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07-26-2020, 02:20 PM - 4 Likes   #1
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My Budget (Amateur) Wedding Photogaphy Setup

Let me preface by saying that event photography is by no means my forte, and I honestly don't have much experience at shooting weddings. However, it is something I love to do and would like to get better at; so although my camera gear is geared towards landscape, astro and macro work, I have put some time and effort into making it wedding-ready. I will also say I've never been paid for a wedding shoot and don't ever expect to be, but I have been asked to shoot as a friend-photographer several times and am more than happy to do it for the love.



Wedding photography is arguably where a Pentax camera is at its weakest, but it can be used successfully. The core of my setup is my trusty K5ii, which despite its age has enough low-light performance to operate well in a low-light reception setting. My back-up camera body is the Pentax K100d Super, which I found for $40 in a local secondhand shop. Its usefulness in a wedding setting depends largely on whether the wedding is indoors or outdoors, but when there is enough light to use the K100d below about 800 ISO, it produces outstanding images that have an old-school, film-type look to them. I think that this camera encourages you not to play by modern rules (burst shooting at 3200+ ISO), but instead encourages you to shoot more like its a film camera.



My two main lenses are the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro, and the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. I will generally use the 17-50mm for candid & group shots throughout the wedding, and rely on the 90mm for special portraits, ceremony & speeches (such as the above shot). Between these two lenses I have 90% of situations covered. I also bring along my Pentax 35mm f/2.4, but this is mostly just for backup (and will probably be replaced in the future by a Pentax 21mm). Occasionally I will also use a Zenitar 16mm f/2.8 fisheye for particular shots, such as this shot here:



For lighting I use the Yongnuo YN585EX with a diffuser cover permanently mounted. Although this flash can be a bit quirky to operate sometimes, it gets the job done, and really helps my older cameras to punch above their weight.

And that's it. A small enough kit that I can fit it all in a small bag (or these days, often in the pram), but with enough punch that I can deliver some memorable photos to my friends. Moreover, the whole kit is extremely versatile, and in fact most of my gear was bought primarily for other uses (mostly macro and astro shooting); the Tamron 17-50mm was the only bit of gear that I bough specially for event shooting.

07-26-2020, 07:23 PM   #2
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Can be fun having a bit of a lowish pressure official shoot every now and again. I've done some weddings with K3/K5.... mostly for friends or I some times do weddings for volunteers in our local fire brigade etc.... all for free of course..... I should market myself as the volunteer photog for volunteers.... but... no money in it!

Only thing of interest I have.... is that two I have done have completely changed 30 minutes before hand..... garden wedding..... rain so indoor wedding.... so you have to be flexible. I've trained my wife to hold a relector for sunset photos.... so light on people is same temp.... rather then gels etc on flashes.... also.... for me.... two cameras, two flashes etc etc. For some out door ones (mostly beach here)I take a drill/driver and remove signs if they are in the way (I put them back afterwards).

Last edited by noelpolar; 07-26-2020 at 07:30 PM.
07-26-2020, 07:33 PM   #3
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"Wedding photography is arguably where a Pentax camera is at its weakest, but it can be used successfully. "

You can definitely shoot an entire wedding with a K-5 II, but depending on how you shoot, you might need an extra battery. Giving you have a crop camera, your focal range is about 25-75mm and 135mm. There is a bit of a gap between 75mm and the 135mm, but if you focus with your feet you don't have to worry about it much. Actually a lot of photographers like the 135 mm lens because they can still hand-hold the camera at low shutter speeds in dim lighting. Remember that to get sharp images your shutter speed has to be 1/focal length, this can get a little tricky in dim light situations. In a dim church expect to be at 1600-3200 ISO (easy), plus you might need to open up the aperture to its maximum. This can lead to blurry photos unless you have a Tripod, or Monopod(or they let you use flash). The pictures you took above look good, because they fill the frame. This is what the client(s) wants to see. Good Luck !
07-26-2020, 09:28 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by hjoseph7 Quote
"Wedding photography is arguably where a Pentax camera is at its weakest, but it can be used successfully. "

You can definitely shoot an entire wedding with a K-5 II, but depending on how you shoot, you might need an extra battery. Giving you have a crop camera, your focal range is about 25-75mm and 135mm. There is a bit of a gap between 75mm and the 135mm, but if you focus with your feet you don't have to worry about it much. Actually a lot of photographers like the 135 mm lens because they can still hand-hold the camera at low shutter speeds in dim lighting. Remember that to get sharp images your shutter speed has to be 1/focal length, this can get a little tricky in dim light situations. In a dim church expect to be at 1600-3200 ISO (easy), plus you might need to open up the aperture to its maximum. This can lead to blurry photos unless you have a Tripod, or Monopod(or they let you use flash). The pictures you took above look good, because they fill the frame. This is what the client(s) wants to see. Good Luck !
Agreed.

07-26-2020, 11:03 PM   #5
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I started doing weddings some time ago with a K10D and K20D, later upgrading to a K-5, with a Tamron 28-75 and 100 macro lenses, before I gave up doing event photography for my more involved day job. I was relatively pleased with how the gear performed, but accepted that there was going to be some focus hunting in low light. I had a Pentax AF540FGZ, which was just amazing to use. I had to keep ISO down to 800 before upgrading to the K-5, which I pushed to 1600 comfortably and even 3200 at a pinch. I did bring my own umbrellas to do shoot-through portraiture at the bride's home, and that was where I got the best results, which the bride particularly appreciated. Despite the focusing limitations, I don't think that with a different brand I would have gotten any better results. It would be a different story if we were talking about extreme sports.

Last edited by Ash; 07-26-2020 at 11:19 PM.
07-27-2020, 12:14 AM   #6
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im also using k100d ks2 and k5iis for wedding shots,To me k100d produces excellent skin tones (maybe thats why medium format producers insisted on ccd sensors for a long time)
07-27-2020, 02:26 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by kman42 Quote
Wedding photography is arguably where a Pentax camera is at its weakest
Why is that?
07-27-2020, 04:26 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hjoseph7 Quote
"Wedding photography is arguably where a Pentax camera is at its weakest, but it can be used successfully. "
I've met a Pentaxian here about 3 years ago and he does some professional work on weddings and birthdays. He uses a K-50 and a K-3. He didn't complained that it couldn't do the job. I think he was quite happy with his gear. Maybe he was able to compensate his skills over the system's weakness. I think the Pentax weakness would be AF.C.

07-27-2020, 05:40 AM   #9
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I did say arguably! Generally weddings put autofocus (especially AF-C) and flash setups to the test, which is where Pentax technology tends to lag the most. Of course the cameras are still usable, but its just not what the brand is geared towards.
07-27-2020, 05:56 AM   #10
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your work looks good.

I would add a nifty fifty of the f/1.4 or f/1.7 kind to the bag. It will get you that creamy de-focused background blur bokeh look that the pros do (and everybody loves). Another bonus is that the K100D will benefit from the wider aperture in low light. The SMC Pentax F 50mm f/1.7 will give you autofocus without breaking the bank. If you can live with manual focus and exposure, the SMC Pentax M 50mm f/1.7 will be your new best friend. The SMC Pentax A 50mm f/1.7 will play nice with auto exposure, especially when flash is used. Watch if you want to buy one - there is a little bit of plastic in the aperture ring mechanism that breaks after a few decades. It's an easy(ish) fix, or you can just leave it on 'A.' The f/1.4 equivalents will be more expensive and won't give you a whole lot extra for your use case. Some say that the f/1.7 is sharper than the f/1.4. According to reviews on this side, autofocus with the SMC Pentax F 50mm f/1.4 can be a little slow.

Another good choice would be a Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4. At USD 200 and up it's more good value than bargain basement. It supports auto exposure but it's manual focus only. For wearers of prescription glasses, this is a challenge because of the shallow depth of field. If your eyesight is good, no problem. You can rely on the focus indicator in the viewfinder if you take it slow - not always possible when a wedding is happening. Live view helps a lot, especially with focus peaking, but once again it is not going to be super fast. But unless you need the extra two stops of bokeh and low light abilities, your 90mm macro has got his focal length covered.
07-27-2020, 06:04 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your work looks good.

I would add a nifty fifty of the f/1.4 or f/1.7 kind to the bag. It will get you that creamy de-focused background blur bokeh look that the pros do (and everybody loves). Another bonus is that the K100D will benefit from the wider aperture in low light. The SMC Pentax F 50mm f/1.7 will give you autofocus without breaking the bank. If you can live with manual focus and exposure, the SMC Pentax M 50mm f/1.7 will be your new best friend. The SMC Pentax A 50mm f/1.7 will play nice with auto exposure, especially when flash is used. Watch if you want to buy one - there is a little bit of plastic in the aperture ring mechanism that breaks after a few decades. It's an easy(ish) fix, or you can just leave it on 'A.' The f/1.4 equivalents will be more expensive and won't give you a whole lot extra for your use case. Some say that the f/1.7 is sharper than the f/1.4. According to reviews on this side, autofocus with the SMC Pentax F 50mm f/1.4 can be a little slow.

Another good choice would be a Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4. At USD 200 and up it's more good value than bargain basement. It supports auto exposure but it's manual focus only. For wearers of prescription glasses, this is a challenge because of the shallow depth of field. If your eyesight is good, no problem. You can rely on the focus indicator in the viewfinder if you take it slow - not always possible when a wedding is happening. Live view helps a lot, especially with focus peaking, but once again it is not going to be super fast. But unless you need the extra two stops of bokeh and low light abilities, your 90mm macro has got his focal length covered.
Thanks for the input. I have actually been thinking about trading my 35mm for a different focal length (I've always found it a bit awkward - always either too wide or not wide enough). Have been tossing up between a 50mm and the Pentax 21mm. I need to check Exposure Plot for my most common focal lengths.

I've always struggled with manual focus can't ever seem to dial the focus in quick enough. Maybe I just need to practice more
07-27-2020, 07:36 AM   #12
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Looks like the sort of folks who'd have had their "rehearsal dinner" at the nearest Machine Shed Restaurant.
07-27-2020, 12:46 PM   #13
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I hope it's ok to share my own expierences shooting events for friends here - if not, please tell me @kman42 and I'll delete it. It did get rather long after all.


I've documented parts of two of my friends' weddings - one was just the official part at the registry office with lunch afterwards, with just a few people attending, when I had just my little Nikon 1 V1.

At the other, the couple had hired a professional photographer for official wedding portraits at the venue after the ceremony, but asked me to cover the ceremony and take a few party candids.
I think back then I had had my K-S2 for a year with the 18-135 and DA 50/1.8 as my first and only prime at the time.

There was a moment at the party location when the couple approached me and asked for a few pictures with their parents and siblings and such..
So I put on my 50 and we went outside, picked a spot on the lawn with a nice background (that proved not that nice at all - when you looked closely you could see a fence hidden between trees and bushes!), and took some shots. Some serious, some goofing around...
But then people started to queue up to get their picture with the couple taken. And the groups who wanted to be in the same picture grew bigger and bigger - and I took their shots in landscape mode from "up close" (waist up), in landscape mode from afar, and some in portrait mode from afar - and with the 50 on crop that meant really far away - people started to walk right through the shots
It felt like eternity going forward and backward and I think there was a little slope or I just wanted to stabilize myself well, so I took a knee for each shot, got up to the other position, down again, change orientation, take the shot - next group. Felt like eternity and I broke a sweat, but I just looked back at the EXIF and it didn't even last 20 minutes.
There was nice soft light because of cloud cover, I stopped down to f/4 because of group depth and I really didn't wanna mess up sharpness because of front/back focussing issues that I have never really calibrated for, chose 1/100 s that could have been shorter because my ISO ended up at only 200 (bless TAv mode), and fired away what the buffer could handle to be able to later on choose the picture where nobody had their eyes halfway closed (or was looking at the grandpas and uncles to the side who also took the opportunity to take some shots with their point-and-shoots or smartphones), but even with counting down and shooting away in HiSpeed there were still some groups where there was no perfect picture.
Perhaps for the future I'll make sure by chimping through the shots right away so that will not be the case again. Or I'll notice right away through the viewfinder - I couldn't back then because I was really nervous and fully focussed on operating the camera and not messing anything up.
Looking back at the pictures as a whole I must say I'm very content with them even three years later into my photography journey.

Since then I was asked to shoot the baptism of a friend's daughter. It was inside a really dark church and I was allowed to walk around everywhere and get really close, but no flash!
I had packed a Sigma 30/1.4, Sigma 17-50/2.8 and DA 70/2.4. I really like the 70, but it has been too tight for that occasion and 2.4 was not quite enough for the lighting conditions - the 17-50 was out as well because of the aperture.
With the Sigma I had some focussing issues at 1.4, but very much liked the pictures that came out of it at f/2. One thing about primes though - when you hand the camera to persons who are used to having a zoom on a dedicated camera, they're gonna look confused for a second until they ask where they can change the zoom, and will continue to struggle using their feet to frame the picture after you told them that there is no zoom on that lens like that pastor who wanted to take some group shots of all of us, me included...


Just this week another friend announced that he's gonna get married, in 2.5 months, and asked me to take some photos of them.
But this time it will be something new for me again - they hired a professional to cover the ceremony at the registry office, but want me to take some photos of them before the party starts.
I'll scout the location, but I already think that's going to be a better opportunity for the 70 to shine. I'll take the FA 50/1.4 as well, don't know about the DA 40 yet.
I'll prepare some batteries for my Metz-48, look into some other light formers than the diffusor on top of it.
And I'm eagerly awating the K-new / have been eyeing the K-1 for some time now, and the KP... perhaps I'll have another Pentax camera by then that will make me more flexible, give me that little bit extra on high ISO performance.
And if not I'm seriously considering to rent one for a week or so leading up to the event, familiarize myself with the different ergonomics compared to my K-S2, get comfortable with it.


I've always disclosed up-front what my friends should expect: that I'm not a pro, and can't promise to deliver what a pro can deliver, and that because of that I refused to accept a payment for that. That it's my hobby and I do it because I like it and want to take it as an opportunity to learn some more. That something might go wrong so that they end up with bad pictures or no pictures at all, e.g. when a memory card or my camera fails that day. So far there were no complaints by my friends and they did give me a gift basket or something like that when I had delivered the edited pictures.
I do still have the V1 and it's still capable of producing nice 10 mp pictures, most notably with its "nifty fifty" which really is a 18.5/1.8 on that 1 inch sensor, and if I don't have a second modern Pentax body by then (I do have an *istD, but I don't think I would want to use it under those circumstances), I'll take that as a backup, but it wouldn't be the same...
07-27-2020, 01:42 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by kman42 Quote
I did say arguably! Generally weddings put autofocus (especially AF-C) and flash setups to the test, which is where Pentax technology tends to lag the most. Of course the cameras are still usable, but its just not what the brand is geared towards.
Well, weddings are not an athletic event. The use of AF-C and AF tracking using multiple AF points is where, for example, some Nikon models will out-track a Pentax model in keeping a fast-moving subject in focus across the frame. That is the main difference when it comes to AF. Even so, I have shot college roller hockey events (indeed fast-moving!) very successfully with Pentax gear.

I could see in a scenario of the bride coming forward down the isle, or the married couple coming back down the isle at the completion of the ceremony, using AF-C with multi-point tracking and spray-and-pray burst shooting, but with good focusing technique I would not deem that necessary in this case. I have shot weddings as an extra photographer where the shots I provided were graded by the family as being as good or better than those for the pro they hired. I did not find any problem where this was different than any other low-light situation.
07-27-2020, 02:27 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
Well, weddings are not an athletic event. The use of AF-C and AF tracking using multiple AF points is where, for example, some Nikon models will out-track a Pentax model in keeping a fast-moving subject in focus across the frame. That is the main difference when it comes to AF. Even so, I have shot college roller hockey events (indeed fast-moving!) very successfully with Pentax gear.

I could see in a scenario of the bride coming forward down the isle, or the married couple coming back down the isle at the completion of the ceremony, using AF-C with multi-point tracking and spray-and-pray burst shooting, but with good focusing technique I would not deem that necessary in this case. I have shot weddings as an extra photographer where the shots I provided were graded by the family as being as good or better than those for the pro they hired. I did not find any problem where this was different than any other low-light situation.
I agree, which is why I said you can shoot weddings with a Pentax.

---------- Post added 07-27-20 at 02:29 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by ehrwien Quote
I hope it's ok to share my own expierences shooting events for friends here - if not, please tell me @kman42 and I'll delete it. It did get rather long after all.


I've documented parts of two of my friends' weddings - one was just the official part at the registry office with lunch afterwards, with just a few people attending, when I had just my little Nikon 1 V1.

At the other, the couple had hired a professional photographer for official wedding portraits at the venue after the ceremony, but asked me to cover the ceremony and take a few party candids.
I think back then I had had my K-S2 for a year with the 18-135 and DA 50/1.8 as my first and only prime at the time.

There was a moment at the party location when the couple approached me and asked for a few pictures with their parents and siblings and such..
So I put on my 50 and we went outside, picked a spot on the lawn with a nice background (that proved not that nice at all - when you looked closely you could see a fence hidden between trees and bushes!), and took some shots. Some serious, some goofing around...
But then people started to queue up to get their picture with the couple taken. And the groups who wanted to be in the same picture grew bigger and bigger - and I took their shots in landscape mode from "up close" (waist up), in landscape mode from afar, and some in portrait mode from afar - and with the 50 on crop that meant really far away - people started to walk right through the shots
It felt like eternity going forward and backward and I think there was a little slope or I just wanted to stabilize myself well, so I took a knee for each shot, got up to the other position, down again, change orientation, take the shot - next group. Felt like eternity and I broke a sweat, but I just looked back at the EXIF and it didn't even last 20 minutes.
There was nice soft light because of cloud cover, I stopped down to f/4 because of group depth and I really didn't wanna mess up sharpness because of front/back focussing issues that I have never really calibrated for, chose 1/100 s that could have been shorter because my ISO ended up at only 200 (bless TAv mode), and fired away what the buffer could handle to be able to later on choose the picture where nobody had their eyes halfway closed (or was looking at the grandpas and uncles to the side who also took the opportunity to take some shots with their point-and-shoots or smartphones), but even with counting down and shooting away in HiSpeed there were still some groups where there was no perfect picture.
Perhaps for the future I'll make sure by chimping through the shots right away so that will not be the case again. Or I'll notice right away through the viewfinder - I couldn't back then because I was really nervous and fully focussed on operating the camera and not messing anything up.
Looking back at the pictures as a whole I must say I'm very content with them even three years later into my photography journey.

Since then I was asked to shoot the baptism of a friend's daughter. It was inside a really dark church and I was allowed to walk around everywhere and get really close, but no flash!
I had packed a Sigma 30/1.4, Sigma 17-50/2.8 and DA 70/2.4. I really like the 70, but it has been too tight for that occasion and 2.4 was not quite enough for the lighting conditions - the 17-50 was out as well because of the aperture.
With the Sigma I had some focussing issues at 1.4, but very much liked the pictures that came out of it at f/2. One thing about primes though - when you hand the camera to persons who are used to having a zoom on a dedicated camera, they're gonna look confused for a second until they ask where they can change the zoom, and will continue to struggle using their feet to frame the picture after you told them that there is no zoom on that lens like that pastor who wanted to take some group shots of all of us, me included...


Just this week another friend announced that he's gonna get married, in 2.5 months, and asked me to take some photos of them.
But this time it will be something new for me again - they hired a professional to cover the ceremony at the registry office, but want me to take some photos of them before the party starts.
I'll scout the location, but I already think that's going to be a better opportunity for the 70 to shine. I'll take the FA 50/1.4 as well, don't know about the DA 40 yet.
I'll prepare some batteries for my Metz-48, look into some other light formers than the diffusor on top of it.
And I'm eagerly awating the K-new / have been eyeing the K-1 for some time now, and the KP... perhaps I'll have another Pentax camera by then that will make me more flexible, give me that little bit extra on high ISO performance.
And if not I'm seriously considering to rent one for a week or so leading up to the event, familiarize myself with the different ergonomics compared to my K-S2, get comfortable with it.


I've always disclosed up-front what my friends should expect: that I'm not a pro, and can't promise to deliver what a pro can deliver, and that because of that I refused to accept a payment for that. That it's my hobby and I do it because I like it and want to take it as an opportunity to learn some more. That something might go wrong so that they end up with bad pictures or no pictures at all, e.g. when a memory card or my camera fails that day. So far there were no complaints by my friends and they did give me a gift basket or something like that when I had delivered the edited pictures.
I do still have the V1 and it's still capable of producing nice 10 mp pictures, most notably with its "nifty fifty" which really is a 18.5/1.8 on that 1 inch sensor, and if I don't have a second modern Pentax body by then (I do have an *istD, but I don't think I would want to use it under those circumstances), I'll take that as a backup, but it wouldn't be the same...
Thanks Ehrwien, sounds like a familiar situation!
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