Which Is Better for Portraits 50MM or 85MM?

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    For decades, photographers have pondered which portrait lens is best. In the opinion of many photographers, an 85 millimetre lens is the most versatile and effective choice. For many other photographers, a 50-millimeter lens is the most practical choice. Choose the great portrait lens that you think will work best for you. If you're just getting started in photography, you'll probably use the kit lens that came with your camera. Eventually, though, you'll want to invest in a higher-quality zoom lens that can accommodate the various focal lengths you'll need.

    There's no arguing that prime lenses are better for portrait photography than zoom lenses, but it's still feasible to get great results even using a zoom lens. Apart from their larger maximum apertures, which are ideal for isolating the subject of a photograph, prime lenses are also very sharp and, on average, give greater image resolution than zoom lenses. One of the numerous benefits of utilising a zoom lens is that the focus length may be changed with a simple turn of the zoom ring. If you're shooting portraits, though, a prime lens is your best bet thanks to the flexibility it affords in composition.

    No matter what it is that you're working on, having the proper tools will always make the process easier and the results more pleasant. As a result, if you want to take better portraits, a prime lens is your best bet, and there are three classic portrait focal lengths you should give some serious thought to. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

    In this post, we'll compare and contrast the performance of a 50mm lens and an 85mm lens for photographing people. Several groups of photographs that are nearly identical to one another and were taken with both lenses will be shown to you so that you can see the differences between them clearly. By the time you're done here, you should have a much clearer idea of which lens would provide the greatest improvement to your photography.

    50mm Lenses

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    One of the lens's strongest selling qualities is that it can be purchased from a variety of different manufacturers in an f/1.8 variant at a reasonable price. Furthermore, its field of vision is similar to that of the human eye, and its large maximum aperture allows for images to be taken with a shallow depth of field, regardless of the subject matter.

    The 50mm lens is available in two basic variations: f/1.8 and f/1.4. The second lets in more light at a given shutter speed, resulting in a shallower depth of field. The closest you can go with an APS-C camera is an equivalent focal length of 52.5mm, which a 35mm lens (when used on an APS-C camera) will provide. On the other hand, a Micro Four Thirds user just needs a 25mm lens to get the same effect as a 50mm lens.

    50mm lenses are ideal for full-length and waist-level portraiture and can be utilised on location or in a studio. The lens' larger field of view compared to that of an 85mm or 135mm focal length means that you don't have to position yourself as far from the subject to get these crops.

    However, if you want to snap a headshot or a head-and-shoulders photo, getting too close to the subject may distort their features, making their face look excessively small and their nose look disproportionately wide. In light of this, a 50mm lens is not optimal for taking such a picture.

    Advantages Of 50mm Lenses

    One of the best things about 50mm lenses is how affordable they are. For less than $150, you can get your hands on a brand new Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. That isn't the worst thing ever. Further, lenses with this focal length are small and lightweight. Some portrait photographers can't do without a somewhat small-sized lens. One further interesting feature is the 50mm lens's extreme adaptability.

    Even while f/1.4 and f/1.2 lenses with their wide apertures are best used indoors or in other low-light settings, they can nevertheless be used outdoors for activities like sports photography.

    Plus, a lens with a 50mm focal length is great for both video and macro photography (if you reverse mount the lens). Finally, lenses with a 50mm focal length work wonderfully on both cross sensor and full-frame cameras. Keep in mind that a 50mm lens' performance will be comparable to a 75-80mm lens' performance, depending on the camera's crop factor. However, it is a dependable choice no matter what camera you own.

    85mm Lenses

    Apertures of f/1.8 and f/1.4 are common for these short telephoto lenses. The price difference between the two types is significant enough that it is often a deciding factor when deciding whether to purchase. When used an APS-C camera, a 50mm lens will provide an equivalent 75-80mm focal length, whereas a 45mm lens will provide an equivalent 90mm focal length when used with a Micro Four Thirds camera.

    The owners of APS-C cameras are perhaps the luckiest group in this regard, as 50mm lenses are the cheapest of the three types of lenses available. In order to use this focal length, photographers with cameras that feature a full frame or Micro Four Thirds sensor will need to spend a little more money, but it will be well worth it.

    The adaptability of 85mm lenses is demonstrated by the fact that they may be used to create a variety of different crop sizes, including full-length, waist-level, and head-and-shoulders. You can snap tighter headshots, but you should be careful because if you don't do it well, the subject's features will be distorted.

    Studio photography calls for a wide variety of focal lengths, from above-the-knee cuts to head-and-shoulders views and everything in between; an 85mm lens is a good all-arounder, but a 135mm lens is better suited for close-up and personal headshots. Looking for a Mornington Peninsula wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

    Advantages Of 85mm Lenses

    While 50mm lenses are excellent in their own right, 85mm lenses have their own set of advantages when it comes to portrait shooting. To begin, you may achieve a very candid looking portrait by pairing a full-frame camera with an 85mm lens. As a matter of fact, if you hold your camera in a portrait orientation, gaze through the viewfinder with one eye while opening the other eye to look at the scene, both eyes will see essentially the same thing, and the camera's recorded image will be free of distortion.

    Furthermore, as part of the short telephoto range, 85 millimetres makes for great portraiture. With this technique, the photographer can get some distance from the subject of the image without sacrificing the ability to get some great up-close shots. In addition to these advantages, an 85mm lens also offers amazing compression.

    Regardless of the fact that lower focal lengths tend to round out the forehead and the nose, the subject's facial features nevertheless appear natural and aesthetically acceptable. A further impact of the greater focal length is to draw in the background, making its constituent parts appear larger in scale. Stunning bokeh, where the background is subtly blurred, is achieved by using a longer lens length. With this technique, the focus is drawn to the topic rather than the background.

    • Editor's Note: Having difficulties settling on a focal length? Learn the benefits of using an 85mm lens for portraits.

    50mm Vs 85mm Lens: Which Is Best For You?

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    In a head-to-head comparison like this, the lens that works best for you will depend on the specifics of the situation. Those who prefer "on the go" portraiture, such as street, wedding, or travel photography, and who therefore need a lens that is adaptable, compact, and lightweight, might consider purchasing a 50mm lens. You may use this lens on a single camera to take a wide range of portraits in a variety of lighting conditions.

    To the contrary, an 85mm lens is the best option if you want to take photographs of athletes while they are participating or if you prefer the compression that this lens provides for more conventional portraits. To put it simply, a lens with a 50mm focal length is an excellent addition to any photographer's equipment. Including an 85mm lens in your camera backpack is highly recommended. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

    Differences In Depth Of Field

    With an 85mm lens, you need to be far farther away from your subject than you would be with a 50mm lens. When utilising an 85mm lens, you'll need a distance of 2.8 feet to focus, but a 50mm lens will only require 1.15 feet.

    For this reason, it's best to go further away from your subject when taking pictures with an 85mm lens than you would if using a 50mm lens. The bokeh in photos taken with the 85mm lens is often far less sharp than that in photos shot with the 50mm lens, even when both lenses are set to the same aperture. And this is true even if both lenses are set to the same focal length.

    Maybe you'll find that your prefered approach varies depending on the context. This is a wholly subjective affair, so as soon as you start looking at the work of other photographers, start making mental notes about the types of images that normally appeal to you. If you want smoother, creamier textures, the 85mm lens will work better for you. If you'd like to capture more of the scene, including the background, try shooting with a 50mm lens instead of a wider-angle one.

    Differences In Framing

    You should also give some thought to the components of your backdrops. A lens with an 85mm focal length allows for a picture's subject to occupy more of the picture plane. However, while shooting with a lens that has a focal length of 50 millimetres, more of the scenery in the background will be visible (though not nearly as much as shooting with the Canon 24mm lens).

    Do you like taking on physical challenges, such as hiking to a mountain's peak for a picture? If you want to capture the scenery and foliage behind your subject more clearly in a portrait, you may want to invest in a 50mm lens. However, when you snap pictures, do you often try to eliminate or minimise the background? Do you shoot in locations where the scenery and lighting are not always under your control? In that situation, the 85mm lens is a good option to consider buying.

    Since the 85mm lens has a shorter depth of field and allows you to frame your subject more closely, it is ideal for creating stunning portraits in almost any environment. After the big day, the images from the wedding will be the most precious memento you have. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for your wedding photographer of choice?

    Which One Is Ideal for Portraits? Prime Lenses of 50mm or 85mm Focal Length?

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    Portrait photographers, whether novices or seasoned pros, almost universally start with either a 50mm or 85mm prime lens. Although the lenses' focal ranges are comparable, the effects they provide will be quite different, and both lenses excel in distinct contexts. After a little intermission, we'll talk about the two lenses and outline the circumstances under which each is most useful.

    Primarily, both 50mm and 85mm prime lenses share the benefit that high-quality examples may be purchased for a manageable sum. If you're just starting out in photography, you owe it to yourself to invest a few hundred dollars on prime lenses like the 50mm f/1.8 and the 85mm f/1.8; the photos you take with these lenses will blow your mind.

    Price-wise, though, there is no upper limit, and you may easily spend thousands more on prime lenses. To the same extent, this is true for every other aspect of existence. The Canon RF 50mm f1.2 and RF 85mm f1.2 prime lenses are examples of faster aperture lenses available to you. Sigma (50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.4), Rokinon, and other third-party manufacturers provide similarly high-quality but significantly more cheap alternatives (50mm f1.4 85mm f1.4). Choose one that fits comfortably within your budget, and if the need arises, you may always improve later. Here, I'd want to delve deeper into the 50mm and 85mm prime lenses.

    50mm Prime Lenses

    The 50mm prime lens is a popular choice among photographers because of its wide range of uses, ease of handling, and cost-effectiveness. Despite the widespread misconception that 50mm prime lenses are primarily useful for general photography purposes like street, event, and landscape photography, they are actually fantastic lenses for portrait photographers. Photographers should have a variety of 50mm primes in their kit because of the focal length's sharp optics, fast apertures, and ability to capture a wide variety of scenes.

    Full-length and three-quarter-length portraits benefit greatly from the use of prime lenses with a focal length of 50 millimetres. Since the field of view of 50mm lenses is slightly larger than that of other lens focal lengths, you may capture more of the environment in each shot. Having the capacity to capture more of the scene in your shots is especially useful if you are attempting to express more of the story that is behind the shoot or if you are in a beautiful location. When using a lens with a wider field of view, you'll find that you have greater leeway in terms of composition.

    Prime lenses with a 50mm focal length are not only great for 3/4 and full-length body pictures, but they also produce very attractive results when shooting in close proximity to the subject (if you like to get nice and close and in your subjects personal space). Nonetheless, they can undeniably be used to facilitate a user-tailored shooting experience. Although 50mm prime lenses can be utilised for head and shoulders portraits, photographers should be mindful that this focal length is not as friendly to facial characteristics when used for close-up photos as an 85mm focal length would be.

    Using a 50mm lens is a certain way to add some pleasing bokeh to your portraits. Why? Because most 50mm primes have a fast aperture of at least f1.8, letting you achieve both great depth of field and great subject separation. Always keep in mind that the bokeh quality of a lens is inversely proportional to its aperture speed.

    If you must have a prime and like to have options when shooting portraits, the 50mm focal length is probably a good choice. Full-frame, three-quarter, and head-and-shoulders shots are all within your reach, and you can even play about with the depth of field and bokeh if you like. Prime lenses with a 50mm focal length could be ideal if you place a premium on adaptability but also like to get up up and personal with your subjects.

    85mm Prime Lenses

    For portraiture, 85mm prime lenses are widely regarded as the gold standard. This focal length is highly regarded by many photographers and enthusiasts for its many benefits, including its ability to produce greater compression, its lack of distortion of the face and its features, and its ability to increase subject separation. Yes, this is the lens to use instead of a 50mm lens if bokeh is a priority.

    Full-length, 3/4, and headshots are all possible with an 85mm prime, but you'll need to be much more conscious of your surroundings than when using a 50mm lens. The larger focal length will make it more challenging to achieve some of these photos if you are working in a setting that is too confined for you to comfortably move around in. As a result of the 85mm lens' telephoto focal length, you'll need to move further away from your subject than you would with a 50mm lens to get the same effect.

    The 85mm focal length is great for portraiture because it provides increased rates of compression without distorting the subject's features. With the aid of distortion control and compression, you may make your subjects look more attractive in portraits. We may all admit that we wish we had better, more attractive photographs of ourselves. Telephoto lenses have the feature of compression, which helps to make the background appear closer, further emphasising your subject. There has been a recent uptick in requests for this kind of photography from satisfied customers.

    Using an 85mm lens with a wide-open aperture will allow you to completely blur the backdrop out of your photo. Choosing a slower f-stop will allow more of the background to be in sharp focus, but the ultimate result will depend on your own preferences and the aesthetic choices you make. Understanding that shooting with the lens' max aperture wide open will be slightly more challenging than with a 50mm lens is vital for you as a beginning photographer given that we are discussing extremely small depths of focus. The advanced eye AF of modern cameras makes this easier, but it's still important to keep in mind. If you're a portrait photographer who likes to go in close for 3/4 shots and tighter headshots, we recommend an 85mm prime lens over a 50mm one. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.


    A prime lens is ideal for taking portraits. The use of a zoom lens, however, does not necessarily exclude the achievement of excellent results. There are three tried-and-true focal lengths typically used for portraiture that you should give some regard to. See how a 50mm lens and an 85mm lens measure up in the following side-by-side image comparison. If you want to capture your subject from head to toe or from waist up, a 50mm lens is your best bet.

    The f/1.8 version is readily available from many brands and may be acquired for a fair price. Because of the lens' wider field of view, you won't need to move as far away from the subject to get a good shot. In both video and macro photography, a 50mm lens is an excellent choice (if you reverse mount the lens). Both cross-sensor and full-frame cameras will benefit greatly from the use of a 50mm lens. When taking portraits, 85mm lenses have their own set of benefits.

    Beautiful bokeh, in which the background is softly blurred, is the result of utilising a longer lens length. Compared to a 50mm lens, an 85mm lens requires a much larger working distance. Because of the longer focal length, the individual components of the image appear to be more massive. Images captured with an 85mm lens typically have softer bokeh than those captured with a 50mm lens. Shooting with a 50mm lens rather than a wider-angle lens will allow you to catch more of the scene, including the background.

    Primarily, 50mm or 85mm prime lenses are used by portrait photographers. Though the lenses' focal lengths are comparable, the effects they produce will be very different. You can get a high-quality lens for either a small or no outlay of cash. Pick one that you can afford without breaking the bank; upgrades are always an option. The usage of lenses with a 50 millimetre focal length is ideal for portraiture.

    You can get fantastic depth of field and object separation with most 50mm primes because their fast apertures start at f1.8 or higher. 50mm prime lenses can be utilised for head-and-shoulders portraits, but they do a poor job of emphasising the finer details of the face when shooting in close-up. When it comes to portraiture, 85mm prime lenses are considered to be par excellence. Compression, a property of telephoto lenses, brings the background into sharper focus, drawing even more attention to your subject. By shooting with an 85mm lens and a large aperture, you may effectively remove the background from your image.

    Content Summary

    1. Pick the fantastic portrait lens you believe will serve you best.
    2. However, you'll eventually want to upgrade to a high-quality zoom lens that can cover all of the ranges of focal length you'll want.
    3. Prime lenses are undoubtedly superior to zoom lenses when taking portraits, although good results can also be achieved when using a zoom lens.
    4. Therefore, a prime lens is your best bet if you want to take better portraits, and there are three classic portrait focal lengths to consider.
    5. In this piece, I'll analyse the strengths and weaknesses of both the 50mm and 85mm lenses when used to capture people.
    6. The lens's widespread availability from many manufacturers in an affordable f/1.8 version is one of its primary selling points.
    7. More than that, its range of view is comparable to that of the human eye, and its high maximum aperture enables the use of shallow depth of field in photographs of virtually any subject.
    8. There are two standard versions of the 50mm lens: f/1.8 and f/1.4.
    9. A new Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens may be purchased for under $150.
    10. In addition, lenses of this focal length are compact and light.
    11. The 50mm lens is extremely versatile, which is another great advantage.
    12. What's more, a 50mm lens is fantastic for both video and macro photography (if you reverse mount the lens).
    13. When it comes down to it, 50mm lenses are fantastic on both cross sensor and full-frame cameras.
    14. A 50mm lens' performance will be about equivalent to that of a 75-80mm lens, depending on the camera's crop factor.
    15. APS-C camera users can count themselves among the luckiest in the world because 50mm lenses are the least expensive of the three options.
    16. The Benefits of Using an 85mm Lens
    17. While 50mm lenses are great for general photography, 85mm lenses are preferable for portraiture for a number of reasons.
    18. In addition, 85 millimetres is a fantastic portrait lens because it is in the short telephoto range.
    19. Get the lowdown on why an 85mm lens is so useful for portraits.
    20. Which Lens Is Better for You, a 50mm or an 85mm?
    21. To determine which lens is superior in a direct comparison like this, you must first consider the circumstances under which you will be using it.
    22. A lens with a 50mm focal length is, quite simply, a must-have for any serious photographer's bag.
    23. You should definitely have an 85mm lens in your camera bag.
    24. When using an 85mm lens, you need to be much further away from your subject than you would be using a 50mm lens, because of the difference in depth of field.
    25. You'll need a distance of 2.8 feet when using an 85mm lens for focusing, but just 1.15 feet when using a 50mm lens.
    26. To compensate for the lens's greater focal length, 85mm camera users should position themselves further from their subjects than they would with a 50mm lens.
    27. When both lenses are set to the same aperture, the bokeh in shots taken with the 50mm lens is typically much sharper than those obtained with the 85mm lens.
    28. Shot with a 50mm lens rather than a wider-angle one will allow you to capture more of the scene, including the background.
    29. The subject of a photograph can take up more of the frame when using an 85mm focal length lens.
    30. Consider purchasing a 50mm lens if you want your portraits to include more of the background setting and greenery.
    31. Both amateur and professional portrait photographers typically begin with a 50mm or 85mm prime lens.
    32. Primarily, high-quality examples of both 50mm and 85mm prime lenses can be obtained for a reasonable amount.
    33. Primitive lenses from Canon with larger maximum apertures include the 50mm and 85mm f1.2 RFs.
    34. Pick one that you can afford without breaking the bank; you can always upgrade later if necessary.
    35. My focus would be on the 50mm and 85mm prime lenses for this study.
    36. Primitive Lenses with a 50mm Focal Length
    37. When it comes to prime lenses, the 50mm is a favourite among photographers for its versatility, portability, and low price.
    38. Although many people believe that 50mm prime lenses are best suited for shooting street, event, or landscape photography, this is not the case at all.
    39. Prime lenses with a 50-millimeter focal length are ideal for full-length and three-quarter-length portraiture.
    40. 50mm lenses have a somewhat broader field of vision than other lens focal lengths, allowing you to capture more of the surrounding surroundings in each frame.
    41. The compositional options available to you expand when you switch to a lens with a larger field of view.
    42. If you want to add some smooth bokeh to your portraits, use a 50mm lens.
    43. Aperture speed has a negative effect on the quality of bokeh produced by a lens.
    44. The 50mm focal length is a nice compromise between having to use a prime and desiring flexibility when shooting portraits.
    45. You have the option of taking full-frame, three-quarter, or head-and-shoulders images, and can even experiment with depth of field and bokeh.
    46. Prime lenses with an 85mm focal length are typically recognised as the best for portraiture.
    47. The 85mm lens is perfect for portraits since it allows for higher compression rates to be achieved without distorting the subject's features.
    48. If you shoot with an 85mm lens and a large aperture, you can effectively remove the background from your photo.

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