best canon lens for portraits

Portrait photography is a delicate art form that requires a combination of technical skill and creative vision. One of the most important tools in your arsenal is the lens you use to capture your images. The right Canon lens can make all the difference in the quality and impact of your portraits. With a vast array of options available, choosing the perfect Canon lens for portrait photography can be overwhelming. 

In this guide, we will explore the features and characteristics of the best Canon lens for portraits, helping you make an informed decision and get ready to take amazing portraits. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and inspiration you need to take your portrait photography to the next level.

Understanding Canon Lens Focal Lengths

Canon lens focal length is one of the key specifications that determines the type of images a lens can produce. It refers to the distance between the lens and the camera’s image sensor, measured in millimeters. Understanding focal length is essential to choosing the right lens for your portrait photography needs.

Types of Canon lens

There are two types of focal lengths: 

  • wide-angle
  • telephoto

Wide-angle Lens

Wide-angle lenses have a shorter focal length and provide a wider field of view, while telephoto lenses have a longer focal length and provide a narrower, magnified field of view.

Telephoto Lens

For portraits, telephoto lenses are typically preferred because they allow you to isolate your subject and produce a shallower depth of field, which can create a pleasing bokeh effect in the background. Common telephoto focal lengths for portrait photography include 85mm, 70-200mm, and 135mm.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that different focal lengths also have different perspectives and distortion characteristics. For example, a 50mm lens is considered a “normal” lens that provides a natural perspective, while a wider-angle lens like a 24mm or 35mm may produce distorted facial features in close-up portraits.

best canon lens for portraits

Aperture Priority Mode Explained

Aperture priority mode (often designated as “A” or “Av” on the camera’s mode dial) is a semi-automatic shooting mode that allows you to control the aperture (the size of the lens opening) while the camera determines the appropriate shutter speed to correctly expose the image. In other words, you have control over the depth of field (the amount of the image that is in focus) while the camera handles the overall exposure.

In portrait photography, aperture priority mode is often used because it allows you to control the depth of field to create a desired effect. For example, using a wide aperture (such as f/1.8 or f/2) can produce a shallow depth of field and create a beautiful bokeh effect in the background, making the subject stand out more clearly. On the other hand, using a narrower aperture (such as f/8 or f/11) will increase the depth of field and keep more of the image in focus, which may be more appropriate for environmental portraits.

It’s important to note that in aperture priority mode, the camera will still make some exposure decisions for you, so it’s important to understand how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work together to control exposure. Additionally, aperture priority mode may not always produce the desired results in difficult lighting conditions, so you may need to switch to manual mode or another shooting mode to get the results you want.

Autofocus Systems Work on Canon Lenses

Autofocus is a critical feature for many photographers, allowing them to quickly and accurately focus on their subjects without having to manually adjust the focus ring. In this article, we’ll explore how autofocus systems work on the best canon lens for portraits.

Basic Autofocus Technology

Autofocus systems work by using a system of sensors, motors, and algorithms to determine the distance between the lens and the subject, and then adjust the focus accordingly. The sensors in the lens and camera body work together to measure the contrast of the subject and determine which areas are in focus. The motors then adjust the lens elements to achieve the correct focus.

Types of Autofocus Systems

Canon offers two main types of autofocus systems: phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and contrast detection autofocus (CDAF). PDAF is the more traditional and widely used system, relying on dedicated sensors in the camera body to measure the contrast of the subject and determine the focus distance. CDAF, on the other hand, uses the camera’s imaging sensor to measure contrast and determine focus, and is typically found in mirrorless cameras.

Choosing the Right Autofocus System

The type of autofocus system you choose will depend on your specific needs and the type of photography you do. PDAF is generally faster and more accurate, making it ideal for action and sports photography. CDAF is more precise and works well for still life and landscape photography. However, both systems have their strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice will depend on your personal preferences and shooting style.

best canon lens for portraits

Canon Lens Feature Recommendations for Portraits

Canon offers a wide range of lenses with different features and specifications, making it important to understand what features are most important for portrait photography. 

Canon Lens Features

In this article, we’ll provide some recommendations for the best canon lens for portraits features to consider when shooting portraits.

Focal Length

For portraits, it’s best to use a lens with a moderate to long focal length, typically in the range of 50mm to 200mm. A longer focal length will compress the subject, creating a more flattering perspective, while also allowing you to capture more of the background if desired.

Maximum Aperture

The maximum aperture of a lens refers to the widest opening the lens can produce, and is designated by a number, such as f/1.8. A lens with a wide maximum aperture will allow you to capture more light and create a shallow depth of field, which is ideal for portraits with a blurred background. A lens with a narrow maximum aperture, on the other hand, will be better suited for environmental portraits where you want more of the background in focus.

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization is a useful feature for portrait photographers who may be shooting in low light conditions. This technology helps to reduce camera shake and produce sharp, blur-free images.


Autofocus is a critical feature for portrait photographers, allowing you to quickly and accurately focus on your subject. Consider a lens with a fast and accurate autofocus system for the best results.


Portrait photography is a beautiful and rewarding art form that requires the right tools to achieve the desired results. With the right Canon lens, you can bring your portraits to life and capture stunning, memorable images that truly showcase your subject. Whether you’re looking for a lens with a wide maximum aperture for shallow depth of field, or a lens with a long focal length for more dramatic portraits, Canon has a lens to meet your needs. By understanding the key features of Canon lenses and choosing the right one for your needs, you’ll be well on your way to taking amazing portraits that truly showcase your creativity and passion.


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