Which lens you will choose for portraits depends on what you want to achieve, and there are so many options. Rachel and Daniel from Mango Street narrowed it down to eight popular lenses, and in this video, they are testing them to show you how each of them affects your portraits.
Although many photographers prefer lenses from 50mm and up for portraits, wide-angle lenses can also be used and give you some great results (although they might not be the best choice for group portraits). Some photographers even tested 400mm and 500mm lenses for portraits. But Daniel and Rachel stuck to the most commonly used focal lengths. They tested six primes and two zooms, and these are the lenses they used in the video:
- 24 mm f/1.4
- 35 mm f/1.4
- 50 mm f/1.2
- 85 mm f/1.4
- 100 mm f/2.8
- 135 mm f/2
- 24-70 mm f/2.8 (tested at 28mm and 70mm)
- 70-200 mm f/2.8 (tested at 168mm and 200mm)
Throughout the video, the duo uses all lenses on different locations and different distances from the subject, which isn’t too helpful. However, it gives you an idea of the look each lens creates. Also, they did photograph the model from the same location and the same distance with each of the lenses, and share the side-by-side results.
Rachel and Daniel also briefly discuss the pros and cons of each lens, as well as its main features when shooting portraits with them. For example, wide-angle lenses such as 24mm can distort your subject a bit if you get closer to them. Longer lenses (85mm and up) will compress the background and separate the subject from it more than wide-angle lenses.
At the end of the day, the decision which lens you will use is only yours and it depends on the desired result. But knowing what you’ll get with different focal lengths is certainly something that will help you decide. If you’d like to see more comparisons like this, check out this video by Julia Trotti, this gif, and this one too.