Whether you’re a seasoned wedding photog or just starting out, at some point you’ll want a camera with features to serve your business. That can be a tough call, since capturing still images at weddings requires some of the features you’d find in a sports camera or for portraiture and others you’d want for nature or landscape work.
The right mix of features spans those subjects and much more, like the bride and groom, wedding guests, and the beauty of the ceremony and event venues.
There is no single best choice in terms of camera type or sensor size, either. As you develop your skills, you can shoot with a variety of equipment and have the results turn out well. You’ll be prepared for sunny outdoor settings, dimly lit interiors and everything in between.
If you’re looking for the best camera for wedding photography and you focus on stills, we have a list of options for you. For each type of camera and specific sensor category, we bring you the best overall and a close runner-up, and believe me, these were close. Here’s our list of the best wedding photo still cameras.
8 Best Cameras for Wedding Photography
- Best Mirrorless Overall: Sony A7R III
- Mirrorless Runner-Up: Sony A7 III
- Best DSLR Overall: Nikon D850
- DSLR Runner-Up: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- Best Crop Sensor: Nikon D7500
- Crop Sensor Runner-Up: Canon EOS 80D
- Best Small Sensor: Olympus OM-D E-M1X
- Small Sensor Runner-Up: Panasonic Lumix GH5
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The Complete Cameras for Wedding Photography Buyer’s Guide
- What Makes a Camera Great for Wedding Stills
- FAQs about Cameras for Wedding Photography
- Selection Criteria for Cameras for Wedding Imaging
What Makes a Camera Great for Wedding Stills
- Mirrorless vs. DSLR
- Handheld Stability
- Ease of Use
- Other Features
Think about how you would typically be shooting still images at a wedding. Most of your shots will be candids, often handheld, as you move around to find the best angle. You don’t want to be the center of attention because of camera noise, distracting movements with a travel tripod, or focusing issues.
On the other hand, you want crisp pictures because those bring in the depth of field and action that creates emotion, and weddings are all about emotion. Yes, you need to consider the lenses along with the body, but let’s begin with the cameras themselves and consider why you’d select one over another.
Mirrorless vs. DSLR
It could be said that in previous years, the reason you used a DSLR was because they could produce the best images on the market and lenses were readily available. Mirrorless is catching up, however, and they have one big advantage over their larger, heavier siblings. They are quiet.
Mirrorless cameras do not have the mirror that needs to tilt up when exposing an image. That action produces the discernible click we hear from DSLRs, and there is no way for those bodies to avoid making it. Mirrorless cameras are silent, and when you’re trying to blend into the background at a wedding, you need that quiet.
DSLRs, on the other hand, use through-the-lens viewfinder technology, which means what you see through the viewfinder is what you’ll get on the image. Mirrorless viewfinders are most often offset electronic representations of this, and some don’t even have that capability. You’ll have to decide this on your own, because we can’t play favorites from one camera type to another.
When you’re moving around the wedding venue, you’ll be shifting your focus from the happy couple to their guests to the sights around them on a regular basis. This means you’ll be using your camera as a handheld, and you want something that makes this easy.
Weight and size are factors (another place where mirrorless tend to win over DLSRs) but more importantly, you want the camera to help you focus fast.
This is accomplished through two mechanisms: a fast and accurate autofocusing system (bonus points if its motor is quiet too, but that’s most often a lens issue) and image stabilization.
The more autofocusing points you have, the more options you’ll have for selecting the focal point of a shot. The trade-off is often ease of selection, though, which is why touchscreens that adjust settings are so popular.
Image stabilization (IS) creates forgiveness if your hand shakes a little bit, or you haven’t completely settled your breathing before you press the shutter release. It also compensates for vibrations from the gear itself. This is less important when you have the camera on a tripod for posed stills, but for handheld work, it is critical.
Ease of Use
You won’t be telling the bride she has to repeat that moment when she stares into her groom’s eyes as she recites the vows she wrote, nor will you be asking the groom to spontaneously sweep his now-wife off her feet for the first kiss – again. (Okay, he might be pleased to do that, but you won’t be asked to photograph any more weddings for people who overhear the request.) You need a camera that is easy to adjust, focus, and shoot so you can concentrate on composition and framing.
Part of this comes from practice with the camera, but if the camera requires three clicks to do something other bodies only need a single swipe to accomplish, which will be easier to use on the fly? Intuitive adjustments with a minimal number of movements from you brings you back to the job more quickly. Touchscreens make life a whole lot easier here.
You want the perfect set of lenses to complement your body, so you want a depth of choices with great glass and features like silent autofocusing and even IS in the lenses, because redundancy never hurts.
While lenses are outside the scope of this article, suffice to say that having a couple hundred lens options can just about guarantee you’ll find what you want. Picking professional grade optics is always a good idea, because your major gear investment is usually in lenses, and your body is more frequently upgraded down the road.
If you shoot a lot of outdoors scenes, weather sealing is a plus. A built-in flash is nice for filling in lighting without a lot of pre-setup bother. Having a hot shoe for additional lighting is a big benefit.
You will be carrying extra batteries, but overall battery life that lasts through the ceremony makes your photog life easier. While you will be using this camera primarily for stills, having 4K video resolution allows you to take advantage of that perfect moment without changing gear. The more options you have to capture the magic, the better.
Don’t forget things like how the camera fits in your hand and where the controls are located. Good ergonomics can mean the difference between shooting for hours (which you will be) and feeling engaged and pleased with the results, and exhausting yourself (bad photos, anyone?).
Finally, you’ll want to have RAW capability, because those images are the ones you can adjust in the greatest detail in post-production on your photo editing monitor.
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FAQs about Cameras for Wedding Photography
- Can a crop sensor camera be used for professional wedding photography?
- What camera type is best for low light conditions?
- Does the size of the memory card slot matter?
- Are wedding cameras good for other kinds of photography?
- How much do I need to practice with my wedding camera?
Don’t ask us if a mirrorless is better than a DSLR, because both have benefits and it depends on your preferences. Likewise, we cannot answer the Nikon-versus-Canon debate – again, personal preference. But here are some frequently posed questions about cameras for wedding photography we can help you with.
Can a crop sensor camera be used for professional wedding photography?
Yes, if you understand the differences the smaller sensor creates. First, your equivalent or effective focal length of your lenses will change.
The smaller the sensor (that would be crop sensor or APS-C), the longer the equivalent focal range, changing the way your lens sees the scene. (The so-called small sensor cameras on our list are even smaller and the focal range adjusts to even longer.)
Also, you will appear to be closer to the subject when you look through the viewfinder. That means to fill a sensor in the viewfinder, you might need to be ten feet away with a full frame and fifteen with a crop sensor. With practice, you won’t even realize there is a difference, though, unless you change camera bodies often.
What’s more important is the resolution of the sensor, expressed in megapixels (MP). The more MPs, the more detail you’ll get, and anything above 20MP is great with today’s technology. Higher MPs also increase the size of the file you’re saving in bytes, which can be a downside if you don’t use larger-sized memory cards.
What camera type is best for low light conditions?
DSLRs have been the best for low light shooting because the sensor system grabs more light. You will also find the viewfinder easier to use in a DSLR. This isn’t to say mirrorless can’t do low light, but you’ll find it easier with a DSLR.
Does the size of the memory card slot matter?
The best cameras, and all the ones on our list fall into this group, have slots that accommodate cards with different memory sizes. This means you learn what the max is for your camera (which will be a lot) and select the kind of memory card you want based on this. Some cameras come with two slots, not always for the same card size.
Are wedding cameras good for other kinds of photography?
Generally, they are, but it depends on what else you like to shoot. For example, the silence of a mirrorless is also great for close-up wildlife work. Low light DSLRs handle indoor events where supplemental lighting is impossible with better ease.
How much do I need to practice with my wedding camera?
You want to practice so much that the camera is an extension of your body and you don’t have to think about what you’re doing. You can then concentrate on composition and framing, because that’s where your professional magic makes a difference. The camera is a tool, and you are the craftsperson.
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Selection Criteria for Cameras for Wedding Imaging
- Camera Type
- Lens Mount
- Image Stabilization
The selection criteria for our best cameras for wedding imaging note the features and specifics we discussed earlier in the article. If a camera lacks a criterion, it isn’t a reason to avoid it if you know how to work with that aspect of photography. Many adjustments can be made in post-production to offset a shortcoming in field work.
Note that all cameras on our list can save images in RAW file type. All but the Canon EOS 80D have 4K video; that Canon has 1920 x 1080, fine for computer screens but not for televisions.
In this criterion, we note camera style (mirrorless or DSLR). Silence weights a choice toward mirrorless, and low light and other performance factors favor DSLR. Really, neither is a bad choice.
We discussed the differences between full frame, crop sensors and small sensor (Four Thirds) earlier, and we note the size here. We also list the sensor resolution. While “the more the better” is one philosophy in resolution megapixels (MP), you’ll also have more potential adjustments in post-production and larger file sizes to save.
You’ll be researching lenses next, so knowing the mount used on your body is key. We add more about native and other lenses available at the time of this comparison in the comments for that camera. Again, there is not a bad choice among any of the cameras we list for lens availability.
IS in the camera helps offset instances when jitters or vibrations (mechanical in the camera and lens or in your surroundings) would otherwise create a blurred image. We think this is a must for wedding photogs, but if you’re otherwise steady, you can survive without it. (Note that many lenses also come with IS.)
Ergonomics matter, so we list the weight of the camera for you here. Remember that you’ll be adding the lenses to this. If reviewers or users have other observations about overall ergonomics, we note them in the comments.
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