Wedding photographer Fabio Mirulla says the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM is one of the best lenses for wedding photography, particularly for capturing an immersive view of the reception. Fabio also sometimes uses a compact Canon Speedlite 600EX RT flash (now succeeded by the Canon Speedlite 600EX RT-II), usually as part of a multi-flash system, fired remotely from a camera-mounted Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/125 sec, f/7.1 and ISO2500. © Fabio Mirulla
Whether you’re photographing an intimate elopement, a micro wedding, a quirky alternative wedding or a traditional big wedding reception, the right kit is key. So which are the best Canon lenses for wedding photography? What are the essential features to look for in a Canon wedding lens? And which lenses will be both reliable and fast to focus, enabling you to deliver results time and time again?
We spoke to Canon Ambassadors Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer, a couple who work together as wedding photographers based in Leipzig, Germany, and destination wedding photographer Fabio Mirulla, who is based just outside Florence, Italy. Here, these wedding specialists open their kitbags and reveal their favourite Canon lenses for capturing a couple’s special day. In addition, Mike Burnhill, Professional Imaging Product Specialist at Canon Europe, explains how the technology behind these lenses makes them so well-suited to the genre.
“Reliability and performance are important to us,” says Gil. “We found that third-party lenses didn’t focus as quickly and as accurately as we’d hoped, so we invested in Canon glass. Since then, we’ve never had a camera or lens failure.”
Julia and Gil, like Fabio too, favour Canon L-series primes, because of their super-fast focusing, high reliability and high-speed maximum apertures. “I’m shooting with wide-angle lenses 90% of the time on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS R,” says Fabio. “High-speed primes allow me to work in low light, such as at the altar.”
Here are their favourite lenses across the Canon EF and RF ranges, from wide-angle options for working close-up to highlight the emotion of the day, through to longer lenses for capturing intimate and romantic moments from a distance.
“The reception is my favourite time during the big day,” says Fabio. “It’s when I get to tell the story and I use the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens for an immersive look. To stay close to people and to stay in the moment, the 24mm is perfect for me.”
Gil also favours the lens for its versatility. “I use the EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens the most throughout the day, from photographing the groom while he’s preparing for the day, right through to the reception,” he says. “It’s a lens I feel confident in and comfortable with. As it’s an L-series lens, I can use it wide-open at f/1.4 through to f/2 and know it will be sharp and have little to no flare. It’s also fast to focus.”
Mike notes: “This lens was the first to feature Canon’s Sub-Wavelength structure Coating (SWC) to tackle ghosting and reflections. Using a technique found in nature which prevents the flaring and ghosting from happening in the first place, this wide-angle lens can be used when shooting against the light without the worry that reflections will spoil the image.”
Julia uses the narrower angle of view of the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens for tighter graphic compositions such as this bride preparing for her garden wedding at Schloss Spielfeld in Austria. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 35mm f/3.5L II USM lens at 1/160 sec, f/1.8 and ISO400. © Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer
Fabio uses the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens for its lightning-fast AF and resistance to flare and fringing. It’s ideal for shots like this late afternoon scene of a ceremony at an Agriturismo close to Florence, Tuscany. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/6400 sec, f/2.2 and ISO250. © Fabio Mirulla
“With the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, you’re forced to stay close to your subject, and it’s fantastic,” says Fabio. “I use it to break the invisible wall between me and the couple at the start of the wedding. Then throughout the day the bride and groom are more relaxed and they look to me for guidance and inspiration. It’s all thanks to that lens, and I use it 80% of the time.”
The same lens a firm favourite of Julia’s, says Gil. “When photographing the bride, Julia always reaches for the 35mm. It’s so fast to focus and the colours are perfect. With its narrower angle of view than a 24mm lens, it’s also good for picking out details or isolating others that we don’t want included.”
Mike adds: “This is probably the standard lens for many wedding photographers. The EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens was the first to feature Canon’s blue spectrum optic, which eradicated all traces of chromatic aberrations while maximising resolution of the lens. This lens produces a natural perspective to make viewers feel they are there in the scene. The fast aperture ensures that not too much is in focus, so that the main subject stands out from the background.”
Julia and Gil like to use a Canon EOS R with the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM for photographing and filming their wedding couples – and even handed it over to this couple in Barcelona, Spain, to use. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/500 sec, f/1.6 and ISO500. © Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer
“We used the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens on a Canon EOS R for a shoot in Barcelona and it’s really amazing,” says Gil. “It handles really well, the autofocus is incredibly fast and images are always sharp, no matter what aperture you use. We have complete confidence in it.
“At one point I was filming this couple that were strongly backlit. As they were moving towards me, I was running backwards, and the autofocus tracking stayed on the couple the whole time, like glue. The footage was sharp as well as free of any flare.”
Mike describes this as “Canon’s ‘game-changing’ lens” because it has brought something new to photographers and videographers alike. “There was once a time when super-fast apertures meant there was a compromise in overall image quality. This lens changed these rules, not only producing stunning image quality but delivering that super-fast aperture for low light or extreme shallow depth of field.”
Delicate blur and a dreamy glow from the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L lens (now succeeded by the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II) is used creatively in this shot of a couple after the ceremony at a garden wedding at Schloss Spielfeld in Austria. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L lens at 1/100 sec, f/3.5 and ISO100. © Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer
“When we want to venture outside for some atmospheric shots of the couple in a landscape setting, we’ll reach for the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L [now succeeded by the TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II],” says Gil. “We are real fans of this lens. When you know how to use it, it gives a unique look with wonderful, dreamy blur that can’t be easily replicated in software, if at all. Clients are always asking about it. It also produces very soft glow in strongly backlit situations that’s so beautiful and romantic. It’s definitely one of our favourites.”
This tilt-shift lens offers creative ways of shooting weddings, says Mike. “What could be considered an unusual lens for wedding photography, when used creatively is capable of producing truly unique images to isolate the subject and create dream-like effects not possible with ordinary optical designs.”
Fabio mainly uses the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens outdoors for its selective perspective and long lens compression effect. For example here it helped him to compress the distant mountains in this scene captured at a villa close to the historic city centre of Florence. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens at 1/200 sec, f/20 and ISO1000. © Fabio Mirulla
“When I shoot the couple outdoors and I want that incredible bokeh, the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens is fantastic,” says Fabio. “It’s one of my favourite lenses in the world. I can use it at the maximum aperture of f/2 because it has incredible image quality.
“I also use it during the aperitivo [pre-dinner drinks] and during the dinner to separate the subject from the background. I can capture those romantic and intimate pictures of the bride and groom without intruding on them. For that, the focal length is perfect, and wide open the quality is superior to a zoom. It is also very fast to focus, which is so important because you don’t get a second chance with weddings.”
“A hidden gem within the EF lens range, this lens incredibly sharp,” says Mike. “With its longer focal length and fast aperture, this lens can make people stand out even in the busiest environment, drawing the viewer’s eyes to the important parts of the picture. The lens is ideal when you need to shoot from a slightly longer distance or in low light conditions.”