Best Lens For Portrait Photography

by -166 views

When looking for the all-time lens for portraits, pro photographers have a few favorites. Information technology doesn’t affair whether y’all are shooting with a Nikon or Canon, or another make. When it comes to a portrait lens, there are a few peak zoom lenses and prime lenses. Permit’south explore the options here, so you tin invest in what’southward best for yous.


  • 1
    What makes a good portrait lens?

    • 1.1
      Long Focal Length
    • 1.ii
      Fast Maximum Discontinuity
    • 1.iii
      Great Bokeh!
  • two
    Lenses for Portraits

    • 2.i
      85mm Prime Lens
    • 2.2
      50mm Prime number f/1.8
    • 2.3
      70-200mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens
    • 2.four
      135mm Prime Lens
  • 3
    Best Catechism Lenses for Portraits

    • three.1
      Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM
    • 3.two
      Catechism RF 85mm f/1.2L USM
    • 3.iii
      Catechism EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
    • iii.4
      Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens
  • 4
    Best Nikon Lenses for Portraits

      Tamron SP lxx-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Nikon (third-party choice)
    • 4.2
      Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/i.4G
  • 5
    Best Sony Lenses for Portraits

    • 5.1
      Sony Fe 85mm f/ane.4 GM
    • 5.2
      Sony Iron 70-200mm f/2.viii GM OSS
  • 6
    Endmost Thoughts
  • 7
    Desire More than?

What makes a good portrait lens?

A good lens for portrait photography is a mix of several factors. Let’s apace take a look at each of them.

Long Focal Length

Long focal length is an important requirement when it comes to choosing lenses for portraits. A longer focal length will allow you to step back and create a tighter composition. This signal is highlighted below in further item under the section – Importance of the 85mm f/1.8 lens.

Fast Maximum Aperture

A fast maximum discontinuity denotes an aperture of f/4.0 or wider. The faster the lens is, the shallower the depth of field and the ability of the lens to blur the groundwork. Although, it is possible to create a shallow depth of field using other tricks and a lens with a narrower discontinuity.

Great Bokeh!

The word Bokeh is taken from the Japanese dictionary. In photography, it refers to the quality of the out-of-focus effect in a photo. To capture the best Bokeh, you need a lens with a fast discontinuity and sharp focus even when the lens is broad open up.

You may have noticed, a lot of the portrait photos have a blurry groundwork. That is a synergy of several factors –

  1. Focal length
  2. The altitude betwixt the subject field and the background
  3. The distance betwixt the subject and the camera
  4. The working discontinuity you choose
  5. The number of discontinuity blades and the final shape of the discontinuity diaphragm (directly controls the quality of the out-of-focus upshot)

Although, it’due south non always necessary to take a fast aperture lens for achieving great bokeh. Yes, wide-discontinuity lenses make it easier to blur the background, just y’all can as well achieve groundwork mistiness if you carefully utilize the other parameters (stated above). For case, increasing the distance betwixt the discipline and the background can create a dainty background blur even with a narrow discontinuity similar f/5.6 or narrower. Even more, if you use a zoom lens, you can withal achieve a blurry background also.

Lenses for Portraits

So not that you are more enlightened of how portrait lenses work, allow’s examine some of the superlative photographer portrait lens options.

85mm prime lens for portraits.

85mm Prime number Lens

If y’all are searching for one of the best lenses for portrait photography, chances are you’ve heard of the 85mm prime. A majority of portrait photographers would agree that this is one of the best lenses for portraits, especially the f/1.viii lens. This option is available for virtually photographic camera brands, including Nikon, Sony, and other mirrorless cameras.

When you mount an 85mm prime lens on a full-frame photographic camera body, it gives the best perspective of a subject, including producing a flattering await to their face.

Lenses that are shorter than 85mm don’t offering the aforementioned perspective. The smaller the focal length, the more than distorted the paradigm appears. The reason is, with a smaller focal length, the lens covers a larger bending of view. In other words, your camera and lens put together capture a wider slice of the scene in forepart of it. For portraits, you ideally need a tighter composition. Something that does non leave a lot of space effectually your field of study so that your portrait pops nicely.

50mm prime lens.

50mm Prime f/1.8

Withal, if you lot are shooting environmental portraits, you lot will need a lens with a shorter focal length, something similar a 50mm f/1.eight (a standard prime number), or even shorter like a 35mm f/one.four. That way, you tin can capture a larger slice of the scene. This lens also works great for street photography when producing a overnice bokeh effect. Once once again, you can discover this lens for Nikon, Sony, and other popular brands.

70-200mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens.

lxx-200mm f/2.viii Zoom Lens

Many zoom lenses overlap the sweet focal lengths that we commonly acquaintance with portrait photography – 85mm, 105mm, and 135mm. These lenses are the lxx-200mm, the 24-105mm, and the 70-300mm, to name a few. Among these, the 70-200mm lens is the most popular.

A majority of the manufacturers make this detail zoom lens. It comes in both f/2.viii and f/4 versions with and without image stabilization born. Many photographers prefer to use this lens because of its versatility.

135mm prime lens.

135mm Prime Lens

If you don’t have an 85mm prime lens, don’t fret. Instead, exam out the 135mm prime. It is a beautiful portrait lens for those who typically shoot from a distance.

The difference betwixt an 85mm and a 135mm, apart from the deviation in focal length, is that they are suited to 2 different styles of portrait photography. An 85mm prime is primarily used by a portrait photographer who likes to have a personal connexion with the subject.

As you know, the shorter the focal length, the closer yous have to be to fill the frame. When it comes to portrait photography, a lot of photographers prefer a tighter limerick. To achieve a tighter composition, you either use an 85mm lens and take a few steps forrad or take a 135mm lens and step away from the subject area. Some photographers prefer the first method, and others prefer the 2d.

35mm portrait lens.

All-time Catechism Lenses for Portraits

Canon is the largest photographic camera and lens manufacturing company in the world. They make some of the best lenses for portrait photography. They have several lens line-ups that cater to the dissimilar lens mounts that they accept. The EF-S mount (a subset of the older EF mountain), the EF mount, the EF-M mount, the E-mount, and the latest RF mountain.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

If you are looking for an image-stabilized 85mm f/1.4 lens for your full-frame Canon DSLR, this is the just one you can buy as of appointment. There are a agglomeration of third-party lenses though, fabricated by Sigma, Rokinon, Zeiss, and Yongnuo, among others. None of them are image-stabilized.

This is a well-built lens. It comes with a special glass-molded aspherical chemical element that negates the issues of spherical aberrations. This improves the overall sharpness and clarity of the images produced by the lens.

The grit and weather-resistant construction ensure that the lens tin can withstand an odd drizzle or exposure to a dusty environment without any major issues.

At that place are a agglomeration of other features likewise. Together, they brand this the best portrait lens for the Catechism EF mount.

Equally a portrait photographer, if yous are looking for the absolute best lens for portraits to pair with your Canon DSLR, and then this is it. Your search ends right hither. Y’all don’t have to read through the residuum of this word.

Catechism RF 85mm f/one.2L USM

The Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM is a new blueprint for Catechism’s new RF mount photographic camera systems. And so, if you ain the EOS R5 or the EOS R6, this lens is for you. The biggest USP of this lens is the incredible f/ane.two discontinuity. That’south 3-stops faster than an f/3.v kit lens and a full finish faster than an f/i.eight lens.

It tin can capture a lot of light when compared to other lenses in any given lighting status.

But there is too a huge drawback to this lens. The depth of field is very shallow when you are shooting broad open. It isn’t easy to manage such a thin DoF. Fifty-fifty the slightest movement of the easily or any movement of the subject can touch on the sharpness.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.eight USM

Not everyone has the extra cash to splurge. At least not in these trying times. So a cheaper version of the most popular focal length with the associated benefit of a fast wide-aperture would seem like the best of both worlds. But allow me tell you this – while the EF 85mm f/1.viii USM is a skilful lens, its performance is not the same every bit the 85mm f/1.4L IS USM that I listed above. Its functioning will put it somewhere in the eye of the list of compatible 85mm lenses for the Catechism EF mountain.

All that said, it’s yet a decent portrait lens. When yous consider that this lens is available for just a few hundred dollars and gives you lot a fast f/1.8 aperture to shoot with, plus it offers the right focal length, then all of a sudden, information technology becomes a value for coin suggestion for someone just starting in portrait photography, especially for someone who is on a budget. Considering that the next best – the Sigma 85mm f/1.four DG HSM Art- carries a price tag that is more than double the EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, the latter makes a sensible selection.

portrait of a woman.

Catechism EF 70-200mm f/ii.8L IS Three USM Lens

I dearest the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS Iii USM. Telephoto lenses like these are versatile because they are useful in then many different portrait situations. The zoom range covers the best focal lengths for shooting portrait photos – 85mm, 105mm, and 135mm.

Yes, its maximum aperture is f/2.viii, but at that place is more than one fashion of achieving a beautiful groundwork blur, as we have learned above. Aperture is just one of them. And then, this is non a huge deal-billow for me.

Speaking of deals, this lens comes with a hefty price tag. At virtually 2K, this is non the cheapest piece of optical equipment you would ever invest in. But, this is an investment that will give you returns for as long as you lot shoot portrait photos. Lens technologies don’t change as quickly equally camera technologies practise. Considering that this lens came out in 2018, it could be at least a decade before this optical marvel will even feel outdated.

This lens has everything you need; great build quality (atmospheric condition-resistant construction), ultra-low dispersion elements, fluorite element, and an air sphere coating for superior image quality.

A iii.5-stops of image shake compensation makes it easier to shoot blur-free while hand-belongings the lens. Considering that this is a heavy lens (weighing 1480g), prototype stabilization is a must-take.

If budget is not a constraint for you, or yous are looking for ane lens to have care of a agglomeration of focal lengths for yous, this is a lens that you can look at. You will never regret investing in this lens.

Best Nikon Lenses for Portraits

Nikon has lost the mantle of the second-largest camera make in the world to Sony. Here is my list of the best portrait lens for Nikon cameras.

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Nikon (third-party option)

This is a third-party lens from Tamron designed for the Nikon F mount. This versatile lens consists of 1 XLD element and five LD elements for improved paradigm sharpness by suppressing chromatic aberrations.

Wide discontinuity lenses often suffer from lens flares and ghosting bug. Especially when working in conditions where the key light is shut to being or is in the frame. Let’s say that you are photographing a subject, and the sun is pretty low on the horizon. This will create a reflection as the light hits the lens’southward front elements or the inside of the camera. Sometimes reflections are caused by light hitting the reflex mirror. The result is a soft or hazy advent that lowers color saturation and affects the overall image quality.

This is a mutual trouble with wide-open lenses. To overcome this problem, lens manufacturers utilise special lens elements. Due east.g., in this lens BBAR and eBAND coatings accept been used to overcome the problems of ghosting and flares.

To round up this dust and moisture-sealed pattern come up with five stops of camera shake correction and a host of other features, including total-time manual focus override.

portrait of a man.

Nikon AF-Due south NIKKOR 85mm f/i.4G

If y’all are a Nikon user, the 85mm f/1.4 Thousand is one of the best lenses for portrait photography. Many of you lot who might own the older 85mm f/ane.4D would probably disagree with me. The older 85mm f/1.4D is an exemplary lens and i of the truthful Bokeh masters of all times.

However, this is 2022, and information technology isn’t easy to find a re-create of the 85mm f/1.4D lens in mint condition. If you already own one, at that place is no need to continue reading this discussion.

But if yous don’t and y’all are looking for a prime lens to shoot portraits, the 85mm f/one.4 Yard is a great option. Portrait photographers dig a fast wide f/1.4 lens, and this i ticks a lot of boxes.

A combination of Nano Crystal coating and Super Integrated Coatings helps prevent lens flares and ghosting, a common problem that plagues wide aperture lenses.

The lens also features Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor autofocusing applied science with full-fourth dimension manual focusing override. This is useful when yous want to grab the focusing ring and correct the focus without first switching the focus selector button to manual (M) mode.

Best Sony Lenses for Portraits

Sony has taken over from Nikon the curtain of the second-largest camera brand in the World. Thanks to their burgeoning mirrorless business and the amount of inquiry and evolution they take put into this segment.

I dearest Sony’s mirrorless cameras. They are generations apart from the Eastward-mountain DSLT cameras that they introduced nigh a decade ago.

Sony FE 85mm f/ane.4 GM

At that place are currently two Sony 85mm lenses sold in the market. 1 is the Sony FE 85mm f/one.4 GM, and the other is the Sony 85mm f/1.8 Iron. We chose the GM lens because information technology is past far the superior of the 2 lenses hither.

If you await at the specifications of this lens, and then the starting time matter that will depict your attention is the fast broad aperture of f/one.iv. Portrait photographers honey a fast 85mm prime lens considering it is easier to produce those soft out-of-focus effects.

The construction of this lens consists of three extra-low dispersion elements that help suppress the furnishings of chromatic aberrations. The lens also includes ane XA (farthermost aspherical) element that helps counter spherical aberrations. The overall upshot of that is that the lens has excellent image sharpness and clarity.

portrait of a bride.

Sony FE 70-200mm f/ii.eight GM OSS

I picked Sony Iron 70-200mm lens over some of the other choices available simply because I believe in versatility. I would love to accept a single lens that does more than 1 chore rather than accept a serial of lenses. I take already expressed my love for the 70-200mm focal length.

This is a G Master lens, and the construction quality is advisable for that tag. The structure of this lens includes one XA element, a pair of aspherical elements, a total of 4 extra-low dispersion (ED) elements, and finally, two Super ED elements. These accept intendance of a range of aberrations and depression dissimilarity issues. Speaking of low contrast, the lens as well incorporates Nano AR Blanket. This suppresses the problems of ghosting and flares and farther improves the contrast and colors.

portrait image of a girl showing her back.

Endmost Thoughts

The most popular focal length for shooting portraits is annihilation that is 85mm and higher up but not exceeding 135mm. This is the sweetest focal length range for portraitures. That said, you tin can shoot compelling portraits with a shorter focal lens as well. But for the best results, annihilation between 85mm and 135mm is the most desired.

It doesn’t thing whether you lot are a Nikon or Canon or another type of shooter. There is a lens from our list in a higher place made for your camera. The lenses are ultimately more important than the photographic camera trunk when it comes to beingness a portrait photographer. Have a hard look at your camera lens to see if it fits the criteria listed above. Make sure to invest in one of the best portrait lenses for superior image quality and wow your next photography client.

Want More?

The best fashion to larn how to photograph others is to exercise yourself starting time. Also, make sure to check out these articles on how to take better natural light portraits and using props to create beautiful headshots and family portraits.