Wedding Photographer in South Alabama & the Gulf Coast
As a photographer, gear is absolutely essential. Does gear make you a good or bad photographer? Absolutely not. But it sure does make a difference in the images you produce. I have had a lot of questions about the gear I use and it only seems right to answer all questions in one spot. I started with my first DSLR 4 years ago and this is by far my favorite set up.
I am definitely a Nikon girl. So I use two of the Nikon D750's. This is one of the best cameras for someone who is looking to get into professional photography. It is a full frame camera that has 24.3MP. I recommend having two camera bodies if you are going to be shooting events like weddings. Since the release of the Nikon 810, the Nikon D800 has been discontinued. The Nikon D810 is also a great camera but is more expensive and not really worth it for the extra megapixels if you don't have the money. Now, if money is no object, why not splurge? You can buy the D750 here.
The Nikon 35mm f/1.4 is a phenomenal prime lens for portraits. It works great for a majority of situations. It is great for smaller spaces where you won't have the room to back up that far. This lens if always with me. Be aware that there are larger f stop versions of this lens that are cheaper and decent BUT if the lens is DX it will have a crop sensor so it technically won't work that well with a full frame camera, like the d750. You can buy the lens here.
The Nikon 50mm 1.8 is another great portrait lens. Like the 35mm, these are some great basic lens to start with. I see a lot of beginners starting with a prime lens like one of these. They create beautiful bokeh in portraits. You can buy one here.
The Nikon 105mm VR Micro lens is one that is fabulous for those close up shots of things like the wedding rings, flowers, and cake. For my Canon friends, micro is the Nikon equivalent to the Canon macro lenses. You can buy one here.
Getting into zoom lenses now, the 24-70 is a fabulous investment. This is the first lens I really felt like I made a real investment with. It is powerful and has a perfect range for group shots. This lens allows you to capture a group shot with everyone in focus. That is something a prime lens really can't deliver. I see a lot of beginners who get into photography and wonder why they just can't get a family of 4 or 5 to be in focus. Thats where this lens comes into play. Also, this lens comes in VR(Vibration Reduction) now and it is almost $1k more expensive. In this case, the VR is more useful for those who are shooting video in my opinion. VR helps capture a still photo when the camera is moving a lot. It is helpful but not necessary if you are trying to be cautious of your budget. You can buy one here.
Lastly, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 is the perfect zoom lens for shots of the bride and groom. With a zoom lens like this, you can be an appropriate distance away and still get fabulous, clear photos of the couple saying "I do." Have you ever been to a wedding where the photographer is maneuvering around the front row to get the perfect shot and at the same time, unintentionally the star of the wedding video? Its a mess y'all. So this lens will save the day. You can buy one here.
The Nikon Speedlight SB-700 is a great professional flash. This flash works in slave and master mode, making it a great choice for professional photographers. There are a couple better versions of this flash but for the price and function this is a great choice. You can buy on here.
The Nikon MB-D16 is a battery grip that holds an extra battery and only fits the D750.There is a cool second option that comes with the grip and that is too use 6 AA batteries instead of an extra camera battery. This is great if you are in a pinch and don't have time to charge your battery. It is also helpful if you are in a different country and have no access to appropriate wall outlet to charge your camera battery. If you have a different camera, there is a slightly different battery grip for each camera. On your camera, it will give you about two inches of extra grip at the bottom of your camera. This can be helpful when you need extra stability with a heavy lens. Although, I have seen several photographers complain about the weight that the battery grip adds to the camera. Some people would rather keep a few extra batteries in their bag to swap out. It can also be a challenge for people with little hands because it does add a lot to the size. Nikons spare camera battery for the D750 is about $50. You can buy the grip here.
When it comes to SD cards, every photographer is different. I have several 32gb and 16gb SD cards that I use for storage. Why not purchase a 64gb or larger memory SD card? It can be dangerous to shoot an entire wedding on one card. Some photographers would rather keep a few smaller storage size cards on hand so if a card gets corrupted, lost, or damaged you don't lose the entire wedding. The downside to using smaller storage cards is that you will have to be swapping out cards during a shoot which can also be risky if you are not very careful.
The Hold Fast Money Maker in brindle leather. I knew this double camera harness was for me when I saw that their website had a "Am I cool enough to wear this strap?" section in their FAQ. I seriously was thinking it and they answered it lol. Anyway, this harness holds up to three cameras at one time. I have only ever used it with two DSLR's. Just like any genuine leather, you have to break it in. I find it to be very stylish and comfortable. It holds up to 150lbs of gear on each side and has some awesome features. It has an emergency buckle that is used for docking boats and an fail safe life line to ensure your gear is safe. It distributes the weight of both camera evenly across the shoulders so the long work day is slightly more comfy. It is very helpful to be hands free during shoots. I am always carrying other stuff, fixing hair, or scaling a mountain and need both hands. You can buy one here.
The Ona Brooklyn bag is a very stylish option for one camera, one lens and a few smaller things. I personally do not use this bag but I have one very similar that I use on every shoot. You will need a small bag to carry a few essential things on every shoot. You can buy one here.
The Lowepro Photo Classic BP 300 AW is a favorite of mine. It has enough room to carry the essentials and is the perfect bag to carry to a large event like a wedding. I have looked into many bags that carry this volume of gear and this is the best I have found so far. For the price, it beats a lot of the "hipster" competitors. You can buy one here.
Is anybody still with me? lol
Okay, last thoughts here. When purchasing a lens you are going to want to pay close attention to the F stops. When it comes to prime lenses f/1.8, f/1.4, f/1.2 are great. The smaller the number the more expensive the lens will be, keep that in mind. But anything greater than f/1.8 you will start to lose the ability to shoot in low light (i.e receptions, sunsets, etc.). When it comes to most zoom lenses the lowest you will see if an f/2.8 and that is what you will want to buy. The lenses that have f/3.5-5 are really not good for low light situations.
Used and Refurbished Gear
After reviewing this educational gear page I have put together you are probably feeling overwhelmed by the investment it will take to have a gear set like this. I buy most lenses used or open box on Amazon. I shop a lot online and know a reliable source when I see one. Always be careful when buying used. You need to know that "grey market" gear is gear that has been manufactured for a different country. Why should you care? Because any gear that is not a US model will not have any kind of valid warranty from Nikon,Canon, Sony, or whoever. If you buy a US model new, it will come with at least a 1 year warranty. Although, you can still bring broken "grey market" gear to your local camera doctor, you will just have to pay out of pocket for any damages. B&H Photo is a great place to buy used and new gear visit their site here.
Lastly, I rent gear that I need for specific shoots and events if I do not already have it. There are several popular lens rental companies that have great reviews and I am sure they are all great.I have gone with Lens Rental and only had great experiences with them. They usually have a promo available. Visit their sitehere.