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Weddings/Events with just primes

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Hi all,

 

I'm shooting events and weddinga casually, for friends and/or for fun. Since I'm not that experienced (yet) I've always been wondering how professional photographers manage to shoot events (i.e. weddings) using just prime lenses. I know many pros prefer to use versatile standard zooms like the 16-55 2.8, but there are quite some that really only use primes.

 

So my question is: How do you manage to do that? Do you have a rough plan ahead of time, like "using the 56 1.2 for speeches", "using the 35" for reception" etc.? How do you capture those unexpected moments that make each event unique and rememberable?

 

Or maybe I'm just overestimating the number of pros that really restrict themselves to primes? I'm looking forward to you responses!

 

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So my question is: How do you manage to do that? Do you have a rough plan ahead of time, like "using the 56 1.2 for speeches", "using the 35" for reception" etc.? How do you capture those unexpected moments that make each event unique and rememberable?

 

Pretty much that exactly. Shooting a wedding or event for the first time would be stressful with primes (unless you're super comfortable with your focal lengths), but after one or two, you get a pretty good feel for how things will go, and you can pick your primes from there.

 

Personally, I'd use probably the 16mm and 35mm for environment and detail photos before anyone else gets there. If I was shooting the bridal parties getting ready, I'd almost definitely use the 23 and 56, and probably live on the 23 until I wanted tighter headshots and such. The ceremony would definitely be 23 and 56. 23 if you're close or need some environment, and 56 for tighter shots, or to allow you to back away a bit and give the couple some space. (I shot a wedding with a girl who only used a 50mm, and for close up shots for the ceremony, she was literally standing arm's length from the couple, up in front of everyone - very distracting.) Bridal portrait/wedding party photos would be 23/56 hands down, unless I needed something wider for a particular shot. I'd probably do the same for speeches and more formal reception moments, like the first dance. For reception candids/dancing photos, I'd switch back to the 16/35 combo, so I could get in close for dance photos, and keep the 35 handy for natural light candid stuff or impromptu portraits.

 

All that is based on having two bodies to work with. If you only have one body, I can see lens choice being even more crucial. I second shot a lot of weddings last summer with one body, and chose a 17-50 2.8 as my primary lens so I had the versatility, and just used my 50 1.4 when I needed the wide aperture.

 

My Fuji situation is a bit different. I only have the X-T1 right now, but I only have primes (currently the 18, 23, and 35, and hoping to get the 56 and 16 before too long). If I was doing a lot of weddings or paid work, I'd be buying a second body as soon as I could afford it, but I'm not really looking to get into too much paid work, so I'm stuck with the one body for the foreseeable future. I've got one wedding that I'm doing as a favour this summer, and I'll have to make a lot more decisions beforehand about what lens I'll be using for certain situations. I'm expecting I'll be using the 23 for getting ready photos, probably the 35 for the ceremony and majority of the bridal portraits, then using the 23 for reception candids, and switching to the 18mm + flash for dancing photos.

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So it basically comes down to experience - that's what I feared. 

/uploads/emoticons/default_biggrin.png"> However, what do you do when you have your 16mm lens attached for group shots and all of the sudden a funny/cute/interesting scene is happening somewhere a little farther away? Have your second body prepared for exactly that situation?

 

Thanks for your responses so far!

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I have always preferred primes for everything, including weddings. The main two reasons: 1. You learn exactly what the lens will see in advance of holding the camera to your eye rather than racking a zoom back and forth until you find what you need, which is faster and more intuitive. 2. The extra speed in low light and greater flexibility of DOF. APS-C has the same light gathering ability as FF lenses, but you gain an extra stop of DOF. For landscapes, some people love this. For portraits, you need to go from f2 to f1.4 to have the same DOF as an FF sensor would. In low light, having an f1.2 or f1.4 lens is up to 2.5 stops faster than even an f2.8 zoom. IS may stabilize camera shake, but it doesn't help with subject movement, which requires a faster shutter speed. 

 

I was interviewed about 10 days ago about how wedding photography has changed in the 16 years I've been shooting, and how I use the Fujifilm cameras and lenses for weddings for the past 31 months...

http://inmybag.net/how-wedding-photography-has-changes-over-the-last-16-years/

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I was interviewed about 10 days ago about how wedding photography has changed in the 16 years I've been shooting, and how I use the Fujifilm cameras and lenses for weddings for the past 31 months...

Thanks for the feedback! Is this interview already available somewhere?

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Hi- Yes. Here is the link: http://inmybag.net/how-wedding-photography-has-changes-over-the-last-16-years/

 

Here is a link to a longer blog post I made about my entire history with the X-Series:

http://www.bradleyhanson.com/blog/2015/5/26/my-25-years-with-the-fujifilm-x-series-cameras-and-lenses

 

Best,

Bradley

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Thanks for the link. Really like your work and your approach resonates with me.According to the feedback on your website you're great to work with - having artistic and human factors together is a rare thing, if my experience with local wedding/event photographers is an indicator.

Concerning the topic: You manage to cover every situation using primes because you have multiple bodies. So I guess there are now two approaches to photpgraphiing with primes only:

1. Pre-visualize the pictures you want to take an put on the suitable lens for each part of the wedding

2. Have multiple bodies, each with different focal lengths to be able to switch between them quickly

 

 

Edit: After reading my text a second time it was kind of weird and I rephrased it.

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Hi-

 

I use 3 bodies: One X-Pro1 has the 56mm f1.2 bolted onto it permanently. LOVE that lens. Another X-Pro1 has the 23 or 14, depending on need. The 14 is amazing when you need it, but I rarely need it. It's great for tight spaces or making the ordinary into the majestic. The 3rd body is my X100s, which often has the TCL-X100 50mm converter on it, so I generally shoot everything with 35/50/85 equivalents. I always have wide angle on my left, normal in the middle and telephoto on my right so I don't have to think about it.

 

-Bradley

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Hey, 

 

The ONLY thing holding me back from switching from Canon 5d3's to Fuji is backlight focusing, especially with the 56 1.2.

 

How have any of you addressed this problem?   Is there a solution?

Tim

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I primarily shoot with primes: 56mm on the xt1 and either the 35mm or the 18-55mm 2.8-4. I use the zoom lens for group shots and also as an 18mm 2.8 with stabilization at receptions. So, in essence, I use it as a poor man's prime (with excellent results). My other body is an X-E2.

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So my question is: How do you manage to do that? Do you have a rough plan ahead of time, like "using the 56 1.2 for speeches", "using the 35" for reception" etc.? How do you capture those unexpected moments that make each event unique and rememberable?

 

My secret is to carry several cameras with different primes. I use two for now but I really need three. I have had to borrow Nikon D750+20/1.8 from my friend for the weddings I can't do with two cameras and 10-24/4 instead of 16/1.4 (it's just about to arrive). I'm waiting for X-Pro2 but as it's postponed again it looks like I have to get another body now.

Every shooting scene takes it's own combination of lenses but the short answer is:

For standard size rooms

XF 16/1.4

X100s

XF 56/1.2

 

For halls

XF 16/1.4

X100s+TCL

XF 90/2 (I use Nikkor 105/2 DC while I'm saving for 90/2)

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Agree with most from above, but my vote is two X-T1's with the 56 and 23. Most shots end up on the 23, but the cameras are set with identical timestamps and file names to delineate the perspective, so the timeline of photos is exactly as shot between the two bodies.

 

As others have said, there are some shots from some locations that will happen spontaneously, but for the most part, by the time the scheduled events have started, I've selected my spots for each focal length, and when I will move between them.

 

And as most people on this forum believe, the profile of this setup will disarm most subjects. The shorter, more compact primes, will cause subjects to relax and be more natural in front of the camera, and if you take some shots composed on the LCD, the subject will relax even further.

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 And as most people on this forum believe, the profile of this setup will disarm most subjects. The shorter, more compact primes, will cause subjects to relax and be more natural in front of the camera, and if you take some shots composed on the LCD, the subject will relax even further.

Unfortunately there is the other side of the medal. People usually believe that professional lenses and cameras are huge. Thus one having small-sized gear is no a professional.

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Shooting primes is fine and all but there's a place for zooms in wedding photography.

 

For example:

 

50-140 for ceremony and snapshots if you can't get closer (church) or for camera-shy guests

16-55 for group shots, documentary and all-purpose lens

 

On the other hand I definitely own more primes than zooms. I often use the 23 and 56 for the couple shoot, the 90 for details and the 35 as an all-purpose lens and for dancing.

 

Weddings are rapidly changing and require the photographer to be flexible. If you don't use 2 bodies, I'd definitely go for a zoom but even though I shoot with 2 bodies constantly, I use zooms quite a bit.

 

There's a lot of people around who say they can shoot a whole wedding with just a 35mm or 50mm (Fuji 23/35 respectively). Luckily, I don't have to, nor do I want to. After all, there's a reason I keep lugging 2 bodies and 7 lenses around. Each of them gets a fair share of use during each wedding.

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Hi,

I'm no pro, but have done 2 weddings with the xe1. Always with primes. A black rapid rs4 over my left shoulder, and my camera bag over the right. The bag has the second xe1 body with the 35, the sling strap with xe1 and 56. I also keep the 27 in the bag for when I need it.

My first wedding shot in Poland for my friend,http://dkreativ.pixieset.com/krisandiwona/ was shot entirely with manual focus lenses. Helios 44m, 58mm f2, Carl Zeiss flektogon 35mm f2.4, and Zeiss Jena 135mm f3.5.

The second one I decided to invest as the couple decided to pay some money, prior to wedding so bought another xe1 body, nissin flash and the Fuji lenses 35/56/27. Link to shots

http://dkreativ.pixieset.com/nina-dave/

I've since then got rid of all the Fuji AF lenses as I enjoy shooting with just adapted MF lenses. Personal preference.

If I had another wedding coming up, I'd get another xe1 body, similar setup, but without the AF lenses. I found myself spending more time tuning focus which led me to miss shots. Also MF the xf lenses is too quirky. But this is personal preference.

I'd say the more comfortable you are carrying gear on your shoulders, better your chances are capturing the moment. Lighter gear is more flexibility. And primes work better for me. If all fails, and you have to use a zoom, and if budget is a concern. 4 spare batteries, and the 18-55 is the way to go.

Best of luck, and do share your shots.

 

Regards

Anand

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Hey, 

 

The ONLY thing holding me back from switching from Canon 5d3's to Fuji is backlight focusing, especially with the 56 1.2.

 

How have any of you addressed this problem?   Is there a solution?

Tim

I haven't experienced any problems with this that are any worse than what Canon and Nikon do.  Maybe technical data will say that a DSLR can handle backlit focusing better...but I've shot on the 5d3, Nikon d750, and now on the X-T1 and feel they all do about the same in backlit situations.  In most situations, I feel like the Fuji does just as well as the 5D3 does, but not as snappy as the D750.

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Unfortunately there is the other side of the medal. People usually believe that professional lenses and cameras are huge. Thus one having small-sized gear is no a professional.

 

I hear you! I have had some issues with that as well, but what I end up doing is really simple - I get one really great shot that I love on the screen, and I take a minute to show it to the main client. I do get a lot of unexpected looks, like they are really surprised that image could be made by that camera, but after that first little glimpse, there's no question after that.

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I hear you! I have had some issues with that as well, but what I end up doing is really simple - I get one really great shot that I love on the screen, and I take a minute to show it to the main client. I do get a lot of unexpected looks, like they are really surprised that image could be made by that camera, but after that first little glimpse, there's no question after that.

I deal with this problem using several bodies. Three cameras look quite seriously too. Also I never reveal what I am shooting until I show portfolio and get trust of the client in a personal meeting.

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I would not shoot a wedding with primes only unless i was shooting 2 bodies. And I certainly have the experience

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Currently I shoot canon and fuji together simply because I do not find fuji flash functionality acceptable for event photography, so while its possible to shoot the whole wedding with just fuji - the evening reception results will definitely be better with canon or nikon systems. 

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For those that have the two lenses, has anyone shot more with the 56 than the 23? 

 

Here. About 10x more with the 56. I can deal with the size when I have the specialized requirement for the XF56, but I hate the size of the 23 for an always on lens, therefore I use either the 27 or the 35 instead and deal with the different FoV. Or I use the X100T, but that is fairly rare as well. Don't like it all too much.

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Here. About 10x more with the 56. I can deal with the size when I have the specialized requirement for the XF56, but I hate the size of the 23 for an always on lens, therefore I use either the 27 or the 35 instead and deal with the different FoV. Or I use the X100T, but that is fairly rare as well. Don't like it all too much.

Nice! I was also worried about the size of the xf23 as opposed to the not so big size of the xf56. I love shooting wide open with the xf56, but certainly need to get used to the focal length and appropriate fstop.

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I don't use the XF56 when walking around, it's my dedicated portrait/people lens. I was trying to get into the 23mm focal length, but I like neither the cheapo feeling of the X100T nor the huge size and weight of the XF23. So, currently Fuji has nothing in that focal length that really excites me. My most used lenses are the 35 (about 40% of my photos), then the 14 (about another 20%), then the 56 and the 27 with both around 10% and the rest is roughly equally distributed over 23, 18-55, Zeiss 50mm Macro and a manual 90mm M lens.

 

If I were doing a wedding or an event (which I'm not, I'm not good enough for that, I have done events a long time ago, but I'm not really interested in that anymore), I'd put the 23 and 56 on two X-T1 bodies, stuff about a dozen extra batteries somewhere and start shooting. 

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