Shooting Wedding Photography with Prime Lenses
I’ve already covered elsewhere why I shoot weddings with three Olympus OMD EM5 camera bodies. Today I thought it would be interesting to delve a little further into why I shoot wedding photography specifically with prime lenses.
For the uninitiated a prime lens is a camera lens with a fixed focal length. Unlike zoom lenses, which can cover a range of focal lengths, from very wide to extremely long, in a single lens, a prime only lets you shoot at one specific length – depending on the prime lens you have attached to your camera body.
Now, of course, and quite rightly, you’re most probably thinking why would any wedding photographer choose to shoot with prime lenses which sound like they restrict the kind of lengths you can shoot at a wedding? This is a good question but, as I’m sure you’re expecting, I have a good answer (or two.)
Low Light, Focus and Image Quality
One of the distinct advantages of prime lenses is that they are usually much faster lenses than zoom lenses. What this means is, that in low light situations, like at a church wedding where the interiors are quite dark and gloomy, you can carry on shooting hand held without gutting blurry camera shake or have to resort to a camera flash – which can be harsh, a mood killer and often forbidden during the ceremony. This achieved by setting a wide aperture (or a low F number such as f/1.4 or f/1.8) that allows in more light and lets you shoot at a faster shutter speed (which helps to eliminate camera shake and blurred movements.)
Connected with the ability to shoot at a wider aperture is the ability to get a much shallower depth of field with prime lenses – which helps blur distracting backgrounds and ensuring the main subject, like a bride or a groom, remains the most important part of the photo. Yes there other factors that also assist with a shallow depth of field (such as distance to subject, distance from subject to the background and the length of the actual lens) but on the whole the wider aperture of a prime lens is going to help with the blurred background which, based on my experience as a wedding photographer, is what the majority of wedding couples love in their final wedding photography.
The other big advantage of prime lenses is a better image quality over zoom lenses. The simple fact is that a prime lens has a lot less glass and elements in it than a zoom lens does – which after all needs more to cover all the focal ranges it can move between. Therefore, the less glass you have between the end of a lens and the sensor inside the camera body (which records the image) the sharper the image quality will be. And who doesn’t love sharper better quality images for their wedding photography? And don’t forget, because they have less glass and elements they are smaller and lighter than bulkier and longer zoom lenses – again reducing the risk of camera shake. So it does all add up to better image quality overall.
Have Feet, Will “Zoom”
But what about the “inconvenience” of only being able to shoot at one focal length? I hear you ask. Well, for starters, I can simply move my feet to either move in closer or pull back if required. I have found in the past that zoom lenses can make you lazy and as a result you’re more likely to favour the longer focal length and stand back on the edges more. As a wedding photojournalist I prefer to get in close to the action, rather than being a “voyeur” of sorts standing on the edge of things. Prime lenses encourage me to do this and get in closer. And because of their smaller size they are far more discrete and much less obtrusive than having some bulking big telephoto stuck in your face.
And in addition, that’s where my 3 camera set-up to shoot wedding photography comes in to play, it means I can attach 3 lenses which will give me wide, medium and longer focal lengths without having to continually change lenses. That’s why I attend every wedding with a total of 6 prime lenses in my kit bag. The wider focal lengths are covered by 12mm f/2 and 17mm f/1.8 lenses. The 25mm f/1.4 covers the mid range and the longer focal lengths are covered by a 45mm f/1.8, a 60mm f/2 and a 75mm f/1.8 lenses. The 60mm also doubles up as a fantastic macro lens – great for those detail shots like rings and table decorations.
Wedding Photojournalism for your Wedding Day?
So as you can see, I have a carefully thought out and professional approach to capturing your wedding photography. So if you are interested in my wedding photojournalism approach for capturing the real story of your wedding, then please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page. I’ll be delighted to hear about your wedding plans and discuss my wedding photography packages in more detail with you. You can also find my latest prices by clicking here.