Cast a Spell! 3 Lenses for Natural Light Portrait Photography Magic!

There’s a bit of wizardry going on with these lenses.

No one can deny that corny, romantic feeling that you get around the golden hour. If you’re a natural light portrait photographer, you know that it’s one of the best times for it. Everything naturally looks better as the world turns from golden to blue. To that end, certain lenses and cameras are just better at helping you capture and create that magic moment. Essentially, it’s all about color and light. So we dove into our Reviews Index to round up some of our favorite lenses.

The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house by the staff. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only ever recommend gear that we’ve done full, thorough reviews with. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance that it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it at all. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge.

Pro Tips for Shooting Your Best Natural Light Portrait

  • Face detection and Body Tracking: Activate this mode. It’s going to make shooting portraits so much easier for you. Combine this with continuous autofocus.
  • White Balance: Typically, we tell everyone to work with 5500K Daylight or 3200K Tungsten. But you’re also welcome to leave it to however you wish. However, our settings will help the colors stand out from one another much better.
  • Get an idea or a theme. Our favorite place to curate storyboards is Behance. If you have an Adobe account, just log in with those credentials. 
  • Backlight your subjects. This is how you’ll get beautiful lens flare that you’ll be absolutely enamored with.
  • Start off at ISO 400. But by the end of it all, you’ll probably be shooting at ISO 1600.
  • Go for contrasting colors. There should be three primary ones: their skin tone, their outfit, and the background area. Each of these should be discerning enough from one another.

Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL ASPH: Environmental Portraits

Cast Your Spell: The Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL ASPH is fantastic for its fast autofocus speed. If you’re the type of photographer who likes fast-paced shoots, then choose this lens. Leica put some of their fastest autofocus motors in the 28mm f2. On the Leica SL2-s, this lens will focus fastest thanks to the new firmware. Combine that with face and body detection, and you’ll always have your subject in focus. The speed is just really that good. Since this is a wider lens, don’t get in close for headshots. Shoot wider portraits instead.

In our review, we state:

“…by all means, the bokeh is delicious due to the closer focusing. However, I still want more as I think this is good but not incredibly fantastic. To date, there also are no 28mm f1.4 lenses for contemporary mirrorless cameras. Considering this, the bokeh is still wonderful for a mirrorless camera. When a 28mm f1.4 hits the market, things are going to change.”

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Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux SL: A Standard Natural Light Portrait Lens

Cast Your Spell: The Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux SL is a big lens that’s also big on image quality. There’s a lot of great things to say. It’s sharp. There’s nice bokeh. The colors are beautiful in various conditions. Honestly, it’s hard to create bad photos with it. This is what’s considered a normal focal length. So you can get a bit closer with this than you can with the 28mm. 

In our review, we state:

“Typically, what we do is lock the white balance to Daylight, Tungsten, or auto. And, no matter what, you’re going to find workable colors that will be very nice. Ideally, you’re working with a high megapixel body, and the color depth will be even better. Again, in terms of portrait photography, one really just needs to choose the right colors in the scene and light it up. Then you’ll get a photo you’ll be very proud of.”

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Leica 75mm f2 Summicron SL: The Classic

Cast Your Spell: The truly wonderful thing about the Leica 75mm f2 SL Summicron is the focal length itself. It’s sort of unusual unless you’ve shot APS-C format or Leica M mount lenses. But that’s also part of the charm. It’s incredibly sharp and has wonderful bokeh. In fact, of any lens on this list, it has some of our favorite image quality. Here’s a quick tip! This lens controls flare very well. But if you want that lens character, just take the lens hood off and shoot a backlit subject.

In our review, we state:

“The Leica 75mm f2 SL has SPECTACULAR image quality. Part of this is because of just how versatile this lens is. However, there’s a lot to really like about the Leica 75mm f2 SL. It’s got nice bokeh, is sharp, really beautiful colors, and there are no optical issues with it. Best of all, it’s an odd focal length. So, it means you’re working in a different way. But at the same time, it’s not that unusual of an optic.”

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Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored blog post from Leica. Come see why photographers fall in love more and more with their lenses.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.