View Full Version : Which camera to take to my brothers wedding?

01-21-2010, 01:54 AM
Hi my Brother asked me to be the photographer at there wedding, I declined as Its far to important for someone who has never done a wedding before, plus I want to be there with my family not as the official photographer... saying that I'v always wanted to give it a go, and I'm sure the official photographer won't be shooting film or printing in a home black and white darkroom.
Therefore I am going to try and take some informal "real" pictures plus one or two formal medium formats... would love to show up the pros work!

My normal shooting is strictly as a serious amateur, normally Street and Landscape. I use a dslr for cataloging trials and some landscapes at work only.

I am tossing up which camera/s to take. My main choices are:

Zorki 4K - my favorite street shooter, but can have issues if not loaded carefully
Canonet QL17- sturdy and reliable, not quite as wide a lens as i normally work with but will fit in my pocket, i generally don't trust its meter but it does work, frame counter is missing.
Praktica BC1 - reliable has apeture priority mode and multiple lens' to pick from , though that means carrying a bag with me ... so i could also bring the spare body, but then i might as well have taken on the full job.
Mamiya Super23 - sort of a given this is coming with tripod, will take a couple of formal shots with it, then it will go back to the car.
Roliflex-T - name may say is all, but i do find the pictures from this a little soft... perhaps it needs a CLA.

Film i'm intending to use is HP5 which i love working with for mixed lighting (street) and either FP4 for the formal shots or something a bit finer grained like PanF for the Mamiya.

Any throughts Guys?
Would the Canonet be the best all rounder, or the Praktica? or should I risk my favorite (Zorki) and just be super careful with the loading (keep a film change bag in the car) and enjoy the head turns?
I will probably only shoot one roll, though over 7.5hrs the street photographer in me is going to be itching to shoot more...

Look forwards to all throughts and comments.
P.s I do have more cameras to choose from... perhaps my Ensign Folder...!

Ian Grant
01-21-2010, 02:11 AM
If the Canonet has a good fast lens and the rangefinders accurate use that, my camera of choice is a Leica with just a 50mm lens and 200 ISO Fuji film, that's worked extremely well at numerous family weddings as I've been able to shoot in the churcj & at the receptions hand held with no flash.

Use the Mamiya for some formal shots, but remember as immediate family you may need to help with the guests etc so need to be fast working.


Rick A
01-21-2010, 05:54 AM
Take whichever camera that is light weight, unobtrusive, quiet, and non-threatening to the hired photog. Then keep an eye on the hired man(discretely)and take mental notes of what he does, so that later on you might feel up to shooting a wedding yourself. You can ask questions, but be aware of the tone of the response(some of these people are primadonas)and by all means do not shadow them. Stay alert, you may end up with the better shots, and find out you are a good wedding photographer.


Marcus S
01-21-2010, 11:51 PM
Perhaps try some sloooow photography with fine grained film and good printing. A few, well thought out images of the wedding couple might work better for you, since you also like to participate in the wedding yourself. Many wedding photographers seem to be bend on shooting hundreds of images and they forgot that tripods still exist.
If your Rolleiflex T is up to it, a square format would be a refreshing change over the conventional.
Set yourself apart, be different.


Craig Swensson
01-22-2010, 12:46 AM
greetings and welcome fotopom, i was in a similar situation last year, too many cameras, which to take?
like you i was comfortable with a zorki but really wanted to use 120 even though i knew a 3.5 lens would not cut it. In the end i opted for the fastest lens, 1.4 50mm on an old minolta sr7 that i had not used for ages.Used xp2 at EI 250, this worked for me as like you i wanted to participate and not have the distraction of a complicated setup. Got some weird looks from the pro but i also got some great casuals which he did not.So i would sugest fastest lens. Zorki or canon? good luck

01-22-2010, 10:46 PM
Thank you for your responses guys, starting to get some ideas... maybe fp4 with a fast lens for the 35mm stuff and panf for the out door medium format stuff.
For the 35mm format stuff, i'm only going to use one lens. Which would you guys suggest ...? my canonet Ql17 only comes with a fixed fairly wide lens (40mm f1.7), otherwise the Zorki comes with a 35 (f2.8) due to design this has very little distortion edge to edge or 50mm (f2), my Praktica comes with 28mm (f2.8) 50mm (1.8) I also have a (something like) 35-70mm zoom but its crap and a longer 70-210mm (f4.5-5.6) which is good quality but to slow me thinks. I'm leaning towards the canonet more and more, however I do have an old canon RM with a sharp 50mm (f1.8) built like a brick s**t house thats good fun to use as well.
If I take the Mamiya I'll use its 100mm (f3.5) lens and a 6x9back.

Hope the extra info helps!
Cheers, Dan

01-22-2010, 11:45 PM
Good luck.

Marcus S
01-23-2010, 11:29 PM
The more weddings I shoot, the more I appreciate the qualities of prime lenses instead of zooms.
Keep it simple.

01-24-2010, 12:13 AM
Play to your strength (Street shooting) and don't duplicate what the hired pro is there to do. Therefore, I think the Zorki and/or Canonet would be best.

Not sure how you'd do the formals. The hired pro has a job to do and may not be comfortable if you're organizing you own formals unless he/she is done with those subjects. I might be tempted to use the Super 23 without tripod (certainly doable) to be as mobile as possible. It might mean sticking with a faster film, but a 6x7 HP5 negative is nothing to be ashamed of.

01-24-2010, 12:52 AM
I'd vote for the Canonet if you were going to stick to one camera. It's small and non-intrusive, which is good for you as well as the event. If you're there mostly as a guest, you don't want to be dragging too much kit around.

01-24-2010, 10:50 PM
I'd vote for the Canonet as well - and I'd suggest concentrating on getting lots of informal shots of the family and other guests.

Unless the "pro" messes up, he/she will get the usual shots. Your shots may end up being the special records of treasured memories.


01-24-2010, 11:49 PM
Sounds like I should street shoot this wedding with my Canonet! and do a couple of quick formals with the Mamiya Super23 with 6x7back on.
I suppose portrait is what people expect at a wedding, so shooting wide and close could be quite different -and still allow me to be a guest (and not get bored!).


02-13-2010, 08:04 PM
Update (3 weeks till wedding).

Took the Canonet for a run on Australia day put through 3 films. Pictures came out perfectly, however I found my self struggling with the awkward focus lever thing being so close to the body (guess I have big fingers).

Mean while at our camera collectors meeting I asked about my film travel problem with the Zorki (I'm officially embarrassed) the old bloke showed me the basics again of how to load a film into a camera... seriously have been doing this since the 80s... well, unlike the canonet and my old prakticas where you drop the cassette in place pull the film over and let the take up spool pick it up by its self... the Zorki which i try to load the same way but with poking the film through by my self... apparently you poke the film all the way through the slot on the take up spool first, letting it go right the way through so it doubles back on its self, then you pull the film across and drop the cassette in place. It doesn't matter that the end of the film may get caught in the take up spool when you rewind as ... ... ... the end of the film is all ready exposed from when you loaded it, and so it doesn't matter if you have to pull the back off the camera to get the last piece of film to separate from the take up spool (after you have already rewound the bulk of it) as the end is already exposed! and this means zero chance of the film falling of the spool cause i haven't stuck the end in enough! all i have to do is make sure the release mechanism for rewinding is released properly and it will work fine!!

I intend to take Zorki purely as I am comfortable using it, even shooting from the hip making good sharp pictures without people realizing they are being photographed therefore capturing the true moment. Also Zorki has several lenses I can interchange though i think wide is good for group scenes and especially candid moments. Any portrait pictures will be taken with Mamiya Press camera, and any other formal pics will be done by the pro photographer any how.
This way I can take some fun pics but not be swept away from my family -kind of like this guy from the 70s...! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_Yo3FRPeQw

02-13-2010, 08:09 PM
He he just found this one too! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckSm10LZauA
and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWlj9ZJkliA

03-28-2010, 09:03 AM
Well, got a little carried away, took the Zorki, Canonet QL17 and the Mamiya Super 23.
Zorki 4K got loaded with Ilford FP4, took one shot then went inside, so that was a bit of a waste.
Canonet was already loaded with HP5, this held me in good stead as a back up shooter for the fast stuff I just wasn't good enough to get with the mamiya, and produced the most consistent pictures. Was also handy as a backup shooter in the reception, once mounted with a small flash.
Mamiya was excellent, but very bulky and stressful when it came to remembering to get all the settings right quickly. However took some excellent shots that I am enlarging to 11x14 (ish).

Things I learnt. Definitely carry a small camera along with the MF. Don't carry to many film backs all loaded with different film - HP5 in MF actualy looks fantastic blown up, almost better than the PanF 50 (though I am a street photographer with natural bias!). Next time I would have two types of film, not three, and would have several backs loaded with both ready to go. Don't have a 6x7 back in amongst 6x9 backs as you will forget..! Don't get in trouble with the missus when you get invited by the pro to come along to the photo shoot off site as you are supposed to be a wedding guest not the pro's off sider... still the missus came as she new the layout of the location better than any one else including the pro (whoops!)

Thanks for all the advice guys, think I would love to do it again, but with less stress and a bit more organisation. Still I definitely got some shots the pro didn't, so once mounted I'll have a nice gift for my Bro and Sis in law.

P.s fill flash kicks Ass, but is another calculation I had to do whilst light metering setting manual speed, aperture, and remembering to winding on the film, changing back, put back in the dark side, pull out the dark side and focusing ... Damn those old pros must have been good.