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Thread: Can I use Canon Normal EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Autofocus for group photos at weddings?

  1. #11
    You want your subject to be small in the picture. That's the whole point of taking a group shot. There are two ways to accomplish that: you can use a wide angle lens, or you can increase the distance to the subject.

    Generally wide angle lenses will give you a greater depth of field (at the same aperture), and will tend to magnify closer objects more than distant ones. Thus, you can generally get less distortion at a longer focal length, but you may find yourself too far away from the group to communicate with them.

    Here is a group photo taken from a mountaintop of a fairly large group. I used my 10-22@10mm for this shot, since I could not back up any further without going down the other side of the mountain. This represents an extreme case, but note how bigger the people in front, and especially on the side are. The close people were about 7 feet away from me.


  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by clemmb View Post
    I shot weddings for years with a standard lens on my camera. Never had a problem shooting any size group in a church wedding. The 50mm will work great on the FF but probably not wide enough on the crop. A 28, 30 or 35 will work great for the crop.
    Mark
    I want to take 24mm, which I believe should be good for crop for wedding as well as walk around lens,does it hold the same on a FF?

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by jfritz View Post
    You want your subject to be small in the picture. That's the whole point of taking a group shot. There are two ways to accomplish that: you can use a wide angle lens, or you can increase the distance to the subject.

    Generally wide angle lenses will give you a greater depth of field (at the same aperture), and will tend to magnify closer objects more than distant ones. Thus, you can generally get less distortion at a longer focal length, but you may find yourself too far away from the group to communicate with them.

    Here is a group photo taken from a mountaintop of a fairly large group. I used my 10-22@10mm for this shot, since I could not back up any further without going down the other side of the mountain. This represents an extreme case, but note how bigger the people in front, and especially on the side are. The close people were about 7 feet away from me.


    wowwww....... awesome pic, please answer one question, I intend to take pics that are not that big group from your pic,iam looking to take pics for a group of at max 10, do you think 24mm would be a good fit for it at the same time can I use it as a general walk away lens

  4. #14
    Moderator Steve U's Avatar
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    10 people wide from 10 feet is easy with FF with 24mm and back up double that stand on a ladder and you can get 60 people.
    It all depends when you a going to FF and if you intend to keep the crop body or sell it. As Neuro has said many time the 17-55 IS is about the best general purpose lens you can get for a crop body and would be a very wise investment if you are keeping that body.
    Wedding photographers are on the move a lot and sometimes the convenience of a quality zoom allows you to get the shot, with minimal fuss. That's why the preferred kit is 24-70or105mm and a 70-200mm. Especially if you are learning like I am.
    Good luck with your decisions.
    Steve U
    Wine, Food and Photography Student and Connoisseur

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by clemmb View Post
    I shot weddings for years with a standard lens on my camera. Never had a problem shooting any size group in a church wedding. The 50mm will work great on the FF but probably not wide enough on the crop. A 28, 30 or 35 will work great for the crop.
    Mark
    I want to eventually get a FF, do you think 50mm will be wide enough to take group pics?

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve U View Post
    10 people wide from 10 feet is easy with FF with 24mm and back up double that stand on a ladder and you can get 60 people.
    It all depends when you a going to FF and if you intend to keep the crop body or sell it. As Neuro has said many time the 17-55 IS is about the best general purpose lens you can get for a crop body and would be a very wise investment if you are keeping that body.
    Wedding photographers are on the move a lot and sometimes the convenience of a quality zoom allows you to get the shot, with minimal fuss. That's why the preferred kit is 24-70or105mm and a 70-200mm. Especially if you are learning like I am.
    Good luck with your decisions.
    Thanks very much for the insight, I have 100mm and 135mm prime lens and I am looking for a wide angle, though I have 24-105mm, somehow the pics I took with primes are so outstanding that I dont like to use 24-105mm, though I will be retaining my crop, I want to totally move to FF

  7. #17
    Senior Member clemmb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gandhi View Post
    I want to eventually get a FF, do you think 50mm will be wide enough to take group pics?
    If you pose them well, yes. I have done 30 people with a 50mm. At a wedding in the church you usually have steps up front so you can have three rows of 10.
    Mark
    Mark

  8. #18

    Group wedding shots at oakham castle near stamford

    I woulkd go under 35mm for group shots. :-) But really depends on the wedding.

    You can view some group wedding pictures taken at Oakham castle, near stamford in the united kingdom.
    Last edited by peterborough_photography; 01-11-2012 at 02:52 AM.

  9. #19
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    I did a friend's wedding, and the 24-70 was a great choice, particularly with the flash umbrellas, but if you want a prime, I think the suggestion to figure it out with your zoom is a fantastic one.

    However, I specifically have a problem with the 50 f1.2L. Qualitatively, a great picture. Build quality is fantastic. However, I wouldn't want one unless I could sell it for something else. It has a fairly serious ( in my opinion) back focus problem as you stop down narrower than f/1.2. Brian mentions this issue in his review. I also remember reading about it on www.lensrentals.com. I owned one, and first thought mine was defective when I noticed that those out of focus shots weren't in fact my fault. I sent it back to Canon, they claimed to have fixed it, I saw it again, and they responded by telling me that i just needed to stop down even more, like using an F/1.2 lens at F/2 or F/2.8 was a dumb idea. When it was tight with money and time to make rent, it was the first to go. I would NOT use it for a wedding, when you have marginally managed chaos, and want to be able to grab shots that don't come again. If you want 50mm, I'd suggest the 1.4. Almost as fast, and so far as I know, the Autofocus works at any F stop. Plus, it's way cheaper. If they come out with a 50mm L series that performs like the 85mm F1.2L II, I'll be interested.
    Last edited by Colin; 01-19-2012 at 04:31 AM. Reason: mistakes

  10. #20
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    The 50L doesn't have a back focus problem, per se. It has focus shift, and both that and the lack of tack-sharpness wide open are the result of design tradeoffs in which Canon chose to optimize the lens for creamy smooth bokeh.

    The 50mm f/1.2L is something of a special case. That lens suffers from a particularly bad focus shift (many lenses have some focus shift, especially, fast primes, but usually not enough to notice). Focus shift is when the focal plane of the lens changes when you change the aperture of the lens. All lenses focus with the aperture wide open, then stop down the aperture to your chosen setting as the shot is taken. In the case of the 50mm f/1.2L, if you select an aperture narrower than f/1.2, down to about f/4, focus shift means that the lens will actually focus on a point that's behind your chosen focal plane. At f/4 or a little narrower, the DoF is deep enough to mask the effect, because by then your chosen focal plane is within the DoF. At very close subject distances, the DoF is shallower, and the effect of focus shift is exaggerated (you may need f/5.6 or even f/8 to get a deep enough DoF to mask the shift).

    So, what can you do? Here are some options:

    • Stop down to f/4 or narrower. But, I'm going to assume that shooting at f/8 is not the ideal solution...

    • Shoot at f/1.2. There's no shift if you don't stop down.

    • Use Live View. Granted, that's not a good option with typical 50/1.2 subjects.

    • Manual focus with the DoF Preview button pressed. You'd almost certainly need a high-precision focusing screen (Eg-S for 5DII) instead of the stock screen.

    • More complex AFMA. You could perform an AFMA at f/2, and you'd get different results than wide open - that adjustment would compensate for the focus shift at f/2, but not be applicable at f/1.6 or f/2.8, for example. So, you'd need to have a list of AFMA values, and change the setting to match the aperture you want to shoot at. Might work if you can pick an aperture for a shoot and stay there. (Side note here: the 1D X can store two AFMA settings for a zoom lens, one for the wide end and one for the long end; in theory, Canon could allow multiple, aperture-dependent AFMA settings for the 50L, which would certainly help with this issue.)

    • Intentionally front focus. Use an AF point over a feature that's a little bit in front of what you really want to focus on.

    • Tweak on the fly. The 50L has full-time manual focus, so you can use AF get you close, then turn the MF ring slightly to bring the focal plane forward a little. You'd likely want to be using back-button AF for that, and it would take a fair bit of practice to get it working reliably.

    The 50L can deliver amazing shots, but due to the focus shift issue it takes some work and practice to get the most from the lens.
    Last edited by neuroanatomist; 01-19-2012 at 01:53 PM.

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