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How to Choose the Best Lens to Use for Portrait Photography

While it’s possible to use almost any type of lens to make a portrait, that doesn’t mean your subject will be happy with how they appear. In this lesson, we take a look at what happens when you choose the “wrong” lens for a portrait, and how to choose the right ones instead.

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Getting a great portrait isn’t all about the most expensive lens. The single biggest factor is the focal length of the lens that you choose. Stay away from wide angle lenses that will exaggerate facial features artificially, for example. A portrait lens should typically stay between 85mm and 200mm to create an accurate and flattering representation of your subject’s face.

Watch the video lesson above to learn more about focal length and other key elements of choosing the right lens to capture portraits. Choosing the right lens will lead to great portraits that help your subjects look their best.

Portrait Lens Focal Length Comparison
This image highlights the difference in how a subject is rendered when using a 100mm focal length versus a 270mm focal length. Notice the compression and face shape rendering and how it differs.

Watch the Full Course

A portrait-friendly lens is just one of a few that you might want in your kit. Having a variety of lenses is all about having the tools you need to create the image you have in mind.

This is what I cover in my course, What Every Photographer Should Know About Lenses. I’ll help you learn more about lenses, what to look for when choosing a new lens, and getting the most from the lenses you already have.

Check out these other lessons that will help you learn to build out your lens lineup: