Church wedding with a Nikon D-80

Nancy’s going to be shooting a wedding inside a small church and wrote to ask what flash she should use for her Nikon D-80.

Nikon has several external flashes, but for most people I recommend the SB-600.  The SB-800 does provide a bit more range and some other features for people using multiple-flash setups, but most people don’t use those features and the additional range is not worth the higher price tag.

Wedding photographers often use more powerful flashes, especially for
group shots, but the cost is significantly higher and since these units
don’t support Nikon’s rather advanced flash system, you’ll most likely
end up shooting in manual mode, which introduces additional complexity that most consumers don’t want to deal with.

Keep in mind that when shooting indoors with a flash, there are
multiple factors at play like ambient light, flash power, lens focal
length, and lens aperture.  If you’re shooting with a wide angle lens
to fit in a group you may need a diffuser on your flash or the center of the image will
be much brighter than the sides.  Another technique is to bounce your
flash off a low ceiling, and while that will help diffuse the light, it
will also reduce the effective distance of your flash.  You’ll want to
use a large aperture if possible (i.e. let as much light into the lens
as possible, but keep in mind that a large aperture also decreases your
depth of field, so you need to watch your focus point when shooting
groups.

Also, keep in mind that your flash is not only for indoors.  Many photographers use their flashes for fill light when shooting outdoors with their subject’s back to the sun or in the shade.

3 thoughts on “Church wedding with a Nikon D-80

  1. Hi – I am looking at buying a Nikon D80 package on Ebay. It is new and comes with three lenses … 18 – 55 DX Nikon and 70 – 300 Di Lens and a high res wide angle lens. I can switch out any lens for something different (at minimal cost). Are these a good choice or would you prefer the 18 – 70?
    Package is 1648.00USD and also comes with the bag of my choice, tripod, two 2BG SD cards, filter kit, card reader etc.
    What are your thoughts? I would like buy SOON!!!
    Thanks!

  2. I just bought a D80 with an 18-200 AF VR lens.
    I’m not a super experienced photographer, but based on my previous SLR use as a consumer, I didn’t find a lot of use for lenses longer than about 200mm. In “film” terms, that 70-300 is like a 200-450 on a film camera.
    Your mileage may vary, of course, but I’d consider trading the 18-55 and 70-300 lenses for this one: NIKON DX NIKKOR AF-S 18-200 F3.5-5.6 VR ED. I’ve been playing with it and already I love it…

  3. Stacy,
    It really depends on what and where you want to shoot. If you’re looking for a general purpose consumer lens, I think Darin’s suggestion is bang on. One lens covering 18-200. My second choice would be the 18-70.
    On the other hand, if you intend to shoot in low light and do extensive work indoors (such as wedding photography), then you really should be looking for fast (i.e. f2.8) lenses, but they are *much* more expensive. Another option would be to get the 18-200 and then pick up Nikon’s 50mm f1.8 lens — it’s tack sharp, great in low light, and goes for about $200.
    The phrase “high res wide angle lens” makes me nervous. If you’re buying the Nikon 12-24mm DX lens, cool, but it’s about $800. 18mm on the D80 is equivilent to 28mm on a 35mm film camera. Unless you have a specific purpose for such a wide lens, understand the type of distortion it will cause, and how to manage it, I’d stick to 18mm+.

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