per se (a lesson learned many times) but I think he/she may understand that the likelihood of decent pictures would be better... or, you could rent yourself and consider it a pricey wedding present.
     
  24. Thanks all for your suggestions...especially the second body reminder (I DID have a Finepix S5 Pro with a 35mm 1.4 AF lens...until it was stolen)...i realize i need to do something about that.
    The fact that I stated 10-20 was stated to given an indication of field of view necessary.
     
  25. I'd be terrified of being the official shooter at a wedding (I don't need the stress, and I want the happy couple to be talking to me afterwards). However, I've had reasonable luck with photos at a friend's wedding, acting as a (surreptitious) back-up to the official photographer; here's some very amateur advice, to offset that of those who know what they're talking about.<br>
    <br>
    Outdoors, I did pretty well with a 135 f/2.8 manual focus on a D700. That makes me suspect that your 85 would be useful on a crop body. Not so much for staged photos, but you can get decent candids without being right in the face of guests, and the lens is good enough for bokeh - I'd hope the 85 would do the same for you. Admittedly, I took a *lot* of photos, and picked the ones that weren't blurry (or where I'd had a talent failure) for a heavy photoshop session; if in doubt, take plenty of flash cards.<br>
    <br>
    I needed a 50 f/1.4 AF indoors for the wedding dance, especially when they turned the lights down part way through, but to be honest it wasn't long enough on a full-frame sensor - I'd have been better with a crop camera, except that I was relying on high-ish ISO.<br>
    <br>
    So I got *some* decent shots with the equivalent of your lenses - but I wasn't trying to replicate the official photographer's shots, so I didn't try to be in-your-face or get big group photos. I concur that something wider than 50mm would be wise - but the 35mm should be fine. There are a lot of wedding photographers doing staged photos with field cameras, so the time it takes to focus a 35mm lens shouldn't be an issue (so long as your S3 gives you focus confirmation - I doubt the finder screen will tell you much about the focal plane at f/1.4). A tripod might be a good idea, if only so that people take you seriously and so that you can run between the shooting position and the people you're trying to stage without people wandering off, thinking you're done.<br>
    <br>
    Finally, if you can't splash out on an off-camera flash, I'd at least pick up a reflector or two. The small ones will fit in a pocket, and if you're outdoors they'll be almost as useful as a flash. Of course, you'll be stuffed if it rains and everyone bolts for a dark room, but there are worse things than a lot of window-light shots.<br>
    <br>
    If this is a favour, could you ask around other friends? There are a *lot* of Nikon shooters out there - someone might have a 300 f/2.8 and a 24 f/1.4 to lend you. Someone might at least have an N75 in a cupboard that could act as a back-up body.<br>
    <br>
    Best of luck. For what it's worth, for a non-picky recipient, a cheap digital photo frame pre-loaded with all the wedding photos makes a nice gift and won't show up how blurry your photos are. :)
     
  26. Thanks Andrew for your input encouragement mixed with a little bit of caution --- which is always good. I have taken photos at office outdoor functions as the "official" photographer, and have consistently had pretty good results.
    The bride and groom knows that I take decent candids/docu type photos. They really are not interested in the usual fare (soft focus, close ups of flowers, rings, bride's maids and groomsmen arranged like piano keys on church steps steps etc.) This is her second wedding, so the pressure is somewhat less to produce the usual expected wedding photo package.
    The entire wedding will be held out doors, in a park, with a garden party aftewards. I will not be using a flash, but will have reflector. The bride will be wearing a simple summer dress, the groom will be wearing a regular suit (not a "tuxedo"). To be sure, I'll be taking a LOT of photos as you have done.
    Frankly I find that "wedding" photos nowadays evoke a certain predictable packaged look...that to me looks entirely artificial.
    I look at wedding photos from the past, including my parents pics (black and whites) , they are so simple, candid and honest. I figure if Cartier-Bresson, Eugene Smith etc, took their photos with often ONE lens (no zooms, no flash)I was hoping to do the same.
     
  27. "I will not be using a flash" -- Phineas, a flash is almost as important outside as it is inside. One of my mistake pictures from my early wedding days was the bridal party posed nicely around a bench in front of the church, bride and groom seated, people around them, etc. Plenty of light, shot with no flash. But the proofs (before digital) showed a mish-mash of faces in full sun and faces in deep shadow that looked awful. Fill flash would have evened it all out. Anytime you have the sun behind the subject you need fill flash and anytime the sun is overhead leaving big dark shadows under the eyes you need fill flash, and the list goes on. The fill doesn't have to be so strong that it looks like it was shot with flash -- the trick is to make the pictures look natural. Not to say that it's impossible to get through a wedding without flash, but it's not easy. Reflectors can help but aren't always strong enough and since it sounds like you're a one man band who is going to hold them, and do you have reflectors big enough for groups? Another warning: the bride and groom might say they don't want traditional shots, but lots of people say that before the wedding and then afterwards ask where the formals are. Especially the parents and grandparents, who might not be footing the bill on a second wedding but will still have their opinions.
     
  28. Hi there. Thought I'd add my 5 cents as I've just done a wedding in similar circumstances.
    I got asked to help a friend out who simply didn't have funds for a professional. And if I didn't they were going to rely on friends with point and shoots.
    The gear I had to hand was a Nikon D5000 with a f1.4 50mm prime and SB-600 with stofen.
    Even with alot of zooming by foot, it was a challenge. A decent zoom would have made my life alot better. On quite a few shots I've had to simply crop. At least shooting RAW at 12mp helped.
    And the flash is a must. Even outdoors it was so helpful for filling in.
    The challenge with weddings is there is not time to try redo or compose. Alot of the best candid shots are simply point and shoot. And yes, a 2nd body with another lens option would have been so much better. A 2nd photographer heaven.
    BTW, this is my 1st post, and I'm still very new to the hobby.
     
  29. Welcome, Wayne. Thanks for taking the time to post. Your experience reminds me a lot of one that I had. Which I why I had posted warnings earlier.
     
  30. Why not?
    When I first started with wedding photography I used a Minolta SRT-101 with a 50mm lens. As I recall it was a f1.8. It was the only lens I had. It was the only camera I had.
    It worked then & I'm sure what you have can work well for you.
    Today, 95% of my wedding photography is with one lens, a 24-70 f2.8 on my Canon 5D.
    I'm now taking my Hasselblad stuff and making B&W photos! Clients love it and it reminds me of the old days but I couldn't afford "Hasselblad" stuff back then!
    Smiles & Fun!
     
  31. Find a friend who will let you use their body for backup. Buy a backup battery or two. If you start popping off lots of photos using that built in flash you might be surprised to find your battery doesn't last you through the preparation, ceremony, & reception. I use my 50mm f1.4 quite a bit as a portrait lens / low light lens, but I think you'll miss the wider focal lengths. Maybe that extra body you borrow will be a Nikon and have a 18-55 kit lens attached to it that you can throw onto your camera.
     
  32. The equipment you state you have is going to severely limit your ability to adequately cover this wedding Phineas. Even if this wedding is outside, you are still going to need to be able to add fill flash to open up dark shadows. The lens you have, on a DX body, will also require a longer than normal distance in certain situations.
    If you do go ahead with this, having never done this before, I would STRONGLY suggest you go pick up a good book on Wedding Photography and read it cover to cover at least twice before doing this. At least then you will have a better idea of what shots are pretty much considered obligatory. A wedding is a no-do-over event. If you screw it up, there are no re-shoots. And backup equipment and batteries is pretty much a must.
     
  33. What about using a film body as a backup?
     
  34. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “Do you think it is possible to cover an outdoor wedding (afternoon) with a 50mm lens [on a DX Camera]”

    Yes, but, apropos the equipment you listed for a small outdoor Wedding of up to 20 Guests, I would take all three prime lenses: I expect I would use the 35mm lens for about 90% of the shots as using the 35mm lens would be easier and more suitable for me.

    WW
     
  35. gr

    gr

    Oh! There go the nay sayers! Of course you can do it. Lot of good wedding photos have been taken using cameras with "limited" capabilities. The way I see it is that it's a small wedding. The bride is not paying for a professional wedding photographer and should not expect a top notch job. Have a talk with her and express your concerns and see if she is willing to go forward with it. If I were you, I would send an email with concerns and get an email reply. People tend to think a lot harder when they put things in writing.
    The fact that you asked these questions in the forum tells me that you are aware of the so called "limited" capabilities of your gear and, more importantly, you are ready to get prepared. That's a character trait that no gear can top. Being a gear head myself, I know the temptations we have to think that it's the gear that gets the photo. It doesn't. I look at the photos taken by my 8 year old with her trusty old Nikon L11 and wonder sometimes why I spend so much money in buying expensive equipments.
    Since it's outdoors, I am assuming light is not going to be aproblem. Note the time, scout the area the day before. Look for shades where you can take some special shots. Beg/borrow/steal a decent off camera flash (you will need it). If you have a 2 way radio use it instead of shouting instructions. Deputize somebody from the group to be your assistant. From your post it sounds like a well knit group, you will be surprised how easy that makes your job.
    Should you carry and extra body? I would if I were you. But if you don't have it, would you buy one for a wedding? I wouldn't unless I was going to do more weddings for money. Maybe you can rent. But fully charged extra sets of batteries is a must.
    At the end of the day all that matters is whether you got the shot or not.. your gear is good enough to get the shot in THIS wedding. Don' t let the nay sayers bog you down with reasons as to why you shouldn't do it.
    All the best.
     
  36. Phineas - glad to help, if I've not misled you. I'll be attending another wedding soon, again as a guest but again planning to take back-up photos in case the official photographer doesn't know what he's doing; since I can't take a huge kit bag with me, I'm interested to see what people tell you. (This time I'll get my hands on a fast autofocus longer lens though, which would help a lot in dim light.)<br>
    <br>
    Craig - I'm sure a flash would help, and a reflector won't overpower direct sunlight, but would it not suffice for the shade? I'd be concerned about shooting bridal shots in direct sunlight anyway, just because of the harshness of the light and contrast (not that I'm an expert portrait photographer, even by the standards of my general lack of photography expertise). The last wedding I attended was helpfully cloud-covered, and a reflector or two appeared to be plenty - although I'll admit it was a large-ish reflector and only used for small groups. Assuming that it's a small and friendly gathering, I'd have thought a guest could be roped in to hold it - something you obviously wouldn't want to resort to as a professional shooter. I'm happy to be told that I'm mistaken about this: because I was only taking candids, *I* wasn't the one with the reflectors! They are, nonetheless, cheaper than flashes and much better than nothing.<br>
    <br>
    That said, I'm not a great believer in flash photography (at least without a ceiling or a studio set-up), so I bow to the experts as to what's necessary when shooting a portable flash in the field. Bear in mind that there are rumours of the SB-600 being hard to find/discontinued and that the 400 and 900 don't play with film cameras if you get one as a backup - one reason I'm likely to go on an SB-600 hunt myself soonish.<br>
    <br>
    I have to wonder how many more photographs Cartier-Bresson might have made with a zoom lens. Being ready to pick the decisive moment is critical, but I still think he must have seen a number of photo opportunities go by that might have made a good image if only he'd had a 21mm or a 135mm on the Leica at the time. A wedding isn't like hanging around on a street corner until something interesting happens (cue flames from Leicaphiles; I'm just trying to make a distinction, not criticise a master) so I'm not sure that you can extrapolate.<br>
    <br>
    Best of luck, whatever your approach.
     
  37. I was the first person in this thread to provide all of the warnings that have been issued since: this is harder than it looks; you should have a backup body; you should have a flash. Obviously I think those are prudent warnings and the repetition of them by others has been appropriate.
    But perhaps the most important warning of all is this: if you know that YOU are actually responsible for covering the wedding—if you are not in a position to put your camera down and go get another glass of champagne—then you should be aware in advance, that shooting a wedding can be very stressful. It's stressful because it's surprisingly difficult. It's stressful because you know that the bride and groom and their families will be disappointed if you screw up. It's stressful.
    Given this unavoidable fact, the best thing you can do is, make things as easy for yourself as possible. Use what you have and know. DO NOT use new, unfamiliar equipment. Take everything you've got but don't plan on changing lenses constantly. Make sure in advance that your equipment is in good condition. Do bring extra batteries (always good advice). Make sure you have plenty of storage.
    And then use the camera in the way that you are familiar with. If you tend to leave the camera in P mode, then leave it in P mode. If you don't have much experience with flash, don't get fancy: point the flash at the subject, put your system into its auto-flash mode (i-TTL or whatever) and let amazing amount of intelligence built into your camera help you out.
    Know in advance that you will for sure (a) miss some photos that you will wish you hadn't missed and (b) that some photos you didn't miss won't be very good. C'est la guerre. Try to relax, and spend as much of your time thinking about positioning yourself and framing your shots.
    Once again, good luck,
    Will
     
  38. Andrew, I definitely don't advocate shooting the bride in glaring sun, but at a wedding you have to be prepared for whatever comes up. Shade is obviously preferable. A reflector might or might not work in the shade, depending on how much light there is to reflect. But a flash will work anywhere. I understand your comment "I'm not a great believer in flash photography" but wedding photography isn't a place where you get to believe in things or not believe. It's an area where you have to deliver what the customer wants. Not that every single picture has to have flash, but by and large flash is a fact of life in wedding work. You can bounce them, diffuse them, use an umbrella or a softbox or whatever you like, but it's very difficult to get by without them.
     
  39. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    As we are discussing the possibility of shooting in Bright Sun . . . Flash will NOT work anywhere.

    In fact in Bright Sun - A Reflector is often a better tool for Fill, than Flash, because at the apertures one will be working: Flash will be severely limited by distance.
    Most "On Camera" type Flash units have a Working Distance of about 12ft to 15ft at the maximum for Flash Fill, in Bright Sun.

    This is only one of the reasons why the 35mm lens is most useful lens choice.
    WW
     
  40. I wished I had a bright sun problem when I shot a wedding for a friend. I only have one body and held my breath all day that it would get me through - it did. I have an SB-600 and couldn't have done a thing without one. And a bought a used 35-70 mm f/2.8 Nikon lens (for my D700 fx camera) - a lifesaver. But the sky - turned from black to partial sunny to bright sunshine and back every 5 minutes. Be prepared to make lots of quick adjustments if the weather presents inconsistent lighting.
     
  41. Cannot get the photo to upload :(
     
  42. I'm photographing wedding for a long time, latest years only with prime lenses and all my zooms are sold...You can check my work on www.bigi.sk
    Previous year my girlfriend start to shooting wedding also and for her fist wedding I give her only 50 mm lens and all day she cover only with this glass. The results are here:
    efka.bigi.sk
    I believe that with 50 mm you can make much better pictures as with any zoom, because you are focusing only on composition, emotions etc...and you do not need to wondering about "how to zoom"...
    I definitely recommended you this approach
     
  43. Hi Pavol,
    Thanks for the encouragement. Great images! It is very inspiring and thanks for sharing. I love the natural look of your style. I just find the majority of wedding photos has a real artificial packaged look. It seems most couples nowadays have become accustomed and expect a certain "the look". -- which I hate and I'm guessing it's partly because a lot of wedding photographers have gravitated towards the similar gear.
    What sort of flash equipment are you using?
     
  44. I don't think the gear has much to do with a packaged look, but the photographer does. However, if couples expect 'the look', then they are perfectly justified to look for a photographer who can give them the look and expect to get it, no?
    If you hate the look, I'd suggest you don't produce it, given your bride is agreeable. Whether you have a single prime lens and no flash really doesn't have anything to do with the look. It is all about how you shoot with what you have.
    If it were me, and you didn't buy anything else, I'd use the 35mm on the Fuji. And use the 85 and 50 as well. As you see with Pavel's girlfriend's images, one certainly can shoot a whole wedding with a 50mm (non cropped sensor and what your 35mm will become on the Fuji). This is what wedding photographers of old used to do. Your 50mm (80mm non cropped) will definitely be harder to use for the whole thing.
    As for flash, the pop up flash is fine if you just want some fill. With digital, a lot can be done with adjusting the dynamic range in processing. In Pavol's wife's images, the outdoor ones are either overcast lighting, even shade (no flash needed and no special handling), or bright sun. I would think the bright sun ones were processed so the shadows were lifted. And a good amount of highlights were allowed to blow. This looks better in black and white, and many people convert to black and white in this situation, but color can be handled as well, although one starts to get that milky brownish tint. If you look at the group shot, the people in front are filled by reflected light off the concrete. The people in the back have harder, denser facial shadows. Pavol--your girlfriend does very nice work.
    With color negative film, blown highlights were not so much an issue, but it was a lot harder to lift shadows.
     
  45. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I believe that with 50 mm you can make much better pictures as with any zoom, because you are focusing only on composition, emotions etc...and you do not need to wondering about "how to zoom"... I definitely recommended you this approach"

    Pavol, the images taken by your girlfriend are very nice.
    It appears to me that, if a 50mm lens was used, it was used on a 135 format camera ("what is termed "Full Frame")?

    You might like to confirm what camera the 50mm lens was used on, please?
    If I am correct, then, the closest approximation to that Field of View, Phineas, would be to use the 35mm lens.
    WW
     
  46. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "It seems most couples nowadays have become accustomed and expect a certain "the look". -- which I hate and I'm guessing it's partly because a lot of wedding photographers have gravitated towards the similar gear."


    If customers have become accustomed to “the look” I don’t think it is anyway attributable to Photographers using similar gear, literally speaking.
    But, if your meaning is that as most Wedding photographers use a Zoom Lens as their main working lens, rather than a set of Three Primes, for example; and as a result of that fact, many do not “think in steps” such as:
    1. What Shot do I want? (Tight Head / Half Shot / Full Length)
    2. What Perspective do I want?
    3. What Focal Length is therefore required to achieve 1 + 2
    Then, I agree with you.
    But I note that a Photographer using a Zoom Lens (e.g. 28 to 75 on a 5D for example) can still work that lens as if she were using a set of primes being 28, 35, 50 & 75.
    Or, as another example, a Photographer using a 16 to 35 on a 30D, that Photographer could "think in steps" described above and he could use that zoom lens as a set of Primes (equivalent to) 28, 35, 45 & 58 (nearly).
    So if you are referring to the nowadays common practice of using Zoom Lenses – it all about how the Zoom is used and not the literal fact that it is a Zoom, or that many today might not learn how to use Prime Lenses and appreciate the value of Prime Lenses, which IMO goes way beyond the “Step Thinking” approach which I outlined above.
    WW
     
  47. trw

    trw

    [​IMG]
    Here is an example of a group shot with 50mm on a 1.5 crop factor body. Lighting however was 2x sunpak speedlights, crosslit.
    There was a large shaded lawn to work on.
     
  48. Belatedly, Craig and William - thanks for the advice regarding flashes; I wasn't trying to disparage flash photography or suggest that it wasn't appropriate for a wedding, just proclaiming my own relative inexperience with fill flash (I'm a keen but incompetent amateur, not a wedding photographer). Given your feedback, I might try to get my hands on an SB600 before I attend a friend's wedding next month; I do have flashes, including a 550EX from my Canon shooting days, but nothing for Nikon with an SB600's flexibility. A flash isn't exactly conducive to staying inconspicuous, but I'd like to be prepared in case the official photographer doesn't seem to be coping.<br>
    <br>
    I should say: Phineas, for all we've said that taking the other primes would be a good idea, *do* take the AF lens. With posed shots, manual focus isn't a problem; for most candids the same is true. However, sometimes you want to get people walking around (the bride and groom walking back past the guests or their entry at the wedding breakfast) and there's no substitute for autofocus when tracking movement. I just didn't want you to get the impression that manual focus was worthless - although I got some decent shots with a 135 f/2.8 manual focus, autofocus would have got me more. Getting dancers was hard enough even with autofocus and a 50 f/1.4. Good luck!
     
  49. There is such a thing as pre focus. This is what wedding photographers used to do before we had autofocus lenses. It still works.
     
  50. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "(the bride and groom walking back past the guests or their entry at the wedding breakfast) and there's no substitute for autofocus when tracking movement."
    . . . I think with the pre focus point being that Pew end, just there . . . is 15ft away and that means F/8, for Manual Flash (bounce card) using ASA400 . . . and that gives a perfect 10 x 8 frame with head & feet room using 645 format using the 80mm lens . . . we walk backwards a few steps if necessary, to keep the 15ft until the one shot is good.


    WW


    PS (DoF is a safe 6ft plus a bit).
     
  51. Nadine, William, I concur - when you're planning for a shot, when you're in place for it (something that it's far easier to do if you're the official photographer than if you're a guest trying to stay out of the way, as I was) and when you're stopping down to get decent depth of field, autofocus will only gain you so much - although electronic focus confirmation (or, better still, trap focus, if the S3 Pro happens to behave that way with a manual focus lens - no such luck with the D700) helps. I got some okay snaps with a reasonably wide aperture when I had time to line up and keep half an eye on the AF confirmation light, especially with FocusMagic in Photoshop afterwards, and I'm certainly not the world's most accomplished focus puller.<br>
    <br>
    Nevertheless, I stand by my statement that - at least if you want wide apertures (either in the dark or to smooth the backgrounds) - if you want to be able to get multiple shots of a moving subject in a hurry, there's no substitute for an autofocus lens. The other lenses will be invaluable for posed shots, but if you're trying to get a few candids of guests - or the happy couple - it's hard to manual focus fast enough (before guests stop laughing at a joke, for example). To pick an example from my amateur shots, one of the other guests fell over spectacularly during the dancing at the reception; with autofocus, I could get a couple of shots of him rolling backwards over his shoulders to get up again, at f/1.4 in dim light. Even if I'd been focussed not far off, I'd have really struggled even at f/2.8 if I'd had the manual focus lens on the camera. When the bride and groom entered the wedding breakfast, someone was between them and me (which admittedly wouldn't have happened if I'd been the primary photographer); by the time I had a clear shot my prefocus was worthless. I stand by this argument enough that I've just ordered a 135 f/2, in part so that I have autofocus at a friend's wedding.<br>
    <br>
    I mistyped in my last post. I meant to say that, although the manual focus lenses might be more useful focal lengths for most of the shots, don't think that the autofocus lens doesn't have its place. F/8 and prefocus are valuable tools, but sometime a narrow depth of field is useful, and often just knowing that you can point the lens and get the shot is important - not everything worth photographing at a wedding is planned. Of course, I've never produced a traditional photo album, and part of what distinguishes an official wedding photographer from a guest with a camera is that the professional *can* wrangle the subjects and stage shots - but I'd still rather be in a position to take any distinguishing photograph that presents itself. It's embarrassing to watch someone with a compact get a shot of a group of people laughing while you're still fiddling with the focus ring.<br>
    <br>
    In other words, I'd take the AF lens and leave it on the camera between staged photo opportunities, just in case. Your mileage may vary, especially if you're more competent or less paranoid than me.
     
  52. True, with a wide open aperture, you can't rely on DOF for pre focus. But it is hard enough to accurately focus an f1.4 lens wide open with autofocus. the point is--one manages with what one has. After all, weddings were photographed with manual focus lenses for a long time before autofocus ever came on the scene. I used to zone focus my Mamiya C330 for candids at f4 (medium format has about 1 stop less DOF than 135mm gear). It can be done--I'm not saying wide open, but again--one does what one can, knowing one's gear.
     
  53. True, Nadine - I have plenty of fuzzy f/1.4 photographs taken with autofocus to prove that it's not infallable. (Advice to anyone as amateur as me is definitely to take a *lot* of shots, at least since digital makes it relatively free.) Certainly Phineas shouldn't discount his manual focus lenses - I was just worried that we might have advised him to do without the autofocus 50mm instead! I have *some* experience with manual focus (the 135mm, a Pentax 645 and 80mm, a couple of tilt/shift lenses), but I know others would do much better than I could hope to without electronic assistance. Phineas may well fall in that category. Still, if you have equipment that can help, you may as well use it. :)
     
  54. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “Certainly Phineas shouldn't discount his manual focus lenses - I was just worried that we might have advised him to do without the autofocus 50mm instead!”
    I don’t think the thread has advised Phineas to leave the 50mm lens at home.
    The thrust of my (five) posts is the importance that Phineas should place upon the elements of:
    > Field of View and the necessary Subject Distance to get that Field of View.
    > Outdoor Flash Fill’s effective Working Distance the necessary Subject Distance to allow Flash Fill
    Specifically for this Wedding, we note it will be in the afternoon and outside; so we can expect that, were we are covering quick action (like a guest falling over and etc), there will be enough light to be working at about F/8 @ 1/400s @ ISO400 (assuming Open Shade, Soft Shadows or Sunlight backlit, no Flash Fill); in Open Sunlight, we could be working at F/11 or even F/16 . . . so perhaps the examples given about DoF and using F/1.8 to F/2.8 will not apply in this specific case.
    If we were discussing a night-time Wedding then I might be advocating explaining to the Bride that there might be a lot of Half Shots and also advocating using the 50mm lens more often – and alsousing Flash and Flash Focus Assist (I assume the Nikon gear in question has Flash Focus Assist)
    So my considerations above, which are directed at the original question, were still paramount with this tangential discussion with you, Andrew, about “to AF or not to AF” . . . I am sure you note I recommended taking the three lenses and I mentioned that I would likely use the 35mm the most . . .
    On the AF question, for example, when outside and the guests are dancing or the B&G are moving, I would rather be working at about 15 to 18 ft and have a clear view of a full frame final 10 x 8 print of a Full Length, vertical orientation, than need to be at about 25ft for the same using a 50mm lens . . . At about 15ft, flash fill is still likely possible in open shade . . . at 25ft it is not AND at 25ft (for me) I am over the limit of my reception for “involvement”, as I like working closer than further away, though noted this might not be the OP’s or your choice.
    Also at 15ft to 18 ft if we need to move quickly 6ft in or out, we are still at good working distances (IMO), but starting at 25ft (for a Full Length Shot) and if we need to move back to 30ft or beyond, then, IMO that is well over dangerous distance, apropos foreground interference, loss of connectivity and control of the shooting environment and for Outdoors, it is beyond the limit of most On Camera Flash, for Fill, in daylight from Full Sun to and including, Heavy Overcast.
    I do hope that Pavol answers my question.
    IMO recommending lenses to another for a Wedding Coverage is quite difficult: but it is very easy and also important to suggest that careful consideration be given to the camera on which the lens is to be used and the working environment in which the Camera and Lens will be used.
    In this regard and as a general comment, I think we could mount a reasonable and convincing argument that given the choice of only one Prime Lens to use for an entire wedding, and that Wedding being without any description whatsoever, then the choice of a Normal to Slightly Wide lens would be the choice of most working / seasoned Professionals, and their reasons for that choice would be very similar, and I think most would prioritize Focal Length above Auto Focus.
    Weddings are scripted by the fact that they are a recurrent event and thus predictive somewhat for Camera Viewpoint - the key to being in the right postion, is knowing the script; Weddings are slow moving by comparison to fast Sports Action, and during the scripted portions of the Wedding the movement is also quite predictive, metered and regular; Weddings are contained within close quarters, and usually within Flash range. Noting these elements of Weddings, Auto Focus does not play a large role, IMO, but it is certainly a nicety to have available.
    It would be easy to script a Dinosaur Comment like “we did without AF in the old days – you whippersnappers can’t survive without it now” . . . but that is NOT why I took the time to script this . . .
    The reason why I did script a little tome was to ensure that we do not dismiss the limitations of using a telephoto lens whilst we are considering the value added of having Auto Focus available to us.
    Also I think we might highlight that reliance on technology at the loss of technical skills, is not necessarily a good thing for Photographers and Photography, these days. And IMO, taking a lot of shots, without purpose and subsequent detailed analysis, with the view to refining technique so that one might take fewer, well timed shots each with a purpose, is much better advice.
    WW
     
  55. Thanks, William - I may have leapt on your "90% with the 35mm" comment and, with my typical paranoia, worried that Phineas might (with his apparent desire to get away with a single lens) take just that. I guess my experience was highly coloured by being a guest (with a 50mm and some manual focus kit) rather than the official photographer; I simply couldn't position myself, plan ahead or wrangle the guests without being a lot less unobtrusive than I was trying to be, and this invalidates much of my advice. As you say, knowing the script would make a big difference.<br>
    <br>
    I'm also suitably admonished about having to take a lot of photos to get any keepers (partly due to focus limitations, partly - as you suggest, for a distant photographer - because people tend to get in the way). I'll try not to blow four flash cards' worth at the next wedding I attend, and might manage some slightly less frantic cropping. I'm hoping my AF 135 might help, since I threw away so much of the frame when trying to take candids away from the dance floor with a 50mm. I'd better also get some fill flash practice in - although I'd hope to be a little less range limited with a dedicated unit (the 550EX from my Canon days spoiled me). With a bit of luck, I'll have learned something - and not just about Photoshop retouching (oh, the "spot healing brush" *doesn't* refer to spots in a scan...) - from/since last time. But that's why I'm lurking here, of course.
     
  56. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Ha! More insights, you are certainly good value, Andrew and I am sure that your "lurking here" is brain food which is: digested; sorted; filed and then used wisely. . .
    ***
    "typical paranoia" is a good trait as you display it here, IMO - goes to Passion.
    ***

    "I guess my experience was highly coloured by being a guest (with a 50mm and some manual focus kit)"

    Perhaps, likely . . .
    Assuming you were shooting Available Light (and therefore using the 50 rather than the kit lens) also probably elements of not wanting to move about too much so you did not disturb and also you might consider that you did not plan the "how to" use your 50mm lens to its best advantage: for example planning for typically tighter shots, generally, so you did not have all those people in the way - i.e. determining the scope of the evening’s shooting around a dozen or so intimate half shots with a short telephoto rather than having “no plan” and attempting to mimic a "full coverage"
    Also, for future reference your kit zoom can be a useful tool inside for Available Light. I have extended the poor little Canon 18 to 55 F/3.5 to F/5.6 kit lens at ISO1600 and it pulls up OK. the trick is to use it at 18mm to 22mm ONLY and then you have an F/3.5 widish lens – get good shutter techniques, bracing and timing the shot, you can pull as slow as 1/15s with confidence – I am sure the Nikon Kit Lens is just as goodish.
    ***
    “With a bit of luck, I'll have learned something”
    Oh, it is obvious you have learnt heaps: so have I, thank you for that.
    Also you spell colour with a “u”.
    WW
     
  57. :) Thank you for your encouragement (and advice), William - I'll do my best with the "used wisely" bit! I should also possibly be a little more forward when it comes to taking photos, rather than being quite so unobtrusive; it'd give me a better excuse to avoid the dance floor! Funny how shooting landscapes doesn't make me feel so self-conscious; I'm still deciding whether I'd ever dare find a use for the 14-24 at a wedding. Perhaps for the church...<br>
    <br>
    Oh, and I'm British - which helps to explain why it was cloudy in the last outdoor wedding photos I took. But I do enough reading of international computer graphics documentation that I might occasionally type "color" by accident!<br>
    <br>
    As an aside: those talking of manual focus have pointed out that you don't need such accuracy at smaller apertures. I was using the 135 f/2.8 near wide open, for bokeh (the 50 f/1.4 was as much because it was dark). Would you argue that - since even kit lenses are pretty sharp at f/8 - an 18-55 is a good substitute for both the 35mm and the 50, unless you really have a lot of time to focus? (Not trying to misadvise Phineas by asking an awkward question, I'm just curious how much the aperture of a wide prime is useful in decent light - and whether picking up a 24 f/2.8 manual focus might be better in my bag, with a 50 f/1.8 [the f/1.4 was on loan] and 135, than carting my slow 28-200. If I took my 14-24, I'd save it for when it wouldn't scare people...)
     
  58. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Would you argue that - since even kit lenses are pretty sharp at f/8 - an 18-55 is a good substitute for both the 35mm and the 50, unless you really have a lot of time to focus? (Not trying to misadvise Phineas by asking an awkward question, I'm just curious how much the aperture of a wide prime is useful in decent light - and whether picking up a 24 f/2.8 manual focus might be better in my bag, with a 50 f/1.8 [the f/1.4 was on loan] and 135, than carting my slow 28-200. If I took my 14-24, I'd save it for when it wouldn't scare people...)"
    That’s quite a composite question. I think that many points need to be taken into account
    > for any manual focusing the faster the lens, the brighter the viewfinder the less eyestrain the better likelihood of nailing focus.
    > APS-C cameras are prone to dark (by comparison) viewfinders.
    > buying a lens for use ONLY in “decent light” is not a good criterion for buying a lens, IMO, unless the price is right . . .
    > I have (had – I gave one away) two Canon Kit Lenses (18 to 55) one IS, one not – the first one I bought new, it cost me $AUS49 more than the body alone, (about $40 US) – that to me was “a good price”. The second “came with” a Canon 350D I bought at a Pawn Shop to take shots hanging over the gunwale of a yacht. The camera and lens survived - the photos were great. The camera was the “Right Price” the Pawn Shop owner would not sell me the camera “body only” cheaper – his logic was: how would he sell a kit lens on its own.
    Hope that helps . . . but my bottom line, if I were you, would be to save and buy the AF lens you need / want for all types of shooting. I think that buying “Limiting” things is different to buying “Specialist” things, no matter what the price.
    That said, if you were at a Second hand Photo Mall / Club day etc and there was a 24 MF for a few quid . . . have a look through it for mould and feel the mechanism has no roughs and there is little free play . . .then buy it – many MF lenses are cheap as chips – I just like to hold it, before I buy it.
    WW
     
  59. Thanks for the feedback, William.<br>
    <br>
    I'm not sure my question was very coherent, but I've not done much better while trying to paraphrase it. What I think I was trying to get at is: is there any benefit to bringing a fast wide-angle manual-focus prime to a wedding, compared with a kit zoom?<br>
    <br>
    For a longer lens, there's plenty of benefit: I had my 28-200 f/3.5-5.6 G (autofocus) with me at the last wedding I attended, and chose to use the 135 f/2.8 manual focus in a deliberate attempt to isolate the subjects from the background. However, the depth of field is large enough in a wide-angle lens that I don't know that it has much creative effect - at least until we get into big money optics like a 24mm f/1.4.<br>
    <br>
    For a wide angle, I can see a bit of aperture would help with camera shake, but it'd have to be pretty dark before a DSLR can't produce something useful at 1/15s. Freezing motion might be more worthwhile, but relies on being able to plan the focus pretty well. Stopping down to guarantee an adequate depth of field for approximate focus takes you to the stage where a kit lens is likely to be optically pretty good (most are competent modern designs, even if they're made of plastic).<br>
    <br>
    I'm considering picking up an ancient Sigma (because it's 1/3 the price of the Nikon) 24mm f/2.8 manual focus. I have the Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, which I'm sure is optically better (although the 14-24 is weakest at 24mm and I'm struggling to find a review of the Sigma), but the Nikkor is huge and will scare small children - I don't want to lug it around all day when I'm trying to be unobtrusive. If I'm going to try being more forward about taking snaps of guests, the Sigma is much less intimidating. While there's obviously a fair difference between 24mm and 28mm, I wonder how much use it will be compared with my smallish 28-200 or even smaller (and faster focussing) 28-85; note that I already have both of those as daylight "street sweeper" lenses for when I'm not sure what I'll be photographing, so I'm only considering shopping for the Sigma.<br>
    <br>
    Given the option of a slightly slower, slightly less wide autofocus lens, do you think a manual focus 24mm is useful? I'm planning to take a 50 f/1.8 and 135 f/2, and probably the 14-24 just for the service (to get the architecture and congregation), but any opinions on whether my remaining bag space would be better spent on a manual 24 f/2.8 or an autofocus 28-200 would be welcome.
     
  60. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “Is there any benefit to bringing a fast wide-angle manual-focus prime to a wedding, compared with a kit zoom?”
    Yes, the advantage would (mainly) be in the aperture allowing for a brighter viewfinder, faster Shutter speeds, lower ISO, as I have mentioned – but you originally spoke of outside and daylight as I understood - "I'm just curious how much the aperture of a wide prime is useful in decent light" so those advantages would be minimal . . . but now you go on to mention about Shallow DoF and Subject Isolation,and there are a few comments I have about these matters:



    “For a longer lens, there's plenty of benefit: I had my 28-200 f/3.5-5.6 G (autofocus) with me at the last wedding I attended, and chose to use the 135 f/2.8 manual focus in a deliberate attempt to isolate the subjects from the background. However, the depth of field is large enough in a wide-angle lens that I don't know that it has much creative effect - at least until we get into big money optics like a 24mm f/1.4”



    DoF is related to “The Shot” – if you take a Head shot with a 200mm lens and the exact same Head Shot (i.e. same framing) with a 24mm lens, at the same aperture, using the same camera, the DoF will be the same. Ergo the DoF / Subject Separation on this image, which was taken at F/3.2 with a 24mm lens: http://www.photo.net/photo/9567749
    “For a wide angle, I can see a bit of aperture would help with camera shake, but it'd have to be pretty dark before a DSLR can't produce something useful at 1/15s. Freezing motion might be more worthwhile, but relies on being able to plan the focus pretty well.”
    Well the idea that you can shoot at slower Tv (Shutter Speeds) and that Hand Holding, and that here is less camera shake with wider lenses is also relative:
    – to how much you enlarge the image
    – and how close the subject is to the camera . . .
    If we take a tight head shot with a 24mm lens and hand hold at 1/30s most photographers will very likely get some camera shake and that shake will be visible on a10 x 8 print – also likely some subject movement will be seen at 1/30s.
    “Stopping down to guarantee an adequate depth of field for approximate focus takes you to the stage where a kit lens is likely to be optically pretty good (most are competent modern designs, even if they're made of plastic).”
    Agree 100%.

    “I'm considering picking up an ancient Sigma (because it's 1/3 the price of the Nikon) 24mm f/2.8 manual focus.”
    OK – I understand you thinking.
    “I have the Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, which I'm sure is optically better (although the 14-24 is weakest at 24mm and I'm struggling to find a review of the Sigma), but the Nikkor is huge and will scare small children”
    I disagree – “huge lens” does not scare small children as much as you thinking it does and them picking up upon your misgivings, will scare them.
    IMO small children react by instinct, so do animals. Small Children have not had that breed out of them. If you are scared so are they. I have no issue with a 2 70 to 200 or 300 big white lens with kids – adults yes, kids, no.
    “I don't want to lug it around all day when I'm trying to be unobtrusive. If I'm going to try being more forward about taking snaps of guests, the Sigma is much less intimidating.”
    OK, now we are talking about Adults. Yes IMO a Short Snub fast Prime is a good lens to have. On a Nikon APS-C Camera I would buy the 35F/2 – I think they still make one.
    I have Canon Gear. I have the 35L and I also have the 35F/2 (actually I borrow it from my daughter), I recommend you look at the equivalent lens in Nikon, I am sure it will be AF. Yes, it is not as wide as 24mm, but have a look and do have a rethink. AF is useful.
    But then again, if you have a 12 to 24 F/2.8 and you are a guest at the Wedding . . . really are you wanting to be changing lenses all day?
    Again if you have one camera and one lens (for example the 12 to 24) how intrusive can that be to the Guests ? ? ? - you might be over-thinking this too much and not just getting out there and taking the photos.
    “While there's obviously a fair difference between 24mm and 28mm, I wonder how much use it will be compared with my smallish 28-200 or even smaller (and faster focussing) 28-85; note that I already have both of those as daylight "street sweeper" lenses for when I'm not sure what I'll be photographing, so I'm only considering shopping for the Sigma.”
    Well given the situation that you are a Guest at a Wedding, if I were you (and I have been, several times), I would take one camera and one lens (oh and I don’t take a Flash). Personally I would take my 5D and my 50F/1.4 or the 35F/2, depending if it were happening in large grounds or in a tight area.
    So, on an APS-C camera that means about a 24 prime or a 35 prime in round figures – but as you do not have a 24 prime, or a 35 Prime . . . and given that I seem to know now your full choice of lenses, (? ? ?) I would most likely opt for the 12 to 24F/2.8, if it was a small Wedding in Tight Surrounds (house for example) or I would use the 50F/1.8, if it were outside for the whole event.
    “Given the option of a slightly slower, slightly less wide autofocus lens, do you think a manual focus 24mm is useful? I'm planning to take a 50 f/1.8 and 135 f/2, and probably the 14-24 just for the service (to get the architecture and congregation), but any opinions on whether my remaining bag space would be better spent on a manual 24 f/2.8 or an autofocus 28-200 would be welcome.”
    Well, I would not buy a MF 24mm lens for this occasion, no.
    WW
     
  61. Steve Smith--yes, Rolleis were used all the time for weddings, but the normal lens could be easily used for group shots (maybe a subject distance of about 10-12 feet). A normal lens on a Rollei is 80mm, on a 35mm full frame, it is 50mm. The 50mm on Phineas' camera (cropped sensor) is equivalent to an 80mm telephoto on a full frame. It is mildly difficult to use such a focal length for group shots.​
    I agree but there was mention of a 35mm f1.4 which would be 'normal' on a DX body and suitably fast to enable the use of higher shutter speeds.
     
  62. My first digital wedding was done with a Canon D30 (not a 30D) 10 years ago, which was a 3 meg, crop frame camera. I still show some of those shots as samples @ 11" X 14". Your camera is fine. I also shot many weddings with a Fuji FinePix S1 which was less of a camera than you now have. The Fuji's are great, especially in contrasty light.
    Yes, you should have a back-up camera and lens. See if you can borrow one from a friend or family member on the condition that you will use it only if needed. Outdoors in decent light even a higher end P&S will back you up for the type of shots you want to do. Skill and care can mitigate the draw backs of a lesser camera. Only you can determine your ability to do that.
    Do consider a flash for outdoor work. Often the contrast range can be troublesome and difficult to deal with even with a Fuji. A flash will fill in shadow areas, especially the dreaded "Raccoon Eye" caused by deep shadows in the eye sockets. No need for an expensive do-all ETTL flash. A simple Auto Thyristor unit can be had for far less money and will work just as well for fill. If you buy used, just be sure it is compatible with your camera, some older units can fry your camera's electronics. Get one before hand and practice shooting outside in harsh light.
    Best of luck!!!!!
     
  63. William (and all other contributors to this thread), thanks again for the information.

    "DoF is related to “The Shot” – if you take a Head shot with a 200mm lens and the exact same Head Shot (i.e. same framing) with a 24mm lens, at the same aperture, using the same camera, the DoF will be the same. Ergo the DoF / Subject Separation on this image, which was taken at F/3.2 with a 24mm lens: http://www.photo.net/photo/9567749"

    That's sort-of true; two lenses of different focal lengths, with the same relative aperture, with the same view of the focal plane will produce - in a plane that's the same distance from the focal plane - circles of confusion that are the same size. For example, take a subject 1m from a wall. A 100mm f/2 lens (50mm aperture), 1m from the subject, will produce blur circles 50mm wide on the wall. A 200mm f/2 lens (100mm aperture), 2m from the subject, will have the same view of the subject and also produce blur circles 50mm wide on the wall.

    However, the 200mm lens only sees 3/4 as much of the wall as the 100mm lens does. To appear the same size in a 200mm lens, the wall would have to be twice as far away as with a 100mm, i.e. 2 x 2m = 4m; instead, it's only 1m behind the subject, or 3m away from the lens. Therefore the circles of confusion appear 1/3 larger (x 4/3) in the frame. (If we move the subject away from the wall so that the size of the wall and the subject appear the same as with the 100mm lens, the wall is now twice as far away from the focal plane and the size of the blur circles doubles.) Correspondingly, anything in front of the focal plane appears larger to the wider lens. If you want a blurry background, a telephoto lens is your friend. I've stuck a diagram here, in case it helps.

    That said, although I tend to dismiss wide lenses as not having the ability to blur the background as much as a telephoto, your example does show that you don't need all that much bokeh to make the subject stand out.

    "Well the idea that you can shoot at slower Tv (Shutter Speeds) and that Hand Holding, and that here is less camera shake with wider lenses is also relative:
    – to how much you enlarge the image
    – and how close the subject is to the camera . . .

    If we take a tight head shot with a 24mm lens and hand hold at 1/30s most photographers will very likely get some camera shake and that shake will be visible on a10 x 8 print – also likely some subject movement will be seen at 1/30s."


    The amount that a small degree of shake can affect a close-up is a very good point, and something I tend not to think of, as someone unused to wrangling subjects up close; I should have been thinking of it, given the fuss over Canon's new IS macro. As for enlargements, I guess I've not done that many - it's true that a wide angle shot will look distorted unless printed large enough to make the field of view match for the user. I did some maths a while back and realised that my D700 can't match the resolution of the human eye at the same field of view with anything wider than a ~60mm lens...

    "I disagree – “huge lens” does not scare small children as much as you thinking it does and them picking up upon your misgivings, will scare them."

    Good to know, but sadly I was just using a colloquialism. It'll be adults at the next wedding I attend, and a 98mm wide lens stuck into a group of people is likely to interrupt conversation... but perhaps I should master my "please ignore me" expression.

    "Yes IMO a Short Snub fast Prime is a good lens to have. On a Nikon APS-C Camera I would buy the 35F/2 – I think they still make one.

    I have Canon Gear. I have the 35L and I also have the 35F/2 (actually I borrow it from my daughter), I recommend you look at the equivalent lens in Nikon, I am sure it will be AF. Yes, it is not as wide as 24mm, but have a look and do have a rethink."


    I'll certainly consider it. Unfortunately: wide, fast, autofocus, cheap; pick any two. The 24 f/2.8 Nikkor, which is nice and portable and marginally sharper than the zoom at 24mm, sadly costs six times as much as an old manual focus Sigma. The 35 f/2 is a similar price. Not quite such an impulse purchase!

    "really are you wanting to be changing lenses all day?...you might be over-thinking this too much and not just getting out there and taking the photos."

    That certainly advocates taking the 28-200 and not worrying about it. I'm sure you're right that I'm over-thinking; I'm an armchair photographer, but at least I feel guilty about it. Still, it's nice to be prepared if possible.

    "So, on an APS-C camera that means about a 24 prime or a 35 prime in round figures – but as you do not have a 24 prime, or a 35 Prime . . . and given that I seem to know now your full choice of lenses, (? ? ?) I would most likely opt for the 12 to 24F/2.8, if it was a small Wedding in Tight Surrounds (house for example) or I would use the 50F/1.8, if it were outside for the whole event."

    I think I've caused confusion by hijacking Phineas's thread (and trying to get some answers that are relevant to him as well). I'll be taking my D700, which is full frame. Phineas is shooting an outdoor wedding. The next wedding I'll attend is a mixture; my past experience had some outdoor time and the official photographer left before the speeches at the dinner and wasn't present for dancing later on; since I've got the kit (if not the talent), I like to be able to take some decent photos to give to the bride and groom as a thank-you, while not treading on the toes of the official photographer.

    Regarding the remaining lens choice, I'll admit that I was considering taking my (off-brand) 35mm f/2.8 tilt/shift, if only because it's smallish and I might be able to get a few unusual shots - I tend to forget that I've got it when it comes to considering fast(ish) wide lenses, but it might mean I can leave the 28-200 behind. You'll be pleased to know that even I can't justify dragging my 150-500 around all day. I can hide most of the lenses in a bag under a chair (where I can see it); only the 14-24 and 135 f/2 are on the unwieldy side - I doubt I'll want the former other than for some scenery shots, so it can live in the car. I don't have the traditional pro zooms (24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8), otherwise I'd take the hit of taking at least one big zoom and know I was probably covered.

    I know, being competent with one lens is more important than having a huge range available. It'd just be nice to have the right kit with me to take the best photos that I'm technically capable of. I suspect I'll just end up offloading lenses as the day goes by and I work out what exactly is planned. I'll skip the 24mm Sigma idea for now, partly on your advice and partly because I belatedly realised it might be old enough not to interact well with a digital sensor. I might follow the mixed advice and take a speedlight, though.

    Thanks for all the information. It's good to know what other people would do; eventually, the fact that I'm being silly might sink in!
     
  64. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "That's sort-of true"
    Not "sort of true" - it is true.
    You have changed the elements of the discussion. I was commenting upon Depth Of Field - the Topic which you raised "However, the depth of field is large enough in a wide-angle lens that I don't know that it has much creative effect - at least until we get into big money optics like a 24mm f/1.4”
    I was not commenting upon the quality of Bokeh (whatever that is) or the relative relationship to the size of the out of focus circles between two images using two different lenses.
    "your example does show that you don't need all that much bokeh to make the subject stand out."
    Yes, it does.

    ***

    Yes perhaps there was confusion with two discussions going on. at first they were somewhat linked - now they are disparate.

    Perhaps if you want to continue start a new question.

    Apologies for my contributions to the tangents, also.

    WW
     
  65. Thanks again, William. I'd intended to keep to the topic of whether a kit lens would be a better alternative than normal and wide primes, and the potential artistic merits of a faster wide lens (particularly regarding separating the subject from the background) compared with a slower zoom or a longer lens. I apologise for subverting the thread; I had hoped it would still be of interest to the OP.

    For the record (because statements in threads on this site tend to get quoted out of context years later, not because I'm trying to be argumentative), the lens focal length does have an influence on depth of field when aperture and framing match. At shortish subject distances the effect is negligible; at longer distances the behaviour diverges, with the hyperfocal distance of a wide-angle being much shorter than a telephoto with the same aperture. A telephoto lens can throw the background significantly more out of focus than a wider lens, especially as distance between the subject and background increases (hence my query, although William's image nicely and empirically answered my question about whether creative blur is possible with a wide lens). Especially up close, relative aperture has more effect than focal length. Wikipedia discusses the maths here, and I've put a spreadsheet which simplifies tinkering with parameters (because I wanted to make sure of myself before making claims) here. I hope that helps someone who comes across this thread in the future.

    Thanks again to everyone for their input.
     
  66. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "For the record (because statements in threads on this site tend to get quoted out of context years later, not because I'm trying to be argumentative [me neither]), the lens focal length does have an influence on depth of field when aperture and framing match."

    Ditto. Not being argumentative.
    Yes. I agree.
    Your maths / theory is correct apropos the DoF - (I didn't check your sums but just noted the 135mm lens has a few mm less DoF than the 14mm lens in your example.)
    What do you do? Teach Maths or Debate Professionally? ? ? – I had a time remembering calculus when I visited that first link - I got ¼ way into it and gave up . . . Crikey I am glad this is my AFD.
    (But I am still not keen on mixing up words and using adjectives to describe DoF, like: "A telephoto lens can throw the background significantly more out of focus than a wider lens, especially as distance between the subject and background increases" but I do know what you mean . . . and etc :)

    ***

    For absolute clarity my comments in this regard were for "in the field use" for a working Wedding Photographer - or similar.
    I know three basic "shots": Head, Half and Full Length.
    Three apertures for which I know DoF: F/2.8 / F/5.6 and F/11 - (all for each orientation: Vertical and Horizontal).
    That knowledge (and if one keeps on the "safe side" of DoF) is still useful for shooting field sports even at long Subject Distances, with telephoto lenses.
    But my “in the field” analysis goes belly up, for macro work.

    ***

    Having just re-read everything we two wrote here - it is clearer to me that my premise (and concern) is all about the bit that is in sharp focus and to have a quick means of utilizing my knowledge to preserve that "In Focus Bit".
    For me, I f I have the “in focus bit” I want, then the out of focus bit just will accentuate my in focus bit – I am not all that concerned about the “amount of” or “type of” or “quality of” the out of focus bit – usually.
    On the other hand "quality of / type of / effect of" Bokeh seems an element of your concerns and / or your interests.
    In this regard, consider that “the Bokeh” is contributed to by many elements not just the Circle Size you previously mentioned. These elements include, but are not limited to:
    - the type of background material
    - number of elements and groups of the lens
    - the lens’s baffling
    - flare (if any)
    - illumination direction
    - the illumination type and angle on the background
    - the aperture used, relative to the Maximum Aperture available (not referencing DoF with this point merely saying have a look at the Bokeh at F/5.6 with a 5.6 lens and compare it to the Bokeh at F/5.6 of an F1.4 lens at the SAME Focal Length e.g. Kit zoom at 50mm and 50mm Prime)
    - the number of blades
    - the edge-shape of the blades

    ***

    Thanks for the discussion, it was very enjoyable and also thanks for the links and the effort on the excel sheets.

    WW
     

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