You have gotten to be a very good photographer, and are thinking of exploring the wonderful world of wedding photography!
Perhaps a friend is begging you to take photographs of their special day. You may be asking yourself: Do I have the right camera and the best lens for wedding photography?
Wedding Photography is very different from most other photography fields. You can check out some of my wedding work here.
A wedding is a highly emotional event that you will be expected to capture. Over the course of a few hours, the environment that you will be shooting will change, perhaps more than once.
You may start the day photographing the bride getting ready, and then move to the décor and work your way to the guests arriving at the wedding ceremony.
Of course, taking the images that will be fondly remembered of the ceremony itself and at the reception, everything from the wedding vows to the ring exchange to the first dance!
Best Lenses for Wedding Photography - Quick Summary
- Best zoom lens for wedding photography, to capture different conditions of the wedding
- Best Overall DSLR: Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 Sports DG OS HSM
- Best Nikon DSLR: AF-S NIKKOR 70-200 mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
- Best Canon DSLR: Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Best Nikon Mirrorless: Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S Lens
- Best Canon Mirrorless: Canon RF 70-200 mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens
- Best Sony Mirrorless: Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens
- Best wide-angle zoom lens for wedding photography, AKA the wedding lens
- Best Overall DSLR: Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art
- Best Nikon DSLR: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED
- Best Canon DSLR - Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8 II USM
- Best Nikon Mirrlroess: Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70 mm f/2.8 S Lens
- Best Sony Mirrorless: Sony FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM Lens
- Best Canon Mirrorless: Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens
- Best wedding portrait lens for wedding photography
- Best Overall DSLR wedding portraits lens: Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
- Best Nikon DSLR wedding portraits lens: Nikon NIKKOR AF-S 85 mm f/1.8G
- Best Canon DSLR wedding portraits lens: Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM
- Best wedding portraits lens for Sony Mirrorless: Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens
- Best Canon Mirrorless: Canon RF 85 mm f/1.2L USM DS Lens
- Best Nikon Mirrorless: Nikon NIKKOR Z 85 mm f/1.8 S Lens
- Best wide-angle prime lens for wedding photography, for recording the memories and stories of the wedding
- Best macro lens for wedding photography, for capturing the great details
- Best Sony: Sony 100 mm f/2.8 Macro
- Best Nikon: Nikon AF-S 105 mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR Micro
- Best Canon: Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
- Best Sony Mirrorless: Sony FE 90 mm F/2.8 Macro G OSS
- Best Canon mirrorless: Canon RF 35 mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens
- Best Nikon mirrorless: Nikon AF-S 105 mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR Micro
Why should you trust me?
I am Ali G from Ali G Studios, a professional photographer based in Hong Kong, and I’ve photographed some truly beautiful weddings. From the giant 'Crazy Rich Asians' type of weddings to amazing Indian destination weddings in Bali to many intimate weddings around the world, I've had the privilege of capturing great moments for clients.
My work has been featured and published in several major publications and photography sites, including:
I am also the go-to photographer for many international brands such as LVMH and big corporate events. In the Fall of 2020, I was one of the featured artists in the 2020 Extraordinary Exhibition by Karen Leung Foundation in Hong Kong. My photo titled "Dancing in the Shadows" was sold at auction to raise funds for the charity.
Best Lenses for Wedding Photography - What to Consider?
When you are looking at different lenses to add to your kit, the first thing you should do is verify that the lens will mount on your camera. I know this is very common sense, but you would be surprised on how many young photographers skip this step!
While some lenses may fit a few different brands, the major camera brands have mounts that only fit their cameras. Also, with the introduction of mirrorless cameras, a brand may use more than one type of mount.
As an example, Nikon's standard lens mount has been the “F” mount, and they have been using it for decades. However, Nikon's mirrorless camera requires a new “Z” mount. Nikon does have an adapter, Nikon Mount Adapter FTZ, that will allow most “F” mount lenses to work on mirrorless cameras.
Nikon Mount Adapter FTZ
Furthermore, some mirrorless camera functions may be lost when using a mount adapter, so verify the lens will work before purchasing one requiring an adapter.
Complete Your Lens Collection!
Lenses are available in two different types: zoom and prime. Both styles of lenses have their pros and cons that need to be considered. Here are some key points.
- Zoom lenses have a range of focal points, making your distance from the subject less critical.
- Zoom lenses are slightly heavier than a prime lens.
- Zoom lenses are longer than a prime lens.
- Zoom lenses are generally 2 f-stops slower than a prime lens. Also, the maximum f-stop may be different at different focal points.
Prime lenses have a fixed distance, making your distance from the subject more critical.
- Prime lenses are lighter and smaller than zoom lenses. You may be thankful for this after a few hours of shooting.
- Prime lenses have a faster f-stop allowing better low light images.
- Prime lenses due to being smaller and lighter are easier to change if you have to swap between lenses.
To work at the highest level as a wedding photographer, you will need more than one pro lens. It is not unusual to hear wedding photographers say they need four, five, or even more lenses to be successful. However, most will concede that you can get started with three main lenses.
Below are the lenses I would suggest you keep in your kit for shooting a wedding:
- 70-200 mm f/2.8, a versatile lens for shooting the ceremony
- 24-70 mm f/2.8, ‘the wedding lens’ great for both candid and posed photographs
- 85 mm Prime f/1.4 or f/1.8, the wedding portrait lens
- 35 mm Prime f/1.4 or f/1.8, a wide-angle prime lens to tell the emotions and story of the weddings with a point of view similar to human eyes
- A Macro lens, the must-have for capturing all the details of your wedding
Best Lenses for Wedding Photography - Recommendations
Best Zoom Lens for Wedding Photography: 70-200 mm f/2.8
This size zoom lens is very versatile, which is very important with the variety of conditions you may have for a wedding shoot. This lens will likely be the one used for the ceremony itself.
Some churches and venues may restrict where you can photograph from. It is not unheard of for a church to require the photographer to stay at the back, even behind the guests. In a case such as this, the zoom feature will be needed to get those special moments captured with detail.
Another common condition is that the photographer is allowed close to the altar but having limited mobility and is mostly hidden from view. The zoom feature compensates for the limited mobility.
The 70 mm side of the zoom range is a great focal length for portraits as well.
Depth of field will determine what areas of your photograph are in focus. This is determined by your focal point, aperture, and focal length of your lens.
Being able to control the focal length gives you additional control to create a soft-focused background. Also, you can include soft-focused foreground elements to create dramatic images.
The aperture of f/2.8 will allow for better exposures in low-light situations. Proper exposure is a balance of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed for the available light.
Wedding photographers will often find that indoor venues have low levels of natural and artificial lights. A high ISO can lead to noise which can produce poor quality, so the ISO is normally fixed.
Having a larger aperture allows for a faster shutter speed as well, which leads to sharper images. In addition to being one of the best lenses for wedding photography, this lens is a popular choice for sports and nature photographers as well.
Camera manufacturers create a line of lenses that fit their cameras. They will of course suggest that their lens is the best fit for your requirements. However, there are lens manufacturers other than the camera manufacturers themselves, which also make outstanding products.
The Best DSLR Zoom Lenses for Wedding Photography - 70-200 mm f/2.8 Lens
Sigma may not be a household name for many photographers; however, this Japanese lens maker is considered among the best in the world. The company has an outstanding reputation for quality and durability.
The Sigma 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM is one of their flagship lenses and is highly regarded by leading professionals. Unlike most other lenses, it is available for many camera brands.
Along your path as a professional photographer, you might consider changing the brand of camera you are using. When you do, it's very likely that your current lenses will not fit the new camera.
However, many of the Sigma lenses, including the Sigma 70-200 mm f/2.8, can be returned for a small fee and have the mount changed.
This top-of-the-line lens for Nikon cameras offers amazing images with the f/2.8 aperture across the entire 70 mm to 200 mm zoom range.
When the need arises for a stunning close-up portrait, you can rely on the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200 mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens's 3.6 feet (1.1 m) close focusing distance as well. The lens also has superior autofocus capabilities for both low light and fast-moving subjects.
The “VR” in the lens name refers to “Vibration Reduction”. This technology improves image stability by compensating for camera shake.
This top-of-the-line lens from Canon offers similar features to its users as Nikon does with the Nikkor lens.
Canon has upgraded their EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM to this new version by improving the optical quality, speed, and performance. The f/2.8 aperture and a minimum focusing distance of 3.9 ft (1.2m) are available for the entire zoom range.
Canon's Optical Image Stabilizer compensates for camera shake with 3.5 stops of correction at all focal lengths.
The Best Mirrorless 70-200 mm f/2.8 Lenses for Wedding Photography
Here is what Nikon says about their lens, “The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S sets an impressive new standard for fast telephoto zoom lenses optimized for the next generation of Nikon's advanced mirrorless cameras”.
This lens is a member of Nikon's new “S” series of lenses. Many see this series as starting a new generation of lens quality.
The series features a new style of stepping motor for the autofocus, a new glass element, and other features.
The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S Lens will focus at 1.64 feet (0.5 m) when used at the 70 mm zoom position. A focus this close might eliminate a need for a macro lens.
The “RF” mount is Canon's mirrorless camera mount. Improvements in camera electronics drove a redesign of lenses for mirrorless cameras.
This new “L” series lens is almost a pound lighter than Canon's previous lenses in this range.
This Canon RF 70-200 mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens uses two focusing motors, the Dual Nano USM focus system is the first time Canon has used two motors in a lens.
The lens has a control ring, which allows the photographer to change camera settings from the lens.
Sony has introduced the “E” mount for their mirrorless cameras, and a new G Master series of lenses. This is a statement from Sony[AG4], “Lens standards are changing. Advances in camera performance and soaring creative ideals demand a new approach to lens technology. Lenses must evolve to remain ahead of the curve. With a clear vision of cameras of the future, Sony now redefines the lens. High resolution and appealing bokeh together at last, from the leader in imaging innovation.”
The Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens has Sony's Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with a 5-axis image stabilization.
A switch on the lens allows you to adjust the stabilization when panning your subject. Additional lens switches allow you to turn on or off other features.
Best Wide-Angle Zoom Lenses for Wedding Photography: 24-70 mm f/2.8
A great wedding photographer blends in at the ceremony, trying to be seen as little as possible. At the reception, they make themselves better known, taking photos of both the wedding party and the guests.
The 24-70 mm f/2.8 is often called ‘the wedding lens’ as this is the lens used mostly at the reception. The photographer will mingle with the guests and take both candid and posed photographs. Many times, they will want to be close to the subject and engage them in conversation as they set up the pose.
The 24 mm side of the range allows for wide-angle photographs that are great for groups and general images of the reception itself.
The 70 mm side of the range will get you close up for shots that you are a little farther away from. It is also a decent focal length for portraits. Weddings are often the only time whole families will get together, so there will be many requests for a photograph with a seldom-seen cousin.
I highly recommend this lens for wedding photographers who are just starting.
Sigma's Art line brings a new level of resolution needed for today's digital cameras.
The Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art has a larger diameter than any other lens on the market of this size. The elements used in the larger diameter are of a special design that allows the camera to record a higher resolution than other lenses.
The lens incorporates a four-stop optical stabilizer (OS) function, and it comes in mounts for different cameras.
Nikon's latest wide-angle zoom lens for their FX and DX-format D-SLR cameras. When focusing, the lens uses an internal focus movement that does not change the length of the lens.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED use a Silent Wave Motor autofocus system that provides fast focusing even in low light situations. This lens has a minimum focus distance of 1.2 feet (0.38 m) and is my favorite lens for weddings!
The Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8 II USM is Canon's wide-angle telephoto zoom companion to their EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM lens. The “L” series lenses are the latest innovation from Canon, featuring high-grade optics and fast autofocus functions.
The f/2.8 aperture is available over the entire zoom range. The closest focusing distance is 1.25 feet (0.38 m).
The Best Wide Angle Zoom Lenses for Mirrorless Cameras
Best Nikon Mirrorless Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Wedding Photography: Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70 mm f/2.8 S Lens
This mid-range zoom lens is the companion lens of the Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S Lens and has many of the same features. A member of the “Z” series it has top-of-the-line optics, and an f/2.8 aperture over the entire range of the lens.
It uses a multi-focusing system coupled with a pair of silent stepping motors to deliver outstanding sharp images. The minimum focus distance is 1.25 feet (0.38 m).
Sony's FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM Lens is their wide-angle G Master lens for mirrorless cameras. The lens has many of the same features as the FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens.
The Direct-Drive SSM (DDSSM) focusing system is incredibility fast, and the camera has a minimum focus distance is 1.24 feet (0.38 m).
Best Canon Mirrorless Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Wedding Photography - Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens
The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens uses Canon's NANO USM system for high-speed autofocus. The minimum focusing distance ranges from 0.69 feet (0.21 m) at the widest setting to 1.25 feet (0.38 m) at the furthest telephoto setting.
The lens has a control ring, which allows the photographer to change camera settings from the lens, which are displayed in the camera's view screen.
Best Wedding Portraits Lenses - The 85 mm Prime f/1.4 or f/1.8
New wedding photographers selecting the prime lens option will find this is the best choice for their long lens. The f/1.4 or f/1.8 aperture (depends on brand) are two f-stops faster than the zoom lenses.
Wedding venues are often poorly lit from a photographer's viewpoint. The 2 f-stops mean a world of difference to us photographers because we can take images in one-fourth of the light compared to an F/2.8 zoom.
In low light situations, this can mean the difference between an image captured with great exposure and low noise and one that is underexposed with details lost. With Prime Lenses, the photographer will have to use their feet to get closer if necessary. Photographers call this "leg zoom!"
The 85 mm Prime will allow you to make great portraits as well, without crowding your subject.
Best DSLR Wedding Portraits Lenses - 85 mm Prime
Sigma's Art series is represented with this 85 mm prime lens. The element design creates the highest resolution of any lens and is well suited for 50 megapixels and higher cameras. An option for this camera is a USB port that will allow you to update and customize the lens's firmware.
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is available in the following mounts: SIGMA SA mount / NIKON F mount / CANON EF mount / Sony E-mount (mirrorless)/ L-mount.
The Nikon NIKKOR AF-S 85 mm f/1.8G is a perfect lens for weddings and portraiture photographs. This fast f/1.8 lens has outstanding performance in all lighting conditions!
Another great point regarding this lens is it's lightweight and affordable price, makes this lens a great value option! It’s one of my go-to lenses in my kit!
The Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM is one of Canon's recommended prime lenses. The f/1.4 aperture provides sharp images in low light situations and outstanding depth of field control.
The USM in the lens name signifies that it uses an Ultrasonic Motor for silent and rapid autofocus.
Best 85 mm Prime Wedding Portrait Lenses for Mirrorless Cameras
Photographers using any of Sony's mirrorless cameras will enjoy the features of the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens designed to bring out the best in their camera line.
It may be a little bit louder because of the heavy glass elements, but this lens is excellent in all other aspects and produces super sharp and beautiful images.
This new version Canon RF 85 mm f/1.2L USM DS Lens is an upgrade from Canon's RF 85mm F 1.2 L US lens. A new “Defocus Smoothing” (DS) technology provides for a smoother bokeh in wide-aperture images.
Pairing with Canon EOS R6, a friend of mine who is also a professional wedding photographer produce great pictures with this combination.
Extreme sharpness and a natural flow from the sharp focus to dream-like background define a high-quality portrait lens. The Nikon NIKKOR Z 85 mm f/1.8 S Lens does that and much more.
Best Wide-Angle Prime Lens for Wedding Photography - The 35 mm f/1.4 or f/1.8
The prime wide-angle best lens for wedding photography will be 35 mm. Providing a point of view similar to that of the human eye, this lens can be used more before and after the ceremony.
The aperture has the same benefits as the 85 mm prime lens. The 35 mm prime will be the smallest and lightest of your lenses as well.
Best DSLR Prime Wide Angle Lenses - The 35 mm f/1.4 or f/1.8
A true flagship of artistic expression, the Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 Art produces images ith extremely low chromatic aberration and high resolution. Superior low-light performance and a shallow depth of field can be achieved with the f/1.4 aperture.
Available in SIGMA SA mount / PENTAX / NIKON F mount / CANON EF mount / Sony E-mount / L-mount
The Nikon NIKKOR AF-S 35 mm f/1.8 G ED lens has the same features as the 85 mm lens from Nikon.
Producing an image that has a view angle similar to the human eye, it can focus as close as 0.82 feet (0.25 m). It is lightweight and has excellent focus and low light capabilities.
The Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4 L II USM is the teammate of Canon's EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM with the same features. This “L” series lens provides excellent resolution in all levels of light.
This lens is a great choice for photographing the dinner, parties, and first dance.
Best Prime Wide Angle Lenses for Mirrorless Cameras - The 35 mm f/1.4 or f/1.8
The Canon RF 35 mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens is not as fast as the Canon RF 85 mm f/1.2L USM DS Lens, however, the macro feature will save you from buying an additional lens.
The F/1.8 is still a very fast lens and features high-quality optics as the 85 mm prime. The affordable price makes this lens even more attractive!
The mirrorless camera has changed the boundaries of photography. Camera and lens designers have leaped in technology, and many new lenses have been completely redesigned.
The Nikon NIKKOR Z 35 mm f/1.8 S is a fine example of those advances and is in a class of its own. It is fast and with great Autofocus functions. The image captured with this lens is super sharp and with low distortion.
Super fast, lightweight and small are the best words to describe the Sony FE 35 mm F1.4 GM.
I like this lens, solid built quality, and take excellent quality images even under low light conditions. Bokah is very smooth and low distortion and CA. And the aperture ring adds such a great bonus!
Best Macro Lenses for Wedding Photography
Many photographers thinking of becoming a wedding photographer might not give any consideration to a macro lens.
We think of the moments in the wedding venue, the reception and perhaps in events before the ceremony itself such as the bride getting ready or the groom and his groomsmen.
However, many of the most cherished photos will be close-up details that cannot be in focus with a normal lens.
Imagine a photograph of the rings on the pillow the ring bearer will carry, think of capturing the design of the lace in the bride's dress, or the details of the wedding cake! These are best captured with a macro lens.
Best DSLR Macro Lenses for Wedding Photography
Sony offers a few different lenses for macro photography. The Sony 100 mm f/2.8 Macro is recommended because you can get macro shots without being very close.
Other than that it produce sharp images with smooth bokeh, considering the price, this is great value of money option.
Best Nikon Macro Lens for Wedding Photography - Nikon AF-S 105 mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR Micro
The Nikon AF-S 105 mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR Micro is a long-reach macro lens with VR image stabilization. Great for small subjects that you cannot get close to.
The Autofocus of this lens is great and it comes with a FTZ adapter so you can use it on your Nikon mirrorless cameras too.
The weight is relatively heavy so you may need time to get used to it but overall it is a great lens produce silky smooth bokeh.
Best Canon Macro Lens for Wedding Photography - Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Canon also offers several different macro lenses. The Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM includes Canon's Hybrid Image Stabilization Technology which was designed for macro subjects.
I am recommending this lens because it produces both great portrait and macro images. The pictures produced are outstanding and sharp. Plus the focus speed is super fast.
Best Mirrorless Macro Lenses for Wedding Photography
This is Sony's midrange macro lens. A G series lens is known for incredible soft bokeh. The lens can produce excellent portraits and macro images.
The lens comes with a solid build, may need to use a tripod so you can handle it easily, images produced are crisp and sharp.
Best Lenses for Wedding Photography - FAQs
What does every wedding photographer need?
Here are the must have items for every wedding photographer:
- Backup camera
- Medium zoom lens
- Zoom Lens
- Wide-angle lens
- Portrait lens
- Macro lens
- Memory cards
- Extra batteries
- Light stands
- Flash diffusers
- Power bank
- Camera Straps or belt to save your back and shoulder on the wedding day!!
Are mirrorless cameras good for wedding photography?
Yes, mirrorless cameras are great for wedding photography, and more professional photographers have switched from DSLRs to mirrorless cameras these days.
Their great video recording functions, quick autofocus, dual card slots, excellent image quality, and lightweight makes mirrorless cameras great for capturing a wedding.
Best Lenses for Wedding Photography - Final Words
A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and the wedding photographer selected to capture it takes on a great deal of responsibility. Not only must their skills be up to the task so must their equipment!
Having a second camera, either as a spare in case of equipment failure or available with an alternate lens is highly recommended. The best lens for wedding photography is an investment in your photography future.
If you find that these lenses are out of your budget, you may want to consider a similar lens that is not as fast.
However, you will lose many opportunities for images in some venues, but still should be able to get started.
Please show some love and follow us on social media to stay connected with more of our exciting projects!
A big thanks to Phottix for the professional lighting equipment provided to Ali G Studios.
All photos of weddings are © Ali Ghorbani and Ali G Studios
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