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Need advice for a new wedding/portrait lens


TPF Noob!
Nov 8, 2008
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Spearfish, SD
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I am just starting to book some weddings and portrait sessions, and I don't know what lens to purchase that would be the most versatile addition to my bag. I also shoot indoor sports almost exclusively during the winter months, mainly basketball and volleyball, so I am tempted to go with a Canon 85mm 1.2, but I have also had to shoot a couple of indoor portrait sessions in fairly small rooms (I don't have my own studio, so I am shooting in client's houses/offices) where my wide angle (all I have now is a 28-70 mm f2.8-4.0) wasn't quite wide enough and I had to get creative with the posing/cropping.

I currently have:

Canon 70-200mm f4L IS
Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS
Canon EF50mm f/1.8 II
Sigma 28-70mm f.28-4.0
Canon 18-55mm

I would really appreciate suggestions from any experienced wedding/portrait photographers on what lens I might be missing for a suitable wedding and portait setup. Thank you!!!!
Why the 70-200 f4 and f2.8? Anyway, I would say the 85mm 1.2 would be a good start. Thats a really nice portrait lens. If you can I might consider also getting a wide angle because of your dilemma, maybe the canon 20mm 2.8 or 14mm 2.8. (again, the 14mm is nice, but its also about 2 grand) (if you cant swing the extra for the wide angle, id say just go with a wide angle, after all you already have the 70-200 2.8, and while the 85 1.2 is VERY nice, a wide angle might serve you better.)
Canon EF50mm f/1.8 II - change to Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. If you can afford it, the L f/1.2 50mm, but of course the 1.4 is still really good. It's a few hundred more than the 50mm f/1.8 II, but makes a world of difference.

I'm deciding the same as you!

So here's what I've got:
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L OR Canon EF 135mm f/2.0 (not yet decided)

And then
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L OR Canon EF 16-35mm /2.8L (not yet decided)

The wide angle is just for other stuff, not really for weddings, although you can use it too. Normally, I've used a 24mm and it's fine for wedding group shots, etc.
Thanks for the quick replies!!!

I have the 70-200 f4 as I spend alot of time backpacking in the summer, and the 2.8 was just TOO heavy, but I still wanted something that was fairly versatile. My husband shoots alot of baseball and football with me, and he can use this lens for the daytime games, and it still works as a good all-around "recreational" lens. I really wanted a 400mm, but it was just too big for backpacking/hunting, etc., and the 70-200 seems to work just perfect. I was kind of questioning my judgement on that one too, but I haven't regretted it at all, especially when backpacking at mile 9 or 10, when I am feeling every ounce in that pack!!!!
Well, not for weddings, I'm sorry to say.

You could, instead of the 70-200mm f/2.8 get the 135mm f/2.0. In fact, I'd suggest that rather than getting the 70-200mm f/2.8. Better image quality, f/.8 higher aperture, and somewhat a lot cheaper.
Well, not for weddings, I'm sorry to say.

You could, instead of the 70-200mm f/2.8 get the 135mm f/2.0. In fact, I'd suggest that rather than getting the 70-200mm f/2.8. Better image quality, f/.8 higher aperture, and somewhat a lot cheaper.

He already has the 2.8.

As for a portrait lens, I have heard very good things about the 85mm F1.4. I don't know much about the F1.2, but F1.2 seems a little excessive, especially for portrait photography.
Whoops, my error. :)

85mm is really a nice lens, but I prefer to get closer and use the 50mm. ;)
You ahve plenty of fast zoom glass for weddings with the F2.8L 70-200mm. Since you have a 28-70, I would suggest the following.

Possibly look at the Canon 17-55 F2.8 IS lens. I have it and am really impressed with it's picture quality. It will add a nice wideer angle fast glass solution to your lens selection.

Another solution is to upgrade that Sigma to the Canon 28-70 F2.8L. That lens with the 70-200 2.8L IS whould give you lots of fast glass across a very good wedding focal range. You could then use your primes to plug spots where you have trouble in certain shooting situations.
Sell off the 18-55, sell off the 28-70, sell off the 70-200 f/4

Buy the canon 17-55 IS.

done and done, wide enough for indoors, fast enough for weddings, versatile enough for portraits, but taht's what your 50mm is for anyway.
Buy the 24-70mm f/2.8 firstly, of course.
You didn't say which body you are using but if it is a crop body a 16/17/18-50/55mm f2.8. Tamron, Sigma or Canon -whichever fits your budget will do.

28-70mm is a great range for indoor portraits. Beyond 70-85mm you have to stand in the next room for location shoots or have a large studio.

With weddings unless you are shooting only in big churches you are going to need wider than the 28mm for the wedding party shots, reception hall shots (everybody wants their reception to look like it was in a big hall even if it was cramped and 28mm is not wide enough to do that either).

Your f3.5 is usable with flash but if you are able get the f2.8 do so and put the kit lens in a drawer somewhere.

Whoops, I forgot to state that I am shooting with a Canon 40D, hoping to upgrade to the Canon 5D Mark II by the end of the summer (if the wedding bookings keep coming in!).

Thanks again for all of advice!

One other question. I love shooting lightning/storms, and have been using my 28-70mm for this, but am not very happy with the results. Would the Canon 17-55 2.8 L also be a good lens for lightning, and does anyone know right off hand if it is sealed like the Canon 70-200 2.8L IS is? I can certainly look that up, but you guys are so much faster!!!

Oh yeah, my kit lens is already in a drawer, along with a Sigma 70-300 lens that I bought a while back and never did like!!!
another vote for the 85mm...

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