Are you hoping to get started in the wonderful world of wedding photography but feel you are unable to at the moment because of the expense of equipment? Don’t be. I am here to show you 3 of my favorite Nikon lenses for weddings that we just about exclusively use for every single engagement and wedding and all 3 of these Nikon lenses are under $700! Before I jump into the details, let me first say, I understand that wedding photography equipment in general can be a touchy and very personal subject in which many photographers have very strong feelings about what equipment is “adequate” for the job. I, too, have those feelings and will share my own personal insight and beliefs below. I also understand that these 3 Nikon lenses works wonders for my wedding photography studio, but may not be the best choice of lenses for your studio.
My Top 3 Nikon Lenses for Weddings
Nikon 28mm f/1.8G – Wide/Mid Range Prime – This lens is such an awesome value at $699! It is sharp as can be, even wide open at f/1.8, has nano coating on the lens which yields great contrast and color, focuses fast and is lightweight which your shoulder or neck will be thanking you for. Mounted on our D800 or D700 this is our go-to lens for getting ready shots, group shots with bridal party and also family portraits, some wide shots during the ceremony and then really shines during open dancing at the reception. When not working a wedding, I find this is a great go-to “walk-around” lens when traveling or casual shooting at parties and what not. Check out my full lens review of this lens here.
Some favorite wedding photos with the 28mm f/1.8G:
Nikon 50 1.4G – Normal Range Prime – Our f/1.4 nifty-fifty stays on one of our cameras more than any other lens. Its super small and lightweight, allows for super shallow depth of field for portraits or details at 1.4 and is generally just a good focal range and value at $450. We find the 50 f/1.4 to be most helpful when doing getting ready photos if the room or location is a bit messy as the shallow depth of field allows us to naturally blur out the “messy” background. The 50 really shines for us during portraits of the bride and groom where we can get a tremendous amount of variety by simply moving or foot closer or further from our couple. The 50 stays on our camera until open dancing in which we prefer to shoot wider to get in closer to the action! Don’t think you “need” the f/1.4 version? Check out the f/1.8 version which is about ½ the price but certainly still an outstanding lens.
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Some favorite wedding photos with the 50mm f/1.4G:
Nikon 85 1.8G – Mid Telephoto Portrait Prime – At the end of each year I go through the years worth of weddings and engagements and pick out my favorite photos, the majority of photos I pick were taken with my 85 1.8G lens. For bride & groom portraits in particular, the 85 is such a nice length for portraits and when shooting wide open at f/1.8 provides a real nice buttery smooth bokeh (out of focus areas) allowing your subject to just pop right off the photo. At only $499, I think this lens is an absolute steal. My favorite technical aspects are its sharpness when shooting wide open, superb color and contrast and fast focusing. The 85mm is used most during portraits but also used quite a bit during getting ready, ceremony, first dances and toasts during the reception.
Some favorite wedding photos with the 85mm f/1.8G:
Summary & Key Considerations
These three lenses optically are true gems. They all have nice bokeh, great contrast and color and are sharp, even at its widest apertures. We no longer solely use these three lenses on the wedding day, but we did for a full year and surely could today. Even with our expanded gear collection, these three lenses account for roughly 85% of our total photos on any given wedding we photograph. However, it is important to note and take into account which type of camera body you have may alter your experience or needed focal lengths to accurately cover a wedding. For example, if you are using a crop sensor type camera such as the Nikon D7000 series, the 28mm may not be wide enough for your needs in every situation since the 28mm will have a field of view of 42mm on full frame. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 85mm on a crop sensor camera will be more beneficial during ceremonies because of the extended reach giving about a 127mm field of view. Something you will have to decide for yourself if a full frame photographer is depending on your own shooting style if 85mm isn’t long enough for you. If you live somewhere that the ceremonies are predominately outside and your able to move freely then I’d say you can certainly make the 85mm work just fine, however, if most of your ceremonies are in churches and you are limited or stuck in the back of the church then it may not be a suitable lens for you. If this is the case, I’d look into the Nikon 135 f/2 or if budget isn’t a concern, the 70-200 f/2.8 which really excels during the ceremonies.
In fact – to see my full listing of my entire wedding photography kit, check out this post – it is the most comprehensive and complete post on this topic including real world examples, sample photos and reviews of the individual lenses and gear.
Ultimately, please remember that wedding photography is a very serious line of work and it is paramount that you do not take on the responsibility of a wedding until you can quickly maneuver your way around your cameras with ease. Weddings are so dynamic, fast paced and challenging and there is no side stepping how important experience is. With that said, photography equipment is simply the necessary tool to give you the desired result, photos, needed.
Everyone’s choice of equipment may differ some from one another and that is perfectly OK. I am here today to tell you that there are equipment options out there that certainly perform with excellence and yet won’t set you back thousands upon thousands. I hope you have found this post insightful, if so, please share this post link on your favorite social media platform so others can also check it out. Also – make sure to get my free Lightroom Presets collection to save some serious editing time in Lightroom!
Do you have any questions about your current equipment? Let us know in the comments below!