Is Your Photo Equipment
Up to the Challenge?
Photo Equipment: regardless if you are an amateur or a professional photographer, if you commit
yourself to a wedding you must have top notch photo equipment.
Countless times I’ve seen wedding photographers shooting a wedding with less than standard
This is not only very unprofessional, but it is also very risky; if something goes wrong with
your amateur camera, go tell the bride that you are not able to finish the job.
What is an adequate photographic equipment for a wedding photographer? Simple: the top, the
best, the most expensive. No way around it.
It is useless for me to list camera models here, because especially with digital photography,
cameras evolve very quickly and before long this article would be dated.
Instead I can do this: choose a brand among the world’s five best (Leica, Hasselblad, Mamiya,
Canon, Nikon), look at the top 3 most expensive cameras... and pick one. That is the camera you will be expected to
use at a wedding. Anything less will not be top notch photo equipment.
What camera lens do you need to use at a
wedding? Simple: the more the better.
Each lens gives you a different point of view and a different prospective. So why limit
yourself... get as many as you can afford. Each different lens will open new possibilities by enabling you to get
As a rule of thumb, you will be expected to carry at least three lenses: a wide angle, a normal
lens and a telephoto lens.
Because of the several moving optical elements, zooms are not very good quality wise (unless you
spend a lot of money) but they are commonly used at weddings when the photographer shoots using the reportage
What about the flash? Flashes are an integral part of your photo equipment. Believe it or not, I
have encountered people that intended to shoot a wedding without a flash... simply because they didn’t have one.
Were they mad? No, they were just amateurs and unfortunately the market is filled with those.
Most of a wedding day takes place indoors and you must have some sort of light aid, or most of
the photos will obviously be improperly lit.
Once again, only buy top notch flashes, yes I said flashes, because you need at least two of
them: one to use and one as backup... and make sure you know how to use the back up one, as if you can't use it
then why take it along. There are two main brands for flashed: Metz and Quantum Instruments. Regarding
Metz, I advise you NOT to buy the latest Mecablitz 76 MZ-5 as in my opinion it is a very poor
As a professional photographer, I am always looking for the very best performance in a flash, as
well as in all my photo equipment.
My wonderful old Metz 60 CT-4 was getting old, so I thought it was time to update. I got
this new digital flash thinking it would have been just better than the previous one, but I was wrong. I used it
once and sold it!
My first disappointment was when I realized that the recharging time is longer than the 60
I imagined that the compact battery, as a result of technological development, would have
performed at least like the one on the old 60 CT-4, but instead it's just a smaller/less powerful battery. On a
wedding job I usually rotate the head of the flash all over the place all the time.
This new Mecablitz 76 MZ-5 flash has a locked head; to rotate it you have to press a button in
the back, which is not that easy and/or comfortable to do and it got me stuck a few times, causing me to miss that
I was in a quiet church when all of a sudden the newly installed cooling fan at the bottom of
the head turned on... it is relatively loud and some people turned around to see what it was. To me it sounded like
a vacuum cleaner and I simply cannot go around churches with photo equipment that gets people turning around... the
job of a wedding photographer requires discretion.
This fan stayed on for a long time, causing me some embarrassment...it just wouldn't stop! The
ready flash beep is also very loud and it also gets people turning around, other than really bothering my
hearing and nerves. There is no way to lower the volume.
When using it in manual it is not as straightforward as the old 60 CT-4; you have to change the
f/stop by pressing a few buttons on the control unit... when things are happening fast in front of you there simply
isn’t time to go through these electronic menus, that require me to put some extra thought and attention into
them... nothing beats the old 60 CT-4 with clear manual dials that you can change without even looking.
In the whole I believe this is the worst flash Metz has ever produced. The only positive thing
about it is that you can change the power of the small fill flash by operating a little dial on the site. As a
result of this sad experience, I bought another old 60 CT-4, still king of flashes.
Used photo equipment is often very cheap, but make sure you get it from a proper dealer
that took the time to test it and refurbish it. Professional equipment is usually worn out by the time it is sold,
so make sure you are not throwing away your money.
As far a camera tripods, the very best ever made are the once by Manfrotto. This Italian
manufacturer is the world’s leader for this product and there is a good reason: they make indestructible and
very good quality tripods for all tastes. I personally wouldn’t buy anything else.
They are expensive, but they really do last a lifetime. The choice at Manfrotto is very wide and
choosing is consequently very hard. So I have selected for you a good tripod for wedding work: the Manfrotto 458B Neotec Pro Photo Tripod with waterproof legs, bubble spirit level and all the cool things a professional photographer
needs. Professional tripods are sold without the head, because different applications require different heads.
A good tripod head for wedding photography is the Manfrotto Joystick Tripod Head Mn222 which allows you to point the camera in different directions very fast and with one hand only. You
can get something cheaper, but then you will soon realize that money well invested will last longer. I have
used a variety of tripods in my life, but only one tripod stayed with me for so many years and all around the
world: my Manfrotto, an essential component of my photo equipment.
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