The Best 85mm Lenses for Pro Portrait Photographers (That Bokeh!)

85mm is the sweet spot for portrait photographers, and these 85mm prime lenses are some of the best around.

There are lots of lenses on the market that are considered portrait lenses, but the 85mm focal length is perhaps the sweet spot for portrait photographers. This focal length sits nicely between 50mm and 135mm offerings, and it gives photographers the ability to either capture great 3/4 length shots, or beautiful headshots. The 85mm prime lenses we have listed after the break are some of our favorites across multiple platforms: we’re sure portrait photographers everywhere, whether new to the genre or well decorated, will love the performance of them.

Captured with the Fujifilm X-T3 and the 56mm f1.2

The 85mm focal length is considered one of the best for portraits for many reasons. While 50mm lenses are great for full body shots, and 135mm primes are great for headshots, 85mm primes sit in the sweet spot between the two. The 85mm focal length provides enough compression to create flattering portraits, and their wide apertures will create some gorgeous bokeh without much effort on your part. We have listed 85mm primes here that should cover budgets for almost all portrait photographers, but regardless of price, know that all of the lenses on this list will help you create some seriously stunning images. Check out nine of our favorite 85mm primes for portrait photographers below.

 

Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2 (85mm Equivalent)

 

Panasoninc 42.5 f1.2 for portrait photographers

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Super sharp wide open. It’s the sharpest that we’ve ever tested for the system
  • Beautiful build quality
  • Nice aperture ring
  • Fast to focus

Cons

  • Aperture ring control only works with Panasonic cameras
  • Expensive
  • Not the smartest focusing with Olympus cameras

Buy now ($1,397.99): Adorama

 

Fujifilm 56mm F1.2 (85mm Equivalent)

 

Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 for Portrait Photographers

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Super sharp wide open
  • Excellent resolution and sharpness when studio lighting is used with it
  • Dreamy bokeh
  • Great feel in the hand
  • In good to fair light, its focusing abilities are about as fast as the company’s 35mm f1.4 offering
  • Almost no reason to stop it down, and you’ll be encouraged to shoot wide open

Cons

  • Even though it is an f1.2 lens, we wish the aperture were faster
  • Misfocusing happens a bit more than we’d like in low light situations
  • Fairly expensive
  • Color rendition from the 35mm f1.4 is a tad better

Buy now ($899): Adorama

 

Rokinon 85mm F1.4 AF FE

 

Rokinon 85mm f1.4 for Portrait Photographers

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • More affordable than Sony’s higher-end option
  • Good image quality
  • Smooth bokeh
  • Sharp image quality
  • Nice colors

Cons

  • Lacks weather sealing. Editor’s Note: Rokinon has updated their specs to say that there is weather sealing

Buy now Canon EF ($599): Adorama

Buy now  Nikon F ($649): Adorama

Buy now Sony E ($699): Adorama

 

Portrait Photographers

Captured with the Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Milvus

Pro tip: Whether you’re a new portrait photographer, or you’ve been around the block a few times, sometimes it can just be hard to come up with poses that will compliment your subject well. The last thing we want to do is hand over sub-par work. Even the best lenses won’t make up for poor direction given to your models. This guide from Lindsay Adler will teach you how to get the most from each portrait session you hold. You’ll learn how to communicate, pose, and make every part of the body look amazing in all of your shots. This guide is definitely a must-have for portrait photographers.

 

Sony 85mm F1.8 FE

 

weather sealed primes

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

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

Buy now ($598): Adorama

 

Tamron 85mm F1.8 Di VC USD

 

portrait lenses

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Super sharp image quality
  • No focusing issues with the Canon 6D or other Canon SLR cameras
  • Fast-focusing
  • Weather sealing
  • Nice feel in the hand
  • Vibration compensation built-in is a godsend
  • Fantastic color
  • A unique look that makes everything seem like it’s got quite a bit of Clarity in Lightroom increased.
  • Beautiful bokeh

Cons

  • Quite honestly, not a single thing is wrong with this lens

Buy now Canon EF ($749): Adorama

Buy now Nikon F ($749): Adorama

 

Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • A bit of weather sealing, though not much
  • Superb sharpness
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Lots of micro-contrast

Cons

  • It’s massive

Buy now Canon EF ($1,199): Adorama

Buy now Nikon F ($1,199): Adorama

Buy now Sony E ($1,199): Adorama

 

Portrait Photographers

Pro Tip: Shooting great portraits is one thing, but being able to edit them properly is entirely different. What our clients don’t know is that we spend hours in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Capture One, making the images look the best they possibly can. We have to do everything from touching up the skin to retouching the eyes, and of course, we also have to make fine adjustments to make them picture-perfect. Fortunately, there are now tools available that cost very little to aid with our workload in post. This collection of retouching tools will enable you to make all of the corrections needed in record time, which means you can be out and about shooting again much quicker. Portrait photographers should really see what this collection is all about.

 

Canon 85mm F1.4 L IS USM

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Sharp
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • With the adapter and the Canon EOS R’s eye detection autofocus, it’s so efficient to use
  • Weather sealed

Cons

  • It’s $1,499

Buy now ($1,499): Adorama

 

Sony 85mm F1.4 G Master

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • 11 Aperture blades are the most of any autofocus portrait lens made so far
  • Big, but very balanced with the Sony a7
  • Aperture control around the lens is nice
  • Fast autofocus performance
  • Nice color rendition for portraiture
  • The best bokeh of any 85mm lens we’ve tested.
  • Weather sealing
  • Wonderful for skin tones

Cons

  • Expensive

Buy now ($1,798): Adorama

 

Zeiss 85mm F1.4 Milvus

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Only a hair less sharp than the 85mm f1.4 Otus
  • Weather sealing
  • Great feeling in the hand
  • Wonderful, wonderful colors though a bit too saturated for skin tones
  • Zero color fringing

Cons

  • Long focus throw makes focusing very precise
  • Quite expensive

Buy now Canon EF ($1,799): Adorama

Buy now Nikon F ($1,799): Adorama