Best Lenses for Portrait Photography

Portrait Photography
  • Vatsal Modi
  • May 7, 2018

It is not about how the photograph's look, it is about how it feels. Choose the lens according to what story you want to tell.

Selecting the perfect portrait lens can be a challenge when

You have a heck lot of options to choose from and the majority of times the choice comes down to your own preference. If you are confused between zoom lens and prime lens; what focal lengths are perfect for your portrait frame? We strongly suggest you use few of your desired lenses thoroughly before you make the decision of which one you want to go for. Rent lenses to be sure that you are making wise decisions. In addition to having the right lens, ensure that you have the right camera body as well. There are two major types of lenses; zoom lenses and prime lenses so first, let's understand what is the difference between a zoom lens and prime lens

Zoom lenses come in a diversity of focal ranges such as 24-70mm, 70-200mm, etc., making each lens remarkably varied from each other. You can shoot multiple varieties of photos at a variable distance without even changing the gear as their focus is adjustable. Prime lenses have fixed focal lengths starting from 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, etc. You might think that it is a negative thing but its focus is stagnant for a reason. Prime lenses give you better clarity and image quality compares to zoom lenses. Zoom lenses lack in versatility but they definitely compensate in performance. They are comparatively smaller and lighter than zoom lenses. Prime lenses give you a very precise and sharp image; the created very images are very beautiful.

Focal lengths from 35mm to 200mm are frequently used for portrait photography. And this length varies because of many reasons and it is very important to decide which one to use. It depends on many factors such as photography style, the usable space where you will be clicking pictures, the number of people in the frame, and how close you require to be to the subjects. If you are a person who doesn't want to carry multiple lenses and wants to carry a single lens, you might go for a zoom. Zoom lenses will give you a lot of focal lengths options. A lens like an 18-300mm will let you take photos without ever changing the lens. If you plan to shoot using prime lenses and want to use several focal lengths, you will have to carry multiple lenses. You might be constantly swapping prime lenses of different focal length or more than one camera.

Here are few amazing portrait lenses for Canon which you should consider:

1. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

Canon 35mm f/1.4L II lens is a very famous prime lens and is considered one of the best options for Canon users for portrait photography. This lens is ideal for outdoor portraits like weddings, and as a walk-around lens at outdoor events. On a basic DSLR camera, it is as effective as a 50mm lens, making it the ideal portrait lens for basic cameras. And the best thing about this lens is that it is very light in your pocket as it is very cheap. It is a wide angle lens but not so good at close headshots because when you get close to the object it distorts.

2. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

The 70-200 zoom lenses is a mandate in kits of every photographer. This is one of Canon’s most beloved 'L series' lenses and an outstanding choice for clicking portraits, particularly when you want to shoot the subjects from far away. It is a fabulous lens for shooting at weddings which are in larger venues. This lens will let you separate your subject from the background with elegance and hazy boken. It has built-in image stabilization which enables you to take sharp handheld pictures even at 200mm.

3. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

This is one of the widely accepted Canon portrait lens by photographers who love to shoot in a variety of settings and light conditions. The 24-70mm lens is extremely astonishing. It is wide enough for outdoor portraits but also long enough to get a fair amount of zoom. It is the most preferred choice of a lens of photographers. This 24-70mm lens has Canon’s fabulous 'L glass' and fast autofocus.

Lens Aperture range Weight Weather Sealed Image Stabilization Distortion Sharpness
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM f/1.4-22 1.7 lbs Yes No Very minimal Very sharp
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM f/2.8-32 3.3 lbs Yes Yes Very minimal4 Very sharp
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM f/2.8-22 1.8 lbs No No Very little distortion at 24mm, gets worse near 50mm Very sharp

Here are few amazing portrait lenses for Nikon which you should consider:

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

The 50mm f/1.8G is a nice option for beginners who want to try professional portrait photography. This lens has amazing optical clarity and its price makes it the ideal starting point for portrait photography. It is one of the lightest and fastest lenses in the market.

2. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II

The 70-200mm f/2.8G is very similar to Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM but slightly better. It is Nikon greatest portrait lens of all time for shooting photos far away from their subjects. It covers all the aspects of sophisticated photography like image stabilization and weather sealing.

3. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

This is the most favorite lens for Nikon-brandish portrait due to the high quality of the optics and ability to adjust to various focal lengths. This lens is decent and capable for shooting pictures in a variety of light and space.

Lens Aperture range Weight Weather Sealed Image Stabilization Distortion Sharpness
Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S f/18-16 6.6 ounces No No Moderate Very sharp at every aperture
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II f/2.8-22 3.4 lbs Yes Yes Minimal Exceptional
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED f/2.8-22 2 lbs Yes No Fair to poor Exceptional

I hope that this blog has given you a safe beginning for making the right choice!