Must-have Nikon Lenses for Wedding Photography (Updated for 2018)

Nikon Lenses for Wedding PhotographyPhotographing a wedding is a great honor; you are given the chance to capture the emotion, beauty, and uniqueness of a couple’s special day. However it requires patience, practice, and a great deal of know-how in order to get the right shots. You also need the right equipment; a camera, tripod, flash, and a selection of lenses. Your choice of lenses should cover a whole range of eventualities and situations. This guide will teach you all you need to know about the shots you need, and how to choose the right lenses. It will also as suggest some of the must-have Nikon lenses for wedding photography.

Nikon Lenses for Wedding Photography: The Essentials

There are some lenses that you absolutely must have for a wedding say shoot. These are the lenses that you’ll change to throughout the day at specific events and in specific lighting conditions. The Nikon lenses for wedding photography we suggest are:

  • Nikon 35mm f/1.4
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4G
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II
  • Nikon 105mm Macro f/2.8G

We’ll take a closer look at each one individually, what makes them so fantastic, and what kind of shots they are suitable for.

1. Nikon 35mm f/1.4

Why it’s great:

  • 35mm, natural angle of view.
  • Ultra-fast f/1.4 aperture.
  • Excellent performance even in low light.

The Nikon 35mm f/1.4 is a lens that’s a stalwart of the wedding photographer’s kitbag. It’s the kind of lens that you could shoot the entire wedding day with and still produce excellent results. The 35mm field of view is very similar to that which the human eye sees, so it will capture shots that will accurately represent the details guests see on the big day. An f/1.4 aperture means it capture fantastically sharp images with a shallow depth of field, even when the light starts to fade. It has a fairly small and discreet design that won’t put off subjects, making it a good choice for candid shots.

Types of shots it’s good for:

  • The build up to the wedding, showing the preparations of the bridal party.
  • Shots with a lot of action happening at once.
  • Shots with the couple in, with guests in the background.

2. Nikon 50mm f/1.4G

Why it’s great:

  • Small and affordable lens that’s easily carried.
  • Wide f/1.4 aperture.
  • USM (ultrasonic motor) autofocusing is quick and quiet.

Most photographers love a ‘nifty fifty’, or 50mm, lens. The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is no exception. Thanks to its wide aperture of f/1.4, this is another lens that excels at photography in low-light settings. It also allows the user to create a lovely soft background blur, or bokeh, making the subject stand out in sharp relief. As it’s a bit narrower than the above 35mm lens, it’s ideal for locations that are a bit tighter on space. The USM autofocusing means you’ll have consistently good autofocus that you can make manual adjustments to as you go.

Types of shots it’s good for:

  • Candid shots of guests at the wedding.
  • Detailed shots of some of the smaller details.
  • Portraits that focus on the couple, without guests in the background.

3. Nikon 85mm f/1.8G

Why it’s great:

  • Medium telephoto lens that’s great for portraits and video.
  • Internal focusing gives fast, quiet and consistent autofocus.
  • Excellent in low lighting conditions.

If you plan on shooting a lot of HD video footage at a wedding, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is an excellent choice of lens. Its medium telephoto angle gives you the opportunity to get a little further away from the action, but still get some great shots. In terms of aperture, it may not be quite as wide as the 35mm or 50mm, but it’s more than sufficient for shots with less available lights. The bokeh it creates is wonderfully soft, meaning you can get some perfect shots of the couple in isolation and adjust the background blur. The Internal Focusing means you’ll always be quick when focusing, and it’s quiet enough that the noise of focusing won’t be picked up when you’re shooting video.

Types of shots it’s good for:

  • Portraits of the couple and other guests.
  • Shots of the first dance or other low light action shots.
  • Shooting from a slight distance.

4. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II

Why it’s great:

  • Huge, 70-200mm zoom range with constant f/2.8 aperture.
  • Amazing sharpness throughout the focal length range.

Compare to some of the other lenses on the list, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G is a bit of a beast. It’s a little ungainly, and certainly not inconspicuous when used in close quarters. However, if you want a lens that will get you some fabulous shots without being present in the action, this is an essential for a wedding. It allows you to capture all the natural and candid moments as people interact without seeing a photographer pointing a camera at them. The range is massive, giving you plenty of options to try out a variety of shots. What’s more, the aperture is fast enough to get some wonderfully sharp images.

Types of shots it’s good for:

  • During the ceremony when you want to be away from the action but still able to get up close to it.

5. Nikon 105mm Macro f/2.8G

Why it’s great:

  • Allows you to get close to the finer, special details.
  • Incredible sharpness at the center of the frame.

The final lens on our list of must-have Nikon lenses for wedding photography is the 105mm Macro f/2.8G. This is the lens that’s going to allow you to focus on the minute details that make a wedding so special. Table decorations, jewelry and other details will all look fantastic when you use the macro lens.

Types of shots it’s good for:

  • Table decorations and place settings.
  • Jewelry and other accessories when the bride is getting ready.

Nikon Lenses for Wedding Photography: How to Choose

There are a few deciding factors that will impact your choice of lenses:

  1. The Locations: When you’re choosing your lenses, this should be the number on consideration. What kind of locations will you be shooting in? Will you be in enclosed spaces and need a wide-angle lens? Will you be in open spaces that require something with a good zoom range? Plan out each location and the appropriate lens to use.
  2. Your Second: If you plan on shooting with a second photographer, determine what they will be using. Ideally you want to get a good range of shots and angles, so be sure to choose something different from your second for each location.
  3. The Light: This somewhat ties in with the locations, but you should determine in advance the likely light situations you’ll be in. If you’ll be shooting somewhere with very little light, you’ll need a fast lens to account for this.
  4. The Ceremony: Once again, this depends a little on location. Different ceremonies will have different rules. If you can’t get particularly close to the couple during the ceremony, you’ll definitely need a good zoom to capture the action.

Nikon Lenses for Wedding Photography: A Typical Shoot

Although no two weddings are the same, they often follow a fairly predictable format. Below are some of the situations you can expect at a typical wedding, and how to prepare for them:

  1. Preparation Shots: The morning of the wedding can be fun but fraught. Depending on space, choose a 50mm or 35mm to get some good pictures.
  2. The Ceremony: As we mentioned above, this will change depending on location. However, as a general rule, bring a 70-200mm to keep you close to the action if you’re far away, and a 35mm of 50mm if you need to switch to something with a wider aperture.
  3. Portraits: It’s always a good idea to get some good portraits of the happy couple and their guests. For this, an 85mm lens is a great choice, but if space is a bit tight then a 50mm will also be suitable.
  4. The Reception: There’s a lot going on at the reception, from the meal, to the speeches, to the first dance. You’ll want a good range of lenses here. Take a 50mm for portraits, a 24-70mm for the first dance, and a 35mm for the candid shots.
  5. The Details: As we’ve mentioned, the finer details really add character and individuality to a wedding. Use a macro lens to capture these up-close.

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