Lens Shoot Out | What’s The Best Portrait Focal Length?
Every photographer has a go-to lens; a lens you’d choose if you were forced to pick one and only one out of your kit. The options narrow significantly when you restrict the purpose of the lens to portraits. Even so, if you polled a group of photographers you’d find a varied set of responses. Be that as it may, Manny and his wife Diana have tried to settle the long-standing debate.
Be it resolved…
You may not shoot Sony but, this video still provides a useful comparison for shooters of any system hoping to see the difference between the focal lengths; especially in their fast aperture variants. Let’s see what team Ortiz found.
What you should note is how the different focal lengths change the relationship between your subject and the background. A good example of this is found when comparing the 85mm and the 200mm end of the 70-200mm GM. While the 85mm is a favorite among portrait shooters, it doesn’t isolate the model as well as its longer counterpart, even though it has a wider aperture.
But this may not factor into why you’re taking your particular portrait. While a longer focal length renders your model’s facial features more favorably, your aim may be to include the environment to enhance the mood and atmosphere your image. So, as usual, the idea of “ultimate” or “best” subjective.
Still, if this video has pushed you over the edge and you want to buy a new lens, check out the links below.
Featured Focal Lengths
The sale prices listed below are current as of 05/30/2018
Zeiss 35 mm f1.4 – $1,498
Sony/Zeiss 55mm f1.8 – $898
70-200mm f2.8 GM – $2,698
Canon 35mm f1.4L II – $1,649
Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS – $1,599
Canon 200mm f2.8 L – $749
Nikkor 35mm f1.4 – $1,695
Nikkor 50mm f1.4 – $446.95
Nikkor 58mm f1.4 – $1,595.95
Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 E FL ED VR Lens – $2,796.95
Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art – $899
Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art – $949
Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art – $1,199
Tamron 35mm SP f1.8 – $599
Tamron 45mm SP f1.8 – $399 —- “Whaaaaat?!”
Tamron 85mm SP f1.8 – $749
Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 G2 – $1,299