Photographer's chat - our wedding tools
Matt and I have had a great journey in discovering the right tools for this job. Over the years we've refined our choices to what we think is the absolute best for photographing weddings. If you are just starting out as a wedding photographer, or if you're wondering what tools we use on the job, here's where you'll find out!
Let's start off with an easy one. Matt and I both choose DSLRs as our main go to cameras. Matt has selected Canon as his weapon of choice, I'm Nikon. Yes, Canon and Nikon users can be friends and neither one is better than the other. They're just different, a bit like Matt and I.
Matt uses a Canon 5D mkIII, mostly because before that he used Canons. What it does well is fantastic colours, portraits of people and focussing. It's a great camera. I use a Nikon D810, mostly because I used Nikon in the past. What it does well is shoot in the dark, it's robust and really quick to use on the go. It too is a great camera. Essentially, both Matt and I have made the same choice as our primary camera.
The difference comes with our second cameras. I've never really liked using two but as much as I have resisted in the past, I have come to accept that it is necessary to use two cameras at all times during a wedding. Matt has always been more comfortable with this and that is mainly what has brought me around to the two camera party. Matt has very sensibly chosen another 5D mkIII as his second camera. It's the same as his first one which means whenever he takes a photo it's using the same technology. That's smart. I, on the other hand like to travel the less busy road so I am using a Fuji X-pro1 as my second camera. This is because it is light, discreet and produces fantastic, and in my opinion, unrivalled portrait photos. It is a world leader in people colours. Unfortunately it is also a camera that will punish me when I make it uncomfortable so I have to treat it with respect and know when it reaches its limits. Thankfully the D810 is a workaholic and can take any situation that's thrown at it, when my Fuji says no, my Nikon shouts "bring it on".
Both Matt and I started off with a couple of zoom lenses. It's the best way to keep the cost down and cover as much as you can at a wedding. As we developed as photographers our lens choices refined. We now use primes only and the fastest possible ones that we can afford. I'm old school D type Nikkor because they are bomb proof, Matt likes the newer technology of L series Canon and recently, Sigma lenses.
There simply isn't a better lens to have in your wedding photographer bag than a 50mm. Matt and I both have a 50mm f1.4 lens for our primary cameras and it is the lens we use the majority of the time. The next is the 85mm f1.4 Sigma for Matt and the Fuji 56mm f1.2 for me (this is 85mm equivalent). These are perfect portrait lenses. It would be entirely possible to photograph an entire wedding on just a 50 and an 85, however we're photographers so we like to have a tool for every occasion.
Matt has a Sigma 24mm f1.4 and a 100mm macro lens; I have a Nikkor 20mm f2.8, a Nikkor 135mm f2, and am Fuji 18mm f2. That's all the angles covered. I'm thinking of selling the 135mm so if you have a thousand pounds kicking around, feel free to make me an offer.
We use flashes for only two reasons. Portraits in the glaring sun and when the lights inside a room are really, really awful. The darkness rarely comes into it now, with advances in camera technology.
For our portraits we use an Elinchrom Ranger and for our hotshoes we use a Canon 600EX-RT or a Nikon SB910. We both use remote triggers too so that we can be in a different place to our flash. We really prefer to use natural light where possible though.
Computers and storage
We bring a MacBook Air and two 250GB SSD drives to every wedding. We use this to load all our images into Lightroom and make a second copy. Each of us, at the end of the day, will take home a drive and will therefore have all the files at our finger tips as well has having backups in two locations. That becomes three when we upload the files to Dropbox that evening.
The other stuff we bring to a wedding is usually personal to us. Beyond the over the shoulder bag and a decent jacket (as in smart and weather proof) I tend to fill up any space in my bag with painkillers, because I get migraines easily, and Matt usually has a million business cards.
We also have our own set of stepladders for the group photos, baby wipes in case a wedding dress or shoes get dirty, and a power cell for recharging our phones, which contain the shot lists, contact details and a map of how to get home on them.
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