Best portrait lenses for Nikon cameras

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by David Em
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The right lens for your Nikon camera can improve your portraits. From focal length to aperture, you’ll learn what the best Nikon portrait lenses are.

Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm lens.

Why your lens matters

Different lenses affect portraits in different ways. For example, a long lens can create more blur between the subject and the background, which keeps the focus on the person you’re photographing.

Related: Is a prime or zoom lens better?

Your lens can also make your subject’s face look different. An example of this is when you shoot portraits with a wide-angle lens. Your subject’s face looks distorted and has a fish-eye effect.

Another reason your lens is important is the aperture. Fast apertures can help you take sharply focused portraits and capture bokeh. A smaller aperture will result in a large portion of the photo in sharp focus.

Fast and large apertures also allow you to shoot in low-light situations without having to increase your ISO. Lenses with large apertures are beneficial when shooting night portraits.

Best focal lengths for portraits

In most cases, a short telephoto lens, such as the 85mm is the best choice. However, a great portrait lens can range from the wide-angle 35mm to the super-telephoto 200mm.

Related: What’s a telephoto lens, and is it worth it?

The following are the best focal lengths for portraits:

  • 35mm
  • 50mm
  • 85mm
  • 135mm
  • 200mm

Remember, focal length affects face shape. Lenses with shorter focal lengths make a face look thinner and distorted.

Longer focal lengths, such as 50mm or above, will make a face look wider. Between 50mm and 100mm, your subject’s face will be the most realistic.

Top Nikon DSLR FX and DX portrait lenses

1. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G

Nikon 50mm lens.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

The nifty-fifty is a classic and versatile prime lens. It’s affordable, captures great bokeh, and works well in low-light conditions. The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is also compact, which makes it perfect for travel.

2. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G

Nikon 85mm lens.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G is simply an astonishing lens. It captures beautiful portraits with smoothly blurred out backgrounds. This fast short telephoto lens also features a nanocrystal coat, which reduces ghosting and interior flare.

3. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E

Nikon 105mm lens.
Photo courtesy of Nikon.

Similar to the 85mm, the Nikon NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4 lens is a powerful telephoto lens. The large aperture makes it great for low-light conditions, and also gives you a wide range when it comes to depth of field. The colors turn out great, and there’s less chromatic aberration.

4. Nikon AF FX DC-NIKKOR 135mm f/2D

Nikon 135mm lens.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

The Nikon 135mm is a medium telephoto prime lens that can do a great job of separating your subject from the background. As long as you have the distance available, the 135mm is a strong portrait lens.

5. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Nikon 70 to 200mm lens.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

The Nikon NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E is a telephoto zoom lens. It has a versatile range while capturing sharp images at any focal length.

6. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

Nikon 24 to 70mm lens.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G is one of the sharpest lenses. The standard zoom is perfect, which is also a convenient lens to carry when you’re out shooting. If you want only one lens, this is it.

Top Nikon Z mirrorless portrait lenses

1. Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8

Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm lens.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

It’s the nifty-fifty for mirrorless Nikon cameras. The Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S is the perfect go-to prime lens because it’s versatile. It captures nice bokeh and has an aperture wide enough for solid night portraits.

2. Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8

Nikon Nikkor Z 70 to 200mm lens.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

With a solid zoom, the Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens is great for flexibility. It’s a telephoto zoom lens that captures crisp images, beautiful colors, and fine details.

3. Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8

Photo courtesy of Nikon.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S is a prime telephoto lens, which is perfect for portraits. Its nine-blade diaphragm produces beautiful bokeh. It’s also extensively sealed to keep out dust and moisture.

Frequently asked questions

Which Nikon lens is best for blurred background?

When it comes to blurry background, longer focal lengths and large apertures are the most important factors. The 85mm f/1.4 does a fantastic job at blurring out backgrounds.

What is the best all-around Nikon lens?

The best all-around Nikon lens is the 24-70mm f.2.8 because it covers a wide range of focal lengths, and the larger aperture is great for low-light.

Which Nikon camera is the best for portraits?

Conclusion

When it comes to portrait photography, your lens is one of the most important things to invest in. By choosing the right lens, you’ll be able to capture sharp portraits with blurred out backgrounds.

More resources:

Featured photo courtesy of Nikon.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and helpful advice to grow your photography business.

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