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Best Lenses For Group Photography (Top 6 Picks)

Whether you are an entry-level photographer or a professional, whether you are in the sports field, wildlife photography, products, or whatever it may be, at least once you have been asked to take a picture of a large group of people.

When it comes to large groups, a wider lens is a must. A lens with a focal range of 35mm is the most prominent pick for group photography, but let’s dive deeper into the best lenses for group photography.

A Quick Look At My Favorite Group Photography Lenses

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Most Versatile
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
10
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Best Value
Tamron AFF013C-700SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC
Tamron AFF013C-700SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC
9
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Most Feature Packed
Sony - FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM
Sony - FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM
8.6
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Best Optical Quality
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G
8.5
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Best Premium
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II
8.6
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Best Portable
Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM
Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM
8.2
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Key Takeaways

  • You’ll need a superb lens for your camera to obtain the most excellent group photographs and please everyone.
    For certain situations, there are group photography-specific lenses that provide top-notch images.
  • The Sony – FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM would be my first choice if I had to pick one of the excellent group picture lenses.
  • The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G will be your best option if you’re looking for a lens with the best optical quality.
  • You should think about a few things before buying lenses. It would be best if you chose a lens based on your demands as there are prime and zoom lenses.

First, I’ll be listing the lenses and in the end, you will be greeted by some extra valuable information regarding group photos.

The Top 6 Best Lenses For Group Photography

6. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM – Most Versatile

What I Like

  • Great Versatility
  • Great Build
  • Moisture and dustproof
  • Really Quick AF

What I Don’t Like

  • Sharpness is not the same in edges as in the center
  • Chromatic aberration
  • Not budget-friendly for an entry-level lens.

Starting right away with a zoom lens from Canon, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is among the best lens for group portraits, wedding photos, etc. You can use it in different lighting conditions and it won’t fail to provide excellent results.

You will also appreciate its ability to switch quickly from group headshots to full-length ones and that is something only Canon can offer high quality.

It has a lens construction of 18 elements in 13 groups. The closest focusing distance goes to 0.38m and the maximum aperture is f2.8 while the minimum one sits at f22. This lens is also equipped with a 9 circular blade diaphragm for a beautiful and soft bokeh effect.

Overall, it is a great entry-level lens for photographers who just got into photography.

Why should you buy it?

It is a great entry-level lens for photographers who just got into photography.

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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Sample Photos


5. Tamron AFF013C-700SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC – Best Value

What I Like

  • Great Bokeh Effect
  • Weather sealing and Compact
  • High accuracy and sharpness

What I Don’t Like

  • AF performance could have been better
  • Not as sharp as a 35mm lens

Coming in next, is a prime lens from Tamron. Tamron is known for offering a huge number of lenses that come at a cost-effective price point.

It has weather protection and is really well built for a budget lens. It is known mostly for its performance in family photography.

You can get very clear, detailed, and sharp images with the help of this lens. Its ability to isolate an object from the background is top-notch. Also, the bokeh effects are just breathtaking due to the 9 aperture blades.

The closest focusing distance goes to 0.38 meters with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.4. The Autofocus is really high thanks to the USD (ultrasonic drive). As far as aperture goes, a maximum one of f/1.8 down to a minimum of f16.

This lens won’t disappoint when it comes to delivering what you asking for.

Why should you buy it?

Its ability to isolate an object from the background is top-notch, and that’s a great reason to purchase it.

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Tamron AFF013C-700SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC Sample Photos


4. Sony – FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM – Most Feature Packed

What I Like

  • Well built
  • Insane Autofocus
  • Great Bokeh effect

What I Don’t Like

  • Painful price

Moving forward we have an ultra-wide zoom from Sony, that holds the title of G master proudly. Might not be the only ultra-wide zoom Sony has to offer, but no doubt that it is the best one.

It is quite robust, the weather seals plus the high-build quality make this a pro-grade lens. Its great build doesn’t compromise on performance either. It sports the sophisticated features of Sony like the XA (extreme aspherical) elements that contribute to offering great sharpness and a super-smooth bokeh effect. The latter one is also being helped by the 11-blade diaphragm.

It doesn’t stop there, Sony also packed it with the high-tech autofocus system that totally destroys the competition, Direct Drive SuperSonic Motor (DDSSM). The autofocus is very rapid for stills while being silent during transitions – with that being said, it already proved itself on being a great contender for group photography.

The minimum focusing distance sits at 0.28m while the maximum magnification ratio 0.19. A constant maximum aperture of F/2.8 goes to a minimum of f22.

Why should you buy it?

If you’re looking for a feature-packed lens that can handle anything you throw at it, then this is the lens for you.

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Sony – FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Sample Photos


3. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G – Best Optical Quality

What I Like

  • Decent Price
  • Well built
  • Great AutoFocus quality

What I Don’t Like

  • Although great, it has a slow AutoFocus
  • You can encounter distortion from time to time.

The next lens from Nikon, the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G is a prime lens that is definitive for portrait and group photography. It offers a very high optical quality that is accompanied by a beautiful bokeh.

This is a normal length prime which means that its field view feels really natural, simply put just as we see things and that’s what makes this lens a great contender for this list.

The silent wave motor will keep the autofocus quick and quiet while the super integrated coating will deliver superb color rendering and will suppress ghosting. The maximum aperture range goes to a constant F1.4 and the minimum one to F16. As for the minimum focus distance, 0.45m

No doubt that this is among the best lens you can buy for your Nikon, the image quality is something you would expect from Nikon. In one word it is simply great, especially for portraitures and group photos

Why should you buy it?

Its field view feels really natural, simply put just as we see things and that’s what makes this lens a great purchase.

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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Sample Photos


2. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II – Best Premium

What I Like

  • Beautiful Bokeh effect
  • Great central sharpness
  • Great built
  • Low distortion
  • Fast and Silent AF

What I Don’t Like

  • A bit large and heavy for a 35mm lens
  • It is prone to flare
  • Comes with a price that is hard to swallow.

The Original EF 35mm was a favorite among photographers, but with the arrival of its successor, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II; which exceeds its brother in many aspects, things are taking a turn.

It is constructed with blue spectrum refractive optics that reduce chromatic aberrations and the color fringing contributes to better low-light results.

It is built specifically in premium quality and resolving power that the latest high-end cameras demand. Witnessing how its predecessor dominated the market for years, there’s no doubt that this lens will remain a popular choice for the upcoming years.

It also features a better and improved minimum focus distance of 0.92 ft./0.28m with an increased maximum magnification of 0.21x. The maximum aperture is the same as the above option f/1.4 while the minimum goes to f22.

Once you purchase this bad boy, you will be hard-pressed to replace it with some other lens.

Why should you buy it?

This lens is built specifically in premium quality and resolving power that the latest high-end cameras demand.

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Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II Sample Photos


1. Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM – Best Portable

What I Like

  • Dust, splash, and fluorine proof
  • Silent aperture control
  • Unbeatable Autofocus.

What I Don’t Like

  • You can encounter focus breathing
  • On the pricey side

Yet again Sony makes it into the list, but this time with its Prime 50mm lens. It is one of the newest releases from Sony.

It sports a very compact design and it is quite portable promising to accompany you to any location where the session takes place.

The focal length of this lens is 50mm which is perfect for group photos, especially for wedding photography. While the maximum aperture sits at 1.2 millimeters and the minimum at f22.

The focus on the other hand is an automatic one that works pretty fast, and is very accurate. The lens is silent in general which is a great feature in case you want to take some sneaky pictures, without the group noticing you.

The lens in general owns three Extreme Aspheric elements which make the lens work smoothly, and that’s what you would need during group photos.

Why should you buy it?

This lens sports a very compact design and it is quite portable promising to accompany you to any location.

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Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM Sample Photos


Things You Should Know Before Buying A Lens For Group Photos

Prime Lens Vs Zoom Lens

Picking a lens might be a harder task than buying the camera itself. A lot of photographers struggle and can’t decide if they want a prime lens or a zoom one.

And the thing is there’s no straight answer to which one is the best, both types have their benefits and drawbacks.

The main difference between a zoom lens and a prime is focal length. A Prime lens will always have a fixed focal length that cannot be changed, but in return, it offers the perfect quality for that range.

While the zoom lenses are more versatile and let you choose between a bunch of focal length ranges, they don’t exceed quality-wise on all of them.

Basically, what I want to say is that zoom lenses are a “Jack of all Trades and Master of None”, while it’s the opposite for the prime lens.

Lens Choice

Since we are talking about group photography, I assume you want to take a photo like a prom, an entire football team, or family photos in general.

For that a 50mm prime lens or 35mm as mentioned above is the right way to go; everyone will be in focus and sharp.

For APS-C cameras 35mm or 40mm lens is recommended since the crop distortion tends to be minimum.

Try to avoid using really wide angles, unless you really have to.

Tripod

If you don’t own a tripod, you should invest in one if you are taking photography seriously. Not just for group photos, but a tripod is an essential tool in general. It doesn’t even cost that much, but still, I wouldn’t advise buying a really cheap one, it will end up costing more in the long run.

A tripod not only will prevent camera shake but will also allow you to take a bunch of shots at the same angle and focal length.

Location

You don’t always have the privilege to pick the best location when doing group photography. Sometimes you will be forced to take a picture in your uncle’s backyard or even worse at a parking lot.

Make sure to pay attention to details and eliminate unnecessary objects in the background, you want to capture the whole “squad” not a bunch of cars.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best lens to take group photos?

This might sound ironic, but there’s no best lens; all lenses on the market offer what they should. It mostly depends on the type of photo you are taking.

Which lens type is the best? Zoom or Prime lens?

Well as I mentioned, it all boils down to your preferences and the type of photo but for sharp and good quality pictures, I would mostly advise you towards a prime lens. However, I made sure to include most types of lenses in my list, even zoom ones so you can pick the one that will suit you the best.

How to keep the group on focus when shooting?

The closer you are to the group the narrower that focal plane is and the farther you are from the group, the more in focus the group will be.

As I said above you might be limited from the location you are and there won’t be much room in the environment to back up or a lens enough to make this possible.

But just keep in mind that the farther you shoot the group, the better the group in focus will be.

Final Words:

The last tip and to wrap up the article is To have fun; also the most important one. Photography skills can be learned with time and a lens can be bought with money while Having fun will be a memory that you will cherish for the rest of your lifetime.

Also, don’t be afraid to take even really large groups of people; I know that it can be intimidating all those people looking at you, but when you break it down it is easier than you think.

Hopefully, my article regarding the best lens for group photos was helpful to you, and you managed to find the lens you were looking for.

Cheers.

Caleb Soppe