Bokeh Beasts: You’ll Fall in Love with These 135mm Lenses for Portraits

135mm lenses are unmatched when it comes to sharpness and the levels of bokeh they can produce.

There are lots of different lenses on the market that can be used for portrait photography, and, of course, each photographer has their own preference. Some photographers may prefer to use primes like a 35mm, a 50mm, or an 85mm, and some would prefer to use lenses like a 70-200mm f2.8, but what if we told you there is a Goldilocks lens when it comes to portraits? 135mm lenses are quite possibly the best lenses to use for portraits thanks to their unmatched sharpness, the amount of compression they can give, and of course, the gorgeous bokeh they can produce. After the break, we will take a look at seven 135mm lenses we think deserve a closer look.

Captured with the Rokinon 135mm f2

We have talked in the past about why we think 135mm lenses are perfect for portrait work, and we still believe it. 135mm lenses will help you create portraits you and your clients will love. The bokeh from these lenses is glorious, the images are sharp, all of the lenses produce spectacular colors, and the compression from 135m lenses will create incredibly flattering features on your model. 135mm lenses vary in price, but they are all amazing at what they do. If you want a specialty lens that will take your portraits to the next level, check out these seven gems below. 

Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

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

Buy now Canon EF: $1,399

Buy now Nikon F: $1,399

Buy now Sony E: $1,399

Fujifilm 90mm F2 R LM WR (135mm Equivalent)

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

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 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

Buy now: $949

Sony 135mm F1.8 G Master

135mm lenses - Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Preferred focal length for portraiture
  • Dust and moisture resistant
  • Sturdy magnesium alloy construction
  • Lighter than most 135mm lenses on the market

Cons

Buy now: $2,098

Captured with the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master

Pro Tip:: If you’re shooting portraits, you want to make sure your glass is as clean as possible before you get to your shoot location. For the absolute best images possible, make sure the front element is free of dirt, debris, water spots, grease, and fingerprints. The last thing you want is to spend additional hours in post removing blemishes when they could have quickly been taken care of before and during the shoot. Keep a basic lens cleaning kit with you at all times so you can clean as you go.

Olympus 75mm F1.8 Lens (140mm Equivalent)

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Feels great in the hand due to its size and heft
  • Near-instant focusing ability
  • Beautiful creamy and smooth bokeh
  • Ridiculously sharp images wide open

Cons

  • Honestly, nothing

Buy now: $799

Rokinon 135mm F2 ED UMC

135mm lenses - Rokinon 135mm f2

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Stunning image quality on every front
  • The very precise focusing ring

Cons

  • Kind of big, but that’s natural for a lens like this
  • Rokinon needs a new exterior. I’d pay extra for metal for sure

Buy now Canon EF: $549

Buy now Nikon F: $549

Buy now Pentax K: $429

Buy now Sony E: $549

Zeiss 135mm F2.8 Batis

135mm lenses - Zeiss 135mm f2.8 Batis

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Very sharp
  • Nice colors for those who love the more saturated look
  • Good feel to the lens overall
  • Weather sealing
  • Fast-focusing on all Sony a7 camera bodies no matter the generation

Cons

  • We would’ve liked something faster than f2.8

Buy now: $1,698

Captured with the Zeiss 135mm F2.8 Batis

Pro Tip: Portrait photography is a beautiful genre to practice. Being able to capture the essence of a person is a great thing. But sometimes knowing how to pose your subject can become a little troublesome. We all need help from time to time as we fall into creative ruts or just need some fresh ideas. This posing guide by Lindsay Adler is precisely what every portrait photographer needs. This Creative Live tutorial will walk you through all there is to know in regards to posing and directing, and how to get the best possible shots with every client. The best part is that it’s only $49! 

Zeiss 135mm F2 Milvus

135mm lenses - Zeiss Milvus f2

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Incredibly sharp
  • Weather sealed
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Fairly close focusing distance
  • Great feeling in the hand
  • Seems like it was designed for portraits and nothing more

Cons

  • As with all manual focus telephoto lenses, you’ll do best using a tripod with this lens attached to a camera
  • Price tag, though it’s truthfully justified

Buy now Canon EF: $2,199

Buy now Nikon F: $2,199