I recently received an email from one of our readers about photographing weddings with an entry-level DSLR (Nikon D3000) and an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. The request was to help out in understanding how to photograph weddings, figuring out the right camera settings and proper posing. Without much thinking, I responded to the query by saying that he/she should not photograph the wedding and perhaps leave the task to someone who knows what equipment to use and more importantly, how to use it. I never got a follow up email after that, but I have been thinking about the email ever since. I then remembered watching videos of photographers getting sued by couples for failing to deliver images, getting their gear stolen after photographing many weddings and failing to properly backup images and many other problems encountered by newbie photographers.
Such topics bring up a heated debate over the type of equipment wedding photographers should and should not use. I know that I am opening up a can of worms here, but here is my personal take on the subject. Yes, most modern DSLR cameras are great and even the cheapest entry-level DSLRs today are equipped with a better image sensor than the most expensive cameras from a few years ago. As I have said it in some of my posts like Nikon vs Canon vs Sony, a camera is just a tool. However, there are certain factors that have a direct impact on images, such as lenses and the skill of the photographer. So, the camera is only a part of the equation here. Can cheap cameras create great photographs? Absolutely. Just like expensive cameras that can produce bad photographs.
So why did I tell the reader not to photograph the wedding with the D3000 and a kit lens? Because he/she had no idea how to use it. And that’s so bad about this situation. If the photographer knew what they were doing and they wanted to shoot the entire wedding with their camera phone, who could blame them for wrongdoing, as long as the couple and the family is OK with it? Again, a camera is just a tool and one can take exceptional pictures with pretty much any camera today.
Now when I get asked what to recommend for someone who is just getting into wedding photography, my response is always to get the best lenses first, and then worry about the camera. Lenses are far more important than cameras, because that’s what draws the picture. A cheap zoom lens cannot do what a nifty fifty prime can. If you want to create beautiful images for your clients that you can showcase for your business, get the best glass you can afford. As for the camera, if you can afford a full-frame camera, get one, as it will give you amazing image quality, even when photographing in low-light conditions (which is what often happens when photographing weddings indoors). If budget is an issue, get a cropped-sensor camera like the Nikon D7200. This is assuming that you already have a camera and know what you are doing. But don’t go out and shoot weddings with an entry-level DSLR if you are serious about your business. After-all, your gear is also the face of your company and business. Unless you are doing this for fun or just helping out a friend…