Portrait photography

85mm versus 135mm for portrait photography


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Photographers who debate and care about this idea don’t really question the quality of the image. Indeed, if you are wondering about 85mm versus 135mm for portrait photography, they are both very good. But these are very different focal lengths. Fortunately, we have reviewed many 85mm lenses over the years. And we’ve looked at just about every 135mm lens made over the past decade. So we are pooling the information we have written with some selections.

The best 85mm lenses for portraits

Here are some of our favorite 85mm lenses for portraits. And if you’re interested, here’s a breakdown:

“Another great feature of the first 85mm is the bokeh you can create. When it comes to portraits, many people like to have the subject crisp and clear while the background blends in. Image separation is easy to achieve with 85mm lenses because they have fast apertures (typically f1.8 to f1.2). Just be aware that playing with telephoto lenses when they’re wide open can be tricky, so be sure to use your camera’s eye autofocus if it has one or make sure you have a hand. closed; otherwise, you will find that your gatekeeper rate is low. You can, of course, reduce the aperture to keep the background crisp; it all depends on your creative vision.

Portrait photography: the differences between the first 85 mm and 135 mm

The best 135mm lenses for portraits

Some of our favorite 135mm lenses we’ve used for portraits. And if you’re interested, there’s more of a breakdown here:

“There’s just no size difference between the 135mm premiums and the 85mm premiums, and you’ll also find that the 135mm premiums generally come at a premium. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, but just make sure you want to spend a lot of money on a goal that really only has one use case.

Portrait photography: the differences between the first 85 mm and 135 mm

85mm vs. 135mm is a huge space issue

A while back we did an infographic on 85mm vs 135mm lenses. And here’s what we said in this post:

“If you’re shooting portraits outdoors, either option will do the trick because you don’t have to deal with space restrictions. If you work indoors (a studio or a client’s office), space becomes more of a concern. 135mm lenses require you to be quite far from your subject. Your framing will be tighter due to the space restrictions that come with indoor photography. The 85mm lens offers more flexibility here because you don’t have to be that far from your subject.

Indeed, a 135mm lens needs a lot more space to be effective.

But which is the best?

Well, it’s hard to answer. YouTuber Jessica Whitaker made a video some time ago, testing the differences between the two. We noticed that she found a way to separate her subject more from the background with the 135mm lens. We have summarized his thoughts:

“In conclusion, the 85mm will be a good choice for you if you tend to do a lot of close-up portraits. But if you plan on doing more senior portraits or long-term bridal portraits, the 135mm will be your best bet.

We’ve also made our own 85mm vs 135mm comparisons over the years. Some time ago we compared the Sigma variants. And again, it’s apples to oranges here.

Why not buy a 70-200mm lens instead?

This is an important question in the 85mm vs. 135mm debate. And we’ve answered it pretty completely here:

“Overall, 70-200mm f2.8 lenses aren’t fast enough in terms of aperture setting for many photographers. But honestly, I honestly think a lot of photographers will do just fine with a 70-200mm f4 lens. F4 ensures that your subject’s entire face is in focus and you can choose to go further or tighter. Plus, you have a variety of other focal lengths you can work with. If you want something in between, you can go for 100mm if you want.

But one of the best reasons photographers choose prime lenses is their shallower aperture and generally their ability to be sharper and get better bokeh. If that doesn’t matter to you and your customers aren’t going to sit there demanding better bokeh, then read on.

If not, I honestly solved your issue and you can probably close the article at this point.

Still confused? We love to hear from you in the comments. Please see the resources we have provided.


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