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What to Upgrade First?

New camera gear is constantly being released. So upgrading gear is constantly available to us. The question is what should you be upgrading? This post will be the start of a more in depth look at the equipment we use for our wedding photography, and why we use it. We started with two cut frame (DX) cameras for our first few weddings and some basic lenses that came with their sets. So, upgrading for us started with getting a professional full frame (FX) camera body first. The difference between the two is normally more than double the price tag, but for that you are getting a larger image sensor to capture your photographs on, so your images are not only bigger in size, they are also more versatile and higher quality, especially if you plan on cropping in. We jumped from the Nikon D80, to the D600 and now to the D750. If you are just starting out your photography, you probably won’t jump out the gate with a full frame camera. Instead you will start with a bundle that gives you the flexibility to photograph both up close and far away, sacrificing a little quality for affordability and experience. But, once you have your heels dug in, I would first consider the jump to a full frame camera body.
The thing about all of those fancy fixed aspect ratio, high end portrait lenses is that they are designed to work best with full frame camera bodies. You can use those awesome lenses on cut frame camera bodies, but you lose some of their amazingness because your camera body can produce an image that is only so good, not great. I believe that sacrificing a little bokeh for better focus under low light, and twice an image size gives you much more flexibility and improves your imagery at the start; inside your camera.
It also makes sense financially to take the plunge and get a new, full frame camera body first. Some of our favorite, and popular lenses in the wedding photography business are the 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8, both of which are very close to a new (and newly released) D750 body in cost each. In fact, the 70-200 lens is more expensive! And which do you think would help most, especially if you are coming from a bundle that has lenses that cover similar focal ranges. Some of those really great lenses limit yourself quite a bit, so getting a full frame body to work from as your first major upgrade makes more financial sense. For a while we were photographing on full frame bodies, and using more basic lenses that were from our first bundle, or renting a lens from BorrowLenses.com (check out our post on them). And though those lenses limited our consistency (and our backgrounds were not as beautiful as we wanted), having twice the image size gave us more to work with in editing and styling without us having to worry about our image quality because our image size had grown.
Now, once you have that first full frame body, jump into the world of lenses. I could spend all day looking, comparing, and trying out all types of high end lenses that are out there. And like most technology, the more you pay for a lens, the better it is made, and the better it performs. But being portrait and wedding photographers, there are a few lenses and lens types that specifically cater to what we are looking for (don’t worry, we’ll give you some tips in upcoming posts!). Some lenses give us more consistent lighting, some give beautifully blurred out bokeh backgrounds behind our gorgeous couples, and others that just out-perform in receptions and tight spaces. The point is to find what works best for you, and what you like to use to match your style of photography. And if you already have your perfect lens setup, maybe it’s time you go back to look at a newer camera body.
We will be going into a little more detail about all the different lenses out there, but the point is to start upgrading from the beginning. Work your way to a full frame camera body, and then invest in your lenses.

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