The lens market is a broad one, and building a collection for wedding work is not always easy. After factoring-in your shooting style with opinions from professional colleagues and resources, it becomes clearer as to what kind of quality, long-lasting glass you’ll want in your kit.
As one of the pioneers in imaging and optics, Nikon offers its customer base an extraordinary selection of hard-working lenses. While many of them are designed with Nikon’s full-frame camera bodies (FX) in mind, they can also often be used with a cropped-sensor unit (DX) as well. It simply must be noted that a focal-length conversion (1.5x) is necessary to compensate for the narrowed angle of view. So when you apply this formula, a wide-angle 35mm on an FX body, when used on the cropped DX format camera, will display the same angle of view as a standard 50mm.
Prime Wide-Angle and Normal Lenses
There are several benefits to owning an assortment of prime lenses. With a fixed focal length, the optical design of a prime lens is less complex and bulky. Their smaller, lightweight bodies take up less room in storage cases and are easier to carry while working. Simplified optics result in tack-sharp images and an incredible maximum aperture, giving you the freedom to shoot in low-light scenarios and explore super-shallow depth of field.
A dedicated wide-angle lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED includes two extra-low dispersion (ED) and two aspheric elements to reduce many of the distortions typical of a wider focal length, even at f/1.4. A Nano Crystal Coating on 12 of the glass elements also works to prevent ghosting and flare, ensuring your images stay sharp and clear. Smooth and silent autofocusing is achieved with the pairing of Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology, as well as a rear focusing (RF) system that eliminates the need for front barrel rotation. Static front elements make it easier to use finicky circular polarizing filters. An 84-degree angle of view is perfect for capturing group shots, dances and architecture, while still being able to focus as close as 9.84”. With nine rounded aperture blades, bokeh is soft and natural. Like all G-type lenses, the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED does not have an aperture ring. Aperture must instead be selected from a dial on the camera, which is not compatible with older, manual-focus Nikon bodies.
The AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G is an additional wide-angle lens that also employs a rear focusing system with SWM to generate smooth, lightning-fast autofocus. While it does not include ED glass, it does combine aspheric elements with Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings (SIC) to reduce ghosting, flare, aberrations and color inaccuracy. Smaller than its AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED contemporary, the AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G can also focus as close as 10.2”. It houses seven rounded aperture blades and encompasses a 75-degree angle of view.
The AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G is an incredibly fast lens in a traditional wide-angle focal length. While utilizing SWM and rear focusing to ensure smooth autofocusing, it is also optimized for crystal-clear imaging. A single aspheric element works to eliminate aberrations, such as coma, while Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings help reduce flare and color inconsistency. Its excellent optics guarantee sharpness from edge to edge, and it was built from the ground up for full-frame sensors. When it's used on a crop-sensor DX format camera, edge-to-edge sharpness shouldn't be an issue at all (though focal length equivalency will be 52.5mm). The AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G focuses as close as 11.76” with a 63-degree angle of view, and has a nine-bladed aperture.
A slightly more compact offering, the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED loses some speed at the maximum aperture, but makes up for it by weighing about half as much as the 35mm f/1.4. It, too, features a Silent Wave Motor for fast, smooth AF and a Super Integrated Coating to minimize flare and surface reflections. One aspherical element and one extra-low dispersion elements have been incorporated into the lens design to help achieve notable sharpness, void of chromatic aberrations or distortion. It focuses as closely as 9.8" and has a rounded seven-blade aperture.
For those who shoot with DX-sized sensors, the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G is specifically designed for the cropped format. Producing an angle of view similar to that of a 50mm on an FX camera, the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G is a great standard-length lens for natural-looking environmental portraiture. Aspherical elements with Super Integrated Coating enhance colors and light-transmission efficiency while maintaining overall image integrity. An SWM system enables fluid autofocusing, which can be achieved as closely as 1’.
The super-lightweight AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G is a standard focal-length lens ideal for full-length portraits or available-light shooting. Its nine-bladed aperture smoothly blends out-of-focus elements for a soft, organic background at shallow depth of field. A non-rotating front element makes it easier to use a circular polarizer or any lens-mounted flash accessories, while a Super Integrated Coating ensures limited ghosting and distortion.
The even smaller AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4D is incredibly easy to carry and takes up a minimal amount of space in a bag or case. Its seven-bladed aperture and high-quality resolution make it a great first lens for those who do not yet have a standard prime lens in their kit. The AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4D is a D-type lens, which transmits subject-to-camera distance information to AF Nikon camera bodies. As a note, some bodies (such as the D40, D60, D3000-series, and D5000-series) do not support AF and, therefore, autofocus is not an option with this lens. Like the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G, it also offers a 46-degree angle of view and a minimum focusing distance of 1.5’.
One of the more recent releases from Nikon, the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G is a slightly longer than normal prime designed to excel in low-light conditions. Two aspherical elements are incorporated within its advanced optical design, giving the ability to deliver high edge-to-edge sharpness with virtually no coma flare, chromatic aberrations, or light falloff. The SWM provides fast autofocusing and the Nano Crystal Coating and Super Integrated Coating help to further suppress flare and reflections. Nine rounded aperture blades work to produce a smooth out-of-focus quality that pairs well with the 1.9' minimum focusing distance.
Your ability to shoot flattering portraits is a requirement, from a wedding client's perspective. It’s important to choose a lens that flatters the subject and keeps their features flat and in proportion. Many photographers prefer a focal-length range of 70-105mm, as this translates well into the way the human eye perceives surroundings naturally. A wide maximum aperture keeps the possibilities open for shooting in diminishing available light, and allows you to use shallow depth of field to isolate your subject from the background.
A medium-telephoto focal length of 85mm is an especially popular choice for portraiture, and Nikon offers several options. The AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D IF, able to focus at 2.8’, offers nine aperture blades for soft, dreamy bokeh. A super Integrated Coating keeps color reproduction accurate and vibrant. As a non-AF-S-type lens, AF will not be supported by D40, D60, D3000-series or D5000-series camera bodies. The AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G is a super lightweight G-type lens with multi-layers of SIC and a seven-bladed aperture. An SWM system ensures smooth, silent autofocusing and sharp image quality at any aperture.
The AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G lens is an impressive unit for a professional, polished image. Optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness, photos stay crisp and clear on both FX and DX format cameras (though focal-length equivalency on a DX body is 127.5mm). Nikon’s SWM keeps autofocus fluid and silent, while Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings eliminate troublesome flare, ghosting and aberrations. The AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G requires a minimum distance of 3’ to focus, and houses nine diaphragm blades. All three 85mm lenses utilize Internal Focusing (IF) and capture a 28° angle of view.
The D-type AF DC-NIKKOR 105mm f/2D is a telephoto lens offering Nikon’s Defocus Control (DC) technology. This includes a DC ring on the lens barrel, which when rotated, alters the degree of spherical aberration/blur effects in the foreground or background. Paired with a nine-bladed aperture, this is an ideal lens for unique, creative portraiture. The AF DC-NIKKOR 105mm f/2D has a built-in lens hood and can focus at a minimum distance of 3’.
A trusted macro lens is the detail-oriented photographer’s closest companion. In the whirlwind agenda of a wedding, it’s easy for the little things to be lost or overlooked. The macro lens preserves the delicate memories of shoes, décor, flowers and the rings.
The dedicated AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED has a standard-range focal length that ensures its usefulness as both a close-up and general lens. Able to focus as close as 7.3” (with a true 1:1 reproduction ratio), Nikon’s Close-Range Correction (CRC) system moves each lens group individually to achieve crystal-clear focusing even up close. Extra-low dispersion glass elements are paired with Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coating, optimizing the lens for quality image reproduction. Internal focusing eliminates the need for a rotating front element, and SWM keeps automatic focusing fluid and quiet.
The longer AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF ED incorporates Nikon’s VR II (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization technology to offset blur caused by camera shake. It allows up to four stops of shutter-speed compensation, making handheld shooting easier and more efficient. Like the AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED, this 105mm includes ED glass elements, a Nano Crystal Coating, as well as an SWM for smooth autofocusing. As close as 1’, it can reproduce images at a ratio of 1:1.
The benefit of zoom lenses is their versatility. While usually not as fast as a prime lens, advancements in technology bring their speed and sharpness increasingly close. Zoom functionality gives you more leeway to crop and compose from a fixed viewpoint, and having a range of focal lengths in one lens can save room in your camera bag.
For crop-sensor cameras, the AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED has three aspheric and three ED glass elements for optimal image quality. Autofocus is swift with IF and SWM, while the rounded diaphragm opening (nine blades) is smooth and natural. Factoring in 35mm focal-length equivalency, this lens translates roughly to 25.5-82.5mm in FX format; a favorable standard range among wedding photographers.
The AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED is an additional standard zoom optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness regardless of the sensor size with which it’s paired. It boasts both IF and SWM autofocusing mechanisms, as well as three ED elements and three aspherical glass elements with Nano Crystal Coating. While the 17-55mm can focus at 1.2’, the 24-70mm needs the smallest bit extra at 1.25’.
The ultra-wide zoom capabilities of the AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8F ED (114°– 84° angle of view) make it a great tool for shooting group portraits and crowds. It offers many of the same features as its contemporaries, including two ED elements and three aspheric glass elements with Nano Crystal Coating and the combination of SWM and IF. Its impressive focusing distance is as short as 11.02”, and nine aperture blades ensure rounded bokeh.
With perhaps the most popular telephoto zoom range for wedding photography, the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II offers the perfect amount of coverage for both portraits and subjects at a distance. Vibration Reduction enables up to four stops of shutter-speed compensation. Color accuracy is on point and aberrations are scarce, thanks largely to seven ED elements with both Nano Crystal and Super Integrated coatings. Autofocus is effortless and instant with the pairing of IF and SWM, and a nine-bladed aperture keeps out-of-focus scenery looking natural. The AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II can focus as closely as 4.6'.
An ultra-wide AF NIKKOR 14mm f/2.8D ED works well to capture large groups of people or dynamic interior spaces. An impressive 114-degree angle of view offers a dramatic perspective, and its minimum focusing distance of 7.87” allows you to work creatively. Elements with aspherical and ED glass provide a high-resolution and high-contrast final image, while its rectilinear design works to correctly render subject matter with straight lines. A slot for gelatin filers is located in the rear of the lens, along with the focusing system (RF). A fixed, petal-shaped hood keeps images clearer by eliminating stray beams of light. Being a non AF-S lens, AF is not supported by the D40, D60, D3000-series or D5000-series cameras.
The fisheye lens, while not for routine use, can be a unique tool for adding creative distortion to otherwise typical wedding shots. Unlike the super-wide lenses, fisheyes cover an angle of view up to 180°. The AF DX Fisheye-NIKKOR 10.5mm f/2.8G ED is designed specifically for crop-sensor camera bodies. It focuses as incredibly close as 5.5”, which is only a short 1.2” from the front of the lens. Close-Range Correction (CRC) technology ensures that if you are shooting close to your subject, your images stay crisp and clear. A fixed, petal-shaped lens hood works to keep out stray beams of light, and ED glass elements minimize chromatic aberration. Apart from being designed specifically for contemporary Nikon DSLRs, AF is not compatible with D40 or D60 camera bodies.
The AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D also utilizes non AF-S-type autofocusing technology, and requires a DSLR with a built-in AF motor for autofocusing capabilities. A rear slot holds up to four 39mm filters, and SIC, along with a fixed petal-shaped hood, minimizes flare and ghosting. The AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D focuses at 9.84”, and employs a CRC system for optimal performance. Both fisheyes capture a 180° angle of view corner-to-corner (diagonally) and have seven-bladed apertures.
If you require assistance selecting lenses for wedding-specific photography, speak with a B&H sales professional in our New York SuperStore, over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or online via Live Chat.
Wonderful great look thank you.
Thank you for this easy and light break down of the various Nikon lenses. I love how you gave the benefits of each lens and shared the differences for both full fram and crop sensored bodies. That was super helpful. I appreciate you keeping it simple. Thanks again!
I am an amateur photographer and own a Nikon DLSR D5200. I am just STARTING to learn about my new camera and also getting familiar with a couple of lenses I own. I love shooting architectural and landscaping, BUT I've been asked to shoot 1 wedding and 3 parties, but know NOTHING about the lenses for this kind of photography.
I've attended wedding seminars but all my notes got LOST! So if there is an article (or class) about this type of photography, I would gladly take the opportunity to learn, and once again, take notes, so I am more familiar with this subject.
To end with, ANY information about settings of my camera would help me a lot
I have a D5200 also, have studied it in-depth. The best lens I found was the Nikon 35mm. f1.8. I shoot with the Aperature mode only and set the ISO at 100, in the RAW/JPEG mode. I bought a book from Barnes and Nobles that talks just to the D5200 and it goes thru everything you need to know and then some. The 35mm lens was very inexpensive (<$200 on line) and I use it almost exclusively and then crop/adjust with the computer in RAW format. You will need a good tripod or monopod if you are going to shoot indoors. The lens is so good that very few times will you have to use a flash (You can push the ISO to 1600 without much data loss). The kit lens that came with the camera was an 18-55mm, f3.5-5.8 and it stays in the bag.
Good luck and enjoy your camera.
Below I have prepared two links for you to regard. The first is an article we have posted here in the past on shooting your first wedding. It discusses gear and important aspects of any wedding to consider. The second link is a much more in-depth option to use. Recently B&H hosted a Live Wedding Seminar Event which we also simultaneously streamed online for the world to watch, and we have archived it so you can view it anytime you like. It features many excellent photographers each giving a 1-2 hour discussion on wedding work and different aspects of it to consider.
As far as exposure settings go, I would set my ISO to a higher setting (as high as you feel shooting at without images getting grainy) and shooting with standard ranged zoom lens, such as an 18-55mm or similar. The other individuals recommendation of the 35mm f1.8 is also good, but not as flexible as a zoom lens would be. Using a flash also helps keep the images looking consistent and helps freeze the motion.
Check out these links below, and if you have further questions feel free to email us as [email protected] and our agents there can assist you.