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The Best Canon Lens For Portraits in 2024

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Canon is one of the leaders in the world of photography. The brand has been releasing cameras and accessories that make it easier for photographers to immortalize sceneries and the people they encounter. It is no wonder many professional photographers pick many of its products for their own use.

Lenses from the Japanese brand know that limitations hinder the ability of photographers. It is the reason behind its continuous efforts to break the barriers that hinder professionals and amateurs from delivering quality work. In recent years, the Japanese brand strives to incorporate more of the latest available technology in their cameras and accessories to provide the magic that only Canon only knows how to deliver.

Quick Review: Which Canon Lens is Best for Portraits

Best Overall Canon Lens for Portrait Photography

Canon EF 24–105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Canon EF 24–105mm f/4L is II USM Lens, Black - 1380C002

Four Stars

  • This Canon lens comes with a new optical design that brings a significant upgrade in peripheral brightness. It now comes with 17 elements in 12 groups that include four glass-molded aspherical lenses.
  • It also comes with a high-performance zoom lens with constant f/4L aperture and a broad angle of view.
  • It is also a must-have for photographers looking to improve on flaring and ghosting in their portraits. The reduction is made possible by the Air Sphere Coating (ASF) integrated into the lens. The ASF works by putting an ultra-low refractive layer on the element of the lens.
  • The EF 24-105mm also gives photographers greater control even in AF Mode with just a twist of the lens’s focus ring. It is a great feature especially for photographers who prefers to also work on videos and compose still images on their camera’s screen.

Best Budget Canon Lens for Portrait Photography

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM: Nifty Fifty EF 50 mm f/1.8 Stepper Motor Full Frame Prime Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Five Stars

  • This lens is the third-generation of the brand’s best-selling EF 50mm f/1.8 series lens. This comes with improvements including a lens construction composed of six elements in five groups and a seven-blade aperture. Its design also comes with a redeveloped physical form with a metal lens mount for increased durability.
  • The EF 50mm f1.8 STM is hailed by photographers as a great investment due to its ability to produce great quality photos. It also does not hurt that this bundle comes with all the essentials for your lens including a rear lens cap, multicoated glass UV protective filter, and a lens dust pen.
  • It is also compatible with a wide range of cameras including Canon EOD 1D X, Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon EOS C300 Mark II, and the Panasonic AU-EVA1.

Best Prime Canon Lens for Portrait Photography

Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM Lens

Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras - Fixed

Five Stars

  • Photographers looking for a lens that performs well in a low light condition should seriously consider the EF 88mm f1.2L II USM lens.
  • It offers photographers several benefits including fast & quiet autofocus, Super Spectra coating, and a circular aperture for smooth background bokeh.
  • The medium telephoto lens uses a ring-type USM, high-speed CPU, and optimized algorithms to provide autofocus speeds of about 1.8x faster than the original. It also comes with a floating optical system that helps in suppressing aberrations and makes sure to give excellent images.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed

Five Stars

  • The EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM lens is the older generation of the previous Canon lens. This lens comes with an ultra-large aperture to produce a narrow depth of field and soft background blur.
  • This lens is known for its bright maximum aperture and key feature elements like one aspherical element, Super Spectra coating, and EF-mount lens/full-frame format.
  • The Super Spectra coating found in this lens helps reduce ghosting and flaring to offer greater contrast and color neutrality.
  • Like most of those in Canon’s L series of lenses, this one also comes with a seal protecting it against dust and moisture.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens (International Model) No Warranty

Four Stars

  • The EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens is a wide-angle prime lens with an f/1.4 maximum aperture that makes it possible to take photographs even in low-light environments.
  • This lens is also great at reducing flares and ghosting with its Sub Wavelength Coating. It also delivers fast, precise, and quiet autofocus with the incorporated ring-type Ultrasonic Motor.
  • Canon also included several technologies to safeguard the lens. The EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM is sealed against dust and moisture. It is as well resistant to smudges and fingerprints with its fluorine coating.
  • It is among the recommended lenses by photographers for those into landscape, portrait, and close-up photography due to its ability to produce clear pictures and its resolving power.

Best Alternative Prime Lens for Portrait Photography

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF (321954)

Five Stars

  • This lens is a great alternative to a Canon lens. It is one of the best portrait prime lenses available in the market. It comes with a high-performance optic and a large f/1.4 aperture.
  • The 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM is part of the brand’s Global Vision series. It means that this lens comes with a design capable of achieving true notable optical performance and can deliver the expectations of photographers and other creatives.
  • The lens features two SLD elements including one with a high rate with an anomalous partial dispersion and a high index of refraction while the other comes with an aspherical element that corrects for chromatic aberrations.
  • This Sigma lens also comes with an integrated Hyper Sonic Motor that does not only provide quiet focusing but also allows full-time manual focusing.

Tamron SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD Lens

Tamron AFF016C700 SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD Lens (Black)

Four Stars

  • The SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens comes with an ideal focal length for portraits. This Lens from Tamron is compatible with Canon’s EF-mount DSLR and can also work with APS-C models where it will provide a 136mm equivalent focal length.
  • The lens features both low dispersion (LD) and extra-low dispersion (XLD) glass elements that are incorporated into 13 elements, nine groups optical design.
  • This Tamron lens was also designed with eBRAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coatings that reduce surface reflections, flares, and ghosting.
  • It is also capable of more consistent exposure results, especially at higher continuous shooting rates due to its electromagnetic diaphragm system.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens

Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon, Black, 3.7 x 3.03 x 3.03 (340101)

Four Stars

  • The 35mm f/1.4 Art DG HSM lens is an optically advance wide-angle prime lens from Sigma. It is known for its comfortable focal length and its fast design.
  • The lens features f/1.4 maximum aperture that is impressively bright that performs well in low light conditions and gives greater control over focus position.
  • h two aspherical elements that reduce distortions and spherical aberrations, as well as a rounded nine-blade diaphragm that enables it to produce smooth and pleasing bokeh.
  • Like all in Sigma’s Global Vision series, the 35mm f/1.4 Art integrates a floating elements system that produces consistent optical performance throughout the focus range.

Best Wide-angle Canon Lens for Portrait Photography

Best Zoom Wide-angle Canon Lenses for Portrait Photography

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L is USM Lens - 9518B002, Black

Five Stars

  • This lens stands out against others in its product range with its advanced optical design, constant f/4 maximum aperture, and its image stabilization technology that delivers sharp imagery.
  • This Canon lens is also a wide-angle zoom lens that comes with a four-stop-effective Image Stabilizer system to minimizes the appearance of camera shake.
  • It also features three aspherical elements to reduce spherical aberrations and distortions, as well as Super Spectra coating to minimize ghosting and flare.
  • For portrait photographers, the lens offers a rounded nine-blade diaphragm that allows the use of shallow depth of field and selective focus techniques.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for SLR Cameras

Four Stars

  • The EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom lens is perfect for those who shoots on both film and digital cameras. This lens comes with features most needed by any kind of photographer.
  • The lens comes with three aspherical elements to reduce spherical aberrations and distortions to deliver sharpness and accurate rendering.
  • It also features Super Ultra-Low Dispersion glass element that contributes to lowering color fringing and chromatic aberrations.
  • This Canon lens also comes with the ability to deliver fast, precise, and quiet autofocus performance on top of full-time manual focus override.
  • Aside from all these benefits, the EF 17-40mm f/4L also incorporates technologies making it weather-resistant.

Best Telephoto Zoom Canon Lenses for Portrait Photography

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, White - 3044C002

Four Stars

  • This one combines Canon’s Air Sphere Coating technology and the lens’s constant f/2.8 maximum aperture to deliver great looking photographs. This combination makes for a perfect telephoto zoom lens as it reduces lens flare and ghosting.
  • The lens also features a fast and near-silent Auto Focus (AF) system that guarantees to not disturb your subject while still delivering precise, fast performance made possible by its inner focusing ring USM and high-speed CPU and AF algorithms.
  • The lens also comes with a rounded eight-blade diaphragm that helps with focus quality to come up with a better shallow depth of field and selective focus technique.
  • The lens is also weather-resistant that makes it ideal for use in any kind of environment, may it be dusty, rainy and moisture.

Best Alternative Telephoto Lens for Portrait Photography

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 for Canon EF DSLR

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 for Canon EF DSLR (6 Year Limited USA Warranty for New Lenses Only)

Five Stars

  • If you want to explore more options other than lenses offered by Canon, the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC G2 lens comes with faster AF speed and accuracy, improve optical performance, enhanced VC (Vibration Compensation) and shortened MOD (Minimum Object Distance).
  • The bokeh effect is one of the highest quality of that makes it one of the best telephoto lenses for portrait photography. The optical design of the SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC G2 comes with XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion) and LD (Low Dispersion) glass to minimize chromatic aberrations throughout the entire zoom range and eBAND Coating to reduce flare and ghosting.
  • Portrait photographers will also find the lens’s VC image stabilization technology helpful. The technology gives three options for image stabilization including one exclusively for panning.

Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras

Sigma 24-105 F4 Ef-Mount Zoom Lens

Four Stars

  • Sigma positions this telephoto lens as a lens that balances lightweight and an accessory capable of delivering nice looking photos even in low light conditions.
  • The lens comes with Optical Stabilizer that minimizes the appearance of camera shake throughout the entire zoom range. It also features a Hyper Sonic Motor that contributes to intuitive handling and provides fast and quiet autofocus performance.
  • This Sigma lens comes with an advanced optical layout lens that includes a series of low dispersion elements and three aspherical elements. This design allows for reduced chromatic and spherical aberrations through the entire zoom range.
  • The lens also comes made with sturdy materials. It uses a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material that helps in achieving greater precision and use in any kind of temperature.

Factors to Consider

With the wide range of options for Canon lenses for portrait photography, anyone can be overwhelmed with the choices presented to them. Here are some of the common questions to go through to help in picking up a suitable lens.

Is 50mm lens good for portraits?

Yes, 50mm lenses are very much recommended for portrait photography. These lenses are designed is best used for anything as tight as the upper quarter of the subject but not anything closer as the image will result in a distorted photograph.

Which is better for portraits 50mm or 85mm?

There are three things to consider when choosing between these two lenses. First is the depth of field. For 85mm lens, the minimum focusing distance is 2.8 ft while for the 50mm lens, the minimum focusing distance is 1.15 ft. Framing is the second factor to consider. If you use an 85mmm lens, you should expect that the image will result in a closely framed subject. If you want to include the background, it is more recommended to use a 50mm lens. Shooting distance is the last thing to consider as 85mm lenses allow photographers to stand further away from their subject.

What lens is best for outdoor portraits?

The answer to this question will depend on what kind of photographer you are. If you are the one who wants to keep a distance from your subject, a zoom lens is recommended. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is a great example of this lens. It is capable of providing a wide-angle and eventually works the way up to telephoto. Additionally, a zoom lens allows you to carry fewer accessories. However, this one is more expansive compared to a prime lens.

What is the best Canon lens for outdoor portraits?

The Canon 50mm f/1.2L is considered by many as one of the best lenses released by the brand. It is unmatched due to its power and the quality of photos it produces. The lens is capable of producing very natural looking portraits when used on a 35mm or full-frame cameras. It also comes with a focal length that is similar to what the human eyes see, which makes an ideal accessory for portrait photography.

What lens do professional photographers use?

There are several lenses that must be inside a portrait photographer’s bag. The 85mm f/1.4 is a must-have due to its long focal length and wide fixed aperture that makes it capable of producing portraits like no other. In terms of a telephoto lens, the 70-200mm f/2.8 is an ideal lens for those who prefer shooting in medium to large spaces. The 35mm f/1.4 is a must-have for those looking for a perfect wide-angle prime that pairs well with another fixed focal length or even a telezoom.

The Best Canon Lens for Portraits

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens is the best Canon-branded portrait lens. This lens is named by many in the photography world as one of the sharpest 50mm lenses that are even faster than an f/1.4 lens. Despite its super-speed, it still is capable of producing images with no veiling that is common with conventional 50mm lenses. However, the lens’s price tag is its biggest let-down. It is expensive compared to other lenses in this category.

If you are on a tight budget, the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM is the perfect pick. This Canon lens packs a superb lens while remaining affordable. This lens is known for being the best selling camera lens in the world and it is easy to know the reasons behind it. While remaining inexpensive, it packs a lot of features including a metal mount and improved STM lens for instant manual-focus override, and closer focusing. On top of it, this lens fits with most Canon EOS cameras including Canon DSLR cameras and every Canon 35mm cameras.

Canon is not the only brand for the best canon lens for portraits when taking photographs. You should also consider those from Sigma and Tamron among other brands. The Sigma 35mm DG HSM f/1.4 Art is the best non-Canon portrait for portrait photography. It is a great deal as it is affordable more than what Canon offers. Additionally, it is capable of producing more accurate, sharper, and simply far superior images compared to its counterparts. If you want more options, Tamron also offers a great lens with its Tamron SP 85mm F/1.8 lens.

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Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been photographing for the past 20 years and my mission is to simplify this misunderstood art of taking and processing photographs I love. I invite you to say “hey” on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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