What lenses do you use for group shots?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by iolair, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. iolair

    iolair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm looking over the next few months to get a lens, preferably a prime, to use for group shots - for example large wedding groups, small family groups - maybe even the occasional school class or work group. I'm on a 20D - therefore 1.6x crop factor.

    My widest lens currently a sigma 28-200 zoom, with only OK image quality, which came from an old film EOS (and frequently gives Err 99 when I use it with my 20D ... grrr!). My normal walkaround lens is the 50mm 1.8 (love the image quality). You'll guess correctly from this that I love primes and that budget is important to me!

    A lens which can also perform well for landscapes would be a bonus.

    Mostly I'm asking what focal length people find works for group shots... Because of budget, I'm considering Canon's 28mm 2.8, but I'm not sure if this is wide enough.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    You're working with a 1.6 crop and the widest lens you have is only 28mm? Ouch!

    My 'normal' lenses start at 17mm and my 'wide' lens is the 10-22mm.
    I shoot most wedding group shots with my Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 but I won't hesitate to use the 10-22mm for a wider shot.
    Of course, the 10-22mm does show a fair bit of distortion on subjects that are close to the camera and/or at the outside edges of the image....so care is needed to avoid that (if I want to avoid it).

    One of the main factors in what focal length you need...is the amount of room you have to work with. If you can back up far enough, you could shoot groups at 200mm. But we don't always have the room...and you'd have to shout for them to hear you ;).

    Another factor, is that if you are going to be shooting weddings. You would be better off with 'faster' lenses (large max aperture). I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck using those F4-5.6 lenses for a wedding. So if you are going to get a new lens, I'd suggest something wider and something with a large aperture (F2.8 for a zoom).


    If you want a prime lens...there are a couple 24mm lenses. The EF 24mm F1.4L is an outstanding lens but quite pricey. There is another EF 24mm lens, but I haven't heard much about it.

    There is a Sigma 20mm lens, I'm not sure about that one either.
     
  3. iolair

    iolair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks Mike ... I assume those lenses you're using are going on a full frame body?

    I haven't so far found a lack of wide angle "ouch" ... because generally I control the conditions I shoot in and work within the options of my lens, I find that the 50mm covers almost everything I want to do and works well with my personal style. However, to shoot a wedding and on-site groups I clearly *won't* have as much control over the conditions, so I need a lens that can accommodate that.

    Yes, apart from the 28mm 2.8, Canon do a 20mm 2.8 and a 24mm 2.8 and while they're not hugely expensive, neither (for me, at least) is the cost trivial. Either look like lenses that would suit me well, especially the 20mm, I just prefer to avoid spending more money if I can help it!
    [EDIT]OK ... I just read some reviews on the 20mm, probably worth forgetting that one![/EDIT]
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  4. Big Mike

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

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    Nope. I use 20Ds as well.
     
  5. PhotoVerve

    PhotoVerve TPF Noob!

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    Care to link to the bad reviews? I've read quite a bit of good stuff about that lens, and I'm seriously considering it for my next lens purchase. I'd definitely love to save the trouble/money if it's not worth purchasing.
     
  6. iolair

    iolair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    FM Reviews - EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

    There are positive reviews as well, it looks like it could be a quality control problem - but compared to (say) the 24 mm lens, it looks like there are many more negatives. The lack of sharpness on many reviews concerns me for a lens for group shots - where you want to keep the details on many faces that will, after all, be rather small on the shot.
     
  7. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Have you ever thought of trying the Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 lens?

    Here is the reviews for the lens

    Photozone
    Tamron AF 17-50mm f/2.8 SP XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF] (Canon) - Review / Test Report

    SLRgear
    Tamron Lens: Zooms - Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF SP AF (Tested) - SLRgear.com!

    The digital picture
    Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens Review


    This lens is not L build quality, but optically, it is a great lens especially for the price.

    Edit:
    You can compare the MTF charts of various lenses in photozone. Compare the EF 24mm MTF with Tamron at 24mm, it is very close in optical performance. (Seems like Tamron is slightly better)
     
  8. Shockey

    Shockey TPF Noob!

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    I use the 24-70 and normally, I try to shoot as tight as possible to get rid of distortion.

    Tamron lenses are nice lenses, just don't expect them to be tack sharp at 2.8, by 4 they are tack sharp.
     
  9. iolair

    iolair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Looking here:
    Tamron - Canon Fit - Camera Lenses - Warehouse Express

    there are two Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 versions... the more expensive version just gives you image stabilisation for an extra £200? Presumably if I was taking groups (and sometimes landscapes) with a tripod and possibly cable release, there is no advantage to spending the extra? (I'm mostly just curious here, as I wouldn't spend that much extra for IS). I notice the more expensive version has more optical elements too...

    So, in the same price bracket, I have 4 wide lenses to consider:
    Canon 20mm f/2.8
    Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6
    Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
    Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5

    The 2.8s seem like the better option though, as shooting groups inside seems most likely. I don't think there's anything wider than 10mm without going fisheye (which isn't my thing).

    Anyone here have experience with those ultrawide zooms, though? The extra field of view would add a certain level of extra ability to fit everyone in, or shoot the groups in smaller areas. Would I notice much distortion with these?
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  10. wescobts

    wescobts TPF Noob!

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    Although not Canon, I use a 20mm 2.8 on my D-70, which is a crop sensor camera. Although not super wide is does the job very well. I love the way it feels on the camera, small light and fast. It produces very sharp images. I bought it brand new, and it was not the cheapest lens out there.
     
  11. iolair

    iolair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    OK, Ive decided that I'm aiming to get (as I can afford them) the Sigma 10-20mm and the Canon 28mm/2.8.

    If I need the wider lens before I get those, I'll be hiring the 16-35mm L from lensclub: http://lensclub.es/catalogo.php?id=1
     
  12. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Used to shoot my weddings with an 80mm (50mm in 35 film or FF camera) and never had a problem fitting the group in. That said, if you can't back up enough or if you have a very large group, you could have a problem :(

    Going wide though will make you deal with possible distortion and I would go no shorter than 28mm myself. By keeping it level, you will not see any distortion. With a crop frame body you have a bit of a problem because a 24mm will actually give you a working 38mm which is not very wide.

    Being new to digital and having no wide angle lenses yet, I would worry that that 24mm will give me all the distortion while working as a 38mm. Someone else can probably address this problem.

    It might be worth renting the different possible lenses for a day and just trying a bunch of different things to see how they do.
     

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