Yahooo - the Wedding Season for 2009/2010 is underway, with a pretty special start to the season! On November 28th, my brother Barry married Lisa at The Old Stone House in Christchurch. Needless to say it was a special day, and I was thrilled that I could be a part of it in an 'official' capacity.
The boys got ready out at Barry & Lisa's place at Tai Tapu, about 20mins outside of Christchurch. I had told Barry that this was my first wedding with the Nikon D300, although I did have a pretty good play with it before the big day (obviously). Needless to say, the Nikon performed flawlessly. Any problems were due to human error, and fortunately there weren't too many of them either :-)
Lisa got ready at Steph's (one of her bridesmaids), which gave me the chance to use the 50mm f1.8 inside, reasonably wide open, with natural light. I've also set the D300 to shoot on 'Auto" ISO within a 100th sec shutter speed and 1600 ISO limit. This means that within these two parameters, the camera will automatically change the ISO/shutter speed combination so that it stays above 100th of a second shutter speeds (to limit camera shake) but no greater that 1600 ISO. This worked perfectly throughout the day, and saved me from those 'gotchas' where you set the camera to ISO 1600 for low inside light, and then forget to reset it to ISO 200 when you go outside. Cool.
Most of the time I was using the Nikkor 18-70mm f3.5/4.5 zoom, and I remain impressed with this general 'kit' lens, even on the higher resolving sensor of the D300. Shooting in RAW, the images straight from the camera are a little 'soft', but a basic overall sharpening in Photoshop and the photos snap into crisp, sharp, clarity. This image of Lisa arriving at the wedding is one of my favourites from the day.
It's not usually the case that I'm also required to be 'in' the wedding photos, but this was my brother's wedding afterall, so there's me on the extreme right, next to my wife Joanna, and our two kids, Joshua and Emily. My Mum and Stepfather are next, then Barry and Lisa with Barry's daughter Libby, and finally Lisa's Mum & Dad on the left. Again, with its 28mm (equivalent) wide angle capability, the 18-70mm lens was ideal for these large group shots. I even managed to get up high and cover an overall group shot of the 80 or so guests who attended the service.
One of the reasons I choose to go back to Nikon with my wedding kit was so that (early on at least) I could 'use' my wife's Nikon D70 and lenses as a back up to the D300 on the day. This image was taken with her 'cheap' 75-240mm f4.5-5.6 Nikon zoom, which, although it might be cheap, can also take some pretty sharp images wide open. And you still get nice background blur as long as you get plenty of separation between your subject and background.
We had great locations within a stones-throw from each other (literally), and they were a lot of fun to photograph. It made my first wedding using the D300 a breeze, even though I did fumble occasionally with the command dials. Overall, though, I'm very happy with the day, with the images, and with the Nikon D300. I'm sure I'll play around with lens combinations eventually - I would prefer all the lenses to be constant 2.8's - but that will have to wait a while.
Just as I had hoped it would, the Nikon D300 passed the wedding test with flying colours. The battery grip allows me to shoot with two batteries, easily handling an all-day shoot (I probably could have covered it with just one battery), and adds a nice heft and portrait shooting support to the camera. The lens combination worked very well, and I continue to be impressed with the versatility and sharpness of the 17-80mm Nikkor. The 50mm f1.8 should be a given in any photographers bag, while the cheap and cheerful 75-240mm is good enough to shoot hand-held wide open in good light to produce crisp, tight portraits.
Having said that, I'm pretty sure my next lens purchase will be a Nikkor 85mm f1.8 for tight portrait shots on a wedding. I loved that lens on my Canon, and am looking forward to using Nikon's version on my D300. Can't wait...