Primes or Zooms at weddings?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by silentknell, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. silentknell

    silentknell New to Mu-43

    Sep 13, 2012
    North Carolina
    m4/3 Wedding Photographers: primes or zooms?

    Just wondering what people have been choosing in regards to wedding photography with this format, especially with the 12-40mm f2.8 coming out, primes or zooms, or combination? And why?

    From the little experience I have at weddings, it seems like shallow DOF is fairly important to many wedding photographers and their clients, which, for all intents and purposes, m4/3 is at a disadvantage compared to the bigger formats. In that case, lenses like 25mm 1.4, 45mm 1.8, and 75mm 1.8 with two cameras would probably be more helpful.

    On the other hand, having quick access to focal lengths from 12-100mm with just two Panasonic zooms at 2.8 on two camera seems like a good idea too, especially if the wedding is paced quickly.

    So what are the general opinion/consensus of the people here (if there is any), and why?
  2. aukirk

    aukirk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    Not a "wedding photographer", but I shot my first wedding recently as a second shooter and used all primes. HOWEVER, if it had been an outdoor wedding, I definitely would have used the Pany 35-100 for most of the shots. I have found you can get excellent background blur with the 2.8 and the slightly bigger DOF reduces the risk of missing focus that can happen with 1.8.
  3. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    I rarely see pros using any thing other than big honkin' 2.8s at the affairs I've been to. The may use 1.4/1.8 primes for a few special shots, but mostly they're lugging the big guns. The super-shallow DoF on FF cameras just means too many missed shots.
  4. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 25, 2012
    do you plan on shooting weddings professionally?
  5. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I don't think shallow DoF has much to do with choice of zooms over primes. Shooting primes requires more time, more moving about, more lens changes and results in more missed shots. Consequently for any type of event photography where zooms are sufficient, they are preferred. That includes weddings.
  6. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    There's a place for both. I haven't shot weddings (except a few times for friends) since the days of film, but in general I used primes during the ceremony so I could use faster lenses without flash. Of course, today, using flash during the ceremony seems commonplace. My philosophy was that during the ceremony I should be invisible. I think guests should notice the bride and groom, not the photographer, but today's shooters seem to think they're more important than the bride.

    I sometimes used primes for the posed shots before and after the ceremony, too, especially when going for shallow DOF.

    But during the reception, where you're probably using flash anyway, the versatility of a zoom to recompose in rapidly changing conditions makes it my choice. That assumes, of course, you can afford a relatively fast zoom.
  7. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    I use both. For me it's not an either/or. I *prefer* primes but I'll use a zoom when I'm stuck in one spot (like times during the ceremony or at the reception during speeches).

    FWIW... the 'disadvantage' of m4/3 DOF quickly becomes an advantage at a dim reception when a bride wants a spontaneous group photo. More DOF with a lower aperture can be a good thing at times.

    • Like Like x 2
  8. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 8, 2012
    Primes on two bodies.

    I'm a full time wedding photographer, and my pro kit is Nikon full frame cameras and all primes (20/35/50/85/150). Even with that big sensor I sometimes wish my lenses could go larger than f1.4.

    If I were to shoot a wedding on m4/3 I would have a 17/1.8 on one body, a 45/1.8 on another body, and the 75/1.8 in a shoulder bag.

    Shallow DOF is very important for me (and most other wedding photographers) because you're expected to deliver 500+ great photos from one day when you have very little control of the environment. With little control of your environment, the ability to blur out a background becomes very important. Plus, the extra stop+ of light will help a lot with low light AF and image quality.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Event photography is very similar to weddings in my opinion (except less stressful . Two bodies and a handful of primes are my go to set up. Hope this helps and good luck
  10. nardoleo

    nardoleo Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 2, 2013
    I shoot golf tournaments occasionally and I must say zooms are my go to set up. With the pana 35-100mm on my omd and a pana 12-35mm on my pen, I am set! For events, the convenience of zooms outweigh the speed of primes for me.

    And this coming from a prime lover.

    Sent from my trusty Samsung Galaxy Note 2
  11. JSM

    JSM Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 12, 2013
    Newcastle, Australia
    The kit or eyes behind?

    In my experience and many reviews primes are the way to go with Micro 4/3rds. Maybe the new zoom fixed aperture lenses will make this all history.

    However, the system allows you to carry 2-3 cameras with favourite primes like the 12 f2, 25 f1.4 and 75 f1.8 and still be less weight and more versatile then some pro SLR's. That said it is not about the setup for wedding or 1 day capture events.

    It is about the eye behind the lens, their knowledge of the kit they carry and the experience of visualising in a proactive manner rather than reactive.

    Anerug won't mind me posting his blog on here I am sure as he says it best by his pictures alone.
  12. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    When I shot weddings I used both. I would only use primes for those shots I could set up. Once the ceremony started though I had 2 bodies with 2 lenses. Usually the 24-70 on one body and the 70-200 on the other.
  13. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    I haven't shot a wedding in 3 years but back then I was all primes. My main primes were 24, 50 and 135, usually with an 85 as backup as well. IMO it's really not as difficult as some make it out to be. If you've taken the time to prepare and ideally, location scout beforehand, it shouldn't be too tough - but of course, everyone is different.

    I'll be shooting a wedding for an old friend from back in high school, and I'll be using two primes on two bodies. I don't expect it to be challenging for my m43 kit.
  14. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Having done wedding photography, and being on wedding photography boards for 10 years, there are a couple of things to keep in mind are that wedding photography is not universal; it varies by region, custom and style of photographer.

    In my experience, primes work well slower paced things like getting ready, details, ceremony, formals and zooms are better for receptions. Now, aside from the fact that you need backup gear, if you're using primes you really need two bodies (that you can use with thinking about the controls - identical bodies work best) with different focal length lenses. Most of the wedding photographers that I know who primarily use primes, actively switch between only a couple of focal lengths such as a wide and short tele. This way, you know what you're going to see even before you bring the camera up to your eye. Zooms are certainly easier.
    • Like Like x 2
  15. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    I usually start with zooms and switch over to primes as the light levels drop, but I usually shot the getting ready stuff with primes. Except for any ultra wide shots, since I only have ultra wide zooms, no primes. The new Sigma 18-35/1.8 might change things quite a bit for aps-c shooters.
  16. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Jan (John) Kusters
    I have not shot weddings for 20 years,but back when I did, I used 2 bodies and primes (usually 28 or 35 mm and 85 or 100 mm). I still occasionally shoot events, but with just one body and no real experience in the proceedings of a specific event, I prefer a zoom.

    Back in photography school the teachers frowned on shallow dof; it usually meant you were trying to hide a distracting background and took a shot from the wrong point of view to begin with...
  17. sgreszcz

    sgreszcz Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 7, 2012
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