5 Irresistible Portrait Lenses for Nikon DSLR Photographers

Beyond Canon there probably isn’t a more well known photography brand than Nikon, the big two have been dukeing it out in this field for decades. We have already covered Canon’s portrait lenses, so today we take a look at Nikon and share our picks for some of our favorite portrait lenses in the Nikon F mount.

Before get started, I would like to note though that these lenses are not in any particular order, this isn’t a ranking or stat sheet, it’s just meant to provide some good direction for Nikon shooters who are looking into portrait options. So lets jump right into it, shall we?

Nikon 85mm F1.8 G


In our in-progress review we had the following to say about the Nikon 85mm F1.8 G:

“The Nikon 85mm f1.8 G is a modern update to an old lens, and Nikon indeed did a fantastic job with it. For the price, it is very sharp, fast focusing in most situations, silent, and built extremely well. As a budget level lens, it is really hard to beat except by perhaps Rokinon’s 85mm f1.4; but that doesn’t have autofocus at all.”Read Our Full Review Here

85mm is one of those classic portrait lenses and Nikon’s 85mm F/1.8 is one of the best, especially when you add price to performance into the equation. It’s fast, sharp, quiet, and offers and incredible value to those just getting into portraiture that can honestly last them for a long time..

Grab an Nikon 85mm F/1.8 over on Amazon now for $476.


Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 35mm f1.8 Di VC product images (5 of 5)ISO 1001-800 sec at f - 2.0

In our in-progress review we had the following to say about the Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8:

“This lens has weather sealing and at a $599 price point, who can beat that for a DSLR lens? Beyond this, the lens has incredible color quality, beautiful bokeh that will make you want to shoot wide open all day; until you realize that the lens is softer than most wide open and you’ll have fringing issues that you’ll need to eliminate in post. I don’t usually complain about stuff like this as I always de-fringe my images anyway, but it’s not something that we’ve come to expect in this day and age.”Read Our Full Review Here

We love it for Canon, on Nikon it is no different. The Tamron 35mm F/1.8 is honestly one of our favorite 35mm options for DSLR shooters, especially given the price point. Weather Sealing, Image Stabilization, killer build quality – its hard to be, and that is before the incredibly affordable price is taken into account.

Grab an Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8 over on Amazon now for $599.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 35mm f1.8 Di VC review photos (14 of 29)ISO 1001-50 sec at f - 1.8

Sigma 35mm F/1.4 ART

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sigma 35mm f1.4 product photos (3 of 6)ISO 100


In our in-progress review we had the following to say about the Sigma 35mm F/1.4 ART:

“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 Here

Sigma’s 35mm F/1.4 has become a standard for portrait and wedding photographers since its introduction, Canon has answered the challenge with their latest 35mm F/1.4, but Nikon as of yet has not really answered back, leaving the Sigma as a pretty clear choice if you want a 35mm lens faster than F/1.8.

Grab an Sigma 35mm F/1.4 ART over on Amazon now for $859.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer NYCC New York Comic Con 2013 exports (42 of 84)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 5.6

Nikon 58mm F/1.4G

Nikon 58mm f1.4G GServo-20131231-0041-2

In our in-progress review we had the following to say about the Nikon 58mm F/1.4G:

“Nikon has made some truly innovative lenses in the past, but this is not one of them. It seems to be an alternative to a much more expensive lens, and it’s a smart move. It does make a decent lower cost alternative to the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4. The Nikon 58mm f1.4G is a great low light portrait lens that is more than capable of doing a great job. Working with the lens was a positive experience for me.”Read Our Full Review Here

It is certainly not going to win you many price to performance comparisons, but the Nikon 58mm F/1.4G is one of the most beautiful portrait lenses available on the F Mount right now – if you have the money for one, we can’t recommend it enough. If your budget is a concern though, other options exist in this range that are worth considering as well.

Grab an Nikon 58mm F/1.4G over on Amazon now for $1596.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G Lens GServo-20131218-0549-2

Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 E VR

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G review product images (3 of 5)ISO 5001-125 sec at f - 4.0

In our in-progress review we had the following to say about the Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 E VR :

“The Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 E ED VR II receives 5 out of 5 stars. If you’re a Nikon DSLR owner, then there is a lot that will make the 24-70mm E VR II appeal to you. It’s got solid image quality all around, though not as good a what Tokina can give you. It’s got VR, but so does Tamron. Granted, it has better image stabilization than Tamron’s version. So it’s all a mixed bag here. I can totally see how a photographer would reach for the Nikon. Indeed, what I’m most excited about here is that Nikon listened to their customers and gave it VR. It just makes a whole lot of sense here.”Read Our Full Review Here

Not everyone is a fan of using primes, and in some situations they just aren’t feasible, and for those people an F/2.8 24-70mm is a great way to go for portraits. Nikon’s latest model is an absolutely beast that also includes VR, another advantage over most other 24-70mm lenses. If you need a budget option for this the Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 is cheaper and still has great performance.

Grab an Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 E VR over on Amazon now for $2396

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G VR sample photos (22 of 42)ISO 1001-100 sec at f - 2.8

Honorable Mention

There are a ton of great options for Nikon portrait shooters out there, our choices above are really just a selection of our favorites. These ones below are great options as well, that just didn’t quite make the cut for our main list above:

Stay tuned for more portrait lens roundups as we continue our jaunt through the major camera systems as we focus on Portraiture this month.

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.