Photography Gear 101

The biggest question I get from people starting out is what type of gear I recommend. Here are some of my top pieces of equipment and while I am a Canon shooter Nikon has some very similar stuff when it comes to lens selection.

I am actually a firm believer that gear doesn’t make the photographer, your creativity must come first. Someone with the best gear out there but no vision is going to be very limited as to what they can create. On the other hand a toy plastic camera in the hand of an artist with a solid vision can’t be stopped.
That being said though gear is still important a lot of times to get the vision you have your mind turned into reality. I will list out here our standard gear that we use to photograph a wedding and why we bring what we bring.

With weddings I actually bring a lot more equipment than most people I know. After awhile you know what you use and are comfortable carrying around and with the way that I shoot I want to make sure that if I get a great idea I can have all the available tools to make that idea a reality.

I’ll list out the basics in this article and follow up with a few more with some of the small little things that I finish my gear box off with. To start out one piece of gear that is essential is my rolling pelican case. This case is pretty huge but can fit a ton of gear in it. Here is a amazon link to the case:

This case is indestructible, has decent wheels and can fit most peoples entire needs for a wedding day.
Mine is usually packed with the following:

Canon EOS 5D
(my camera of choice). This is the first digital camera that I really fell in love with. Reminds me of the beauty of film that I used to get. It has beautiful skin tones and a excellent tonal range for a digital camera. The noise if pretty good (although I have heard the 5d mark 2 is even better with noise).

Another amazing camera if your budget is a little less is the Canon EOS 7D
You can read my review of the 7d here: Canon 7d camera review

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM
. I think this lens is a must have for a wedding photographer.
This lens is perfect for getting in close during the ceremony and the image stabilization really helps out during church weddings. This lens has great optics and gives you a really good range for portrait work.

Canon – 24-70 mm – f/2.8 L USM. Another lens that gets a lot of use in my camera bag. This lens is very versatile, you can get great wide shots during the reception as well as a decent portrait lens at 70mm. You have a lot of flexibility with this lens and with the fast pace of a reception it gives you the chance to go from wide to mid range without changing lenses.

Canon EF 50mm f1.4

One of my favorite lenses and the cheapest in my bag. I opted for the 1.4 lens vs. the 1.2 lens after a lot of thought and viewing images from both lenses. I think the 1.4 is an excellent lens and for the price difference vs the 1.2 I think there is a minimal difference in quality (plus I like the much smaller and compact 1.4 to save a little weight). This lens is so crisp and produces amazing colors, when you really compare a nice prime lens like this to a zoom you will see a pretty big difference in quality. For anyone starting out on a small budget I would suggest this as a perfect starting lens.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS
Another amazing prime lens. The focus is a little slow on this lens when compared to a few others in my bag but the macro is where this really shines. I normally only use this lens for a few images a wedding but its so worth it. To get a really cool looking macro shot of the rings or the flowers can only be done with a true macro lens like this.

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens
. This is a lens that I think can be overused a lot and while I do like the fisheye look for a few shots I try to keep it to a minimum. With my style of shooting I am trying to tell a story of the day in an artistic way so I might use this lens for a few bride and groom shots or for shots of the church or reception room but thats normally it. Don’t get me wrong I do love the lens just think you need to be careful not to get too carried away with some of these specialty lenses.

A few Vivitar 285HV Flash, some canon speedlights round up the essentials in our bags at a wedding. There are a few other specialty items we bring with us but we will save those for some later articles.

Check out most of these items at amazon here. Amazon gear site.

Also I have a list of our Lighting essentials here: Digital Photo Buzz Lighting Essentials

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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3 Comments

  1. Wow, that was an amazing post. It is inspirational to me!
    Markus Knoll
    Photo Video Chicago LLC

  2. Nice post Mark. Definitely covers the essentials for not only weddings by pretty much most events.

  3. It could have been Woody Allen who said the line – For a while we pondered whether to take a vacation or get a divorce. We decided that a trip to Bermuda is over in two weeks, but a divorce is something you always have.

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