**Currently booking through fall 2023!**
One of the things I get asked about a LOT is what kind of gear I’m using these days – what are the best cameras for elopement photographers? Which lenses should I get? Is there anything specific you recommend? Cameras for elopement photographers have come a LONG way in the last few years and the equipment I choose to use has evolved right along with the industry. So, let’s talk about it! Here is my elopement photography gear in 2021!
One VERY important thing to know before we get started: I am not a tech person (much to my techy husband’s chagrin). I can’t tell you how many megapixels these cameras have nor do I know anything about the fancy processors and things they use. Honestly? I don’t care about that stuff. What I DO care about is my gear being reliable, user-friendly, and producing stunning photos. I’m pretty demanding of my equipment. I shoot in off the grid locations, in remote areas with not a camera store for a few hundred miles, and in all kinds of weather – my photography gear needs to work for me and stand up to the beating I put it through (cold, snow, rain, bashing against rocks …) on a regular basis.
What this post will cover: Elopement Photography Gear
To keep this sort of short-ish I’m going to focus solely on the stuff I use in the field to help me make photos, which as you may have guessed, is just a super small section of what I use in my job. We’re going to talk about cameras and lenses and the absolute necessities for shooting. I’ll leave discussions about the things I bring for myself and my clients to stay happy and safe (microspikes, medicines, etc.) and software and other services for another day. This is all about the gear itself!
My Gear Journey
I got my first camera circa 2010 with no intentions of being an elopement photographer – or really a photographer at all! It was just going to be a fun hobby. My first camera was a Canon Rebel T2i that came with the kit lenses. It felt like a huge purchase and an awesome camera at the time and you know what? It was! I shot the hell out of that thing on hikes and adventures and taking pictures of my family and dogs. It was the gateway drug that got me into all of this.
When I finally decided to retire that camera I made a huge upgrade to a Canon 6D and then eventually and then when I finally decided to go pro and realized I needed a second camera I bought a 5D Mark III (and later a 5D Mk IV) and all the L glass to go with it … and I’ve been on quite the journey since.
Taken with Canon 5dMk IV and Canon 35mm f/1.2
As my business began to transition to ONLY elopements and tiny weddings I realized that I wanted a lighter system. Mirrorless cameras were making huge waves in the photography world and I jumped on board. After trying Sony and Fujifilm extensively I have landed on Fuji and there’s no going back!
Fuji vs Sony for Elopement Photographers
Sony seems to be the frontrunner in the photography market these days so I was super excited to try these cameras out. I picked up a couple A7III’s and shot an entire season with the Sony kit and …. didn’t like it. The cameras are incredible. But they’re not for me. They’re smart but they’re TOO smart. I was never really able to get the hang of them and they never felt intuitive. The autofocus was lightening fast but too complicated. The menus had a ton of options but I could never find was I was looking for. And they weren’t all THAT small. Sony definitely makes insanely good gear … it’s just not the right gear for me.
Fuji, on the other hand, is my jam. The cameras are SO good and SO intuitive. I can find what I’m looking for in the menus and I love – and I mean LOVE – having the manual dials to control shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Do they perform QUITE as well in low light as the Sony full frame cameras? No – but they’re still very capable (see the northern lights photo below, taken on an XT3). They just … work. And they are a joy to shoot with. Add to that the fact that the X-series is quite a bit smaller and lighter than the A7IIIs, the cameras are pretty affordable, and the glass is incredible and Fuji was definitely the system for me.
Aurora Borealis in Norway taken with Fuji XT3 + 16mm lens
My Photography Gear in 2022
With all that in mind, lets talk about what I’m shooting these days!
This little thing! I love this little thing!! The X100F is a camera that I mostly use for personal shooting but it also comes in super handy in situations where I can’t take a big camera. For instance, last year I shot an elopement that ended with a concert at Red Rocks. Red Rocks doesn’t allow cameras with interchangeable lenses but because the Fuji has a fixed lens I had no problem getting it in. Plus, it’s just SUPER fun to shoot with. This camera lives on our coffee table half the time so that I can grab it quickly anytime I need it. It’s awesome.
Fujifilm XF 16-55 f/2.8 WR
Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 WR
While I plan on doing a whole other post on the non-camera stuff that I use for elopements, I did want to also include a few other things that are really important because I literally couldn’t carry my cameras with out them!
I. love. these. straps. I’ve been using the same pair for almost four years and I’m not sure how I’d get by without them. Not only do they hold up amazingly, they’re also comfortable … and they look fly AF! I know these are super popular with wedding photographers but they work equally well for elopements – I’ve even worn them while hanging 500 feet off the side of a cliff, photographing a couple! This is one piece of elopement photography gear that I absolutely could not live without!
This is my go-to strap for when I just want to carry one camera. I love how easy it is to attach and detach cameras from these straps and I feel like they are super secure!
This is my go to camera backpack. I use it for probably 75% of my elopements (as well as almost all of my personal travel) and I absolutely adore it. I went back and forth between the 21L and the 31L and have no regrets about going with the smaller one. It holds a ton of gear while making it super easy to access, is really comfortable to wear, and looks awesome. It also easily fits into overhead bins on airplanes (I love that the minimalist design means there aren’t straps flying everywhere!). I’ve put this thing through the ringer in the two years that I’ve owned it and it still looks brand new. I love this backpack!
This is the bag I use if I need to take more stuff than what my WANDRD bag can hold. It holds a TON of stuff and gets the job done when nothing else does. My biggest beef with it, though, is that for me it is a little too long (i’m 5’4″) and it lacks the support that a traditional adventure backpack has. Having said that, I use it regularly and it works well!
The Tilopa and I getting soaked, and being no worse for the wear, in Iceland
This bag was such a splurge and so worth it. This is the bag I use whenever i need something smaller (I almost always use this and the WANDRD backpack together on elopement days). It is perfect to hold a couple lenses or small cameras. I usually throw anything I might need to grab quickly during getting ready or anytime we are close to civilization in here. I also use it when I’m traveling …. and basically every day as my purse! I’ve had it for 2+ years now and its wearing so well. I actually think its getting more beautiful with age!
I hope that helps! If you have questions about any of this, drop a comment below! Finding the right gear has been such a trial and error process (and an expensive one at that!) and I’m always happy to help!
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