Perfect Portraits: 4 Budget Portrait Lenses For the Canon EOS System under $1,000

Portrait photography is no doubt one of the those niches of photography that attracts many new photographers to the industry, both as hobbyists and professionals–and finding budget friendly portrait lenses can be tough. That said, the overwhelming majority simply doesn’t have the budget to spend on top class professional portrait lenses, so today we are taking a look at some of the best budget oriented portrait lenses for the Canon EOS System.

If you have another camera system no worries, we will be following this up with budget portrait lens roundups for other systems as well. Previously we have looked at Fujifilm’s X-Series, and will continue on to the other systems after we hit Canon today.

Tamron SP 35mm F1.8


If you are into a more lifestyle look, or you do a lot of environmental portraiture, then the 35mm focal length is likely one you will enjoy and use quite a bit. Tamron’s offering here is not the cheapest, but it falls well under our $1,000 price limit and so we wanted to include it here. We honestly feel like this is an incredible option for the price, featuring fast aperture and image stabilization. In our review we said:

“It just feels so soft and elegant, yet I know for a fact that it can take a beating. 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” — Read our full review // [amazon_textlink asin=’B014ULAF0O’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’30372605-035a-11e7-b7dc-798b6a56406a’] 

Canon 50mm F1.8 STM


50mm is a pretty common portrait focal length for wider, more environmental portraiture than something like an 85mm on a full frame body or as an 85mm equivalent on an EF-S body. The new Canon 50mm F1.8 is without a doubt one of the best deals for a portrait ready lens in the Canon system right now. In our review we said:

“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 // [amazon_textlink asin=’B00X8MRBCW’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c8717c89-035a-11e7-903e-3f7512081d9a’]


Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens review sample images (30 of 35)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 2.0

Shooting wide open on most lenses can produce some color fringing. Except in the most extreme of circumstances, this is not something to be worried about as it can and should be fixed in post-production in a few seconds.

Tamron 85mm F1.8


This lens definitely comes close to our $1,000 budget lens cutoff point, but as far as budget 85mm lenses for Canon go it’s hard to argue against this one. Sure, the Canon model is a little cheaper, but the Tamron gives you weather sealing, a better build quality, and image stabilization. If you can stretch for this one we recommend it. If not, the Canon is also a good (if old) choice. In our review we said:

“The Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD is very, very great. It’s under $1,000 and you get a load of awesome things in this small package. This lens has sharp image quality, fast autofocusing, great bokeh, a unique look to its contrast and saturation and best of all you’ll get weather sealing. It’s lightweight and can do well in the hands of amateurs, enthusiasts, semi-professionals and professionals alike.” — Read our full review // [amazon_textlink asin=’B01CIXJLI8′ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f3238dac-035b-11e7-ba3a-591bf08ab314′]

Pro Tip:

When photographing people, pay careful attention to things like a higher shoulder, how they shift their hips, and the height of their chin in relation to the camera lens.

Rokinon 135mm F2


The 135mm focal length is a longtime favorite for many portrait photographers and this Rokinon version is an absolute joy to use. Sure, you give up AF, but for the price you will be hard pressed to find a better modern budget 135mm lens for some seriously amazing portraits. In our review we said:

“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. Plus, it’s pretty affordable at $549. It’s a beautiful lens and it’s highly capable of delivering beautiful images.” — Read our full review // [amazon_textlink asin=’B00T48CE7G’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8c425a9a-035d-11e7-80ed-ade1072694fc’]



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.