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 Best Buy 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
Going from Canon to Fuji
After a few years of shooting professionally, and as my business started to focus more on adventure elopements (which meant more hiking and more lugging gear into the backcountry) I decided I needed to slim down my kit. My back and wrists were FEELING all that heavy gear. That was also when mirrorless was clearly becoming the future of photography. I decided to make the switch to Fujifilm – beginning with the XT2 and then moving on to the XT3s when they came out.
The switch from Canon to Fuji involved a bit of a learning curve but once I got it I loved the simplicity of the shooting those cameras. I loved how small they were. I loved how they looked. I loved that the glass that goes with them is both affordable and super, super high quality. What I didn’t love? The APS-C sensor and how it looked on a 23mm (which is the APS-C equivalent of a 35mm) lens.
35mm is my go-to focal length and if I could only have one prime it would, hands down, be a 35. I shoot probably 75% of an elopement day on a 35 so NOT loving how photos looked at that focal length? it was a problem. The 23mm Fuji lens is beautiful but there was just no way to get the depth of field that I wanted so I made the heartbreaking decision that it was time to move on …
Aurora Borealis in Norway taken with Fuji XT3 + 16mm lens
Going from Fuji to Sony
I briefly considered adding a GFX to my Fuji lineup but those are SO expensive and I didn’t want to have two totally different camera systems (I’m all about efficiency and that is NOT efficient!) so I decided to look into Sony full frame mirrorless. And the minute I put a 35 on the Sonys? I knew my decision was made. It hurt a little as I was very, very attached to my Fujis. I briefly considered keeping them and shooting Sony also but again, I didn’t want to own that much gear. So I said a very, very hard goodbye to the Fuji equipment and went all in on Sony. (Honestly, if Fuji ever makes a full frame mirrorless there is a very good chance I will go back! Are you listening, Fuji?!?!)
The Sonys are kind of insanely good. Like, really really good. The colors, the autofocus, eye AF, all of it – amazing! Sometimes they feel a little too smart but that’s not necessarily a bad problem to have. What I DON’T love about them is that they are big and heavy. In terms of size and weight they feel a lot more like my old Canons than a mirrorless camera. I can deal with that, though, for how much I love the photos they make.
My Photography Gear in 2021
With all that in mind, lets talk about what I’m shooting these days!
When I first decided to go Sony I went back and forth between the A7III and the A7RIV but the more I looked into it the more I knew that the A7III was the CLEAR choice. These two bodies are my workhorses and they have never let me down. They can take an absolute beating and not once has one of them given me problems.
This is new to my quiver this year! I had been taking my Fuji X100F (more on this below) to shoots with me as my backup camera but I really wanted something that I could change the lenses on as well as something that was in the same system for simplicity in editing. When Sony came out with the A7C I knew I had to get my hands on one! This is a compact version of the A7III that is sized more like an A7III. Because it only has one card slot it will still mostly be my backup camera (and my hiking-for-fun camera!) but I’m pretty stoked about it!
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.
This was the first lens I purchased for the A7III’s and its a doozy! I use this for getting ready photos in tight spaces as well as astrophotography! This baby was not cheap but it was worth every penny.
Couple under the comet Neowise taken with Sony A7III + 24mm f/1.8
Y’all know I love a good 35! I use this baby for the vast majority of my shots on an elopement day and it has never let me down. This was the lens that I put on my Sonys and knew that I had made the right decision by changing. Beautiful beautiful beautiful!
Taken with Sony A7III + Zeiss 35mm f/1.4
This is my favorite lens, which I’m super surprised by! I’ve always owned 50mm lenses but honestly never used them much. I’m almost always a 35/85 shooter and the 50 usually just sat in my bag as a backup. And then I got this 55. I don’t know what it is about this lens but I LOVE IT. There’s just something about it. I use this (along with a 24 or 35) during getting ready for some longer shots. I use this instead of the 85 sometimes for portraits. I use this for a LOT of stuff. And the best thing is? IT IS TINY!!!! Magical lens.
Taken with Sony A7III + Zeiss 55mm f/1.8
I went back and forth between this and the 85mm GMaster and in the end think I made the right decision! This is a gorgeous lens and I love love love it. It’s also way more affordable than the GMaster. Super happy with this baby!
Taken with Sony A7III + Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a prime girl at heart. I rarely shoot with zoom lenses because I just don’t feel like they can quite compete (and because they’re super, super heavy). I pull this lens out sometimes to change it up but its generally my backup lens for if the 85 or 55 go out. I also use it when I really need to Zoom in on something because I don’t have a 120mm (right now)!
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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