The Best Portrait Lenses for Mirrorless Cameras

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Mirrorless cameras offer pretty much everything that most photographers need and are the next step in the evolution of cameras (along with smartphones and what they’re capable of). And for many, there is no reason why a portrait lens wouldn’t be in their camera bag. The best portrait lenses are longer focal lengths that allow a photographer to separate elements of a scene from their subject so that viewers will only focus on them. Additionally, wider focal lengths tend to make someone (and their parts) look very distorted.

We’ve scoured our reviews index to find some of our favorite portrait lenses for mirrorless cameras. Here’s our roundup.

Olympus 45mm f1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus 45mm f1.8 review product photos (2 of 3)

The Olympus 45mm f1.8 is a compact lens that focuses extremely quickly thanks in part to its lightweight lens elements. These elements also help to deliver beautiful and extremely sharp images.

In our review, we state:

“The Olympus 45mm f1.8 is a lens that I want to shoot wide open all day and all night. On a personal level, I’m very pleased with the sharpness that I get with the lens when shooting wide open. For users that love shooting photos of flowers and other plant life, you’ll be pleased to know that the results that come out of the camera only need slight color boosts (if any) and the usual sharpening and clarity adjustments.”

Sample Photo

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus 45mm f1.8 sartorialist again (1 of 1)

Fujifilm 56mm f1.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 first impressions product photos (6 of 7)ISO 8001-60 sec at f - 2.8

Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s large–but with an 84mm field of view equivalent and an f1.2 aperture, how can you complain? You really can’t, and you’ll probably have no reason to ever stop this lens down.

In our review, we state:

“Let’s be completely and totally honest here: there is very, very little to complain about with the 56mm f1.2.

In general, modern lenses are sharp and have magnificent bokeh. What many of them lack (with the exception of Zeiss and Fujifilm) is contrast – and Fujifilm adds that when you select the right color/film profile. But for a lens like this that was specifically designed for portraiture, you often don’t want a lot of contrast because of the way that skin tones can sometimes work. For example, you can often get someone to look too red and you’ll need to desaturate that channel in Lightroom and follow it up with boosting the luminance. Fujifilm’s 56mm f1.2 makes you do less of that and handles skin tones of all types quite well.”

Sample Photo

To make a man look more elegant, it's not only all about the attire but it's also about the specific pose. Have him shift his weight depending on which shoulder is the higher one. The lower shoulder should be bright forward more and the head should be tilted slightly.

To make a man look more elegant, it’s not only all about the attire but it’s also about the specific pose. Have him shift his weight depending on which shoulder is the higher one. The lower shoulder should be bright forward more and the head should be tilted slightly.

Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 review product images (4 of 7)ISO 2001-400 sec at f - 1.7

Currently, this is the fastest aperture lens in the Micro Four Thirds world with autofocus. It also has a solid build quality and was designed in collaboration with Leica. Of any lens from the Micro four thirds world, this is the one you’ll always go back to.

In our review, we state:

“If you’re in the market for an extremely sharp Micro Four Thirds lens of some sort, then you’re reading the right review. Panasonic’s 42.5mm f1.2 lens is–dare we say it–the sharpest lens for the system that we’ve ever tested. Panasonic put a lot of work into it, and you’re surely paying for it. Not only is this lens very sharp, but it focuses quickly, can have some very beautiful bokeh, great color rendition when working with skin tones and overall can present a great look for your subject.”

Sample Photo

Samsung 85mm f1.4

As still one of the best portrait lenses that we’ve tested, the Samsung 85mm f1.4 is also one of the oldest on this list. But it delivers excellent colors, incredible sharpness and beautiful bokeh. This lens more so than any other could be a great reason to consider Samsung.

In our review, we state:

“We’ve spent a very long amount of time with Samsung’s 85mm f1.4 and we have to say that it’s seriously beautiful. When combined with the Galaxy NX’s ability to send an image straight to someone it becomes something that you’ll fall in love with even more for its ability to help you create beautiful images.”

Sample Photo

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 85mm f1.4 portrait review images (1 of 3)ISO 1001-800 sec at f - 2.5

Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO product photos (6 of 10)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

Built to be durable, the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens is the company’s top of the line telephoto zoom lens. But it also provides great colors, excellent skin tone rendition, and super sharp image quality right from the camera.

In our review, we state:

“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.”

Sample Photo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis first impressions product photos (2 of 6)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 4.0

The Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis is one of the first true portrait lenses for the Sony FE mount system. It’s colors are a bit muted, but Sony’s sensors can more than compensate for that.

In our first impressions, we state:

“While the Loxia lenses don’t have autofocus, the Batis lenses do. The focusing performance with the A7 has to be some of the fastest that we’ve seen. It’s just about as fast as the Sony 28mm f2–and we consider that to be one of the company’s fastest lenses.

When further trying to fine tune the focusing (like eye focusing) it can take a bit of extra time. However, the focusing is very accurate, sharp, and consistent in good lighting situations. Considering that this is a portrait lens, we have yet to put it through its paces in low light.”

Sample Photo

Chris Gampat The PhoblographerZeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis first impressions image samples (1 of 6)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 1.8

Lensbaby 56mm f1.6

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lensbaby Fujifilm Announcement (2 of 2)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 6.3

Though it’s quite soft wide open, the Lensbaby 56mm f1.6 is designed to deliver a very dreamy look that the company is known for. When stopped down to f4, it’s exceptionally sharp.

In our review, we state:

“The lens’s sharpness isn’t there at all when shooting wide open and it stays this way up until f2.8 for the most part. But when stopped down to f4 this lens is pretty much as sharp as most other optics out there. In fact, we were quite surprised at how different it looks.”

Sample Photo

Model: Erica Lourd

Fujifilm 90mm f2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 90mm f2 first impressions product images (2 of 9)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 3.2

Offering around a 135mm field of view, the Fujifilm 90mm f2 lens is a true portrait lens for the system. Being natively very long, it’s bound to remove any signs of distortion that may be present on your subject.

In our first impressions, we state:

“The Fujifilm 90mm f2 is said to be weather sealed, but at the moment we haven’t taken it out in the sheets and sheets of rain that tend to hit NYC. The entire lens is made of metal and most of it is dominated by this massive focusing ring with groove that add extra grip for the user. On the X-Pro1 and the X-T1, it feels quite balanced, but on the X-T10, you immediately realize that this lens is a bit too heavy for the body upon attaching it.”

Sample Photo

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 90mm f2 first impressions photos (12 of 13)ISO 2001-1500 sec at f - 2.0

Samsung 50-150mm f2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS review product images (5 of 10)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 4.0

The Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 is probably the most interesting lens on this list. It offers excellent sharpness right out of the camera, a weather resistant design and great skin tones. You’ll have very little to complain about.

In our review, we state:

“The Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS lens is a lens that proves that Samsung is an exemplary lens manufacturer. Our favorite is the company’s 85mm f1.4, but this lens may even beat that for portrait photography. It renders wonderful colors, great sharpness, and what can be really wonderful bokeh in the right situation. Photojournalists and portrait photographers will make the most use of this especially when combined with Samsung’s connectivity options that allow you to shoot an incredible portrait and send it off to Instagram or any other social channel immediately.”

Sample Photo

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 lens portraits for review (4 of 5)ISO 8001-800 sec at f - 2.8