Safari photographers will tell you nothing is quite as frightening as meeting a cape buffalo by surprise in the tall grass or being in the path of several thousand wildebeest as they thunder across the veld, but these guys have obviously never had a gig as a wedding photographer.
For sheer pressure, nothing quite beats the stress of shooting a modern wedding in the “Age of Pinterest.”
Bridezillas are an all too common occurrence, and their accompanying entourage of angry moms, sisters, and friends make it even more of a challenge. Professional photographers will tell you that nothing is as challenging as a 21st-century wedding.
To meet that challenge, you have to have the correct equipment. No single lens will get the job done, that’s why we’re here to help you find the best Canon lenses for weddings.
Here are the Top Canon Lenses for Wedding Photography
BEST CANON LENS FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
BEST BUDGET CANON RF LENS FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras
It would be easy if all wedding photographers had the same lighting and background to work with, but in the modern era, with outdoor weddings, theme weddings, and traditional weddings all vying for attention, there is no one venue or single lens that will get the job done.
Finding the best Canon lenses for wedding photography starts with the venue, and if you’re going to entire this realm, a group of at least four, and possibly more lenses should be in your camera bag.
Things to look for in the best Canon lenses for wedding photography
- Good contrast – for outdoor photos
- Higher F-stop – for greater depth of field
- Shorter zoom 24-85mm – variable zoom for interior shots
- Wide angle – the ability to photograph huge groups of people
- Macro zoom – closeups on rings, flowers, cakes, etc
- Fixed 50mm – for background, character style shots
- Lower F-stop – for reception photos or dance photos
SO, let’s hop into the best Canon lenses for wedding photography
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
Best Canon Zoom Lens for Weddings
Why buy the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
Let’s make it clear up front, no one lens does it all for a wedding photographer, but this one comes close.
The ability to zoom from a wide angle 24mm to a short telephoto setting of 70mm is invaluable at times when the wedding party is getting grouchy from a prolonged photo shoot. The bride, her mom, and the wedding planner may still be screaming directions to the photographer, but the rest of the party is ready to hit the open bar as soon as possible. This lens will get those hangry groomsmen off the stage, and in a more relaxed atmosphere quickly.
The zoom features of this lens are impressive, especially when considering the 2.8 F-stop, that’s a fast lens, with zoom features that can work in ambient light as well as in direct sunlight.
This is why you should buy this lens, the versatility, and ease of use in a variety of venues is the selling point.
Many consider this the best Canon EF lens for wedding photography.
What you’ll love about the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
You’ll love the all-in-one approach of this lens. Drop your camera bag, wander around the church, the reception area, or the outdoor pavilion, and start snapping away. This lens allows you to cover a lot of ground, a lot of angles, and a lot of different venues in mixed lighting conditions that would frustrate you with a lesser-quality Canon lens.
Many consider this the best Canon zoom lens for weddings, period. It offers so many features and has so many manual setting options that it contends as the perfect lens for wedding photography.
Canon markets this as a wide-angle lens, but it is much more versatile than that. The ability to zoom in relatively tight, and zoom out to a wide 24mm setting allows you to capture the bride and groom, do a closeup on the flower display and capture all three generations of the groom’s family crowded onto the steps of the church in one click.
For this reason, this might be the best Canon lens for portraits and wedding photography.
What you won’t love about the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
You’re not going to like the price; this is an expensive lens that borders on a professional style but is marketed for consumer-grade cameras.
At a weight of 1.77 pounds, you’ll know you’re carrying this lens, and with some photographers, that nearly two pounds of extra weight will wear on them as the day progresses.
If you’re trapped with a relentlessly, demanding bride, and a supporting cast of divas, this lens might get a little heavy by the time you satiate the savage beasts with the perfect photograph.
If you have a Canon full-frame mirrorless camera [EOS R, EOS RP, EOS R5, EOS R6] you will do better with a suitable lens designed for the EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera system, the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L is USM Lens.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Best Canon prime lens for wedding photography
Why buy the Canon EF 50mm
Is a 50mm lens good for weddings?
This is everyone’s basic lens. Every camera combination arrives with a 50mm lens.
They call it the “Nifty Fifty” for a very good reason. What you see through the viewfinder of a standard, fixed 50mm lens is exactly what the human eye sees. So, if you want to capture the real-life imagery of a wedding, this is the lens for you.
When looking for the best Canon lens for wedding photography, this one is a must.
Weighing just 5.6 ounces, with an extremely fast F-stop of 1.8 that extends to F-22, this lens will allow you to capture images in environments as challenging as light reflecting off a spinning disco ball against an almost totally black backdrop.
This is a lens with all the appeal of a standard 50mm fixed focal length and it comes at an affordable price. An amateur can capture good images with this lens, but weddings require thick-skinned, seasoned veterans to get the job done.
At a low price, this is a Canon photography lens that everyone should carry in their camera bag.
The blazing-fast F-1.8 makes this a solid Canon lens and answers the question of “Is a 50mm lens good for weddings?”
What you’ll love about the Canon EF 50mm
Wedding photographers have been at work for a long time, dating back to the days of the daguerreotype in the mid-19th century.
The venue has changed from glass plates to 35mm and now the digital realm, but the work remains the same. If your business is versatile, like most modern Canon camera photographers are, you often move to the world of video and don’t limit your photography to digital stills.
You’ll love the dual auto-focus feature of the EF 50mm for that reason. When shooting traditional, digital wedding photographs the auto-focus is smooth, quickly locking in the target for crisp, clear photos even in varied, challenging conditions or outdoor receptions.
When you switch your camera to video mode, the lens switches to a continuous Servo auto-focus to keep moving objects clearly locked in view without that annoying blur, and catch-up you see on some lesser-quality lenses and cameras.
You’ll be able to capture Uncle Bob doing his drunken version of the worm in the dimmest light and save it for posterity at the reception. This is the best Canon lens for wedding videography outside an expensive dedicated, video zoom telephoto.
With this lens, your YouTube uploads will be far better than those people capture with their cell phones.
The lens is a good choice for dim light to bright sunlight, it works well no matter the angle of view, and at a weight of just a few ounces, you’ll be able to squeeze in, adjust the angle, and take photographs from diagonal, vertical and horizontal angles with ease while bouncing through the Conga line.
This is our choice as the best Canon lens for low light wedding photography
What you won’t love about the Canon EF 50mm
This is a fixed lens, you’re going to have to constantly move people, adjust where they stand, and orchestrate many of the required shots that brides consider essential. Inexperienced users are sometimes unable to adequately adjust their camera settings to allow for higher DPI photographs that can then be cropped to expand the subject. For the inexperienced photographer, a shorter length zoom lens can eliminate a lot of the interactions with the wedding party, and that can often be a focal point for many photographers.
The elements are adequate, there are only six of them arranged in five groups. Some may not appreciate the quality on the periphery of their photographs with the lower number of elements limiting edge crispness.
In terms of price, many consider this product one of the best cheap lenses for wedding photography Canon produces.
If you have a Canon full-frame mirrorless camera [EOS R, EOS RP, EOS R5, EOS R6] you will do better with a suitable lens like the Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM lens for Canon full-frame mirrorless RF mount cameras.
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Telephoto Lens
Best fixed 85mm lens
Why buy the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Telephoto Lens
Wedding photographers once packed dozens of rolls of 35mm film, and carefully marked each spent roll with a Sharpie to indicate the contents. The workhorse for wedding photographers was the 85mm fixed lens. Those days are thankfully gone, replaced by the much more portable SD cards, but the venerable 85mm fixed lens remains.
Weddings often serve a double purpose for a photographer. They’re an event for the bride, and her posse, but they’re also a time when families come together, and everyone wants a picture with some specific group.
With the church altar as a backdrop, or maybe that unique covered arch in the garden you can set an 85mm lens on a tripod, find the perfect ISO with a light meter and adjust accordingly with a hot shoe strobe for backlighting outdoors, or use a pair of umbrella strobes inside.
Get great aunt Martha a chair and make memories (and a little extra cash) with the long line of great-grandkids in the photo with her.
With this method, you can easily determine what is the best ISO for wedding photography in every setting.
What you’ll love about the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Telephoto Lens
First, you’re going to love the price, this is an inexpensive lens. Second, the unique features of this lens create a lot of opportunities for the creative wedding photographer.
The Canon EF 85 creates clear images at all apertures. Working with ISO and aperture allows you to use this lens to the utmost.
Another great feature of this lens is the front group that doesn’t rotate during focusing. That means those special filters you want to use during varying light conditions for outdoor sessions won’t be affected.
One of the best features of this lens is the ability to create a background blur while the subjects are locked into crisp, high-resolution images.
In a church setting you want the background crisp, but outdoors, in a themed wedding, that old horse-drawn wagon slightly blurred in the background makes the wedding party pop in comparison.
The weight is ideal, just under a pound, and the ultra-fast 1.8 F-stop makes this a light-gathering monster, perfect for later outdoor photos with the moon and stars as a natural backdrop.
What you won’t love about the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Telephoto Lens
This is a fixed lens, there is no easy adjustment for distance as you’ll find with a zoom lens. The slight telephoto nature of an 85mm lens takes some getting used to. This isn’t a lens you can pack around a wedding for candid shots. This lens is the closest thing to studio-style equipment you’ll carry at the venue.
You need a higher skill level to fully utilize this lens. Understanding ISO, aperture, white balance, and being a professional at manual settings is all part of creating quality photographs with a fixed 85mm.
If you’re after an auto-focus, point-and-shoot style lens, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
This is the best affordable Canon lens for wedding photography.
Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
Best Canon mirrorless lenses for weddings
Why buy the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
One of the best Canon RF lenses for wedding photography arrives with a powerful zoom telephoto range, but it’s not a lens for the weekend warrior-style photographer. With a fixed 4.0 F-stop, this lens takes some getting used to.
Once you’ve mastered it, the crispness of the images makes it a step above standard EF SLR-style lenses.
This is the lens that often separates the professional from the amateur. It has a specific use at weddings and is not the versatile lens that many beginning photographers look for when starting on a limited budget, but it does deliver amazing photographs, especially at night.
What you’ll love about the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
The RF 24–105mm F4 L IS USM lens has three aspheric and one UD lens element that helps fix distortion, aberrations, and astigmatism. It delivers clear, sharp dynamic images with outstanding detail. The contrast remains constant through the range of the zoom.
With a nine-blade circular aperture, it can help you create softened backgrounds.
Designed to work with the EOS-R camera, this system will reduce camera-shake blurring, regardless of the situation. You don’t want to try it driving down the railroad tracks, but it would deliver crisp images even in that extreme, and best of all, it stabilizes in both video and traditional photographic modes.
What you won’t love about the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
There are a couple of things you won’t love initially. The first is the price. This is an expensive lens designed for a specific, oftentimes limited use. The second is the fixed F-stop.
If you’re used to playing with the manual settings on your Canon camera, flipping between F-2.8, F-5.6, and up to F-22 as the light situation demands, you’ll be initially frustrated with this fixed F-stop RF lens.
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 is STM Lens
Best Canon Wide Angle Lens for Weddings
Why buy the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 is STM Lens
Unless there is borderline open warfare between the wedding guests, everyone wants a group shot. That can be simple to nearly impossible for the photographer to pull off. In a small wedding, it’s not much of a challenge to get 25 to 30 people in one frame, but when the bride has to have a dozen bridesmaids, three-ring bearers, and a few hundred of her closest friends in attendance, that’s a challenge.
The extremely wide-angle EF-S 10 to 18mm lens answers the call.
You won’t find a wider angle lens than the 10mm setting with this short zoom. The upper range of 18mm provides a little “wiggle room” when trying to get several hundred people arranged for one massive group shot.
Group shots often survive the wedding venue better than any other photograph. Weddings come and go but seeing the entire family in one picture usually generates requests for dozens of prints.
This is a money-making proposition for the wedding photographer.
What you’ll love about the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 is STM Lens
You’ll be amazed at just how wide the image can be and still create crisp images. Setting your camera at its highest DPI setting allows clear facial images of large groups of people in one highly packed frame.
Since group shots are almost always outside, the 4.5-5.6 F-stop range is nearly perfect. You might have to play with ISO a bit if the sunlight isn’t quite right, but this basic F-stop range is more than adequate in most settings.
This is a lens that will make you money, and if you use it properly will provide the best advertising you can generate in a single photograph.
At the price, it is a bargain.
What you won’t love about the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 is STM Lens
There isn’t much not to like about this lens except how much you’ll use it. This is a specific, one-purpose style lens. It may stay in your camera bag for months, or even years before you have a venue that requires such an extremely wide-angle shot.
For a professional photographer weddings are the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Olympics all rolled into one. Weddings make photographers money. They need to charge a lot to compensate for the stress many wedding planners can place on them, but once the hurdles are cleared, the profits roll in. Here are a few commonly asked questions we hope will help you.
What lenses do you need as a wedding photographer?
The best answer is to tie your lenses to the venue. That means a different set of lenses for an outdoor wedding versus the lighting challenges inside a church or synagogue. For most applications these are the lenses you’ll require
Wedding lens list:
– Short zoom
– Wide angle
– Fixed 85mm
Which Canon lens is best for event photography?
There is no single lens that will do the job completely, but the 24mm to 105mm zoom telephoto lens comes close. It’s short enough for most wide-angle shots, fast enough at F-2.8 to gather light in darker settings and the 105mm maximum focal length is a good size for shooting dancing scenes at the reception.
Is a 50mm lens good for weddings?
It’s not just good, it is essential. The most memorable wedding shots aren’t staged, but rather action shots of the couple, their families, and friends as they gather for the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, and at the reception later.
Is 85mm lens good for weddings?
The 85mm lens is a money maker. It is the go-to lens for individual portraits and small group photos. Set it on a tripod, get the lighting right, and start clicking for dollars. This a great lens for shooting pictures of the cake, and all the other interior artwork as well.
Is an 18-55 lens good for wedding photography?
It’s a shorter zoom with a very slight telephoto but it’s a great lens for close-up work and candid shots. Equally as important as the focal length range with a smaller zoom lens is the aperture. You’re going to be shooting wider angle shots most of the time with this lens since the upper limit is nearly equal to the workhorse “Nifty Fifty” 50mm fixed lens. Gathering light in dim settings for quality photos will separate your work from the run-of-the-mill variety photographer.
What is the best ISO for wedding photography?
There is no “best” ISO for a wedding. The lighting sets the ISO and every venue is different. The ideal range for getting good contrast in your photographs is from F-5.6 to F-8 but there is no hard and fast rule. The ISO setting on your camera should work with, rather than against the 5.6 to 8.0 F-stop for maximum quality. This will entail manually setting your camera and avoiding the temptation of auto-settings that are now common on every Canon body.
Can you shoot a wedding with a 35mm lens?
Sure you can, but you’ll need to get close to the subject. Some people don’t like a photographer in their faces, and this lens will demand that.
A 35mm lens has its place. In a reception hall full of people the wider angle 35mm can capture unique shots of people at tables, the bar, or in the buffet line that the standard 50mm can’t.
It’s not a true wide-angle lens, but rather a stopgap between the 50mm and wider angler lenses in the 10 to 24mm range.
Is a 35mm lens good for event photography?
For a multi-purpose lens, no it’s not a good choice, but for specific, slightly wider-angle shots this is a good go-to lens. The 35mm isn’t a “what you see is what you get” lens like the 50mm. It takes some getting used to for a beginning photographer to find the range where this lens is effective.
Is a 24mm lens good for weddings?
A 24mm lens has its place, but as a main lens, it has little use at weddings. It is wider, but not the widest angle lens, and in other settings, it requires the photographer to get too close.
Some photographers find a 24mm just right for wide-angle shots, especially outdoor shots where they can back up until everyone is in the viewfinder.
For interior shots, the lens often has to compensate for distance when you’re back is literally against a wall.
Related reading: The Best Nikon Lenses for Weddings
Weddings are a hallmark even in people’s lives. Recording this event for the couple, their family, and their friends are the challenge every photographer must be ready to meet. Having the right set of lenses in your camera bag allows you to take this challenge and conquer it.
Wedding photography is not for the faint of heart.
No one lens can handle all the challenges of a wedding.
You’re going to have to shoot close-ups of the couples’ hands, you’ll need to record the cake before it’s massacred in the receiving line and you’re going to do more individual and small group portrait shots than you’d take when photographing an entire elementary school.
These are just some of the challenges.
Staged engagement photos are almost always shot outside in natural light with rustic backdrops in rural settings, and sometimes stark, industrial backdrops for city folks. Those are challenges that require higher aperture, and usually longer focal lengths. Though the venues are different, the lighting and staging requirements are the same and will require a lens that can handle the challenge.
A lens that can be set on a tripod and used heavily as large groups of people come through for individual portraits with the bride and groom is the most lucrative setting a photographer can often find at a wedding. Don’t neglect the venerable fixed 85mm for this work.
You’ll be in the background during the rehearsal, wedding, and reception, but it’s your efforts that make the memories.