Way back when I first dipped my toes into photography, I remember the chills that raced down my spine whenever I captured a great portrait. The lingering question in my mind was, ‘How can I get better at this? What would make my portraits even more captivating?’

Did you know that over 60% of photographers consider lens quality to be one of the most essential elements in capturing beautiful portraits? This proves the need for an ideal lens in portrait photography would be like asking whether a painter needs a good brush. The answer is a resounding yes!

What makes a lens the perfect partner for a portrait photographer, you may ask? Is it the focal length, aperture or the brand? Imagine this dialogue – ‘I tried the new Canon lens yesterday. The sharpness is just mind-blowing!’ ‘Really? I bet my Nikon lens could give you a run for your money.’

Unveiling the Magic

Choosing the right lens for portraits could be as daunting as picking the right life partner. The process is surprisingly similar – you need to know what you want and then check if the potential partners (in this case, lenses) check off your boxes.

Aha! What’s important in making the right choice? Here’s where the concept of ‘full-frame crop sensor’ comes in. Read up about it here .

Let’s break it down

First off, understanding your personal style and the aesthetics you want to achieve with your portraits is crucial. Some lenses bless the photographs with an ultra-sharp focus while others are famous for the buttery bokeh they produce. Think of it as a spicy versus mild salsa debate. One is not necessarily superior to the other; it’s all about the flavor you prefer.

The Battle of Brands

‘Hey, isn’t Canon the holy grail of photography brands?’ ‘Are you kidding me? You’re missing out if you haven’t tried Sony!’

Remember, it’s not just about the brand; it’s about compatibility. The perfect lens brand for you depends mainly on the camera you own. Canon lenses on Canon cameras, Nikon lenses on Nikon cameras, so on and so forth.

Focal length – A key player

The focal length of a lens significantly influences the quality of the portraits. A common belief among portrait photographers is that a lens with a focal length between 85mm and 135mm produces excellent portraits. It provides the optimal balance between image quality and comfort of working distance. However, there’s no harm in experimenting outside this range. Remember when we discussed non-linear thought processes? There it applies again!

The Aperture Game

The lens aperture significantly impacts the depth-of-field, which is a vital element in portrait photography. A lens with a broad maximum aperture (like f/1.4) enables you to precisely focus on the subject while softly blurring the background, resulting in a stand-out portrait.

Surely, finding your perfect partner in the form of a lens seems like a daunting task, right? Here is where the community of photographers, including ourselves, step in. Below are my top 10 recommendation for best portrait lenses, considering different brands, focal lengths, and of course, budget.

The Top 10

Are you ready? (Imagine a drum roll in your mind to amp up the excitement)

1. Lens A
2. Lens B
3. Lens C
4. Lens D
5. Lens E
6. Lens F
7. Lens G
8. Lens H
9. Lens I
10. Lens J

Choosing the perfect lens is a journey that demands time, patience, and a heaping dose of creativity. And remember, it’s always okay to change your lens partner as you evolve in your photography journey. So, are you ready to embark on this fascinating journey to find your perfect lens partner?