Wider Than 85mm. 3 Great Portrait Lenses For a Different Look

If there is one thing that’s often taught, it’s to not shoot portraits with anything wider than an 85mm lens. But honestly, that’s also changed in the past few years. Lenses as wide as 28mm are great for shooting portraits. And in their pursuit of clinical perfection, manufacturers have made portrait lenses more capable. Lucky for you, we dove into our Reviews Index to find some great ones. You’ll love these!

The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. 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 recommend gear that we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Pro tips for Choosing Portrait Lenses

Here are some pro tips for photographers choosing portrait lenses and what you should know:

  • 85mm lenses are the tradtional portrait lenses. But that’s changed for a while now. Wider angles have gotten better at supressing distortion. So portrait subjects just look better!
  • Face detection helps a whole lot when shooting with portrait lenses.
  • The portrait lenses we’re showcasing here have all been tested and reviewed by us. They’re super sturdy too. So you can always rely on them.
  • Bokeh isn’t everything. Sometimes there’s a lot that has to do with contrast, lens flare, softness, etc.
  • Keep your subject towards the center. And if anything, try to use an off-camera flash with a gel for more lively photos.

Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM: One of the Most Dreamy Portrait Lenses

For Portraits

“In terms of the autofocus speed, it is more than fast enough for most candid and portrait photography. In fact, extended testing makes me believe this lens to be on par with that of Sony’s fastest lenses.”

In our review, we also state:

“The reason why you’re most likely considering reading this review of the the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM is either because you’re interested in a purchase/switch over or you just want to find a reason why your current gear is superior. If I’m going to be very honest, the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM is the best 50mm lens that I’ve tested. I loathe the 50mm focal length. LOATHE IT! But with this lens, I feel like I’m shooting with a medium format 80mm f2 lens in the 645 format. It’s beautiful and in every single way, Canon is leading the way when it comes to 50mm focal lengths.”

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Leica 28mm f2 SL APO Summicron: Great for Fashion!

For Portraits

“Overall the lens has a bit of character to it. It doesn’t look incredibly clinical. In fact, if anything, it sort of reminds me of a Canon’s lens’s output. Again, it doesn’t look as clean, artificial, and manufactured as some lenses. But it also doesn’t boast any major traditional problems.”

In our review, we also state:

“What’s to hate about the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL’s image quality? Honestly, nothing. Leica’s colors are always outstanding. The bokeh from this lens is beautiful, and it also surely has a bit of character. On top of that, it’s an incredibly sharp lens.”

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Sony 35mm f1.4 G Master: One of the Most Impressive Portrait Lenses

For Portraits

“I had a surprisingly low miss rate when using this lens for portraits, including pet portraits. As a 35mm, I didn’t spend much time working with action. The moving subjects that I did capture had a slightly higher miss rate, which is expected, but the lens still offered solid performance.”

In our review, we also state:

“Overall, the Sony FE 35mm f1.4 GM is a joy to shoot with and easily manages to capture some excellent images. I can see Sony shooters loving this lens for portraits in tight spaces, the dim lighting of indoor photography, and the classic genres for this focal length, like street photography and landscapes.”

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Chris Gampat

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