If you are looking for the best lens for group photos, the most important factors to consider include focal length, maximum aperture, and type. Below, we listed the top five products based on these features. So read on if you want to learn why they matter.
Do you want to capture photos of groups, whether it is your family and friends? To take great professional quality photos, you need the right equipment, specifically lenses, to keep everyone in frame and focus.
However, with so many options on the market, I know how it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs.
Fret not, though! I scoured the web to determine the best lenses for group photos. Each product below includes a detailed review as well as pros and cons.
I will also walk you through the buying factors to make sure you pick the right lens for your situation.
Finally, an FAQ section awaits you below to clear up any questions you may have.
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5 Best Lenses for Group Photos
Below are the five best lenses for group photos. Each one offers a wide-angle perspective, which makes it easier to fit several people within the frame.
1. Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Editor’s Pick
The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM features a long zoom range of 24 to 105mm. When shooting at its shortest focal range, it allows you to fit more elements within the frame. Meanwhile, its longest focal length enables you to get up close and personal to your subjects. Just make sure to back away at least several meters to keep everyone in the frame.
Additionally, this zoom lens has a bright and constant aperture of f/4 throughout the entire zoom telephoto range. It offers two significant benefits. First, it allows more light into the sensor, ideal for low-light shooting conditions. Second, it creates a shallow depth of field that makes the subject stand out from the background.
Moreover, the Canon RF 24-105mm includes built-in optical image stabilization. It can correct camera shake up to five stops. So whether you are shooting handheld or at slower shutter speeds, this technology helps you achieve sharper images.
Plus, this glass is a part of Canon’s professional line of SLR lenses. Thus, it is built to last, owing to the dust and water-resistant rubber seals.
On top of all these benefits, it is the first L series lens to have the high-speed UltraSonic Motor (USM). This technology provides fast and accurate autofocus for sharp and detailed results.
Most reviews for this product were overwhelmingly positive. However, a few users said their images have poor contrast.
But as you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons.
For this reason, we chose the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM as the best lens for group photos. We highly recommend it to Canon users, but you can also use it on other cameras via an adapter.
- Versatile zoom range ideal for group photos and everyday subjects
- Constant aperture of f/4 throughout the zoom range
- Optical image stabilizer provides five stops of shake correction
- Fast and accurate AF system
- Weather-sealed lens
- The maximum aperture might not be bright enough for extreme low-light situations
- A few users said that their images have poor contrast
2. Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Contemporary DC DN – Best Canon Lens for Group Photos
If you prefer a prime lens for its compact build, consider the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Contemporary DC DN.
It features a fixed focal length of 16mm, which gives you a broad perspective. Thus, it allows you to fit more elements in the frame, perfect for taking group photos.
There is also a bright maximum aperture of f/1.4. It lets more light into the image sensor to give you detailed photos, even when shooting in low-light situations. Plus, it produces a shallow depth of field to make the subject stand out from the background. Thus, this lens is not only suitable for group photos but individual portraits as well.
Furthermore, the low-dispersion optics and aspherical glass elements can effectively minimize purple fringing and chromatic aberration. Each element also has a super multi-layer coating to eliminate flare and ghosting. As a result, you can expect greater contrast and color accuracy in your images.
And like the previous lens, this wide-angle lens is dustproof and splashproof. Therefore, it can withstand the rigors of professional use.
Finally, the Sigma 16mm lens offers a fast and accurate autofocus system. It can help ensure that the subjects are tack sharp, even when they are moving.
However, there are still a few downsides to this prime lens. First, some users were disappointed that Sigma does not offer a warranty despite the advertisement. Second, it is a third-party lens, so some features might not be fully compatible with your Canon camera.
With that said, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Contemporary DC DN is still one of the best lenses for group photos. We highly recommend it to Canon users looking for a cheap lens with impressive results.
- Ultra-wide perspective allows more elements to fit within the frame
- Bright f/1.4 maximum aperture is ideal for low-light situations
- Shallow depth of field
- Fast AF system
- Impressive optical characteristics
- No warranty as advertised
- Some Canon users reported that a few features are not compatible with their camera
- A few users noticed distortion when shooting at close distances
3. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G – Best Nikon Lens for Group Photos
If you want to ensure less noticeable distortion and you own a Nikon camera, the NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G is worth considering.
It has a fixed 35mm focal range to give you a broad perspective. Thus, this prime lens is ideal for taking group photos and family portraits. But unlike other wide-angle lenses, it offers a relatively natural view without distortion.
Additionally, the NIKKOR 35mm features a bright and constant maximum aperture of f/1.8. So this lens delivers reliable low-light performance and shallow depth of field for stunning background blur.
Moreover, this wide-angle lens comes with a Silent Wave Motor (SWM). It provides fast autofocus to ensure sharper photos. Besides the impressive AF performance, the lens also enables manual focus override for total creative control.
Finally, each glass element includes a Super Integrated Coating (SIC). Therefore, it can enhance light transmission efficiency and color consistency to achieve higher quality photos.
However, before buying this wide-angle prime lens, it is essential to know its downsides. First, some users noticed that the lens tends to take underexposed photos on sunny days. Second, a few reviews also said the autofocus is noisy.
Nevertheless, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G is still among the best lenses for group photos, especially for Nikon users.
- 35mm focal length reduces distortion
- Wide aperture enables more light into the sensor
- Fast autofocus with manual focus override
- Super Integrated Coating ensures higher quality images
- The lens tends to underexpose on sunny days
- Autofocus produces a noise
4. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM – Best Sony Lens for Group Photos
The Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM is another excellent lens for group photos.
It features a fixed 24mm focal range, which gives you a wide-angle perspective to fit more people within the frame. At the same time, it does not produce too much distortion, ideal for group photos and environmental portraits.
Meanwhile, the constant maximum aperture of f/1.4 delivers bright images, even in low-light situations. It can also help isolate the subject from the background, owing to its shallow depth of field.
What’s more, this wide-angle lens includes two XA (Extreme Aspherical) elements and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements. These can ensure outstanding clarity and sharpness across the frame.
There is even a Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) to offer fast and accurate autofocus. Plus, manual focus and aperture adjustment are also possible with this Sony lens, making it handy for professional photographers.
On top of all these benefits, this wide-angle lens is sealed against dust and moisture. Thus, it can withstand heavy-duty outdoor use.
There are still a few downsides to this product, though. First, it lacks image stabilization, which is a bummer considering its price. Second, some users said the lens tends to shoot underexposed images.
The pros far outweigh the cons, though.
That is why we highly recommend the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM to professional photographers.
- Wide-angle perspective
- Bright maximum aperture is ideal for low-light situations
- Fast and accurate autofocus
- Advanced optical design to provide high-quality photos
- Weather-sealed and durable construction
- No image stabilization
- Images might turn out to be underexposed.
5. Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH – Best Panasonic Lens for Group Photos
Those who are looking for a cheap lens for group photos might want to consider the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH.
It has a versatile 25mm focal length, which gives you a natural viewing angle. At the same time, it allows you to fit more elements within the frame, ideal for group photos.
Meanwhile, the large maximum aperture of f/1.7 gives you bright photos, even when shooting in low-light situations. Plus, it creates a narrow depth of field that makes the subject stand out from the background.
Furthermore, there is a high-speed and high-precision contrast autofocus system. Thus, this wide-angle lens helps you achieve sharp and in-focus photos, even when the subject is moving.
All these advantages come at a lightweight and compact lens. However, it is essential to know that it can feel cheap and flimsy due to the plastic construction. Additionally, some users said the included lens hood is not compatible with their Panasonic cameras.
But considering its price, we think the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH is worth considering. It is one of the best lenses for group photos, especially if you own a micro-four-thirds camera.
- Wide maximum aperture is ideal for low-light conditions
- Stunning background blur
- Fast and accurate autofocus
- Compact and lightweight lens
- Budget price
- Some users said the plastic construction feels cheap
- Lens hood does not fit the lens. No image stabilization.
How to Choose the Best Lens for Group Photos
Taking photos of groups of people is different from photographing a single person. That is why it is essential to choose the right lens to ensure high image quality.
With this in mind, we will discuss the following factors to consider before buying a lens below. Hopefully, by the end of this section, you will have an idea of which features matter to you.
Prime or Zoom Lenses
Lenses are usually categorized into two types—prime or zoom lenses.
Prime lenses feature a fixed focal length. So if you want to change your perspective, these lenses require you to move away or towards the subject physically. Thus, they can significantly limit you. But on a positive note, they can offer a larger maximum aperture (more on this later) for brighter and higher-quality images.
Meanwhile, as their name suggests, zoom lenses have multiple focal lengths that allow you to zoom in on the subject. Therefore, they are more versatile as they can instantly adjust depending on your needs. However, they do not usually deliver the sharpest photos because of their smaller aperture and movable elements.
Choosing between the two will depend on your needs and personal preferences. If you want to ensure sharp photos, go with a prime lens. However, if you value versatility over other features, invest in a zoom lens.
The focal length is another factor to consider when shopping for the best lens for group photos. It determines how much of the scene you want to capture.
Of course, when it comes to group photos, it is best to use a short focal length to ensure everyone fits within the frame.
Look for a wide-angle lens, which has focal lengths of around 35mm and below, for this purpose. It will make it easier to adjust the composition of the image accordingly.
However, you can also use a standard (35-75mm) or even a telephoto lens (75mm and above) when taking photos of groups. We just recommended wide-angle lenses because they do not require you to back away as much from the subject. Thus, they are ideal if you have limited shooting space.
You should also check the maximum aperture before buying the best lens for group photos. This feature dictates how much light enters the sensor and how much control you have over the depth of field. It is measured in f-stop or f-numbers.
A larger aperture is equivalent to a smaller f-stop, such as f/1.8 or f/2.8. It enables more light into the sensor, which delivers brighter images in low-light situations. Additionally, it creates a shallow depth of field that isolates the subject from the background.
When it comes to family portraits, though, a narrow depth of field is not that essential. You probably need a larger aperture like f/8 to keep everyone in focus. With that said, it is still best to consider a larger maximum aperture as it gives you versatility, especially in pitch dark settings.
You might also want to invest in a lens with a fast and accurate autofocus system. It enables you to lock in the subject instantly, even when they are moving. Thus, it ultimately ensures every face in the photos is sharp and in focus.
Will you be shooting in low-light conditions? Or perhaps, you are planning to capture group photos with kids. Then, you might want to consider a lens with built-in optical image stabilization.
This technology can effectively minimize camera shake, so you can use faster shutter speeds for sharper photos in low-light situations.
Lenses for group photos are available at different price points, which can often intimidate first-time buyers. However, it is best to set your budget before buying a lens. Doing so can help narrow down your choices.
Ask yourself if you are willing to spend a lot of money on advanced optics technology. If so, there are countless high-end options on the market.
But if you are on a budget, fret not! There are also cheap lenses that can still deliver impressive results.
Before buying a lens for group photos, it is also essential to check if it includes a warranty. It allows you to request a return or refund should the lens stop working or was damaged during delivery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a 50mm lens good for group shots?
A 50mm lens is a great option for group shots. Its focal length produces a natural field of view without noticeable distortion. Thus, it can ensure that the faces of people are not distorted.
With that said, some photographers may find the 50mm lens too long or “zoomed in” for their needs. It requires you to back away several more meters from the subject, compared to a wide-angle lens.
How do I keep everyone in focus in a group photo?
Keeping everyone in focus is among the most common challenges when taking group photos. However, it is easy to do once you understand the concept of depth of field (DOF). This simply determines how much of the image is in focus.
This part of the image that is in focus is known as the focal plane. It runs in a straight, horizontal line, making it perpendicular to the camera sensor.
A narrow DOF has a focal plane that is just centimeters in width. For instance, imagine a piece of ribbon. Everything within that ribbon is in focus, but anything beyond it is blurry or out of focus.
Meanwhile, a deep DOF offers a focal plane that is a few meters wide, like a sidewalk. As a result, everything that fits on that sidewalk is in focus.
Therefore, when taking group photos, it is essential to use a deep DOF. You can achieve this by shooting at a smaller aperture, such as f/5.6 or f/8. It gives you a larger focal plane, making it easier to keep everyone in focus.
What is the best camera setting for group photos?
There is no one best camera setting for group photos. Every photographer’s vision is different. With that said, below are our recommended settings.
- Camera Mode – Manual
- Aperture – f/5.6 or higher to ensure the subjects are in focus
- Shutter Speed – 1/200th handheld, or 1/30th or faster on a tripod, especially if you’re photographing kids
- ISO – ISO 100 for outdoor applications and ISO 800 or lower when shooting indoors to minimize digital noise
- White Balance – choose the appropriate preset for the lighting conditions or use the automatic white balance (AWB) setting
Always remember that these are only suggestions. Feel free to adjust the settings according to your needs and vision.
There you have it—the best lenses for group photos! We highly recommend every product as it offers a wide-angle perspective that makes it easier to fit everyone in the frame.
But if we only have to suggest one, it would be the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. It offers a versatile zoom range, ideal for photographing groups of people and other subjects. Plus, the bright maximum aperture of f/4 ensures reliable low-light performance and narrow depth of field. Other notable features include optical stabilization, a fast autofocus system, and weather-sealed construction. All these advantages make it our choice as the best lens for group photos.