When it comes to photography equipment, good lenses are one of the best things you can spend your money on. An entry-level camera with a high quality lens can take stunning pictures but the reverse is not necessarily true. In other words, you get way more bang for your buck from investing in good “glass” than in a good body.
Picking a lens for portrait photography is a tough decision, but we are here to help make it easier. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the things to look for when choosing a lens for portrait photography and tell you about some of our favorites.
- The Best Lenses for Portrait Photography
- Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
- Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
- Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II
- Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Lens for Portraits
Zoom vs. Prime Lenses – Before we get into the different features to look for in lenses for portrait photography, let’s talk about the two major types of lenses: zooms and primes. Zoom lenses come in a variety of focal ranges (such as 24-70mm, 70-200mm, etc.), making each lens extremely versatile. Zoom lenses make it easy for you to take a wide variety of photos without ever having to switch out your gear. Prime lenses have fixed focal lengths (24mm, 35mm, 50mm, etc.) and provide superior clarity and image quality. What they may lack in versatility they make up for in performance. They are also typically smaller and lighter to carry around than a zoom lens. Many professional portrait photographers prefer primes due to the sharp, beautiful images they create. For even more convincing, see Prime Lens Basics and Why You Should Ditch Zoom Lens Photography.
Focal Length – One of the first things you will need to decide is what focal length is right for your needs. The best focal length for portrait photography depends on many things, including the available space where you will be shooting, the number of people in the frame, how much of the nearby environment you want to include, and how close you want to be to your subjects. Focal lengths from 35mm to 200mm are common for portrait photography, depending on the subject, style, and preferences of the photographer.