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Professional Videography and Photography

Professional Videography and Photography InformationBy: Amber AbidiCamera InfoSLR camera For outdoor photography, weddings and especially for weather photography, the common SLR type of camera is best suited. SLR stands for single-lens reflex, where both the composition and metering as well as the actual film exposure are being done through a single lens. When the shutter of the camera is closed, the mirror is in the path of the lens, reflecting the light upward and focusing it onto a matted glass, where you look at through the viewfinder. When you take a picture, the mirror flips upward, the shutter opens and the film is being exposed, and after the shutter closes again the mirror falls back down.

Some advantages of an SLR camera over other types of cameras are:

ruggedness - most SLR camera bodies are mechanically strong, which gives them good protection from possible accidents happening in the outdoors, and the weather environment in general. Most cameras are not water-tight or dust-proof, however; but many SLR cameras do have a fair chance to survive these conditions. This is especially true for the older, fully mechanical SLR cameras like Zenit, Pentor and Praktica.

adaptability - SLR cameras are used by amateurs and professionals alike, and tripods, cable releases, flash shoes and so on are widely available for these cameras.

modularity - choosing a separate body/lens camera system has the advantage that you can mount a wide range of lenses on a single camera body. If you plan to photograph at focal lengths between 28mm and 200mm or so, you might do well by just having a single zoomlens, but for fisheye-lenses and telescopic (very long) telephoto lenses it is always easier to have the modularity the SLR camera bodies offer.

single lens - you will be using a wide range of lenses, and you can easily compose the frame by looking into the viewfinder, which shows the frame like it will appear on the frame, eventually, whichever type of lens you are using.

picture-taking stability - SLR cameras are generally heavier and bulkier than small digital or point & shoot cameras, which makes photography by hand less prone to camera shake and blurry photos.

There are also a few disadvantages:

Vibration and sound of mirror: especially when using far-telephoto lenses like 1000mm or longer, the tremor of the mirror flipping upward will shake the camera, causing the photo to be unsharp, since the shutter opens immediately after. This can be really problematic when photographing the sun's green flash, for example, or mirages. Getting yourself a camera with mirror-lock would be better, but this does not work well either, since for green flash photography you have to keep looking through the viewfinder until just fractions of seconds before the event.

single-lens: while you are taking a photo on B mode (or a long exposure in general), like you would do with lightning and aurora photography, you cannot look through the viewfinder. This can sometimes be irritating, e.g. when you want to check if a thunderstorm producing lightning is still in the frame, or to see whether an airplane or car would get in the frame, possibly ruining your photo.

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Equipment for Wedding Photographers Any digital SLR body combined with a decent lens (see below) is a good start. This article will explain the equipment that a typical wedding photographer uses and some of the reasoning behind those choices.

When you are responsible for documenting something as important as a wedding day, there is no excuse for not having the right tool. How do you get your hands on a $1500 Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM when you only have $100 in your wallet? Rent it! Most professional photography stores have a rental department. Prices for a digital body range from $50-200/day and most lenses range from $10-30/day.

Most rental operations offer a discount for multi-day or weekend rental as well. This is good because you get the chance to become familiar with a particular piece of equipment before you have to use it on the job.

LensesLenses with a large maximum aperture of f/2.8 or larger are extremely valuable for weddings. The option to use available light, even in dark churches or dimly lit reception halls, is a strong tool for the wedding photographer.

Even more important is the option not to use a flash, as few people would describe the light cast by an on-camera flash as romantic. Furthermore, some locations have restrictions on flash photography during the ceremony itself, or a bride might specifically request that a flash not be used.

The extra two stops of shutter speed between a f/2.8 lens and a cheaper f/4-5.6 kit lens can make the difference in getting the desired photograph.

There are photographers who make wonderful images with three to four fast primes and photographers who have every focal length covered with multiple lenses from 15-300mm.

Most professional wedding photographers, however, use a set of three zoom lenses: a wide-angle zoom, a wide-to-tele zoom, and an image-stabilized telephoto zoom.

Wide-Angle ZoomCanon full-frame body: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USMCanon small-sensor body: Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USMNikon full-frame body: Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-SNikon small-sensor body: Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S

The wide-angle zoom lens is indispensable. This lens makes it possible to photograph in confined spaces, such as the bride's dressing room or a packed dance floor. The wide angle perspective creates a sense of expansiveness and grandeur by showing the entire church or ceremony location. Wide images are easier to create with a full-frame sensor camera, as there are no f/2.8 lenses in the 10-22 range that gives and equivalent field of view with a small-sensor camera.

Wide-to-Telephoto ZoomCanon full-frame body: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USMCanon small-sensor body: Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USMNikon full-frame body: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-SNikon small-sensor body: Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX

The wide-to-tele lens is the single most important lens for wedding photography. It is wide enough to take a group photograph, but still long enough to take a three-quarter portrait of a couple without the unflattering effects of wide-angle perspective distortion. Given just this lens, most professional wedding photographers could cover an average wedding to their usual standards of quality. Both Canon and Nikon offer high quality f/2.8 wide-to-tele zooms designed for a small sensor-body. These lenses are less expensive and physically smaller than their full frame counterparts.

Image-Stabilized Telephoto ZoomCanon full-frame body: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM or Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USMCanon small-sensor body: same as aboveNikon full-frame body: Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VRNikon small-sensor body: same as above

The 70-200mm focal length is an important range for ceremony images. Very few wedding parties want the photographer in the way during the ceremony. Most likely, you will be photographing down the aisle from the back of the church. This is where an image-stabilized telephoto zoom shines. 200mm is long enough to be able to take 3/4 length images of the bride and groom without creeping too far forward down the aisle and 70mm is wide enough to take in the bridesmaids or groomsmen as a group without switching lenses.

When using a small-sensor camera as your primary or backup body, the bad news is that neither Nikon or Canon make an f/2.8 lens that gives you an effective 70-200mm focal length. You are going to have to pay the price and carry the weight of a lens designed for a full frame camera. The good news is that the small-sensor camera's 1.5x focal length multiplier can be a huge advantage. The 200/2.8 long end of the standard zoom becomes effective 300/2.8, a lens that would cost $4000 for a full-frame camera and be large and heavy enough to come in its own suitcase. The effective 300mm length allows for more creative options than a shorter lens, such as tightly cropped images of the bride and groom's hands while they put rings on each other's fingers.

Whether you are using a full-frame or a small sensor body, the f/2.8 maximum aperture of these lenses gives you the option of narrowing the depth of field, keeping the viewer's attention on the in-focus subject while blurring the background. Canon's Image-Stabilization and Nikon's Vibration-Reduction systems are indispensable in allowing you to hold these large and heavy long lenses by hand, especially in low light situations. No wedding photographer should be without IS/VR on their long lenses. Image-stabilized telephoto zooms are expensive and this is another situation where rental may be a good way to go.

Prime Lenses

Many photographers keep their lens kit to the three zoom lenses discussed previously. These lenses would probably cover 80-90% of the photos for any given wedding. It is worth including 2-3 fast prime lenses in your bag as well. These lenses are small, light, and fairly inexpensive. There are times at a wedding where, either for artistic or technical reasons, even an f/2.8 aperture is not enough to get the motion-stopping shutter speed or shallow depth of field desired. The faster prime lenses are ideal in these situations. An image that requires a 1/10th of a second shutter speed at f/2.8 will only require 1/30th of a second at f/1.8. That can be the difference between making a sharp image and a blurry one. However, for most professional wedding photographers, the best reason to include a few prime lenses in their wedding kit is that they provide an economical backup to their zoom lenses. No