Best Lens For Nikon Portrait Photography

By | 16/10/2022

The best Nikon portrait lenses in 2022 for Nikon Z cameras and Nikon DSLRs

Best Nikon portrait lenses



(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best Nikon portrait lens to buy will depend on two things: the beginning is whether you have a Nikon Z mirrorless camera or a DSLR, and the second is whether it has a full frame sensor or an APS-C (DX) sensor. We cover all the bases in our buying guide!

The best Nikon portrait lenses have the two chief characteristics of portrait lenses everywhere. Kickoff, they have a focal length of 85mm or thereabouts (or its APS-C equivalent), and this gives yous a good working altitude from your subject field while eliminating whatever unflattering perspective baloney from getting likewise close with a regular or wide-angle lens. Second, they have a fast maximum aperture and then that yous can blur the groundwork and focus all the attention on your subject field.

APS-C cameras like Nikon’south DX format DSLRs (D3500
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, D5600
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, D7500
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, for example) and the Nikon Z50
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. They take a smaller sensor which magnifies the effective focal length of the lens. So while 85mm might be the platonic ‘portrait’ focal length on a full frame photographic camera, you tin can get away with a 50mm lens (75mm equivalent) on a Nikon DX model. This opens up a whole option of 50mm full frame lenses that can be used every bit ‘portrait’ lenses on these cameras.

You can also use regular 85mm portrait lenses on Nikon DX cameras. The just factor to remember here is that this effectively increases the focal length to effectually 130mm, which means yous volition have to motion further away from your subjects, which might exist tricky in a small room.

All of the lenses in this guide are compatible with both Nikon full frame and DX cameras, and we’ve included focal length conversions in the specs then DX users can get a sense of the angle of view of the lens on their camera.

There are a multifariousness of portrait-friendly prime number lenses on the market, typically with a widest aperture of f/1.8 or f/1.4. An f/1.four lens will typically exist more expensive than its f/one.8 counterpart. In order to permit in more lite, the forward elements in a faster lens need to accept a larger diameter, so faster lenses are bigger and more expensive to manufacture. However, the quality of drinking glass and structure can nevertheless be just as good in slower lenses, or maybe even improve.

That’southward enough preamble from usa – let’south get to the lenses! We’ve divided our pick up into Nikon Z lenses for full frame and APS-C, and Nikon F DSLR lenses, besides for full frame and DX format Nikons.

Best Nikon portrait lenses in 2022

Nikon Z full frame

The Nikon Z lens range is still in its infancy compared to some more established systems, simply already there are some great 85mm portrait lens options. If you’ve invested in Nikon’s Z50 with its APS-C sensor, so in that location are 3 excellent 50mm lenses to choose from, but out of these we think the Nikkor Z 50mm f/ane/8 S
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is the best choice.

(Image credit: Future)


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The all-time portrait lens for the mirrorless Z series

Specifications

Focal Length:

85mm

Equivalent focal length (DX):

127.5mm

Lens construction:

12 elements in 8 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

9

Minimum focus distance:

0.8m

Filter size:

67mm

Dimensions:

75 ten 99mm

Weight:

470g

Reasons to buy


+

Beautifully natural bokeh



+

Fully weather-sealed

Reasons to avoid


Only f/one.8, not f/1.four



Quite expensive

The Nikon Z 85mm f/ane.8 Due south is the optimal portrait lens for the full-frame mirrorless Z-mount cameras. Incredibly precipitous thank you to a sophisticated internal construction, it produces images with dynamic, natural-looking bokeh and produces gorgeous detail even at its minimum focus distance of 0.8m. Other great features include full weather-sealing and an ergonomic control ring designed for tactile functioning. The lens benefits from the wide Nikon Z mount, allowing it to gather as much lite as possible for smooth operation even shooting in natural light, with Nano Crystal Coat helping you out by controlling for flare and ghosting. For ecology portraits, this lens is a godsend, and yous’ll notice it allows you to fully realise the potential of your full-frame Nikon mirrorless camera.

Read more:
Nikkor Z 85mm f/ane.8 S review

(Epitome credit: Samyang)


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A great manual focus portrait lens for Z-mount cameras

Specifications

Mount:

Nikon Z

Equivalent focal length (DX):

127.5mm

Lens construction:

9 elements in 7 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

9

Minimum focusing distance:

one.1m

Filter size:

72mm

Dimensions:

78x103mm

Weight:

740g

Reasons to purchase


+

Tactile controls



+

Great for portraiture

Reasons to avoid


No autofocus



No discontinuity control from camera

This recently launched Samyang lens is designed for the very latest Nikon Z-series mirrorless cameras, only it’due south a purely manual matter. Likewise as being manual-focus, you tin’t set the discontinuity from the camera body, and then have to use the control ring on the lens itself. By default, stabilization is disabled in the Z 6 and Z 7 cameras, simply yous can enable information technology past inbound the lens data in the Setup menu’s ‘Not-CPU lens data’ department. Focus peaking brandish in the electronic viewfinder and rear screen helps with accurate transmission focusing, which tin can be critical considering that the depth of field tends to be very tight at f/1.4. Image quality is fantabulous, handling is very good and information technology’south great value at the price.

Read more:
Samyang MF 85mm f/ane.4 Z review
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(Image credit: Lensbaby)


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3. Lensbaby Velvet 85

If you lot want to create soft focus photos, this is the lens for y’all

Specifications

Mountain:

Nikon Z

Equivalent focal length (DX):

127.5mm

Lens construction:

four elements in 3 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

12

Minimum focusing distance:

0.24m

Filter size:

67mm

Dimensions:

76x128mm

Weight:

644g

Reasons to purchase


+

1:2 Macro adequacy



+

Soft focus feature

Reasons to avert


Long focus travel



Manual focus merely

If you’re looking for something a little different, then check out the Lensbaby Velvet 85. The term ‘Velvet’ is as a synonym for ‘soft focus’, and while that might set alarm bells ringing for some, information technology’s a fiddling misleading. That’s because the lens is designed to render image particular tack-abrupt, simply your photos will do good from a soft velvet glow that volition permeate the image and intensify towards the edges. Something that tin be actually prissy for portraits. This f/one.8 lens tin as well has a rather handy ane:2 macro mode, meaning that it can double upward every bit a neat close-upwardly lens (with the same ethereal soft focus, if you lot and then choose, or you can deactivate if you prefer). Information technology’due south not for everyone though and most will be better served by Nikon’due south 85mm lens, only this manual focus only lens does have a certain amuse.

Nikon Z DX

Nikon’due south APS-C mirrorless camera range has only simply got started with the Nikon Z50, merely we are expecting more models in the futurity and the Z50 can use whatever Nikon Z full frame lens. It’southward rare to go ‘portrait’ lenses designed specifically for APS-C cameras, only equally usual with this format a 50mm total frame lens will practise the task simply too, and we’ve picked what we think is the best portrait lens correct at present for Nikon Z50 owners.

(Image credit: Nikon)


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A standard lens for the Z5, Z6 and Z7, and a great portrait lens for the Z50

Specifications

Mount:

Nikon Z FX

Elements/groups:

12/9

Diaphragm blades:

ix

Autofocus:

Pulse (stepping motor)

Stabilizer:

None

Minimum focus altitude:

0.4m

Filter thread:

62mm

Dimensions (WxL):

76x87mm

Weight:

415g

Reasons to buy


+

Razor-sharp prototype quality



+

Dreamy bokeh for a 50mm f/1.8 lens

Reasons to avoid


Quite pricey for a 50mm f/1.8



No focus distance scale

50mm f/one.8 lenses are often regarded equally the poor relations of f/1.iv standard primes. Only despite its pocket-sized aperture rating, this Z-mount lens delivers sumptuous image quality, with amazing levels of sharpness across the whole epitome frame and negligible baloney or colour fringing. The f/1.8 aperture also enables a reasonably compact and lightweight build, in keeping with slim-line mirrorless camera bodies. Fifty-fifty more impressively, the quality of bokeh is remarkably adept for a 50mm f/1.viii lens, with especially smooth rendition of defocused areas. Autofocus is very fast and virtually silent, and the lens is well-built with a weather-sealed structure. The key betoken here that it’s a great portrait lens for the Nikon Z50 and other Nikon Z DX cameras to come, offering a 75mm equivalent focal length and an f/one.8 maximum aperture for softly blurred backgrounds.

Read more:
Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.viii Southward review
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Nikon DSLR full frame

These lenses all give the ‘perfect’ portrait focal length of 85mm on full frame Nikon DSLRs like the D780
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and D850
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. Nonetheless, y’all can too use them on smaller format APS-C Nikon DSLRs – you still get the great groundwork defocus result but an even longer ‘effective’ focal length of 127.5mm.

(Image credit: Sigma)


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A heavyweight portrait lens to be sure, but it packs a punch

Specifications

Focal Length:

85mm

Equivalent focal length (DX):

127.5mm

Lens construction:

14 elements in 12 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

nine

Minimum focus distance:

0.85m

Filter size:

86mm

Dimensions:

95x 126mm

Weight:

1130g

Reasons to buy


+

Extremely fast autofocus



+

Excellent image quality

Reasons to avert


Heavy



Rather bulky

Sigma’s 85mm f/1.4 Art lens seemed to have been a long time coming. Then, was information technology been worth the wait? It certainly feels the office; at 1130g, it’due south but 300g lighter than Nikon’s new 70-200mm f/2.8E VR! Like Tamron’s 85mm, this optic features an electromagnetically controlled diaphragm for greater accuracy in high-speed continuous mode, and it also features weather seals. The autofocus is extremely fast and accurate, and image quality is excellent, with a wonderfully soft and creamy bokeh, although the lens isn’t as precipitous as some of its rivals. Colour fringing, coma, distortion, ghosting and flare are all negligible. All in all, the Sigma 85mm packs a heavyweight dial that’due south in keeping with its construction.

(Paradigm credit: Nikon)


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Nikon’due south finest short-telephoto prime number, with a wide aperture

Specifications

Focal Length:

85mm

Equivalent focal length (DX):

127.5mm

Lens structure:

10 elements in 9 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

nine

Minimum focus distance:

0.85m

Filter size:

77mm

Dimensions:

86.five ten 84 mm

Weight:

595g

Reasons to purchase


+

Extremely precipitous



+

Fantastic bokeh quality

Reasons to avoid


More expensive than others



Not much else…

This lens is 1 of Nikon’s finest achievements in engineering, and near pro Nikon photographers reading this probably own it already and bought it every bit soon as they could. If your budget stretches this far and then the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G is a near-perfect portrait lens, producing images that are faultlessly sharp in all the correct places, with cute bokeh in their backgrounds. Synthetic of x elements in ix groups, the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G also has Nano Crystal Glaze to control for flare and ghosting. Its rugged construction ensures it tin stand up to travel and outdoor shooting. Depth of field is so shallow when shooting wide open that it tin can take some practice and a practiced eye to ensure that your focus is precisely correct. It’s one of the all-time portrait lenses around. If money is no object, hither’s where to put your greenbacks.

(Image credit: Nikon)


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A form act that also offers corking value for money

Specifications

Focal Length:

85mm

Equivalent focal length (DX):

127.5mm

Lens construction:

9 elements in 9 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

7

Minimum focus altitude:

0.8m

Filter size:

67mm

Dimensions:

eighty x 73mm

Weight:

350g

Reasons to buy


+

Superbly abrupt images



+

Small, calorie-free and affordable

Reasons to avoid


Bokeh result suffers a little



Vignetting more noticeable than on the Nikon 85mm f/one.four

Like the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G beneath, this is the smallest and lightest lens in its (full frame) class, measuring just 80mm long and weighing a pocket-sized 350g. Build quality feels much the same, likewise, down to the conditions-sealed mounting plate, and the inclusion of a single aspherical element. This lens is superbly sharp, fifty-fifty shooting broad open, although naturally the aperture doesn’t go as wide as in the Nikon f/ane.4 lens. Vignetting is noticeable, while bokeh is beautifully soft, stopping down gives specular highlights a heptagonal appearance – a effect of the diaphragm having 7 rather than nine blades.

Nikon DSLR DX

Nikon DX format DSLRs take a 1.5x ‘ingather’ factor, and so a 50mm lens will really have an constructive focal length of 75mm in total frame camera terms, and this is plenty to make them very expert portrait lenses that are more compact and more than affordable than regular 85mm ‘portrait’ lenses for total frame cameras. Here’southward a run-down of some the best choices.

(Image credit: Future)


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A big bruiser of a peachy 50 that’s peachy for portraits on an APS-C Nikon

Specifications

Focal Length:

50mm

Equivalent focal length (DX):

75mm

Lens construction:

13 elements in 8 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

9

Minimum focus distance:

0.4m

Filter size:

77mm

Dimensions:

86x 99mm

Weight:

815g

Reasons to buy


+

Exceptional quality bokeh



+

Robust construction

Reasons to avoid


Quite weighty



No mounting-plate weather sealing

This Art lens from Sigma’s Global Vision line-up is a heavyweight contender, ane that’south well-nigh twice the length and three times the weight of Nikon’s competing 50mm f/1.4 lens. It’s full-frame compatible, but undeniably hefty for a portrait lens on lightweight DX format bodies such as the Nikon D5600
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, tipping the scales at 815g. The relatively complex pattern incorporates thirteen optical elements in all, including an aspherical element and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements. Construction feels reassuringly robust, but this lens does lack a weather seal on its mounting plate. An upside of the large front element is that vignetting is comparatively minimal hither. Bokeh is deliciously creamy at f/1.4 and remains of exceptional quality even when stopping down a little. This is helped by a well-rounded discontinuity, based on nine diaphragm blades.

(Epitome credit: Tamron)


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Superb center sharpness with added stability, and great on a DX Nikon

Specifications

Focal Length:

45mm

Equivalent focal length (DX):

67.5mm

Lens construction:

10 elements in viii groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

9

Minimum focus distance:

0.29m

Filter size:

67mm

Dimensions:

80x 89mm

Weight:

520g

Reasons to purchase


+

Excellent image sharpness



+

Vibration Compensation

Reasons to avoid


Autofocus non superfast



Slightly shorter focal length

If you want to take advantage of prime lens image quality at medium aperture settings, stabilization tin exist a real assistance – hence the inclusion of Tamron’southward Vibration Compensation (VC) organization in this lens. The modest f/1.8 aperture rating in this ‘standard’ prime helps keep the size down and the weight off, and the lens is nicely engineered, with premium build quality and weather seals. At 45mm, the focal length is a touch shorter than the more standard 50mm. This equates to 67.5mm on a DX-format body (the lens is besides full-frame compatible), so yous’ll be a bit closer to your bailiwick than with a classic ‘portrait’ lens. The stabiliser gives a benefit of near four f/stops, and manual focusing benefits from greater travel in the focus ring than with the other lenses on test. Sharpness is excellent, even when shooting broad open up, while bokeh is impressively smooth, both at f/1.eight and when stopping downwardly.

(Image credit: Futurity)


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Remarkably compact and impressively precipitous results make this a winner

Specifications

Focal Length:

50mm

Equivalent focal length (DX):

75mm

Lens construction:

8 elements in 7 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

nine

Minimum focus distance:

0.45m

Filter size:

58mm

Dimensions:

74x 54mm

Weight:

280g

Reasons to buy


+

Impressive sharpness and contrast



+

Very compact for a 50mm lens

Reasons to avert


Visible bokeh fringing



Coma

It’southward the most upmarket selection in Nikon’s 50mm line-up and remarkably compact for a 50mm f/one.4, being but i.5mm longer and wider than the f/1.viii version, and with the same diameter filter thread of 58mm. Furthermore, while it’s noticeably heavier than the f/one.8 version, it’s only a third of the weight of the Sigma 50mm f/i.four A. It feels similar to the f/1.eight in terms of build quality and handling, but with an additional optical element, plus 2 actress iris blades, the discontinuity is more rounded when stopping down. Fifty-fifty then, bokeh isn’t birthday pleasing when shooting wide open, equally bokeh fringing and coma are quite visible. All the same, contrast and sharpness are impressive, vignetting is adequately minimal, and bokeh becomes much smoother when stopping downwards to f/i.8, beating the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G at the same discontinuity.

(Paradigm credit: Nikon)


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11. Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

Non the sharpest, but a brilliant budget choice notwithstanding

Specifications

Focal Length:

50mm

Equivalent focal length (DX):

75mm

Lens construction:

7 elements in 6 groups

No. of diaphragm blades:

vii

Minimum focus altitude:

0.45m

Filter size:

58mm

Dimensions:

72 x 53mm

Weight:

185g

Reasons to purchase


+

Impressive sharpness and contrast



+

Conditions-sealed metal mount

Reasons to avert


Barrel distortion apparent



Pedestrian AF speeds

This AF-S optic is simply slightly smaller than the f/i.iv version, but it’s 50 per cent lighter and a lot cheaper, and the build quality feels pretty good, right down to the weather-sealed metal mounting plate. Optical finery includes an aspherical chemical element. The front element is deeply recessed, specially at longer focus distances. As with the f/1.4 version, AF speed is a picayune pedestrian, but sharpness and contrast are impressive, even at wide apertures. Defocused points of light accept on a visible geometric shape at smaller apertures, as the seven-blade diaphragm isn’t that well rounded. Barrel distortion is as well a little worse than with the other lenses on test, only this is much reduced when the lens is used on a DX body.

How we examination lenses

We test lenses using both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled weather condition using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and assay software that measures resolution in line widths/pic height, a measurement widely used in lens and photographic camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works all-time, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics.

Read more:



The best Nikon lenses

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10 tips on getting the best out of your Nikon photographic camera

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The best Nikon cameras

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The best superzoom and travel lenses for Nikon DSLRs


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Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all way of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World’s principal lens reviewer – and has tested more than primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners!

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and merely about anything imaging-related.

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, likewise every bit a former editor of PC Guide.

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Source: https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/buying-guides/best-portrait-lenses-for-nikon