One question I get a lot from new photographers is which lens they should add to their kit if they can only pick one to invest in. But an even better question is how to choose your next lens! Personal preference and personal technique play major roles in what will be best for you. A lot of people will talk about prime lenses as the ONLY way to go. Primes are amazing (I have 3 in my kit) and being able to stop down to 1.4 is pretty incredible. But if you’re new to weddings you won’t be spending a whole lot of time at 1.4 anyway if you want a high percentage of your images in sharp focus, so paying for an aperture option of 1.4 isn’t necessarily your best investment option.
My Favorite Lens On A Wedding Day
For me, my 70-200mm f/2.8 is my all-time favorite lens and I use it 85% of the day! I love the bokeh and the range of focal lengths, especially since so much of a wedding day I want to get close to capture the emotion but don’t want to be a distraction up in people’s faces. For example, church ceremonies, the first dance, reactions during toasts, and the list goes on!
It’s important to know that the 70-200 is a bit of a beast. It’s big and heavy and you need to keep your arms in tight to your body to brace yourself and the camera when using it. I also keep my shutter at or above 200 pretty much at all times to avoid blur from camera shake. I know several photographers who choose primes in part because they weigh less and lifting them to their eye for eight hours without sore muscles is a real factor!
Next on my list is my 35mm prime. I have it on me at all times throughout the day – but I use it much less than my 70-200. I like using it to get scene setters or working with large bridal parties. And it’s my choice for tight getting ready spaces. After that, my 70-200 is pretty much glued to my face! Another great lens is the 85mm prime. It’s incredibly sharp and has great compression as well. But I’ve found my Nikon version to be a bit slow and finicky in terms of focus so I use it more for portraits and less for the movement that makes up the majority of a wedding day.
How to Choose Your Next Lens
Here are the most important things to consider when you’re choosing a new lens – especially if you’re investing slowly and building your kit one lens at a time:
1) DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Read reviews, direct lens comparisons, and make sure you know the warranty information before you buy. Refurbished items can seem like a great deal but they may end up being unreliable and every brand has its own best performing lenses so explore options like Tamron and Sigma as well.
2) TRY BEFORE YOU BUY – Don’t rely on my word, or anyone else’s, when it comes to picking your next lens. Everyone is different and successful photographers each use gear that works for them. Rent different options and try them out before you make a big investment. There is no right or wrong – you need to find what works best for you to achieve your personal style. One place I’ve rented from in the past and is a convenient option for trying out lenses before you buy is Lens Pro To Go. They’ll ship right to your house!
3) FULL FRAME – No matter what lens you choose, it’s worth investing in a full frame version over a crop sensor. This will serve you well for years to come as you grow in your craft and business.
4) IF GOING WITH A ZOOM LENS – If you do go for a zoom lens like my favorite 70-200mm, be sure to invest in one with a constant max aperture that is as low as possible. On the 70-200 it’s 2.8. This means that no matter your focal length (70, 120, 200, etc) you can always open all the way to 2.8.
Below are a few more images taken with my fav 70-200!