If you want to have a go and make money as a wedding photographer you really don’t need the top end (and expensive) professional photography equipment. There is cheaper photography equipment available that will help you capture high quality wedding photos that will impress any bride and groom. The point I am trying to make is that a budget wedding photography kit will be perfectly good enough to start out.
Budget wedding photography kit - camera
The image quality and performance of a crops sensor camera is plenty good enough to capture high quality wedding photos. Canon categorizes its dslr cameras in to 3 categories, and these comprise beginner, enthusiast and professional. All of Canon’s dslr cameras are capable of capturing high quality wedding photos and you don’t need to buy a professional or even enthusiast level camera.
The cameras I would recommend for a budget wedding photography kit comprises:-
With 24+ megapixels to play with all of the above budget dslr cameras will capture top wedding photos.
Budget wedding photography kit - lenses
A high quality lens is essential for wedding photography and you are going to have to be prepared to spend a little bit of money on a lens, even to buy a budget lens. There are cheap lenses available but I would never recommend these because the image quality is terrible and they won’t last five minutes. Recommended budget lenses for wedding photography are “mid-range” which means both build quality and image quality is very good.
Many photographers seem to be of the opinion you need a lens that will open up to f2.8 or wider for wedding photography, but this is not the case. You need to be very careful and accurate using wide apertures to make sure everything that should be in focus is in focus. Mess up the focal point and you’re stuffed. When shooting weddings it is better to shoot a slightly narrower apertures to make sure the photos are definitely sharp, and f4 – f5.6 is perfect for this.
The must have budget lenses for a budget wedding photography kit comprises:-
Canon 24 – 70 f4L
Being an L series lens this lens is made using the best quality materials, components and optics which means it is built to last and has excellent image quality. The maximum widest aperture is f4 which is plenty wide enough to blur out the background whilst ensuring the subjects remain tack sharp
The Canon 24 – 70 f4L is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.com.
Canon 10 – 22 f3.5 – 4.5
With an effective focal length of 16mm – 35mm is a wide angle lens that is perfect for group shots. The build quality of this lens is very good although it is not up to L series standard. Considering this is mid-range lens the image quality is exceptional and better than that of lenses costing several times more. The maximum widest aperture of f3.5 is too wide to get everyone nice and sharp in group shots, so don’t let the f3.5 – 4.5 put you off. This is an excellent budget lens for capturing awesome wedding photos.
The Canon 10 – 22 f3.5 – 4.5 is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.com.
Canon 70 – 200 f4L IS
This is another L series lens, which means it is made using the highest quality materials and components and also the best optics. The 70 – 200 will have an effective focal range of 112mm – 320mm on a crop sensor camera so it is perfect for those situations where you need to be out of the way whilst taking photos. This lens has IS which means you can still get sharp noise free photos.
The Canon 70 – 200 f4L IS is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.com.
Budget wedding photography kit – lighting equipment
A lighting system is essential for wedding photography and those photographers claiming you only need natural light, are talking out of it. Churches and chapels are dark places and you will need a burst of artificial light to get a good exposure. Photographing people out in direct sunlight is not a good idea and when you move them in to the shade you will need a burst of artificial light to lift the shadows. The bottom line is you will need some kind of flash for wedding photography.
A flash simply emits a burst of artificial light when required, and nothing more. The quality of the light emitted by a flash won’t noticeably vary, so it doesn’t matter whether the light is emitted from a flash costing six hundred bucks or a flash costing one hundred bucks. As long as you can get enough light out of the flash and control it that’s all that matters.
There was a time when powerful flashes and speed lights offering a full range of features were expensive. Fortunately, this is no longer the case and you can now buy a flash that is powerful, controllable and also cheap. These flashes may not be as bullet proof as the expensive flashes, but they are still tough and durable. There really is no need to spend a fortune on a flash for your budget wedding photography kit.
The flash I would recommend in a budget photography kit is the Godox V860.
The Godox V860 is powerful and jam packed full of features. It offers TTL automatic mode, full manual mode and high speed sync (HSS) modes. This flash is tough, durable and built to last. I have had my Godox speed lights for several years now and they are still working as good today as the day I first took delivery. The V860 flash costs a fraction of the top end Canon speed lights and I managed to get three V860 speed lights for less than the cost of one Canon 600EX.
The Godox V860 is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.com
The camera, lens and lighting system are the main components in a wedding photography kit, however you will need other bits and pieces such as lens cleaning equipment, spare batteries and lots of memory cards etc.
A trip to the Farne Islands to photograph the puffins, as well as other sea birds (but mainly the puffins) has been on my wish list for a few years now and I have finally managed to get a place on a photography workshop. The organisation hosting the work shop isn’t my preferred choice, the individual I really wanted to go with isn’t running any workshops this year, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Ever since the course booking has been confirmed I have been thinking about what equipment I need to take. There is a small “what to bring” section with the course terms and conditions, but it is quite vague and includes a camera, a tele lens (a focal length of least 200mm), a wide angle lens, spare batteries, plenty of memory cards, a tripod/monopod and a waterproof cover.
This is most likely going to be a once in a life time bird photography day for me and I want to get the most from it I possibly can, which is going to require the right gear. I want to make sure I have everything I need to capture those trophy puffin shots, but I don’t want to take too much photography gear and I definitely don’t want to be carrying around a load of photography equipment I am not going to use.
Knowing what photography gear to take has been a real head ache and in order to get some ideas I thought I would throw out some questions on the photography forums I follow, and also the Facebook page of the course organizer.
I have to say that I received far more replies and responses to my “what photography gear should I take for a day photographing birds on the Farne Islands?” than I was expecting, however the variety of answers is such I am even more confused and have even more questions, which is not good.
There are so many differences of opinion and conflicting information out there choosing the perfect photography set up is impossible. For example, one person said the birds were so close that a 70mm – 200mm was all that was needed where as another person said that 99% of his shots were captured at 400mm, and a longer lens would have been more useful. One reply said an ultra-wide angle lens is a “must have” lens for the nesting birds and the dive bombing terns. If I took all the “must have” gear with me I would be taking all the gear I own, and this is something I can’t, and don’t want to do.
The photography course involves several boat trips and a lot of walking, all whilst carrying my gear, therefore I need to make sure I have all bases covered whilst travelling as light as possible. It is a balancing act, I am totally aware of this, which makes it even more of a challenge.
Choosing the perfect photography gear to take to the Farne Islands for my bird photography workshop is going to take a little longer than I first expected…….
If you like recording videos with your mobile phone there is one accessory you have to own, and that is an electronic gimbal stabilizer. It doesn’t matter how steady your hands are, or how much you have practiced keeping the phone straight and level an electronic gimbal stabilizer will give you stable (and professional looking) video footage time after time.
There are a few gimbal stabilizers out there designed specifically for mobile phones so no one company has a monopoly. The most well-known manufacturer of gimbal stabilizers is DJI, and whilst the DJI Mobile is very good (I don’t own one but had the chance to road test one for a while) it is damn expensive and you need to have deep pockets to buy one.
There is a cheaper alternative to the DJI Mobile gimbal stabiliser and this is the Zhiyun Smooth Q. The Zhiyun Smooth Q isn’t as strong and robust as the DJI Mobile, it doesn’t feel as nice to hold in the hand as the DJI Mobile and it doesn’t have the trigger grip the DJI Mobile has, but the results are identical. Video footage captured with the Zhiyun Smooth Q is just as smooth as video footage captured with the DJI Mobile, and the best part is the Zhiyun Smooth Q is a fraction of the cost of the DJI Mobile.
I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical before I ordered the Zhiyun Smooth Q. Despite the positive reviews and write ups I had read, as well as the example footage I had seen I struggled to see how a gimbal stabilizer that was so cheap compared to its nearest rival could be any good. I have wasted money on budget products in the past only to buy the “real deal” (like I should have done in the first instance) and I didn’t want to make the same mistake with the Zhiyun Smooth Q. Consequently, the decision to pull the trigger and buy one took a little longer than it should have.
As soon as I had the chance to get out and have a play with the Zhiyun Smooth Q I thought I’d make a brief clip demonstrating just why you need a gimbal stabilizer if you want to record video with your mobile phone:-
The Godox AD200 is an excellent flash system, and it is a photography flash I use for many different photography applications. Even though the AD200 is a versatile and very useful flash, it isn’t all sweetness and light and it does have its disadvantages and negatives.
Before buying the Godox Witstro AD200 I read several reviews, checked out loads of Youtube clips and asked plenty of questions on the photography forums I actively participate in. When I was thinking about buying a Godox AD200 I wanted to know about its negatives and the types of problems I am likely to experience, however I struggled. Finding a glowing Godox AD200 review was easy but finding a balanced Godox AD200 review, i.e. one that explores the advantages and the disadvantages as well as the positives and negatives, was like finding rocking horse poop.
Even though I struggled to find the negatives of the Godox AD200 I went ahead and ordered one, and boy am I glad I did – the AD200 is awesome.
Rather than creating a balanced review about the Godox AD200 I thought I would create a video clip identifying and exploring the negatives and disadvantages, i.e. the information I struggled to find, to help photographers thinking about buying the Godox AD200 make an informed decision.
My video footage “The disadvantage of the Godox Witstro AD200” has attracted quite a bit of attention on Youtube, which is good, but a lot of this has been negative, which is not so good. If people don’t agree with me, that’s fine and I have no problem with it. After all, we are all different. What I do have a problem with is the nasty, spiteful and downright rude comments some people have felt compelled to write.
From the comments made it is obvious the people writing them haven’t bothered to watch my clip all the way through, and by not doing this they have totally missed the points I am trying to make. If they want to leave a nasty comment they should at least make it relevant! Relevant or not, all nasty and spiteful comments are deleted as soon as I get to read them.
If you have not seen my “The disadvantages of the Godox Witstro AD200” footage you can do so below:-
Please feel free to leave any constructive criticism and valid arguments/disagreements – I will leave these on the thread.
I am a great fan of the Godox AD200 and you can buy it from Adorama, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.
The Witstro AD200 isn't the only Godox flash I own. Oh no, since discovering the Godox brand a few years back I became an instant fan and have now amassed quite a collection of Godox branded flashes, strobes and accessories. If you're interested in the Godox brand or want to know a bite more you may want to take a look at the following clip, courtesy of Youtube.
If you're interested in the other photography gear I use you may want to take a look at my "Must have photography equipment" page, which is not only includes essential photography gear but also thoughts, opinions, reviews and useful links.
Time lapse photography is something that I have wanted to try but never got around to, because I didn’t have the photography equipment I needed to do a good job. Things have changed and I now have the ideal photographic accessory the Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal stabilizer.
Since owning the Smooth Q the weather has been terrible, and I really have no inclination to get outside and spend an hour or so capturing a time lapse. Whilst visiting a friend’s house for lunch I noticed there were some new additions to his family, and these were some tropical fish. Looking at the tank I had an idea – to try some time lapse photography in the comfort (and warmth) of his lounge whilst digesting the Sunday lunch.
Had it been my house and my fish tank I would have re-arranged the furniture so I could position the camera in the best position for a good composition. Had it been my house and my fish tank I would have spent some time manually setting the exposure, color balance etc. and added a filter to get the correct shutter speed for the frame rate. Unfortunately it wasn’t my house, and it wasn’t my fish tank therefore all I could do was set the camera in automatic mode, position it in front of the fish tank, hit the record button and let the camera do its thing.
Below is a clip of the results, i.e. my first ever time lapse photography project.
The whole process took just over an hour, set to capture an image every 3 seconds. I appreciate the subject matter isn’t to everyone’s taste and some people will find it a little boring, but I have to say for a first attempt I am quite impressed and time lapse is definitely something I am going to do more of. The only problem I have at the moment is deciding what subjects would make a good time lapse video. Sure, I could do a city scene, the local highway, the local park etc. but these subjects have been done to death. I want to capture something a little different and unique – so I guess I am going to have to get my thinking cap on.
What I used to capture this time lapse
The gear I used to capture this time lapse comprised:
. I appreciate this is old technology and there are newer versions of the iPhone available – but being stuck with an old and out of date iPhone is what happens when you sign up to a 24 month contract. Fortunately, I am due an upgrade soon and I know for sure the next mobile phone I get the image quality will be several times better.
Zhiyun Smooth Q
To keep everything nice and stable, even when the phone was accidentally knocked, I used the Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal stabiliser. The Zhiyun Smooth Q does everything the DJI mobile does, but at a fraction of the cost. Okay, the Zhiyun Smooth Q may not be built to the same standard as the DJI Mobile, but it is still a tough and durable product that is more than up to the job. You can buy the Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal stabiliser from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.com Go on and check it out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what a great product this is.
Manfrotto Befree tripod
To keep the Smooth Q and camera in place I used my Manfrotto Befree travel tripod. This travel tripod is small, light and very sturdy. I would say the Manfrotto Befree is a bit of an overkill for this particular set up, but then since I already owned the Befree before buying the Zhiyun Smooth Q it makes sense to use it. The Befree is an awesome tripod and gets rave reviews. You can buy the Manfrotto Befree travel tripod (make sure you check out those reviews first) from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.com
I guess the “best” camera bag for travel photography is a personal thing, and the best camera bag for one photographer may not suit another photographer and vice versa. The best camera bag for travel photography depends on many different factors, including:
This is not an exhaustive list, and I am sure that if you take a step back and think about it for a while there will be other considerations too.
I spent a long, long time looking for a suitable camera bag for travel photography and did lots of internet research, asking questions of photography forums, reading reviews, trips to the local camera shop etc. etc.
The perfect camera bag for travel photography in my opinion:-
The camera bag I ended up buying for travel photography
After much research and looking around the camera bag I chose for travel photography was the Lowepro Inverse 200AW. This camera bag is tough durable, water proof and has loads of padding in it to keep my expensive photography equipment safe and sound. I wear this bag around my waist (I am not a fan of backpacks) where it sits nice and stable, even when fully loaded, which leaves me totally hands free.
Below is some video footage demonstrating how water proof this camera bag is, courtesy of Youtube.
The Lowepro Inverse 200 AW camera bag is the ideal camera bag for travel photography and it is one I highly recommend. Out of all the camera bags I have bought and used over the years, and I can tell you there have been a few of them, this camera bag is among my top two. It really is a great bag and if you are looking for a camera bag for your travels a bag you should definitely consider.
You can buy the Lowepro Inverse 200 AW camera bag from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.
In a bid to improve my videos to compliment this blog I thought it was about time to invest in a new video camera and, after a lot of reading and research, I decided to purchase a DJI Osmo video camera.
I have always wanted to have a go at slow motion photography so as soon as the DJI Osmo was delivered I thought I would take a trip down the local river, throw in a few pieces of bread to get the resident swans in a feeding frenzy and capture the footage.
In manual mode it is possible to capture video at 60 frames a second (“FPS”), and whilst it is possible to slow down footage captured using this frame rate it isn’t ideal. The DJI Osmo can capture video footage at 120 FPS, which is ideal for slow motion footage, but this is an automatic mode.
Capturing video footage with the DJI Osmo at 120 FPS means all I had to do is select the correct mode and start filming. This is simple since the camera sorts out the settings it thinks is needed for the correct exposure, but this is not ideal. I like to have the ability to tweak the ISO and the shutter speed to get the look I want but this is not possible when using this camera at 120 FPS.
Considering it as a November afternoon there was quite a bit of light, which was good because you need a fair amount of light to shoot video at 120 FPS. The sky was full of white clouds, which was not ideal because many cameras tend to over expose in these tough lighting conditions when left to their own devices. Before I even hit the record button I knew exposure was going to be an issue and the highlights were going to be ‘blown’ meaning a sky with no detail. Given the swans (and the seagulls that decided to make an appearance too) were predominantly white I had the feeling the birds were going to lack detail too. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do about this.
I know from my stills photography an ND filter and/or polarizing filter would help balance the exposure to improve the sky, render a bit of feather detail in the birds, reduce the glare from the water and add a bit of saturation but I didn’t have any filters with me. I did have some cinematic ND polarizing filters on order but these were still on the way so all I could do was get feeding the birds, hit the record button and let the Osmo do its thing.
Below is the footage captured using the DJI Osmo in the automatic slow motion mode:-
The above footage is straight out of the DJI Osmo and I have not edited it, other than adding the title/caption and some background music (courtesy of the Youtube royalty free music library) of course.
The objective was to record some slow motion footage, and this is what the DJI Osmo has done. The footage isn’t super slow and I think there is scope to slow it down a little more using my video editing software, and still have nice and smooth footage. This is something I will definitely try in the near future.
The sky is blown quite a bit, as I expected it would be as are the birds. I really wish my filters had been delivered prior to my trip down the river to experiment, but such is life. Once again, this is something I will do in the future.
Knowing what strength ND filter to use when the DJI Osmo is in automatic slow motion mode is going to be tough because it’s not possible to tell what ISO and shutter speed the camera is using. I think identifying what strength ND filter is use is going to take trial and error, time and a lot of experimenting. It’s a real shame you can’t use the DJI Osmo in manual mode and shoot at 120 FPS.
There may be scope to use manual mode and shoot at 60 FPS (to nail the exposure) and then slow it down some more using some photo editing software, but I can’t confirm this and will have to see how far I can crank it back (and still get smooth footage) in the future.
Overall, I am happy how my first slow motion filming went although there is a lot I need to experiment with and learn. I will write about my experiences and findings as I go, so if you want to follow me on this journey (and perhaps add some thoughts, ideas etc.) feel free to keep checking back.
You can buy the DJI Osmo from Adorama, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.
To see the photography equipment I use, together with some reviews and useful links, feel free to check out my "Must have photography equipment" page.
I travel with my other half, and as she is not a photographer it is unfair of me to take my full set of photography gear and spend a lot of time taking photos. Consequently my travel photography is a “gun and run” style which requires travelling light but making sure I have everything I need to get the shots I want. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to take a whole array of lenses, filters and the like but in reality I can’t.
Before I go in my travel photography equipment I should point out I shoot Canon, but I know Nikon makes equivalent stuff. Any way here’s the contents of my travel photography bag:
Canon 6d camera
Even though there is a trend towards smaller mirrorless cameras I still prefer a dslr. The Canon 6d not only has a full frame sensor and excellent image quality but it is also small, compact and lightweight too.
You can buy the Canon 6d from Adorama, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and eBay.
Canon 28-300L IS lens
This lens is the closest to a single lens solution I can find. The 28mm end is ideal for landscapes and seascapes, the 300mm long is ideal for nature and bird life and then there’s the focal lengths between the two for everything else. This is a big and heavy lens, but then there is only this to carry around. This lens is tough, durable and weather sealed, and the image quality is exceptional. For the range of focal lengths covered, there is no better lens out there.
To see the pros and cons of this lens take a look at the following clip, courtesy of Youtube:
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.