I am planning to buy modular lens style DSLR (Sony ILCE-QX1), it has 20.1MP APS-C, 23.2 x 15.4 mm sensor.


However, to take "full body portraits" & "family or group" both with good background bokeh, I am planning to buy one of the following compatible lenses, please suggest me which of these should i buy, to get the type photos i desire to take?

  1. 24 mm F1.8 or
  2. 35 mm F1.8 or
  3. 50 mm F1.8 or
  4. 55mm F1.8 or
  5. Any other suggested compatible lens with E-mount (85mm F1.4)?

Also, should I care about Image stabilization & Auto Focus features, i get in above interchangeable lenses?

Here is a sample shots, i found from internet for full body portraits & group shots with very good shallow depth of field,

enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "group landscape?" \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Nov 22, 2015 at 15:48
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Does Which focal-length lens is usually used for portrait photography, and why? help you decide? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 22, 2015 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ by "group landscape", i meant family or group photos with background bokeh \$\endgroup\$
    – RJoshi
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I realize we shouldn't add product recommendations but I'll add only one for the body ONLY. I would not recommend the QX1 only because phone interfaces is clunky, from reviews and my a6000 and instead point to the Sony a6000 as it is on the same price, at the time of writing. It lacks portability to a degree but is overall a better experience. However, if you're dead set on it, for any reason, then more power to you. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 4, 2015 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, i always wanted a lens-style modular DSLR (APS-C Sensor), that gives me easy to use interface, interchangeable lenses & very high portability without compromizing on any of standard DSLR features, thus i am going with the lens-style DSLR en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_camera#Modular_cameras \$\endgroup\$
    – RJoshi
    Dec 6, 2015 at 17:16

5 Answers 5


The original image you highlighted appears to me to have been taken at around 150-200mm (FX equivalent), from the flat perspective and limited depth of field it's showing. The second one - not quite that long, probably 85-135ish I'd guess. Remember that depth of field decreases with increased focal lengths as well as wider apertures.

Now, for a group shot with a long lens like that you need space - that photo certainly couldn't have been taken in the space available in most homes, you'd just need to be too far back.

So -

  • Faster (smaller f number) lenses always allow shallower depth of field than slower versions
  • Wider (short focal length) lenses will always have more depth of field than longer. No matter what I do, a 12mm will have more depth of field than a 300mm.
  • Wider lenses tend not to be the most complimentary for portraits. Partly distortion into the corners, more that they emphasise front to back differences in scale that longer lenses flatten and so tend to give subjects large chins and noses!
  • Long lenses make the background larger and softer, wide lenses make it smaller and crisper.

If I wanted a basic starting point lens to let me get portraits like the image you've highlighted, I'd pick up something like a 50-200 or 70-300. In decent light it'll be quite sharp enough, it'll let you get the sort of depth of field and perspective that your image shows, and they're cheap, light lenses so easy to work with. If you're set on primes - from that list an 85 f/1.8 will get reasonably close to the look you've highlighted (particularly on a crop sensor camera), it's just more expensive and less flexible with fairly minimal practical advantages in this case IMHO.

  • \$\begingroup\$ hi, thanks for your reply. yes i also thought the sample photos i uploaded are taken by longer zoom focal length (50-200mm F4.5) instead than prime lens (85mm F1.4 or 50mm F1.8). I am now thinking to buy 50-200mm, however, i some concerns about their very large f number values i.e from F3.5 to F5, so would the longer focal length compensate here? \$\endgroup\$
    – RJoshi
    Dec 8, 2015 at 17:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Find a depth of field calculator. Look up the depth of field for a given aperture and subject distance - I think you'll find that for subjects of the scale you're thinking of, f/4-5.6 will be plenty. \$\endgroup\$
    – eftpotrm
    Dec 8, 2015 at 17:25

APS-C crops and makes your focal length effectively 60% longer.

50mm becomes 80mm, which is often too long for full-body of even one person.

You would want 24mm or 35mm, among the ones you listed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ ok, so what i understand is 24mm or 35mm on APS-C sensor, would help get "full body portraits" with background bokeh & "family or group" also with good background bokeh? do i have to see its maximum aperture for getting good bokeh, i mean 24mm with F1.8 or F3.5? \$\endgroup\$
    – RJoshi
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RJoshi This is what you need: dofmaster.com/dofjs.html In short, so far as I understand: As long as the subject takes the same amount of the frame and the aperture has the same setting, (i.e., take a 50mm and an 85mm lens @ f/1.4) you will get the same background blur. Again, the subject must fill the same amount of the frame. So, you should be able to get family shots with background blur - but the perspective distortion might be intolerable. The 35mm f/1.8 is probably the safest bet, but I haven't used one. You have to do the math. \$\endgroup\$
    – icor103
    Nov 23, 2015 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ i was not able find my Sony ILCE-QX1 in the DSLR list on dofmaster.com, should pick any nearest matching dslr ( based on its sensor size ) & get the lens specs? \$\endgroup\$
    – RJoshi
    Nov 28, 2015 at 3:40

The biggest problem you're going to face, really, is that wide lenses and thin DoF are diametrically opposed. So is subject distance. And group shots require being farther away, and a shorter lens. Blurring the background at all--even at wide apertures like f/2 and f/1.8 are going to be tough under those conditions.

Your best bet is probably to get an 85/1.8, force everyone to stand REALLY still for a long period of time, and to learn how to make bokeh panos (aka the Brenizer effect), or use specialized software to blur the background in post. Because conventionally, what you're envisioning is not easy unless you're shooting medium format or larger.

See a photo I shot with a 50mm f/1.2 wide open on full frame, but taken from a distance of ~15 feet. And note the lack of blurriness in the background.


On this site we normally do not recommend any products. That is off-topic here.

I will just give you a basic guideline.

  • The shorter the focal length the less bokeh you get. With some wide angle lenses you can focus almost from 1 m to infinity.

  • The longer the focal length, better bokeh and more pleasing portrait look. Normally between 50-100mm but, as you need full body this could be a problem.

  • So if you are in a tight room you probably can not have both things. Bokeh+Group shoots.

  • If you are in a veeeeery wide space you need to be far from your subject, and the subject must be far from the background.


There is a chance a tilt lens helps.


That can achieve a similar effect with a wide angle lens. Use it very subtle or the look is like you are photographing a miniature.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, i have edited my question to give only generic set of lens, rather than specific product. \$\endgroup\$
    – RJoshi
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, so you mean i cannot have a single lens capable of taking both "full body portraits" & "family or group" with good background bokeh? or you mean groupshoots+bokeh is not possible? however i have seen images with group shots along with nice bokeh \$\endgroup\$
    – RJoshi
    Nov 23, 2015 at 18:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basicly, yes, that is what I mean, except groupshots with people in a really open space, for example in a golf court. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Nov 24, 2015 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ yep, exactly, i am expecting groupshots with nice bokehs in really open space itself (like gardens, outdoor treks etc.), not in closed room with no depth \$\endgroup\$
    – RJoshi
    Nov 28, 2015 at 3:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rafael, um... tilt-shifts and the Scheimpflug effect don't exactly blur the background that easily--particularly with a group shot. You're changing the geometry of the DoF, not making it thinner. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Dec 4, 2015 at 17:28

If you expect a lot of background blur from wide angle shots, then I'd suggest you forget that idea.

If you want a lot of background blurring for one or two people shoulder-head shots, where it is most effective and most useful, then consider a 50mm f1.8 lens, which you should even find cheap used. It's a good value choice for that purpose and it's my focal length choice for my own Sony NEX F3 ( same mount as the QX1 ) and DSLRs for those type of shots. When not using a 50mm f1.8 I invariably use a general purpose zoom, similar to a 16-50 or 18-55.

But do not under-estimate what is possible with a kit lens ( a 16-50 would suit you, perhaps ). The larger sensor of the QX1 and A6000 are what is giving you some better background blur effects over a smaller sensor system.

I would say to you that while the QX1 look like a nice gadget on paper, in practice using an ILC implies changing lens, and changing lens means being able to practically use other lenses with your camera. The QX1 attached to a phone simply does not provide you with the needed handling.

An A6000 has a good viewfinder, is designed to be held using the viewfinder ( important for stable shooting and proper framing ) and also has features like focus peaking and good controls for photography. If you are going to do photography, get a decent tool for the job, not a gadget.

I would add that if you get into photography, a QX1 will seem like a dead-duck very quickly, whereas an A6000 ( or similar ) would prove much more useful.

So I'd at least consider getting a dedicated camera.


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