5 Wedding Photos You Can Take With A 24-70 (Also, Why the 24-70 is the Best Lens Ever Made)

Mar 16, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

5 Wedding Photos You Can Take With A 24-70 (Also, Why the 24-70 is the Best Lens Ever Made)

Mar 16, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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So, after last week’s post “5 Wedding Photos you Can’t Take With A 24-70 (Also, Why the 24-70 is a Crap Lens Choice” and the smack down enlightened discussion that followed, I thought we’d do a one-eighty this week and look at why a 24-70 f/2.8 could just be the best lens ever made.

Disclaimer

I don’t really have an emotional attachment to my gear.

I shoot Nikon and Canon, I have a few lenses that are my primary choices, I’m not devoted to primes or zooms, I have a mishmash of DIY and name brand mods and grip, and I’m not really that fussy about technical specs.

I am also not too fixated on the cost of gear.

Photography equipment is expensive and there’s not much I can do about that.  If there is a specific piece of equipment that I think I need, I build it into my business plan.  If the cost cannot be justified then I have to figure out a way to work without it.

My goal as an artist is, and has always been to create the most interesting work I can with the equipment that is available to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: If you have a visceral emotional attachment to your gear or need justification of your purchase decisions from the internet, you might want to skip this article (and definitely don’t read last week’s post).

The 24-70 Is A Swiss Army Knife

As one of our commenters from last week pointed out, a 24-70 f/2.8 is a “jack of all trades, master of none”.

So, if you’re choosing to use a 24-70, you need to understand that while it does many things quite well – its not particularly great at anything – like a Swiss Army knife.

However, what makes a Swiss Army Knife useful is it’s versatility.  If you were stuck on a desert island, the lens to have is a 24-70 f/2.8 (and a Swiss Army Knife).

Why the 24-70 Is The Best Lens Ever Made

When is comes to speed and versatility, there is nothing better than a 24-70 f/2.8.

And what is the one photography genre where speed and versatility are critical to success?

Wedding photography.

On the versatility side of the equation, f/2.8 is fast enough to capture most low light settings, like the bride preparing indoors and the ceremony (although many churches are still way too dark to use only available light).

Having a lens with a constant aperture through its entire focal range is also critical.

It is practically impossible to get a consistent look to your work if you are constantly fighting with the changing apertures of a lower cost f/3.5-5.6 lens.  It is also a major headache for anything besides full automatic and TTL.

And speaking of f/2.8 – with a 24-70 f/2.8 you’re never going to get that creamy bokeh that f/1.4’s offer, but again for most weddings and events you can get close enough that your clients probably wouldn’t know the difference.

At wide angle, 24mm is wide enough to shoot in relatively small rooms indoors, and wide enough to capture wide outdoor scenes.

The zoom focal range covers both 35mm and 50mm – in of themselves probably the two most popular focal ranges.

And, on the telephoto zoom side, 70mm is close enough to photograph details and portraits without too much lens distortion (again, at least within limits that most wedding and event clients wouldn’t notice).

On the speed side of the equation, a focal range of 24-70 is incredibly useful.

There is nothing better than the ability to shoot a wide angle scene, a full length portrait and a head and shoulders portrait in the span of 3 seconds without moving.

5 Wedding Photos You Can Take With A 24-70 f/2.8

To help explain why the 24-70 f/2.8 is often referred to as “the wedding lens”, I thought I’d share five wedding photos that show the incredible range possible with a 24-70 f/2.8 – or even its little sister the DX format (cropped sensor equivalent) 17-55 f/2.8.

Wedding Photo 1: Nikon 24-70 f/2.8

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This was taken at 24mm and is an example of a wedding scene where the 24-70 really excels: indoors, low light, tight space.

This hallway may look rather large and grand in this photo, but in reality it was actually a very tight space.

I had to frame this shot to get the full chandelier and the full cake in the frame, and I was able to just make it work at 24mm.  I also needed to photograph this scene wide open at 2.8 to grab enough window light and light from the chandelier without having to resort to an extreme ISO (I was at ISO 1250 as it was).

Wedding Photo 2: Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 DX Format (Cropped Sensor)

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Next, we’re going from a 24mm wide angle indoors to a 17mm DX format wide angle outdoors (24mm equivalent).

Shooting this photo as wide as I could from up close adds to the drama of the image.

Sure, in this case I could have moved further back and used a longer lens, but the scene would have looked much more compressed and less dramatic.  I also had my flash on full power for this shot – and its not nearly powerful enough to fill all the shadows on this bright sunny day.  Moving further away would have made the flash even less effective (of course the opposite is also true).

Wedding Photo 3: Nikon 24-70 f/2.8

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This natural window light portrait was taken at 58mm and wide open at f/2.8.

You can clearly see the lens distortion in this image that results from shooting close up at 58mm (her near shoulder is disproportionately large compared to her head, which is disproportionately large compared to her waist).  However, with a lens profile correction in Lightroom, the distortion isn’t something that many wedding clients would ever notice.

This is a great example of how using a 24-70 allowed me to get the shot I needed with a minimal amount of hassle.  In this case, I was standing on a chair looking down, and from there I just zoomed in an out to frame the image as best as I could.  Without a ladder, a 10 foot ceiling and a whole lot more time, it wasn’t really an option to shoot this same image with a longer lens.

Wedding Photo 4: Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 DX Format (Cropped Sensor)

bridal fashion, blurmedia, toronto wedding photographer, jp danko

The first dance is probably the one single event that is nearly impossible to photograph without a 24-70 f/2.8.

You are working within a timeframe of 3 or 4 minutes and you need to get a range of wide and tight shots from relatively close range – 95% of which will be rejects.  A 24-70 is really the only way to do it.

You’ll also notice that I’m cross lighting the dance floor with off camera flash.  Using a lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture through its entire focal range is critical because it allows you to use the same lighting settings for the entire dance – as opposed to a less expensive lens that is at f/3.5 at wide angle and f/5.6 at full zoom.

Wedding Photo 5: Nikon 24-70 f/2.8

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Photographing the rings with a 24-70!!!???  Yes I did.

This ring shot was taken at 70mm f/2.8.  I had to crop way in to make it look like I shot this with a specialty macro lens.  Its still not really tight enough and its not very sharp either – but the fact that you can get that close to a macro look with a 24-70 is pretty amazing.

Speed and Versatility vs. Image Quality

Hopefully the photos above demonstrate the incredible versatility of the 24-70 f/2.8 and why it is often the workhorse that professional photographers rely on to get the job done.

No other lens will let you go from wide angle to portraits to rings – and that speed and versatility is often indispensable.

However, from a purely artistic standpoint, it should also be clear there are some compromises involved.

What Do You Think?

Is the 24-70 the greatest lens ever made?

Or, do you prefer specialty lenses that might be better suited for specific images?

What is you ideal wedding lens setup?

Leave a comment and let us know!

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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14 responses to “5 Wedding Photos You Can Take With A 24-70 (Also, Why the 24-70 is the Best Lens Ever Made)”

  1. Mark K Avatar
    Mark K

    If you were stuck on a desert island, the lens I would have to have is the EF 24-105 f/4 IS (and a Swiss Army Knife).

  2. Adam Krol Avatar
    Adam Krol

    It is the best and most universal lens.

  3. Mark Kodra Avatar
    Mark Kodra

    Give me the EF 24-105 f/4 IS. I have both and use the 24-105 75% of the time.

  4. Niklas Möller Avatar
    Niklas Möller

    I have a 17-55 f/2.8 on my Crop-Camera and it’s my favorite lens for events because I don’t need to change the lens and got an wide open aperture. However for more planed and creative shootings where time is just a secondary factor, I would prefer other lenses. I’m not a wedding photographer but if I were, I would use the swiss army knife lens for the afterparty and probably the ceremony and for the shooting with the couple something else, which depends on what I want to do.

  5. Jonathan Kwok Avatar
    Jonathan Kwok

    I have to say, the images look more generic than the previous post.

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      I wouldn’t argue with that. But I guess the question is – Does that matter to you artistically? Is the difference noticeable enough that clients would pay more for less generic looking images?

  6. UP Avatar
    UP

    it depends…
    ones prefer zooms, other primes

    I would go for something like 35mm & 85mm combo

  7. AdamBoltGC Avatar
    AdamBoltGC

    I’ve recently received a Canon 24-70 f2.8 II and I am already thinking of selling it. There is no doubting the image quality is superb, however I would prefer the 24-105 f4 IS or the 24-70 f4 IS Macro. The reasons being are:-
    1) Price. I can get a 50mm f1.4 and an 85 f1.8 plus the 24-105 f4 (or 24-70 f4) for the same cost.
    2) No IS on the 24-70 f2.8. Doing alot of travel is much easier when shooting with IS on the back of an elephant or rickshaw etc.
    3) Weight. The f2.8 is way heavier than the f4 lenses and I can’t imagine carry the f2.8 around my neck all day.
    4) The f2.8 does not give enough of a different look to the f4 lenses
    5) I would prefer an ultra fast prime for when I want that shallow DOF or need faster shutter speeds in low light.

    PS If you live in Australia and are looking for a Canon 24-70 f2.8 MK II with less than 1000 shutter activations at a good price then send me a message.

  8. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    I really can’t take this or the other article seriously. The right lens for the job is the one you have available to you and each photographer is going to have a different opinion on what works for them. Heck, bet there are some that shoot with prime 50,85, 105mm lens and would say zooms are horrible for weddings. LOL.

  9. Pete from Jersey Avatar
    Pete from Jersey

    Perhaps as an amateur I can ask a question; for that much money, I have a 18-200 Nikon which seems to me to be more versatile, and while it’s not as open as a 2.8, my D300 is more than capable, I think, of making up for it with very low noise at pretty high speeds and I can keep one lens on the camera and have taken some pretty nice images as a result. Am I wrong, or am I just showing that I’m really an amateur?

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      Great question Pete – I used to have that exact lens and camera combo, so I can explain why I don’t anymore.

      I used that camera / lens combo for a long time. It worked very well for me and I was very happy with my work…until one day I wasn’t happy with my work. There was something missing – something I couldn’t put my finger on that just wasn’t quite as interesting or bokehlicious as I wanted my photos to be.

      Its tough to explain the difference that specialized lenses can make in the right circumstances. That difference might be important to you – or maybe not.

  10. Joshua Boldt Avatar
    Joshua Boldt

    ha I knew this was coming after the last one :)

  11. Guy With-camera Avatar
    Guy With-camera

    NOT IMPRESSED….any of those photos could have been taken with an i phone….THOSE PHOTOS WORK BECAUSE OF COMPOSITION, LIGHTING AND SUBJECT.

  12. Martin Šístek Avatar
    Martin Šístek

    Hello guys,

    what do you thing about this set what I am thinking about?

    Maybe, it’s weird combo but see:
    I’m proud owner of D750 :). Using this body with DX lens Sigma 50-100 Art f/1.8
    Results are great. See the picture (it’s not wedding, but…)
    https://www.instagram.com/p/Biw_Xlag-1V/

    For backup, I have D7100. So I am before decision how to combine together.
    My idea is D7100 and Sigma 50-100 Art f/1.8 and D750 with 24-70 f/2.8.

    For wedding portrait shots, I mount 50-100 on D750.
    What do you think?

    Anyway, can you recommend me with your opinion any 24-XX /2.8 for wedding (It doesn’t matter if Nikkor or 3rd party lenses)?