10 Best Canon Lenses for Portraits in 2021

This is a guide covering the best Canon lens for portraits.

In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:

  • Best overall Canon lens for portraits
  • Best budget Canon lens for portraits
  • Pros and cons
  • Price
  • Important features
  • And more

Let’s dive in.

best canon lens for portraits

10 Best Canon Lenses for Portraits in 2021

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!

1. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II
– Sharp results
– Meant for both portraits and for shooting landscapes
– Great color

There’s a reason why most professional photographers prefer Canon when shooting portraits. Shooting portraits using Canon lenses can produce warm contrast and sharp results.

And apart from the quality of shots, Canon has come up with great choices to choose from. Some of the best Canon lenses for portraits are available in different focal lengths from prime lenses to zoom lenses.

However, if you’re in the market for the best Canon lens for portraits, there are different considerations that you also have to weigh.

Build, image stabilization, and the overall quality of shots are just some of the things that can affect your shots.

To make the selection process a bit easier, our list will include everything that you need to know about the best lenses from Canon.

1. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens
BEST ALL-AROUND
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II
– Sharp results
– Meant for both portraits and for shooting landscapes
– Great color
2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
BEST BUDGET LENS
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
– Flexible focal length for portraits
– Wide aperture for creating beautiful bokeh and shooting in low light
3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
– Great colors
– Performs well in low-light scenarios
– Creates great bokeh
4. Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Wide Angle Lens
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8
– Great for shooting group shots
– Creates beautiful bokeh
– Vivid and crisp shots
– Minimal distortion and aberration
5. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
– With image stabilization
– Sharp results
– Zoom lens that prevents you from switching lenses
6. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
– Great for indoors and outdoors
– Great bokeh
– Can shoot subjects from afar
7. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L
– Superb image stabilization
– Crisp and vivid colors
– Can produce great bokeh
– Performs well indoors
– Practical when shooting from afar
8. Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
– Versatile range
– Good for portraits outdoors
– With image stabilization
9. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
– A great range for shooting in long-distance
– Decent quality shots
10. Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM
– A wide aperture that can create beautiful bokeh
– Superb image stabilization
– Allows you to shoot from afar

What is the Overall Best Canon Lens for Portraits?

1. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II

A lot of professional photographers love the Canon EF 35mm F1.4 lens as a landscape photography lens when shooting cityscapes and mountains.

However, other photographers consider it as a potential candidate for the best Canon lens for portraits.

For starters, its wide aperture is also something that can come in handy when shooting portrait shots.

Though it’s a bit wider than a 50mm prime lens that is typically considered as the go-to portrait lens of professional photographers, you can get magnificent bokeh plus more background.

It also means that it is easier to shoot the whole-body shots of your subject compared to a 50mm prime lens.

This lens produces superior quality shots thanks to its optics. It comes with minimal chromatic aberration and color fringing. Also, expect sharp results across the apertures available on this lens.

And also, the Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II USM lens is a bit heavier compared to other 35mm prime lenses that we’ve tried.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • Sharp results
  • Meant for both portraits and for shooting landscapes
  • Great color
Cons
  • Heavier than other 35mm lenses

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What is the Best Budget Canon Lens for Portraits?

2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

In case you don’t want to invest heavily for the best Canon lens for portraits, then you might be interested in the Canon EF 50mm F1.8STM lens.

It’s likely the best value pick for those who are just starting their hobby. This prime lens that comes with a wide aperture won’t disappoint to give you the results you need regardless if you are shooting indoors or outdoors.

It also comes with a quiet and accurate stepping motor that can track subjects easily.

And since you’ll barely hear the motor when it focuses on the subject, it doubles down not only as the best value portrait lens for Canon but also as a handy lens for shooting videos.

It is also easy to switch from AF to MF since you have a switch placed on the side of the lens.

Though most photographers we’ve asked considered it as the best value portrait lens for Canon DSLRs, it also comes with a few things that will disappoint serious photographers.

For instance, autofocus is a bit different in low-light scenarios than in daylight.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • Flexible focal length for portraits
  • Wide aperture for creating beautiful bokeh and shooting in low light
Cons
  • Doesn’t have a fast AF in low-light scenarios

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3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4

The Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM lens is a great option for those who feel that the 50mm F1.8 doesn’t give them the bokeh that they want or the performance that they want in low-light scenarios.

The Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM lens has 2 high-refraction lens elements plus the Gaussian optics responsible for taking out astigmatism and minimizes the astigmatic difference.

It also runs quietly as it comes with a hypersonic motor. It can focus on the subject accurately when you choose AF mode.

However, one thing that you might not like about the lens is that it isn’t as sharp as we’d want it if we’re shooting with the aperture wide open.

Anything below F2.8 feels a bit soft. But all in all, it’s still a decent lens.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • Great colors
  • Performs well in low-light scenarios
  • Creates great bokeh
Cons
  • Soft when shooting with in wide aperture

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4. Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Wide Angle Lens

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8

The Canon EF 28mm F1.8 USM wide-angle lens comes in handy for different situations when shooting portraits.

Unlike a 50mm prime lens that sometimes struggles when shooting whole body shots and group photos, this lens is known for giving photographers a broad angle of view.

It allows you to capture more in the frame but still provides great bokeh.

It is best known for its vivid shots, minimal distortion, and aberrations. It is also light enough to be carried around your bag or used during traveling.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit soft if you are using wide apertures.

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Wide Angle Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • Great for shooting group shots
  • Creates beautiful bokeh
  • Vivid and crisp shots
  • Minimal distortion and aberration
Cons
  • A bit soft when using F1.8 to F2.0

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5. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L

Some people think that the best portrait lens for Canon is a zoom lens that they can rely on in different scenarios.

The Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8 II L USM Zoom Lens is a great pick if you want to save time switching lenses or cameras whenever you are dealing with different scenarios.

The Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM zoom lens is a great choice for shooting group photos or subjects from a greater distance compared to when using a 50mm lens.

With an F2.8 aperture, it still gets the job done when it comes to creating beautiful bokeh. And compared to other lenses that have a wider aperture, this lens is sharp across all its aperture and range.

You can also feel confident shooting portraits even if you don’t have a tripod since it comes with an image stabilization feature. Plus, the ultrasonic motor does a great job at finding the subject.

It is also sharp and can produce great colors.

The zoom ring, for instance, isn’t that smooth to use if you are using manual focus.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • With image stabilization
  • Sharp results
  • Zoom lens that prevents you from switching lenses
Cons
  • The F2.8 might not give you enough versatility shooting indoors

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6. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8

Some photographers prefer shooting their subjects from a distance.

These are instances when they can get the best candid portrait shots as the subject doesn’t feel awkward seeing the lens up close.

The Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM lens comes in handy in this situation. Perfect for both indoor and outdoor locations, it can give you sharp results, beautiful bokeh, and vivid colors.

It also made use of a fast and accurate ultrasonic motor for its AF mode tracking the subject with ease.

It’s probably the best Canon lens for portraits if you are shooting concerts at night.

Unfortunately, it does leave some chromatic aberration on photos.

Though you can fix it during post-production, the photos can take so much time to fix everything.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens Example Image – Source
Pros
  • Great for indoors and outdoors
  • Great bokeh
  • Can shoot subjects from afar
Cons
  • Takes a lot of time to remove chromatic aberration during post-processing

→ Jump Back to Table

7. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L

Some photographers consider the Canon EF 100mm F2.8L IS USM lens as the best Canon lens for portraits if you are going to shoot subjects from afar.

It’s the right choice if you are going to take photos of animals a few meters away, or shoot portraits during a wedding or concerts.

It is easy to use regardless if you are using the MF mode or its AF mode. It comes with a quiet and accurate ultrasonic motor capturing the subject with minimal lag time.

Also, it comes with an impressive image stabilization feature that minimizes blurred photos in case you don’t have a tripod with you.

However, apart from the fact that you rarely need a 100mm lens for shooting portraits, it’s one of those Canon lenses that you won’t invest in unless you are a serious photographer.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Example Image – Source
Pros
  • Superb image stabilization
  • Crisp and vivid colors
  • Can produce great bokeh
  • Performs well indoors
  • Practical when shooting from afar
Cons

    → Jump Back to Table

    8. Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens

    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6

    50mm has been a handy option for shooting portraits. However, there are those instances when you need a wider angle to capture an entire group in one photo.

    Also, it’s a good idea that you turn to zoom lenses in case you need to act fast and take the photo with no lag time.

    That’s where the Canon EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS II lens comes in as a great pick for those who are looking for the best Canon lens for portraits.

    Somehow, it gets the job done if you’re going to shoot outdoors.

    This is an easy-to-use lens even when you don’t have a tripod. Plus, it’s a lightweight lens that is easy to carry around.

    Though it produces great results, it’s not as sharp as other pro lenses that we’ve featured on our list.

    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens example image – Source
    Pros
    • Versatile range
    • Good for portraits outdoors
    • With image stabilization
    Cons
    • Produces results that are a bit soft

    → Jump Back to Table

    9. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom

    Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

    Shooting portraits don’t always have to be up close. There are instances when photographers get the best results when they are away from their subject.

    That’s where the Canon EF 75-300mm F4-5.6 III telephoto lens shines the most.

    The Canon EF 75-300mm F4-5.6 III is a great telephoto lens for a variety of situations.

    It’s a good pick for doing sports photography and wildlife photography. Some would even consider this as the best Canon lens for portraits if the photographer prefers not to be too invasive with their subject.

    It makes use of a micromotor type AF that tracks the subject. Unfortunately, tracking isn’t as accurate as you want it to be especially if you want to cut the delays and lag time when shooting photos.

    And for the quality of the shots, it’s nowhere near pro-level lenses.

    Consider it as an entry-level lens for those who are aspiring to do sports photography or even nature photography.

    It’s not the best, but it is something worth investing in if you are only a budding photographer.

    Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
    Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom example image – Source
    Pros
    • A great range for shooting in long-distance
    • Decent quality shots
    Cons
    • Doesn’t give you pro-quality results

    → Jump Back to Table

    10. Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

    Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

    The Canon EF 85mm F1.4 IS USM lens comes in as a top candidate for the best Canon lens for portraits if you want to maintain distance from your subject.

    Wide aperture, great optics, and a superb image stabilization feature are some of the things that make it a favorite among top photographers.

    The quality of the shots also meets the expectations of pros. Though you have to spend more on this lens, it’s worth investing in if you are a serious portrait photographer.

    A small issue that you might not like about this lens is that the wider apertures produce softer results compared to anything from its F2.8 and above.

    However, it’s still not a big issue.

    The thing that most people might not like about this lens is the fact that the AF tends to miss a lot.

    Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM
    Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM example image – Source
    Pros
    • A wide aperture that can create beautiful bokeh
    • Superb image stabilization
    • Allows you to shoot from afar
    Cons
    • AF tends to miss a lot

    → Jump Back to Table

    Final Remarks

    Finding the best Canon lens for portraits can be a bit tricky considering all the choices that you can choose from.

    And also, different photographers will have different opinions as to what they’d consider as the best portrait lens for Canon DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

    When buying your lens, be sure that you are going to consider your investment, and compare a few ones on our list.

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