Best Lens for Portraits

If you have a passion for portrait photography, having a good lens is just as important as having the best camera.

Investing in a good quality lens is going to result in some top quality photographs. The market for lenses can be rather broad, between the different brands on offer to the different types of lenses.

It can be a little difficult to narrow it down to the one that is going to cater to your needs the best. 

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We have done the hard work for you and searched the market for the best lenses available, you will be capturing those perfect portraits in no time. 

If you are in a hurry and don't have time to continue reading, we have selected our top pick for you below.

In a hurry?

Our rating:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed
3,690 Reviews
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed
  • Standard focal length 50 millimeter lens is effective in a multitude of shooting situations and ideal for day-to-day shooting
  • Elements/Groups: 7/6; Diaphragm: Blades 8; Filter Thread: Font 58 millimeter. Minimum focusing distance: 17.8 inch
  • An f/1.4 maximum aperture provides clear imaging in low light situations and shallow depth of field
  • Ultrasonic autofocus motor (USM) operation is fast, smooth and virtually silent
  • Two high-refraction lens elements and new Gaussian optics eliminate astigmatism and suppress astigmatic difference

 

Best Lens for Portraits – Comparison Table

Best Lens for Portraits – Reviews

Our Pick
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed
Our rating:

For our top pick, we have chosen this Canon EF standard and medium telephoto lens which is suitable for Canon SLR Cameras. With a standard focal 50mm lens this is a great choice for portrait photography and can effectively shoot in a multitude of situations. 

The f/1.4 maximum aperture allows you to capture clear images in low lighting with a shallow depth of field. 

As a USM lens, this works fast and smoothly but also makes minimum noise when capturing the photograph, it is virtually silent.

The large aperture standard prime lens has superior peripheral brightness even when operating at maximum aperture. This means that the lens captures 360-degree edges of the subject in question. 

The strong design of the lens excellently corrects all types of blur and this is thanks to the optical design and molded glass of the lens.

The HSM ensures autofocusing is fast and it also has a great manual focusing capability. 

Pros
  • This is a great lens for beginners or those who are starting their careers in photography.
  • The lens is the perfect photo length for portrait photography.
  • It effectively blurs out the background of photos creating a great focus on the subject or model.
  • It makes minimum noise when capturing the photographs with fast autofocus too.
  • Customers who have purchased this lens found it to be of excellent quality.
  • It is a very affordable lens when compared to competitors on the market.
Cons
  • This lens can be a little difficult to get used too.
  • Some customers have experienced issues with the autofocus of this lens.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
Our rating:

Next up we have the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm lens. This upgraded and compact lens works with speed to capture some great photographs with edge to edge sharpness. With a 50mm focal length lens this is great for capturing portrait photographs. 

This lens has a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.15X, allowing you to capture large images using your lens sensor. Incorporating a Silent Wave Monitor, this lens will focus faster without making a lot of unnecessary noise whilst doing so.

There is also an autofocus function too, which is going to help you capture your portraits faster. 

With an f/1.8G aperture, you can capture photographs regardless of the lighting surrounding your environment, even in low lighting situations you can get some great quality photographs. 

Thanks to the background blur you will be able to capture some stunning portrait photographs, creating a natural perspective too. The Super Integrated Coating offers you great color consistency whilst reducing any flare.

You are simply going to capture some amazing quality portraits using this lens. 

Pros
  • This 50mm lens is great for capturing and focussing on the subject in your portraits.
  • This lens works well regardless of the lighting situation so you can capture great portraits even in low light.
  • When you purchase this lens you are covered with a 14 day satisfaction guarantee and a 90 day parts warranty.
  • If you do experience any issues, there's help available.
  • The SWM function captures photographs with minimal noise.
  • It captures images with sharp quality at a fast speed. It is compact and lightweight making it easier to carry around.
Cons
  • Some customers experienced issues with the autofocus function. 
  • You are unable to zoom using this lens as it doesn't offer this function.

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

Our next pick is this Panasonic Lumix G lens. With a 42.5mm mid telephoto focal lens, this is a great option for capturing portrait photographs of great quality with rich depth.

Even when you find yourself in environments with low lighting this lens works perfectly as it has an F1.7 aperture brightness.

This lens can capture photographs at 31cm in regards to the closest function distance and has a maximum magnification function of approximately 0.2x.

Featuring a built in Optical Image Stabilisation function, this will be largely beneficial to those who use the Panasonic Lumix G cameras that also offer this function, as this will enable you to capture the best output.

This is going to help to reduce any sort of blurring within your photos so they are going to be of the best quality. 

You are going to be capturing images with great sharpness when you use this lens. The large F1.7 aperture makes this a perfect lens for portraits as they are going to be clear with precise quality and detail. 

With a fast autofocusing system this lens works with high speed to capture your photos whilst making minimum noise too.

Pros
  • This is a great lens for portrait photography thanks to its large aperture.
  • As a 42.5mm mid telephoto lens it is great for capturing photographs with rich depth.
  • It's user friendly thanks to its compact size which makes it easy to hold and carry around with you.
  • This lens works very well in low lighting situations.
  • With a close minimum focus distance, you can capture your subject clearly and great close ups too.
Cons
  • This lens is particularly small in size which may not be ideal for some people.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, White - 3044C002
Our rating:

The Canon EF 70-200mm lens is compatible with Canon Digital SLR cameras and is a great pick for professional portrait photographers, in particular, capturing great quality precise photographs.

This lens enables you to isolate the subject in the distance, enabling you to maintain a sharp focus on the subject in hand. The 70-200mm lens with an f/2.8 aperture is great for portraits in particular, giving the images a more professional effect with a compressed background. 

Constructed with Air Sphere Coating this works to minimize the effect of ghosting and reduces flare to capture the very best quality photographs.

There is also an optical image stabilization function that allows you to maintain great sharpness in your photos with 3.5 stops of shake stabilization. 

This lens has definitely been built to last with quality as a priority. The fluorene coating on the rear and front elements of this lens helps to reduce any smears and fingerprint marks.

It is also highly resistant to dust and water and can even be used in the harshest of conditions. 

Impressively, this lens also has a fast autofocusing system delivering precise and fast performance whilst being near silent too. 

Pros
  • This is a great lens for professional photographers in particular thanks to its precision, sharpness, and quality.
  • It is a very good quality lens that is resistant to dust and water and can operate in harsh conditions too.
  • The autofocusing system delivers a fast performance allowing you to work with speed.
  • The image stabilization allows you to capture sharp photographs with minimal shake.
  • You can capture images with excellent blurred bokeh.
Cons
  • This lens is a little heavy which some may find inconvenient if they need to carry it around a lot. 
  • It is the most expensive lens that we have mentioned so far, so it may not be ideal for those who are on a budget. 

Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Nikon
Our rating:

For our final choice, we have selected this Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens. This is a great quality lens with a 50mm focal length, another great choice for portraiture, and a great competitor against some other brand dominators such as Canon. 

With a fast aperture of F/1.4, it works with speed and is an effective lens for working in low light situations too. This lens also has a 0.4m minimum focus distance range. 

The hyper Sonic AF motor ensures fast autofocusing that is silent too by controlling the optimum algorithm. The Special low dispersion glass and multi-layer coating make this a top performer for DSLR cameras, particularly in terms of capturing portrait photographs.

It is durably built and boasts a professional aesthetic with the all black sleek coating, making it a great addition to any photographer's equipment. 

This lens also captures images of exceptional quality, and even when shooting wide open, the images will have incredible sharpness too. 

When you purchase this camera lens you will also receive the front and rear lens caps and hoods. 

Pros
  • It is compatible with a variety of mounts suitable for Canon EF, Sony Alpha, Sigma SA, or Nikon.
  • Produces very high-quality images with minimal color fringing, distortion, or vignetting.
  • It is durably constructed and has a professional appearance.
  • It has great focus accuracy and focus speed.
  • Customers who have purchased this lens have found it to be of exceptional quality.
  • As a 50mm lens, it is great for capturing portraits with an impressive aperture.
Cons
  • It is quite weighty so some people may find it too heavy to carry around with them.
  • It doesn't have weather seals which could be problematic if you are going to be using it outside in the rain.

Best Lens for Portraits – Buyers Guide

Before investing in your portrait lens there are a few factors to consider to ensure that you are making a worthy investment.

When it comes to photography the different technological terms can often seem difficult to understand, and this can often make the process of choosing a lense difficult and sometimes overwhelming. 

Below, we have listed each of these terms and functions, in the hope of giving you a clearer understanding so that you can make the best purchase. 

Zoom lens or Prime lens

When it comes to portrait photography there are two different options available; a zoom lens or a prime lens. There are notable differences between the two and ultimately the one that you buy is going to be based upon your own choice and preference. 

A zoom lens has a wider range of focal lengths with more zooming options on offer. The only downside is that these images don't tend to be as sharp or clear as prime lenses. However, they are much cheaper and can create a blurred background effect.

Also, beginners will be able to use this lens with ease too.

A prime lens has fewer focal lengths so you will be required to maintain a certain distance from the subject that you want to capture. This lens allows you to capture sharper and clearer images of greater quality and is a great option for those of a professional standard too.

In comparison to zoom lenses, a prime lens is more expensive. 

It is also important to note that there are many more lenses available too. These include normal lenses which are a combination of wide-angle and short telephoto lenses.

Then there are telephoto lenses and short telephoto lenses which isolate the subject from the background. 

Focal Length

The focal length is one of the most basic but common descriptions that you will come across when searching for a lens for portraits. Predominantly, when taking portrait photographs the focus is on the face of a subject and this is why a longer focal length lens is going to be the most effective.

This enables you to take a photograph nearer your subject with little manipulation or loss in quality. Using a lens with a short focal length when you are close to the subject is going to result in a more distorted and manipulated photograph. 

The Bokeh Effect 

This refers to the aesthetic of an out of focus blur in a photograph. A photograph with the bokeh effect is much more pleasing to look at. The best quality portrait lens will produce the best bokeh effect outcome.

Simply put, this effect places more attention on the actual subject of the photograph itself, whilst maintaining the importance of the aesthetics. 

Weight

Some lenses can be weightier than others and this may be important to some people because carrying around a heavy lens can be inconvenient depending on the task that you are doing. Some may be more compact than others too.

The build and weight are going to influence the convenience and easiness to use and transport this lens. 

The Use

How you intend to use the lens may influence the one that you choose. Some will be more appropriate for professional use than others. Others are better suited to those that are beginners or those that find photography an enjoyable hobby, and this can all be reflected in the build, settings, and cost of the lens. 

Cost

A budget is super important when it comes to purchasing your portrait lens just like with any other purchases that you make. Lenses can be particularly expensive but if required for a hobby or professional use, it is very likely that you are going to get a lot of use out of it and it is, therefore, going to be a worthy investment. 

If you are a beginner who is familiarising themselves with this area of photography then you may find it more beneficial to invest in a cheaper lens first to allow you to get a feel for this type of photography before deciding if this is something that you enjoy.

You may then choose to invest in a more expensive lens. 

We have aimed to include a variety above from different price ranges to cater to a range of budgets so there is bound to be one available for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a portrait lens?

A portrait lens is one that is used to capture exceptional quality portraits with a great focus upon the subject/model in the photograph. They need to have the right focal length and aperture to capture these images. The best portrait lenses will have a focal length between 70 to 135mm.

A wide maximum aperture is needed to capture photographs in low light with a shallow depth of field. 

What is the best focal length for portrait photography?

Both an 85mm lens and a 50mm lens are great for portrait photography. However, an 85mm lens is the best choice if you want to gain a photograph with a reasonable distance from the subject and a narrower field of view.

This is also the most commonly used for portrait photography. 

 

Last Updated on 2020-10-20 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates

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