Best Camera Lens for Portraits

If you’re just starting to get into photography, then the chances are that you’re starting to think about different kinds of lenses.

Judging from the fact that you’re here, we’re guessing that you’re looking to start doing some portrait photography!

A decent lens can make all the difference when doing portrait photography.

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The main problem with finding lenses for your camera is knowing which ones are good that you should opt for, and what kinds of features you should be looking for.

Thankfully, we aim to take a lot of the guesswork out for you by compiling this ranking of the best camera lenses for taking portrait photos.

We’ve also included a buyers guide to help you to make your decision!

In a hurry? Be prepared for some impressive portrait photography with our number one pick!

In a hurry? This is our winner!

Our rating:
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Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF (240954)
41 Reviews
Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF (240954)
  • A new large Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) delivers ample torque to the focusing group for outstanding speed, ensuring exceptionally stable performance even at lower speeds
  • This state-of-the-art prime lens touts a dust and splash proof mount for guaranteed performance in any condition and its large 1.8 aperture allows for more creative control over imagery.
  • A stunning compression effect makes the Sigma 135mm F1.8 Art the ideal portrait lens while its large aperture help with event photography and much more.
  • Like each and every Global Vision Lens, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is handcrafted at our single factory in Aizu, Japan and undergoes individual evaluation before leaving Sigma’s facility.

Best Camera Lens for Portraits – Comparison Table

Best Camera Lens for Portraits – Reviews

Our Pick
Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF (240954)
Our rating:

There are so many reasons to invest in this fantastic camera lens that it’s honestly difficult to find reasons why you shouldn’t. The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 camera lens is perfect for camera enthusiasts and professionals and it provides some incredible image quality in just one high end lens.

The Sigma lens provides one of the sharpest images you’ll find in a lens on the market, and it has an impressive f/1.8 nine blade aperture that will create brilliant bokeh. It gives a lot of value for money too, even if it is on the pricier end of the spectrum.

The lens has very good autofocus performance too as a result of the Sigma HSM focusing motor.

Thankfully, you can also use the lens on multiple mounts, so whether you have a Nikon, a Canon or a Sony camera you’ll be just fine using this lens for your camera.

It’s overall a fantastic choice that you won’t be disappointed in if you’re looking to create jaw dropping portraits that will be coveted by many.

Pros
  • Can work on a range of cameras
  • Great bokeh from f/1.8 aperture
  • Good autofocus
  • Good value for money
Cons
  • It can be difficult to use the lens if you have a limited working space

Sony 50mm f/1.8 Mid-Range Lens for Sony E Mount Nex Cameras
Our rating:

The Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS camera lens boasts some pretty fast aperture and great stabilization too, so it’s a great option at a decent price. Whether you’re a photography student looking to venture into photography for your course or a parent who wants to capture every single moment of their child’s life, you’ll be happy with this affordable lens.

The lens is actually a very fast prime lens, so it’s actually a little bit of shock that this lens does offer image stabilization. This is essentially what the OSS stands for: Optical Steady Shot.

It means that you aren’t going to get as much motion blur from the camera shaking when you’re using it at slower shutter speeds. It even performs quite well in low light situations or indoors.

The camera offers a full frame equivalent focal length of 75mm. This is good enough so you can get a good compression effect at a decent distance. It’s also quite small and light.

The only issue is that it isn’t full frame compatible so if you want to upgrade your camera later on you may want to opt for a different lens.

Pros
  • Fast prime lens
  • Image stabilization
  • Light
Cons
  • Isn’t full frame compatible

Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R
Our rating:

The Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2R camera lens is going to give some great low light shots, so if you’re looking to create some mood shots this is a fantastic choice for you. It creates some stellar images that both professionals and enthusiasts are bound to appreciate.

While this may be more expensive than some of the other options on this list, it’s definitely worth it for a reliable lens that is going to serve you well professionally.

The camera has a pretty fast aperture of f/1.2 so it’s a very good choice for anyone looking to get into portrait photography.

It creates some attractive bokeh, and it can even be used wide open at f/1.2. It’s not too soft at this wide aperture either.

The camera has a lot to offer photographers venturing into portraits so this is definitely a strong choice to consider.

Pros
  • Fast aperture
  • Good low light performance
  • Beautiful bokkeh shots
Cons
  • May be a bit too expensive for beginners

PANASONIC LUMIX G LENS, 42.5MM, F1.7 ASPH., MIRRORLESS MICRO FOUR THIRDS, POWER OPTICAL I.S., H-HS043K (USA BLACK)
Our rating:

The Panasonic Lumix G camera lens is a lightweight and small option that makes some beautiful images. Furthermore it’s also pretty affordable so it’s even an option for beginners just looking for a new lens to embark on their portrait photography journey.

The camera has a decent aperture of f/1.7 so it’s pretty fast, and has a focal length of 42.5mm. The camera will create some beautiful and sharp images in good lighting conditions.

If you’re often out on the move then it’s also ideal as it doesn’t weigh a lot, so if you have an impromptu portrait to take then you’ll have this lens on hand. It’s best suited to Olympus and Panasonic cameras.

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s also quite inexpensive too so if you’re on a budget then you don’t need to worry about this camera lens costing you a fortune to buy. Beautiful, quality images all while saving on weight and money? You bet we love this lens!

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Good choice for Panasonic and Olympus cameras
Cons
  • Not the best in low light conditions

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Our rating:

If you own a Canon, you will do well with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM camera lens. This lens will give you some great quality images and it handles very nicely. It’s fairly lightweight at only 160g too.

The lens features an STM autofocus system that’s quite a bit quieter than it’s elder sibling model. The lens gives some very sharp looking images, and has a good maximum aperture of f/1.8. It’s quite well built, feeling very solid as you hold it in your hand.

Of course, you will also be pleased to know that this lens creates some beautiful bokeh to complement your portraits.

It’s all in all a quite affordable option, so if you’re just looking to get into photography and don’t have the money to spend on some of the higher end lenses on this list you’re definitely in luck with this lens.

It’s value is pretty impressive, you get some good quality images and it’s durable, so what more could you really want?

Pros
  • Durable construction
  • Sharp image quality
  • Fairly lightweight
Cons
  • It’s not as quiet as we would like it to be

Best Camera Lens for Portraits – Buyers Guide

There are a number of things to consider when buying a camera lens to take some beautiful portraits, but where do you even start? Read on to find out more.

Things to Look for When Buying Lenses for Portrait Photography

Aperture

The aperture of the lens is the hole or opening in the lens that allows the light to get into this. This is directly related to the speed of the shutter. So, a faster shutter is going to need a larger aperture and a slower shutter will need smaller aperture.

For portraits, it’s best to opt for a camera with wide aperture. Generally having an aperture of f/8 or more than this is seen to be the best option as it means it will help to get larger blurred areas for the background, which is the best for portraits as photographers want the primary focus to be on the face.

More blur in the background means the attention is drawn instead to the subject instead of their surroundings, making the features sharper and more precise.

Zoom or Prime Lens

For some photographers, choosing between a prime lens and a zoom lens is no easy feat. Ultimately it tends to come down to choice and preference though. For instance, if you’re just starting out it’s worth opting for a zoom lens because they tend to be cheaper and they tend to be easier to operate.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to take your photography to the next level you certainly shouldn’t ignore prime lenses. They tend to have a limited number of focal lengths so the images are much sharper, brighter and made with impeccable quality.

As a result of this there is no single answer to whether zoom or prime lenses are the best as it all comes down to your requirements and discretion.

So what are the main differences between the two? Well, prime lenses usually tend to be much lighter and smaller than your average zoom lens.

Prime lenses also usually have a fixed focal length too so you’re going to need to bring a number of different focal lengths in order to shoot at different shooting ranges. This differs from a zoom lens where you are able to cover the whole range of focal lengths.

This can make zoom lenses a little bit more versatile, whereas you will physically have to move the camera to change the viewing angle when you’re using a prime lens.

Also, while we’ve already said that zoom lenses can be a little bit more expensive, you should consider that the chances are that you will need multiple different prime lenses for different situations, whereas one zoom lens can essentially encompass it all.

How about image quality then? Well, prime lenses create very crisp and sharp images even in low light conditions. Zoom lenses tend to give you around an average image quality but they do tend to perform very well when you’re shooting images from a distance.

Finally, speed. Prime lenses tend to be faster in aperture so they’re great for when you need to capture fast moving objects.

Meanwhile, zoom lenses don’t have fast aperture but what they do have is image stabilization features that well help you to use very slow shutter speeds so you can take sharper photos of objects and people.

Focal Length

Focal length is yet another important factor to consider when you’re trying to buy the best possible lens for taking portraits. Of course, when you’re taking a portrait photograph you want the primary focus to be on the face of the subject, so it’s important to opt for a lens that has a longer focal length so you can take close up photos without having any contortion in the image.

If there isn’t a lot of distance between the lens and the subject and the focal length is short, then the images that are formed generally tend to be manipulated.

As a rule, a focal length of around 105mm is seen to be the best for a full frame camera. You still need to ensure that the lens complies with the camera’s sensors though

Weight and Size

Cameras are pretty big. They’re not exactly an appendage that you can freely carry around without them weighing you down. Having a lightweight lens can make a big difference in this regard so you aren’t adding to the weight.

You should try to choose a lens that’s small scale but is also able to keep all of its features. It should also be optimal for travelling and it should be easy to adjust in your bag so you can carry it with you. You need to ensure that it also doesn’t compromise on features, it needs to be able to do everything you need it to do.

Bokeh Feature

Hold up – what on earth is a Bokeh feature? Well, essentially when you’re using a fast lens with a very wide aperture, then the soft effect you get on the blurred background which is going to be out of focus is what is known as Bokeh. It looks good to the eyes, and can give a lot of life to an otherwise dull image.

The best kind of bokeh effect is the one you get from lenses that have modified optics. They allow the photographer to be able to divert more attention onto the subject while still keeping the whole image looking aesthetically pleasing.

Sensor Type

A lot of camera manufacturers make lenses that are designed specifically for either crop or full frame cameras. Because of this, you should keep in mind what sensor your camera has when you’re on the hunt for a new lens.

Before you buy a lens, you need to first figure out the camera’s crop factor and then use this to figure out the lens’s effective focal length. For instance, a 50mm lens would have an effective focal length of 75mm when you use it on a camera that has a 1.5x crop factor. The focal length may stay the same but the viewing angle will be reduced because of the smaller sensor.

Budget

It’s always important to make a budget and then stick to it before you think about buying camera lenses. Lenses can be quite expensive but they’re also pretty important to the overall quality of the images that you create.

If you’re still a beginner trying to work out the early stages of photography, you might want to start with a more affordable purchase so you can eventually adapt your skills. After this you could go for a more expensive purchase to support you as you improve your photography skill.

You tend to find that the best lenses for portraits are pretty expensive in comparison to normal lenses, and they cost upwards of $300. It’s usually better to go for the more expensive ones, but only do this if you’re at a point where you can professional take up photography.

Weather Sealing

Are you planning on doing some outdoor photography where your subject is out in the rain or snow? In that case, you will want to check that the lens is water sealing. This means your lens should be able to withstand more extreme weather conditions. These types of lenses also tend to have a better build quality too.

Image Stabilization

It’s worth thinking about image stabilization in your lens. Image stabilization will allow you to use slower shutter speeds without worrying about the camera shaking. You should be mindful of the fact that some manufacturers have this feature built into their cameras.

If you’re shooting a lot of video image stabilization is also helpful, and if this is the case then you may want to consider lenses that have power zooms, so they can zoom at adjustable speeds.

Lens Mount

A lot of manufacturers have their own lens mounts so most of the time you aren’t able to mix them up as they won’t fit, unless you choose to buy from a third party manufacturer that supplies a range of sizes. This is something worth considering when buying a lens.

Last Updated on 2020-08-08 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates

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