What are The Best Lenses for Portrait Photography?
How to choose the best lens for portraits? Working with the right lens will ensure amazing photos, help you win trust from clients and promote your photography business.
You have got your DSLR camera prepared, but figuring out what’s the best lens for portraits can be doubt. Here’s a DSLR Camera Lens Guide for you.
Now let’s get started.now let’s get started
First, let’s figure out some Basic Information first:
For Portraits: Prime Lens vs. Zoom Lens
Prime Lens & Zoom Lens are the two main types of portrait lens. Prime lens means it has a fixed focal length, while zoom lens has a wide range of focal lengths for you to choose. So, which is better for portrait shooting?
What is a Prime Lens
‘Better for Low Light Photography’
Prime lens always works better. They have larger maximum aperture, which makes them much better for low light photography in your studio.
‘Better Blur Background’
Larger aperture gives you much shallower depth of field, which means better blur background — the creamy, out-of-focus background extrudes a clearer subject.
‘Fast, Quiet, Expensive’
Focus can be fast and quiet on a prime lens. What you only need to consider is prime lenses sometimes are more expensive, and you’ll have to carry more of them.
What is a Zoom Lens?
The convenience of a zoom lens is reflcted in its changeable focal length. It gives you more potentials of creation. However, working in a small studio, you can not make the most of it. Usually, a 24-70mm is enough for studio portrait photography.
Zoom lens can also share a large aperture. And because of its complicated design, it usually costs more. Better, faster zooms at longer length with larger aperture can cost around $1000-$2000.
With the above basics in mind, here’s a simple list for reference:
Recommended Canon Portrait Lens:
||Price＄ (for reference)
|Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 II USM
||Focal Length：35mm Maximum Aperture: f/1.4 Wide Angel for Full-body
|Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L IS USM
||Focal Length: 85 mm M/A focus Mode Switch Larger Aperture
|Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
||Focal Length: 85 mm Silent Wave Motor Super Integrated Coating
|Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
||Focal Length：50mm Sharp, High-resolution Images Specializes in Bokeh
|Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
||Focal length: 24-70mm Fast F2.8 constant maximum aperture 0.38m closest focus, 0.19x magnification For Canon SLRs of all formats
|Canon 70 - 200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (For Large Studio)
||Focal Length: 70-200 mm Nano Crystal Coat Superior Autofocus
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 II USM
- Employs a BR optical element with anomalous dispersion characteristics;
- Great chromatic aberration correction;
- Deliver reliable performance in various shooting conditio
- 35mm help you capture great wide-angle images.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
- An essential standard lens;
- 50mm offers a similar view as the human eye. It won’t distort facial features;
- Superior sharpness & Color balance；
- High-quality focused image & beautiful, natural background blur；
- A perfect lens for portraits.
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
- An ideal portrait lens;
- Maintains closeness to subject without showing any distortion;
- Delivers wonderful color, good subject isolation, and a different perspective;
- Impressive & very affordable;
- Sometimes it can be the only portrait lens you ever need.
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 USM
- Personally, the best lens for studio portraits;
- Shares all the abvantages that 85mm f/1.8 has;
- Be superior in so many aspects–cost, size, weight, focus ability, sharpness;
- More ideal for professional portrait photographers.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
- 24-70mm is one of the most versatile focal ranges;
- Allows for a great deal of diversity in your portfolio;
- Bringing about diverse looks, from wide angel, to close-up;
- Superior imaging capability, enhanced durability and reliability;
- Be ideal for low-light shooting & beautiful background blur.
Canon 70 - 200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Powerful precision zoom & clarity;
- Unbelievable sharpness & image performance;
- Perfect for professional shoot at large ceremonies or sporting events;
- Go from full-body to close-up shots, providing versatility & convenience;
- Need a strong tripod to support. Weighs a lot.
Recommended Nikon Portrait Lens:
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G
- A wide-angle prime lens, perfect for environmental portrait photography;
- Quite, sharp & accurate;
- Specializes in capturing larger backgrounds & environments;
- Perfect for full-frame body shots;
- Separate your subject nicely from your background.
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G
- One of the best portrait lenses ever made;
- Smaller & lighter, fast & accurate;
- Offers beautiful compressed-look to model, foreground & background blur;
- Can be the only thing to consider in the budget.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
- The most classical Nikon portrait lens;
- Extremely cheap price, light weight, & nice performance;
- 50mm offers a similar view as the human eye. Won’t distort facial features;
- A nice choice for a beginner.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
- Creates brilliant image;
- More opportunities to try different focal length. You can find your best style;
- 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR boasts superior optical performance;
- Better resolution & more natural blur.
Nikon 58mm f/1.4G
- Designed for photographers who desire unique images;
Specializes in bokeh. Makes the subject appear more three dimensional;
- You can achieve gorgeous pictures with this lens.
Recommended Sigma Portraits Lens:
Sigma 35mm DG HSM f/1.4 Art
- A more affordable choice;
- Offer stunning photos;
- Accurate, sharper, work well from many perspective;
- Quite portable, making it extremely versatile, and hands down.
Sigma 50mm F/1.4 DG HSM Art
- Boasts a fantastic image quality;
- Has a very complex optical layout;
- Fast & quiet;
- A ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system, so perform perfect in many aspects;
- Worth your investment.
Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
- Be regarded as the best third party portrait lens overall;
- Delivers a stunning compression effect: Even fairly close to the subject;
- Compression effect shines in both close-ups and full-length；
- Impressive bokeh background；
- Easy Composition：Offers a full menu of compositional options
Here’s a few more of the recommended lenses for portrait photography!
|Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS
|Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2R
|Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7
|Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 DI VC USD for Canon and Nikon
|Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8G OSS
|Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
|Olympus Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8
For studio portraits, prime lens of 35mm, 50mm, 85mm can always serve you, especially those with large aperture (f/1.4), which let more lights through, create beautiful bokeh, express the characteristics of skins and seize more details. But if you consider the budget and versatility, a 24-70mm zoom lens is also a nice choice for studio photography.
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