WEDDING

The best Canon lenses for wedding photography

Félicia Sisco and Fabio Mirulla, Canon Ambassadors and award-winning photographers with a string of clients around the world, reveal the best lenses for shooting weddings.
A bride in a long, flowing white dress stands on a rocky coastline, with her back to the camera, as the sun sets over the ocean.

Wedding and bridal fashion photographer Félicia Sisco says if she had to choose just one lens to take with her on a wedding shoot, it would be the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM. "For me, everything is perfect in this shot," she says. "The f/1.2 aperture is incredible for picking out detail and the background is beautifully smooth." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/8000 sec, f/1.2 and ISO400. © Félicia Sisco

Whether you're photographing an intimate elopement, a micro wedding, a quirky alternative wedding or a traditional big wedding reception, the right kit is key. So which are the best Canon lenses for wedding photography? What are the essential features to look for in a Canon wedding lens? And which lenses will be both reliable and fast to focus, enabling you to deliver results time and time again?

We spoke to internationally renowned wedding and bridal fashion photographer Félicia Sisco, based in Paris and Corsica, and Fabio Mirulla, from near Florence in Italy, who was the grand winner at the International Wedding Photographer of the Year awards in 2021. Here, these wedding specialists open their kitbags and reveal their favourite Canon lenses for capturing a couple's special day. In addition, Mike Burnhill, Senior Product Specialist at Canon Europe, explains how the technology behind these lenses makes them so well-suited to the genre.

A bride and groom emerge from a doorway onto the street, surrounded by people cheering and throwing confetti.

Félicia likes to get in close and be part of the action. "With the RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM, I can be right in the scene and shoot wide-angle, but without any distortion," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm, 1/320 sec, f/4.5 and ISO500. © Félicia Sisco

1. Best wide-angle lens for immersive portraits: Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM

"Nothing beats this lens for group shots in tight spaces, both indoors and when the wedding party is coming out of the church," says Félicia, who shoots with a Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6. "It's also ideal when you need to get in close but still want a wide view, like when the couple are cutting the cake. And if the wedding is at a beautiful location, this lens gives me the freedom to include the surroundings as a backdrop."

From a technical standpoint, Mike says: "This is a great multi-purpose lens and the fast aperture means you can shoot indoors at the reception and on the dancefloor. The wide-angle zoom range is ideal for interiors of churches and other wedding venues and the optical image stabilisation works in conjunction with the IBIS in newer EOS R System cameras to give super-stable handheld shooting for both stills and video."

The Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens.

Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM

The wide-angle zoom range and fast aperture make this lens ideal for wedding portraits and group shots both indoors and outside, as well as for capturing beautiful surroundings.
A black and white portrait of a bride in side profile, reflected in a mirror, applying make-up to her eyebrows.

"The RF 85mm F1.2 is like my 'desert island' lens," says Félicia. "I couldn't bear to be without it. I don't just use it for individual portraits – it's also great for small groups and capturing all sorts of other detail." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/100 sec, f/2.8 and ISO500. © Félicia Sisco

A couple embrace on a hillside as the sun sets behind them, a bottle of champagne and two glasses at their feet.

Fabio, who also uses the EOS R5 and EOS R6, loves the way he can capture detail with the RF 85mm F1.2L USM, blurring the background yet retaining rich colours and tones. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/250 sec, f/2 and ISO125. © Fabio Mirulla

2. Best lens for capturing details: Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM

"For me, one of the most important times during a wedding is when the bride is getting ready," says Félicia. "Of course, the groom is important too, but when the bride puts on her wedding dress and her hair and make-up are just done, it's a magical moment. I feel that capturing portraits of the bride is the most important part of my work, and no lens does this better than the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM. The focal length and aperture let me focus all the attention on key details, like the bride's eyes, and soften everything else with exquisite bokeh. Nothing makes a bride look more beautiful than this lens. But it's also very versatile. I use this lens and the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM more than any other during the actual ceremony."

Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM

This lens gives you great sharpness where you need it, along with flattering skin tones and stunningly beautiful bokeh for defocused areas.

Fabio, who also uses the RF 85mm F1.2L USM, recently shot an entire wedding using only prime lenses. "Prime lenses stop you being lazy. You're forced to move, to find the right position at the right moment. And when I'm moving around, other great shooting possibilities will catch my eye. For picking out details, the precision of this lens with the autofocus systems of my EOS R5 and EOS R6 cameras is unbelievable. At beautiful locations, especially in the countryside, you can focus on the detail you want and make it stand out by blurring the background, while keeping all its wonderful colours."

"The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is one of Canon's legendary lenses but the latest RF edition produces stunning portraits," adds Mike. "You can get incredible sharpness in the eyes but the roll-off is very flattering for skin, making it look smooth and beautiful without picking out every hair and whisker. It's renowned for its beautiful bokeh. The Defocus Smoothing edition (Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS) further enhances bokeh. Two layers of coatings are applied to smooth the edges of 'bokeh discs', typically created by the likes of defocused fairy lights and candles."

A close-up shot of a laughing couple, their faces bent together so their noses and foreheads are touching.

At f/1.2, the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM comes into its own for isolating the subject, in this case focusing all the attention on the eyes. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/8000 sec, f/1.2 and ISO250. © Fabio Mirulla

3. Best lens for isolating the subject: Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

"This is such an incredible lens," says Félicia. "If I had to shoot a whole wedding with just one lens, it would be this one. I prefer moving into the scene and engaging with people rather than zooming and the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM is perfect for this. Whether I'm taking portraits of a single person or a couple, it gives a really natural perspective, the ultra-bright aperture is great even in really low lighting, and the tight depth of field lets me isolate the subject."

Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

A 50mm f/1.2 prime lens for supreme clarity and sharpness right to the edge of the frame, plus remarkable low-light performance.

Fabio adds, "The speed of this lens is superb when there's very little light. It gives me beautiful results when I shoot in churches and at candlelit receptions. For portraits especially, I don't want people to look at an image and say, 'Wow, what a beautiful church.' By throwing the background out of focus, the people in the portraits get full attention."

Mike describes this as "Canon's 'game-changing' lens" because it has brought something new to photographers and videographers alike. "There was once a time when super-fast apertures meant there was a compromise in overall image quality. This lens changed these rules, not only producing stunning image quality but delivering that super-fast aperture for low light or extremely shallow depth of field."

A make-up artist and a bride shot from the side in front of a shuttered window. The make-up artist is spraying a liquid onto the bride's face and the droplets are captured in mid-air by the light from the window.

"I love difficult light," says Felicia. "I even closed the window shutters for this shot and the spray catching the light makes it interesting. The speed of the RF 28-70mm F2L USM freezes the motion and everything looks perfect." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM lens at 31mm, 1/200 sec, f/2.2 and ISO1250. © Félicia Sisco

A bride in a long, flowing net dress, holding a bouquet of white flowers and looking towards the floor. She is standing in front of a circular stone window.

"I generally prefer shooting with prime lenses but the videographer was in the way," explains Felicia. "I switched to the RF 28-70mm F2L USM and the zoom lens gave me the flexibility I needed to work around the other guy and get the shot." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM lens at 41mm, 1/6400 sec, f/2 and ISO400. © Félicia Sisco

4. Best zoom lens for wedding photography: Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM

"There are times during any wedding when I can't get to the spot I'd really like to shoot from, so this zoom lens gives me the flexibility I need," says Félicia. "I hate using flash and it's often not allowed during the ceremony anyway, so the bright f/2 aperture lets me shoot with just natural light. The range of focal lengths is perfect for moments like exchanging the rings and the first kiss, and the aperture enables shutter speeds that are fast enough to freeze any movement. It's really useful for group shots too, and for taking candid shots at the reception."

Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM

The range of focal lengths and fast f/2 aperture make this zoom lens the ultimate choice for versatility during wedding ceremonies.

Mike is particularly impressed with the Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM's abilities as a zoom lens. "It provides stunning image quality with a fast aperture, normally only found in prime lenses. The range of focal lengths at f/2 means you don't have to carry numerous prime lenses and keep swapping between them. It also avoids the risk of missing an important shot due to changing the lens on the camera. The zoom range covers most of the favoured focal lengths for wedding photography, coupled with the unique ability for a zoom lens to shoot in very low light or blur backgrounds." If you're shooting on a DSLR, the closest match is the highly acclaimed Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, which pairs seamlessly with EOS R System cameras via the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R.

A portrait of a smiling flower girl in a ruffled dress leaning on the back of her chair and resting her chin on her hand.

"The RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM is brilliant for candid shots," says Félicia. "I can shoot from quite a distance and get lovely, natural 'close-ups', and the f/2.8 aperture makes for a nice, blurry background." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 200mm, 1/8000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO250. © Félicia Sisco

5. Best long lens for outdoor portraits: Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

"This lens is perfect for candid shots of people as they're relaxing and interacting outdoors after the ceremony," says Félicia. "When you really have to keep a distance, the zoom range and aperture of the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM is perfect." And it isn't just great for outdoor portraits. "During the ceremony, when the priest or registrar is talking, I use the time to take portraits of all the wedding guests while they're seated," Félicia adds. "Naturally, I can't move around much so the range of telephoto focal lengths is ideal."

The Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM lens.

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

The combination of zoom range, fast aperture and up to 8-stops of combined image stabilisation when paired with IBIS-equipped cameras make this an essential lens for wedding photography.

"You'll find a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in practically every professional wedding photographer's bag," agrees Mike. "The telephoto reach and fast aperture let you get in close even when you physically need to keep a distance, and it's great for candid wedding shots as well as for blurring the background to get rid of distractions."

Canon also offers a wide range of prime lenses, perfectly suited to wedding portraits. "When I shoot the couple outdoors and I want that incredible bokeh, the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens is fantastic. It's one of my favourite lenses in the world," says Fabio. "I can use it at the maximum aperture of f/2 because it has incredible image quality, and on my EOS R5 and EOS R6 via an EF-EOS R mount adapter, I also get image stabilisation.

"The reception is my favourite time during the big day," Fabio continues. "It's when I get to tell the story and I use the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens for an immersive look. To stay close to people and to stay in the moment, the 24mm is perfect for me, and it works really well on an EOS R System body with an EF-EOS R adapter. I'm also a fan of the Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM. It gives an incredibly wide viewing angle but it's tiny."

Skrevet af Kevin Carter and Matthew Richards


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