Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Technique Tuesday: Understanding The Right Gear To Use For Weddings & Tamron 28-300 VC Lens Review

Good Afternoon Everybody,

CS6It’s a two-for-one post today but before I begin I hope everybody's off to a great start for the week. We just had Adobe CS6 announced and it is looking like one hot upgrade – I can't wait. Want to check out 10 of CS6’s coolest features – you can find the 10 videos right here at photographer, Colby Brown’s site. 

Things are getting busy for us, as usual, as we get ready for our trip to Dallas, Texas.  After just coming off of my Digital Master Class we’ve got to re-organize all the gear for our week long class at Texas School. So prepping for that trip,  getting ready for our free Extreme Digital Design Webcast on Thursday (REGISTER HERE), and our regular studio production items are certainly keeping us busy once again.

I spent most of yesterday organizing the content and images for today's post. I know today is supposed to be our normal Technique Tuesday complete with video  but, I'm changing it up because I have some more important news that I want to discuss with you. ImagesToday's post is a combination of gear discussion and equipment discussion for today's wedding photographers.

I think it's always interesting to read the latest, greatest equipment reviews online and to check out the latest new lenses for our cameras. Little is said in the overall scheme of things about what gear combinations might be the best  for certain shooting situations. That's my topic for today.

Understanding The Best Gear To Use For Weddings

I've been a wedding photographer for a long time and a digital wedding shooter for over 12 years. Over those years I've worked with many different combinations of cameras and lenses. Now, here we are 2012 and I’m finding myself once again reconsidering the best camera/lens combinations for shooting a wedding. Let me be clear – every photographer has their own style and technique when photographing a wedding, myself included. Some photographers prefer the fast glass and medium to long telephotos for capturing the essence of the wedding day. Others newer to the field, unfortunately, may prefer the Canon rebel with the kit lens.

I myself have gone through many equipment combinations and transitions since switching to digital so many years ago. Heck, back in the film days, you bought one camera and used it for 20+ years – not so today.

Canon 7D with 18-200mmFor the last two years my favorite camera/lens combination has been the Canon 7D fitted with the Canon 18-200mm IS lens.  Now before anyone has a conniption fit because I'm not using fast, L-series glass – please hear me out. When I’m shooting the majority of the candid, spontaneous images I’ve always found this camera/lens combo to be a very efficient combination. I found it to be particularly efficient when photographing a wedding reception. If I spotted grandma dancing with one of the groomsmen across the dance floor I can easily zoom out and capture that special moment. No need to run back to my gear bag to grab a longer telephoto lens. The entire shooting process was quick and efficient.

I think a common misconception many photographers have about gear is that they need a whole slew of lenses to get the job done.  Again, don't get me wrong. I do own a whole slew of lenses and use just about all of them on a typical wedding event.  But typically, over these last two years, it's been my Canon 7D/18-200mm IS lens combo that has been my work-horse, been the combo I’ve used most often and has provided for me some really outstanding results.

Lens Meta DataTo give you an example I checked a recent wedding exposing nearly  3800 images over the two day event. Look at the metadata from that event.  Clearly two thirds of those images were taken with the 7D fitted with the 18-200mm IS lens. 800 more of those images were photographed with the Canon 24-105mm IS lens.  I’ve always felt this is one of the sharpest lenses in my gear bag and always reserve it for portraits of the bride and the groom, family groups, and the larger wedding party groups. For many of my wide-angle images I liked using the Sigma 8-16mm lens, and as you can see from the above chart, for about 200 of the images.  So, as you can see, the big favorite was the extremely versatile 18-200mm IS zoom lens.

Again, I know several of you are probably rolling your eyes at my remarks in today's post. But, let me say, for me it's about getting the image, capturing the moment, not taking a chance missing something important as I juggle with my lenses - that's not my style. For me it's ALWAYS about getting the shot!

Another thing I think a lot of photographers fail to realize is that the largest print that's going into a wedding album, particularly with candid images, is typically no larger than a 5x7 or maybe a 8x10 image – and, on the rare occasion, an 10x10. The 18-200mm lens is just fine for many of those images.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve still made prints up to 24x36 inches from that lens –and they look GREAT!

Wedding Page2

Several times during LaDawn’s design process she will include images that are 10x15 and occasionally even larger in the album. But in most cases those images would've been taken with the much sharper 24-105mm IS L-series lens that I like using for just such photographs.

Wedding Page

The sharper glass is going to be reserved for the top, #1 priority images. The more versatile and faster piece of glass, the 18-200mm IS lens I'll use for the second and third tier images. As I mentioned before, this allows for extreme versatility and fast speed for me with my style of photographing a wedding.

Now please continue reading the following post [link] for the complete low-down on Tamron’s new 28-300mm VC lens.


  1. Dave,
    I always enjoy your work, just wondering you say that you don't print much larger than an 8x10, are you selling any wall portraits or large canvases? Keep up the great work and keep the posts coming!

    Michael Cook Tampa,Fl

  2. David,

    Really enjoyed the review of the Tamron 28-300. I was especially surprised however, that a seasoned pro was using the Canon 18-200 as your go-to lens for many of your wedding shots. When I purchased my first DSLR, a Canon T1i, a few years back that was the lens I put on it and it's been my mainstay since then. I just upgraded to a Canon 7D and now it's married to the 18-200. Love the camera so far and have always been happy with the lens. Keep up the great work.

    William Huckstep, Cold Lake, AB Canada

  3. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)