Is a 50 mm or 85 mm lens more suitable for portrait shooting?

Is a 50 mm or 85 mm lens more suitable for portrait shooting?  This is a common question, but there is no easy answer;  After all, 50mm and 85mm lenses are great.  For an 85mm lens, a 50mm lens is generally cheaper.  It’s not that cheaper lenses are better, the main thing you have to consider is distance.  With a 50mm lens, you can get closer to your subject and communicate more easily.  To use 85 mm, you must be about 4 meters away from the customer.  Next, let’s take a look at whether a 50 mm or 85 mm lens is more suitable for portrait shooting.  

50 mm or 85 mm is more suitable for portrait shooting  

(1) Focal length  

The most obvious difference between the 85mm and 50mm lenses is range;  To fill the frame with a 50mm body, you need to get close.  The 85mm lens provides the same view from farther behind.  

Some photographers prefer to shoot portraits up close and personal, in which case a 50mm lens is a better choice.  While others prefer to keep their subjects at a distance, here the 85mm lens works well.  

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It all depends on your comfort level and your shooting style.  The wider 50mm focal length allows you to easily take portraits of environments that contain interesting background features.  Of course, you can get the same effect with an 85mm lens, but you have to back up further, which can cause problems.  

If you do a lot of headshots, 85mm is probably a better choice.  You can take beautiful, compact images at reasonable distances, and a 50mm headshot will make you uncomfortably close.  

On the other hand, if you prefer full-body or even group shots, 50mm is ideal.  

(2) Depth of field  

One of the biggest differences between an 85mm lens and a 50mm lens is the distance you need to stand from your subject.  Using an 85mm lens, the closest focus is 2.8 feet and using a 50mm lens, the closest focus is 1.15 feet.  

This means that usually, with an 85mm lens, you’ll be further away from the subject than with a 50mm lens.  This, in turn, reduces the depth of field, meaning that images taken with an 85mm lens tend to have a more blurry bokeh than those taken with a 50mm lens, even with the same aperture.  

You might even find that you prefer different approaches in different applications.  It’s purely a matter of preference, so when you look at other photographers’ work, start making notes about what types of images you tend to like.  If you find yourself drawn to a creamy texture, an 85mm lens might be more for you.  If you prefer textures in the background, you may want to consider using a 50mm lens.  

(3) Space limitation  

Assuming you use the same frame, an 85mm lens forces you to stand further away from your subject than a 50mm lens?  While this isn’t necessarily a problem in outdoor Spaces, it can be a major obstacle if you’re shooting indoors.  

For example, you might want a full-length shot, but you can’t retreat through a wall, so you end up taking a half-length shot.  Or you might want a group shot, but you can’t enlarge the frame, so you can only take partial shots of two subjects.  

If like me, you want a wide Angle shot indoors, then 50mm is probably the best choice.  On the other hand, when shooting outdoors, an 85mm lens may be more suitable.  

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(4) Composition differences  

Also, take some time to consider the context.  Using an 85 mm lens will produce an image closer to the subject.  On the other hand, shooting with a 50mm lens produces an image with more background.  

Did you happily climb to the top of the mountain to take photos?  You may want to consider using a 50mm lens to more fully capture the trees and perspective in the background behind the subject of the portrait.  

On the other hand, how often do you find yourself trying to disguise the background in an image? Do you shoot in backgrounds that are sometimes uncontrollable and/or unpredictable?  In this case, you may want to consider an 85mm lens.  

When you combine the reduced depth of field of the 85mm lens with the closer view of your subject, the 85mm lens can create beautiful portrait images in almost any position.  Your photo will be your most valuable wedding souvenir.  

The 50mm lens and the 85mm lens have a lot in common and are excellent for portrait photography.  If you can, you can buy both lenses because they have unique use cases.  But if you’re on a budget, or if you have a particular style of shooting or the type of portrait you like to shoot, you can decide on a case-by-case basis and buy the lens that works best for you.  

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