Today I’ll be sharing what I consider to be the best lenses to film a wedding with and I’ll talk in detail about why I choose different lenses for different parts of the wedding day. There are a ton of really great brands out there today so I’m going to focus on what I currently use and what works best for me and my style of filmmaking.
So what are the best lenses to film a wedding with?
I would be totally content filming all day with just a 35mm and an 85mm. For me that would be the perfect blend of wide and tight shots. Filming a wedding brings a unique set of challenges though that often require other choices.
One challenge is the fact that it is a live event where you cannot completely control the environment. Factors such as lighting, messy backgrounds and people all play a big part in the lens decision process. Another thing to consider is that you want to remain discreet and not be the center of focus. The guests should be focused on the couple and the officiant during the ceremony and not the camera crew.
This is where a telephoto lens or using small, discreet cameras are really beneficial. My personal choice at the moment is the Sony A7sii, filming everything in 4k resolution.
It’s important to remember that there are a ton of really great camera brands and lenses that all produce amazing results. A great artist can create with whatever tool they have at their disposal. Remember it’s the Indian not the arrow.
Here’s a breakdown of what I like to use while filming a wedding.
Bride and Groom Preparations
Sigma 35 1.4 Art Lens– I film the majority of the getting ready preparations with this lens. It is incredible sharp and built like a tank. A full frame camera with a 35mm lens is my favorite choice. It produces an image consistent with what we see with the human eye.
A lot of videographers and photographers use a 50mm for preps because you can hide a messy background. When I film with my Sony A7sii camera I have a few tools to work around this issue. The Sony camera can film in either full frame or in APS-C modes so a 35mm becomes about a 55mm equivalent.
It also has a clear image zoom option which digitally zooms in up to 2x. I find that 1.5x is the sweet spot where you still maintain full quality. I will occasionally film at 120 frames per second which you can use for slow motion in post. When you film at 120 the camera crops in to the sensor which gives you a tighter framing. So basically any lens that I use has several different options that give me a ton of flexibility due to this incredible camera.
Rokinon 85 1.5 Cine Lens– Anyone familiar with Rokinon lenses will tell you that this is the one to have. It is a really special lens with a very pleasing look. Occasionally during the preps I might switch to this if I want to get some closeups or detail shots without having to get really close to the subjects. It’s also a great lens for when you transition from the preps to the first look or bridal portrait time.
My lens choice for the ceremony will vary slightly depending on the wedding venue and if I’m working alone or have a second shooter with me.
35mm- I often continue to use this lens on a monopod for the down the aisle shot. I love using a ND filter on my lenses during the day to change exposure. A lot of people will just ride the shutter speed but I prefer to leave that and adjust from the lens. It gives a nice smooth transition and is quicker for me if I need to pan one direction to film the groom and then turn to film down the aisle.
Canon 70-200 2.8– I know Sony makes a really great (and expensive!) 70-200 but I still love my Canon version. Once the processional ends I will usually switch from my monopod with the 35mm to the 70-200 on a tripod. This is great for being able to shoot from far away and still get a lovely closeup of the couple during the vows. The only time I might not use this during the ceremony is for a destination wedding. Especially if it’s international and I need to travel light.
Sigma 24-105 f4– If I have a second shooter sometimes I don’t use this lens but it really comes in handy when working alone. I will put this lens on my second camera on a tripod and use it to move around and get different angles during the ceremony. At 24mm is is a great wide option in the back. I can zoom and film down the aisle or from the side to get a closeup of the groom during the vows. I can also get reaction shots of the guests and family and it’s great for getting the kiss from the back and then pulling it wide to get the couple exiting.
Canon 135 F2– If I have a second videography I might use this instead of the 24-105 as it’s sharper and has a really pretty unique look. It’s also faster at F2 so if it’s dark it comes in handy. Sometimes if I travel and want to leave the 70-200 at home this can be a good replacement.
Romantics, Portrait and Cocktails
Canon FD 20mm F2.8– An incredibly sharp wide angle, fully manual lens. This is my gimbal lens that I use to walk around with and get those incredible walking shots. You can see an example of this lens here:
If I’m not using the gimbal than I am using either the 35mm or the 70-200mm on a monopod or tripod.
For the rest of the night I pretty much use only the lenses already listed. The 35mm for dances if I want a wider shot or the 70-200mm for a closeup. The 70-200, 24-105 or 135 for speeches. And if I do any movement I use the 20mm on the gimbal.
55mm- I also have a couple of 55 mm lenses that I sometimes use. I have the Sony Zeiss 55 1.8 lens that I’ve been testing lately. It’s the first native Sony mount lens that I’ve used so I’ve been trying out the autofocus to see how responsive it is. Autofocus for me is not a big deal unless I’m doing photography which is one of the reasons I bought this lens. I’ve been using it for photographing my kids and taking it on vacations and it produces an amazing image. I also have a collection of vintage manual lenses in the 50-55 range such as the Canon FD and Helios 44-2. These are mostly used for something kind of arty like shooting into the sun to get a wild lens flare.
Filming a wedding or a live event can be challenging but also creativity stimulating and a lot of fun. The best lenses to film a wedding for me might be different for you but I hope that this article gives you a little inside as to why I choose different lenses for different parts of the day.
While these are my go to choices they have been many times where I’m forced to film something with what I have at the moment. If something happens spontaneously and I have a telephoto lens on when I would prefer to use a wide I need to find a way to make it work rather than risk losing the moment.
Changing the lens might cause you to miss the moment. Often when I look back at the footage some of my favorite parts are when I was forced to film something differently because of the lens I had with me at the time.
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