What to buy for wedding photography

I recently was talking to an aspiring wedding photographer about gear. She has a ::amazon(“B0007QKMQY”, “Rebel XT”)::. I wrote her an email that outlined what gear I thought she should be looking to get.

As it happens, I my first DSLR was a Rebel as well.

Here’s the order in which I would upgrade my equipment if I were you:

1. ::amazon(“B000NP3DJW”, “Canon 580EXII flash”)::. This is a must. You cannot shoot a wedding (or anything for that matter) with the built-in flash. A 580EX is fine but nothing lower because the head won’t pivot as far and versatility is a must when you spend your life bouncing flash. You will also need a good bounce card and possibly an omni-bounce. A good wedding photographer almost never shoots with the flash facing forward.

2. Fast glass that zooms. You need to be able to shoot from 18mm – 150mm at 2.8 or lower. The difference between 5.6 and 2.8 is amazing in terms of natural light and available light. Many pro’s will scream that you simply must have a 300mm lens at 1.8 with IS. It’s nice but not a deal breaker. Before I spent a grand on that lens I would buy:

3. ::amazon(“B000V5P90K”, “Canon 40D”):: or better. There are many reasons but off the top of my head I would say that LCD size and controls are the most obvious (I don’t even know how to adjust the f-stop on a Rebel XT in manual mode and you will be shooting in manual mode 95% of the time). ISO noise is better, focus is better, functions are better, more mega pixels means closer crops, better build means it survives a fall. It is the entry camera for wedding work. There are certainly better camera’s in the Canon line but nothing that gives you this much bang for the buck. I debated a long time on my camera choice, basically trying to decide between two 40D’s or something more expensive with my Rebel XT as backup. Eventually I decided that I would rather have two identical camera’s so that I wouldn’t play favorites or cheat my customers on quality when my main breaks during a shoot and I down-grade to my backup.

5. Backup flash.

That’s what I would consider the minimum for shooting second camera at a wedding on a regular basis.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. The 430EXII has vertical and horizontal pivot, and at least from my experience, provides as much flexibility as the 580EXII at almost half the cost. Is there something I’m missing, other than the obvious throw of the head itself (43m vs 48m)?

  2. The throw of the head should not be discounted. Canon lists the distance on the 580EXII ad 50ft farther than the 480EXII. This can make a difference when you consider how often you are bouncing off walls, etc. The 580EXII also has an input for your remote trigger while the others do not. So, you either have to crack the case open and wire your own port (many tutorials on the web) or buy an adapter that has a cord (mount the flash on the adapter, then the adapter on the tripod. This is what I do with my off-camera flash, a 580EX.) Also, the 480EXII cannot act as a master to multiple speedlights. While I use radio triggers for my off-camera flash, it’s comforting to know that I could use the built in Infrared trigger in my 580EXII in an emergency should my radio’s fail or break.

    The best reason to buy the best flash is simply to be sure you don’t have regrets down the line. I can’t count how many times I have tried to spend the bare min. only to eventually have to upgrade anyway and end up spending more money overall. When I first started I bought everything I could as cheap as I could. Then I had to replace my cheap tripod with a Manfrotto… replace my cheap lenses with fast glass, etc. I finally learned to buy for the long-haul. I would love to go back in time and buy everything all over again.

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