Wedding photography is one of the most difficult types of photography because it is documentary in nature. Settings change, lighting changes, and unexpected events almost always occur. This is why it is essential that wedding photographers carry a lens for every situation.
That said, our favorite lenses for wedding photography are: 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4, 24-70mm 2.8, 85mm 1.8, 70-200mm 2.8, and a 105mm 2.8 macro. We shoot with a Nikon D4, a camera we think to be the best on the market for our uses.
The 35mm is a great lens to use for wide angle shots — large group shots, room shots, establishing shots etc. Like other prime lenses, the 35mm lets in way more light than any zoom, which gives more flexibility when shooting in low light.
The 50mm lens is the closest lens to see what a human eye sees. This makes the 50mm a pretty versatile lens allowing us to capture action shots like dancing to static shots like family formal portraits. Again, as a prime lens, it lets in a ton of light making it clutch in low light situations. We use both the 1.8 version and the 1.4 version. When measured back to back at f/1.8 the 1.8 lens is as sharp as the 1.4. Also, stopped down all the way at f/1.4, the 1.4 lens tends to lose a significant amount of sharpness in the corners and the amount of light it lets in compared to f/1.8 is marginal.
The 24-70mm 2.8 is probably the most versatile lens because we can use it in almost every situation. Other photographers call this lens a ‘lazy lens’ because you could literally shoot an entire wedding with just this — not that we’d recommend that. The 24-70mm however does not let as much light in as a prime lens, it is not as sharp as a prime lens, and it won’t give the beautiful compression of a 70-200mm lens. This is a great lens to have on your camera if you are going to be documenting the unexpected or are rapidly changing settings.
The 85mm 1.8 is a fast lens that we use for portraits. Many portrait photographers will use only the 85 lens for their work. It is prime and fast and great in low light portrait situations.
The 70-200mm 2.8 is probably our favorite lens. The compression on this lens is unlike anything any other lens. It is great for action shots and portraits and allows us to take pictures from a distance. This lens is probably the sharpest zoom lens on the market.
The 105mm 2.8 macro is our details lens. Rings, shoes, jewelry are all shot with the 105mm macro. This lens has beautiful compression and is able to capture such rich detail in very small items.