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Lenses for portrait photography

Updated: Apr 20

As we all know, when it comes to photography, lenses matter. As portrait photographers, we never get tired of them. These beautiful pieces of glass become our eyes and let us interpret what we see, and shape and craft images we have in mind. The lens you choose can make all the difference.

Here are my top 3:

RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM


It offers a versatile focal range, making it perfect for everything from stunning portraits to capturing distant subjects with exceptional clarity.

Fast Aperture:

With a wide and constant aperture of f/2.8, this lens excels in low-light conditions, ensuring sharp and vibrant images even when the lighting is challenging.

New Design:

Boasting a compact and lightweight design, this lens defies the traditional bulk associated with high-performance telephoto zooms.

Black and white portrait of a woman using an RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM lense
RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM

RF 50mm F1.2 IS USM

Low-Light Performance:

It boasts a wide aperture of f/1.2, allowing photographers to capture breathtaking shots in low-light conditions with unparalleled clarity and minimal noise.

Bokeh Mastery:

Renowned for its ability to create a dreamy and creamy background blur, this lens's large aperture and 50mm focal length make it a prime choice for portrait photographers seeking that super-pleasing bokeh.


Fast accurate autofocus to capture spontaneous moments with ease and confidence.

Portrait of a woman using an RF 50mm F1.2 IS US lens
RF 50mm F1.2 IS USM

RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM

Fun shots:

I like it because I can take wide, full-body shots without too much distortion, it can be fun, modern, and edgy!

Fast Aperture:

Excels in low-light conditions, ensuring consistent exposure across the zoom range. It's great for those who need optimal performance in various lighting situations.

Traveling companion:

Transitions smoothly between portrait and landscape photography with its versatile focal range: You can capture beautiful portraits at 35mm while effortlessly expanding to a broad 15mm for sweeping landscape/background (see my post from my trip to Japan where I switched from a close portrait to a wide landscape with this lens)

Wide angle portrait of a woman using an RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM lens
RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM

These 3 lenses have top-quality glass and come with a hefty price tag. They remain a substantial financial investment, especially if you are just starting your business, but can be worth it.

For those starting their photographic journey (and looking to stay within budget), my top recommendation would undeniably be the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Here's why:

Affordable Excellence: Delivering impressive image quality at an affordable price point, the RF 50mm f/1.8 STM provides photographers with an accessible entry into prime lens territory.

Compact: The lens combines exceptional image quality with a compact design, making it a lightweight and portable companion for photographers on the go.

Wide Aperture: With a wide aperture of f/1.8, this lens excels in low-light conditions, allowing for stunning shots with beautiful background blur. It's an ideal choice for both indoor and outdoor shooting, offering versatility in various lighting situations.

Remember, the best lens for portrait photography ultimately depends on your style, preferences, and the specific look you want to achieve. Whether you go for a prime or a zoom lens, each of these options brings a unique flair to help you capture the essence of your subjects.

Happy Shuttering!

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