Lenses and Gear for Shooting Events

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Some of us that read this blog make a living or some extra income from shooting events. These events require specific tools: such as good, fast lenses at certain focal lengths. Today I received a question from someone that wants to go into event photography but wants to know what type of gear to get.

Hey Chris,

I’ve got a Canon 40D now and friends, people I meet and family are all asking me to shoot their events. They want anything from their parties, bbqs, baby christenings, etc. What equipment should I look into? Should I stay with my 28-135mm kit lens? Will I need a flash? I don’t want to spend too much money either.

-Mike

First off Mike, congratulations: while the fact that you have a nice big camera will encourage everyone around you to constantly bother you about taking their photos and then uploading them on Facebook and other sharing sites, you should be able to make some sort of profit from it all. There are a couple of factors and things that you need to keep in mind before going out there and shooting on top of buying equipment.

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You’re going to need some fast glass as your F3.5 lenses will just not cut it in low-light events. As I’ve said before, everyone should have a 50mm lens. The Canon 50mm 1.8 lens is a wonderfully spectacular and cost-efficient lens that will stick with you for a while. Not only is that an excellent lens to learn with but it will create a beautiful depth of field that will look amazing to the people you are taking the pictures for. The above photo was shot with that lens when I shot a networking meet up of journalists and PR people recently. Once you put this lens on your 40D, you’re going to experience what’s called the crop factor. What you see will be magnified by 1.6x but will surely suffice your shooting needs.

As for other lenses, the Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 is the much cheaper alternative to its Canon sibling.  Otherwise, you’re going need to splurge well over $1,000 to get those premium L lenses. You won’t really need much more in terms of lenses as the 10MP sensor will allow you for enough cropping if desired. What you’ll really have to remember with these lenses are that you need to get in close as the zoom factor isn’t the farthest. Events are usually tightly packed or allow their photographers to go anywhere.

Because events are so tightly packed, you’re going to need to single out your subject amongst the others. That’s why the faster lenses are required for that really nice depth of field and sharp focusing. Additionally, not all events are provided with the best of lighting. It’s best to capture things as they are, so faster lenses will help you to do this.

As for a flash, a Canon 430 EXII speedlite should more than suffice your needs. It will meter with your 40D to help you take more balanced photos with even lighting, but also keep in mind that it could even be overkill as your lenses are very fast and may not even need a flash at all.

I hope this all helps and that event photography works out very well for you. Try to look at the work of well-known event photographers to help you get a sense of how those pictures should look. Quite a bit of it is portraiture.

Anyone else have any tips for Mike? Also keep in mind to email me your questions at chrisgampat@photographybay.com. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. says

    I started with Sigma 28-70, but I think I’d actually recommend a Tamron 17-50 to most 40D (and other crop sensor camera) users. Yes, it’s nice to get in close, but when groups of people start asking you to take their picture, especially in cramped quarters, you begin to appreciate the extra mm on the wide end. As you said, “the 10MP sensor will allow you for enough cropping if desired.”

    It may be different in your neck of the woods, but sometimes ’round here, a group of two or three can explode into a dozen or more once you point a camera in their direction.