Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Six of the best portrait lenses – British Journal of Photography

A lot is spoken of when considering a portrait lens, that is a lens specifically designed for portraiture rather than a lens that could suitably be used for portrait photography. The tradition is for a portrait lens (when used on a 35mm film camera or on a full frame digital slr Canon 5DMk2 Nikon D700 etc.) to have a focal length between 85mm and 105mm. Naturally though you can use a lens of any focal length to take portraits if you wish. Portrait lenses also have a wide maximum aperture e.g. the Canon 85mm is F1.2. This article from BJP describes and reviews 6 lenses that are designed for the purpose.

If you do not have a full frame digital camera, say a Canon 500D or a Nikon D3000 you can still benefit from a portrait lens and do so while spending little money. Most non-full frame digital cameras have a smaller image capture chip and so any lens used offers a higher focal length than that stated on the lens itself. Generally a coefficient of about 1.6 is applied, so a standard 50mm F1.8 lens is actually a 80mm F1.8 lens, almost perfect for the job. The Canon 50mm F1.8 is only £90, the Nikon version is about £125. These lenses are not featured in this review but well worth checking out, there will also be F1.4 and maybe F1.2 versions available also but for much more money. The other thing you can do to improve your portrait photography is to take our Portrait Course which starts 27th of this month

Six of the best portrait lenses – British Journal of Photography.

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