What is the ultimate Sony FE (full-frame, E-mount) wedding lens?
Images captured at weddings become some of the most cherished memories of those involved, and those contracted to photograph these events are expected to deliver high-quality results regardless of the circumstances encountered.
Weddings are one of the most common paid gigs photographers can find, and that fact helps justify the purchase of quality, reliable gear, and the lens kit is one of the big keys to successful wedding photography.
Not everyone photographs a wedding the same way. I prefer a photojournalistic wedding photography approach mixed with the classic portraits, and this wedding lens recommendations list reflects this. Zoom lenses allow a wedding photographer to quickly respond to the action taking place while providing for compositional variety and different perspectives. All this without intruding on the event.
Traditional/formal wedding photography may be done just as easily using two or three prime lenses. Prime lenses can also serve well for backup purposes (never rely on a single lens, camera, flash, or anything else for photographing events as important as a wedding), and they can add a different look to the mix of results.
A wide range of focal lengths is often needed for a good wedding shoot - meaning more than one lens.
Since the ambient lighting is usually very dim at indoor weddings, fast (wide aperture) lenses and image stabilization are best. While f/2.8 is typically the slowest (most narrow) aperture I recommend a wedding lens have, though image stabilization can make slower lenses work if the subject is still. Image stabilization will not stop subject motion, but the wedding ceremony itself (with mandatory flash-less photos) is generally composed of near-motionless people. IS will allow some extra depth of field (narrower aperture) while shooting handheld. Adding a flash will allow action-stopping f/4 shots at the often-even-darker reception venue.
If working with multiple camera bodies or there is adequate time for lens changes, fast prime lenses are an excellent choice for wedding photography. Their wide apertures allow lower ISO settings, faster action-stopping shutter speeds, and more-diffusely-blurred backgrounds in a package that is often smaller and lighter than the closest zoom equivalent.
While fast-focusing lenses are always better than slow focusing lenses, most of the action at a wedding is not usually going to stress AF speed performance in a lens. AF precision is always a top requirement, especially so with the shallow DOF delivered by wide aperture lenses.
I'll start the recommended Sony wedding lens list with the trinity of Sony f/2.8 GM zoom lenses and follow with some useful prime lenses.
The Best Sony Full-Frame Wedding Lenses
1. Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens
Sony's Ultimate General Purpose Lens
If I could only have one Sony lens to photograph a wedding with, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens would be my choice. Because of its all-around capabilities and features, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens is the go-to wedding lens for many, including the most advanced professionals. The most-needed focal length range is solidly covered with good image quality. The wide f/2.8 max aperture advantages this lens for stopping action in low light, making it an ideal choice for photographing action and low light events. The f/2.8 aperture is also useful for creating a strong background blur, allowing the subject to be isolated from a distracting background. This lens's autofocus system performs very well, and the wide aperture enables solid low light AF performance. The Sony "GM" build quality ensures enduring performance.
2. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens
The Ultimate Telephoto Zoom Lens
The 70-200 f/2.8 image stabilized lens is one of the most crucial zoom lenses in most wedding photographers' kits. Professionals and amateurs alike frequently have this lens in their hands with high frequency. Professionals use it because there is no better lens available for many jobs, and amateurs use it additionally because this is the longest focal length available in an affordable, conveniently-sized f/2.8 lens.
This completely professional-grade lens has good image quality, fast and accurate AF, and Optical SteadyShot in a solid, weather-sealed, fixed-size body. The wide f/2.8 max aperture allows action to be captured in low light and, combined with the telephoto focal lengths, allows the background to be blurred away. This lens is not inexpensive or light.
3. Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens
Sony's Best Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens
A large percentage of weddings are held in an attractive venue, and photographing the place itself is on the wedding photographers' to-do list. The FE 16-35 f/2.8 GM is the Sony ultra-wide-angle zoom lens you want for that requirement. It is an excellent choice for a wide variety of uses, including this one. The image quality it creates is impressive. The lens is well built and includes weather sealing. Those photographing in dark environments will find the f/2.8 aperture advantageous.
4. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens
The Made-For-Portraits Lens
Sony calls the lens "The ultimate portrait prime," and it is hard to argue against that statement. I've used wide-aperture 85mm prime lenses entire senior portrait shoots, and the results this combination provides are outstanding. There seems to always be enough ambient light to use this lens handheld.
4. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens
Awesome Image Quality, Great Build Quality, Ultra-Wide Aperture
This little lens rocks. Bring on the most challenging low-light scenarios, and the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens will make them look great. Use this lens for group photos, photos of the venue, photos of action happening, and many other purposes. This lens is very reasonably priced for its performance.
Visit the Sony Lens Recommendations page for more recommendations.