What Canon lens is best for large group portraits?

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by NJMAN, Apr 5, 2007.

  1. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    What is suggested for a good Canon prime lens when shooting group portraits of say 10 or more people, using ambient light and a flash with bounce/diffuser? Is the Canon 85mm f/1.8 a good lens which would give you nice sharp images? Any other lens suggestions?

    Also, I am assuming the 50mm f/1.8 is better for single subjects or very small groups. Is this correct?
     
  2. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Well I would say it's the other way around... the 50mm will make it easier to get more people in the shot. The longer the focal length, the further back you will have to stand in order to get more in. Therefore the 85mm f/1.8 should be ideal for individual portraits, while the 50mm should be ok for groups but bear in mind you still will not be able to get that close. Perhaps a better choice would be a wider lens although obviously you will have to take care to control distortion.
     
  3. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    I am having some trouble getting a lot of the focus points to light up with the 50mm lens when I am doing portraits. Is there something I am doing wrong?

    Also, what is a good recommended lens for large group portraits. I know that some people use the 10-22mm wide angle for great landscape shots, but how would that perform in the studio?
     
  4. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    17mm should be enough for most larger group shots....

    50mm is fine for 2 or 3 people (depending on how far away you are).

    85mm if used with 6-say 8 feet between you and your subject would allow a head shot only!

    Use your existing lenses to experiment with focal lengths. Also when shooting more than one person you need to make sure you have enough depth of field to get everyone sharp. f8 is not uncommon when shooting groups of people.

    Wider lenses have a greater depth of field than longer ones at any given aperture. 10-22 is a great lens but does distort at widest angles.

    As I said above, something like a 17-55 should be great (even your 18-55 would make a great lens for groups.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree, 17-20mm should be a good focal length for group shots, on that camera. A longer lens (like 50mm) would be better but you will need plenty of room to back up.

    Don't worry about all the focus points. The camera can only focus on one point at a time, so if the people are not all lined up perfectly, the other points won't be lit. Actually, I suggest using only the centre focus point. Focus on something then recompose. This will keep the camera from inadvertently focusing on something else. What I do, is change Custom Function #4, so that the focus is controlled by the * button with my thumb. This way, I don't have to worry about focusing with the shutter button.

    When shooting a group of people, you will rarely have all the faces on the same plane (distance from the camera). So what we need to do, is use a deep enough Depth of Field, so that everyone is in focus. For a group of more than two or three, I suggest shooting with an aperture of at least F5.6 to F8. I usually focus on the eyes of the person who is closest to the camera. Note that the DOF for a given focus point will be 1/3 in front of the focus point and 2/3 past the focus point...so if you focus at the closest person (or just past them)...you can make the most out of your DOF.
     
  6. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Using wide angle lenses you should be able to get quite a few people in focus using f8 from a few metres back from the group.
     
  7. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    Outstanding advice! Thank you very much everyone.
     

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