University of Wedding Filmmakers


The Top 5 Lenses We Can’t Live Without Shooting Weddings

One of the most frustrating things about bootstrapping a small business was the constant window shopping on B&H for new toys. After each deposit we collected as we grew, it seemed like money never stayed put for very long because it was always going to build up our gear arsenal.
So when you’re developing your wedding videography business and investing in new lenses, what are the must-haves in terms of glass?
DISCLAIMER! We are huge proponents of choosing the RIGHT equipment at the RIGHT time. Most of the time for new studios on the up and up, we suggest investing in your audio equipment first. That being said, there is a right time and a right place for lens purchases and if you’re there, hopefully our guide will offer some helpful insight as you start shopping.
1. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L II – $2,100
Buy it!
This lens should be a part of every wedding professional’s toolkit. The 70-200mm on sticks is our go-to lens for the majority of the ceremonies we film. The sharpness, image stabilization, and fast f/2.8 are clutch. At 200mm, you can be a pretty good distance from your subject and still be able to punch in pretty close for those vows.
Hint: Half the time when using this lens, we pair it with the Canon EF Extender 1.4x depending on the situation. If you have an extra $450 you can splurge, you can nearly double your lens’ focal length.
2. Canon 50mm f/1.2 – $1,500
Buy it!
A lot of debate amongst live event filmmakers revolves around the 50mm 1.2 vs. the 1.4. Can you tell the difference? Is it worth the price jump? I’m not here to argue the value of the lens, simply share our team of workhorse lenses we have with us at every wedding, and the 50mm is 2nd to the bad boy mentioned above.
This lens almost never leaves my ShootSac all day, end of story. Versatile for any number of situations, most notably for us: bride & groom prep, Glidecam and MoVI, first dance, reception decor, b-roll, the list is a mile long.
3. Canon 24mm f/1.4 – $1,600
Buy it!
It was a tough call, I was torn between this lens and the 16-35mm, but I went with the 24mm because it doesn’t have as bad a barrel distortion as the 16-35mm, it’s much faster, and we find ourselves always reaching for the 24 when it comes to time-lapse sequences. The weight is similar enough to the 50mm f/1.2 such that if we’re using the Glidecam, we don’t need to change the stage height or swap any of the weights. All that’s necessary is nudging the plate back or forth a little bit.
4. Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro IS – $900
Buy it!
This one we put off buying for awhile… and I’m a little pissed we did that.
This lens has shared space in my ShootSac more and more with the 50mm each wedding, but not for the typical uses you’d think. Our favorite times to pull this out are during the bridal prep, cocktail hour, and reception decor. Bridal prep it’s great for a couple scenarios, most notably during the final touch ups of makeup where if you have some really awesome window light, your bride’s eyes are going to pop.
It can also be a really versatile option during a moment like a card reading if you want to stay relatively close and intimate, but then also quickly get in on a macro level to see some handwriting, you can do that. Additionally, there’s not going to be a whole lot of movement because your subject (at least she should be) will be seated.
Cocktail hour is a less obvious moment to consider using this lens but I’ll tell you why I love it. What we’ve found is that 100mm is the perfect balance between distance from your subject, and achieving a desirable close-up while not being noticed. Sure, the 135mm can also be a good option, but with the 135mm I just don’t get as sharp an image, and being on the monopod for cocktail hour with all that commotion you bet your ass I’m going to be using the image stabilization on this thing. Plus, you’d be surprised how much money some of our high end brides spend on food, if you can grab a couple awesome extreme close-ups on her appetizers and drinks, she’ll get a kick out of it.
5. Canon 135mm f/2 – $1,000
Buy it!
Of course the 135mm is going to make this list! It’s the perfect substitute for the 70-200mm in a multitude of situations. For us, we find it can be a great alternative in a tight ceremony where we’ll need to use a monopod, or a lot of times if there’s nowhere spacious for a tripod during reception toasts we’ll do the same thing and put this lens on the monopod. It’s great in low light, and 135mm is pretty dang tight.
Hint: This lens also can make use of the EF extender mentioned earlier, converting this into (roughly) a 200mm option. Beware though, you do lose a stop of light.
There you have it, these lenses are all a very active part of our arsenal for shooting weddings, and each have a very specific purpose. Any there any you think we missed?