How to select lenses for event photography

Selecting your lenses for event photography can be a challenging task. What lens should you start with? And should you choose one zoom lens with a wide range or several prime lenses? I like to answer your questions here.

Let’s start with why choosing the right lenses for event photography is so important.

As events are often in less-than-ideal photography conditions and require decent sharpness, it’s best to have fast lenses, which means an aperture that can open as wide as possible.

Usually, somewhere between f1.4 and f2.8 is plenty. I don’t even own any lenses faster than f1.8.

The lenses I use for event photography:

All are mounted on Nikon D850s.

Most events happen indoors, often in poorly lit rooms. A wide aperture can help you prevent going in shutter speeds that are too slow to get you any sharp images. And also, avoid bumping the ISO.

If you plan on using a flash, you can use lenses that only go to f5.6, for example, and still have good photos.

Investing in faster lenses for event photography is best. 

So how to choose your lenses?

The first question is, what type of events will you shoot?

For weddings, you might not need a big telelens. For example, you could get away with a range from 35-80mm. But it could be helpful to get a macro lens too.

The speaker is often far away on the stage for large corporate congresses. A range of 35-200mm or even more is better. 

Or you don’t want to niche down and just cover any event. Perhaps you don’t need fast lenses, just a wide range of 18-300mm in one lens to cover it all.

Deciding on what niche you will photograph can be helpful.

The next question is, what lighting conditions are you going to encounter?

A dark concert asks for different lenses than a well-lit and produced corporate congress.

At the concert, you’ll probably want a wide lens to go up close to the crowd in the dark hall and a longer lens (70-200mm, for example) to photograph the slightly better-lit stage.

You’ll want a telelens to photograph the speaker on the usually properly lit stage for the congress.

The last question is zoom or prime lenses for event photography?

I prefer several prime lenses. Having a selection of specialized, high-quality lenses. Of course, this means either changing lenses during the event or carrying multiple camera bodies.

A costly and heavy activity. But for me, it’s worth it. I feel zoom lenses are lacking in quality. 

But if you don’t feel that way, it could be easier and cheaper for you to buy one zoomlens and one body. You are saving yourself a lot of money and back pain.

I recommend finding a lens or set of lenses for event photography covering 35mm, 50mm, and up to 150mm. You can have it either in one lens or several.

If you still don’t know what lenses to get yourself. Ask around. DM photographers, like me, on Instagram and ask what they have and recommend.

Disclaimer: In this article are some affiliate links. This means that, if you buy or book something, I get a small percentage of the fee. This comes with no extra cost to you but helps me run this website.

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