A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > photo.net > Lenses > Best lens type for group...

Best lens type for group photos?

Bob Thommes , Apr 25, 1999; 12:54 p.m.

I'm occassionally asked to take photographs of group organizations. My question is simple. What would be the lens of choice for such a venture? Is any one size lens better than another? To make things a bit simpler, let's say I'm asked to shoot a group of 30 people(seems to be the average size) in a semi-formal standing arrangement of 6X5 or 7X4. I would like a recommended prime and zoom lens. I use a Nikon N6006. Thanks for your feedback. Bob


Gary Wilson , Apr 25, 1999; 01:16 p.m.

The least expensive route would be the 50mm F1.8 if you have the distance to get everyone in the picture. The second would be a 35mm lens. Any wider and placement will become very critical otherwise distortion could mar your results. Hope this helps.

Sergio Romero-Gomez , Apr 25, 1999; 01:17 p.m.

Hello Bob: I had take photos of some of my father`s baseball teams, they are no more than 15 peoples, but well a group is a group, I use 35 mm prime lens with my EOS 5 mounted in a tripod, and depending of the sun sometimes use even a flash for a little of filling, well for the zoom i think a 28-70 mm 2.8 will do it fine allowing you to blur the bakground, but i think the prime is preferable the prime. Sergio ROMERO-GOMEZ

Todd Frederick , Apr 25, 1999; 01:20 p.m.


I have done 35mm wedding photography for many years as a side activity, and over that time I have come to appreciate the benefits of a 35mm focal length prime lens for large groups for a number of reasons: first, you can remain somewhat close to the group, which helps with the flash output-f/stop ratio; second, 35mm does not distort as much as 28mm; third, a 35mm prime lens (rather than zoom) usually has a f/stop of 2.8 or 2 and this allows you to stop down to 5.6 or 8 rather than having to shoot almost wide open if the variable f/stop zoom starts at 3.5 or so. Unfortunately, 35mm prime lenses are not as popular as zooms, and you may have a hard time finding one for a Nikon AF...I'm not sure if they even make one. If that's the case, get a 28-80D zoom with a constant f/2.8. Its more expensive, but worth it. Also, you might want to consider using Fuji 400 Superia...based only on my experience, I find this film to be extremely sharp and forgiving and one of the best, inexpensive amateur films available, and can be enlarged to 16X20 with very good results...a faster film such as this will help you with your flash output-f/stop ratio for large groups. This is simply my opinion from my experience, and hope it helps.

Bob Thommes , Apr 25, 1999; 02:46 p.m.

Assuming that the distance to set up is not a problem, is there any other advantage to a 35mm over a 50mm? Would a 55mm "micro"f2.8 be a good candidate? Or is this starting to push the distance thing a bit to far? I have heard that these 'macro' lenses are quite good as standard lenses

Todd Frederick , Apr 25, 1999; 03:29 p.m.


An opinion from my experience: many years ago I used a micro Nikkor 55mm for 35mm portraits of my son, when he was still willing to pose!, with the most beautiful results using a Nikon soft 1 filter and very simple double flash (vivitar 283's with some diffusion). These lenses are extremely sharp and would work well for what you need. Just consider the need for a strong flash (do you have an SB25 or equivalent?), or perhaps multiple flash, since you would need to move back a bit...Actually, being back farther is an advantage in one sense, since the farther you are from your subject the greater the depth of field, and this is important in group photography...that's why taking the photographs with a wide aperture is not really a good idea, so use adequate flash, unless this will be done outside...f/8 or smaller with groups...again, the need for a film faster than ISO100. Micro Nikkors are wonderful!


Bill Harris , Apr 25, 1999; 11:05 p.m.

I use a Nikon 24/120 and Fuji 200, SB 26 flash all the time for groups 20/30 people with excellent results..

Kevin Han , Apr 26, 1999; 08:34 a.m.

I do groups consisting of 20 to 400 people with a 100mm lens on 35mm format. Since the location is always at a terrace along a field, I have all the space I want to move further back. The longer lens is good since every row from front to back will have their heads the same size. I wouldn't use any wide-angles or even a 50mm if I have a choice. The effects of perspective distortion can be very evident.

Back to top

Notify me of Responses