6 Top Third Party Portrait Lenses Under $1000

Yes, brand name lenses are great, and have the advantage of being guaranteed to work flawlessly on cameras of that same brand. But third party lens manufacturers, especially in recent years have been coming out with some really killer options of their own. The quality bar has been raised and for most of the bigger established third party brands, quality control and performance issues are mostly things of the past.

So continuing with our Portrait theme for August, today we are going to go over some of our favorite third-party portrait lenses for under $1000.

As with the other listings these are not in any particular order, just listed out as some of  our favorites. 

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

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. This third party lens comes in Canon, Nikon, and Sony A mounts.

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 (28 of 29)ISO 2001-1600 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, and both Canon and Nikon shooters love it for its image quality, sharpness and build quality with a very reasonable price tag. This third party lens comes in Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony A mounts.

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 (26 of 84)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 5.0

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. This third party lens comes in Canon, and Nikon mounts.

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

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. This third party lens comes in virtually every lens mount used on modern cameras including: Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Pentax, Samsung, Micro Four Thirds, as well as Sony E and Sony A mounts.

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

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Rokinon 135mm f2 portraits of Bec (4 of 4)ISO 4001-50 sec

Samyang/Rokinon 50mm F/1.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 50mm f1.2 product images (4 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

In our official review we had the following to say about the Samyang/Rokinon 50mm F/1.2:

“This lens is designed for cameras with an APS-C sensor or smaller, and so it’s a perfect portrait focal length for many shooters. With nine aperture blades and stunning image quality as Samyang has always delivered, there is very little to complain about with this lens–except that it may be too good. ” — Read Our Full Review

Full Frame shooters, hide your eyes, this lens is for crop sensor cameras only. But for you crop shooters out there, you will be hardpressed to find a better third-part 50mm F/1.2 lens on the market, especially for this price – it is honestly a little nuts. This third party lens comes in lens mounts including: Canon EF-M, Fujifilm, Micro Four Thirds, as well as Sony E.

Grab an Rokinon 50mm F/1.2 now for $504.

Model: Evelyn Devere

Sigma 50mm F/1.4 Art

Chris GampatThe Phoblographer Sigma 50mm f1.4 lenses (3 of 3)ISO 2001-60 sec at f - 4.0

In our official review we had the following to say about the Sigma 50mm F/1.2 Art:

“Sigma’s 50mm f1.4 Art 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

Ok, full framers, you can look again. The Sigam 50mm F/1.4, as many of you likely already know, is an absolute beast of a 50mm lens, short of the Zeiss Otus likely the best 50mm on the market. It’s available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony A.

Grab an Sigma 50mm F/1.4 Art now for $899.

For tight portrait photos, getting more emphasis on the eyes can be as simple as bouncing a flash off of a wall at times.

What are your thoughts? What are your favorite third-party portrait lenses under $1000?

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.