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Best Lens for evening Wedding

JanB56

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I am going to be shooting a small church wedding this Saturday, it's a 5:30 pm wedding, the church is relatively lit, the reception area is nicely lit also, my ? is this, I use a Nikon D 3100 & have a 35 1.8 g lens, a 50 MM 1.8 & a 55-200 5.6G. Given that the reception area is lit w/ hanging white lites & there are bare trees, also lit w/ clear white lites, it's beautiful, but need to make sure I use the correct lens, any suggestions ? I plan on using my speed lite also, & not my camera flash. I'm not getting paid to do the job, however I still want to treat this as I am & give them the best possible pictures I can give them, I am still very new to photography & still have along way to go, I have taken several pictures for people & gotten great reviews, but I still get nervous. Any tips, advice , pointers, I will truly appreciate.
 
With a modern d-slr, using a little bit higher-than-normal ISO settings is a good method for flash photos unless you have TONS of battery power to spare, and by that I mean a Quantum battery pack to power the flash. My tip is this: do not shoot all the flash shots at ISO 100, in the search for "quality"....think ISO 250,320,or even 400 with flash. Less flash output actually needed, less flash (lower level of actual flash output) blasting people in the face, faster recycling time, longer life for the flash batteries.

I would use both the 35 and the 50mm primes. You'll soon find that when you shoot an event with a prime lens, because it has the same field of view at every click, that you'll get into a groove where you'll be shooting from the same, few distances most of the event, so you can get the exact exposure down.

You don't mention your exact flash. A big decision is whether to shoot the reception/before the wedding candids black background, at 1/250 shutter at f/9 or so, OR to drag the shutter (shooting at slow speeds like 1/20 to 1/80) more, and try to pick up ambient. If you do want to pick up ambient lighting, it becomes even more beneficial to get the ISO level UP, to 400 or so, or even higher, and also to get the aperture a bit wider, like f/5.6 or so. Of course, make sure you have enough depth of field when shooting at f/4.5 or f/5.6...don't attempt to pull focus on deeper groups at these apertures at closer shooting distances.

Please, don't risk utterly botching this job by stubbornly sticking to ISO 100.
 
- The lighting is always worse than it looks.
- If it takes batteries, they are going to run out.
- If you have only one camera, its going to break on the wedding day.
- Whatever lens is your widest is not going to be wide enough.

If you had said the wedding was in May or such then it might be possible to give some tips, but for a wedding in a few days it seems best now to just wing it with what Derrel mentioned. I suppose you must have a good reason to go ahead with this and that all the parties are in agreement and I don't want to disuade you.
 
Did someone say wedding photography? :D

There are just way too many things to type out in 1 post so I'm going to let someone else do it. LOL Have fun, enjoy what you do, make sure to set client expectations correctly, take awesome photos. :D

BTW, the lens you use will depend on the style that you shoot. For me, I use my 50mm f1.4G most of my wedding work over my 35 f1.4G, 85 f1.4G, 105 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, and 70-200 f2.8
 
I AM NO PRO,,
you said church et all are 'relatively' lit. Have you gone there and done some practice shots??
I am always surprised at my settings when I thought..'oh it's not that dark out, or such'
 
Is it possible for you to go to the church a few days in advance and get some practice? I think when you're a beginner, it's hard to make good judgements when you're under time pressure. Those in the wedding party will likely see your dSLR and assume you're competent. They may not be super patient if you spend too much time getting a good shot. I suggest you plan some shots in advance and practice at the venue (if you can).

Just to reiterate on the above, from my point of view the biggest potential pitfalls involve using too low of an ISO value and using the primes wide open, thus making it too hard, or even impossible, to nail focus. Lastly, you have a fair number of pixels to play with, so make sure you include everything you want in the frame. You can always crop a little in post if necessary (this also applies to straightening crooked shots).
 
Post #4... "set client expectations properly". That sounds like a very important issue for this, specific wedding. Vtec is a pro shooter...he can deliver...

You mention the white lights...this is where the ISO level and the shutter speed you select is going to affect how those lights appear in the photos and in the backgrounds of the photos... slower shutter speeds from dragging the shutter will make the lights appear brighter, whereas a fast sync speed like 1/250 or 1/200 will tend to make them look much darker, less bright.

So, when you do your close-up shots with flash, keep in mind that the flash's very brief momentary burst of light will tend to freeze the close-range stuff (people, tables,etc), even with a slow shutter speed. You might very well decide that a slow, dragging shutter at 1/15 or 1/20 at 400 ISO is what it takes to get the background lights to "burn in", and make a nice, vivid, pretty look to the lights as they look in the pictures. And again...this is why ISO level used is a big,big deal when you've got a lot of lights in the background, and you're using flash to expose the foregrounds.
 
If you look up the word "church" in the dictionary, you'll notice that one of the definitions will say "A building designed to provide extremely poor lighting for photographic purposes in order to frustrate wedding photographers." I swear, that's what it says!

I've done hundreds of weddings... and except for the outdoor weddings (which have challenges of their own) virtually ALL churches have poor lighting. Even the ones you might think have good lighting ... visually to your eye... you'll find probably have much worse lighting than you think once you use a light meter to check possible exposure settings.

Photographers typically may not use flash at any wedding during the "official" part of the wedding ceremony (once the bride reaches the alter and the father "gives away" the bride, the "official" part of the ceremony has begun... no more flash until the happy victims, er, couple... start to walk back out.)

The officiant will probably not want you getting too close the alter (usually shooting from the sides is ok... but getting right up on the alter is not ok.)

So low-focal ratio lenses are your best bet.

After the ceremony and at the reception you can flash all you want.
 
At least you have a good start with 2 fast lenses. The 50+35mm f1.8 are good performers. The d3100 is no slouch either.

Hopefully your flash has a focus assist. Sometimes people mention gear and refer just to photo quality, the d3100 is pretty good in low light where iso performance is concerned, when compared to crop sensor cameras, but it's autofocus will need help when light levels are low, it's small viewfinder is in no way suited to manual focus and live view is not really practical at a wedding. Good luck
 
I AM NO PRO,,
you said church et all are 'relatively' lit. Have you gone there and done some practice shots??
I am always surprised at my settings when I thought..'oh it's not that dark out, or such'
I have & I'm going in there tonite to take a few more, it's a family member & they are not expecting a well seasoned photographer to do this job, they just could not afford to pay someone & I've been working on my photography for a while now, so they asked me to do this for them & I agreed, Am I nervous , Of course I am. getting paid or not getting paid does not matter to me, it's giving them memories to cherish forever. So I will pray 1st & do the BEST I can.
 
At least you have a good start with 2 fast lenses. The 50+35mm f1.8 are good performers. The d3100 is no slouch either.

Hopefully your flash has a focus assist. Sometimes people mention gear and refer just to photo quality, the d3100 is pretty good in low light where iso performance is concerned, when compared to crop sensor cameras, but it's autofocus will need help when light levels are low, it's small viewfinder is in no way suited to manual focus and live view is not really practical at a wedding. Good luck

Thank you, I am going to use my speed lite & going in there tonite, & take some practice shots. they are doing the rehearsal , so this will give me a chance to check it out before the actual event.
 
If you look up the word "church" in the dictionary, you'll notice that one of the definitions will say "A building designed to provide extremely poor lighting for photographic purposes in order to frustrate wedding photographers." I swear, that's what it says!

I've done hundreds of weddings... and except for the outdoor weddings (which have challenges of their own) virtually ALL churches have poor lighting. Even the ones you might think have good lighting ... visually to your eye... you'll find probably have much worse lighting than you think once you use a light meter to check possible exposure settings.

Photographers typically may not use flash at any wedding during the "official" part of the wedding ceremony (once the bride reaches the alter and the father "gives away" the bride, the "official" part of the ceremony has begun... no more flash until the happy victims, er, couple... start to walk back out.)

The officiant will probably not want you getting too close the alter (usually shooting from the sides is ok... but getting right up on the alter is not ok.)

So low-focal ratio lenses are your best bet.

After the ceremony and at the reception you can flash all you want.

Thanks Tim, I will take what you said to heart.
 
With a modern d-slr, using a little bit higher-than-normal ISO settings is a good method for flash photos unless you have TONS of battery power to spare, and by that I mean a Quantum battery pack to power the flash. My tip is this: do not shoot all the flash shots at ISO 100, in the search for "quality"....think ISO 250,320,or even 400 with flash. Less flash output actually needed, less flash (lower level of actual flash output) blasting people in the face, faster recycling time, longer life for the flash batteries.

I would use both the 35 and the 50mm primes. You'll soon find that when you shoot an event with a prime lens, because it has the same field of view at every click, that you'll get into a groove where you'll be shooting from the same, few distances most of the event, so you can get the exact exposure down.

You don't mention your exact flash. A big decision is whether to shoot the reception/before the wedding candids black background, at 1/250 shutter at f/9 or so, OR to drag the shutter (shooting at slow speeds like 1/20 to 1/80) more, and try to pick up ambient. If you do want to pick up ambient lighting, it becomes even more beneficial to get the ISO level UP, to 400 or so, or even higher, and also to get the aperture a bit wider, like f/5.6 or so. Of course, make sure you have enough depth of field when shooting at f/4.5 or f/5.6...don't attempt to pull focus on deeper groups at these apertures at closer shooting distances.

Please, don't risk utterly botching this job by stubbornly sticking to ISO 100.

Thanks Derrel, I can always depend on your help, I will definitely pay attn. to what you have said here, I'm nervous of course, it is a family member, but I still want to do them a great job, I realize taking photos inside of a church in the fall months, where there is little to NO sun coming in, using gently lit lites, all of this will be a challenge for me, but I am willing to tackle it, you always give the best notes & help...... Thank you ... so much !!! Merry Christmas
 
Which is the best automobile for a hot date? If it is a really hot date, a Nash Rambler.
For a wedding, have backups for everything. Lots of batteries. A little paranoia about your settings and equipment can go a long way.
(With the Rambler you don't need a motel if they are all full or your wallet is empty....)
 

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