When it comes to camera and lens choice, wedding photography is a tricky genre, requiring versatility, speed, and image quality for successful results. Versatility comes in the form of photo and video capabilities since it’s now common to deliver content in both mediums. Speed comes in terms of focusing and burst shooting because a wedding can be a fast-paced event. And image quality, naturally, because a wedding is a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experience that deserves to be recorded in the best quality. Building a camera kit to fulfill these prerequisites is crucial, so when considering Sony, here are some ideas of how to build the best one.
It’s hard to argue with the Sony a1 being the ideal camera for wedding photography. It’s one of the highest-resolution models in Sony’s lineup, one of the fastest cameras around, and has some of the best video specs in the Alpha series. It checks off every box for the features you’ll need as a wedding photographer.
Full-frame 50MP BSI CMOS stacked sensor; high-resolution, fast readout speeds, and excellent noise performance when working in low-light conditions
Hybrid AF is one of the most refined focusing systems around with impressive subject detection and tracking to make sure you keep your subjects in sharp focus
Fast continuous shooting up to 30 fps; perfect for photographing high-energy receptions or just there to make sure you don’t miss the critical moment of the ceremony
8K 30p and 4K 120p video; if video is part of your plan, the a1 doubles as an incredible capable camera for high-res, wide-gamut video with impressive recording flexibility
5-axis image stabilization means you can possibly forgo a tripod or monopod for some shots and have an easier time getting sharp results in dim lighting
Dual CFexpress Type A/SD UHS II card slots means an impressive level of flexibility and reliability for file storage—and having two of the same type of slot makes it a bit easier to keep your cards in order and change on the fly
It’s no surprise that Sony’s flagship Alpha camera is likely the best choice for wedding photographers. It’s one of the most well-rounded cameras available and, considering the multimedia requirements of some wedding shoots, strong photo and video capabilities make it an easy choice for any working wedding photographer.
Sony a7 IV
The a1 is great, sure, but a flagship camera isn’t a requirement for all wedding shoots. Whether it’s budget concerns or just the fact that you don’t need all the tech the a1 has, take a look at the Sony a7 IV as a close second choice for the ideal wedding camera. Like the a1, the a7 IV has an all-around ethos with strong photo and video capabilities. It shares many of the core technologies and concepts of the flagship model, too, making it a great option for a backup camera or a second camera along with a higher spec’d a1, a more cine-specific FX3 or FX6, or even in a pair of a7 IVs for familiarity and consistency.
Full-frame 33MP BSI CMOS sensor; plenty of resolution for most wedding applications, including some larger print sizes, and the BSI design excels in low-light conditions
Like the a1, a similar hybrid AF system has been carried over that’s impressively quick and utilizes AI-based subject detection and tracking for refined accuracy
Up to 10 fps shooting with an 828 raw frame buffer should be plenty of continuous shooting capacity for wedding applications
Record videos at up to 4K 60p in 10-bit; this is a great format for wedding applications and, with no recording limit, an a7 IV is also a solid choice as a remote camera to capture the entire ceremony from a single vantage point
Same 5-axis image stabilization as the a1, including Active IS digital stabilization that’s great for steadying footage
One CFexpress Type A/SD UHS-II slot, and one SD UHS-II slot; if working with SD cards, you’ll have two of the same slot or choose the CFexpress Type A for higher bitrate video needs
A strong alternative to the flagship, the a7 IV is an impressively well-rounded camera that really punches above its weight in terms of features and capabilities. It’s a great choice for wedding photographers shooting purely stills or for image-makers requiring strong photo and video capabilities.
Lens choice is a personal thing but it’s no coincidence that most working wedding photographers typically gravitate to the same lenses: a 24-70mm, a 70-200mm, and maybe an auxiliary fast prime or other unique focal length for a bit of a personal touch. Considering the fast pace and need to be flexible and adaptable when shooting, the two zooms give the most versatility possible from a pair of lenses. And then the third, and possibly fourth, optic is the time to add a bit of your signature to the shoot or fill in for a focal length or aperture setting not provided by the zooms.
FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II
The workhorse of lenses, the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II is about as versatile and reliable of a lens as you can possibly get. Covering wide-angle to portrait-length fields of view and sporting the all-important f/2.8 constant maximum aperture, this standard zoom is the go-to choice when photographing at a relatively close range. Walking the floor during the reception, photographing from the seats or aisle during the ceremony, and basically any other instance where you’ll want to include a bit of context and scenery in your shot, this is the lens.
Bright f/2.8 design means you can isolate your subjects against busy backgrounds with shallow depth of field and it also excels in low lighting
This version II of the 24-70mm f/2.8 is 22% lighter and 18% smaller than the previous version, making it easier to carry and use at all-day weddings
Faster AF performance keeps up with the best AF systems from the a1 or a7 IV, and the linear AF motors keep focusing quiet for video applications, too
Manual aperture ring, with de-click switch; two focus hold buttons; zoom smoothness/torque switch; and a focus mode switch offer a lot of control over exposure and settings directly from the lens
FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II
Best buds with the 24-70mm f/2.8, the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II is pure telephoto versatility. Whereas the 24-70mm covers everything you need at relatively close range, the 70-200mm does the same when you’re at a greater distance—when you’re photographing the ceremony from the back of the room or from above, photographing the first dance from off the dance floor, or capturing other moments when you need to be a bit farther away from the action, the 70-200mm is exactly what you need. And the f/2.8 constant maximum aperture, again, is a key ingredient to getting desirable subject separation and performance in low-light conditions.
Speedy f/2.8 design is great, but the OSS image stabilization is arguably as much of a benefit when working in low lighting with this lens
As above, this version II of this lens offers a 29% weight reduction compared to version I, making it much easier to tote all day
Focusing system is four times faster than the previous gen, too, helping to keep up with any fleeting moments or high-speed continuous shooting situations
Internal zoom design keeps the overall length and center of gravity virtually the same and makes this lens easier to use handheld or even with a gimbal for video applications
It’s hard to argue with 24-70mm and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses being the foundation of any wedding lens kit. They cover such a useful range of focal lengths, keep a high degree of speed up between the two, and tend to have some of the most refined optical and physical designs in a lens lineup, meaning they’ll also be some of the best performing lenses available. If you’re shooting with two bodies, there’s a very good chance these two lenses will be in near-constant use throughout the wedding day.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that, while we’re partial to these f/2.8 G Master versions of the focal lengths, there are also f/4 versions (Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS and FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS) available depending on your budget or need to cut down on weight or size. The slower f/4 lenses lack the obvious depth-of-field and low-light benefits of an f/2.8 design, but they do weigh quite a bit less, for the ultimate portable wedding kit.
If you have time to switch up some lenses or value something a bit different, then a third or fourth lens offering a unique feature could be a strong asset to have in your bag. Especially during the formal portrait session or if you’re looking to round out your shoot during the reception with some details, look for some of the quirkier or more specialized optics to round out your kit.
FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS
One of the quirkier lenses in Sony’s lineup, the FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS is a portrait-length prime that’s all about the unique apodization filter for smooth bokeh. In the context of wedding photography, this lens will excel for your formal portraits taken right after the ceremony, delivering a nice flattering focal length and smooth, out-of-focus backgrounds that will make your subjects really pop. The 100mm f/2.8 STF is, admittedly, a slow lens, but it also does have OSS to help counter camera shake and keep images sharp when shooting indoors or under dim lighting conditions. Even though this focal length and aperture combination is covered with the 70-200mm f/2.8, it’s still a unique enough choice to get some impressive formal, staged portraiture results that would otherwise be difficult to get from the zoom.
FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
The fastest lens in Sony’s lineup, the FE 50mm f/1.2 GM is a great choice when you’re looking to spruce up your wedding portfolio with some immensely shallow-depth-of-field images, as well as when you’re looking to photograph handheld in some of the dimmest conditions. Again, despite it being a focal length covered by the 24-70mm range, the f/1.2 maximum aperture is distinct enough to warrant the addition of a separate prime to achieve the unique selective-focus effects. Specific to wedding photography, this lens would slot in nicely for formal full-length portraits, as well as for more action-rich scenes of dancing or mingling, where shallow depth of field can be used to creative effect and highlight small-but-important moments.
FE 85mm f/1.8
Finally, the FE 85mm f/1.8 is just a solid all-around lens whose main benefit over a 70-200mm f/2.8 is portability and speed. It’s not Sony’s fastest 85, but the 85mm f/1.8 is a strong balance of a flattering portrait-length field of view, lightweight design, and an appreciably bright f/1.8 maximum aperture. For weddings, this combination is great for quick, informal portraits and other mid-range subjects where the 85mm focal length offers a bit of separation and the f/1.8 design is bright enough for working in available lighting conditions. It’s also a great respite from the heavier zooms, for instances when you want to set down the 70-200mm for a bit but still be ready to capture any spontaneous moments.
Versatility is key for wedding photography and mixing a multimedia-capable camera body with a pair of well-rounded zooms will serve any wedding photographer well. These tools are the ultimate blank canvas for photographing your next wedding.
What do you look for in a camera and lens setup? Does your wedding camera and lens combination differ from these suggestions? Let us know in the Comments section, below.