Shooting a wedding is a high-pressure assignment in which you’re faced with multiple fraction-of-a-second opportunities to get it right, first time. So, you’ll not only want to know your photographic kit inside out so you don’t have to start fiddling with settings on the fly and miss the moment – you’ll also want to choose a kit bag full of equipment you know you can rely on to help you deliver.
But, whether you’re starting out or looking for products to enhance a current set up, where to start making that selection of the best photography kit going for weddings? Here’s where we come in, with advice on the best cameras, lenses and accessories you can buy to ensure you give it your best shot.
Although the preferred style of most contemporary wedding photographers is to shoot with natural, available daylight, in dark chapels and old hotel rooms that might not always be possible. At the same time, photographers don’t want to be carting heavy additional lighting equipment around with them, that gets in the way and hampers or slows down proceedings; so something effective, lightweight and portable is key. It may sound like a big ask, but fortunately there are innovative lighting solutions these days that make it all less of a faff and a help rather than a possible hindrance.
You’ll also want to be comfortable enough to be able to move rapidly and keep up with the action of the big day. If you’re planning on using two camera bodies so you always have a back up to hand in case of any unexpected eventuality, you might want to look at some across-the-body type camera strap system that supports such a set up. Fortunately we have suggestions here too for making light work of what can otherwise be one of the most stressful photographic assignments you might come across.
1. Sony Alpha A9
Action and sports photographers may love this full frame camera’s 20fps burst shooting mode – but that makes it perfect for weddings too
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max burst speed: 20fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional
We’ll want resolution and detail to pick up all that subtle detailing on the bride’s dress and groom’s cufflinks, so we’re already thinking a full frame camera as a top recommendation, and mirrorless at that, to aid portability and avoid back strain. Enter Sony’s completely silent 20fps shooting A9, which, although it may have introduced with sports photographers in mind, provides wedding photographers with the same benefits of quick and quiet captures, thanks also to an effective AF system. A 24 megapixel resolution is also plenty for the purpose here – we don’t need to go the 42MP sensor route. The silent shutter is made possible via an electronic shutter mechanism, which also has the advantage of there being no screen blackout. Those wedding photographers shooting is low light will also benefit from the Sony’s five axis in-body image stabilisation system. In all, this camera option pretty much ticks all the boxes boxes for capturing nuptials in 2019.
2. Fujifilm X-H1
Flagship X series camera aimed specifically at portrait and wedding photographers
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps (up to 14fps) | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional
Trumpeted as the highest performance camera in the history of Fuji’s X series on launch, this one featured the Fuji first of a five-axis image stabilisation system; handy for any wedding photographer utilising available light only to shoot stills or 4K video. A further bonus is the 8fps continuous shooting speed that can be boosted to 14fps if you opt for the electronic shutter, or 11fps if choosing the optional VPB-XH1 vertical power booster/ battery grip. As this is a pro grade bit of kit, further advantages include weather sealed construction for those outdoor pictures of the bride and groom, while the top plate LCD window with chosen settings allows for any adjustments to be made quickly on the fly. Another useful aid is the fact that the larger LCD on the backplate tilts, should you want to use it as a viewfinder, or shot in ‘medium format’ fashion looking down. A minor hindrance as regards the latter is that the camera’s eyecup juts out a bit, so obscuring part of the screen is obscured. However with all of the above plus an uncannily quiet shutter this is a great option for wedding photographers.
3. Fujifilm XF56mm f/1.2 R APD lens
Prime portrait should be in the creative arsenal of any wedding photographer using the Fujifilm ‘X’ system
Mount: Fujifilm X-mount | Elements/groups: 11/8 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Autofocus: Stepping motor | Stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.7m | Max magnification: 0.09x | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions: 73x70mm | Weight: 405g
Providing the creative equivalent of using an 85mm f/1.2 lens on a full frame camera, this prime lens with its bright/fast aperture is perfect for both low light work and people shots – therefore making it ideal for deploying as part of your camera kit when shooting weddings (alternatively you might want a zoom that gives you up close and wide angle choices). Still, this lens allows users to deliver shots where the subject jumps out of the frame at the viewer, thanks to being able to deploy some creamily gorgeous defocused backgrounds (or ‘bokeh’). If we’ve one criticism it’s that the depth of field isn’t quite as tight as when using an actual, rather than, here, an ‘effective’ 85mm focal length. However this optic has a trick up its sleeve in an ‘apodisation’ filter that adjusts the lens’ optical path to smooth the outlines of shapes in defocused areas – even if we do have to pay a premium price for this lens because of it.
4. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
Prime portrait lens for Sony full frame users delivers pretty much all you could ask of it
Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 8/11 | Diaphragm blades: 11 | Stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.85m | Max magnification: 0.12x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 89.5x107.5mm | Weight: 820g
This weather sealed prime portrait lens is the bee’s knees for wedding photographers, principally because an 11 blade rounded diaphragm helps produce sumptuously soft and creamy bokeh in defocused areas to help any user literally make the bride and groom themselves the point of focus in an image. Its manufacturer’s Nano AR coating helps prevent ghosting and flare and minimise any instances of lateral or longitudinal fringing, while sharpness is delivered right across the frame at f/1.4. Making this lens particularly useful for both stills and video capture are some helpful bonus features including a focus hold button and de-click aperture ring.
5. Fujifilm VPB-XH1 vertical power booster/ battery grip
An accessory to aid shooting in portrait fashion, monitor audio for video recording, extend battery performance and increase burst speed
Number of batteries provided: 2 | In-grip battery charging: Yes | Charging time: Two hours | Compatibility: Fujifilm X-H1
No wedding photographer worth their salt wants to run short on power when shooting a couple’s big day. Fuji XH1 users can help avoid such a hindrance by investing in a vertical power grip that not only aids shooting in portrait fashion, but also packs plenty of extra juice – and allows for up to three times the performance of the in-camera battery (900 images or 30 minutes of 4K video). The tilting screen on the main camera can be a little tricky to pull-out if you’ve got the grip mounted, but, however, the power booster also has the option of a headphone socket – something that isn’t included on the actual XH1 camera body – should you want to monitor the audio on any video that’s being shot on the XH1. But another key reason for investing in this camera-specific power booster is that it ups the XH1’s continuous shooting speed performance/ maximum burst rate from 8fps up to a more useful 11fps. Needless to add we also get some additional controls on the grip, such as a shutter release button, focus lever, AE-L button AF-On button, command dial, Q button and Fn button. It all adds up to a useful extra for Fuji photographers in almost any given shooting scenario.
6. Sony VG-C3EM vertical grip
Enjoy equal vertical and horizontal operability, an assured hold, plus nearly twice the stamina of a single camera battery
Weight: 272g | Dimensions: 126.9x107.9x618mm | Compatibility: Sony A9, Sony A7R III, Sony A7 III
While there’s an accessory grip for Fuji’s APS-C sensor contender, so too is there for Sony’s full frame mirrorless line up. Constructed of the same robust feeling magnesium alloy as Sony’s A9 full frame camera, the two NP-FZ100 batteries provided here for extra power have the advantage of being able to be charged within the grip itself via its USB port. When the power of one battery is depleted the second one automatically kicks in to continue operation. Like the pro cameras to which it can be attached, the grip features dust and moisture resistant sealing and doubles up on some controls, including providing a multi selector for swiftly selecting an AF point. It goes without saying that attaching it to an A9 also provides a larger, firmer grip than the core camera itself affords.
7. Profoto A1X
On camera flash and studio light rolled into one
Recycling time: 0.05-1.0 second | Max energy: 76 Watts | TTL: Yes | HSS: yes | Modelling light: LED | Connectivity: Wireless & USB | Battery performance: Up to 450 full power flashes | Charging time: Up to 80 minutes | Digital display: Yes | Dimensions: 7.5x16.5x10.8cm | Weight: 560g | Compatibility: : Sony, Canon, Nikon cameras
Profoto’s latest A1X – its sequel to the year-old A1 – is newly Sony compatible (as well as offering Canon and Nikon ‘fits’, like its predecessor). In a nutshell, this is its maker’s smallest studio light and incidentally Profoto’s first ever on-camera solution – which will be music to the ears of wedding photographers. The A1X has no fewer than 30 tweaks compared to the plain A1, including a new more powerful battery with up to 450 full power ‘pops’ per charge and faster recycling with it. The A1X also features a magnetic clip-on mount for using light shaping tools of which there are six available that can be used individually or in combination. As well as all of the above the flash is still compact enough to fit in any camera and light enough to get up and running quickly and easily on the ‘big day’.
8. Rotolight NEO 2
Great LED light for video and stills
Recycling time: Zero seconds | Power output: 2000 lux at 3ft | HSS: yes | Modelling light: LED | Battery performance: 85,000 full power flashes from 6x AAs | Digital display: Yes | Compatibility: Sony, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm cameras
First announced two years back, this upgrade of the original NEO is of interest for its best of both worlds approach – in offering a continuous LED light and high speed sync flash in the one portable, circular unit, powered by six AA batteries. In fact it’s so portable you could even bring two or three to a wedding – as long as you’ve an assistant or the stands to hold them. Compatibility is offered with all the major players should you wish to affix the NEO 2 to your camera, or it can be used handheld of course. Further features that help this one stand out from the crowd are a zero recycling time, and, via a collaboration with Elinchrom, a built-in wireless receiver to allow for remote use. In short, there’s a lot of flexibility not to mention power packed into this little unit, which is 85% brighter than its predecessor. If you do however need more oomph to light a larger space and don’t mind a physically larger unit, also investigate Rotolight’s AEOS option.
9. Lastolite HaloCompact Reflector
The most compact reflector yet
Surfaces: Silver/white (diffuser panel is optional extra) | Size: 82cm/32in | Weight: 322g (including case)
‘RapidExoframe’ technology is at the heart of this compact HaloCompact Reflector and Diffuser from Lastolite. Wedding photographers who want to minimize the amount of kit they carry will appreciate the way that this collapsible lightweight aluminum frame has been designed to quickly slot together, with the reflector fabric clipped to the frame. The frame itself can be broken down into small multiple sections which, with the folded fabric, packs tightly into a carry case measuring just 6.5x27x6.5cm and weighing a manageable 335g (for combined reflector and case). What’s more, the collapsible frame features a handle that incorporates a 1/4-inch thread to attach the panel to a tripod head. Said frame quickly slots together like a tent pole. In all, a solution that should appeal when portability is paramount. There is an optional diffuser panel that you can buy to fit the same frame.
10. BlackRapid Double Breathe camera strap
Simultaneously carry two DSLR or mirrorless bodies with lenses attached, so the right image capture tool is always at hand when shooting a wedding
Padded strap length: 160cm | Pad width: 5.5cm to 9.5cm**Webbing:** 100% nylon | Weight: 353g
A harness type affair in sober black that comfortably and evenly distributes the weight of two camera bodies and their attached lenses across the body and shoulders, so the wedding photographer/videographer has the ability to have two different lenses to hand – plus a main camera and back up body with it. While marking you out at a ceremony as the photo professional rather than just a ‘weekend warrior’, the combination weighs a manageable 353g. Plus, if the three clip-on linking straps at the centre of the harness are removed, the two parallel camera straps can alternatively be used as individual camera straps for individual cameras, if so required at any stage. Versatile and quite cool looking with it, a polyester dust bag is supplied for stashing it in, when not in use. A comfortable and practical solution for the big day.
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