(This page may come off a bit technical, will only make sense to camera geeks)
In today’s modern world, I get asked a lot what type of gear I use to shoot a wedding. A lot of photographers practically get insulted when asked this question but I don’t mind at all. The easy availability of great cameras these days means a lot of people are interested in photography, and it’s a fairly normal question!
The answer is a hard one to give, I have an extensive amount and every wedding I’ll use a different combination of it. Some of the lenses might only get used for a fraction of the day or not at all, but I love having them all nearby for the right circumstances. Some weddings I’ll go ultra compact and just have 2 cameras and two small lenses with me. At other weddings I’ll bring a huge rolling case with everything. It really depends on the wedding.
I generally have 2 bags on a wedding day. One is full of the things I will use at pretty much every wedding, and the other is full of the niche items that get used more sparingly, but I wouldn’t go to a shoot without them.
A little bit of background. Until late 2014, I was a typical wedding shooter. I used to use Canon 1 series bodies, with pretty much the very best lenses for Canon I could get my hands on. The 35/1.4, 85/1.2 and 200/2 are still outstanding lenses (though I don’t own them anymore). When I added a medium format camera to the bag (a Pentax 645z) the lack of really fast aperture glass on the pentax platform had me searching, and with it came an unexpected love of vintage lenses. Accquiring a couple of old (20-30 years old) lenses for that platform really opened up my eye to the treasure trove of older lenses out there, which though they might not be as fast to use, have the most beautiful character to them.
My general philosophy these days when shooting weddings is to use the super discrete mirrorless Fuji XT2’s for the candids & ceremony & reception, and to use the big medium formats for the “location” shoots to go for those stunning highlight shots that end up on the wall in a big print.
The camera bodies
- 3 x Fuji XT2 camera bodies (beautiful small, silent cameras with incredible colours and image quality. Easy to use, and they really get out of your way when shooting and let you concentrate on the moments in front of you. About as perfect as a wedding camera can get.
- 1 x Pentax 645z digital medium format camera body (absurd levels of image quality, I use this for the real standout shots of the wedding day. One of the best cameras at any price point in the world).
- 1 x Contax 645 medium format body (a bit of a pain to use but paired with the 80mm f/2 one of the best combo’s full stop)
The Fuji X lenses
The Fuji lenses are interesting as they differ from most other lenses in near all being super sharp at any aperture – I generally shoot them wide open all day long. Lovely modern lenses with great build quality that perform at a level much higher than you could imagine until you start using them.
- Fuji 16/1.4 (really interesting super fast wide angle)
- Fuji 35/1.4 (lovely discrete walkaround lens. GREAT for candids)
- Fuji 56/1.2 (astonishingly good portrait lens. incredibly flexible. Amazing IQ for the size.)
- Fuji 90/2 (probably Fuji’s best X series lens. You’d swear it was from a big sensor camera combo. Stunning.)
- Fuji 16-55/2.8 (really under utilised standard length zoom that I use for a lot of ceremonies)
The odd niche lenses adapted for Fuji X
I really love older lenses for the different look they have to the modern trend of ultra contrast, ridiculously smooth bokeh of the modern lenses. Don’t get me wrong, I still use & very much like modern high quality lenses, but it’s nice to have something different. These lenses don’t get used much, but in the right circumstances are absolutely amazing.
- 1967 Russian Helios 44-2 50mm f/2 lens with m42 speedbooster (the flare monster! not much good for much else, but the way it renders backlit sun flare is just gorgeous)
- Contax 645 80mm f/2 lens with special custom made adapters to speedboost it for Fuji XT2 (best portrait lens in the world, I also use this lens on my Contax medium format body)
- Leica Summilux-R 50mm f/1.4 with Leica speedbooster (not the sharpest or most vibrant, but just beautiful warm character in bucketloads)
- 1963 Russian Jupiter-11 135mm f/4 with m42 speedbooster (just beautiful warm character. Utterly unique.)
- Cosinon 55mm f/1.4 with m42 speedbooster (This lens has more character than our prime minister. Staggeringly shallow DoF, beautiful smooth bokeh, handles out of focus highlights like a dream. A real dreamy look wide open, but great sharpness from f/2 and smaller)
The medium format lenses
This might sound odd but the easiest (native Pentax 645 mount) autofocus medium format lenses are actually the ones I use the least. They are beautiful lenses, but for weddings & people, the older fast aperture lenses are where you really get the magic happening.
- Contax 645 80mm f/2 (probably the best portrait lens in the world. No exaggeration. The most magical background rendering out of any lens I have ever used. I have 2 of these lenses, 1 in the native C645 mount, and 1 adapted to use the Pentax 645 mount)
- Hasselblad 110mm f/2 planar FE (Overall, the most stunning lens I have ever owned. It excels in all areas and is equally as adept at portraits as it is at landscapes. Stunning quality at every aperture. Totally unique rendering. Used on the Pentax 645z with an adapter.
- Pentax 35mm f/3.5 DFA (wide angle lens, just ridiculously sharp. Not much use at weddings, but a monster landscape lens!)
- Pentax 55mm f/2.8 DFA (stunning optics, but just a weird length. Not much use. Again, a monster landscape lens.)
- Pentax 75mm f/2.8 (a great little portrait lens with beautiful smooth bokeh & nice compression)
- Pentax 150mm f/2.8 (GREAT lens. A little soft until f/4 but beautiful long tele, fantastic for outdoor portraits)
- Pentax 120mm f/4 macro (macro shots so detailed they nearly junp off the screen)