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Wedding Photography Equipment Considerations

Becoming a wedding photographer is not an easy task. Along the way, you will have to make some important decisions. My aim is to make it a little easier for you to decide which route to take. So let’s start at the very beginning and look at what equipment you will need.

“Wedding” captured by Victoriya Lebedeva (Click image to see more from Lebedeva)

Camera Body

The first (and one of the biggest) decisions is choosing the correct camera body. When you become a wedding photographer, you will need to make a choice of what brand of equipment you want to use. In the professional world, there are only really two brand choices, Canon and Nikon, but you will need to make a decision and stick with it, as the cameras and lenses are not compatible between the two makes. In my opinion, Canon is the best choice simply because of the far superior optics and cutting edge camera design and functions. Not everyone will agree with me here, but this is my personal choice.

Every camera will boast a range of features and you will need to take into account the job that you want your camera to undertake when making your choice. Let’s take a look at the features you will need to study.

Frame Rate

Cameras at the higher end of the price range are not necessarily the best for wedding photography. They tend to be cameras with extremely fast frame rates of up to 9 frames per second whilst shooting in RAW mode, which is more suited to wildlife or sports photography. A camera that can achieve a frame rate of 3-4 frames per second shooting in RAW is more than adequate. The more expensive, faster cameras cost the higher price because of the added processing power they possess.

ISO Range

As you will be shooting mainly in old churches and poorly lit conditions, a camera body with a high ISO rating is required to get correct exposure. But be aware that the higher the ISO, the grainier the picture will become. ISO, in short, means the sensitivity of the camera’s internal photographic sensor. The higher the number the more sensitive the sensor will become to noise or grain. Some camera bodies cope with higher ISO ratings better than others. For example, the Canon 40D on ISO 1600 will look extremely grainy compared to a Canon 5D Mark II at ISO 1600, which will be smooth and grain-free at higher ISO rates. Cameras with a larger sensor tend to be less susceptible to noise or grain at higher ISO settings.

“Solitude” captured by Olga Filonova (Click image to see more from Filonova)

Sensor Size

You have many options for sensor size, ranging from cropped APS-C to full frame 35mm equivalent. The larger sensors mean more depth of field and greater dynamic range, resulting in better picture quality. Cheaper cameras tend to have smaller sensors; if you want the best results from your lens then I would recommend a full frame 35mm equivalent.

Megapixel Count

Having a camera with the highest megapixel size is not necessarily the best. For instance, there are many cameras on the market with a megapixel rate of 17 MP for under £200 but the quality of the sensor and lens are poor and this results in a poor looking image. Yes, you will be able to print out larger images with the added pixels, but the quality will not be at a satisfactory level for professional wedding photography. As an example, I will use the Canon 40D again. It has 10.1 megapixels, and the images it produces far exceed the quality of a cheap 17 MP camera purchased simply because of the size and quality of the sensor used. Unless you need to produce prints of A2 in size, a 10 megapixel camera body is fine.

Overall Feel

Whichever camera you decide to purchase, it must feel nice in your hands. Some cameras’ buttons and dials are set out better than others. Go to your local camera shop and try out a few, and you will soon get to know the layout of the various cameras available. Personally, I use a pair of Canon 5D Mark II’s, as I feel that they suit my style of photography extremely well. With its full frame sensor, noise-free high ISO rates, and 3.9 frames per second shooting rate, it is the ideal camera body to use.

Memory Cards

Choosing the correct memory card can be so confusing! Ok, so you know that your camera takes one of the popular formats, like Compact Flash II or an SDHC card, but what size and speed do you need?

In my experience as a professional photographer, I use the fastest memory card my camera will allow. Cards are listed in either x speed or speed in MB per second. Nearly all memory card manufacturers will list the maximum read speed but not the write speed, which is the more important one for us as to know. Sandisk is the only manufacturer that actually advertises the slower speed, so don’t be fooled if you see a card that advertises a speed of 600X or 60MB per second, when quite possibly this could be the read speed and not the speed the images are written to the card.

As a wedding photographer, you will be capturing many important and priceless events and will need a card that is reliable. Imagine what it would do to your reputation if you were to lose all the images from a wedding!

“Untitled” captured by Natalie Milissenta Shmeleva (Click image to see more from Shmeleva)

If you are, in fact, using a full frame DSLR and shooting in RAW, then a card of 16GB will be a good start. Make sure you have a few smaller cards as backup. In my kit bag I have two 32GB cards and ten 4GB cards. Halfway through the day I will transfer the images to my laptop as a backup.

About the Author:
Christopher Bottrell has been a professional photographer for over 10 years; over 70 years of experience has been handed down through three generations of Bottrell photographers (Wedding Photographer Norwich). His style is traditional, but with all the values of modern classical that can be seen throughout his work be it pictures taken for weddings or portraits.

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[via PictureCorrect Photography Tips]

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