Wedding photos - I have no choice - please help

Jan3Sobieski

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Yes, it happened to me too. A friend of mine will not take no for an answer after I explained to her many times that I am not a professional wedding photographer and that she should REALLY invest into hiring one. No luck. Times are tough, they can't afford it. Thankfully they will have another person with a little more skills than me who will take most of the "blame."
Neither of us will charge for any of the photos we take of course.

As I haven't done any photography for the last year and a half, (many things to blame: lost a job, got a baby, got a new job) I haven't really invested into any gear lately, and with what I have, I can't really do much.
I will be shooting with my D80 and a nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 zoom lens. I know some of you will say I should have a backup but as of right now I can't afford another body and I can't really justify the purchase. I don't have a flash yet (yes you read that right) but that's why I'm here. I am prepared to buy some gear in the next 2 weeks as the wedding is in 2 months. Sadly I realized that the sb800 has been discontinued and the sb900 is $450. I am however prepared to buy it. I also have about $500 left to spare and I'm trying to figure out what else I can buy that would be useful for the wedding and in my regular shooting.

Options:
1. Another lens - suggestions? (what is a must have lens for weddings?)
2. MB-D80 Battery pack + nikkor 35mm f/1.8?
3. SD-9 battery pack for the sb900
4. Tripod?
5. A mix of any of these items or other suggestions

Also, some questions:
1. Are battery grips/packs for the camera useful at weddings? the 24-70 is already a pretty heavy lens. It's not that i can't handle it but i wonder if it's overkill? Also, I've seen some "compatible" grips for a lot cheaper on ebay. Has anyone had a good experience with those or is going for an original Nikon grip a better choice?
2. Are battery packs for flashes useful? What are the best batteries to run a flash on? if using standard AA batteries, are there better and worse types? Are rechargeable batteries worse than non-rechargeable?
3. Are tripods useful at weddings? for what shots? I'm asking because at my wedding the photographer never used one.
4. As I've never used a flash before how do you decide when to bounce off something rather than point it straight especially in church with high ceiling?
5. Is my approach of using exclusively the 24-70 zoom lens wrong? should I have any other, maybe prime lenses and switch them for particular shots?
6. I usually shoot raw and then process in photoshop, is that a wrong approach for wedding photos?
7. Any other advice you can give me other than "don't do it!"

I have many more questions but I won't torture you. The post is long enough already, I apologize.
 

DRoberts

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24-70 is a great lens for this, especially if someone else is shooting as well. The only thing I would consider is maybe rent a longer zoom...70-200 or so...just make sure its a 2.8. lighting is always the pain with weddings.
As far as I'm concerned if you can do this for a friend who otherwise would not have a photographer for finacial reasons then do it, and don't worry about all the people who throw fits on here because you are not a "professional" If they can't afford one and friends don't do it then they have nothing. Kudos for helping out.
 

ToddLange

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Yes, it happened to me too. A friend of mine will not take no for an answer after I explained to her many times that I am not a professional wedding photographer and that she should REALLY invest into hiring one. No luck. Times are tough, they can't afford it. Thankfully they will have another person with a little more skills than me who will take most of the "blame."
Neither of us will charge for any of the photos we take of course.

As I haven't done any photography for the last year and a half, (many things to blame: lost a job, got a baby, got a new job) I haven't really invested into any gear lately, and with what I have, I can't really do much.
I will be shooting with my D80 and a nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 zoom lens. I know some of you will say I should have a backup but as of right now I can't afford another body and I can't really justify the purchase. I don't have a flash yet (yes you read that right) but that's why I'm here. I am prepared to buy some gear in the next 2 weeks as the wedding is in 2 months. Sadly I realized that the sb800 has been discontinued and the sb900 is $450. I am however prepared to buy it. I also have about $500 left to spare and I'm trying to figure out what else I can buy that would be useful for the wedding and in my regular shooting.

Options:
1. Another lens - suggestions? (what is a must have lens for weddings?)
2. MB-D80 Battery pack + nikkor 35mm f/1.8?
3. SD-9 battery pack for the sb900
4. Tripod?
5. A mix of any of these items or other suggestions

Also, some questions:
1. Are battery grips/packs for the camera useful at weddings? the 24-70 is already a pretty heavy lens. It's not that i can't handle it but i wonder if it's overkill? Also, I've seen some "compatible" grips for a lot cheaper on ebay. Has anyone had a good experience with those or is going for an original Nikon grip a better choice?
2. Are battery packs for flashes useful? What are the best batteries to run a flash on? if using standard AA batteries, are there better and worse types? Are rechargeable batteries worse than non-rechargeable?
3. Are tripods useful at weddings? for what shots? I'm asking because at my wedding the photographer never used one.
4. As I've never used a flash before how do you decide when to bounce off something rather than point it straight especially in church with high ceiling?
5. Is my approach of using exclusively the 24-70 zoom lens wrong? should I have any other, maybe prime lenses and switch them for particular shots?
6. I usually shoot raw and then process in photoshop, is that a wrong approach for wedding photos?
7. Any other advice you can give me other than "don't do it!"

I have many more questions but I won't torture you. The post is long enough already, I apologize.



im sort of in the same position as you are! except i volunteered to take free photos at my friends wedding. luckly i have more time than you do. lol its in august. and i shouldnt have much trouble with lighting because its outside. my friend is almost spending nothing on this wedding. its her 2nd so its nothing to be super dramatic about. lol. but i offered to take her pics. so im kinda excited to get some experience shooting weddings.
 

Montana

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I agree with getting a flash. And will also second getting/renting a longer lens. The one mentined would be great (70-200 2.8). Or get a telephoto fast prime. Not sure what Nikon has to offer, but around a 135 f/2 or faster. Tripods are handy, and niether setup will be extremely heavy.
 

In2daBlue

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I have to tell you, I don't think you need the SB900. Unless you're planning to shoot sports (or need a lot of distance between you and the subject) and are planning to get extraordinarily technical with your strobist work, I think you should save the money and get a SB600. I have an 800 but truth be told, I mostly leave it at home and use my 600 for 99% of my photojournalism and wedding shoots. It's a great flash, I mean a great flash, and can be had for $240. Make sure you get a difuser cap with it though. That will help you with the wedding work for sure. A note of caution: Get the flash before and practice using it. Correct strobe work isn't really hard but it's something that you want to be comfortable with before you go shoot a gig.

I think a tripod is a must for these kinds of things. If not for any other reason than you never know when you might need it, but also because it makes the family portrait session easier (I think at least). I agree with the poster that said you should rent a 70-200mm 2.8. That is an essential lens for wedding work because you are often out of range with the wide glass you already have.

Otherwise, search the Web for a wedding checklist. Some photographers post them up and I find it is very helpful to bring it along. That way I don't forget about getting a certain shot (the cake, the rings, the table placement, the bride, etc.)

I think a second body is important but if they have two shooters it won't matter. If you drop and break your camera than there is still another one there to catch the important moments.

Don't worry about the people on here who talk about not being a professional. When people are only able to pay for free photography they should be happy with what they get.
 

manaheim

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I'd say very high priority on the flash. Totally agree on the SB600/800/900... go for the 600 if you can rustle one up. I still use it almost all the time, despite owning an 800.

Keep in mind that you can rent flashes and lenses and even cameras for relatively short money. You may want to rent a D80 or something as a backup body, and grab an extra lens (70-200 2.8) and then buy your flash. (you'll get more use out of your flash than you might think... well, most people do)

Good luck with it!
 

Double H

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Good advice on the flash. There are a few good resources out there for used equipment.
A tripod might be a bit bulky, a monopod would be much easier to move around, and will prove very useful if you are zoomed in from far away.
Shooting in RAW will give you a little more room for minor errors like lighting and contrast, etc.

Most of all, HAVE FUN! Find a list of the key wedding shots you need to get, and just have fun with it.
 
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Jan3Sobieski

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Thank you so much for all your responses, I'm still hoping someone can answer those specific questions I asked in the first post.

It looks like you recommend getting an sb600 vs the 900.
I always thought the sb600 was good for shooting inside, but wasn't enough for wedding receptions but I guess I was wrong

As of right now, I'm thinking of getting those three items:
1. sb600 deluxe kit from adorama (around $320)
2. sigma 70-200 f/2.8 ($730) from B&H
3. Monopod.

Is that a good idea? Is the deluxe kit worth it, or should i just use regular batteries?
Can someone recommend a specific Monopod under $150 that's good?
 

tirediron

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Batteries: I use the Wal-mart house brand batteries. They're cheap, good for a couple of hundred flashes, and throw them out.

Not sure what all the 'deluxe' hit includes, but my experience is that kits usually aren't worth the money.

Any monopod from Manfrotto would be good, but you'll to play with them to find one you like. That said, while I always have a couple of tripods and at least one monopod with me, I have yet to use any of them at a wedding, other than rarely, for the formals. I suspect you'll quickly find that they're bulky and get in the way.

And don't forget, always, always, ALWAYS shoot RAW (and don't forget to buy LOTS of extra memory!)
 

smyth

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Not sure what all the 'deluxe' kit includes, but my experience is that kits usually aren't worth the money.

this kit includes a stroboframe flash bracket, iTTL sync cord and rechargeable batteries w/ charger.
 

Montana

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I bought my 580 II in a similar kit. The battery charger is exactly like the one that came with my eneloop batteries. The batteries themselves are sub-par however. The sync cord lasted like 20 shots and has a horrendous mount on it. Get a sync cord from flashzebra.com. The flash bracket is actually OK, but not really ideal.
 

Jaszek

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Sorry to be off topic but you are Polish right? (i'm judging from your user name lol) and yea get a flash. Also be prepared to move a lot. I work at a place that has a Polish wedding (yes there is a difference between Polish and normal weddings lol) every weekend so be prepared to move a lot and maybe get a diffuser to soften the light a little. Also the diffuser will help you in the church Enter text here.isince it's impossible (for the most part) to bounce in the church so the diffuser would help.
 
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Jan3Sobieski

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Ok, so I guess I'll ditch the kit and just get the sb600 with some batteries for now.

Jaszek, yeah I'm Polish and that's why I asked about bouncing the flash off the ceiling. Most polish churches have really high ceilings and it seemed impossible to me so I guess a diffuser is the way to go.

I think i changed my mind about the sigma lens. Ready too many bad reviews. I'm going to rent a 70-200 f2.8 nikkor and just save my money for that exact lens.

Also, what bags do wedding photographers carry? I'm not going to wear a suit and tie and have my backpack on... :)
Another question that is bothering me: do monopods need heads?
Also, would a 14-24 f/2.8 nikkor lens be useful at a wedding?
 

Jaszek

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From my experience photographers all carry different bags. Usually at the party they just leave their bag in a corner and walk around with one or two cameras, and go back to change lenses and stuff.
I think yes, monopods need heads.
the 14-24 would be great since you can capture the atmosphere and show all the people in one shot. It would be great if you had the 14-24. 24-70 and 70-200 and then you have the whole range from 14-200 and don't have to worry about not having a lens for a shot.

BTW where are you from?
 

TJ K

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The lowepro slingshot bag is an excellent bag easy to carry and super quick access the 100 or 200aw are great if you don't have to much gear the 100aw is a great option.
 

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