5 Must-Have Lenses for Wedding Photography: A Comprehensive Guide

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Introduction: In the realm of wedding photography, the choice of lenses plays a pivotal role in capturing those unforgettable moments. This comprehensive guide delves into the essential lenses that every wedding photographer should have in their kit. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your journey in wedding photography, these five lenses will prove indispensable in capturing the magic of the big day.

Prime Lenses for Wedding Photography is Great for sharpness & artictic photos

The 50mm F/1.2 Prime Lens (H2):

    • Wide aperture for low light and beautiful bokeh effects.
    • Offer insights into how this lens can capture intimate moments and portraits with stunning clarity.

A 50mm prime lens, often referred to as a “nifty fifty,” is a versatile and highly favored lens among photographers, particularly for wedding photography. It offers several advantages, including its wide aperture and the ability to create beautiful bokeh effects:

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Prague proposal photography

Wide Aperture for Low Light Photography:

    • One of the standout features of a 50mm prime lens is its wide maximum aperture, typically around f/1.8 or even wider in some cases. This wide aperture allows a significant amount of light to enter the camera, making it an excellent choice for low-light situations commonly encountered in wedding photography.
    • In dimly lit venues, such as churches, reception halls, or outdoor evening ceremonies, the 50mm prime lens excels by enabling you to shoot without flash while maintaining a fast shutter speed. This results in sharp, well-exposed images with minimal noise.

Beautiful Bokeh Effects:

    • The wide aperture of a 50mm prime lens enables you to achieve a shallow depth of field. This shallow depth of field creates a pleasing background blur, known as bokeh, which isolates your subject from the background. It’s particularly advantageous for highlighting the bride and groom or other key subjects while softly blurring distracting elements in the background.
    • The quality of bokeh produced by a 50mm prime lens is often highly desirable due to its circular and creamy appearance. This adds a touch of elegance and artistry to wedding photos, making them visually striking and memorable.

Versatility and Natural Perspective:

    • A 50mm focal length closely resembles the field of view of the human eye. This natural perspective makes it an excellent choice for capturing candid moments, portraits, and storytelling images that feel authentic and immersive.
    • Wedding photographers appreciate the versatility of the 50mm prime lens as it allows them to seamlessly transition between capturing intimate close-ups of the couple, details like rings or flowers, and wider shots of the venue and guests.
  • cool asian couple engagement photoshoot in prague 13

Compact and Lightweight:

    • 50mm prime lenses are typically compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry and maneuver, especially during long wedding shoots. This feature enhances your mobility and comfort throughout the day.
  • In summary, a 50mm prime lens is a valuable asset in wedding photography due to its wide aperture, which excels in low-light conditions, and its ability to create beautiful bokeh effects. Its versatility, natural perspective, and portability make it a must-have lens for capturing the essence and emotion of a wedding day. Wedding photographers often rely on the nifty fifty to deliver stunning images that highlight the love, beauty, and significance of the occasion.

2. The 85mm F/1.4 Prime Lens (H2):

The 85mm F/1.4 Prime Lens is a favorite among portrait and wedding photographers for several compelling reasons:

Ideal Focal Length for Capturing Candid Moments and Portraits:

  • The 85mm focal length is often considered the “portrait sweet spot” because it excels at capturing candid moments and creating stunning portraits. It provides a flattering perspective with minimal distortion, making it perfect for photographing people.
  • When shooting portraits, the 85mm lens allows you to frame your subject from a comfortable distance, resulting in natural-looking images where the subject doesn’t feel too close or too far away. This distance often helps your subjects feel more relaxed and less self-conscious, leading to genuine expressions and emotions.

Creamy Bokeh and Subject Isolation:

  • The standout feature of the 85mm F/1.4 lens is its wide maximum aperture (typically around f/1.4 to f/1.8). This wide aperture allows for exceptionally shallow depth of field, which, in turn, produces creamy and dreamy background bokeh.
  • The creamy bokeh created by an 85mm prime lens is a hallmark of this focal length. It beautifully blurs the background, making your subjects stand out vividly against it. This effect is particularly valuable in wedding photography, where you often want to emphasize the bride and groom or key individuals while minimizing distractions.

Effective Subject Isolation:

  • With its wide aperture and longer focal length, the 85mm lens excels at isolating subjects from their backgrounds. This ability is especially useful when you need to separate the subject from a cluttered or busy environment, allowing your subjects to shine as the center of attention.
  • Whether you’re capturing emotional moments during the ceremony, intimate portraits of the couple, or candid shots of guests, the 85mm lens helps ensure your subjects remain the focal point of your composition.

Recommended 85mm Lens Options:

  • There are several excellent 85mm prime lenses available, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are a few highly regarded options:
    1. Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM: Known for its outstanding image quality, image stabilization, and weather sealing.
    2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G: A fast and sharp lens with a beautiful bokeh rendering.
    3. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM: Designed for Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, this lens delivers exceptional sharpness and bokeh.

Zoom Lenses for Wedding Photography

3. The 24-70mm F/2.8 Zoom Lens


    • The 24-70mm F/2.8 Zoom Lens is a workhorse lens for wedding photographers, prized for its remarkable versatility:Versatility in Focal Length:
      • The 24-70mm zoom lens covers a broad focal length range, from wide-angle at 24mm to a standard focal length at 70mm. This versatility means you can seamlessly switch between capturing wide scenic shots and getting closer to your subjects for more intimate shots.
      • At 24mm, you can capture expansive scenes, making it perfect for photographing the wedding venue, decor, and the overall ambiance. As you zoom in to 70mm, you have the flexibility to capture tighter frames, ideal for portraits and details.

      Capturing Group Shots:

      • Wedding ceremonies and receptions often involve group shots, from family portraits to bridal party photos. The 24-70mm lens is excellent for these situations because you can easily adjust the focal length to frame large groups.
      • At the wider end (24mm), you can ensure everyone fits into the frame, even in confined spaces. As the focal length increases, you can focus on smaller groups or individuals within the larger assembly.

      Candid Moments and Details:

      • Candid moments are a significant part of wedding photography. The 24-70mm lens excels here because you can quickly adapt to changing scenes without having to switch lenses. Whether you’re capturing guests mingling, emotional reactions, or spontaneous events, this lens is a reliable choice.
      • For capturing intricate details like wedding rings, flowers, or decorations, you can zoom in to 70mm to isolate and emphasize the subject while maintaining a shallow depth of field.

      Suggested 24-70mm Lens Models:

      • Several camera manufacturers offer 24-70mm F/2.8 zoom lenses, and while the specific models may vary based on your camera brand, here are some popular options as of my knowledge cutoff date in September 2021:
        1. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8  II USM: Known for its sharpness and optical quality, this lens is a favorite among Canon users.
        2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR: Nikon’s offering features vibration reduction (VR) technology for image stabilization.
        3. Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM: Designed for Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, this lens offers exceptional sharpness and versatility.
        4. Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2: Tamron’s version comes with image stabilization (VC) and is known for its value and quality

4. 70-200mm F/2.8 Zoom Lens

It is a crucial tool for wedding photographers, offering several advantages for capturing distant and candid moments. It’s also one of my favorite lens 70-200 Canon 2.8f USM. I have been thinking to buy quite long time and when I buy and use it I feel that I was quite late 😉

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Prague engagement photography by Kemal Onur Ozman with 70-200 telephoto zoom Canon

Importance of a Telephoto Zoom Lens:

  • A telephoto zoom lens like the 70-200mm is essential for reaching subjects at a distance without physically intruding on their space. This is particularly valuable during wedding ceremonies and receptions when you need to capture moments from afar without disrupting the proceedings.
  • It allows you to maintain a respectful distance while still achieving close-up shots, which is especially crucial during emotional and intimate moments.


Use During Ceremonies and Receptions:

  • Ceremonies: During wedding ceremonies, photographers often need to remain discreet while capturing critical moments such as the exchange of vows, ring ceremonies, and emotional expressions. The 70-200mm lens allows you to zoom in on these moments from the back of the venue or a designated spot, ensuring minimal disruption to the proceedings.
  • Receptions: In low-light reception settings, the wide aperture of an F/2.8 lens like the 70-200mm is invaluable. It enables you to maintain faster shutter speeds, reducing the risk of motion blur in dimly lit environments. This is crucial when photographing dance floors, toasts, and candid interactions among guests.

Recommended 70-200mm Lens Choices:

  • While the availability of specific lens models may vary based on your camera brand, here are some renowned 70-200mm lens options as of my last knowledge update in September 2021:
    1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM: A popular choice among Canon photographers, known for its image quality and image stabilization (IS).
    2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR: Nikon’s offering features impressive sharpness, VR image stabilization, and weather-sealing.
    3. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS: Designed for Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, this lens delivers exceptional image quality and optical stabilization (OSS).
    4. Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2: Tamron’s lens offers image stabilization (VC) and is known for its value and quality, compatible with various camera brands.

Wide-Angle Lens for Wedding Photography

The 24mm F/1.4 Wide-Angle Lens:

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Beautiful American couple at the romantic Charles Bridge in Prague.

It is a valuable tool in wedding photography, offering several benefits for capturing venue ambiance, landscapes, and environmental portraits:

Benefits of a Wide-Angle Lens:

  • Venue Ambiance: Wide-angle lenses excel at capturing the overall ambiance and setting of a wedding venue. They allow you to include more of the environment, such as the grandeur of a ballroom, the charm of an outdoor garden, or the architectural details of a historic location.
  • Landscapes: When shooting outdoor weddings, wide-angle lenses help you capture expansive landscapes, whether it’s a picturesque sunset, a scenic view, or the natural beauty of the location. This lens lets you emphasize the beauty of the wedding’s surroundings.


Adding Depth and Context to the Wedding Story:

  • Wide-angle lenses are exceptional at adding depth and context to the wedding narrative. They enable you to include both the foreground and background elements in your composition, giving viewers a sense of place and atmosphere.
  • When used creatively, wide-angle lenses can capture storytelling moments, such as the bride getting ready in a room filled with her bridesmaids, the groomsmen sharing a laugh before the ceremony, or guests mingling in a beautifully decorated reception hall. These images provide context and help tell the complete wedding story.

Suggested 24mm Lens Options:

  • While specific lens models may vary based on your camera brand, here are some popular 24mm lens options as of my last knowledge update in September 2021:
    1. Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM: Known for its exceptional image quality and wide aperture, this lens is a favorite among Canon photographers.
    2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED: Nikon’s offering provides excellent sharpness and low-light performance.
    3. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM: Designed for Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, this lens is renowned for its sharpness and wide aperture.
    4. Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art: Sigma’s Art series lenses are known for their optical quality, making this lens an affordable yet high-performing option for various camera brands.


Conclusion: In conclusion, these five must-have lenses form the cornerstone of a wedding photographer’s toolkit. By investing in prime and zoom lenses that cover a range of focal lengths, you’ll be well-prepared to capture every aspect of the wedding day, from intimate moments to grand celebrations. Your lens selection should cater to your unique style and preferences, ensuring that you can deliver stunning images that will be cherished for a lifetime.

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