These Fantastic Prime Portrait Lenses Aren’t 85mm; You’ll Love Them

These portrait lenses are great; and they’re not necessarily an 85mm lens.

Most photographers seem to reach for 85mm lenses when it comes to their choice amongst portrait lenses. But some photographers genuinely need something longer or shorter at times and also much prefer prime lenses to many others out there. 85mm lenses are absolutely fantastic, but sometimes one needs more versatility. There are moments where you can surely use something longer and other moments where you’d want something shorter. We dove into our reviews index to find some of our favorites.

Why We Chose These Lenses

Ethically speaking, when we do feature lists like this we always only include products that we’ve reviewed and tested. Unlike other publications, if we have no experience with a product we won’t even bother listing it. Our testing often involves portraiture of some sort. So some of our favorite lenses are being chosen for this list.

Nikon 105mm f1.4 G ED E

Pros

  • Absolutely jaw dropping and incredible image quality
  • Nice build quality overall
  • Nikon is truly showing off innovation here
  • Weather sealing

Cons

  • That price point
  • Pretty big lens

In our review, we state:

“In our tests with the Nikon D810, the lens barely ever missed its focusing. Additionally, it’s quiet and fast to focus. These are both traits that photographers will love, just be sure to pre-select an autofocus point to make the entire process more straightforward.”

Buy Now $2,196: Amazon

7Artisans 50mm f1.1

Pros

  • Very beautiful bokeh
  • Stop the lens down just a bit and it will be tack sharp
  • Nice feeling in the hand
  • Works beautifully on M mount cameras and when attached to a Sony a7r III
  • This gorgeous lens flare
  • Fun to use
  • You get a rubber focus tab that you can paste on for yourself
  • Very affordable at $369

Cons

  • There are these empty screw holes on the focusing ring. I’m afraid of stuff getting in there in the long run

In our review, we state:

“Oh man, am I in love with this lens. Want that soft look? You can get it. Want that super sharp look? It’s got that. Want lens flare? Oh man, does this lens control it just right! The 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 surely has character to it. In the same way that I’ve always felt that Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses have a specific character to them, so too does this one. I don’t think that it’s meant to be 100% perfect but it’s surely gorgeous in every single way.”

Buy Now $369: Amazon

Sigma 135mm f1.8 Art

Pros

  • Sharp
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Fast autofocus
  • Not as contrasty, so better for skin tones
  • f1.8 aperture
  • Weather sealing
  • Not as heavy as the 85mm f1.4

Cons

  • Not a darn thing.

In our review, we state:

“The Sigma 135mm f1.8 DG HSM Art lens is really incredible when it comes to image quality. Like many of the other art lenses, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about. Bokeh? Oh man, do you have it. Sharpness? Yes. Colors? Well, that’s where some folks may be torn. Photographers that like the more muted colors will enjoy this lens a whole lot. But photographers that have come to admire Sigma’s saturation in many of their other lenses may not like this.”

Buy Now $1,179: Amazon

Tamron 90mm f2.8 USD VC DI II

Pros

  • Super sharp
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Consistently accurate focusing
  • Very close focusing abilities
  • Weather sealing
  • Fast focusing abilities

Cons

  • Makes weird noises when focusing and with the VC enabled, almost like an old school 386 computer…yes, before the Pentium processor.

In our review, we state:

“Essentially what you need to do is attach the lens to the front of the camera, point, shoot and enjoy. But if you’re a photographer working amongst other people you may sit there wondering what the heck that sound is when you’re trying to focus. It’s the vibration compensation–and it sounds like an old school compute from the 1990s starting up. With the press of a button, you’ll be transported to your mom’s basement where you spent hours playing Golden Axe or Prince of Persia on the PC. Luckily for you, no one else will really hear it–so know that you’re not going crazy accordingly.

If you’re working in the macro ranges, be sure to set that limit using the according switch on the camera. Otherwise, you’ll become frustrated to the point where you’ll just manually focus.”

Buy Now $649: Amazon

Sony 55mm f1.8 FE

Pros

  • Sharp images
  • Creamy bokeh
  • Weather-sealed
  • Smooth & large focusing ring

Cons

  • Lens hood adds a good amount of length to the front
  • No depth of field scale

In our review, we state:

“In a word, the bokeh is velvety. Wide open, this lens will give you desirable results, and that only gets better as you stop down. For the bokeh connoisseurs out there, this is the lens to get. The 35mm f2.8 will give you nice results, too, but that lens doesn’t have the benefit of the 55’s attributes, namely: focal length and aperture. Your subject will be in focus, and will be framed by seamless bokeh.”

Buy Now $998: Amazon

Fujifilm 60mm f2.4 R

Pros

  • Very sharp, though isn’t as sharp as the 35mm f1.4 despite what many folks say
  • Great color
  • Minimal distortion
  • Amazing feel in the hands

Cons

  • Slow to focus
  • Don’t focus as closely as Zeiss’s 50mm f2.8 Touit option

In our review, we state:

“Fujifilm’s 60mm f2.4 has very smooth and beautiful bokeh but it could have been made even better if the company decided to spring for an f2 lens option. We thoroughly enjoyed playing the the X Pro 1’s color profiles and looking at how they all helped to render the bokeh with its various colors.”

Buy Now $649: Amazon

Olympus 45mm f1.2 PRO

Pros

  • Fast F1.2 Aperture
  • Excellent manual focus control
  • Quick and accurate AF
  • Weather resistance
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • Price, you can get a lot more lens for the same money (or less) in other systems
  • Weight the lens is a substantial chunk of glass on most Micro Four Thirds cameras.

In our review, we state:

“On its own though, the image quality is outstanding, the performance is what you would expect from a professional lens of this price point and the images that you can create with it will be gorgeous. Similarly, with respect to how we have been talking about how no one really makes a bad camera these days, that argument is a little shakier on the lens side of things. But this lens is excellent. If you do decide to go ahead and pick one up you will not be disappointed.”

Buy Now $1,199: Amazon