📸 5 MUST-OWN Lenses for Group Photos In 2024 [Guide]

Jan 12, 2024 | Buying Guides

Did you ever want to own the best lens for group photos so that you could fit all of your friends in one frame?

You probably have, and no wonder because we all like to capture precious moments with people we hold dear.

One of the reasons people invest so much into photography equipment is to frame the best shots that include many individuals in one place.

image for group photography lenses guide

Despite the number of group photos you can see on social media, the internet lags in providing sufficient data on what lens to buy to take a perfect group photo.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the best lenses for group shots that are guaranteed to help you with your photo sessions.

Editor's Choice
Best Runner Up
Best Budget

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Lens

Sony 85mm f/1.8-22 Lens

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Lens

Unparalleled clarity, stunning bokeh. Capture the essence of every moment with razor-sharp precision and breathtaking artistry.

Exceptional versatility, unrivaled performance. Get ready to create masterpieces with remarkable detail and captivating depth.

Affordable excellence, endless creativity. Embrace the beauty of professional-quality images without breaking the bank.

5.0
4.8
4.5
Editor's Choice

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Lens

Unparalleled clarity, stunning bokeh. Capture the essence of every moment with razor-sharp precision and breathtaking artistry.

5.0
Best Runner Up

Sony 85mm f/1.8-22 Lens

Exceptional versatility, unrivaled performance. Get ready to create masterpieces with remarkable detail and captivating depth.

4.8
Best Budget

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Lens

Affordable excellence, endless creativity. Embrace the beauty of professional-quality images without breaking the bank.

4.5
Sony 85mm f/1.8-22 Lens

The double linear motor system ensures responsive, silent and accurate focusing and overall image sharpness and color transmission are excellent.

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The given 85mm has a nine-blade circular aperture that allows creamy bokeh to take place, and it sports an ED glass element for solid edge-to-edge sharpness. The maximum magnification ratio is set at 0,13x, and the angle of view is 29 degrees.

You also get an option for direct control with a customizable focus hold button, and the lens has an auto and manual focus switch. The minimum focus distance is 2.62 inches, which is a solid result, but the lens lacks optical image stabilization.

The overall image quality is outstanding; Sony’s optics made the group photography lenses list since its effective aperture ensures a tremendous amount of light enters the sensor. Moreover, the 85mm focal length is great for capturing group shots since you can put many subjects in the frame without sacrificing the composition.

It provides outstanding sharpness between an f/2 and an f/2.8. I used the lens for both portrait and everyday photography, and it delivered rock-solid results for both types of photography.

The bokeh effect is pleasant, and I didn’t notice vignetting problems. The Sony 85mm f/1.8-22 lens feels sturdy and robust, and when you combine the price tag with its quality, I would call it a bargain. Sony 85mm f/1.8-22 is also the best lens for large-group photos.

Pros

  • Powerful aperture
  • Great design
  • Overall sharpness

Cons

  • No OIS

#2 Best for Macro photography

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Lens

The depth of field with the lens is one of the nicest I have seen recently, with a mesmerizing bokeh effect.

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  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Mounting Type: Canon EF
  • Focal Length Range: 85mm
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 0.85 meters
  • Weight: 0.94 pounds
  • Dimensions: 2.83 x 2.95 x 2.95 inches

The best lens for group photos, Canon is equipped with a USM that quickly fulfills the task of getting subjects in focus. It sets the closest focus distance to 2.8 feet, and the angle of view is 28° 30′. Canon 85mm f/1.8 is constructed with nine elements in seven groups, and it sports a maximum magnification of 0,13x, along with eight diaphragm blades.

Although:

It doesn’t have optical image stabilization; an effective aperture and fast autofocus combination ensure the stability and precision you need to take outstanding group photos even when subjects are not standing still. One of the reasons this Canon made the list of the best lenses for group photos is the depth of the field. It is excellent for portrait lenses since it provides beautiful creamy backgrounds.

If you move back away slightly when taking a picture of multiple subjects, you will be able to get clear and complete group shots while retaining excellent sharpness.

The overall picture quality is fantastic, with a well-balanced contrast and good color distribution across the frame. The focus time is solid, with precise and quiet performance. The design of the lens is not on par with “L” class optics in Canon’s lineup, but it feels robust and sturdy, so you won’t have problems using it on a family barbecue or a fishing trip. Also, Canon 85mm f/1.8 is the best lens for group portraits.

Pros

  • Powerful aperture
  • Good focal length
  • Sharpness
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • No OIS

#3 Best for Sports Videography

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Lens

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is a revolutionary lens from a Sigma company that has excellent build quality and produces stunning and sharp images

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The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 offers an HSM (Hypersonic motor) with an inner focusing system for high-end performance, an angle of view of 63.4°, and a maximum magnification of 0,19x. It has an optical design of 13 elements in 11 groups. It has nine rounded diaphragm blades and a full f/1.4 aperture that is great for capturing artistic shots.

The first and foremost reason this lens is included in the best lens for group photography list is its incredible sharpness. I shot portrait shots at an f/2, and it was crazy sharp. I went up to an f/1.4, and it was still crystal clear. However, I recommend a higher aperture value for group shots or multiple subjects since the lens tends to have an extremely shallow depth of field.

Despite the lack of optical image stabilization, I didn’t have problems getting low-light shots due to an incredible aperture and HSM system. The color distribution is another excellent point since it is even and feels natural, without artificial oversaturation. The contrast is also well-balanced, and the lens feels robust, so you won’t have to worry about taking it on holiday to take family shots near the water.

Pros

  • Great aperture
  • HSM
  • Overall sharpness
  • Design

Cons

  • No OIS

#4 Best for Close-Up photography

Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Lens

The sharpness I was able to get with multiple subjects in the frame was great, and it was achieved even during blue hours

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The full-frame Tamron comes with an angle of view of 28° 33′, a maximum magnification of 0,14x, and 13 elements in nine groups. The combination of optical image stabilization and a wide aperture ensures top photographic quality in nearly all situations. Although faster apertures, general or even semi-professional non-portrait photography can be achieved at the highest level using an f/1.8.

The sharpness I could get with multiple subjects in the frame was excellent, and it was achieved even during blue hours, so it is an excellent reason to include these optics as a candidate for the best lens for group photos. Focusing is silent and highly responsive. It achieves silky smooth work, and it is very accurate.

Also:

It has the manual override in autofocus mode, which allows precise, selective focus, which is helpful for portraits. The lens is also equipped with a vibration reduction system, which comes in handy if you take action shots or dislike tripods.

The color palette is outstanding, with excellent contrast and no over-saturated results. Tamron 85mm f/1.8 is also resistant to dust and splash, which makes it a great field trip asset, and as a plus, a cap is included in the package.

Pros

  • Solid aperture
  • Great design
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Rich packaging

Cons

  • Price

#5 Best for Interior photography

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Lens

This is a top of the line lens from Sigma company with decent build quality that delivers best performance when it is used for shooting weddings and family portraits.

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The last Sigma comes with an angle of view of 46.8° and a 15.7 inches minimum focus distance. It has a maximum magnification ratio of 0,18x and is constructed with 13 elements in eight groups and nine diaphragm blades. Although Sigma 50mm f/1.4 doesn’t sport optical image stabilization, the wide aperture of an f/1.4 ensures excellent exposure in all scenarios imaginable.

The optics are impressively fast, with an f/1.4 sufficient to capture fast-moving objects while also capturing great portrait shots. During the testing, I had multiple subjects within the frame, from the middle to the edges, and I didn’t have issues with distortion or vignetting.

Although:

The 50mm focal length “demands” portrait shots; I had great results with achieving family snaps, which is why it made the best lens for the group photos list. My objections go to the design compartment since the lens is bulky for 50mm, but it has a lot of glass, so it is understandable. Furthermore, the mounting ring isn’t sealed.

On the other hand, the mount is made of steel, making it more resistant than its plastic counterparts. The focus is excellent, with beautiful contrast and color transmission that is beautifully well-distributed.

Pros

  • Excellent focus
  • Great sharpness
  • Powerful aperture

Cons

  • Weight
  • Size

Tips on Choosing the Best Lens for Group Photos

Choosing the right lens can greatly influence the quality of your group photos. Here are some insights to guide your lens choice:

General Recommendations for Group Photos: When capturing group photos, especially large groups, wide-angle lenses are usually preferred. They allow for a broader view, ensuring everyone fits into the frame. However, be cautious when using extremely wide angles as they can distort the subjects on the edges of the frame.

The 50mm Lens Debate: A common question is whether you can take group photos with a 50mm lens. While it’s feasible, especially for smaller group portraits, a 50mm might be limiting for larger groups, especially in confined spaces. If you’re outdoors with ample space to move back, it becomes a more versatile choice.

Lens Recommendations for Canon and Nikon Users:

Canon: The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II is a versatile zoom lens perfect for group photos, offering a range from wide-angle to short telephoto.

Nikon: For Nikon users, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E offers similar versatility and is exceptional for group shots.

Camera Settings for Group Photos

Nailing the camera settings can be the difference between a memorable group shot and a forgettable one.

Optimal Settings for Indoor Group Photos: When shooting indoors, lighting can be challenging. Use a wider aperture (like f/4 or f/5.6) to gather more light.

However, to keep everyone in focus, especially if they’re in multiple rows, avoid going too wide. Boost the ISO as necessary, but watch for noise. A shutter speed of 1/60 or faster will help avoid blur due to handshake.

Optimal Settings for Outdoor Group Photos: Outdoors, you’ll typically have more light. Use a narrower aperture (f/8 or f/11) to get a deeper depth of field, ensuring everyone is sharp. Keep your ISO low to minimize noise, and adjust the shutter speed to counterbalance your aperture and ISO settings.

Aperture and F-Stop for Group Photos: As mentioned, the aperture plays a crucial role in group photos. The f-stop you choose depends on the depth of the group. If you have multiple rows of people, you’ll need a smaller aperture (higher f-stop number) like f/8 or f/11 to ensure everyone is in focus.

FAQ Fundamentals: Diving into Group Photo Basics

How to photograph large groups?

Start with the right lens, typically a wide-angle. Arrange your group in layers or rows, shorter members in the front. Ensure your camera is level to avoid distortion and use a narrower aperture to get everyone in focus.

How to take large group photos with everyone in focus?

Use a smaller aperture for a deeper depth of field. Position your subjects as evenly as possible, and if there are multiple rows, ensure there’s enough space between rows to reduce overlapping.

What lens should I use for group photo?

Wide-angle lenses, such as the 24-70mm, are preferred. They provide the width necessary to capture everyone, especially in confined spaces.

Can you take group photos with a 50mm lens?

Yes, especially for smaller groups. However, for larger groups, it may be limiting unless you have ample space to move back.

Which Canon lens is best for group photos?

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is a top recommendation due to its versatility and sharpness across the frame.

Wrapping Up

In group photography, the equipment and settings lay the foundation, but the true magic lies in the shared moments and emotions captured. It’s a blend of technique and story.

Each group photo isn’t just an assembly of faces but a snapshot of bonds, shared laughter, and memories.

As you hone your skills, remember to focus not only on the technicalities but also on the stories unfolding before you. With the right approach, every group shot can become a treasured memory.

If you need additional help choosing the right lenses for full-body portraits, we recommend this lens.

Check out our other popular articles: Best lenses for cars and architectural photography.

Happy shooting!

Disclaimer: "As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases."

Stacy WItten

Stacy WItten

Owner, Writer & Photographer

Stacy Witten, owner and creative force behind LensesPro, delivers expertly crafted content with precision and professional insight. Her extensive background in writing and photography guarantees quality and trust in every review and tutorial.

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