Five Super Sharp Portrait Lenses for Your Mirrorless Camera

Kevin-Lee The Phoblographer -Fujifilm XF 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens Product Images (4 of 5)

In terms of technical speak, if you want to get the absolute best performance from your camera, you’ll need a solid lens. Many portrait photographers that use DSLRs tend to reach for the closest 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens that they can get their hands on. But you don’t necessarily need those!

Mirrorless camera technology has come a long way to where we now have unique lineups and interpretations of the famous telephoto zoom lens. And you have lots of choices.

Here are just some of our favorite portrait lenses for your mirrorless camera. But before you even begin to shoot portraits, we recommend that you read the basics first.

Samsung 85mm f1.4

Samsung 85mm f1.4

Though it’s now starting to show its age a bit, there is no doubting that Samsung’s 85mm f1.4 is still one of the best made portrait lenses that we’ve ever tested. Not only is it sharp and contrasty but it focuses quickly, has beautiful bokeh, and quite honestly gives us some of the best color rendition that we’ve seen–even beating out Canon’s similar offerings.

In our review, we state:

“Oh. My. God.

No, really–we found the bokeh to be that glorious. The fact that Samsung cameras use an APS-C sensor can also help to give great bokeh due to the 127mm field of view equivalent, but that isn’t always the only thing that determines bokeh.”

Read the Review.

Buy Now: Adorama

Pro Tip: This image was shot for my friend's Etsy shop using the wide angle diffuser. It resulted in many of the details popping more. This is how you make the results from a portrait lens pop even more.

Pro Tip: This image was shot for my friend’s Etsy shop using the wide angle diffuser. It resulted in many of the details popping more. This is how you make the results from a portrait lens pop even more.

Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2

Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2

When the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 was first announced, we weren’t all that impressed due to the way that the depth of field is actually at f2.4 when converting to full frame equivalency. But man, were we wrong. This lens is tack sharp, built to please the retro enthusiast, delivers beautiful bokeh, and will probably never leave your camera. What we were most impressed by is the autofocus speed–we’re not sure how Panasonic made a lens with this many elements focus this quickly.

In our review, we state:

“Panasonic’s 42.5mm f1.2 is a lens that you can have almost no complaints about on the right system. It’s sharp, focuses quickly, has great color for portraits, features a robust build quality, feels great in the hand, and can help you deliver better images when combined with the right skills in lighting and composition.”

Read the Review.

Buy Now: Amazon

Fujifilm 50-140mm f2.8

Fujifilm 50-140mm f2.8

How can you hate Fujifilm lenses? For years and years they’ve been incredible. Their lenses continue to improve and their 50-140mm f2.8 is the latest telephoto zoom offering to show this off. With a full aperture ring around the lens, internal zooming, and weather sealing built in there is very little to hate. But when you add in the fact that the images that it delivers are sharp, well colored, and slightly contrasty, you’ve got yourself a winner.

In our review, we state:

“The 50-140mm f2.8 has every design aspect that has distinguished Fujifilm’s X-series from the competition, and it’s the first real sign of Fujifilm’s commitment to broadening its reach, to making it a well-rounded system. It’s a major boon for folks looking to do sports photography who might’ve felt left out by the lack of telephoto zoom options where a constant aperture is a must. It’s also a major plus for portraitists who want a little variety in their focal lengths. And hey, it’s weather-sealed, too, which means that there should be no excuses for your not shooting in rain, sleet or snow.”

Read the Review.

Buy Now: B&H Photo

Pro Tip: Large diffusers can provide very soft light on a subject. Model: Kristen Sirotta

Pro Tip: Large diffusers can provide very soft light on a subject.
Model: Kristen Sirotta

Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO

Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO

When we first saw this lens in a meeting, we were very impressed. Then we learned about the retractable lens hood, weather sealing, autofocusing abilities, internal zooming, and lots more and we were tempted. Finally, we tested the lens and it reaffirmed to us that even though the Micro Four Thirds coalition has the smallest serious sensor in the mirrorless camera world, the strength is in their lenses.

We’ve never seen photos consistently this sharp with the exception of some missed focusing rarities from our sessions. You’ll get the best bokeh from this lens at the more telephoto end since the full frame depth of field equivalent is f5.6 wide open. But that means that you’ll also probably never stop it down.

In our review, we state:

“We spent five days with this aggressively designed piece of glass. Among any of the Olympus zoom lens offerings that we’ve tested, the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO is the one that I loved the absolute most and almost didn’t want to send back. It’s lightweight, fairly small for what it is, fast to focus, offers crisp image quality, is weather sealed, and won’t fail you when working. For the wedding, sports, portrait, or journalism photographer that needs to work with zooms, you should know that Olympus now has the best zoom lens lineup of any manufacturer in the mirrorless camera world. When coupled with the company’s very good 12-40mm f2.8 lens, you won’t encounter a single moment that you can’t capture.”

Read the Review.

Buy Now: B&H Photo

Samsung 50-150mm f2.8

Samsung 50-150mm f2.8

Did you ever expect to see the day where there would be two Samsung lenses on our list?

We didn’t either!

But in all honesty, the 50-150mm f2.8 by Samsung is a true beauty and we’re sad to have to send ours back to the company. It’s built well, weather sealed, and lots of controls, and offers tack sharp image performance. Plus it focuses quickly and can shoot portraits one second journalism the next.

In our review, we state:

“Samsung has delivered to us an exemplary lens that offers some of the highest image quality that we’ve seen from a mirrorless camera offering. Hands down, it has the best color of any telephoto zoom lens designed for a MILC that we’ve seen. It’s also got a great build overall–though we have some very minor qualms with it that can be solved with the addition of gaffer tape to the lens.

Portrait photographers should take a much more serious look at what Samsung offers–you’ll be truly blown away.”

Read the Review.

Buy Now: B&H Photo