Top 3 portrait lenses for 2024
07 January, 2024
2024 has arrived, and we embark on another year of capturing images and snagging portraits. Who knows what it holds for us photographers, but one certainty for me this year is that I will be returning to these three lenses for the majority of my portrait work. I love them all, and so far, they haven’t let me down in the heat of photographic battle.
The first is my go-to headshot and portrait lens, one that has been by my side on every portrait shoot for the last three years. The Sigma Art 50mm 1.4 is a beast. Not a beast like the Kraken or whatever pops out of the water in that nasty puddle in Lord of the Rings, but more like a raging tiger of a beast (think Battlecat), noble and powerful, here for you through thick and thin. It's heavy, no question, but sometimes it's good to know you have a lens in your hand. In the early days, I shot with the Canon 50mm 1.8, and it certainly did the job. Still, as soon as I switched to the Sigma, I was won over by the beautiful contrast, sweet rendering, and sharpness that never failed to please. I also LOVE working at 50mm for headshots. I like to stay connected to my clients, and this lens allows me to do that. I love it. Period.
The second in this holy trinity is a bit of a curveball, but I’ve recently fallen for the Fuji system, and I picked up a Fuji 23mm F2 (equivalent to 35mm on full frame) to use for some street work, and I’m SMITTEN. As I mainly work with headshots and tighter portraits, I haven’t used a 35mm much in my photography career, but smashing this lens onto my Fuji X-T2 and taking it out for a spin has been a joy. I had a few peaceful days strolling around south London taking some street photos and was immediately enamored with the speed of the autofocus and just how light this lens is. Coupled with the X-T2, it's tiny, inconspicuous, and a pleasure to use. So much so that I've incorporated it into my studio work and now use it on some editorial work and with dance shoots. It's tiny, accurate, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (well, maybe for a Hasselblad).
Now the 3rd and final lens is a peach. The Fuji 80mm 1.7 for the GFX has been a really nice bit of kit to play with. Yes, it sort of lurks somewhere between 50 and 85mm, and for some, that might feel a little disconcerting. Yes, it isn’t the lightest of lenses, but assuming you don't skip bicep day, you won't have any serious problems with the heft. Working with this lens on the GFX50 is superb, and yes, it's expensive, but YOU'RE expensive, so it's worth it. Hire/borrow/magic one into existence and give it a whirl; you won’t be disappointed. I should maybe say that while I do love this lens, I also work with people that move around quite a lot, and sometimes working on the GFX system is not ideal for this, but hey, the images are beautiful, so all is forgiven.
Have a wicked start to the year.
Take the pictures you like.