October 10, 2023
There are a lot of differences between zoom lenses and prime lenses, especially in photography. Knowing the differences between the lenses will help you decide which lens is best to use in the different types of situations that may come up in your wedding photography business.
When deciding which type of lens to shoot with, the choice between a zoom lens and a prime lens really takes into consideration a lot of things, like:
📸 How you love to shoot.
📸 Your style preference.
📸 What is most important to you in terms of what you value for your photography.
The video below will show you the differences between the lenses and how I use them. Check it out!
I personally use a mix of zoom and prime lenses. In my gear bag for a wedding day, I have a 24-70 mm, 70-200 mm (both fixed zoom 2.8 aperture lenses), two 50 mm f1.2 lenses (one for me and one for my second, a backup 50 mm f1.8, and a macro lens. Those are probably the lenses that I use the most.
I do not currently have a 35 fixed zoom lens, but I am looking for a low aperture 3.5 mm. I am really hoping that Nikkor comes out with a 1.2 mm. If they do, I will definitely snatch that up!
It has been helpful for me to have a mix of the lenses, and I am going to share why.
Once I was shooting details and saw a huge floral installation on the ceiling. I wanted to get a wide shot but also wanted to zoom in to get a tighter shot. I didn’t have a lot of time to get the shot, so in that situation it was nice having my zoom lens and knowing that I could photograph the details really quickly and without hesitation, still making it to the bus on time. This was a time when the zoom really came in handy for me.
The first time I shot with a zoom lens, I felt like a speed demon. I was able to shoot so much more and not interrupt. I also didn’t miss anything. It was a really good feeling.
Reduced Gear Weight
📸 When using a zoom lens (one camera and one lens), you can have the rest of your gear in your other (rolling, backpack, or shoulder) bag and leave it there. You reduce a lot of weight on the rest of your body and use the lens on your camera.
📸 Reduced gear weight is really convenient and probably a big part of the reason people sometimes switch to shooting with zoom lenses.
I always have a zoom lens on my camera during the ceremony and reception. During the ceremony, I don’t want to worry about the position of the bride and groom and struggle to get them in focus. I would risk missing a moment. You can’t replicate a moment, so I highly suggest using a zoom lens during the ceremony.
At the reception I can shoot at least the entire second half with just my camera and a zoom lens. It is really nice to be able to shoot close up or wide, get on the dance floor, or shoot big groups. I really like to use my 24 – 70 mm for the reception.
If you could only choose one lens right now, my suggestion would be the 24 – 70 mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens. Most camera lines have a lens that is comparable (Canon has an f/2 zoom lens that produces great images). I feel confident choosing this lens because I know that I can capture the entire day pretty well with it (though a 70 – 200 mm really comes in handy in situations where I can’t or don’t want to get very close).
I recently photographed a wedding at a church that did not allow the vendors to step inside of the sanctuary. In that situation, it was really convenient to have a zoom lens. I used the 70 – 200 mm because it allowed me to get close when I couldn’t physically stand close.
We talked about the perks of using a zoom lens, but there are a lot of great things about prime lenses too. I also love my prime lenses and I do use them for a large portion of the day.
📸 Lower Aperture
📸 Speed of Focusing (especially when you’re in the light)
📸 Creative Opportunity
📸 Subject Isolation
📸 Stronger Composition
My favorite fixed lens is the Nikkor 50 mm f/1.2. When I was shooting on film I liked the Contax 645. I love the Zice 80 mm f/2 lens. On the Contax, I love the Zice Pointer. It is very similar to the 50 mm focal length. The bokeh and fall off on that lens is just unmatched. The only downfall is that you have to manually focus, but it really slows me down and creates some magical photographs.
Ultimately, it is up to you which type of lens you use and when, but I hope that you have learned the major differences. Try out both types of lenses and give yourself the opportunity to experiment. I like a mix for different reasons and different things that I am photographing. I shoot most weddings with a prime lens and weddings with a mix of the two.
I can’t wait to see what you choose and what you use!
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