Large group

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by stephanie_martino, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. I will be shooting a group of about 250 people on bleachers in a gymnasium. What is the best lens to shoot with? I was thinking wide angle but I'm afraid of distortion.
  2. It might be a good idea to check out the location in advance to see how far you can go back, and how wide a lens you need to get everybody in the frame.
    At any rate, facial distortions due to wide angle lenses are an issue when you try to fill the frame with one face. It's not a fault of the lens, but the problem arises because you have to get very close to the subject, resulting in a perspective that's not ideal for portraits. To get 250 people in one frame, you will be much too far away from individual faces for that to play any role.
  3. Too wide a lens, and the people on the ends will look rather fat, even though their noses won't look big. I wouldn't shoot any wider than 50mm on a full frame or 30mm on a crop body.
  4. +1 for the 50mm.
  5. Your options will be dictated by the field of view you have to cover and how far away you are from the 250 people. You will probably set up at the wall opposite from bleachers and use the lens that will capture the image. A 50mm on a full frame camera may be ideal but unless you can break through that wall, you may not have a choice and may need to use a wider lens.
  6. Sometimes you have to use a wide angle because of the location. I this case I used a 10mm (on a crop camera) and adjusted the distortion in Photoshop using the warp feature. I also took several shots so that I could replace expressions that were not good. This might not be easy with 250 people.
  7. I agree with what Jeff Owen has said: sometimes you have no choice. When given a choice, however, the 50mm is the "widest" lens you want to use. The 50mm focal length is the "normal" perspective. Take Jeff's shot, @ 10mm the lady in the bottom right of the frame is disproportionately larger than everyone in the back of the frame. Had a 50mm been used (and I understand that it couldn't), this would not have been as much of an issue. I would not choose to use a 35mm on a cropped sensor (unless I had no choice). A 35mm lens is still a 35mm lens. Granted, on a crop sensor it gives you a field of view of approximately 50mm, but field of view isn't the concern. You will still have "distortions" using 35mm lens on a cropped sensor camera because it is a matter of focal length.
  8. Just an off-the-wall thought. Can this be done successfully by stitching photos as you would do with pano
  9. Can this be done successfully by stitching photos as you would do with pano photos.​
  10. In response to whether it can be done with stitching: yes, it can be. I've done a few group panoramics, sometimes using a rotating Cirkut camera with 10" tall film, other times using a digital SLR Nikon and PTGui stitching software. The largest group I've photographed thus far is about 1,000 people, all arranged in about 15-20 minutes' time, in an arc with the camera at the center.
    But.... when shooting huge groups arranged in an arc, you'll get some odd perspectives if you have a straight set of bleachers for them to sit on. The bleachers will end up football-shaped: tallest in the middle, and tapering on the sides.
    I'd analyze this a little differently than the shooters above have been doing....
    You have bleachers, I assume with 3-4 rows of seating. Across the shoulders straight-on, people are about 18-24" wide. To look a bit nicer, less of a mug-shot, you can have them seated at an angle, with their knees and bodies pointed toward the center of the photo, trying to get a 30-45 degree turn to the bodies, to flatter them. I do this by putting a miniature traffic cone in the middle of the scene, far ahead of the camera, for them to aim at. That will narrow them to about 12-18" each.
    How many rows in the bleachers?
    How wide are the bleachers?
    If you have 4 rows in the bleachers, you'll need 60' of width, as 60 x 4 = 240 people-spaces.
    If you have 5 rows, you'll need 50' of width. 6 rows, 40' of width, etc.
    Now that you've got some of the real-life dimensions of the shot, you can go there and take some test shots without people. Or with a few volunteers at the extreme ends and middle.
    I actually take the above a step farther - I'll trig out what lens to use and how far back I'll have to be. Why? Because when you have a large group, almost all your mental resources will be going to getting them into position, keeping their attention, and getting the shot. You likely won't have time to mentally construct the shot on the fly, while it happens. That's why advance preparation is good.
  11. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I will be shooting a group of about 250 people on bleachers in a gymnasium. What is the best lens to shoot with?​
    The EF 50F/2.5 (preferred on a 5D or similar).
    Same lens, if APS-C.
  12. I have to disagree with one assertion above. A 35 (or more exactly 31) on a crop sensor camera will indeed yield the same photo as a 50 on a full frame camera -- same distortion (or lack thereof). The distortion isn't a property of the focal length, but rather of the field of view when using a rectlinear lens. If this were not the case, then the tiny focal lengths used on a tiny-sensor camera could only be wildly distorted, even at the near telephoto end.
    On that same subject, a diagonal fisheye does not distort object sizes or angles, but it does of course bend straight lines. If you were to take a photo like the one of the Vintage BMW motorcycle group, with the subjects arranged in a semicircle around the camera, and with the horizon and line of subjects positioned in the center of the frame, you would have no fat people on the ends. Everyone would be the same size and shape, and nobody would look distorted. Again, though, you cannot keep straight lines straight, unless they run through the center of the frame.
    Equality March, Zenitar 16mm diagonal fisheye on an EOS 40D. Note that the capitol building rotunda has a bit of distortion, as its straight lines do not run through the center of the frame. However, there are no fat people on the edges here. The angle of view is just a tiny bit wider than a 10mm rectilinear lens on the same body -- 9.43mm, to be exact.
  13. Er... My brain sometimes doesn't work that early in the morning. I messed up on the calculation. The Zenitar 16 (which renders 180 deg from corner to corner on a full frame camera) would render 93.6 deg from side to side on a 1.6 crop camera (e.g. Canon), and that would have a field of view similar to a 10.56 mm lens -- with no fat people on the edges. ;-)

Share This Page