Top 9 Camera Lenses for Portrait Photography

Whether you're documenting a wedding or family, a good lens is critical to capturing a compelling portrait. Here are our top favorites from Canon, Sony, & more.

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Portrait photography is a powerful way to capture the emotion of your subject. A portrait connects us to presidents, Hollywood actors, and everyday people by sharing their personal stories through a single image. As one of the oldest forms of photography, it remains popular within the art form and fills our favorite magazines and websites.

While the right skills are necessary to capture a compelling portrait, you also need a good lens. Whether you're a seasoned wedding photographer or just beginning, the best portrait lens is different for everyone, which is why our list features various options depending on your needs.

The 50mm prime "fixed" lens.

1. Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II

The Best For Portraits — And Everything Else

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II is the perfect one-size-fits-all lens, offering excellent optical performance, a compact design, and convenient on-barrel controls. While the lens isn't cheap, it has set the gold standard for zoom lenses and is an excellent option for portraits because it offers so much flexibility. You can zoom close or get a more comprehensive view of environmental portraiture. And it's fantastic in low-light situations thanks to its f/2.8 aperture, which is bright for a zoom lens. If you're on the hunt for a single portrait lens, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II is an excellent option due to the combined prime's quality with a zoom's flexibility.

Brand: Sony

Product Type: Zoom lens

Unique Feature: Wide zoom range paired with bright f/2.8 aperture.

Best For: Photographers who want a good portrait lens that can also be used for landscapes and street photography.

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FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens

Eyeing a standard zoom Sony lens? The new FE 24-70mm GM II will be your versatile workhorse for almost any situation with fast autofocus and superb clarity.

Buy for $2,298.00

2. Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM

The Best For Challenging Light

Many people consider a 50mm lens the "perfect" focal length because it's the closest to what your eye sees naturally. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM is on our list because it features a compact form factor and an ultra-bright aperture, allowing you to produce beautiful bokeh. This lens can achieve stunning results and is a fantastic option for wedding photographers because of its fast autofocus, and it works well in challenging light. Besides making high-end images, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM also offers premium features like dust, splash, and fluorine protection. That means the lens should survive if it gets exposed to the elements.

Brand: Sony

Product Type: Prime lens

Unique Features: Ultra-bright aperture in a compact body.

Best For: Anyone who wants to take portraits in challenging light.

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FE 50mm F1.2 GM Lens

Are you after that, creamy bokeh? The Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM Lens is a prime that will deliver it with fast, highly accurate autofocus tracking to boot

Buy for $1,998.00

3. Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art DG DN

A Classic Telephoto Prime

Sigma's 85mm f/1.4 Art DG DN is on our list because it's a compact telephoto prime that offers a bright aperture. This makes it possible to take portraits in low light and produce beautifully blurred backgrounds — an excellent combination in portraiture. Add an aperture control ring, a programmable function button, and weather protection, and you have a lens sure to please wedding photographers. The lens also offers autofocus performance that's fast and silent, so you can capture important moments without being a disturbance. As a bonus, the 85mm focal length is excellent for still-life photography, giving you something else to shoot on your days off from portraits.

Brand: Sigma

Product Type: Prime lens

Unique Features: The ideal focal length for portraits and still life.

Best For: Anyone who wants a telephoto lens that's compact and bright.

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85mm f1.4 Art DG DN Lens - Sony E-Mount

Shooting portraits with your Sony? The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art combines clear and delicate performance, with beautiful, rich bokeh effects

Buy for $1,199.00

4. Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM

The King For Full-Frame Portraits

The Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM is a flagship portrait lens that ticks all the right boxes. Featuring an 85mm focal length and bright f/1.4 aperture, it performs well in low light and isolates your subject from the background. The pictures it can produce are super sharp, and the bokeh has that soft, dreamy look. Like other high-end Sony lenses, this one offers weather protection, giving you peace of mind in the elements. If you don't mind the price, this is arguably the best portrait lens for Sony's full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Brand: Sony

Product Type: Prime lens

Unique Features: An excellent telephoto prime lens that's bright and compact.

Best For: If you own a Sony full-frame camera and portraits are your specialty, the Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM is the lens for you.

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FE 85mm F1.4 GM Lens

Are you after that sweet bokeh? This Sony 85mm F1.4 portrait lens performance reaches a new pinnacle with astonishing resolution plus bokeh of unmatched beauty

Buy for $1,798.00

5. Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R WR

Fuji X-Mount Owners Need This

One of the things we love about the Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R WR is it offers close focusing down to 0.5 meters, which is about 19 inches. This combination lets you get close to your subject and capture the finest details. And thanks to the fast aperture, you can get an extremely shallow depth of field, giving your images a look closer to medium format. The Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R WR also offers weather resistance and a fluorine coating on the front element, which protects the glass from fingerprints. We wish the lens offered optical image stabilization, but it still produces beautiful images and some of the best bokeh in Fuji-'s X-mount camera system.

Brand: Fujifilm

Product Type: Prime lens

Unique Features: A fast aperture that can produce an extremely shallow depth of field.

Best For: Fuji X-mount users who want a lens that isolates its subject.

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XF 56mmF1.2 R WR Lens

Eyeing a great standard lens for your Fuji? The XF 56mm F1.2 R WR has been precisely engineered to deliver images with clarity and detail.

Buy for $999.95

6. Fujifilm GF 80mm 1.7 R WR

The Most Beautiful Bokeh

The Fujifilm GF 80mm 1.7 R WR is one of the best lenses you can get for the G-mount system. The extra-wide aperture produces excellent bokeh, and the lens feels substantially built. We also love that the lens features an aperture control ring, so you can adjust settings without taking your eye off your subject. Outside of portraits, the Fujifilm GF 80mm 1.7 R WR offers a standard angle view (about 63mm when converted to 35mm equivalent), making it a versatile option for everyday use.

Brand: Fujifilm

Product Type: Prime lens

Unique Features: The ability to separate the subject from the background.

Best For: G-mount owners who want a lens with a tactile feel and the ability to produce creamy bokeh.

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GF 80mm F1.7 R WR Lens

Looking for that creamy bokeh? With its super-wide aperture of F1.7, the Fujifilm GF 80mm F1.7 R WR Lens delivers it with super sharpness in a durable body

Buy for $2,299.00

7. Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II

A Long Zoom For Portraits, Sports, And Wildlife

While prime lenses are generally preferred for portraits, the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II is a rare exception. That's because this lens makes it easy to reach subjects that are far away by narrowing the focus with its long zoom. It also features a fast f/2.8 aperture and optical image stabilization, so images will look sharp when the lens is used handheld. While the lens is large, it's one of the lightest long zooms in its class at 2.3 pounds, and it's weather sealed, making it a good fit for anyone escaping to the mountains.

Brand: Sony

Product Type: Zoom lens

Unique Features: A long zoom with a consistent f/2.8 aperture.

Best For: Serious portrait artists who also dabble in sports and nature photography.

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70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II Lens

Looking to shoot far with your Sony? The 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II Lens offers outstanding optical quality and autofocus in the lightest package possible

Buy for $2,798.00

8. Leica Summicron-M 35mm F/2

The Lens For Slowing Down

While the 35mm focal length isn’t traditionally used for portraits, it can still tell powerful stories. The Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 offers a classic field of view and a bright aperture in a compact body. Unlike our other picks, this lens only supports manual focus, offering a slower-paced experience. And to help you nail focus, it includes a finger grip for more comfortable adjustments. The lens also features a printed depth of field scale on the barrel, so you can hone your zone-focusing skills if you want to try street photography. You also get a lens hood to help block out unwanted light and to keep it protected from damage.

Brand: Leica

Product Type: Prime lens

Unique Features: An old-school design that supports manual focus and a depth-of-field scale.

Best For: Street photographers who like environmental portraiture.

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Summicron-M 35mm F/2 Lens

Looking for a compact Leica prime lens? The Leica Summicron-M 35mm F/2 is offering exceptional image performance and unique bokeh in a robust metal body

Buy for $3,895.00

9. Canon EF 50 f/1.8 STM

The Classic Nifty Fifty

The Canon EF 50 f/1.8 STM is a tried and true option and a favorite among Canon owners. A significant reason why this "nifty fifty" lens is so popular is that it's one of the most affordable available. It's also compact and produces still images that rival more expensive alternatives. The lens offers a bright f/1.8 aperture, letting in a lot of light and creating a cinematic depth of field. Some might say the Canon EF 50 f/1.8 STM is a little simplistic, but that gives it charm. Overall, the lens offers excellent value for beginners and professionals alike.

Brand: Canon

Product Type: Prime lens

Unique Features: An affordable entry lens that offers excellent value.

Best For: Photographers looking to save money without compromising on quality.