Lens Selection for Portraits

As I mention in the video, lens focal lengths will vary among the different formats for a given angle of view. I cover this more extensively Focal Lengths and Digital Cameras. Here, I will talk about the four focal lengths used in the video and what lenses are available in each format to match. Lens offerings change over time so this list is only current for when I wrote this article.

For the most part, the lists include lenses from the camera companies. In some cases, worthwhile choices are available from third-party lens manufacturers such as Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Voigtlander and ZEISS.

Only the more popular camera lines are listed.

Full Frame DSLR - Canon and Nikon(FX)

 35mm equivalent focal length  Canon EF Lens Choices  Nikon FX Lens Choices
 35mm  35mm f/1.4 and f/2  35mm f/1.4 and f/1.8
 50mm  50mm f/1.2, f/1.4 and f/1.8  50mm f/1.4 and f/1.8
 85mm  85mm f/1.2, 1.4 and f/1.8  85mm f/1.4 and f/1.8
 Mid-Range Macro  100mm f/2.8  105mm f/2.8
 135mm  135mm f/2  135mm f/2 DC (Defocus Control)

Full Frame Mirrorless - Sony FE

 35mm equivalent focal length  Sony FE Lens Choices
 35mm  35mm f/1.4 ZA, 35mm f/2.8 ZA
 50mm  50mm f/1.4 ZA and f/1.8, 55mm f/1.8 ZA
 85mm  85mm f/1.4 GM and f/1.8
 Mid-Range Macro  90mm f/2.8
 135mm  135mm f/1.8 GM

ASP-C DSLR - Canon and Nikon (DX)

Note that full frame lenses can be mounted on ASP-C bodies. The table largely contains only those lenses designed for ASP-C cameras.

 35mm equivalent focal length  Canon EF-S ASP-C Lens Choices  Nikon DX ASP-C Lens Choices
 35mm  24mm f/2.8 STM  None
 50mm  Full-frame 40mm f/2.8 STM comes closest  35mm f/1.8
 85mm  None. The best choice is a full frame 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 (80mm equiv.).  None. The best choice is a full frame 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 (75mm equiv.).
 Mid-Range Macro  60mm f/2.8 (96mm equiv.)  85mm f/3.5 (127.5mm equiv.), Tamron 60mm f/2 Macro (90mm equiv.)
 135mm  None  85mm f/3.5 Macro (127.5mm equiv.) comes closest but does not have a very wide aperture.

ASP-C Mirrorless - Fujifilm X series and Sony alpha (E mount)

 35mm equivalent focal length  Fujifilm X Lens Choices  Sony E Lens Choices
 35mm  23mm f/1.4  24mm f/1.8 ZA
 50mm  35mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2  35mm f/1.8
 85mm  56mm f/1.2. Also the 50mm f/2 for a 75mm equivalent.  None. The 50mm f/1.8 (75mm equiv.) comes closest.
 Mid-Range Macro  60mm f/2.4 (90mm equiv.)  None
 135mm  90mm f/2  None

Micro Four Thirds

Olympus Pen and OM-D and Panasonic Lumix G series. Lenses are interchangeable between the two camera company’s bodies since they all use a common lens mount.

 35mm equivalent focal length  Olympus Lens Choices  Panasonic Lens Choices
 35mm  17mm f/1.2 and f/1.8  None. The LEICA DG 15mm f/1.7 (30mm equiv.) comes closest.
 50mm  25mm f/1.2 and f/1.8  25mm f/1.7, LEICA DG 25mm f/1.4
 85mm  45mm f/1.8 (90mm equiv.) comes the closest  42.5mm f/1.7, LEICA DG 42.5mm f/1.2
 Mid-Range Macro  60mm f/2.8 (120mm equiv.)  LEICA DG 45mm f/2.8 (90mm equiv.)
 135mm  None. The Sigma DN 60mm f/2.8 (120mm equiv.) comes closest. Another option is the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 (150mm equiv.).  None. The Sigma DN 60mm f/2.8 (120mm equiv.) comes closest.