Best lens for Portraiture
If you are a portrait photographer who uses a full-frame sensor camera, you might be wondering what is the best lens to use for your shots. There are many factors to consider when choosing a lens, such as focal length, aperture, sharpness, bokeh, distortion, and price. In this blog post, I will explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of lenses for portrait photography and give you some recommendations based on my personal experience.
Focal length is one of the most important aspects of a lens for portrait photography. It determines how much of the scene you can capture and how your subject will look in relation to the background. Generally speaking, longer focal lengths (such as 85mm or 135mm) are preferred for portraits because they create a flattering perspective that minimizes facial distortion and emphasizes the eyes. They also allow you to create a shallow depth of field that blurs the background and makes your subject stand out.
However, longer focal lengths also have some drawbacks. They require more distance between you and your subject, which can make it harder to communicate and interact with them. They also tend to be heavier and more expensive than shorter focal lengths. If you are shooting in tight spaces or on a budget, you might want to consider using a shorter focal length (such as 50mm or 35mm) instead. These lenses can still produce great portraits with a natural perspective and enough separation from the background. They also give you more flexibility to include some environmental elements in your shots and create a more dynamic composition.
Aperture is another key factor to consider when choosing a lens for portrait photography. It refers to the size of the opening in the lens that lets light in. The larger the aperture (or the smaller the f-number), the more light the lens can capture and the shallower the depth of field it can create. A large aperture is desirable for portraits because it allows you to shoot in low-light situations and create a smooth bokeh effect that enhances your subject.
However, a large aperture also comes with some trade-offs. It can reduce the sharpness of your images, especially at the edges and corners of the frame. It can also introduce some optical aberrations, such as chromatic aberration and spherical aberration, that degrade the image quality. Moreover, a large aperture usually means a higher price tag for the lens. If you are looking for a sharp and affordable lens for portrait photography, you might want to opt for a smaller aperture (such as f/4 or f/5.6) instead. These lenses can still produce decent portraits with enough depth of field and bokeh, as long as you have enough light and distance from your subject.
Sharpness is another aspect of a lens that affects the quality of your portraits. It refers to how well the lens can resolve fine details and contrast in your images. A sharp lens can make your subject look crisp and clear, while a soft lens can make them look blurry and dull. Sharpness is influenced by many factors, such as aperture, focal length, focus distance, sensor resolution, camera shake, and post-processing. Some lenses are inherently sharper than others, but you can also improve the sharpness of your images by using a tripod, stopping down your aperture, focusing accurately, and applying some sharpening in editing.
Bokeh is another characteristic of a lens that affects the aesthetic of your portraits. It refers to the quality and shape of the out-of-focus areas in your images. A good bokeh can make your subject pop out from a smooth and creamy background, while a bad bokeh can make them blend in with a busy and distracting background. Bokeh is determined by many factors, such as aperture, focal length, focus distance, background distance, lens design, and number of aperture blades. Some lenses have better bokeh than others, but you can also enhance the bokeh of your images by using a large aperture, a long focal length, a close focus distance, and a far background distance.
Distortion is another feature of a lens that affects how your subject will look in your portraits. It refers to how the lens bends or stretches straight lines in your images. There are two main types of distortion: barrel distortion and pincushion distortion. Barrel distortion makes straight lines curve outward like a barrel, while pincushion distortion makes them curve inward like a pincushion. Distortion is more noticeable at the edges and corners of the frame and at wider focal lengths. Some lenses have more distortion than others, but you can also correct the distortion of your images by using a lens profile or a manual adjustment in editing.
Price is another factor to consider when choosing a lens for portrait photography. It reflects the quality and performance of the lens, as well as the demand and supply in the market. Generally speaking, the more expensive the lens, the better the image quality, the larger the aperture, the longer the focal length, and the higher the build quality. However, price is not always proportional to value, and there are some lenses that offer great performance at a reasonable price. You should also consider your budget and your needs when buying a lens, and look for reviews and comparisons online to find the best deal.
Based on these factors, here are some of my personal recommendations for the best lenses to use for portraits on a full-frame sensor camera:
- Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM: This is a classic portrait lens that offers a flattering focal length, a large aperture, a sharp image quality, and a smooth bokeh. It is also relatively lightweight and affordable compared to other 85mm lenses. It is compatible
with Canon full-frame DSLR cameras.
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8D or G: This is another great portrait lens that has similar features and performance as the Canon 85mm f/1.8. It is compatible with Nikon full-frame DSLR cameras.
- Sony FE 85mm f/1.8: This is a newer portrait lens that has a sleek design and a fast autofocus system. It has a high image quality, a large aperture, and a beautiful bokeh. It is compatible with Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras.
- Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art: This is a versatile lens that can be used for portraits as well as other genres of photography. It has exceptional sharpness, a large aperture, and a pleasing bokeh. It is available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, and other full-frame camera mounts.
- Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD: This is a wide-angle lens that can create stunning portraits with a natural perspective and an environmental context. It has an outstanding sharpness, a large aperture, and a smooth bokeh. It is available for Canon and Nikon full-frame camera mounts.
These are just some of the many lenses that can be used for portrait photography on a full-frame sensor camera. You should experiment with different lenses and find the one that suits your style and preference best. Happy shooting!