Best lens for portrait photography and headshots January 13, 2020 100 By Peter Engel CategoryArticles BlogTagsbest focal length best lens Best lens for portrait photography and headshots best lens for portraits best lens for portraiture best lenses best lenses for portraits best portrait lens environmental portrait focal length focal lengths headshots how to shoot a headshot how to shoot a portrait i shoot people joe edelman photographer tutorial portrait lens portrait photography prime lens Telephoto Lens tokina tokina 100mm f/2.8 wide angle lens Zoom Lens 100 Comments Steven Topping says: September 29, 2017 at 9:05 am I love your style! Straight to the points! Thankyou Reply Peter C says: October 10, 2017 at 6:43 am super vid, keep them coming. I had same reservations about the Tokina which was on my radar years ago, after the glowing reviews the last few years I bought one, I have not looked back since, results are stunning, it is my go to lens for a lot of stuff, I also use the Nikon 135mm f2 DC Reply Moto Gyal says: October 22, 2017 at 10:12 am Hey Joe, I bought a Pentax K-50 as a starter camera a few years ago. Would you recommend I eventually buy a Nikon or a Canon to step up my game? Reply Joseph Piccirillo says: October 22, 2017 at 11:01 am what's a good portrait lens for a crop sensor….nikon d7200? Reply Linnae Carlaon says: October 24, 2017 at 5:45 pm Excellent video. In fact, all your videos are great. Love your personality and sense of humor. Reply prashant sahai says: October 24, 2017 at 6:44 pm Hi Joe, Great videos and wonderful content, also very interesting way of teaching. loved it. Now I've one question. I've a aps-c canon camera (700D), and usually use the 50mm 1.8 for the portraits. I feels that when going for a tight shot, the face is feels like a little distorted. Now I am planning for a extensive shoot (Indoor and outdoor both) in few weeks, and here I came across of this video. Now seriously, I am confused. I am on a tight budget, and came with two options, 1. Tokina 100 mm 2.8,2. Samyang 85 mm 1.4Tokina is a little costlier, but it's also kind of duel lens, great Macro and portrait as well. Now can you please suggest me which one will be much better for me, as with the crop sensor camera the shooting distance will also increase, making the indoor shoots much more difficult. May be for that, I'll use the 50 mm.Also what will the effect on the backgrounds considering that one is of 1.4 and other one is 2.8?Also if in the near future, I purchases the full frame camera, I wish to use these lenses as well. Thanks. Reply Evan McKnight says: October 29, 2017 at 11:59 am Great video. I have the Tokina 100 and really like it too. Reply Ali Siddiqui says: October 31, 2017 at 2:34 am Such a helpful video. No useless stuff, just a straightforward video. Thank you Joe. Reply SneakerNet27 says: November 10, 2017 at 7:36 am I have a question "What lens is a very good for landscape im Nikon though.." thanks… Reply Inan Pancito says: November 18, 2017 at 8:06 am Now i know. Thanks joe! Reply Laren Pillay says: November 19, 2017 at 7:13 pm I subscribed after 1 minute of watching you ! You get to the point and explain things really clearly ! Brilliant work ! Reply Catalin Andrei says: November 24, 2017 at 4:10 pm I really wanted to buy a Nikkor 85 1.8. I think I will go for the Tokina. Reply 077 Di says: December 1, 2017 at 12:31 pm I made closer photo on the face with 24mm and now i know for sure it's make the face round Such a great video! thank you so much! is this 100MM lens good for canon??? Reply David Smith says: December 10, 2017 at 3:27 am I bought a Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro for macro photos but I've found that it takes amazing portraits & sports photos also. I love gear that can pull double duty if needed. Thanks for another great video Joe. Reply Chagrin Valley-Web says: December 10, 2017 at 4:43 am excellent Reply Alan K says: December 12, 2017 at 9:06 pm Hi Joe! Thank you for all of your great and helpful videos. Regarding this video, would you recommend the Tokina for both full frame and APS-C? Thank you! Reply jhon gris says: December 13, 2017 at 5:15 pm Joe Edelmanthanks … the problem with the macro tokina 100 2.8, the diaphragm does not stay in 2.8 … it only stays at a certain distance … does this happen with any macro or with nikon for example? Thank you.. Reply jhon gris says: December 13, 2017 at 6:09 pm how about Nikon Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 D Lens…Thank you.. Reply Karina M says: December 14, 2017 at 8:59 pm Which lens can I choose for portrait photography on Canon1100D? Help please ) Reply Jon Tyrell Esguerra says: December 19, 2017 at 7:39 pm Instantly subscribed after watching this first video! Reply Phoenix Normand says: December 27, 2017 at 1:56 pm Thanks for this. I keep kicking myself at how much of my life I've wasted over Christmas break researching lenses. Was just trying to choose between the 35mm, 45mm and 85mm. (portraits). Gonna snag the 85mm and live with it and master it for several months before investing in the 70-200. Great advice…thank you. Reply Alan K says: December 28, 2017 at 4:33 pm Very helpful. Thank you! Reply anthony cook says: December 29, 2017 at 5:30 am does a crop sensor negate distortion? I understand that the focal length is constant to that specific lens BUT the field of view is dependent on the sensor size. but does a 35mm and 50mm on a crop sensor have the same distortion as a 35mm and 50mm on a full frame sensor? Reply David Smith says: January 4, 2018 at 7:12 pm I shoot portraits with a canon 85 1.8 but recently started shooting them with my canon 100 2.8 macro lens. I've even shot some indoor sporting events with the 100. I can say enough good things about that lens and focal length not to mention that it pulls double duty as a macro. Not sure why I don't hear more wedding photographers praise this lens. Great content again Joe.:-) Reply Eva PM says: January 21, 2018 at 4:48 pm Wow, this was a great video. Thank you! Reply Karan Dhawan says: January 21, 2018 at 7:23 pm Loved it, many thanks Reply Marcelo MyRideNY says: January 22, 2018 at 3:38 pm What prime and telephoto lenses do you recommend for a crop sensor f-mount for portrait work? Unfortunately I’ve finding it difficult to find fast lenses for my d500. Also, is the lens distortion still there when shooting on the 50mm when using a crop sensor camera? Or does is get magnified even though technically it’s a 75mm? Reply Walter Cisneros says: February 1, 2018 at 4:20 am Hello!. First of all, thank you because a very nice video!.But, I do not agree with you that shot at 1.8 (or less) to obtain a blurry background is to miss a priority of a headshot or portrait photographer. You recommend Irene Rudnyk in another video… and she is amazing shotting at 1.2 with a 85mm.Best regards, and sorry because my poor English. Reply Letícia Casarotto says: February 2, 2018 at 11:55 am Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Joe! Reply Jolan Deschepper says: February 4, 2018 at 11:35 pm excellent vid ! Reply stonewall2112 says: February 14, 2018 at 9:49 am Thank you! I learned so much from this video. The information here is very well explained. Reply Web Analytics says: February 19, 2018 at 2:57 pm Great video – Joe is both a gifted photographer AND instructor (a rare combination). Really clear/concise explanations; i.e. Why 85mm is considered a great focal length for portraits. Reply M. Sifflet says: February 19, 2018 at 5:26 pm At first I was skeptical, but today it's all to your credit. You are a pro! Reply Esaa Saggus says: February 22, 2018 at 7:38 pm Wow. Great video. I have a Cannon T2i with a 50mm lens. I been taking pictures about six months. I definitely want to be working on portraits and full body but I don't know how far back to shoot from without their feet being cropped out the picture? Any suggestions? Reply Aziz says: February 23, 2018 at 2:35 am One of the best videos I've ever seen about photography. Thanks. Reply Enrique Page says: February 26, 2018 at 12:32 pm Thanks Joe, again you gave us another amazing video!First time I used a 50mm prime, I made the mistake of filling the frame, as such, there's noticeable distortion on every photo from that session. I've been thinking if it's possible to fix some of those photos, maybe using a (correct) portrait photo as a guide and then modifyng the photo in Photoshop, using the distort tool to shrink the center of the image, so we get closer to the real deal. What do you think? Again, thanks a lot for your videos! I've been binge watching them since yesterday. You just got a new subscriber from all the way from Argentina! Reply John De Zuniga says: March 13, 2018 at 3:29 pm Very helpful, straight forward thank you Reply Nickyboy says: March 16, 2018 at 3:54 am What about micro 4/3 cameeas? Reply Electroprint says: March 24, 2018 at 3:43 am What focal length does 100mm covert to for a APC-s camera? Reply DreamStone Studio says: March 28, 2018 at 3:55 am Hi Joe, your video was May 2016 and now as we are in late March 2018, do you still think the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 lens is still the top dog in its arena? Or something else is better out there? We have a Panasonic Lumix GH-5 Micro-Four-Thirds EF mount camera with a canon EF metabone adapter so not sure the Tokina will even fit it…? your advice is appreciated. Thanks! Reply Stan Kumiega III says: April 7, 2018 at 9:21 pm What if you're trying to shoot a group of 40-50 people, in a conference room with a high ceiling and you only have 1 on camera flash? I was thinking of purchasing a wide angle lens, either a Canon 10-18mm or Tamron 10-24mm. I'm usually worried about fitting everyone in the shot and making sure it's properly exposed. Reply Jose Antonio says: April 15, 2018 at 11:05 am Very precise… short, but enought explanation, easy to understand and not getting lost in unnecesary details. Really useful. Reply KAMALESH B says: April 25, 2018 at 5:34 am You're the best photography teacher ever Reply Rensnswmn6262 says: May 11, 2018 at 6:39 pm Hi Joe, I recently came upon your site and I love all of your videos. Fun, informative and great tips. I know this vid is almost two years old, but I was wondering if you could do a vid of how you use it for portraits in the studio. Do you limit the range? I have a 6D full frame and I get some vignetting. Also, do you mind the focusing issues. Reply BaddaBigBoom says: June 23, 2018 at 4:20 pm 70mm Lens close up: Great portrait 24mm Lens close up: Barry Manilow 😉 Reply BaddaBigBoom says: June 23, 2018 at 4:21 pm Excellent well presented advice, thumbs up/subbed. Reply Kemi Adun says: July 3, 2018 at 8:24 am Hi so what is the best lens to use to take a family of 5 people. Is the 24-70 OK or 23-105 from the canon L lens range . pls advice thanks Reply Bruce Maddox says: July 8, 2018 at 5:17 pm if you are using a FX 24MP body or less, the Nikkor 180 AF f/2.8 is god-like in it's ability to render as a portrait lens should. It's also easy to buy used, and has no internal motor to fail. Outstanding color, depth, bokeh, and not clinical as all macro lenses are. Distortion, but not compression ends at 85mm. Look at a portrait taken with a fast 300mm. Amazing!! Reply HTC Maria says: July 10, 2018 at 12:18 pm Mil gracias por estar en español y por argumentarlo todo. Lo hace tan fácil para los, demás…. Reply Isfi Moix says: July 26, 2018 at 9:15 pm Verry nice ur video Reply Bill McDonald says: July 29, 2018 at 7:15 pm More great advice, Joe. I'm ahead of it, so it's good to have my existing purchases confirmed. I have a crop-sensor body and I use a Canon 'nifty fifty' [EF 50mm f1.8] and a Sigma 105 macro lens. I have found that both lenses excel at portraiture when mounted to an APS-C body. For those on a budget, an entry-level crop sensor body and the nifty fifty will get you where you want to be for the least amount of dosh. Reply Pedrin Nieves says: August 3, 2018 at 3:08 pm Like all video I see before, great information…thank you, you do a wonderful work helping other people, God bless you, your family and all the other that do the same as you do. Reply Michaela Cannon says: August 3, 2018 at 3:26 pm How will that Tokina 100mm macro do on a crop sensor canon (T6s) for portraits? Reply TheQQjeff says: August 16, 2018 at 2:50 pm Hi jeo, can u explain m4/3 and focal lenght relating this topic? Like the distortion and etc on m4/3 lens? Thx Reply Hub Towner says: September 3, 2018 at 12:33 pm I have that lens 🙂 Love it. Reply Hero Shotz says: September 10, 2018 at 3:03 am How about best mft portrait lens ? Reply Endy says: September 15, 2018 at 8:29 pm I’m a little late on the comment train, I just came across your videos today and subscribed. I’m in NC waiting for the hurricane to pass! Does a macro lens make a difference in portraits? I was going to kill two birds with the Sony FE 2.8 90mm macro. I dabble in food pics but wanted to try portraits. your awsome btw! Reply Master Photog says: September 16, 2018 at 7:57 pm Another great, simple and to-the-point video tutorial. Keep up the good work! Reply Sam Biswas says: September 17, 2018 at 7:26 pm Absolute favorite shirt Reply Darrell Johnson says: October 14, 2018 at 8:30 pm Hey Joe, I agree with you about the prime lenses… But right now I'm having a little difficulty choosing my favorites right now… I'm shooting with two Nikon d7100 cameras. The lenses I'm having difficulties choosing is my 50 mm 1.8 G lens, 60 mm D 2.8 macro, 105 mm 2.8 macro lens, and the 85 mm 1.4. For testing I'm thinking of just using the 50 mm, and my 105mm, and for my big money makers my 85mm 1.4. And for my sports and full body fashion, I'm thinking of getting the old all the focus 300mm f4. What do you think? Reply fractal_force says: October 31, 2018 at 4:42 pm nice Reply lalotong says: November 3, 2018 at 4:11 am Great video! Very well explained! Thanks! Reply Antoine Schemkes says: December 11, 2018 at 8:23 pm Thanks for sharing, question: D3400 crop sensor, should i go for a 50mm f1.8 FX much cheaper (€150), or do I need the 85mm f1.8 FX lens (€400,-) I want to do headshots but also full body Reply URBAN EYE New York says: December 17, 2018 at 2:43 am Hi Joe-Thank you for your Bullet point video.I was almost decided on 85 1.8 G.What more the Tokina get me at 100 MM.Im seriously considering Head shot photography and Event photography assignments.There is Then the 100 F2 DC Nikkor with a high price tag.Appreciate much Reply BamaBoynCali says: December 21, 2018 at 10:46 am photography is so expensive to get into but im going for it. Getting my Nikon D5600 soon with a couple of lenses and hope that my work will grow Reply Rob Wearn says: January 10, 2019 at 12:27 am love you , love your video Reply Nik says: January 21, 2019 at 6:50 pm I like the distortion that the 50mm makes more than a telephoto.. The 180 makes the face look flat like its been punched.. Also a wide lens makes the image look more deep and gives some dimension, rather than the flat compressed image from a tele lens. My portraits are 50mm most of the time Reply Divi Photos says: January 26, 2019 at 4:02 am Great video Reply Carlos Molina says: January 28, 2019 at 9:41 pm Hi there, what's you opining on a 105mm for portraits?, great video Reply Classical Music Remixes 432hz says: February 4, 2019 at 11:47 pm Do you think the tokina will be a noticeable improvement over a canon 18-135 for portaits (at 135 mm) f 3.5-5.6 IS STM for portraits? Reply Vikas Khair says: February 27, 2019 at 10:55 am I just got this lens and along with few macro shots, I also used it for a portrait shoot recently for both face and full body shots and loved every bit of it. I am already in love with this lens. Oh yeah, subscribed too 🙂 Reply David Pittman Salaam says: March 3, 2019 at 10:18 am Joe, when u mentioned that when u attend workshops u look over in the photographer's LCD SCREEN and notice that they're shoot something different from what the lens actually is. I'm trying to figure out if I have been doing that but I can't find a setting in my Nikon D3400 that will allow me to choose which lens I'm shooting with (if that's what u mean). Reply Irma Elsie says: March 7, 2019 at 2:08 am Just after watching this video, I absolutely wanted to subscribe. I am fascinated by your style of explaining everything! You inspire me to be confident and to experiment. I'll keep watching your videos. Thanks for sharing and for transmitting such a positive attitude. 👍 ¡Adiós! 😉 Reply John Cook says: March 10, 2019 at 5:00 am Thanks for that video. Reply Charles Jesse Miller Jr. says: March 11, 2019 at 9:35 pm you are awesome! Reply BT Movements360 says: March 15, 2019 at 5:52 pm Great video. Learned a lot. What about headshot angles? Reply Jeff Stanley says: April 4, 2019 at 8:15 am Great job! Very helpful and informative. This will be a tremendous help to me. Reply P Chic says: April 17, 2019 at 9:54 am I use a 50mm primeLens , how is this different from the Tokina ? I use a Nikon camera Reply Jeffrey Erwin says: April 28, 2019 at 11:53 am Haha…Looking for best portrait lens, turns out I already have it. Love the Tokina. Still want the Samyang 85 f1.4 though. Reply dave kahn says: May 13, 2019 at 1:11 am I use the Tamron 90mm Macro for portraits on the Nikon D7500 Reply Crio Kid says: May 14, 2019 at 7:08 pm I love your videos. It's very helpful! I'm planning to build a small studio at home. I'm currently using Canon EF 50mm 1.8, EF-S 10-18mm 4.5-5.6, and EF 70-200mm F4. However, the space at my studio is very limited, so I don't know if the lens EF 50mm works, or can I use the EF-S 10-18mm? I know this lens can cause distortion. Reply Jim Trace says: June 4, 2019 at 3:54 pm Can’t you get rid of distortion with ‘lens correction’ in Lightroom? Reply Luciana Wraae says: June 6, 2019 at 10:23 pm what about a canon macro 60 mm 2.8 ? can Iuse for fashion portraits or even full body? Reply TheThirdMan says: June 23, 2019 at 2:31 pm 1:09 Hurray! Common sense for a change. Most people have enough lenses to find one suitable for the portraits they want to take. The important point is that lenses don't make portraits. Or, more to the point, lenses are just one element and probably a less important one than things like lighting and capturing the right look. 6:09 is an absolute gold nugget. If you're taking pictures and going on about the background blur then the photograph is a failure. Reply Juan Carlos Tamara Motta says: June 23, 2019 at 9:02 pm Hey that's a lot of nice information , seen your video I was wondering if a macro lens will be ok for portraits, for example a 90 or 100 mm macro Reply Guardian of Justice says: June 28, 2019 at 5:52 pm Fantastic video well set 100% I learned all this the hard way now I know better and you confirmed it thanks a lot much much success👍👍👍 Reply Shasank Gupta says: July 11, 2019 at 1:56 pm Would be glad if you can reply.. I mainly shoot portraits of my family. I already have 85mm 1.8. But wanted to invest in the longer lens. Should I go with Canon 100mm F2(non-macro) or Tokina 100mm or canon 70-200 f4 ? Reply David Hedges says: July 30, 2019 at 6:36 am I bought the Tokina a couple of years ago for macro work, great lens and for portraits.. wow! Reply KOOTHRAPAULEE KOOPAUL says: August 22, 2019 at 3:08 am another quality video and i learn a lot Reply Rounak Mukherjee says: August 25, 2019 at 6:27 pm Nikon 105 2.8 cost 2 times of this tokina Reply Brent Jablonski says: August 28, 2019 at 5:38 pm Thank you. This is exactly the sort of comparison I have wanted to see.Just stumbled across your videos last week. Subscribed and have loved each one I have watched so far. Kudos! Reply Chris&January Williamson says: September 28, 2019 at 3:09 pm Joe, I met you this past Wednesday in Charlotte and I just have to say that I really enjoyed your class and the model walk. I've been struggling with getting sharp and clear images. After applying what I learned, the next day I had a shoot with a little boy turning 3. Not every image is where I want it, but I got a couple that are 💯 tact sharp! I'm going through images to see where I can improve like you suggested. Thank you so much for your videos and passion to teach! God bless! ~January Reply Brian Davies says: September 30, 2019 at 11:04 pm Excellent video! You should do another similar one now that you are using micro four-thirds cameras. Reply Jojo Owens says: October 1, 2019 at 3:24 pm Awesome lesson! Thank you for putting it out like it is! Reply Darrin Lalla says: October 9, 2019 at 3:21 am Maybe I'm late seeing this but…. thanks! Very helpful. Reply Robert J Kral says: October 23, 2019 at 6:27 am Problem solving regarding the subject: you have camera and lights. If they’re not attractive? Turn off the lights 😂 Okay just kidding of course, this was a really helpful video thanks! Reply Neil News Network says: October 28, 2019 at 8:22 pm You say in regard to a 24mm-70mm zoom lens, that we should "rack all the way out" what does that mean? Does that mean zoom all the way in (so that the subject looks big?) or do you mean zoom all the way out (so that the subject looks small?) I am sorry to ask, but i just dont know what these technical terms like "rack all he wya out" mean. Thanks! Reply Rocio Ruiz says: November 7, 2019 at 1:28 pm 😭👏🏻 Reply Peter Stewart says: November 7, 2019 at 1:45 pm Super helpful and well explained. Thanks Reply RagingBubuli says: December 31, 2019 at 9:11 am Visual compression from 105mm is the most appealing for me. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.