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Thread: Group photos

  1. #1
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Group photos

    When shooting a group portrait (25ppl +/-), how wide a lens would you anticipate I would need (for 35mm/equivalent)? I'm thinking of doing this in a small format because they (the customer) will want color, and doing color in large format is significantly more costly. On the flip side, if I were to go large format (4x5), would a 90mm be wide enough (that's the widest lens I currently have, that has a flash sync)? I'm trying to keep the kit I take on location as small as possible.

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    arigram's Avatar
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    Wouldn't that depend on how close you have to be to the group?
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    I have used a 24mm lens to shot a family group shot before. Although, in retrospect I would have chosen a 28mm because of the exagerated foreground and perspective distortion. I did have a 50mm lens with me and I would have to have been very far away from the people to get them all in. You can see the result at my flickr account here if you please: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcusk...35372/sizes/l/ I was using a canon A-1 with the 24mm 2.8 lens stopped down to f/11. The film was HP5+ rated at 400 ISO and processed in HC-110 dil. H. I was in the picture so, I tripod was necessary. While I haven't shot large format I'm sure 35mm or even medium format would be adequate for the needs of most clients.

  4. #4
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arigram View Post
    Wouldn't that depend on how close you have to be to the group?
    Ari-

    my working assumption for the shot is that the group will be indoors (it is wintertime here after all), so I will have to stay pretty close. The other reason for assuming proximity to the group is that I am assuming I will need to use flash, and unless I haul out my studio lights, I'm going to have limited amounts of light to work with.

    Lenswise, I have the Canon 24-105 L F4 lens to use on my small format camera.
    Last edited by TheFlyingCamera; 11-26-2008 at 09:31 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I used 55mm/4.5 on 6x7 for this impromptu group shot. I was probably around f:4.5, so the people on the edges and toward the front are a little fuzzy, and there's some subject movement, not to mention closed eyes and unfortunate expressions, being one of the last two shots that I had. I'd say I was about 16 feet from the front row set up in an elevated vestibule off the room where the rest of the family was. At least I had a tripod and Delta 400/Acufine. I don't print it larger than 5x7"--

    http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/who/34.htm

    So I think if you go small format, you can be around 24-28mm. If you shoot 4x5", your 90mm should be fine, if you stack the group right.
    Last edited by David A. Goldfarb; 11-26-2008 at 09:56 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Checked my notes, corrected misinformation.
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    Hi Scott,

    I do not recomend a wide angle to shooting a group because of the lens distortion. The people in the center of the image will look thiner than the people at the edges. When I shoot groups I use medium tele like 80mm or 100mm (35mm). I prefer to use MF with a 150mm.
    Of course it will depend of how much space you have for the shooting.

  7. #7
    Domenico Foschi's Avatar
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    I would recommend using 4x5 and a 90 mm if you keep the people away from the edges of the image is a fine focal length.
    A triangular composition is very pleasing most of the times and it allows to getting closer to your subjects.
    Of course 4x5 costs more but the result is worth it.
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  8. #8
    Bruce Osgood's Avatar
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    Scott,
    In 35mm you will do well with either a 28mm or 35mm. I would opt for the 28 which would allow you to get closer (indoors) than farther for the 35. Wider than 28 will begin to present rounding of the sides (fish eying) and if shooting color transparencies may not be desirable.

  9. #9

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    not 35mm, but i shot about 50 people at family reunions ( 2x )
    with a 5x7 camera and 210mm lens ..

    35mm rectangle will work well, i wouldn't use anything wider than a 35mm,
    and stand on a ladder.

    good luck!
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  10. #10

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    Why not trig out the size of the group, and what it'll be on the films you want to use?

    That's what I do before shooting a group, and it works well for me. But I use swing-lens cameras to do it, so my calcs aren't your calcs.

    But to calc it out, pick a subject height, distance to camera, and the lens focal length. Convert to all inches or all mm, ie, common units. Then figure that if subject height X, at distance Y from the camera, produces a right triangle with angle Z.....that angle Z will continue into the camera, only now distance Y (in the camera) will be focal length, and subject height on film will have the same relationship in the camera (X/Y) that it has outside the camera.

    Make sense? No guesswork at all.

    And people widths vary, but I figure about 18" across on average.

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