Canon cameras are beloved for their exceptional image quality an impressive array of lenses. If you’re curious about the best Canon lenses for portraits, I’ve curated a list of seven that have proven to be dependable favorites among photographers.

In this article, you’ll discover my top seven picks.

Plus, I’ll share some tips on selecting the perfect lens and techniques for capturing stunning portraits.

QUICK TAKE

  • Choose a lens with a focal length between 50mm and 85mm for natural perspective
  • Look for lenses with a wide aperture (f/1.2 to f/2.8) to achieve dreamy bokeh, and consider image stabilization for sharpness in various lighting conditions
  • The Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM is my favorite for its wide aperture and versatile focal length
  • If you want a mirrorless camera, then I think the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM is a good choice

7 Best Canon Lenses For Portraits


I’ve curated a list of the 7 best options for you:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed
  • Weather-resistant standard lens
  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture-50mm F/1.2, Closest Focusing Distance - 1.48 ft. /...
  • AF with full-time manual focus, 72mm filter size

With its wide f/1.2 aperture, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM creates breathtaking bokeh and performs remarkably well in low-light conditions.

The 50mm focal length offers a natural perspective, making it versatile for a variety of portrait styles.

canon-ef-85mm-f1-4l

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM - DSLR Lens with IS Capability, Black - 2271C002
  • Canon’s First 85mm L-series Lens with IS Capability.
  • Large, Bright f/1.4 Aperture.
  • Image Stabilization at up to 4* Stops of Shake Correction.

Its 85mm focal length provides a flattering compression effect, and the f/1.4 aperture ensures remarkable depth of field control. The addition of image stabilization guarantees sharp results even when shooting handheld.

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens, Black
  • High image quality and bright f/1.2 aperture L lens for EOS R System cameras.
  • Blue spectrum refractive optics (br) Reduces chromatic aberration.
  • Minimum focusing distance of 2.79 ft. /0.85M.

With an exceptionally wide aperture of f/1.2, this lens creates stunning bokeh and offers exceptional low-light performance.

The RF mount ensures seamless compatibility with Canon’s latest mirrorless cameras.

Find more RF lenses:

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

SPECIAL SALE
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed, Black - 2520A004
  • Micro UltraSonic Motor (USM),
  • 135mm focal length, Closest focusing distance: 3 feet
  • Ultra-low Dispersion glass with Fluorite elements; inner focusing ring

If you’re after exquisite subject isolation and compression, the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM delivers in spades.

Its longer focal length provides a unique perspective, perfect for headshots and capturing emotions up close. The f/2 aperture excels in achieving that sought-after background blur.

canon-rf-50mm-f12-l-usm

Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Canon RF50mm F 1.2L USM Lens, Black
  • Fixed focal length, Lens with high image quality and bright f/1.2 aperture for the...
  • Minimum focusing distance of 1.31 ft. /0.40M. Filter Size: 77mm
  • A control ring for direct setting changes

Another gem in Canon’s RF lens lineup, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM combines innovation and artistry.

With an impressive f/1.2 aperture, it produces remarkable bokeh and excels in challenging lighting conditions. Its 50mm focal length allows for versatile framing, making it suitable for various portrait styles.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
  • 24 70 millimetre focal length, 38.4 112 millimetre equivalent focal length on Canon...
  • F2.8 constant maximum aperture; F22 minimum, ring type ultrasonic type AF motor with...
  • 82 millimetre filters, closest focusing distance: 0.38 meter/1.25 feet

For those who prefer zoom versatility, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is a powerhouse option. Covering a range of focal lengths, it’s ideal for capturing portraits in different settings.

The f/2.8 aperture ensures consistent performance throughout the zoom range, and its durable build is perfect for on-the-go photographers.

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L is USM Lens, Telephoto Zoom Lens, 3792C002
  • High image quality and bright f/2.8 aperture telephoto zoom RF L lens.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Optical image stabilization with up to 5 Stops of shake correction

When flexibility and reach are paramount, the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM shines.

This lens covers a wide range of focal lengths, from portrait-friendly 70mm to telephoto 200mm. The f/2.8 aperture combined with image stabilization guarantees exceptional results even at longer focal lengths.

 

How To Choose a Canon Lenses for Portraits 


Here are some key features I recommend to consider:

Focal Lengths that Flatter

The focal length of a lens plays a crucial role in how your portraits will turn out. For traditional headshots and tight compositions, a prime lens with a focal length between 50mm and 85mm is often preferred.

These focal lengths help create a natural perspective and pleasing background compression, while also allowing you to get close enough to your subject without causing distortion.

More on the best focal length for the portrait photography>>>

Wide Aperture for Dreamy Bokeh

That dreamy, creamy background blur known as bokeh can take your portraits to the next level. A lens with a wide aperture, typically with an f/1.2 to f/2.8 range, enables you to achieve a shallow depth of field. T

his means your subject will be in sharp focus while the background melts away into a beautiful, soft blur, drawing attention precisely where you want it.

Learn more about aperture: F Stop Chart – Lens Aperture (Full Stops, 1/2 Stops, 1/3 Stops).

Image Stabilization for Sharpness

Especially important when shooting in low light or without a tripod, image stabilization (IS) helps counteract camera shake, resulting in sharper images.

This feature becomes increasingly valuable as you work with longer focal lengths, allowing you to confidently capture portraits handheld without sacrificing clarity.

Low Light Performance

Portrait sessions often extend into varied lighting conditions. A lens with excellent low-light performance ensures that even in challenging environments, you can maintain image quality without excessive noise or loss of detail.

Look for lenses with a wide maximum aperture, such as f/1.4 or f/1.8, to excel in dimly lit settings.

Fast and Accurate Autofocus

A lens with fast and accurate autofocus capabilities ensures you capture those fleeting moments and expressions with precision.

Look for lenses equipped with advanced autofocus technologies, like Canon’s Ultrasonic Motor (USM) or Stepping Motor (STM), to ensure your subjects remain sharp and clear.

portrait photography

 

Tips for Capturing Perfect Portrait Shots


To help you capture those breathtaking portrait shots that truly stand out, here are my tips:

Establish a Connection

Before you even lift your camera, connect with your subject. Engage in conversation, share a laugh, and create a comfortable atmosphere.

A genuine connection will translate into relaxed and authentic expressions, making your portraits come to life.

Choose the Right Background

The background can either enhance or detract from your portrait.

Opt for backgrounds that complement your subject rather than compete with them. Look for simple textures, muted colors, or pleasing bokeh that helps your subject stand out.

Use Natural Light

Natural light is a portrait photographer’s best friend. During the golden hours (shortly after sunrise and before sunset), the soft, warm light creates flattering skin tones and adds a touch of magic to your shots.

If shooting indoors, position your subject near windows to take advantage of the soft, diffused light.

Focus on the Eyes

Speaking of eyes, ensure they are sharply in focus. The eyes are the most important element of a portrait, and even a slightly out-of-focus gaze can diminish the impact of the shot.

Use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field and draw attention to the eyes.

If you face problems with lazy eye, read the following article to solve them: Lazy Eye in Pictures (Easy Fix Method).

Experiment with Depth of Field

Speaking of aperture, don’t be afraid to play with depth of field.

A wide aperture (low f-number) creates a creamy background blur, while a narrow aperture (high f-number) keeps more of the scene in focus. Choose the setting that best suits the mood and story you want to convey.

Edit with Care

Post-processing can elevate your portraits to the next level, but be mindful not to overdo it. Enhance colors, adjust exposure, and retouch minor imperfections while preserving the natural beauty of your subject.

Find some of the best editors:

 

Which One is The Best Canon Lens For Portraits?


If I was to pick a lens that beautifully captures the essence of classic portrait photography, it would undoubtedly be the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM.

This masterpiece of glass and engineering combines a mesmerizing focal length with a wide f/1.4 aperture, creating a breathtaking combination that promises portraits with an unmatched allure.

For those who are drawn to the world of mirrorless technology, I would recommend the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM.

 With an impressively wide f/1.2 aperture, this lens sets the stage for masterful portrait photography that’s filled with depth, dimension, and drama.

 

Thanks for reading! 🙏

I hope this guide helped you learn about some of the best Canon lenses for capturing stunning portrait shots 🙂

 

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