8 Spectacular Portrait Lenses for Canon DSLRs

Canon is the most popular camera system on the market, despite all the mirrorless buzz, and that means many of you are likely looking for some awesome portrait lens options for your Canon kit. Lucky for you, we have a great roundup of lenses on the docket today and all of them are great options for you Canon invested portrait photographers.

In this roundup we have 8 incredible lenses for portrait photography on the Canon system. So lets jump right into it, shall we?

Canon 50mm F1.8 STM

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens review product images (1 of 2)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

In our official review we had the following to say about the Canon 50mm F/1.8 STM:

“Canon’s 50mm f1.8 STM is a great lens for the beginner, hobbyist, enthusiast or even the professional who likes to rough and tumble their equipment. But overall, it’s scoring mediocre to good results when you attach. The image quality is much better than before and Canon has proven once again that they can keep ahead of the curve.” — Read Our Full Review

This one is a really obvious choice, but in terms of price to performance in regards to portraits it will be hard for any Canon shooter to find better than this newly updated classic Nifty Fifty. Its great on both Canon’s crop and full frame cameras making it perfect for virtually every Canon portrait photographer.

Grab an Canon 50mm F/1.8 STM over on Amazon now for $125.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens review sample images (20 of 35)ISO 2001-1000 sec at f - 4.0

Canon 35mm F2 IS

Chris-Gampat-The-Phoblographer-Canon-35mm-f2-IS-product-images-1-of-7ISO-2001-60-sec-at-f-4.0

In our official review we had the following to say about the Canon 35mm F/2 IS:

“Canon’s 35mm f2 IS initially confused us with its design, but after taking extra time to understand the lens and work with it, we became believers. It delivers some wonderful image quality, has a solid construction to it, focuses quickly, and is extremely portable.” — Read Our Full Review

While the 35mm F/2 IS doesn’t offer the same sort of price to performance advantages of the 50mm F/1.8 STM, the 35mm focal length is a great choice for a wider, more environmental or lifestyle oriented portrait photographer. It is small, compact, fast focusing and includes IS for piece of mind while shooting hand held in lower light.

Grab an Canon 35mm F/2 IS over on Amazon now for $599.

Chris-Gampat-The-Phoblographer-Canon-35mm-f2-IS-image-samples-7-of-9ISO-1001-200-sec-at-f-2.0

Zeiss 85mm F1.4 Milvus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Milvus lens product images (2 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.0

In our official review we had the following to say about the Zeiss 85mm F/1.4 Milvus:

“Zeiss has always done incredible portrait lenses and this one is no exception. It’s super sharp wide open and you may never even need to stop it down. It renders beautiful image quality with solid color performance, no fringing and it even features weather sealing.” — Read Our Full Review

Again, the Zeiss won’t be winning any awards for its affordability, but as far as portrait lenses go, this one is a beauty for any Canon portrait shooter. You should note, however, that it is manual focus, you will need to be comfortable with that.

Grab an Zeiss 85mm F/1.4 Milvus over on Amazon now for $1760.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Milvus review portrait extras (2 of 6)ISO 4001-320 sec at f - 2.8

Sigma 50mm F/1.4 Art

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sigma dp and 50mm f1.4 product images first impressions (6 of 12)ISO 64001-40 sec at f - 4.0

In our official review we had the following to say about the Sigma 50mm F/1.4 Art:

“Sigma’s 50mm f1.4 Art DG HSM is an exceptional lens. Starting with the design, it very much is in line with the company’s 35mm f1.4 Art optic. The outside feels and looks like something that Hasselblad might make. It feels just so great in your hands that you’d never want to let it go. In fact, if you’re a big fan of the 50mm field of view you might never want to give it up.” — Read Our Full Review

You can’t go wrong with Sigma’s Art series for portrait shooting and their 50mm F/1.4, while quite expensive for a 50mm lens, offers likely the best performance in this focal range of any lens save the ludicrously priced Zeiss Otus. If you are a fan of the 50mm focal length and want something more than the F/1.8 STM can offer you, the Sigma 50mm F/1.4 Art is the lens to go for.

Grab an Sigma 50mm F/1.4 Art over on Amazon now for $849.

Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art

Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art

Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC II review photos product photos (2 of 10)

In our official review we had the following to say about the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC:

“The Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC SP USD wins nothing less than my highest recommendations. Sure, it is expensive, but when you really weigh what you’re getting, it is quite worth its weight in gold. You’re getting excellent image stabilization, great build quality (but the lens hood did have its finish rubbed off a bit before the end of the review due to being tossed around in my camera bag) excellent sharpness, accurate focusing that doesn’t need microadjusting, and versatile color rendition.” — Read Our Full Review

Sure, its spendy, but if you are a fan of using a versatile zoom over a kit of prime lenses than the Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 VC for Canon is a great option as it covers most of the usual portrait focal lengths, combined with a sufficiently fast F/2.8 aperture, and VC.

Grab an Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC over on Amazon now for $1299.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC II review photos (10 of 15)

Tamron 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD review product photos (4 of 7)ISO 8001-50 sec at f - 5.0

In our official review we had the following to say about the Tamron 90mm f2.8 VC:

“The Tamron 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD lens is one that is rather interesting. It delivers the performance that many more expensive lenses will, but it does it at a very affordable price point. On top of this it also gives weather sealing, fast focusing, and great image quality. There isn’t much to complain about here.” — Read Our Full Review

Another killer option from Tamron, the 90mm F/2.8 offers some portrait photography performance while also doubling as a really good macro lens as well. It may not be as fast as an 85mm F/1.8, but it makes up for it in other areas and should very much be considered for anyone looking to add a lens in this range to their kit.

Grab an Tamron 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD over on Amazon now for $649.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 90mm f2.8 Di Vc USD portraits of Erica (1 of 2)ISO 1001-180 sec at f - 2.8

 

Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 35mm f1.4 L II vs Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art Product photos (2 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.0

In our official review we had the following to say about the Sigma 35mm F/1.4 Art:

“Overall, we can’t really say anything very terrible about the Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG. Even though it doesn’t have weather sealing, there are options out there that can do this for you. Otherwise, it has a wonderful build quality, eye-popping image quality, and is a relative speed demon when it comes to focusing.” — Read Our Full Review

This is the lens that started it all for Sigma, taking them from a brand that few gave much thought to being one of the biggest third-party lens manufacturers on the market right now. Even still, years later, this remains one of the best 35mm lens options for Canon and should be a consideration for sure if you don’t think the 35mm F/2 fits your needs.

Grab an Sigma 35mm F/1.4 Art now for $849.

Shot with the Sigma 35mm f1.4

Shot with the Sigma 35mm f1.4

Samyang/Rokinon 135mm F/2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Rokinon 135mm f2 review product photos (3 of 6)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

In our official review we had the following to say about the Rokinon 135mm F/2:

“The Rokinon 135mm f2 is a lens that belongs in the hands of every aspiring portrait photographer. It will teach you things about composition, focusing on details, being very careful with the elements of a scene, etc. ” — Read Our Full Review

Fans of the 135mm focal length will no doubt be happy to find a modern lens on this list here in the Samyang/Rokinon 135mm F/2. This is an absolutely stellar portrait lens for anyone that is comfortable with manual focus and that likes a little more compression than an 85mm can give.

Grab an Rokinon 135mm F/2 now for $498.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Rokinon 135mm f2 lens review portraits extras (1 of 3)ISO 8001-160 sec

Honorable Mentions

Here are some lenses that are also great choices, because lets be honest, one of the biggest advantages to Canon’s system is the variety and options, both brand name and third-party, many of which are great for portraiture. So here are a few more that we think are great portrait choices:

  • Canon’s 24-70mm F/2.8 II (review) – A great choice, but really spendy, for those that prefer the versatility of a Zoom lens. Buy One
  • Canon’s 35mm F/1.4L II (review) – The results are out and it does out perform Sigma’s 35mm offering, but at a hefty price premium, and not by much.  Buy One
  • Tamron’s 35mm F/1.8 (review) – Another good 35mm option, and does include VC. If the 35mm F/2 isn’t your jam but you don’t want to spend for a Sigma then this is a good choice.  Buy One

Obviously there are a ton of other good portrait options for Canon that we did not mention here, but we feel like this is a great list to get started on if you are looking to improve your Canon kit. Those of you on other systems stay tuned, we have already done Fuji and Micro Four Thirds, and we will be listing great portrait options for your systems soon!

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.