Must-Have Wedding Photography Equipment (Updated for 2021)

Michael Sand
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Many aspiring and professional wedding photographers are unsure about the exact camera equipment they need. To take the guesswork out of this, and to keep yourself from any embarrassing disaster, it is important to plan ahead.

You definitely do not want to look like a deer in headlights, so knowing where you are going to shoot it, anything else you need to prepare for, and how to effectively utilize all of your equipment will make you look like a pro.

The ceremony location, the reception location, the time of day it’s taking place, and the size of the wedding party all play a big role in deciding what equipment you need.

Even if you’re just a hobbyist photographer, it is still a good idea to be prepared. Sometimes, the best-laid wedding plans can go awry if bad weather sets in.

NameCategoryProduct
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom LensBest OverallCanon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Memory Card up to 80MB/sBudget PickSanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Memory Card up to 80MB/s
Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera BodyUpgrade PickNikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

1. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens

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Pros:

  • Can be used for various focal lengths
  • Image stabilization
  • Durable and high quality construction
  • Not too heavy or bulky
  • Great mid range

Cons:

  • Less expensive ranges like 14-24mm or 16-35mm f/2.8L might be better for wedding photographers
  • A bit heavy and bulky
  • A bit pricey

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens is a standard lens that is great for most applications including portraiture, weddings, landscapes, interiors, and events. It has the versatility to be used for just about everything.

It provides reliable image quality and a range wide enough to cover a full-frame DSLR image sensor. It's a little bulky, but the lens is very solidly built and is designed with a metal barrel and textured grip.

The image quality is excellent, with the lens delivering excellent results with sharp glass, little distortion, and and minimal vignetting. Auto-focus performance is good, although it's not as fast as Canon's top-of-the-line lenses.

2. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

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Pros:

  • Extremely sharp images
  • Great low light capabilities
  • Solid build quality
  • Macro lens has world-class autofocus
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Internal focus
  • Quick, manual focus
  • No problems with focus breathing
  • Wide aperture
  • Full frame compatible

Cons:

  • Focus limit switch, which can take some time to get used to
  • On / Off switch can be tough to move with a solid grip
  • Can be hard to nail focus on small water droplets
  • A little unnecessary for everyday shots

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is a premium quality piece that snaps stunning pictures with razor sharp results. You can use this lens for macro and standard shooting and this combo combo will have you taking incredible pictures of the moon, landscapes, portraits, flowers and yes, for shooting water droplets as well.

This lens can be used for stand-alone photography or as an addition to your current set of lenses. This lens can be used with any of Canon’s Digital SLR cameras.

3. Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

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Pros:

  • Very versatile when used off camera flash
  • Enables wireless master/slave control for up to three groups
  • Can be used as a wireless optical slave on cameras that don’t have built-in flash

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with a lens cap
  • A little soft at 200mm

The Canon Speedlite 600EX-2-RT is the best flash unit available (it also comes in larger form-factor versions for larger setups). It has wireless capabilities, and is also very easily customized through the use of various filters and gels – a huge advantage over other wireless flash equipment.

Those looking for photographic versatility need look no further than the Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Autofocus Super Zoom.

This lens is the best choice for anyone looking for a travel lens – great image quality, sharpness, and color despite the zoom range.

4. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

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This is one of the best Canon telephoto lenses and one that you will certainly want to have in your camera bag. It’s a fully-featured piece that does everything you would want and more, and comes bundled with a sturdy build and impressive optics that are ideal for serious photography.

The superb construction of the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is replaceable and feels great in your hand. Moreover, it comes with a fast ring-type USM focusing mechanism that is ideal for quick instantaneous focusing and excellent tracking performance.

The optical system of this lens is comprised of 16 elements in 12 groups, with 1 Super UD lens and 3 Fluorite lenses providing a smooth performance and impressive contrast. The Ultrasonic AF also ensures quick and accurate focusing, increasing the vision as you track your subjects.

5. Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS

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Pros:

  • Exceptional camera
  • Very easy to use
  • Features like Canon Creative
  • Consistent high-quality images every time

Cons:

  • Research your batteries obviously
  • This is a highly configurable camera, so research fully what you want
  • Not a small camera “ takes up some room
  • This camera is a great piece of equipment, but for you to get the most out of it, you will have to do some configuring, including your lens. For example, you’ll need to research if you want to buy the camera body only, or if you want a kit with one of various of the lens included.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is the ideal digital SLR for the wedding, portrait, and events photographer who wants a full-frame camera with an extended ISO range, fast frame rates, and excellent low-light image quality.

This camera features a 22.3 MP sensor. What this means is you’ll get some amazing pictures that you are sure to be proud of. You’ll be able to crop any of those amazing photos and still have amazing quality.

6. SanDisk Extreme PLUS 64GB microSDXC UHS-I/U3 Card

Our rating: 9 / 10

SanDisk Extreme PLUS 64GB microSDXC UHS-I/U3 Card

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Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Good for high heat and cold
  • Faster read/write times than similar products
  • Great customer service

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Scratches easily

A microSD card is the vital link between your camera and your memory. The Extreme PLUS card is designed for high speed, high-performance 2K and 4K Ultra HD recording and Full HD video recording. This SD card is very useful for burst shooting and continuous shooting.

This is the best SD card for almost any camera, as long as the camera is compatible with SDXC cards.

7. Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash

Our rating: 8 / 10

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash

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Pros:

  • You can oversee what goes on in front of or behind the camera
  • A flash that triggers your camera and syncs with the camera to produce a proper exposure
  • Provides plenty of power and control
  • You can create a cross, short-cross, or bounce flash
  • For a mid-range flash, this Canon offers lots of functions
  • It is highly durable and can last a long time
  • Mounting it on the camera is easy
  • If you have a Canon EOS digital camera, this is the flash for you
  • A replacement for the 430EX II

The Speedlite 430EX III-RT is a mid-range Canon flash that can control up to five groups of flashes. It has a guide number of 197”' at ISO 100, which means it produces a lot of power for a mid-range flash. It also has a zoom head, but the zoom range is limited.

8. Case Logic DCB-304 Compact System/Hybrid Camera Case

Our rating: 8 / 10

Case Logic DCB-304 Compact System/Hybrid Camera Case

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Pros:

  • Holds compact and mirrorless camera bodies and lenses
  • Nice, lightweight design with exceptional quality
  • Has some great extra padding to protect your photographic investment
  • Easy to access
  • Fits nicely in a carry-on

Cons:

  • None!
  • The Case Logic DCB-304 Compact System/Hybrid Camera Case (Black) is the best, all-around protective case that will hold your camera and small accessories like spare memory cards, batteries, lens cleaning supplies, and more.
  • A favorite amongst wedding photographers for a number of years now, this case comes with a high quality, replaceable padded divider, making it an ideal choice when you’re packing your camera and a couple of lenses together.

The padded dividers are held in place with a Velcro-style clasp that attaches to the Velcro squares on the inside of the case. The case has two zippered compartments that allow you to keep lenses and other accessories separate and secure while on the job.

The case itself is rather compact and lightweight so it will easily fit in your carry-on luggage, making it a travel-friendly case. The case is also crush-resistant, so you need not worry about it getting crushed while you’re dragging it through an airport or boarding a plane.

9. SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Memory Card up to 80MB/s

Our rating: 8 / 10

SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Memory Card up to 80MB/s

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If you’re the type of shooter who lives for the thrill of the action, you know that it’s all about capturing every split second. Your camera gear has to be able to handle rapid-fire shots, various lighting conditions, action that runs the gamut from frenzied to frozen and even underwater action. To be a versatile photographer and get the job done, your equipment must play well with others, even the ones under your feet or in your hands. When choosing the best camera equipment to capture the action, we picked products and brands that have proven themselves to be fast and reliable in the field. To make sure your system works as hard as you do, we looked for gear that shoots at or near infrareda’s best high speed rate of 30 frames per second and has enough storage space and transfer speed to accommodate a continuous steady stream of images.

10. 64GB High Speed SD Card U3

Our rating: 8 / 10

64GB High Speed SD Card U3

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Pros:

  • The product comes with a 1-year warranty and lifetime technical support.
  • The SanDisk Extreme SDXC U3 Memory Card is the world’s fastest SD-card rated up to 95 MB/s read speed and 90 MB/s write speed.

Cons:

  • It is an expensive SD card.
  • Hard to buy this product directly from some retailers.

11. YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master + Slave Flash + Built-in Trigger System

Our rating: 8 / 10

YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master + Slave Flash + Built-in Trigger System

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Pros:

  • Extremely great value
  • Very good workmanship
  • Easy to carry around
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Easy to attach a camera on with a tripod screw

This system is great if you want to flash your go pro or camera. It looks sleek and shiny and it comes with a lot of features. When you buy the system you get a master light and a slave flash.

You can make the light brighter than the actual sunlight. It comes with a lock button so you only have to unlock it when you want to use it. The slave flash comes with a lock button too so you can use the flash with the master. It comes with a yongnuo remote. You can change temperature and sync speed too. This is so easy to get set up and mount your camera to it.

12. Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Our rating: 7 / 10

Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

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Pros:

  • A great combination of resolution, shutter speed, and frame rate.
  • Well-suited for wide range of pros photography.

Cons:

  • Can be too expensive for beginners.
  • This is the best & high quality DSLR on the market and it comes with an excellent 24-120mm lens.

The D810 is a full-frame DSLR from Nikon’s the best camera line. It has a full-frame sensor that makes your photos look even better, and an ISO that goes up to 25600 for super low-light conditions.

This camera’s excellent image quality is due to its 36.3 MP full-frame sensor that produces a sharper image than your average point and shoot. But you can still handle it perfectly well, whether you are a pro or hobbyist.

Just as impressive is its ability to shoot at 5 frames per second of continuous shooting. This make it incredibly ideal for shooting fast moving objects, like animals or sports, without straining your arm.

13. Think Tank Photo Urban Approach 15 Backpack

Our rating: 6 / 10

Think Tank Photo Urban Approach 15 Backpack

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Pros:

  • Tons of storage space
  • Durable wheeling backpack
  • Sleek and contemporary design
  • Portection from rain/water
  • Lots of pockets to keep your items organized

Some photographers prefer to use a backpack whilst others like to utilize a roller bag with their gear. My personal opinion is that roller bags are a complete waste of time unless you are a full time professional that is rolling around the United States. Backpacks are far more comfortable, offer more freedom of movement, and they are far more affordable.

Therefore, my top pick for the best photography equipment for wedding photographers is the Think Tank Photo Urban Approach 15 Backpack. This is the ultimate camera backpack for photographers that want to take their gear on the go and want to have easy access to their equipment while waiting for clients for longer periods of time.

The Think Tank Photo Urban Approach is a rolling backpack that has a capacity of 30 liters. Despite its small size, this bag comes equipped with a landscape orientation rain cover that is very easy to access.

14. Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW

Our rating: 6 / 10

Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW

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Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Spacious main compartment for a pro DSLR camera, with dividers to keep things organized
  • Lower camera compartment is padded for total camera protection
  • Padded Shoulder Straps for a comfortable carrying experience
  • Mesh pockets to keep things like batteries and memory cards organized

The Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW Camera Backpack has a padded main compartment for a professional DSLR camera with attached medium zoom lens, plus a lower compartment for a second DSLR camera body with a small telephoto lens.

The padded interior of the main compartment is designed for comfort and easy access to gear, with a special zipper design to keep water out. Dividers can be customized to fit gear so gear is easy to get out and back in. Keep an extra lens on hand with the tri-fold padded divider.

The expandable side mesh pockets are ideal for extra gear, and the quick-grab handle in the top lid makes it easy to grab your camera when you’re on the go. The adjustable shoulder straps can be worn cross-body or over-the-shoulder. The extra-wide base and waist belt work with the shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight.

15. Gitzo GK1555T-82TQD Series 1 Traveler Kit

Our rating: 5 / 10

Gitzo GK1555T-82TQD Series 1 Traveler Kit

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Pros:

  • Several of the items in this kit are in the kit bag, as you could use the tripod and the monopod on their own and not have the whole kit, so there should be no issue in travelling with those two items.

It has been brought up by numerous people that the Gitzo travel tripod is very heavy, and while that is true, when split between two people it isn’t too bad. For example, my wife and I both have back problems and it has been no problem for us to carry the whole kit bag between the two of us.

The Traveler kit bag is very well made in comparison to the only other brand of kit bag that is worth buying. This bag has proved itself over and over again when taking the kit on flights. The zipper wheels are really nice to have and the clamps that keep the tripod from extending when you don’t want it to are extremely helpful.

16. Vanguard VEO 204AB Aluminum Travel Tripod

Our rating: 5 / 10

Vanguard VEO 204AB Aluminum Travel Tripod

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Pros:

  • Versatile- can be used with DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras, or action cameras
  • Quick setup- only takes a couple of minutes
  • Lightweight: weighs only 3.5 pounds
  • Height Range: minimum of 6.6 feet and a maximum height of 39.3 feet
  • Ball head is metal, so it is extremely durable and resistant to corrosion
  • Legs are made of aluminum and are very sturdy
  • Extremely durable
  • Very strong legs, yet lightweight
  • Features a ball head with quick release plate and bubble level. The quick release plate makes it easy to switch between camera types
  • Tripod folds down to a compact size

Cons:

  • No plate for a tripod head
  • Tripod is on the heavier side
  • Not as portable as other tripods

This is a pretty solid tripod for anyone looking to capture images with their DSLR or mirrorless camera. The panhead spins 360 degrees, which makes it easy to get the camera into the perfect position to capture the image.

17. BONFOTO 55 Inch B671A Lightweight Aluminum Alloy Camera Travel Tripod and Monopod

Our rating: 5 / 10

BONFOTO 55 Inch B671A Lightweight Aluminum Alloy Camera Travel Tripod and Monopod

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Pros:

  • It gets the job done
  • Solid value
  • Sturdy ball head
  • Arms are flexible
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Viewing window
  • Plate
  • Flexible legs

Bonfoto is an online camera equipment company that is well-known for making high-quality products at affordable prices. Unless you’re shooting professional-level footage or can afford a heavier setup, this tripod will do the trick.

The Bonfoto 55 tripod is lightweight but sturdy, allowing you to bring it and set it up quickly without worrying about whether it will stay stable. It comes with a three-way head to control angle rotation, panning, and angle positioning. The ball head can be controlled via a handle that locks in place, or you can use a lever to unlock it. This makes fluid movements easy.

This lightweight, professional-level camera tripod is ideal for weddings, documentaries, travel, and other similar uses. When you order this set, you get the tripod, a carrying bag, two quick-release plates, a 360-degree ball head, and a removable center column. It also comes with a photo-direction screen.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What equipment do wedding photographers need?

Specific gear choices depend heavily upon the budget and style of the photographer, but at a minimum, all wedding photographers will need a camera body, a backup body, 12-15 lenses, and a tripod.

In addition, the equipment list will include the following:

  • photography lights
  • tripod
  • flash diffusers
  • flash bracket/flash stand
  • long duration flashes
  • reflectors
  • barn door modifier
  • backdrop system
  • studio strobes
  • studio lighting
  • model lights
  • extension cord
  • assistants

As you begin to make a wedding photography budget for your business, note that pricing for various items vary. For example, depending on your style and goal, you might not need to own any lights at all. In this case, you can rent them on the day of the wedding or hire a lighting assistant to work with.

What flash is best for wedding photography?

An external flash is an essential tool for the serious amateur wedding photographer. Why? Because professional wedding venues have limited lighting. Even the reception venues with large high-end lighting systems don’t have enough light to get the job done.

To get great exposure when even the available light is lacking, you need to add your own. Using your camera’s built-in flash just won’t do. How do you know when you’re using enough flash to get good results? When your flash exposure is on par with or about half of your ambient (available) light exposure. If the available light exposure is 1/250th of a second at f/4.0, then you want to get your flash exposure down to about 1/125th at f/4.0 or 1/160th at f/4.0.

Do I need flash for wedding photography?

What features should I look for?

It’s not as big a question as it was a decade ago as full-frame cameras are becoming capable of taking amazing pictures in almost any lighting situation. Even flash is not essential in many cases as many cameras are now equipped with a fantastic low-light AF (Auto Focus) system. However, for artistic and portraiture photography that is intended for print, an external flash that is off-camera can make a big difference in your results.

An external flash is helpful where you need more than the available light so you can control the lighting and exposure. Depending on the style of your wedding photography, an external flash may be used to freeze action, to blur motion, or to create a catch light in your subjects’ eyes. External flashes tend to be more powerful than the built-in flashes, and most have a greater zoom range for focusing on specific objects.

What equipment do I need to take professional photos?

A good photographer knows that it is a combination of the skill and artistry of the photographer and the quality of the equipment being used that will make for great photos. Fortunately, you don't need a lot of fancy equipment to take good pictures; a camera will do.

Most importantly, you need to hire a photographer who communicates well, is skilled at using different types of lighting, and is willing to work with you to get a cool shot. Like any other professional, photographers are often categorized by their skill level (in this case) which you can research on sites like Wedding Wire.

Conclusion

Tired of seeing just plain old photos on other wedding photographers’ websites?

Don’t worry. We’ll show you how to step up your game in respect to your photography so your shots are stellar and your wedding clients will love what they see!

Instead of spending so much time on your post-processing, what if you spent that time on your photographs in camera?

If you’ve done your job right, you can get away with spending very little time in post-processing.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom LensBest OverallCanon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Memory Card up to 80MB/sBudget PickSanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Memory Card up to 80MB/s
Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera BodyUpgrade PickNikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body