The 24mm – 70mm standard zoom lens is a popular lens for wedding photography and at the 24mm – 28mm range of focal lengths it is considered a “wide” lens. A wide lens is essential to get frame filling shots of the happy couple as well as frame filling shots of other “couple shots” (the bride and her father, the groom and the best man, the father and mother of the bride, the father and mother of the groom etc.), but when it comes to photographing groups a 24mm – 70mm standard zoom lens
Isn’t quite wide enough in my opinion.
Okay, you can use a 24mm – 70mm lens for group shots but you will have to be so far away from the group you will struggle to direct them, communicate with them and get an engaging shot. Using a lens with a shorter focal length, and wider field of view, will allow you to be up close and personal and still get everyone in frame. Being closer to the people will enable you to talk to them, put them at ease, suggest different ways of posing etc. all of which help to get engaging wedding photos.
The widest affordable prime lens is a 20mm lens, and whilst it is wider than the 24mm wide end of the 24mm – 70mm standard zoom lens it isn’t really wide enough for those group shots therefore the ideal ultra-wide angle lens for wedding photography is the 16mm – 35mm lens if you shoot a full frame camera, or for you crop sensor camera users the 10mm – 22mm lens which obviously gives the effective 16mm – 35mm focal range. Lenses wider than 16mm are fisheye lenses and using these is not the best idea for taking shots of people because of distortions and problems with perspectives.
The 16mm – 35mm lenses typically have a maximum widest aperture of f2.8 (and that is the top end ones at that) which may not seem wide compared to prime lenses but it is plenty wide enough for group shots. In fact, in reality there are many times when f2.8 is too wide and won’t give sufficient depth of field to make sure everyone in the photo is in sharp focus. In reality group shots involve apertures of f4 – f8 to get the depth of field required to get everyone in sharp focus.
When shooting at such narrow apertures it is going to be difficult to intentionally blur the background and it is often necessary to work around the issue, such as creating the biggest distance possible between the group and the background, using a photography background (which is generally a bit of a faff) or getting creative with the photo editing software. I always use photo editing software as the last resort, but if I need to do it I do it – after all the main thing is to get the shot for the paying customer, and it is important to do whatever it takes to do this.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.