So what are the best lenses for portraits? Naturally, it all depends on the type of camera you have. So we’ve broken this post into two parts: our favourite Nikon portrait lenses and our favourite Canon lenses for portraits.
The best Nikon lenses for portraits
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E lens is a beautiful example of one of Nikon’s best lenses, boasting incredible clarity, contrast, and sharpness.
With a lens of this length, you’ll get stunning background blur that creates a beautiful separation of the model and their surroundings. Such a long lens is best suited to outdoor portrait photography rather than studio shots.
The 70-200mm f/2.8E is a weighty lens but the maximum aperture creates stunning portraits, especially in low light. Meanwhile, shooting at 200mm allows you to really narrow in on your subject’s facial features and creates a compressed, flattering result.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
One of Nikon’s best portrait lenses, the 50mm f/1.8G promises a lightweight design with high-quality results - and all at a great price.
With a fast aperture of f/1.8, this 50mm lens will be able to capture stunning sharpness and clarity in low light and with beautiful background bokeh.
Other impressive features in this lens include an Aspherical Lens Element (AS) that eliminates optical aberrations and a Super Integrated Coating (SIC) that reduces flare, ensures consistent colouring, and enhances light transmission.
The best Canon lenses for portraits
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II
The 85mm is the perfect focal length if you don’t like to impose too much on your subject’s space. But it’s the maximum aperture where this Canon lens shines. Canon has mastered the f/1.2 lens, with a fast aperture and nice, large diameter of glass. The wide f-stop does make a difference, making the most stunning, creamy bokeh around the subject.
Although the lens takes time to focus, it almost guarantees perfect shots when you’re photographing still subjects in low light. This makes it an ideal lens for studio photography.
We also love the Super Spectra coating, which reduces ghosting and flare. Plus it’s weather-sealed, always a bonus for outdoor shooting.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III
There’s plenty to love about this versatile telephoto zoom lens for EF-mount DSLRs. The Canon 70-200mm is an L-series lens that has been designed to reduce colour fringing and chromatic aberrations so your portraits are incredible quality.
The fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 ensures your camera will perform exceptionally in low light, while you’ll also get more control over depth of field.
The professional-grade lens is built to reduce stress, with a dust- and moisture-resistant body and a fluorine coating to protect lens elements from fingerprints and smudging.
Perfect for outdoor portraiture, this zoom lens beautifully separates your subjects from their environment while an in-built optical image stabiliser reduces camera shake by up to 2.5 shutter speed stops. That means incredible clarity and sharpness in every shot.
Finally, the lens elements are coated with Air Sphere Coating (ASC), which suppresses backlit flare and enhances clarity and contrast, making it a great lens for shooting backlit subjects.
Canon 50mm f/1.2L
One of the most superior portrait lenses today, the 50mm f/1.2L is an incredible all-purpose lens. The focal length is considered natural in that it best reflects what the human eye sees.
Once again, it’s the magic of the f/1.2 maximum aperture that makes this lens a standout, not just among Canon lenses but among all lenses available.
It simultaneously creates exceptionally creamy bokeh and keeps your subjects in crisp focus so they stand out. It’s got excellent autofocus and the same Super Spectra coating as the 70-200mm, suppressing flare and ghosting.
Find the best lens for portrait photography today
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