Improve Your APS-C Portrait Photography with These Outstanding Lenses

You don’t have to own a Full Frame camera to create stunning portrait photography.

There has been a long standing myth around APS-C cameras and portrait photography. Many will have you believe that in order to be considered a pro, or for you to be taken seriously as a portrait photographer, you need to own a Full Frame camera. This simply isn’t true. APS-C cameras are more than capable of taking stunning portraits, and their ability to capture stunning images goes through the roof when you use them with top quality glass. The lenses we have chosen here will take your portrait photography to another level. In fact, the results will be so good no one will ever know you’re using a crop sensor camera.

Editor’s Note: We know some of these lenses are full frame–but they’re still awesome on APS-C cameras.

Portrait photography really requires you to use fast glass. Fast aperture lenses will allow you to work in all lighting conditions, and wide apertures will allow you to create gorgeous bokeh, which as we know is really quite important if you want your subject to pop out of the background. We have chosen a variety of 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses that will really help you get the results you desire.

Keep in mind the crop factor of your camera though (Nikon x1.5, Sony x1.5, Fujifilm x1.5, and Canon x1.6). 35mm lenses on a crop body will be more akin to a 50mm. A 50mm lens will act more like a 80mm/85mm, and a 85mm will be like using a 135mm lens. All of these focal lengths are perfect for portrait photography.

 

Sigma 50mm F1.4

 

Pros

  • Incredibly sharp lens
  • Great build quality and feel
  • Fast focusing
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Nice saturation of colors

Cons

  • Everyone and their mother is going to compare it to the Zeiss 55mm f1.4 Otus. It’s not really a comparable lens and this isn’t fair due to the price point and the fact that if someone wants Zeiss glass, they’re going to go for it no matter what.
  • Pretty large for a 50mm f1.4, but all the new 50mm lenses that have been coming out are also quite big.

Check out our full review

Buy now Canon($718.19): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($716.89): Amazon

 

Fujifilm 50mm F2 R WR

 

Pros

  • It’s $449
  • Weather sealing
  • Fast autofocus performance on the newer cameras (sorry X Pro 1 users)
  • Sharp optics and image quality
  • Nice bokeh
  • Only gets sharper when you use a flash
  • Pretty compact
  • Nice build quality

Cons

  • Not much, honestly

Check out our full review

Buy now ($449): Amazon

 

portrait photography

Pro Tip: If you use flash in your portrait photography workflow you need to be able to control the light as much as possible. With an accessory like the Rogue Flashbender 2 you can manipulate the light and place it exactly where you need it with ease. The Rogue Flashbender 2 simply attaches to your flash with Velcro, and you can bend and shape the head in any way you see fit. You will see dramatic improvements in your portrait photography, and you won’t break the bank either.

 

Fujfiilm 90mm F2 R LM WR

 

portrait photography

Pros

  • Superb image quality
  • Weather sealing
  • Great bokeh
  • Very sharp image quality
  • Makes great use of Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome and Astia film renderings
  • Well balanced with both the X Pro 1 and the X-T1
  • Lightweight lens
  • The focusing ring feels really big and beefy
  • Surprisingly fast and accurate focusing
  • Pretty much no distortion
  • Perhaps the single best portrait lens that Fujifilm has made for the X series camera system–even better than the 56mm f1.2.

Cons

  • Fujifilm’s largest prime lens to date of publishing this review
  • No image stabilization

Check out our full review

Buy now ($699): Amazon

 

 

Tamron 90mm F2.8 Di VC USD

 

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.

Check out our full review

Buy now Canon ($649): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($649): Amazon

 

 

portrait photography

Pro Tip: Need a little help when it comes to posing your models or couples? Fear not! We all need a little inspiration from time to time. Fortunately there are a lot of guides that can help you create the perfect poses and get the right expressions from your models. This guide is not only super affordable, it is filled to brim with hints, tips, and poses that will help you create portraits your clients will love.

 

Rokinon 35mm F2.8

 

portrait photography

Pros

  • Sharp image quality
  • Good bokeh
  • Focuses pretty much as closely as the Sony version. It isn’t as accurate in low lighting or as fast though.
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Weather sealing would have been nice but I understand why it isn’t there
  • Focus motors can be a bit loud at times with later cameras

Check out our full review

Buy now ($299): Amazon

 

Rokinon/Samyang 50mm F1.2

 

Pros

  • Very, very sharp image delivery
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Smooth focusing ring
  • Lightweight design
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • I really think that it’s time for Rokinon and Samyang to give their lenses a metal body/exterior

Check out our full review

Buy now Fujifilm ($399): Amazon

Buy now Sony E ($447.79): Amazon

Buy now Canon M $401.41): Amazon

 

 

portrait photography

Pro Tip: Before you head off to your portrait photography session make absolutely sure that your lenses are in pristine condition. The last thing you want to have to do is spend a ton of time in post removing dirt and water spots from your images. Keep an affordable lens cleaning kit in your camera bag at all times. This way you can use it to clean your lenses before you head out of the door, and you can clean away any dirt, grease, and grime while you’re on location too.

 

Sony 85mm F1.8 FE

 

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Fast focusing with the Sony a7r II and in good lighting it will focus quickly with the Sony a7
  • Nice feel. though not as great as the G Master 85mm f1.4 lens.
  • Weather resistance built in
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Honestly, not a darn thing

Check out our full review

Buy now ($573): Amazon

 

Sony 50mm F1.8

 

Pros

  • Pretty decent image quality
  • Affordable
  • Small
  • Fast to focus in good lighting

Cons

  • Autofocus in low lighting even with the a7r II is very slow.
  • Autofocus is a bit louder than I’d personally like, though it’s still pretty quiet in real life use.

Check out our full review

Buy now ($223): Amazon