Seeking advice - best lens for a wedding

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by [email protected], Jun 8, 2015.

  1. D@ne

    [email protected] Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012

    I recently had to sell all of my m43 lenses (for personal reasons).

    I have good friends getting married this summer, and they've asked if I wouldn't mind bringing my camera to take some snapshots, in addition to the professional they're hired.

    So, I'm looking for something specific - low light capable, inexpensive (new or used), lightweight, and "rentable". I have no specific preference for focal length (advice welcome), and would probably be renting the lens.

    I currently (only) have a Konica 50mm 1.7, but unforntunately, I started in photography after autofocus was a thing, so my manual focus skills are extremely limited.

    ps - I own an EM5, so I have in-body stabilization.

    Much appreciated!
  2. I'd think the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 would be a good one. My sister is getting married soon and I'm thinking that a 25mm f/1.8 and a 45mm f/1.8 would do the job.
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  3. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    When? during the ceremony? during the reception? ...

    "snapshots", to me, implies casual reportage style images, most likely during the reception and informal moments. If so, I would recommend a fast 15-20mm lens, 14mm at the widest. A 25mm would be useable, but might be a bit long.

    The hired gun will be responsible for the more formal shots so the usual "portrait" lenses (~40-60) aren't what you need. You're advantage will be as a known entity in the group and, as such, may be better suited from some of the more casual, intimate situations where the hired gun would be an outsider and might trigger a more posed response from the subjects.

    The Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 would be one good choice, as would the Panasonic-Leica 15mm f/1.7.
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  4. MoonMind

    MoonMind Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 25, 2014
    Since this is reportage-style, I'd vote for the 12-40mm f/2.8. The E-M5's I.B.I.S. will help with hand-holding the lens - the IQ is actually fantastic. That's not to say two or more small primes wouldn't do the job (the 25mm f/1.8 | 45mm f/1.8 combo is a great one, two), but swapping lenses in the middle of something as unpredictable (in terms of opportunities) as a wedding, I'd strongly prefer a zoom.

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  5. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Most wedding photographers work with two bodies, if not three. As for lenses, some use primes, some use zooms and some use a mix of both. Most wedding photographers I've seen and know pretty much stick to a 24-70/2.8 as well as a 70-200/2.8 on two full frame bodies along with a third body with usually a 85/1.2 attached.

    Since they've already hired a pro and they've asked you to just take snapshots, my suggestion would be to fill in as the role of a reportage/documentary photographer. This would be taking candid pictures of the bride and groom, parents, guests as well as trying to capture the general atmosphere or other things of interest.

    You could do this with a zoom lens such as the O12-40/2.8 or use one or two primes. If you go with a single prime, I'd recommend a 50mm focal length. If you work with two primes, something like an 025/1.8 and a O45/1.8 should give you some versatility. But it's all personal preferences. A wedding photographer like Gene Ho is known for his creative use of fisheye lenses (he actually uses two different focal lengths and sometimes uses both on two different bodies at the same time to capture different angles). For me, I'd be comfortable shooting with an O25/1.8 for this kind of reportage/documentary style.
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  6. NWright

    NWright Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 13, 2014
    I was at a wedding this weekend. For the service I actually snapped just a few of the flower girl and of the ring bearers coming down the aisle. Both were from a position I knew the hired gun would not have. Both were using the oly 45.

    For anything later on I was going for "event coverage" and took the 20 1.7. I'd have been served just as well with the pl 25 1.4 or the oly 25 1.8
  7. D@ne

    [email protected] Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012
    Thanks all! You are all correct that this would be informal reception shots.

    The pro zooms mentioned are just too big and not something I want to lug around all night.

    I worry about the 20mm and it's focus speed and issues. I rented this lens once before and wasn't impressed by it.

    I have to say I'm learning toward the Panasonic 15 - although it's a bit wide, I can always crop later in post, and the aperture should be sufficient for an evening event. Too bad about the price though - and it's new enough that it may not be available for rental.

    More thoughts welcome!
  8. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    If you're open to renting, you could rent several...o17,1,8; p25,1.4; O45,1.8; O75,1.8...even the P42.5,1.2 Nocticron.

    I wouldn't try the P20,1.7 due to its challenges focusing in low light which is likely at a wedding.
  9. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    What lens are you most comfortable shooting with? A wedding is a lousy time to learn to 'see' with a new lens.
  10. NWright

    NWright Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 13, 2014
    FYI - I have the EM5 as well. This might be a no - brainer but the "advantage" of ibis of our OMD's is jut about all but negated when shooting people.

    Be prepared to bump up the ISO to keep the shutter at a decent speed (1/50th? 1/60th?) if you want to ensure moving subjects look sharp (unless you want to try to get a bit creative with movement)

    Or bring a flash...
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  11. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Low light and cheap? Best options would be a Pan 20 f/1.7 and Oly 45 f/1.8. The 20mm will give you small to medium size groups, environmental portraits, and such. The 45 will give you 1-3 person portraits and some more candid stuff. You could swap the 45 for the Sigma 60 if you want more candid and less portrait type stuff. Not that either won't work for either.

    You should be able to pick any of these for between 150-225? You could also grad the Sigma 19 or Pan 14 if the budget is tight for the Pan 20. Likewise I really suggest the Pan 15 or Oly 17/25 as well but they don't qualify as in expensive. I'd also be more inclined to buy and resell if need be than rent for a week since the rentals are going to 30-40 each anyway.
  12. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    To a very large extent, the focal length lenses you feel comfortable with are more important than what some other photographer uses. I've shot enough weddings and have been on enough wedding forums to know that you can find someone who uses whatever gear you can think of.
    Now, there's a lot of parts to a wedding day. I have no idea what you intend to shoot. If you are taking snapshots, I will assume it might be of the ceremony and the reception. If you are sitting with the guests at the ceremony (and I hope that you are) it doesn't matter much. You might want to sit on the aisle (don't lean into it and block the pro's shot). What you can do at the reception all depends on the light levels. If it's at night in a dimly lit reception hall, there won't be much you can get without flash.
    A common lens combination for wedding shooters only using two lenses is a 35 & 85 FOV combination (they actually make for a very classic combo). The Oly 17/1.8 & 45/1.8 would work well and can be bought at a reasonable price used. The Pan 20/1.7 focuses too slowly on an E-M5. Period. The 14/2.5 is probably going to be too wide. If you want to only use one lens, then either go for a 17 or a 25 fast prime.
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  13. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    I agree with almost everything here. Except that the 20 is too slow to focus. It is too slow for moving subject (probably even slow moving subjects), especially as the light fades. But not knowing what the brides wants you to shoot it's hard to just dismiss it since it's selling for almost $100 below the Oly 17 f1.8.

    But yes, if the budget allows go for the 17, it's a better option.
  14. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    If I had to use just one lens, I would get the 14-140mm or 14-150mm. At the wide end, you can shoot groups of people easily and interiors will be acceptable, though IMO not really wide enough. Towards the telephoto end, you can get nice head shots. One of the things I do at friends' weddings is to try to get head shots of as many guests as possible. if you're mostly filling the frame with the head, perspective distortion becomes objectionable iMO at or shorter than 25mm (50mm equivalent 35mm).

    Several have mentioned the 45mm. If I was absolutely prohibited from using a zoom, that is probably the one I'd gravitate to and I'd concentrate on the candid head shots.

    My second lens/second body at weddings (again for friends; I don't do it for money any more) is the 9-18mm. Zoomed to 9 and held high/arms length using the tilt LCD looking down at the guests at each reception table you can give the B&G a nice record of all the people who attend. With a little happy talk and jokes, you can get people hamming it up for these pictures and make them a lot of fun to see. (For example: "We're not gonna say 'cheese' here, we're gonna say ... ... ... pornography!" Always gets laughs.) It seems an obvious idea but I have never seen a hired gun do it.

    Re cost, just buy a used lens or lenses and sell when you're done. Done with any care at all this will cost less than renting.
  15. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aren't all those zooms a bit slow for indoor weddings?
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  16. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Well, YMMV but my general philosophy is that the shot I get is better than the shot I could have had if I was at the correct distance for proper framing in my fixed-focus lens. Said another way, I'd rather have the right shot with a little extra noise to deal with in post than to have a shot that needs to be heavily cropped or a shot that I didn't get at all because I was too close to the subject. I also try to expose to the right as much as possible.

    As testimony, for the last year or or two I have carried two or three zooms and three primes (12/2, 20, and 45) on several international trips without ever putting the primes on a body. So I sold the three primes after we got back from Ethiopia in February. My kit is now 9-18,14-140, and 100-300 and we're off to Norway and Iceland in about ten weeks.

    Certainly, an extremely dark reception hall could be problematic, but with a good strong flash bounced and a monopod most situations can be dealt with. Since the OP is focused (no pun!) on a specific wedding it should be possible for him to ask about the hall or even to visit the hall ahead of time.
  17. ahinesdesign

    ahinesdesign Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 6, 2011
    NC, USA
    I've shot casual stuff at family and friends' weddings with a 20mm, which works well in all but the very lowest lighting levels. I have shot up to ISO 6400 on 12MP and 16MP bodies in very low light, and the noise isn't that bad unless you intend to print large...

    I've also shot as primary photog for a wedding with an EM5 and 12-40. That combo is great for weddings if you can get close to the action. Lighting was decent so I stayed below ISO 1600 with IBIS.

    A second body with a longer zoom (40-150 2.8?) would be helpful if you want to stay further away during the ceremony...
  18. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    The OP has said that there is a professional doing the main shooting already and they're just getting some grab shots, in low light. I'd recommend not using a monopod and flash because it will just get in the professional's way.
  19. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Flash should not bother them, monopod might. If they're bothered by guests with DSLR's and flashes they need to find another profession.
  20. shermanshen

    shermanshen Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 28, 2014
    As mentioned earlier, I think it really depends on your shooting style. You can get some nice, intimate portraits from a good distance using something like the 45mm f1.8 or 75mm f1.8. I shot a family party using only the 45mm f1.8 once and just about everything I got was a candid portrait. Those focal lengths would give a very different look than the reportage style shots that the professional would be getting. However, if you like to be in the action or are looking to get more group style shots, I'd go with the 15mm f1.7 or the 12mm f2.

    I know you mentioned that size was an issue, but if it were me, I'd go with the 12-40 f2.8. So many different focal lengths covered, plus it's an amazing performer. As for low light and f2.8, as long as you don't do a lot of heavy cropping, iso 3200 is not so bad and iso 6400 can pass with some post processing. But if it's too big, it's too big. Good luck!
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