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How to Choose the Best Lens for Portrait Photography

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Capturing portraits is one of the most enjoyable photography genres. You can go on plenty of fun photoshoots with friends, and it’s also a rewarding career path. To capture the best portraits, you’ll need to think harder about the lens you choose.

This article doesn’t compare the best lenses for portrait photography, but you will learn how to pick the right lens. Without further ado, let’s jump in.


What Makes a Lens Good for Portraits?

The best lenses for portrait photography all have similar traits. Let’s discuss three of the most common ones.

A Wider Aperture

To capture good portraits of people, you need to make them stand out. One of the best ways to make your subject stand out is by using a wider aperture, which will create distance between the person you’re photographing and their background.

The portrait lens you choose should be able to drop to at least f/5.6. But for some kinds of portrait photography, you might need something wider.

A Longer Focal Length

When picking a lens for portrait photography, you’ll also want to consider the focal length. Since you’re aiming to isolate the subject, you will probably want something that’s a little longer. Doing so will also create enough distance between you and the person, allowing them to act naturally.

There is no hard and fast rule to choosing the right focal length. However, you should consider 35mm as the absolute minimum in most cases.

Image Sharpness

Of course, you’ll want your portrait photos to look good. So, disregarding image sharpness when picking your lens isn’t a good idea.

Different lenses have different levels of sharpness, and higher-quality, more expensive ones will usually give you a better result. If you use one created by a third party, you might need to sacrifice some of this. It’s up to you to decide whether the trade-off is worth it.

How to Choose the Best Lens for Portrait Photography

No universal portrait lenses exist, and choosing which one to get will depend on your needs and preferences. Before making a purchase, you should consider the following.

Base Your Choice on Your Portrait Photography Style

Ultimately, the best lens for portraits is whichever one matches your style of photography. Even within the portrait photography genre, you’ll find multiple sub-genres—such as headshots and street-style shots.

If you take headshot photos, something with a wider aperture might work for you. Similarly, you’ll need something with a much wider focal length to achieve the bokeh photography style. On the flip side, full-body portraits will require more of a wide-angle lens.

Keep Your Budget in Mind

You probably don’t need us to tell you that good camera lenses are expensive. When choosing a lens, you must ensure you can afford the purchase. You can save money in several ways; buying second-hand lenses is an excellent way to do so.

If you don’t yet have the money for your preferred portrait photography lens, start saving up. You can sell existing equipment to speed up the process, and doing gigs on the side might also help.

Think About Logistics

You’ll also need to consider the practical aspects of your portrait photography style. For example, if you travel a lot, you’ll probably want something a little more compact.

On the flip side, you probably won’t mind using bigger lenses if you’re going to remain in one place for the shoot or won’t travel far.

Picking the Right Lens for Portrait Photography Is Essential

Portrait photography is much easier when you’ve got the right accompanying lens. Having one that fits your needs will make you more agile when out and about. Moreover, you’ll relieve a lot of stress by not needing to improvise all the time.

What is the best portrait lens for photography, then? Whichever works best for you. Carry out the necessary research beforehand, and you’ll have a much easier time choosing.


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