Need quick professional advice

a.girl.named.maxMay 2, 2011

Well it's a long story so I'll get to the point. I'm going back to college for a degree in photography. I need to make some very quick decisions on equipment. I am ordering a Canon 7D but have to decide on lenses and a tripod. It's seems like I'm trying to buy a car before I even know how to drive! The degree will focus on wedding and portrait photography. (My heart is in nature and landscape but the college doesn't offer a degree like that.)

I've come to realize that each professional has their own style and preference but I need some guidance. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

If I sound desperate ... I am! LOL

Thank you!

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Wedding and portrait photography will have many indoor situations with low level lighting. There will be some outdoor shots, but again the subjects will be nearby, not distant scenes. Indoors, there will be times when all the subjects can not be fitted into the frame at normal focal lenght, therefore a shorter focal length is needed.

[All focal lengths will be referenced to 35 mm format. Adjustents must be made for other formats (film or sensor size).]

On the short end, I have found that 35 mm is ok for 75% of the shots, but 28 mm is better. However, there will be unwanted perspective distortion of subects close to the lense at 28 mm.

Normal length is 50 to 55 mm. A 2/1 telephoto ( about 100 mm) can make flatering portraits.

You'd like to cover everything with one good zoom lense to eliminate the need to change lenses, however, practicalities of lens design set limits. If you chose a 28 to 135 mm lense, this would be alost a 5 to 1 zoom. The lense opneing (f-stops) fall off as you zoom out and you might find the lense too slow for indoor work. Also, at 35 mm format, a practical zoom range is 3/1. Two lenses are needed to cover the range of 28 mm to 135 mm.

For 2 lenses, i suggest:
1. 28 to 80 mm
2. 50 to 150 mm.

If you can only afford 1 lense, then choose:
1. 35 to 105 mm.

For class work, you will need at minimum 1 camera body. But for professional wedding duty, you will need more than one camera. Why? If one camera fails, you need an immediate backup, and it should be on your person. You can not afford to miss that "once in a lifetime" shot. You'll never hear the end of it from your client.

You will be able to cover almost all situations with two camera: one with a 28 to 80 mm lense and a second with a 50 to 150 mm lense. Having two camera fitted with two lense eliminates the need to change lenses and that is an important point with digital sensors. One must minimize the chance of getting contanimants on the sensors. Of course, your assistant will be standing by with supplemental equipment including a backup camera. Record keeping is must for weddings. The names of the people in each shot must be recorded as well as the place, date and time. This is a good job for the assistant.

By the way, I am not a professional photographer. These are some lessosn I've learned over a lifetime. At one time, I had considered doing photos for hire and if that business grew, I could make it my main occupation. And then, I began to think about what was required and decided that if one were to include weddings, then reliability of your system had to be considered. I concluded that to do weddings, you could not approach it piecemeal, but had to make a complete commitmment.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:09PM
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Jemdandy gave you good advice. You might also want to consult with the wedding photographers at the Pro Digital Talk Forum at DPReview. The site's Beginners' Questions Forum is often useful as well.

One question to you: Doesn't the college (or individual instructors) advise incoming students about what equipment they'll need?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 8:08PM
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Absolute agreement on the need for two cameras for events photography - and I would add that I would have those two camera bodies be identical or at the least be compatible so that if one camera body fails the lenses can be swapped out as needed. No one likes to think about equipment failures but they do happen, and for weddings, having a backup is critical.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 12:38PM
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Only other thing I'll add is that you'll want to be flashless or quite a few shooting scenarios, so go for fast glass. For any zooms I'd be looking at 2.8 glass. With primes you can go faster, but 2.8 would be be my benchmark for zooms.

IS may help at times too.

You'll pay for 2.8 zooms, but they hold their value over the years versus the slower "kit" zoom lenses.

And yup, ask the school.

FWIW I use the monopod out of the tripod more than the full tripod setup. Still gives you a steady hand for long shots without taking up floor space.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 2:08PM
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