Over the next few weeks I am going to do a short series on my blog on the lenses I use during a wedding day. For each post in this series, I will talk about one lens -- what it's strengths are and when I pull it out of my bag during the wedding day. Throughout each post I will also share images taken with each specific lens.

Keep in mind throughout this series that I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II that has a full-frame sensor. So the images I shoot with my lenses are true to their focal lengths. If you shoot with a Canon 7D, 50D, Rebel or any other camera that has a crop sensor, what you see when you look through your viewfinder with these lenses will appear more zoomed in than what I get using a 5D Mark II. Just something to keep in mind. If this makes no sense to you, check out this video on You Tube that gives you a great visual comparison.

Today I'm going to start with the Canon 50mm 1.2 lens. This is my most versatile lens. If I had to pick only one lens to shoot an entire wedding with (which I'm glad I don't have to!), this would be it. I use it during every part of the wedding day -- preparation, portraits, ceremony and reception. I averaged out the images shot at my last two weddings, and 60% of them were taken with this lens.

This lens is super-high-quality. It's solid. It's ability to open up to an aperture of 1.2 makes it amazing in low-light situations and great for achieving a super-shallow depth of field.

Have you ever shot a wedding in a super-dark church? Or a ceremony outdoors at sunset? This lens is a must-have for these situations. There is one church venue in Phoenix where I've shot a number of times -- Brophy Chapel -- and while it's beautiful, it's dark. So dark, that even when maxing out my camera settings, I am unable to use my Canon 70-200 2.8 lens (a go-to lens for church ceremonies) at f2.8. I still don't have enough light. I photographed Seth & Rachel's wedding at Brophy and shot the entire ceremony with my 50mm at f1.2. There was only one image during the ceremony, shot from the balcony, that I took using a different lens -- the Canon 24mm 1.4 lens at f1.4. Other than that, the entire ceremony was shot with my 50mm at 1.2. The images turned out beautifully and I use the photos from this wedding in one of two sample albums that I show prospective clients. Click here to see Seth & Rachel's album design.

As I mentioned, I use this lens for everything. I shoot details with it throughout the entire day. Prep details (f2.0):
Ceremony details (f1.6):
Reception details:
Even full table-shots are possible with this lens (again -- great in a low-light reception room. This image was shot at 1.2):
I use my 50mm a lot during the preparation part of the day. I love the dreamy look I'm able to achieve by shooting wide open (f1.4):
It's also a perfect lens for head shots like this one on the right:
I use my 50mm for a variety of portraits. Definitely portraits of the bride and groom (both f2.8):
The 50mm is fixed, so while not being ideal for capturing portraits of people walking, if you have a clear space behind you, walking backwards while shooting can achieve the goal:
Here's a great example of a super-shallow depth of field portrait (f2.5):
I also love this lens for group portraits. Whenever I have room enough to back up from the group to shoot with my 50mm, I do. The focal length is very flattering for photographing people. Occasionally I'll use my Canon 24mm 1.4 lens if I have to, but it's got some distortion as we'll talk about when we get to that post in the series, so the 50mm is my group portrait lens of choice. (Edited to add: No, I don't shoot group photos at f1.2. This next image was shot at f5.)
During the ceremony I use my 50mm for the processional (f1.2):
And occasionally -- again, when I have room to back up -- I use it to shoot a wide scene-setting shot of the ceremony in progress (f1.2):
For this next image I was able to get up on a balcony and the 50mm was perfect (f2.0):
Also, when I have a clear aisle to back up in, I like to use the 50mm for the recessional as well. This image was shot at f1.2!
A random post-ceremony favorite, shot with my 50mm 1.2 (f1.2):
During the reception I love the lens for toasts (f5.0):
...and the first dance (f2.2):
As you can see, I didn't lie -- I use this lens for EVERYTHING.

The Canon 50mm 1.2 lens is well-worth the price but if you can't afford it now, the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens is a quarter of the price and can get you by for awhile.

Another option, if you can't afford the lens now, is to rent it from BorrowLenses.com. Check them out!

Let me know if you guys have any questions by leaving a comment! And if you found this post helpful, please spread the news by using the Facebook and Twitter buttons below! Thanks! To find more info/reviews on my gear and other resources I offer photographers, click here!
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