Can a single lens do everything a wedding photographer needs to record a couple’s special day? Caroline Tran thinks so, with FUJINON GF55mmF1.7 R WR
For couples and guests, every wedding is unique – but for photographers, the challenges encountered in recording them can be the exact opposite. From the need to record a thousand fleeting moments without any chance of a rerun, to the vagaries of the weather, lighting and location, commonplace problems need to be tackled with creativity and technical mastery. The more you do it, the better you get, but it helps to have the right tools for the job. Here’s a question though: could one lens help you do it all?
Wedding professional Caroline Tran certainly thinks so. “For years, I’ve been photographing weddings using the wonderful FUJINON GF80mmF1.7 R WR on my FUJIFILM GFX100S,” she explains, “but in a lot of cases, that lens is a little long, so I often needed to switch to something wider. For instance, when the bride is getting ready I’d sometimes have to back up into a closet or even another room to get the framing I wanted! Other times, to get the whole ceremony in for example, I couldn’t run back far enough to cover the whole scene. GF55mmF1.7 R WR solves these issues, and I could see myself going a whole day with nothing else.”
Before we get to what convinced Caroline, there are many advantages to relying on a single lens, especially in the organized chaos of a wedding. “A one-lens approach is especially useful if it’s a smaller wedding, where I might not have an assistant and need to carry all my own gear,” she explains. “And there’s an increase in speed, too. Say we’re in the middle of the reception, and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, sunset’s right now, let’s go!’ You have maybe 15 minutes to get out, photograph, and come back. Factor in some walking and preparation, and it’s ten. So if I spend even a minute changing lenses, it’s a big chunk of that time!”
Not to mention the strain that a ten- or 14-hour wedding day puts on the photographer. Anything that lightens the load is welcome, says Caroline: “It’s a long time, not only on your feet, but moving a weight around with you – a wedding can be like a physical workout! GFX System cameras aren’t small, but they nail a balance of portability and power like nothing else, and this new lens follows the lead. It feels much like GF80mmF1.7 R WR in size and weight, and is beautifully balanced with the camera, while being light enough to use all day.”
GF55mmF1.7 R WR has a range of attributes perfectly suited to the challenges a wedding photographer may encounter. We’ve touched on how its focal length allows her to get closer to subjects, but there are more advantages to that. “The lens’s angle of view matches the diagonal size of the G Format sensor,” she explains, “so it’s perfectly ‘standard’, and gives a natural perspective, close to what you see with your eye. This makes it a great storytelling lens because it puts viewers in your shoes. It’s an intimate, engaging view, making them feel like they’re back on the wedding day, or experiencing it for real if they didn’t make it.”
“GFX System at 55mm is also a safe choice for a wedding,” she continues. “With GF55mmF1.7 R WR, I know I can cover reasonably wide scenes, but also get close enough without distortion for beautiful portraits. And remember, whether it’s GFX50S II, GFX100S, or GFX100 II, the resolution is so giant on these bodies that with in-camera or post-production cropping, you’ve effectively got two lenses in one.”
GF55mmF1.7 R WR’s huge maximum aperture is another factor in making it a genuine one-lens wedding solution. Caroline likes to work wide open whenever possible, which adds a dreamy softness to her images, while neatly dealing with any clutter or distractions in the background. “Many parts of a venue are immaculate, with good reason,” she explains, “but sometimes, for example in the getting-ready room, it can have stuff spread all over. Wide open at F1.7, I can isolate the important things and blur out the not-so-important parts.”
Blurred backgrounds or foregrounds add presence to couples, “framing them and adding texture,” continues Caroline, “and although this lens doesn’t have the compression of the GF80mmF1.7 R WR, it’s still great at it. I can photograph through physical frames like windows or foliage, and even if I’m working close to the couple or photographing them full-length in a tight ballroom, I still get all the bokeh I want, letting them stand out.”
Photographing with such a shallow depth-of-field would be tricky were it not for her GFX System camera’s Face and Eye Detection AF, and GF55mmF1.7 R WR makes the most of this with a powerful DC motor, keeping focus swift and sure. “Situations where the couple are walking down the aisle or doing their first dance are no problem at all,” Caroline confirms.
Of course, the primary function of aperture is to control the amount of light in an exposure, and there again GF55mmF1.7 R WR excels, letting photographers continue to work in low-light conditions without the need to add their own. “Wedding photographers have to deal with every kind of lighting,” Caroline explains. “When you’re moving about a venue, the illumination can change in a matter of seconds. But you never know when a moment is going to unfold, so the camera and lens have to be adaptable. I know that a maximum F1.7 lets me work in everything from dark corners to sunlit lawns.”
Elsewhere, the lens’s combination of close minimum focus distance and standard view means it can be used for the close-ups and flatlays Caroline makes to tell the full story of a wedding day. “These details have been pored over by the couple, but often go unnoticed in all the fun of the day, so I make sure to record as many as possible,” she explains. “GF55mmF1.7 R WR can’t get macro-close, but it’s still superb for picking out details like flowers and fabrics, while the angle of view means I no longer need to stand on a chair to get flatlays!”
To say Caroline is inspired would be an understatement. “I was so impressed with the versatility of GF55mmF1.7 R WR,” she concludes. “It’s portable, weather-resistant, and can photograph almost anything with stellar quality. The sharpness is beautiful and the bokeh stunningly smooth, thanks to its 11-blade aperture. It delivers exactly the romantic look I want in wedding images – and fits my style to perfection.”