Many clients in the past have asked me what cameras am I using, even though I feel that not many understand the importance of the question. It’s one of those questions that various blogs recommend couples to ask their photographer.
Today, professional camera equipment is fairly similar, but there are some major differences from a $3000 level camera (Nikon D850, Canon 5D MkIV, Sony Alpha a7R IV) to a $6500 level camera (Nikon D5, Canon 1DX, Sony A9) — even though both are considered pro-level cameras.
Go-To Camera Equipment for Professional Wedding Photographers
A $3000 level camera is typically a go-to camera for pro wedding photographers. They usually have excellent image quality, good autofocus — which is required for fast-paced events like a wedding, and good low light performance — especially in combination with a flash.
Also, the big 50 Megapixel sensor like on Nikon D850 helps with cropping in-camera or in post-production without losing important details.
A good pro photographer has at least one of these cameras and it works well in 80% of any wedding day.
High-Level Camera Equipment & When It’s Needed
If a photographer needs extremely good low light capabilities, including fast focus, they can’t shoot without a $6500 level camera. The photographers that use these levels of cameras will usually have amazing low light pictures without flash. This is a major advantage because they’ll be able to capture the full ambiance of a reception in low light and it will look incredible!
Camera Equipment | Making Good Use of Flash
One of the most difficult aspects of wedding photography to master is working well with a flash or a number of off-camera flashes (remote flashes). Here is where the experience of the photographer shows.
It usually takes a long time to learn how to use flashes in a way that the picture doesn’t look like it was captured with a flash. For instance, when you see bright subjects with a dark background, that’s a poor use of flash.
A good flash-lit picture will show a good balance between the subject’s brightness and the background’s brightness. Basically, you will not see any light imbalance in the picture unless you have a well-trained eye.
A good low light camera will help here dramatically. This is one of the reasons you want your photographer to shoot with 2 cameras — ideally a $3000 level camera and a $6500 level camera.
Lenses for Professional Wedding Photographers
Good lenses are one of the most important — if not THE most important pieces of equipment pro wedding photographers use. There are dramatic differences between lenses — and sharpness, micro-contrast and focusing speed will shine with the best ones. It’s important to note that even the best camera in the world will take bad pictures if the lens is a cheap lens.
I don’t want to bother you with the technicality of the lenses too much, but just know that pro-level lenses are very expensive and not all photographers can afford them. If you expect only the best quality pictures then you want your photographer to shoot with professional lenses — ideally prime lenses with 2 cameras.
So Does Professional Camera Equipment Matter?
There are many photographers that shoot weddings with entry-level, full-frame cameras. I think there’s nothing wrong with that! I used to do the same at the beginning of my career and it worked well with some limitations.
Now, if you don’t expect amazing low light pictures you should be fine. But if you’re paying for the best that is out there, you must make sure your photographer shoots with one $6500 level camera.
If the photographer is not experienced or good enough, no amount of high-level cameras will save him. Simply put, the camera really doesn’t matter if the photographer is not up to the task.
A Good Camera Will NOT Replace a Great Photographer
Weddings are fast-paced events with difficult and constantly changing light conditions. So yes, a good camera with excellent lenses will help, but it will not replace a good, experienced photographer. So make sure to check out the photographer’s portfolio before deciding to schedule them for your wedding.
So in the end, does it matter what equipment a photographer is using, I think it does but only if the photographer is capable and experienced enough to shoot a fast-paced events with constant light change. Low light know-how is a must if you want great reception pictures.
And in case you were wondering, here is the equipment I’m using at this point in February 2020:
Various on and off-camera flashes