As a professional photographer based in Hong Kong, wedding photography has long been a big part of my work. After all, what's not to love when you are given the opportunity to document the most important day in people's lives? Having said this, it is essential to have the skills and the gear to capture moments and memories.
Just like what I said in my articles "best camera for street photography" and "best lenses for portraits and headshots", while I believe that no camera or lens is best and every camera has its pros and cons, you need to do your research to find out what is “The Best Camera” for YOU.
There are plenty of factors to look for and everyone has their likes and dislikes, including the time needed to develop your skills to capture cool shots with a wide range of equipment.
The following cameras are excellent models for anyone interested in wedding photography. Each one comes with special specifications to fit your needs and style.
Best Camera for Wedding Photography - Quick Summary
- Best Mirrorless Camera for Seasoned Wedding Photographers: Nikon Z6
- Best Camera for Simple or Destination Weddings: Nikon D850
- Best Professional Camera for Wedding Photography: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- Best Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera for Wedding Photography and Videography: Sony α7R IV
Best Camera for Wedding Photography - Who Should Buy This?
The range of the cameras below is for intermediate to seasoned professional photographers and videographers who would like to create amazing images, perform at a high level and be known for great wedding photography.
You can find great options no matter what you are after for a mirrorless camera that is light and with a great performance or a top-range professional camera.
WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST ME?
I am Ali G from Ali G Studios, a professional photographer based in Hong Kong, and I’ve photographed some truly beautiful weddings. From the giant 'Crazy Rich Asians' type of weddings to amazing Indian destination weddings in Bali to many intimate weddings around the world, I've had the privilege of capturing great moments for clients.
You can find my work on several major publications and photography sites, including:
I am also the go-to photographer for many international brands such as LVMH and big corporate events. In the Fall of 2020, I was one of the featured artists in the 2020 Extraordinary Exhibition by Karen Leung Foundation in Hong Kong. My photo titled "Dancing in the Shadows" was sold at auction to raise funds for the charity.
Best Camera for Wedding Photography: What to Consider
Buying any camera is an investment, therefore I always search for a finely made, durable, and weatherproof camera that may last for several years. You need to research the equipment beforehand and make sure you are happy with it.
As a professional wedding photographer, it is quite likely that you may need to carry 2 to 3 cameras at the same time and it is a good idea for you to get a camera as durable and solid as possible because sometimes they get knocked about, especially when weaving through the guests.
Quality of Images, Processor speed, and Color Tones
The quality of images produced by finely made DSLR cameras is far beyond those captured by mirrorless cameras or high-quality cell phones. Compared with mirrorless cameras and mobile phones, DSLR cameras come with much better and larger sensors.
This implies that DSLRs will let in additional light to produce better photos, offering a more dynamic range in low-light scenarios. Furthermore, the current DSLR cameras give better controls, from shutter speed to exposure, which can help you take better photographs as every scenario has its own challenges.
Besides, DSLR cameras often come with dedicated processors compared to smartphones and mirrorless cameras, this is very important because the dedicated processors will deliver higher quality images.
As far as DSLR cameras are concerned the sole limit to capturing different tones and colors with a DSLR is your imagination. If you throw different lenses into the combo, you will realize it’s a blank canvas.
Availability of Wide Range of Lenses
Different lenses produce different effects, hence it is very important for us to get a camera that is compatible with a wide range of lenses.
It depends on the painter to decide on the brush consistent with their style and strokes. Similarly, from situation to situation and from person to person, according to their style, different lenses produce different results.
Wedding photography is a mixture of everything, from portraits to macro to motion, which means you will need different lenses to get the perfect big day shots. For example, these are the lenses I would recommend a professional photographer to carry for pre-wedding or wedding photography.
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Lens
- Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Lens
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G Lens
Do take into account your lens collection and which lenses you would like to get before getting your camera.
DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras
As a photography workshop teacher, I receive a lot of questions from my students such as "What is the best camera?" and "Which type of camera do you recommend?", or perhaps, "Which one should I get? Fujifilm X-T30 (a mirrorless camera) or Canon EOS 6D (a DSLR camera)"
DSLRs vs Mirrorless Camera: The Mechanism
To choose between a DSLR and mirrorless camera one must know the differences between them that sets them apart. Nowadays, DSLR cameras are the foremost common cameras used for wedding photography. However, this trend is changing.
Scientifically speaking, the major difference that sets DSLRs apart from mirrorless cameras is that there is a mirror inside the camera body of a DSLR. This mirror will reflect the light coming in through the lens up to a prism and into the viewfinder for you to be able to preview your shot.
Contrary to this, in a mirrorless camera, light passes through the lens and right onto the image sensor, which captures a preview of the image to display on the rear screen. Some models also offer a second screen inside an electronic viewfinder that you can put your eye up to.
Advantages of DSLRs
Generally, DSLRs are reigned supreme when it comes to low-light shooting, autofocus, and continuous shooting function. Even though DSLRs remain superior when autofocusing on fast-moving objects like photographing a football match or wildlife, mirrorless cameras have also improved vastly and some like the Canon M6 offer unprecedented autofocus speeds.
Additionally, a wide array of lenses are already available for DSLRs hence versatility is a key point.
Another great point about DSLR cameras is that they offer a much better battery life than mirrorless cameras. However, you can easily solve this problem by choosing a camera with rechargeable batteries and purchasing extra battery packs.
Advantages of Mirrorless Cameras
Mirrorless cameras are relatively lightweight, compact, cheaper, and more mobile, which helps you pack more photographic equipment into your camera bag.
Apart from high-end DSLRs, a high-quality mirrorless camera might come with a better continuous shooting function than average DSLRs. This is because the lack of a mirror has simplified the photo recording process, making it easier to take image after image.
Such simple mechanics of mirrorless cameras allow them to shoot more photos in a short amount of time.
I have noticed that more and more camera companies are spending more resources on the development of mirrorless cameras.
Mirrorless cameras are the future of photography.
Try to pick the camera based on your skill level, expectations and resources. Always buy gear that you can grow into, not just something that you already know 100% how to use.
Battery life is an important aspect when looking for a camera for wedding photography.
It is very important to capture all the important moments that happen on the big day and the last thing you want to happen is running out of battery!
Thanks to modern technology, cameras are very efficient hence they offer good battery life. All you need to do is prepare extra batteries, make sure they are fully charged, and change them at an appropriate time. Always carry a spare battery on you so you don't miss any precious moments.
One more tip: make sure you get good quality batteries because they will last much longer than the low-end ones.
Fast Autofocus Speeds
“Every moment matters” is probably a golden rule when it comes to wedding photography, which makes fast autofocus (AF) speeds a major factor when searching for a great camera to capture wedding moments.
Usually, most AF systems perform fine in bright light scenarios with a few misses but if the amount of light decreases, that’s another story.
Even lenses from renowned companies often find it difficult to look for a focal point in low light, hence do make sure you take into account the AF Speeds before buying your camera.
Remember that weddings can be very long, therefore the weight of the camera and what you can physically carry for a long period should be considered carefully.
Generally speaking, the more durable the camera, the heavier it is. So we need to get a balance between weight and durability.
I recommend some cool camera accessories such as a camera chest vest or camera waist belt so there's less strain on your shoulders, arms and lower back!
Ease of Use and Handheld Stability
Big Day Photography usually comes with long hours, changes in venues and environments, a lot of important moments and events. Which means you may need to carry your gear around or pack different gear together for easy carriage.
It would be a good idea to get something that is easy to use and with high handheld stability. I highly recommend you to use a camera hand strap while photographing a wedding.
If you are a rough user, you would pretty much lean towards buying a sturdy camera but if you prefer light-weight equipment, then maybe mirrorless cameras would be better for you. As on some occasions you might need to use your camera for long hours hence you need something that you can carry around easily with a good grip.
Best Camera for Wedding Photography: My Top Picks
Here are my most recommended cameras for wedding photography.
Nikon Z6 is a mirrorless camera that is great for seasoned wedding photographers. It's very similar to its big brother, Z7, in terms of its main specs but the difference comes all the way down to the sensor and therefore the decrease in resolution in Z6(less megapixels but higher frames per second).
Z6 has a whole different audience, mostly those who want to maneuver from a full-time DSLR camera to mirrorless systems buy it. We cannot consider Z6 as a budget-friendly option, however, this camera offers a lot of potential for breathtaking pictures.
I love Nikon mirrorless cameras and Z6 would be the most effective all-rounder camera considering cost per value with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, which is great for wedding photography and portraits. It offers 273 AF points and it achieves so by switching focal phase-detect and contrast-detect.
What We Like:
- It can handle non-ideal lighting situations (very typical for weddings) very well, which could save a lot of post-production time.
- Using an XQD card which transfers data at a lightning-fast speed
- Able to capture 1080p video at 120fps, which might help make slow-motion scenarios look a lot smoother.
- The silent mode in the camera helps capture photographs without any shutter sound which can help capture a moment without ruining it.
- This is a camera that can grow with you, from beginners to experts.
Nikon D850 is a great camera for all weddings, including destination weddings. As it’s a weather-sealed camera to assist with unreliable weather conditions of new places, this is the newest camera from Nikon's D800 series. Or if you are looking for an upgrade of Nikon Z6, it would make a great choice.
What We Like:
- With a 45.7MP sensor, it surely can capture some breathtaking pictures for the wedding and leave room for cropping.
- It offers 3D tracking that automatically follows fast-to-normal moving objects.
- Remarkable continuous shooting speed for a camera with this resolution together with a mechanical shutter that tops out at 1/8000th of a second.
What We Don’t Like:
- Comes with only 153 AF points,
- It can shoot at 1080p at 120fps but only baked in with no sound
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a full-frame DSLR camera that comes with a modern AF system. This Canon camera makes the DSLR cameras enter back to the video world. Not that it’s made only for video shooting, it shoots amazing photos obviously.
What We Like:
It captures sharp photos that look a lot better than the Mark III’s photos, offering much more latitudes, especially in shadows.
Comes with a 30MP sensor, which is great to capture pictures for magazines and billboards. Some cameras offer up to 50MP but not everyone needs that, 30MP is perfect for most situations
Excellent live facial tracking even in a dark environment. The facial tracking helps not to change focus points, with a wider focus spread, it illuminates subjects from the background.
What is not that nice:
Battery life is short and you probably need to prepare several spare batteries
The dynamic range offered by this Sony camera gives you plenty of shadow and highlight detail. Not only this, but it also works surprisingly well in low light conditions, which makes it a perfect camera to shoot wedding dinners, first dances, and candid moments at parties.
What We Like:
- It enables you to shoot at 10 fps at continuous AF and AE enabled with 14 stops dynamic range, which is provided by the excellent auto-focusing function
- It offers canny face, eyes and animal auto-detection which makes it a great camera for wedding videography as well
- Offering top of the range specs
- A bigger grip decreases chances of falling out of your hands
- Comes with an electronic viewfinder with a 120-refresh rate with minimal lag
What We Don’t Like:
- The user menu is not so user friendly, you may need to spend a few days and nights to sort things out
- Batteries can deliver up to 170 minutes of photography, which is pretty low to average nowadays
Best Camera for Wedding Photography - Useful Equipment and Accessories
Camera Straps and Bags
Investing in camera straps might sound unappealing and absurd at the beginning but this is often something that may serve you well in the long run. Having good quality bags will facilitate you carrying your gear efficiently with minimal risks of back pain and damage to your equipment.
I highly recommend wedding photographers to make use of the following straps and bags to help lessen the pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back.
Memory Card and Memory Card Reader
It is public knowledge that wedding photographers use loads of memory cards to capture photographs and shoot videos. Hence you need fast cards that will help you unload huge amounts of data later at faster speeds.
I highly recommend the following memory cards if you are looking for a fast memory card:
In addition, you need a reliable memory card reader for transferring data into your computer. Reliable options that will support you for a protracted time include the following:
To protect your expensive equipment from dust, humidity, rain, and fungus; I highly recommend storing them in dry boxes once you arrive home from an assignment.
Here are some great choices for storing you cameras and gear:
- Waterproof cases (to protect your gear during the wedding from rain and dust)
- Camera Dehumidifying Dry Cabinet
Best Camera for Wedding Photography - Additional Tips and Information
- Bring along an extension cord with at least 6 outlets so you can charge your gear and your client's necessities efficiently (batteries, flash, laptop, action cameras, your phone, and your clients' phones...)
- Get a dual or multiple battery charger so you can save some time on charging your camera’s batteries
- If you will be driving to shoot the wedding, try to prepare a spare set as a backup and keep in your car.
- In general, shooting weddings means long hours and it is a great idea for you to start your day with light warm-ups and stretching
- Make use of knee and waist support, they will save your joints and back!
Best Camera for Wedding Photography - FAQs
Is it rude to bring a camera to a wedding?
No, it's not rude if you just want to take some photos of your friends, family, spouse, and so on.
However, it is rude to step in front of or get in the way of the professional photographer whose job it is to photograph the wedding.
The couple is trusting this person to get the best shots of the most important and happiest moments of their lives, and you shouldn't interfere with his/her job.
Do wedding photographers use flash?
Yes, especially in dark reception halls, churches, or any other wedding venues where there isn't enough light to capture the moments.
However, the art and skill are to make the flash look like natural light, and this is something that separates professional photographers from amateurs.
Which camera do wedding photographers use?
Usually from upper mid-range to professional cameras. Sony, Canon, Nikon are the top 3 brands for wedding photography, and Sony is the best quality for wedding videos at the moment.
What lens do wedding photographers use?
- 50mm F1.4
- 85mm f1.4
- 24-70mm f2.8
- 70-200m f2.8
- 14-24mm f2.8 wide-angle
- 16-35mm f/2.8 wide-angle
- 90-100mm macro lens: For close-ups like rings
Wedding photography is about preparation, patience, skills, communication, reaction, and observation. I hope you find this article useful before purchasing your camera!
Looking for more wedding photography tips? Do check out my other articles:
- Wedding photography tips: 5 ways to get the best pictures out of your photography
- Wedding photography tips for brides: how to look stunning in wedding photos
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A big thanks to Phottix for the professional lighting equipment provided to Ali G Studios.
All photos are © Ali Ghorbani and Ali G Studios
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