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Are Wide Aperture Lenses Worth The Price For Wedding Photographers

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I was having a few drinks the other night with some photographer friends of mine in the Alma pub in Bristol. After a few ciders a heated discussion took place about whether wide aperture lenses were essential for wedding photography? Should you buy the 16-35/2.8 over the 17-40/4 when it is twice the price, for essentially a poorer lens in terms of image quality and focal length? This decision tends to come down to a price consideration because lenses with wide apertures almost always cost more. Although getting started in the photography business is probably quite cheap compared to other businesses good lenses probably still cost £600-£1000. When you need three or four of these, a good body, the hardware and software to process and print your photos we are not talking about a ‘small’ amount of money. So when it comes to making the investment the choice is never easy. So why are wide aperture lenses desirable?

They allow you to get a faster shutter speed in low light situations. In most weddings there is almost always a part of the wedding that is indoors. So a wider aperture lets more light in to the camera which means a faster shutter speed. Pretty essential unless you want blurry shots.

Secondly, wide apertures help create a smaller, more artistic depth of field. To many this can make an image seem more artistic and distinguishes the professional from the amateur point and shoot. A small depth of field is a harder thing to achieve here and is a technical matter due to the sensor size and quality of lens found on most point and shoot cameras.

Can you get by using a wider aperture such as f/4? Sure can can. It really comes down to the personal choice of how much money you are prepared to spend on your equipment. Personally I am of the frame of mind that you may as well buy the best – especially if there is a business need. I know myself well and if I buy something which isn’t quite what I need to do the job, I end up spending more money in the long run upgrading.


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