This is a guide covering the best lenses for headshot photography.
In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:
- Best overall lens for headshot photography
- Best budget lenses for headshot photography
- Pros and cons
- Important features
- And more
Let’s dive in.
12 Best Lenses for Headshot Photography
Click/tap on each lens name to jump to that section. At the end of each section, there is also a link to jump back to this table to make it easy for you!
In a hurry? Check out our top pick!
Headshot photography is a staple among models, corporate executives, real estate agents, or any professional who needs a LinkedIn photo.
And photographers who plan on doing headshot photography will need the right lenses.
As a rule of thumb, the best lenses for headshot photography need to be at least 50mm in focal length.
This makes it easier to compose your photos with your subject’s face and shoulders.
To make the selection process easier, we’ve come up with some of the best lenses from Nikon, Canon, and Sony that stand out during headshot photography.
|1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L is III USM Lens |
|– Decent zoom range |
– Large aperture
– Great for indoors and outdoors
– With image stabilizer
|2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens |
BEST BUDGET LENS
|– Great for portraits and general photography |
– Lightweight design
– Can produce sharp results
– Wide aperture
– Quiet autofocus
|3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto ||– Sharp results |
– Can shoot well even indoors
– Accurate focusing
|4. Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens ||– Smooth control ring functionality |
– Fast and accurate AF
– Wide aperture
– Dust resistant
– Great distance for shooting headshots
|5. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens ||– Easy to use even without a tripod|
– With wide aperture
– Great zoom range
– Fast and accurate focus
|6. Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens ||– Sharp results |
– Produces cold colours
– Fast and accurate AF
– Wide aperture
|7. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens ||– Decent range|
– Wide aperture across the range
– With vibration reduction
|8. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G Lens ||– An in-between for 85mm and 50mm lenses |
– Wide aperture
– Edge-to-edge sharpness
|9. Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS APS-C E-Mount Zoom Lens ||– With a versatile range |
– Lightweight and compact
– Fast autofocus (during daytime)
|10. Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens ||– Good range |
– Designed for outdoors
– Lightweight design
– With image stabilization
|11. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens ||– Pro-grade construction |
– With image stabilization
– Wide aperture
– Versatile range
|12. Sony SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22 Medium-Telephoto Fixed Prime Camera Len ||– Great for indoor and outdoor photography|
– A great choice for having distance between the photographer and subject
– Sharp results
What is the Overall Best Lens for Headshot Photography?
1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L is III USM Lens
The Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM lens is a top choice for shooting headshot photography.
A lot of professional photographers use this during weddings. It offers sharp results, accurate colors, plus flexible focal length options.
Photographers can get a close-up shot without being too invasive with their subject.
This L-series telephoto lens is known for its advanced optics that can provide stunning results.
It also comes with an F/2.8 aperture that makes it reliable whether during sunny days or indoors.
This lens comes with five UD elements suppressing chromatic aberration and it provides superior clarity throughout the zoom range.
If you’re not fond of using a tripod, this comes with image stabilization that minimizes wasted shots.
Unfortunately, there are a few things that you might not like about the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM lens.
For one, you’ll still notice some distortion and some vignetting at the edges of the photos.
2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Let’s say that you have a smaller budget but you still want to have great results whenever you’re doing headshot photography.
The Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM lens is the best pick for this situation. It’s a handy lens that can give great results whenever you’re shooting portraits.
It is known for giving great results whether when you’re shooting landscapes or portraits.
Its stepping motor allows the lens to find the subject fast. Plus, with its wide aperture, you can shoot in the morning or even indoors using artificial light as your lighting.
One thing that you might not like though is that the sharpness isn’t exactly standard throughout available apertures of the lens.
F/1.8 produces significantly softer results than F/2.8. But overall, it’s a great lens to have in your bag given its functionality and compact design.
3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto
Some users prefer a nifty-fifty lens but with a wider aperture than F/1.8. If that’s the case, then you might want to consider using the Canon EF 50mm F/1.4.
It is considered by many as one of the best lenses for headshot photography given its ability to shoot even in low-light scenarios.
It can also produce great bokeh if you wish to blur the background.
This lens is built with 2 high refraction lens elements and Gaussian optics that minimize astigmatism and astigmatic difference.
If you’re using a crop frame camera, then you even get 1.6 times so it can even become an 80mm lens. The only downside to the Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM lens is that it’s a bit noisy.
However, you’d still prefer to use its AF function than to manually focus when shooting subjects.
That’s because the focus ring is a bit “rough” compared to other lenses by Canon. But overall, this is a great pick. It comes with solid construction and produces superior-quality images.
4. Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens
The Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM lens is easily a standout in our list of best lenses for headshot photography.
The Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens is known for producing superior quality images. It is also a great choice for photographers dealing with clients who are a bit too shy.
There are times when 50mm lenses still make some clients feel uncomfortable with the distance.
The Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM lens is a great pick for Canon mirrorless users. It produces great results indoors and in low-light situations.
This also comes with fast autofocus combined with its ability to produce beautiful bokeh.
While its autofocus comes in handy, the control ring is also easy to use. The lens is also resistant to shocks making it easy to use even when you don’t have a tripod.
The Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens is also perfect for outdoor scenarios with its dust-resistant design.
The only downside is that it is expensive. Most likely, only professional photographers will think of investing in this lens.
5. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens
The Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens is a no brainer to be included as one of the best lenses for headshot photography.
We’d even say that it is a top contender on this list. This brings superior quality images and easy usability to its users.
Compared with other lenses on our list, it is easy to use in different situations.
When it comes to using the lens on the job, the image stabilization feature allows photographers to shoot with no tripod.
It can compensate up to 4 shutter speeds slower making handheld shooting easier to do.
And when it comes to finding the subject, its silent wave motor makes it easier to focus on the subject minus the annoying noise.
Though it’s a good overall camera for Nikon photographers, the zoom ring isn’t as smooth as you want it to be.
6. Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens
The Nikon AF-S VR Micro Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED Lens is a top choice on our list of best lenses for headshot photography.
This prime lens is great for shooting different subjects from afar and based on experience, this is the biggest advantage of the Nikon AF-S VR Micro Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED Lens over prime 50mm lenses.
This lens also has a wide aperture at F2.8 that allows the photographer to shoot in a variety of lighting situations.
The most popular use of this lens is for macro photography. However, it is also a great choice for headshot photography given its range, wide aperture, and optics. It produces sharp results, cold colors, not to mention it can track the subject accurately.
It is also lightweight, making it handy for photographers who plan on travelling light during their trip. The only thing that photographers complain about the lens is that it is a prime lens.
It means that you will be the one who will go farther or nearer your subject. At times, this is challenging especially when shooting portraits.
But the good thing is that you can get great results once you’ve figured out the right distance to your subject.
7. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens
If you can invest in one lens that you can use not only in doing portraits but also for other situations, then you might want to consider the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens.
This lens offers a versatile zoom range, wide aperture, and easy handheld experience making it stand out from our list of best lenses for headshot photography.
It has a wide aperture across the zoom range making it possible to have beautiful bokeh if needed and shoot in low-light situations.
The vibration reduction feature of this lens allows the user to enjoy shooting without a tripod and during low-light scenarios.
It is also worth mentioning that the nonstick glass of the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8E ED zoom lens makes it easy to clean especially after a long day shooting outdoors when it is exposed to dirt and other elements.
Unfortunately, there are a few flaws that you will encounter with this lens. For one, the sharpness is concentrated at the centre while the corner looks a bit softer.
8. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G Lens
The Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 58mm F1.4G Lens brings a few unique features that make it a great option for those who are looking for the best lenses for headshot photography. This lens is designed for portraits.
Photographers who use the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 58mm F1.4G Lens can enjoy extra distance to their subject compared to those who use a 50mm lens.
Some considered it as the sweet spot between an 85mm medium telephoto lens and a standard lens.
It is perfect for low-light scenarios and is known for its superior edge-to-edge sharpness. It is also designed to have minimal distortion.
Is it worth investing in if you already have a 50mm lens? You can consider this lens as an alternative to the nifty fifty.
Unfortunately, having both in your camera bag isn’t exactly a practical choice. Given its price point, it’s either you go for this lens or a budget-friendly 50mm lens.
9. Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS APS-C E-Mount Zoom Lens
There are a growing number of Sony users who invest in the Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS APS-C E-mount lens.
Aside from the fact that it’s one of the best lenses for headshot photography, it also covers a great range that can be used for other purposes.
You can have it for shooting landscapes, macro photography, and more.
This produces sharp results and accurate color. Also, the lens itself is lightweight and compact.
However, with a limited aperture, it’s ideal for shooting outdoors. In fact, you’ll notice the difference in autofocus once you start using the lens indoors.
10. Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens
Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens is the choice for photographers who shoot wildlife photography, sports photography, and wedding photography.
This lens offers photographers the distance needed to capture candid moments. And because of its range, this is among the best lenses for headshot photography because it allows users to shoot without being too invasive on their subject.
Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens provides excellent image quality across the zoom range.
It offers an image stabilization feature making it easy to shoot even without a tripod present.
Also, it is lightweight making it easy to carry around.
And lastly, it is made for the outdoors. It comes with a dust and moisture-resistant design giving you peace of mind to shoot in different situations.
But despite the qualities we mentioned, this isn’t a perfect pick. It comes with a few flaws such as having an autofocus motor that is not as fast as other lenses.
Also, it doesn’t do well in low-light situations.
11. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens
The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8GM is a good choice for shooting macro photography, weddings, and portraits.
It offers a decent range for its users giving you the opportunity to adjust the focal length depending on your distance to your subject.
The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8GM OSS lens is known for its superb quality shots. You get extremely sharp photos, smooth bokeh, and vibrant colors.
It comes with a nano AR coating that can suppress reflections, flare, and ghosting. Plus, it has built-in optical steady shot image stabilization that makes it easy to use even when you don’t want to rely on a tripod.
As a pro-grade lens, users can expect that it’s a bit more expensive than your average lenses.
12. Sony SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22 Medium-Telephoto Fixed Prime Camera Lens
The Sony SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22 lens is a good choice for those who are after a prime lens that will allow more distance between you and the subject than your 50mm lens.
This lens is perfect for conscious subjects who tend to get stiff whenever the photographer gets too close. This lens is known for its wide aperture making it ideal in different lighting situations.
Also, the ED glass provides edge-to-edge sharpness. When used on a subject that’s moving, its accurate AF makes the job a lot easier.
On top of that, it is also dust and moisture resistant. The downside to the lens is that it is focusing a bit slow compared to other lenses that we’ve featured.
Hope you enjoyed this buyer’s guide on the best lenses for headshot photography.
There are lots of options to choose from if you are looking for some of the best lenses for headshot photography.
But before you even decide to get one, be sure that you will check its overall performance and see if it fits your requirements.
Do you like shooting without a tripod? Or perhaps, you tend to shoot portraits indoors than outdoors? These are things that will affect your choice.
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John is a photography enthusiast by heart. He shoots both film and digital with a preference leaning towards his 1960s Canon QL19 and the robust Nikon F2. As for digital, he loves to take handy mirrorless cameras on his trips. Over the last 12 years, he’s had experience using different brands of lenses and cameras making it handy in giving unbiased reviews on anything that is photography gear related.