One of the questions I get asked most often is, “What camera gear do you use?” As a wedding photographer, you need to be prepared for any eventuality and think quickly on your feet. You need equipment that you can trust not to fail on you when the pressure is on. Imagine your camera locking up on the first kiss or a memory card full of images from the day failing.
Of course, you don’t need all the latest and greatest gadgets in your arsenal to be able to create great artwork. The old adage, “the best camera is the one you have with you” still applies. Your equipment should never be an excuse for not getting the job done. Understanding the fundamentals of lighting, posing and composition will allow you to get incredible images regardless of the situation and what camera you use. However, you still need reliable gear that will last through the rigours of wedding photography.
Here are the goodies I usually carry with me to every wedding:
Lowepro Pro Roller x200 Camera Bag – Great sturdy roller bag. Carries most of what I need for the day (obviously not light stands). Padding for the cameras and lenses, and pockets for all the miscellaneous, batteries, adapters, flash light, even business cards and a 15″ laptop. Best of all, it fits in the overhead compartment of most planes. For the smaller planes, you can actually unzip the storage area from the base. It converts into a backpack that you can carry on and a trolley bag that you can check in.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III – Love this camera for it’s high ISO capabilities. The images at ISO6400 and in some cases 12,800 are still perfectly usable. Plus with the dual memory card slots, I can save the RAW files to the Compact Flash and sJPG to the SD card.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II – Was my first choice camera body until the Mark iii came to blow it out of the water. Now used as my backup. Full frame sensor as well, but images get pretty noisy at ISO3200.
Canon EF 16-35mm f4L IS – An ultra wide angle for the architecture and room shots. Also used for the environmental and landscape portraits when I want that wide-angle/almost fish-eye look.
Canon 24-105mm f4L IS – Good all purpose zoom lens used throughout the day. Great for the room/hall shots, group photos and those times when you don’t have the time to switch lenses.
Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II – I have this on my camera for about 90% of the wedding. A fast lens, good in low light, perfect for portraits and it allows you to hang back, out of the way, during the ceremony and reception and get candids without being intrusive.
Canon EF 135mm f2L – Probably the sharpest lens I’ve ever used. The creamy bokeh gives images a dreamy look. With no Image Stabilization, you’ve got to have your shooting technique down and be very steady. Also, without a zoom it becomes very hard to use it during weddings. The only time I’d bring it out is for portraits and detail shots, when I need to blur out a background.
Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS macro – Always need a good macro lens for those closeup ring and detail shots. It’s more than a useful portrait lens too.
Canon EF 85mm f1.8 – I don’t use this one as much anymore, since I got the 135L, but I keep it around as a backup.
Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash – The inbuilt radio transmitter/receiver is a brilliant addition. It saves us from getting another attachment (like PocketWizards) to fire them remotely. Once I changed the channels on them from the default, they’ve worked flawlessly. They don’t require line of sight like the previous model 580ex Speedlites, so you can even make them flash from another room.
Westcott Ice Light – A continuous light source designed by Jerry Ghionis. It produces a beautiful quality of light mimic-ing light coming in from a window. I love using this for portraits.
Sandisk 8Gb/16Gb CF + SD cards – I prefer using smaller cards for weddings. If a card fails or becomes corrupted, I only have to worry about trying to recover some images rather than all of them.