Not are lenses are the same.
Reportage wedding photography is all about capturing the moment, within a millisecond the image is taken and the memory is caught for all time. Yes, its absolutely a skill, anticipating the next shot, looking at eye contact, the touch of a hand reaching out for the one they love, all of this requires skill and knowing your subject, your profession as a photographer but also having a good knowledge of your equipment. We photograph many wedding’s in the southwest and I take a lot of street photography images around the City of Bath, its fantastic to grab those “off the cuff exposures” its imperative to have the right equipment if your serious about you’re photography.
However, its also so important to be able to just snap at times and this is where you need confidence in your camera and lenses you have chosen.
With the exception of camera phones and some low-end compact camera’s, almost every camera will let you set the focus manually, but that’s not the same as letting you set it easily. With a DSLR or CSC this comes down to the design of the lens, and it’s fair to say that there are some really poor lenses out there, which switch from their minimum to maximum focus distance with an impossibly small turn of a tiny focus ring. As a general rule, low-cost zoom lenses (especially “kit” lenses) are the worst for this.
The best manual focus lenses are those with wider focus rings (allowing a better grip), which turn through a much greater distance from minimum to maximum distance (offering much greater precision).
A lens that offers slight resistance when you turn the focus ring will also allow you to focus more accurately. Prime (fixed-focal-length) lenses are usually best in this regard, and if you have the opportunity, get hands-on with a quality manual-focus lens from a 35mm film SLR that’s the exact feel you want, you need to feel confident that you’ve nailed the focus for that special wedding image.
In fact, if you want to go down the manual focus route, older prime lenses can often be a great option. The reason for this is obvious: those early lenses were designed specifically for manual focus, with well-preserved examples offering smooth focusing, wide maximum apertures (for gorgeous shallow depth of field effects), and distance and depth-of-field scales to help you on your way.
Sure you might not be able to use some of your camera’s automated shooting modes, but you can usually still shoot using Aperture priority and Manual.
As my readers know, i’m completely a Fuji Wedding photographer, these cameras are superb, the lens quality is outstanding and I own the majority of Fuji X lens’s now and I shall continue to purchase the news lenses that will be coming our way from our Fuji friends but as you know, I love to slow down and seek out that special photo and I love to feel in total control of not only the exposure but also the focus, so with this in mind I have just recently bought myself the Samyang 12mm f.2 wide angle lens and its fantastic, I love to be able to set the lens to infinity, f-stop of say “f5.6” and fire away, I can spin on my feet, change my angle of shoot and feel confident I have the image in the bag! If I do set the aperture to f.2 I then set the focus to just under infinity and the image is tack sharp, it takes a bit of time to get used to manual focus but in my experience its well worth the practice.
This image was taken at a wedding in Bath, the Mother of the Bride ran forward and started to throw her last handful of confetti, there was no time to think, I just fired off the shutter of my Fuji XE2, the aperture was set at f5.6 and the focus at infinity, no need to wait, focus, I knew with these settings on the camera, the moment would be captured.
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