A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Featured Equipment Deals

8 Reasons Why You Should Subscribe to Photo.net Read More

8 Reasons Why You Should Subscribe to Photo.net

Photo.net loves all of the members who make our site and community what it is, but we love our subscribing members just a little bit more. We rely on our subscribers to help us with things such as...

Latest Equipment Articles

4 Outdoor & Adventure Photo Packs Read More

4 Outdoor & Adventure Photo Packs

Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...

Latest Learning Articles

5 Tips for Combating Red-Eye Read More

5 Tips for Combating Red-Eye

Red-eye doesn't have to ruin your photos. Learn 5 simple tricks to avoid and eliminate this undesirable photographic effect.


Best Lens for Family Portraits

Rachel Chaplin , May 04, 2009; 08:09 p.m.

I have been shooting with a Canon 5D and an 85mm f/1.8 lens, which works absolutely beautifully with singles or couples up close, but when I try shooting groups where I have to back up to about 15 feet from my subjects, I have a hard time getting everything in focus. Am I using the wrong lens for group shots? What is the best lens for shooting outdoor family portraits? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Responses

Michael Axel , May 04, 2009; 08:15 p.m.

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is a superb and affordable lens. That's what I would go for. I shoot both Nikon and Canon 5D, and use this lens a ton on fashion shoots when I'm in tighter surroundings. Otherwise I'm using a zoom. I think we sometimes conclude things about a piece of equipment based on its commonality and price, but this should not be the case with this lens.

Robert Gulotta , May 04, 2009; 10:58 p.m.

As a nikon user, we use the 28-70 f/2.8 lens for almost everything involving more than two people. Usually we want to be at f/2.8 or smaller for depth of field reasons, and the 28mm to 70mm zoom range is really ideal, especially on an 'fx' camera. It allows wideangle fun stuff on a 'full frame' sensor, and 70mm is long enough to get most everything else we need. I prefer the 85, 105 and 70-200 for some things, but the 28-70 does the bulk of our work.

Ralph Berrett , May 05, 2009; 04:14 a.m.

I have found that the 28-70mm f/2.8 on a full frame camera is my favorite lens for most standard group shots. For a more dramatic look I will go to the 14-24mm f/2.8. I haven't found much practical use for a 50mm.
The 50mm is not a lens I like for people shots. It just doesn't work for me.

Richard Thomas , May 05, 2009; 07:58 a.m.

The Tamron 28-75 2.8 might do the job for you, just don't get the newer version with bim (af is slow).

Catherine Oostdyk , May 05, 2009; 02:10 p.m.

I suggest sticking to what you have and just playing with your aperature. Stop down to around f7-8 and you should be golden as far as all the faces being in focus.

Matthew Newton , May 05, 2009; 04:26 p.m.

A 35mm or 50mm lens is probably what you want to look at. The Canon 35mm f/2 would probably work pretty well for this. It gives you a fairly close working distance, while still being able to get several people (IE a small family) in the frame and its not going to have much in the way of distortion unless you are trying headshots with it.
I personally use a 28mm f/1.8, 50/1.4 or 85/2 for people shooting depending on how close I have to be, how much I want in focus and if I am shooting several people or a single person (and full, 3/4, half or headshot).
Something like a 35mm or 28mm lens will give you a lot more depth of field for the same aperature and subject aparent size. I am refering to depth of field of the background that is, the subject itself is going to have similar depth of fields no matter the focal length if the aperature and subject size are the same (similar, not the same, even in macro DOF changes slightly depending on the focal length with the same subject magnification).
Anyway, this makes it easier to have the subject in focus with the background in focus, or just slightly out of focus.

Chad Hoelzel , May 11, 2009; 10:15 p.m.

Remember that if you go to wide angle ie. wider then 24mm with a fixed or zoom lens you will start getting edge distortion. I found this often for group shots with my EF 17-40mm f4L @17mm up to 20mm. The people that were to close to the edge looked like they were stretched out tall and skinny. My next wide angle lense will probably be the new 24mm f1.4L II. Not only will it give you somewhat more limited depth of field when you want it (not easy to accomplish at wide angle) but it has very little distortion from the reviews I read. Also will work good for shooting in low light.

Tom Reynolds , May 14, 2009; 10:56 p.m.

Yes wrong lens, 85mm will not work well for most group shots. With many group shots you will need an increase in DOF as well and you may be shooting smaller than f2.8, possibly f4 or up. Narrow DOF is great for the look, but you do not want some of the faces in the group shot out of focus. Hard to get all the faces on the same plane so keep this in mind. If it is more of a formal group photo, some folks do not want the extra wide look. This means 35 - 50 mm for most group shots depending on how much distance you have to go back. For more casual or fun shuts, anything goes.

Back to top

Notify me of Responses