How to choose the best portrait lens?

Every photographer should learn to master portrait photography. Humans are one of the most fascinating subjects you might hope to find, and a beautiful portrait photograph that perfectly captures a person’s personality and emotions are something all photographers should know how to create.

If you are just starting out in photography and want to build a solid lens line, it would be a good idea to invest in the best portrait lens you can get. Even if you don’t have plans to become a portrait photographer in the future, having a reliable, high-quality lens that takes great portrait photos is still an important investment to ensure you have a good, comprehensive camera lens lineup.

But first, let’s define what a portrait lens is.

1. What is a portrait lens?

apexel portrait lens

A portrait lens is any lens with the right focal length and aperture to take a good portrait photograph. The term “portrait lens” does not refer to any particular type of lens, technically, any lens can be used for a portrait. You can use prime lenses, zoom lenses, telephoto lenses, or even pack lenses. But ideally, the best portrait lenses are those with focal lengths between 70 and 135 mm, maximum apertures that offer excellent low-light performance, and shallow depth of field.

2. Considerations when choosing the best lens for a portrait.

(1) Zoom and prime lens

portrait photography

There are two main types of lenses: zoom lenses and prime lenses. Zoom lenses have a variable focal length range, making each lens very versatile. A zoom lens allows you to easily take all kinds of photos without changing equipment. Prime lenses have fixed focal lengths (24 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, etc.) and generally provide superior sharpness and image quality. They are also usually smaller and lighter than zoom lenses, but not always — some prime lenses are very sturdy. Many professional portrait photographers prefer focus because they tend to have a faster maximum aperture.

(2) Focal length

The first thing you need to decide is what focal length suits your needs. The optimal focal length for portrait photography depends on a number of factors, including the available space you will be shooting, the number of people in the frame, how much of the nearby environment you want to include, and how close you want to be. The focal lengths commonly used in portrait photography range from 35 mm to 200 mm, depending on the subject, style, and preference.

(3) The number of lenses you need to carry

If you only want to carry one lens with you, you may need to look for a zoom lens. Zoom lenses will give you a lot of options in terms of focal length. Lenses like 24-105mm allow you to capture a variety of different framing styles without having to change lenses or even change positions. If you intend to shoot prime lenses and want to use a variety of focal lengths, you must carry multiple lenses. Many professional photographers get around the problem of having to constantly change prime lenses by using two camera bodies with different focal lengths.

(4) How many people are in the photo

portrait photography

If you plan to film more people, you may need a wider lens that can capture more people in one frame, such as 35mm. However, it’s important to remember that wider lenses can lead to more distortion, especially if your lens is more than 35mm wide. If you don’t want the person at the edge of the photo to look bigger and longer than the person in the middle, don’t use a super-wide lens. Remember, if you’re shooting outside or in a large space, you can always move back to include more people in the frame.

(5) Your available space for shooting

If you’re shooting outdoors, you have a lot of lens options, but if you’re shooting in a cramped environment, you need a wider lens. If you have a lot of workspaces, a 70-200mm or 85mm prime lens is great, but in someone’s house, you may need a shorter focus. For most environments, 50 mm is a good standard length.

(6) Bokeh

Did you know that sometimes in portrait photography, the subject is in focus and the background is beautifully blurred? This blurring is called bokeh. The larger the aperture, the more bokeh you get. If this blurring is important to you, look for lenses that can be shot at larger apertures, such as F/2.8, F/1.8, or even F/1.2. A larger aperture will give your image a shallower depth of field and provide better low-light performance.

(7) Sensor size of the camera

One important thing to keep in mind when choosing lenses for portrait photography is that the body you will be shooting from affects the effective focal length of the lens. In other words, the same lens works longer on a sensor camera than on a full-frame camera.

3. Apexel’s best portrait lens recommendation.

(1) Universal Clip 2x Portrait Telephoto Lens for iPhone

Universal Clip 2x Portrait Telephoto Lens for iPhone

Features:

Long focal length: Despite standing several feet away, the longer focal length allows close-ups of the subject to be taken, resulting in more realistic proportions.

Wide aperture: A wide aperture creates a shallow depth of field. The larger the aperture of the lens, the shallower the depth of field.

Good bokeh: Provides excellent image quality and stunning bokeh. Faster, sharper and produces less visible distortion and vignetting.

(2) Apexel 65mm Selfie portrait lens 3x HD telephoto lens

Apexel 65mm Selfie portrait lens 3x HD telephoto lens

Features:

Apexel 65mm professional telephoto lens, also known as the prime lens of the SLR, lets your action close to 3 times, with no distortion, no dark circles, no degraded picture quality. It’s perfect for street portraits, adventure photos, and travel.

Specifications:

Brand: Apexel

Magnification: 3X

Lens coating: multi-layer coated optical element

Lens structure: 5 pieces in 4 groups

Resolution: center ≧ 550 lp/mm 0.7 field of view ≧ 450 lp/mm

TV distortion: -0.5%

Dimensions (main body): 1.38 in. (dia) x 1 in. (length)

Compatibility:

suitable for iPhone/Samsung/device/HTC/ZTE/Xiaomi/Moto/Blackberry/Nokia 98% of mobile phones (also applies to the iPhone 11 series)

If you want to know more about telephoto lenses, you can visit the Apexel website or send us an email at sales@apexeloptic.com. Please feel free to contact us.  

Learn more: 
Portrait photography techniques: 
Zoom lenses are more convenient, changing the focal length by simply turning the zoom ring. But for portraits, it’s best to choose a prime lens based on its characteristics and change the composition with your feet.

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