Shooting a Wedding with a Canon Rebel | Photography

posted in Camera Gear

Shooting a Wedding with a Canon Rebel | Photography

T1i, T2i, T3i, T4i, xsi, Rebel Wedding Photography (d3300, d3400, d5300, d5500, d5600)

Get Over It

There are going to be a lot of people who will not like, will not agree with, this post. I don’t care. A camera is just a camera. Real talent, real artistry, comes from the mind of the photographer. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again; a good photographer can take great pictures with a lesser camera, and a bad photographer can take absolute crap pictures with the best camera on the market. It’s a fact. It’s not arguable.

There are a lot of photographers out there very afraid of where the industry is heading. They should be. It’s more accessible than ever. Amazing gear is reasonably priced – and that means that more artists have access to great equipment and the gap between professional and amateur is shrinking. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still there. Fear not.

If you are just starting out, don’t let someone tell you that you cannot shoot a wedding using a Rebel. A T4i for example is every bit as good as the Canon 5D original. In fact, on, the T4i scores ten points higher! So to all the anal purists who live in fear buzz off.


What was good enough five or six years ago is suddenly outpaced by a rebel – but yet someone can’t use it to shoot a wedding. That’s just nonsense.

It wasn’t that long ago it would have been absurd to use a digital camera to shoot a wedding. They were all film. Then, people started using the D60 and 10D shooting at 5 megapixels and that was okay.

Fact of the matter is that many photographers took amazing photos using those cameras. So what’s the stigma with the Rebel line and is it true? Well it is true that Rebel users tend to have a bag full of inferior gear – not just the ‘less professional’ camera, and there lies the problem. Where things really stack up against the photographer is with glass and peripherals.

The Other Side of the Coin

Here’s the reality – typically – if you are really into photography, you will want the better professional body cameras – for reliability, a little more dynamic range, and perhaps a dual card slot of security – but the 5D Mark II doesn’t have the last feature, and it was considered the industry standard until the Mark III was released.

On the downside, it is far more likely that a person using a Rebel is also using cheap glass and doesn’t have all the equipment that might be necessary to capture a wedding – like another camera in case one dies on the shoot. Photography is still expensive – professional photography is even more expensive. To take your wedding photography to the next level does require a serious investment. I’m not advocating we all start shooting our weddings with Rebels – Jamie and I use 5D Mark __ series and they suit our needs. Do I have a rebel in the car should everything break or get dropped, damaged – you bet. At times, I have a Rebel on my hip attached to a 70-200mm II  f/2.8 to snap some long shots during an outdoor ceremony. I have no need for a 7D and don’t consider it to be a wedding camera (it’s for sports) – I’d rather spend the money on glass and accessories for no fewer shots than I take on the crop sensor camera.

The glass and other gear is still more important than the camera.

A professional wedding photographer has fast glass – from f/1.4 to f/2.8 and lots of backup batteries, cards, backup cameras, speedlites, more batteries, packs, grips, umbrellas, reflectors, light stands and so forth. The fact of the matter is, if someone told me they were going to shoot my wedding, the question I would ask them isn’t what camera they are going to use – it would be, tell me about all your other gear. What lenses do you have? What flash gear will you use? Will you use the flash on-camera only – or do you have remote triggers?

You are not hiring a camera, you are hiring a wedding photographer.

Without beating a dead horse, it’s not the camera that matters. I might repeat and say it’s the glass and accessories, but here, I’ll shift gears and say, it’s the pictures. It’s the portfolio, it’s the references that matter. You do get what you pay for, and that’s not changing. I’d hire me using two rebel cameras and all my additional gear over 1/2 of the photographers out there running around with 1Ds and D3s and D4s – honestly!

Photographers spend too much time, and too much money, worrying about gear and not enough time working on their craft, studying lighting, studying posing and art, and practicing in varying environments. Canon users spend too much time worrying about Nikon technology instead of reading books and blogs, tips and tutorials. Nikon users spend too much time worrying about Canon tech rather than mastering adapting to changing scenes and their settings without ever pulling their eye from the viewfinder.

Below are a few of the pictures we have taken with our  ‘backup’ or ‘second’ cameras. Stay here if you are interested in more tips/tutorials/gear.

20130718-Pabst-Family-Vacation-Long-Beach-CA-(24-of-113) _wedding-photographer-full-cover-details 20130226-facebook-love-like-review-photography Midwest-Wedding-Photography-02 Midwest-Wedding-Photography-01 bride-limo-smile-black-and-white-hits brides-maids-porch-wedding-photo-hits sears-tower-wedding-photography-chicago-hits first-dance-spin-chicago-wedding-photo-hits bride-and-groom-smile-dance-photography-hits Willis-Tower-Wedding-Photography-Sears (71) Willis-Tower-Wedding-Photography-Sears (66)



  1. I agree, im still starting out in wedding photography and sometimes worry my t3i might not be good enough even though i have 2 pieces of fantastic glass- 70-200 2.8 and 50mm 1.4. however your article assures me and has erased my doubts. in fact i recently went to a portfolio building session and the couple chose me be their wedding photographer out of the rest!!!! despite all the others who were using their 5d’s!!! and just like you said… i spend more time advancing my skills photographically and always look for innovative ways to enhance my images on ps and lr! might i also add… my dslr, that came with 18-55, i have to say i love my kit lens- its not only pushed me to learn and experiment with its limited capabilities but also forced me to understand more about photography, lenses and whats good for what!
    one thing i cannot stand is when photographers who judge you and then you see their work and its flat! no creativity what so ever.
    thanks again for this brutally honest post and restoring my faith!

    • Dear Rita,
      Thank you for your comment. I am interested in your experience with your T3i as I have one myself and I am starting in the wedding photography. I have just shot one wedding and I found out that when using my 55.250 f/4.0 lens I would have too much noise in the pictures. I always set automatic ISO. Have you experience that? Do you think the noise is it because of the maximum aperture of the lens is very low, so ISO has to go up? If you have had any similar experience, I would very much appreciate your opinion.

      Thank you very much!

      • Your problem is leaving your ISO on auto. I shoot t3i and use it for sports in a gym with absolutely terrible lighting and the auto would bump the ISO up to 1600 and after running them through the noise reduction filter on photoshop would have no details. Either go to your settings and limit the ISO to 400 or 800 (800 you get some noise but it’s ok if you have photoshop.) Getting a faster lens (2.8 or less) helps you get a faster shutter speed and lower ISO. I shoot 50mm 1.8 90% of the time in the gym since I can sit on the sidelines and it works fine for me!
        -Happy Shooting!

        • I’ve had the same noise issue, things just not coming up as clear and have left my iso at auto – looking forward to managing the iso more, thinking this is the answer! Thanks!

          Reducing noise in photoshop comes down to that verbage? I usually use light room and up the clarity but maybe thats a newby fix as well.

  2. While I don’t doubt that a in the right hands, a Canon Rebel or similar entry DSLR can produce excellent wedding images, it might create an image problem with the photographer himself/herself. Unlike other areas of professional photography, the subjects of the shoot are the actual clients, and potential clients as well. Were I to have paid upwards of 3K for my wedding album, I would be put off by seeing the Photographer using the same Rebel camera that I just purchased at Walmart for $500.00 for my honeymoon cruise. IMHO, Canon deliberately labels their entry level models in the USA under the Rebel designation to discourage their use professionally, and to entice status conscious consumers to reach higher up the the food chain. In Europe and elsewhere, all Canon DSLR models are given numerical designations as people tend to be less label conscious. For this reason, were I attempting a wedding shoot with an entry or mid level DSLR, I would use a pentax or Sony. The general public, and even most hobbyist photographers are much less aware of the model hierarchy, particularly in the case of Pentax.

    • I don’t disagree with anything your are saying. In fact, what I hear in your response is that to a great extent – you agree that the camera itself is capable in the right hands with the right glass and right lighting equipment – but there is simply a perception problem. We don’t use Rebels to shoot our weddings for a number of reasons, but for me, it’s not what the article was about. I think that everyone has to get their start somewhere – and I want to encourage all budding photographers. Thanks for commenting!

      • To elaborate further, Canon has another incentive for discouraging the use of consumer DSLRs in professional applications; Excessive warranty claims. They don’t want to be flooded with hundreds of Rebel bodies that were used to shoot wedding after wedding and wore out before the warranty expired. They could resort to other tactics to discourage this. As an example, Black and Decker and Dewalt power tools are owned by the same company with Black and Decker being the homeowner line and Dewalt being the professional/contractor grade. Having done woodworking as a hobby with both lines, I did notice that the Black and Decker owners manual stated that the warranty was void if the tool was used professionally.

  3. I am very glad that someone also express it out that rebel line up can produce astonishing images like all pro DSLR’s out there. I am an amateur wedding photographer and i would like to share the same experience with this great rebel line ups. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it.

  4. I truly appreciate this post. I have had my rebel t3 for about a year now (I just started photography) but a lot of people who know a little about photography dint take me serious because it is a rebel. I’m glad to see that it is possible to get professional results. I’m guessing I really should upgrade my kit lens though.

    • I use a Canon Rebel T3 with a Tamron 18-270 zoom lens as my “go to” camera for sailing photography. Works great for this purpose, especially on a bright sunny day, and is not so expensive that I will have to go hungry if it gets soaked and ruined. I don’t think it would “cut the mustard” if used to shoot a candlelight wedding.

  5. I’ve stumbled upon this article and I really appreciate what you have posted. I’m using a Rebel T3i. I’m starting out with other photography such as family shoots, engagements, etc, to get my feet wet. I’ve always seen photography as more of an artistic thing rather than who has the best equipment but a local photographer sort of scoffed at me when responding to the fact that I use a Rebel.

    Question: If you had to pick two lenses to use with the rebel, what would they be?

    • A couple things here. I don’t want anyone to misread this article and think that they should go shoot a wedding – a once in a lifetime event – with a single Kit DSLR like a Rebel. A beginner DSLR can produce amazing images, but it’s even more of a challenge. You need great lenses and often additional lighting. This article points out that it’s the peripherals that are crucial; your flashes, your lenses ect.. I too would be nervous if I heard a photographer, especially one just starting out, say they were going to use a Rebel to shoot a friends wedding. To answer your question – if I had to pick two lenses — well, if they were the only two lenses I would be using I would choose the 24-70 F/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 II — to cover a large range. But I don’t think that’s what you are looking for. If I was just starting out like you, with my rebel, I would go purchase a 50mm f/1.4 because it’s a great lens and it’s reasonably affordable and becomes like an 85mm on a rebel — but is a great lens still when you upgrade to a full frame. The reason I would not get the nifty fifty, though a great lens, is that is will have trouble focusing quickly.

      • There is one point I don’t agree with you on. Weddings, these days, tend not to be a once in a lifetime event. You point about lenses was well made. As a lifelong recreational sailor and photography hobbyist for the past five years, I find that in the case of cameras, unlike boats, the rigging costs more than the hull and is more important

  6. Thank you for this. Being new into the photography business world most articles about wedding photography and their huge expensive equipment can be extremely terrifying and discouraging. This boosted my spirits as Im shooting my first wedding actually next week. Thanks so much

    • Good for you. I’m shooting my first wedding and was very scared and hesitant, until i came across this post and it has help me. Good luck to you in your journey.

  7. As a love for photography and efforts in wanting to learn more about photography, i found you post very helpful. A lot of people have told me that i need to up grade away from rebel and that they are not a good camera to start my business off with. I was worried about that, being that money tight and i am just starting. Again you post was very helpful and encouraging.

  8. I have so many cameras it’s F’in rediculous. But let me get one thing straight, there is nothing quite like blowning a ton of cash on stuff you don’t need. Right now I’m eying up twin loxia lenses with an A7II four about 2 grand. All metal, no AF. Why? Because it’s a sick and twisted addiction is what photography is. You want that complete pure and unadulturated kit. It never EVER ends.

  9. Hello my name is Mike and I use a canon rebel t2i … I’m going to he doing a freinds wedding and I’m looking for a lens that’s good enough but not to expensive … please input lol

    • I hope this reply isn’t coming too late, but it would be helpful to know if it is a daytime, nighttime, indoor, or outdoor wedding.

  10. What an excellent article!

    For years I have been shooting Music photography at festivals, but I have just recently got into wedding photography myself.

    Because of the other types of photography that I should I have boughten myself some pretty nice gear. I have a 5Dmk3 and 5Dmk2 as my back up,and a 7D in the car as my back up back up, as well a bunch of L series stuff. My first music festival I shot with a T3i and 50mm 1.8. The photos that cam out of that camera I still love today!

    Back to weddings! I am newer to the world of wedding photography with only 2 weddings under my belt and a few more booked this summer. I’ve worked hard for the gear that I have now but if I had to go back to that T3i know what azmaing stuff can come out of that camera.

    My best friend I have recently got into photography, I picked her up a used T1i. It’s a great camera to learn on but also it can grow with her as well. Eventually I would like her to second shoot a wedding for me, if she does I am more then confident she could do it with that camera!

  11. I agree with you completely. My very first wedding was shot with a t3i. the shots came out beautiful. the bride was in tears.

  12. Wow. Some of those images you posted totally blew me away. AMAZING. Well said and spot on. We use two T5s with an assortment of good lenses and gear and have never had a complaint.

  13. I just shot my first wedding with a Canon powershot sx60. I love the camera, but I really wish I would have bought a DSLR camera for it. I took so many pictures and I had to spend too much extra time editing the photos. I will probably upgrade to an entry-level DSLR until I graduate college.

    • Was it a paid wedding, or did you do it as a favor for a friend or relative. Just wondering how the shots came out, and if there is a site where I might see them. I happen to own a Canon SX50 and consider Bridge cameras to be the Swiss Army Knife of the photography world

  14. I totally agree; today’s cameras are fantastic for the most part. I’ve used Rebels for years, and in fact, used them to get my business up off the ground.

    I run a photography business, and here’s the flip side of that: If I’m using the camera day in and day out, of course there are reasons to upgrade and get a better camera. These are for real reasons that matter to those who serve others on a routine basis , none of which detract from the fact that the Rebel is a great camera lineup.

    I’ve had cameras die on me in weddings. I’ve had grizzlies rush towards me while photographing them. I’ve photographed volcanoes while they were live. I’ve shot in cruddy situations such as rain, below freezing temps, ash, wildfires, etc. I’ve needed the extra frames per second while photographing Alaskan lodges while eagles flew towards me, clutching salmon… those precious few extra photos afforded by better bodies where what paid for trips. But, I’ve also worn out Rebels from getting my business to the next level.

    The truth is, I recommend the Rebel line, if you’re needing a good quality photo from a camera body where you need “light duty” and don’t expect to subject your equipment to serious and adverse conditions. But, if you do, just know that a better body… one that’s been designed to go through stuff that can be bad… will simply serve you better when the needs arise.

    My cameras have served me from Alaska to Jamaica, and in weddings on both American coasts. And, my customers trust me to serve them with quality. If you don’t have the money, or if you need a good camera to get your photography business off the ground, try the Rebels. The good thing is, that when you need longer lasting batteries, more durable camera bodies (some of mine have been with me on over 50+ bush plane trips, in other countries, laying on the deck of ocean ships, in the Jamaican humidity and rainfall, dropped in Alaskan lakes, etc ), you’ll be able to use the Rebel as a backup, and you’ll be able to use your lenses on the new bodies. Go for it, and happy shooting!

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