The best lenses for portraits explained.
Learn how to choose the right lens to boost your portrait photography skills.
Not all camera lenses are created equal. Some are better for certain types of photography than others. Learn how aperture can affect your shots, as well as the differences between prime and zoom lenses, to ensure you’ve got the best lens for portrait photography.
Aperture settings for portraits.
Aperture is the amount of light let into the lens. It might seem backwards, but lenses with wider aperture capabilities have lower f-stops. For example, lenses with f/1.8 apertures can open wider than f/4 lenses.
When you allow more light into the lens (lower the f-stop), you blur the background of the shot, making the subject stand out and giving your portraits that “professional” look.
Most portrait photographers prefer lenses with lower f-stops — between f/1.8 and f/2.8.
Prime vs. zoom lenses for portraits.
Portrait lenses are divided into two types, prime and zoom:
- Prime lenses — Have a fixed focal length. They typically have wider apertures and take crisper photos, but you can’t zoom.
- Zoom lenses — Can be adjusted to different focal lengths (zoom in and out), but they usually have higher apertures and aren’t as sharp as prime lenses.
Most professional portrait photographers choose prime lenses for their wide apertures and sharper images. These are some of the most popular prime lens focal lengths for portraits:
Zoom lenses are much more versatile, and great for trying out different focal lengths. Most portrait photographers stick to shorter focal lengths for their zoom lenses:
No matter which lens you choose, the best way to create stunning portraits is to process your images using professional photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.
Looking for more helpful photography tips?
Explore more about what you can do with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to enhance your portrait photography.