Five Great Lens Combinations For Two-Camera Wedding Photographers

The world of wedding photography is so diverse and varied that you may find yourself asking the same question: “What lens is best?”. There will be dozens of different scenarios for any given photographer on any given day. And there are too many cultural and stylistic differences among wedding photographers to attempt to approximate them all. Context is key, so the idea of “the right lens” will vary from one photographer to another.

As many wedding photographers, I tend to use two cameras. Although I was a photojournalist and had always used one camera, from my first wedding I had two. The now-dinosaur Nikon D70s as well as the Fuji S2 Pro were both slung over my shoulders. My first wedding was the moment I made this decision. The camera stopped working about 10 seconds before my first kiss. I had another one on me.

A second camera should not be used as a backup. It gives you the opportunity to always have two lenses at your disposal. You have two points of view, two modes you can think in and you don’t have to reach into your bag trying to change your lens before it’s too late. Although I still use one camera for most portrait shoots I now have two or three! There have been over 500 weddings that I have used the same camera, but now I use two or three. Here are the top five combinations of cameras I’ve used, along with their relative advantages and disadvantages.

1. Primes of medium width and long duration

This combination is the most popular for modern 2-camera shooters. It’s much easier to use primes with two cameras. You won’t have to stick with a telephoto for group photos or a wide angle when the perfect moment is 20 feet away. Two cameras can be cumbersome and heavy so you should consider using lighter primes to keep your camera mobile. You get incredible low-light capabilities, amazing depth-of field control, and a subtle benefit: you can know what frame-of view your camera has before you even touch it. This allows you to have a shot in your head even if the camera is not at your fingertips.

The most popular split is the 35mm and 85mm. You can get very different looks with these lenses, but they are not too far apart that it will be difficult to find something in between. For photojournalistic purposes, 35mm is the standard focal length. It allows you to get close to the action without having to worry about distortions like larger lenses. These lenses are available for almost every system. It’s also an excellent choice to use smaller f/1.8ish primes because weight is a significant benefit.

The 35/85 split is so common that I avoid it. Partly because my images stand out, but also because I love the 35mm focal distance until the action gets intense. The Sony 28mm F/1.8 or Nikon 28mm F/1.8 are good choices for me. They both offer great value and are very affordable.

2. Normal and wide prime

We are considering carrying something like a 24-mm and a 50mm. Although this may sound too similar to the last, the experience of shooting with them will be vastly different. This combination is popular with those who follow Robert Capa’s advice: “If you don’t have good photographs, your photos aren’t close enough.” I love this combination for getting up and dancing, as well as the start and end of the day. It’s not the best combination for cathedral ceremonies unless you have a very, really kind officiant and an invisibility cloak.

For photojournalism, you want lenses with excellent autofocus performance. This means that I sometimes use a 50mm F/1.8 lens instead of one of the fastest lenses in each system. If you need to achieve extreme depth of field for portraits, or quieter situations you might consider a Canon 50mm F/1.2 or Mikaton 50mm F/0.95.

3. Two fast zooms

This combination is almost the exact opposite of the previous. You can add a 24-70 and a 70-200 to make it look even more impressive. You can do crazy dance moves right in front. It’s not difficult to get people’s extremities in the frame. It’s possible to cover a ceremony in which you are not allowed near the altar. It’s possible to make it work.

These lenses can become heavy and cumbersome when you have to use two cameras. I can tell you that if you carry this combo around for too long, you’ll have back problems. Also, you might accidentally smack a vase or small child with the 70-200. I prefer this combination for ceremonies, as zooming with my feet at 28mm is easier than at 200mm. A 70-200 lens is also a great lens for family photos, even though it seems counterintuitive. It keeps people at the edges looking normal, not stretched-out, blob monsters.

4. Mix it up: fast and zoom

This camera is the “jack-of-all trades”, with the flexibility of the zoom combination, and lighter weight. I started my wedding career with this, using the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8and 85mm f/1.4 (equivalent to 127mm). Full-frame gives you the same combination as a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 135, but with less child-smacking. The 24-70 is used as a “momentmaker” and the 135, as a “pretty maker.” Because there are fewer elements in the frame, you will get a higher number of great photos and less of them.

This can be used to create a low-light ambience option at receptions.

5. Getting weird

Once you have worked with a lens enough times, your mind will automatically start to see the world through that lens’s perspective. 85 What would the world look like if it had a background without focus? 24 24.

Sometimes you just need to mix it up with something totally different. You can use a super-wide lens like the 12-24mm or even a fisheye, if you so desire. A tilt shift lens such as the Canon 45mm f/2.8 Nikonor Canon. A fast manual focus glass such as the Nikon 105mm F/1.8 or Mikaton 85mm F/2.2, or a lens that has a unique appearance like the Petzval 85mm F/2.2. For a quick and unique shot, you can combine one of these lenses with your favorite workhorse lens. Or, as I do sometimes for a part of a portrait shoot (and it’s a fast, easy way to get a different look), put unusual lenses on both of your cameras. This will force you to see the scene in a completely new way.

Warning: Use every trick shot (and I mean all) with extreme caution. You only need a little, but too much can make you feel cloying or faddish.

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