Perfect Portrait: 4 Great Nikon Portrait Lenses Under $1,000

Portrait photography is no doubt one of the those niches 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 top budget oriented (aka sub-$1,000) portrait lenses for the Nikon 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-SeriesCanon’s EOS system, Sony E System, and will continue on to the other systems after we hit Nikon’s today.

Nikon 50mm F1.8G

Nikon’s 50mm F/1.8G is a lens every Nikon shooter should have in their bag, or at least had in their bag at one point. This nifty fifty is fast, has a decent build and image quality, and most importantly is available for a great price. In our review we said:

“Easy to use, overall ,this lens is very nice. Feature wise the Nikon 50mm 1.8G does not need much. Thankfully, the changes in this lens were also  not just cosmetic. This lens has been given more utility for DSLRs than its predecessor. It can be used on all FX and DX Nikon cameras.  While its slightly more expensive than its predecessor, it is worth the cost. It’s such a nice lens. It’s a lens that will never let you down.” — Read our full review // [amazon_textlink asin=’B004Y1AYAC’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’87ded129-04f3-11e7-8a0a-f9d03a3ffc62′]

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. 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’] 



Blinds can be a great tool to add some interest to your indoor natural light portraits. This only works during specific times of day, but when used correctly the effect can really make an image.

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 Nikon go it’s hard to argue against this one. Sure, the Nikon 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 Nikon is also a good 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′


Tamron 90mm F2.8


Yes, this lens is very close to the 85mm, but it is also way more versatile for some portrait shooters (maybe someone specializing in weddings). This lens is primarily a macro lens, but it also doubles as a really great portrait lens assuming you don’t need that F1.8 or better aperture. In our review we said:

“Honestly, it’s probably one of the best telephoto macro lenses out there and doubles its versatility as a portrait lens for most photographers. Doing it at this price point is just a total no-brainer too. If it were my choice to get this or the 85mm f1.8, I’d be hard pressed.” — Read our full review // [amazon_textlink asin=’B01C6CTT1K’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0383488b-04fa-11e7-9af2-0f9fab406fe3′]


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.