Best Canon RF Lenses for Portrait Photography in 2023

Portrait photography is a fascinating genre that allows photographers to capture the essence of a person, their personality, and their story in a single frame. Whether you are a professional photographer or just starting, having the right lens for the job is essential. A portrait lens should not only flatter the face of the subject but also be versatile enough to adapt to different shooting situations.

Canon, one of the leading camera manufacturers, has an impressive range of prime and zoom lenses that cater to every type of photographer. Their L-series lenses are particularly famous for their image quality, durability, and versatility. However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the perfect lens for your portrait photography needs.

A good portrait lens should have a focal length that flatters the subject’s face, making them look their best. Traditionally, mid-telephoto lenses with a focal length of 50mm to 100mm are popular for their natural compression, which makes faces look more attractive. However, for environmental portraits, where the subject’s surroundings are also important, wider focal lengths between 35mm to 50mm can be used.

Apart from focal length, the maximum aperture of the lens is another crucial factor to consider. A wide aperture of f/1.2 or f/1.8 allows photographers to create a shallow depth of field, making the subject’s face stand out while blurring out the distracting elements in the background or foreground.

In this article, we will explore the best Canon RF lenses for portrait photography, as used and recommended by professionals. We will delve into the features and capabilities of each lens, discussing why they are ideal for specific portrait styles and shooting situations. Whether you are shooting in the studio or outdoors, in natural light or low light, we’ve got you covered. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what makes a great portrait lens and be better equipped to choose the perfect one for your needs.

Best Canon RF Lenses for Portrait Photography

In this article, we present a list of the best Canon RF portraits lenses for different needs and preferences. We’ve chosen a range of lenses that cater to various shooting scenarios, from environmental portraits, flattering portraits, street portraits, low-light portraits to creative portraits. Our selection includes:

  1. Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens: Best Canon RF lens for environmental portraits
  2. Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM Lens: Best Canon lens for flattering portraits
  3. Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM Lens: Best Canon prime lens for low-light portraits
  4. Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens: Best Canon portrait lens for details
  5. Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM Lens: Best Canon lens for creative portraits
  6. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM Lens: Best wide-angle Canon portrait lens
  7. Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens: Best Canon zoom lens for portraits
  8. Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM Lens: Best Canon zoom lens for low-light portraits
  9. Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens: Most versatile Canon portrait lens
  10. Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens: Best Canon telephoto zoom lens for portraits

For a more detailed analysis of each lens, we provide comprehensive reviews below. These reviews will help you understand the unique features and benefits of each lens, enabling you to make an informed decision based on your specific needs and preferences.


1. Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens

Best Canon RF lens for environmental portraits

Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.2
  • Minimum Aperture: f/16
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 1.31′ / 40 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.19x
  • Optical Design: 15 Elements in 9 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 77 mm
  • Dimensions: 3.54 x 4.25″ / 89.8 x 108 mm
  • Weight: 2.09 lb / 950 g
  • Store Links: $2,099 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Superior sharpness
  • Outstanding build with advanced weather sealing
  • Very bright aperture
  • Edge-to-edge clarity
  • Fabulous optical performance
  • Good contrast
  • Lovely bokeh
  • Minimal distortion
  • Fast, dependable autofocus
  • Dust and splash protection
  • Fluorine lens coat

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Big, heavy and unwieldy
  • No image stabilization

As a professional photographer, I’ve had the pleasure of using many lenses throughout my career, but there is one that stands out above the rest when it comes to portrait photography: the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens. This prime lens is a must-have for anyone serious about portrait photography, and its combination of supreme sharpness and low-light performance make it a standout choice.

I first used this lens during a shoot for my project A Rummage of Flowers, and it quickly became my favorite lens on the shoot. Its solid build quality and precision are unmatched, and even at f/1.2, there was no distortion in the resulting images. The optical quality and aperture allowed me to capture my subjects in super-sharp detail while creating a beautiful bokeh that blurred out the background and put the focus solely on the subjects.

The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens is particularly well-suited for environmental portraits. The 50mm focal length is perfect for capturing subjects in their surroundings, while the fast autofocus with eye tracking ensures that the subject’s eyes are always in focus. This lens has a versatile focal length, and with the f/1.2 aperture, you can get stunning subject isolation while still including more of the environment in the shot.

While this lens is not the cheapest option out there, the quality and precision you get from it more than justify the high price. It’s a heavy lens at 905g, so it’s unwieldy to have on smaller EOS R cameras without an additional solid grip. However, its superior sharpness, build quality, and versatile focal length make it an investment worth making for any professional portrait photographer.

In summary, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens is a top-of-the-line option for portrait photographers who want exceptional sharpness and low-light performance. It’s a staple lens that every photographer should have in their arsenal, and it’s well worth the investment for anyone serious about portrait photography.

Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens: $2,099 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM lens for portrait photography, we suggest watching the review by Taylor Jackson.


2. Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM Lens

Best Canon lens for flattering portraits

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.2
  • Minimum Aperture: f/16
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 2.79′ / 85 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.12x
  • Optical Design: 13 Elements in 9 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 82 mm
  • Dimensions: 4.06 x 4.62″ / 103.2 x 117.3 mm
  • Weight: 2.63 lb / 1195 g
  • Store Links: $2,599 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Class-leading image quality
  • Outstanding build with advanced weather sealing
  • Optically nearly perfect
  • Exquisite sharpness at f/1.2 right across the frame
  • Excellent resolution
  • Nice bokeh
  • Good contrast
  • Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics banish fringing
  • Otus levels of microcontrast
  • Great Eye AF focus results
  • Good control of flare and aberrations
  • Customizable control ring

Cons:

  • Extremely expensive
  • Large and heavy
  • No image stabilization

I am excited to share my experience with the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens for Portrait Photography. As a professional photographer, I am always on the lookout for the best lenses to capture stunning images. This lens is undoubtedly one of the best for flattering portraits, and I am thrilled with the results.

The lens design and advanced Canon optics are unparalleled, providing superior optical performance that truly captures the essence of portrait photography. The 85mm focal length is perfect for my work, allowing me to take both close-up portraits and full-length shots with ease. This lens combines the best qualities of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens and the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM lens, providing the perfect balance of sharpness and softness.

One of the standout features of this lens is the control ring, which allows me to control the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture with ease. This feature is perfect for me as a photographer because it helps me to adjust the settings quickly to achieve the desired results.

The lens is pretty big and heavy, and it can be expensive, but the sharp, background-blurred images it produces at f/1.2 make it worth the investment. It is especially useful for low light events and provides excellent image quality with an almost distortion-free outcome, producing sharp images from corner to corner.

The build quality is also exceptional, as you would expect from an L-series lens. It is durable and built to last, perfect for professional use. The RF-mount lens for EOS R-series cameras features weather-seals and fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements, making it ideal for use in all weather conditions.

Overall, I highly recommend the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens for Portrait Photography. It is an exceptional lens that provides class-leading image quality, solid build quality, and is perfect for portrait photographers who want to capture stunning images without spending hours post-processing. This lens delivers everything you need superbly, making it my top pick for Canon portrait lenses.

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM Lens: $2,599 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM lens for portrait photography, we suggest watching the review by Vanessa Joy.

Also consider: Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens is a fantastic option for portrait photographers seeking the finest quality and exceptional bokeh. The lens was launched in 2019, and it offers the same exceptional sharpness for in-focus areas of an image as the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM lens but adds a specially developed Canon-exclusive Defocus Smoothing coating that produces an even silkier bokeh and softer edges to out-of-focus highlights.

The DS version of the lens gives up some light at wide apertures but produces better bokeh. It is designed for portraiture and is ideal for shallow depth of field applications. The Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens made distracting backgrounds dissolve away, creating a smooth and delicate blur that complemented the style of photography. The DS coating is present on two lens elements and helps to soften and smooth the bokeh quality when working at wider aperture settings.

However, the price tag of US $2,999 is undeniably high for most people, especially given that the non-DS version of the lens costs $300 less. Despite this, the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens is an exceptional lens that delivers stunning image quality and exceptional bokeh, making it a valuable purchase for photographers who crave the finest quality.

In conclusion, the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens is a must-have for any portrait photographer seeking exceptional bokeh and the finest quality. Although it is expensive, the lens delivers stunning image quality and smooth, silky bokeh that will enhance any portrait photograph.

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM DS Lens: $2,899 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

The KING of Canon Portrait Lenses? Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L vs RF 85mm f/1.2L Defocus Smoothening, check out the review by Manny Ortiz:


3. Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM Lens

Best Canon prime lens for low-light portraits

Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 1.15′ / 35.05 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.5x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio: 1:2
  • Optical Design: 12 Elements in 11 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 67 mm
  • Dimensions: 3.07 x 3.56″ / 78 x 90.5 mm
  • Length at Maximum Extension: 3.54″ / 90 mm
  • Weight: 17.64 oz / 500 g
  • Store Links: $599 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Compact, nicely made lens
  • Good up close performance
  • 1:2 Macro Capabilities rare in an 85mm lens
  • 5 stops of image stabilization that increases to 8 stops with the R7
  • Excellent image sharpness across the frame
  • Soft and creamy bokeh
  • Good control of aberrations
  • Good flare resistance

Cons:

  • Autofocus is noisy and slow
  • No lens hood included and low-rent packaging
  • No weather sealing
  • Fairly heavy vignette

As a photographer, I am always on the lookout for new and improved equipment to improve my craft. So, when I heard about the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM Lens, I knew I had to try it out. The lens is touted as the best prime lens for low-light portraits, and I was eager to see if it lived up to its reputation.

I was pleased to discover that the lens did indeed live up to its reputation. The image stabilization is quite amazing, and I was able to take handheld shots in low light conditions without any issues. I especially liked the 5-stop Hybrid IS, which made it even more versatile in low light situations.

The lens is also incredibly sharp, and I was able to capture beautiful detail in my subjects. The bokeh quality was also very nice, giving my portraits a beautiful soft background. I particularly liked the close-up portrait I took of a girl standing in front of a barn, where the background was so soft that it looked like it was a portrait studio backdrop.

One of the best things about the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM Lens is its compact size. I do a lot of photography outside of my own country, so it’s good to have equipment that’s easy to travel with. The RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is light but sturdy, making it easy to carry around with me wherever I go.

I also appreciated that this lens is versatile, with 0.5x macro capabilities, which allowed me to capture beautiful close-up shots. Additionally, the lens is almost completely silent in operation, making it ideal for video.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM Lens to any photographer who is looking for an affordable yet versatile portrait lens. It may not have the largest aperture, but its image stabilization and macro capabilities more than make up for it.

Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM Lens: $599 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM lens for portrait photography, we suggest watching the review by Irene Rudnyk:


4. Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens

Best Canon portrait lens for details

Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 100mm
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/32
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 10.2″ / 26 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 1.4x
  • Optical Design: 17 Elements in 13 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 67 mm
  • Dimensions: 3.2 x 5.8″ / 81.5 x 148 mm
  • Weight: 1.6 lb / 730 g
  • Store Links: $1,299 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • High grade build
  • Professional grade weather sealing
  • 1.4x magnification
  • Dual Nano USM delivers fast, silent focus
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Beautiful color and great contrast
  • 5.5 stops IS, up to 8 stops with IBIS
  • Chromatic aberrations well controlled
  • Minimal flare
  • Very nice bokeh and general rendering
  • Makes for an excellent portrait lens

Cons:

  • High price
  • Tripod collar is not included

The Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens is a versatile and impressive lens that can be used for both portrait and macro photography. As a portrait lens, it excels at capturing fine detail, making it ideal for headshots, fashion photography, and any situation where attention to detail is important. The lens has a wide f/2.8 aperture, which allows for low-light shooting and provides excellent background blur.

The lens is built to professional-grade standards, with weather-sealing that protects it from dust and moisture. Its optical design includes 17 elements in 13 groups, and it has a 1.4x magnification ratio, which makes it an excellent macro lens as well. The lens features dual Nano USM motors, which deliver fast and silent autofocus, and its 5.5-stop image stabilization ensures sharp images even when shooting handheld.

One of the unique features of the RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is its Spherical Aberration Control, which allows for creative control over the bokeh and adds a soft-focus effect to the shot. The lens is also very sharp, with beautiful color and great contrast, and chromatic aberrations are well controlled. Flare is minimal, and the general rendering of the lens is very nice.

The lens is fairly lightweight, making it easy to carry around and use for extended periods of time. It has a filter thread size of 67mm and measures 3.2 x 5.8″ / 81.5 x 148 mm. The only real downside to this lens is its high price, which may make it difficult for some photographers to justify purchasing.

Overall, the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens is an exceptional lens that offers outstanding image quality, fast and accurate autofocus, and a wide range of creative options. It is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a versatile lens for portrait or macro work, although the high price may be a barrier for some.

Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens: $1,299 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM lens, we suggest watching the review by DPReview TV.


5. Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM Lens

Best Canon lens for creative portraits

Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 135mm
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/22
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 2.3′ / 70 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.26x
  • Optical Design: 17 Elements in 12 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 82 mm
  • Dimensions: 3.5 x 5.1″ / 89.2 x 130.3 mm
  • Weight: 2.1 lb / 935 g
  • Store Links: $2,099 at Amazon, B&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Fast Aperture
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Weather Sealed
  • AF/MF Switch on Lens
  • Aperture Ring
  • Focus Hold Button
  • Control Ring
  • Hood supplied
  • Full-time Manual Focusing
  • 9 Diaphragm Blades

Cons:

  • Pricey

The Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM is a top-of-the-line lens designed for portrait photographers who are looking for exceptional image quality, superb image separation, and a fast aperture for excellent bokeh and low-light performance. It is part of Canon’s high-end L-series lenses, which are known for their superior build quality, optical performance, and weather sealing.

As a portrait lens, the Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM provides a higher degree of compression than the popular portrait lens focal length of 85mm. Its narrower angle of view also makes it easier to isolate the subject from the surroundings, with the fast maximum aperture giving more creative control over depth of field. The lens features a 17-element optical design, which includes a UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) element and two aspherical elements that help to minimize chromatic aberrations and distortions while maintaining sharpness and contrast.

One of the standout features of this lens is its fast f/1.8 maximum aperture. This allows for excellent low-light performance and the ability to create a shallow depth of field, which is perfect for creating dreamy, bokeh-filled portraits. The lens also features Optical Image Stabilization, which helps to minimize camera shake and allows for sharper images in low light.

The Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM also boasts fast and precise autofocus, thanks to the lens’s Dual Nano USM autofocus system. This allows for quick and accurate focusing, even in low light conditions. The lens also supports full-time manual focusing, which allows the photographer to make fine adjustments to focus even after autofocus has been engaged. The lens features a customizable control ring, which can be used to adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO, or exposure compensation.

The lens has a minimum focus distance of 2.3 feet (70cm) and a maximum magnification of 0.26x, which allows for close-up portraits with great detail. The lens also has a focus hold button, which can be used to temporarily pause autofocus when recomposing a shot.

In terms of build quality, the Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM is built to withstand tough shooting conditions. It is weather-sealed against dust and moisture and has a fluorine coating on the front and rear elements to repel water and oil. The lens also features an AF/MF switch on the lens barrel, which makes it easy to switch between autofocus and manual focus modes. The lens comes with a hood to prevent lens flare and ghosting and has nine diaphragm blades that create a circular aperture for pleasing bokeh.

The only drawback of the Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM is its price. As a high-end L-series lens, it is one of the most expensive lenses in Canon’s RF lineup. However, for professional portrait photographers who demand the best, this lens is worth the investment.

In conclusion, the Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM is an exceptional lens for portrait photography. Its fast maximum aperture, optical image stabilization, and accurate autofocus make it an excellent choice for low-light candid portraits, indoor sports photography, and any other situation where speed and precision are essential. While it may be expensive, the build quality, optical performance, and features of this lens make it a top pick for professionals who want the best results from their portraits.

Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM Lens: $2,099 at Amazon, B&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM lens for portrait photography, we suggest watching the review by Sal Cincotta:


6. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM Lens

Best wide-angle Canon portrait lens

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/22
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 6.69″ / 17 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.5x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio: 1:2
  • Filter Thread: 52 mm
  • Dimensions: 2.93 x 2.47″ / 74.4 x 62.8 mm
  • Length at Maximum Extension: 2.44″ / 62 mm
  • Weight: 10.76 oz / 305 g
  • Store Links: $499 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Compact size
  • 0.5x macro with hybrid stabilization
  • Good center sharpness
  • Good edge performance stopped down
  • Beautiful sunburst
  • Accurate autofocus
  • Effective IS
  • Reasonable price

Cons:

  • No weather sealing or fluorine coating
  • Doesn’t include lens hood or pouch
  • Vignette at wide apertures
  • Some barrel distortion
  • STM focus a little noisy

As a portrait photographer, I have found the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM lens to be an excellent choice for wide-angle portraits. Despite the 35mm focal length being considered quite wide for a portrait lens, I have been able to capture stunning portraits with this lens, and it has become one of my go-to lenses for portrait shoots.

One of the standout features of this lens is its fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, which allows for great low light performance and beautiful bokeh in portrait shots. The image stabilization is also a valuable addition, especially when shooting handheld in low light situations.

The macro capabilities of the lens are also impressive, allowing for close-up shots with a magnification ratio of 0.5x. I have been able to capture stunning detail in close-up shots of flowers and other small subjects.

The compact and lightweight design of the lens makes it easy to carry around for extended periods, and it is compatible with Canon’s range of macro flashes, which is a significant advantage when shooting in challenging lighting conditions.

In terms of image quality, the lens produces sharp images, even at wide apertures, with good center sharpness and excellent edge performance when stopped down. The lens also produces a beautiful sunburst effect when shooting at smaller apertures.

However, the lens does have a few drawbacks. There is no weather sealing or fluorine coating, which could be an issue when shooting in adverse weather conditions. The lens also does not come with a lens hood or pouch, which may be an inconvenience for some users. Additionally, there is some vignetting at wider apertures, and there is some barrel distortion, which may require some post-processing to correct.

Overall, the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM lens is an excellent choice for portrait photographers who want a wide-angle prime lens with macro capabilities. It is a versatile and compact lens that delivers excellent image quality, and it is reasonably priced compared to other lenses in its class. While it does have a few minor drawbacks, the pros far outweigh the cons, and I highly recommend this lens for portrait photography.

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM Lens: $499 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM lens for portrait photography, we suggest watching the review by Eli Infante:


7. Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens

Best Canon zoom lens for portraits

Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 24-70mm
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/22
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 8.27″ / 21 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.3x
  • Optical Design: 21 Elements in 15 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 82 mm
  • Dimensions: 3.48 x 4.95″ / 88.5 x 125.7 mm
  • Length at Maximum Extension: 6.06″ / 154 mm
  • Weight: 1.98 lb / 900 g
  • Store Links: $2,399 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Strong, robust build quality
  • Quiet and quick autofocus
  • Strong optical performance
  • Superb stabilization
  • No focus breathing
  • Good bokeh
  • Good flare resistance
  • Quality weather resistance

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Large and heavy
  • Heavy vignette at 24mm

The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens is considered one of the best zoom lenses for portrait photography. With its fast aperture, image stabilization, and Nano USM motor, this lens provides a versatile and reliable option for portrait photographers who need flexibility and precision in their work.

One of the standout features of this lens is its ability to perform in low light conditions, making it ideal for indoor portraits. The five stops of image stabilization allow photographers to use longer shutter speeds without worrying about camera shake, resulting in sharp and detailed images even in challenging lighting situations. Additionally, the Control Ring on the lens allows for quick and easy adjustments to ISO, making it easier to maintain the desired exposure settings when working with moving subjects or varying lighting conditions.

The RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens also has a wide aperture, which allows for a shallow depth of field, making it easy to isolate subjects and create pleasing bokeh in portrait shots. The lens’s 24-70mm focal length range is also perfect for capturing a range of portrait shots, from wide-angle group shots to medium telephoto headshots.

This lens has a sturdy build quality and is designed to be used in all weather conditions. Its L-series designation ensures that it can handle daily professional use, and its weather-resistant design makes it suitable for outdoor portrait shoots, even in inclement weather.

However, it’s worth noting that the RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens is a heavy and expensive lens, which may make it less suitable for photographers who prioritize portability and affordability. Additionally, at 24mm, there may be some noticeable vignetting, which may require post-processing correction.

Overall, the Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens is an excellent choice for portrait photographers who require a versatile, reliable, and high-performing lens. Its strong build quality, quick autofocus, and stabilization features make it an ideal lens for indoor and outdoor portrait photography, especially when shooting in low light conditions. However, it may not be the best choice for photographers who prioritize portability or affordability.

Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens: $2,399 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens, we suggest watching the review by Jared Polin.


8. Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM Lens

Best Canon zoom lens for low-light portraits

Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 28-70mm
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2
  • Minimum Aperture: f/22
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 1.28′ / 39 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.18x
  • Optical Design: 19 Elements in 13 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 95 mm
  • Dimensions: 4.09 x 5.5″ / 103.8 x 139.8 mm
  • Length at Maximum Extension: 6.34″ / 161 mm
  • Weight: 3.15 lb / 1430 g
  • Store Links: $3,099 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Superb image quality
  • Fast f/2 aperture
  • Robust build with weather-sealing
  • Fluorine coating
  • Peerless

Cons:

  • Big, heavy and expensive
  • No image stabilization

The Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM lens is a powerful tool for portrait photography, particularly in low-light situations. The lens’s f/2 aperture delivers exceptional image quality and depth-of-field control, making it a prime candidate for studio and location portraiture. The lens is part of Canon’s advanced L-series zoom line, redefining zoom lens image quality.

One of the standout features of the RF 28-70mm F2L USM is its large maximum aperture, which is constant throughout the zoom range. This allows photographers to achieve beautiful background blur and low-light performance, without compromising on sharpness or clarity. Additionally, the lens’s convenient zoom range allows for easy framing and composition of portraits, without the need to change lenses.

The lens features a ring-type USM AF motor, which delivers rapid and near-silent autofocus, allowing photographers to capture sharp, in-focus portraits quickly and easily. The intuitive lens Control Ring also enables quick adjustments of frequently-used settings during a portrait shoot, adding to the lens’s versatility and ease-of-use.

Although the RF 28-70mm F2L USM is not equipped with optical image stabilization, it is able to benefit from the In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) built into a number of EOS R System cameras. This allows for even sharper images, particularly when shooting in low-light conditions or using slower shutter speeds.

Advanced lens coatings, UD lens elements, and a nine-blade aperture ensure consistently high image quality at all focal lengths, even in challenging lighting conditions. Additionally, the lens is built to withstand the rigors of professional use, with a robust build and weather-sealing to protect against the elements. The fluorine coating on the lens’s front and rear elements also helps to repel dirt and water, making it easy to clean and maintain.

Overall, the Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM lens is an excellent choice for portrait photographers looking for a versatile, high-quality zoom lens for low-light situations. While the lens is large, heavy, and expensive, it delivers exceptional image quality and is a valuable tool for professional photographers looking to capture stunning portraits with ease.

Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM Lens: $3,099 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM lens for portrait photography, we suggest watching the review by Sal Cincotta:


9. Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens

Most versatile Canon portrait lens

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 24-105mm
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Maximum Aperture: f/4
  • Minimum Aperture: f/22
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 1.48′ / 45 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.24x
  • Optical Design: 18 Elements in 14 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 77 mm
  • Dimensions: 3.29 x 4.22″ / 83.5 x 107.3 mm
  • Length at Maximum Extension: 5.94″ / 151 mm
  • Weight: 1.54 lb / 700 g
  • Store Links: $1,299 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Very well built
  • Extremely fast and quiet autofocus
  • Good low light sensitivity and focus
  • Excellent color rendition
  • Great contrast
  • Good sharpness across focal range
  • Weather sealing
  • Control ring is very useful

Cons:

  • Flare prone
  • Some barrel distortion at 24mm
  • Small amounts of lateral CA
  • Some vignette

The Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is a versatile zoom lens that offers photographers and filmmakers a combination of performance, portability and image quality. Its zoom range covers all of the classic portrait focal lengths, making it an ideal choice for portrait photographers who value flexibility over the fastest maximum aperture.

While the maximum aperture of f/4 is not as wide as its f/2.8 counterpart, the lens has a longer 105mm reach, which helps with image separation, image compression and the creation of a beautiful bokeh wide open at the telephoto end. The lens’s constant f/4 aperture throughout the zoom range is a significant advantage for portrait photographers who require consistent exposure settings.

The lens also features a powerful image stabilization system that provides up to 5 stops of shake reduction, which makes it easier to capture sharp and steady shots in low-light situations without having to use a tripod. The lens also features a very fast and quiet autofocus system, which makes it easy to capture fast-moving subjects and to track them accurately.

The lens is built with a weather-sealed design that makes it suitable for use in various weather conditions. Additionally, the lens’s control ring is a useful feature that allows quick adjustments of frequently-used settings during a portrait shoot.

The Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens has a high-quality optical design consisting of 18 elements in 14 groups. The lens produces excellent color rendition and contrast, and it delivers good sharpness across the focal range. However, it is prone to flare and has some barrel distortion at 24mm. There is also some vignetting, but it is only noticeable at wider apertures.

In summary, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is a highly versatile zoom lens that offers great performance, portability and image quality. It’s a standout choice for portrait photographers who require flexibility over the fastest maximum aperture. The lens’s constant f/4 aperture, powerful image stabilizer and weather-sealed design make it a reliable and capable tool for capturing stunning portraits.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens: $1,299 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens, we suggest watching the review by Kevin Deal Photography:


10. Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens

Best Canon telephoto zoom lens for portraits

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens Specifications:

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage: Full-Frame
  • Focal Length: 70-200mm
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/32
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 2.3′ / 70 cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.23x
  • Optical Design: 17 Elements in 13 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 77 mm
  • Dimensions: 3.54 x 5.75″ / 89.9 x 146 mm
  • Length at Maximum Extension: 8.03″ / 204 mm
  • Weight: 2.35 lb / 1070 g
  • Store Links: $2,799 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Pros:

  • Extremely fast, quiet, and accurate autofocus
  • Highly effective image stabilization
  • Improved maximum magnification
  • Gorgeous bokeh and color
  • Good global contrast and rendering
  • Good center sharpness and excellent mid-frame performance
  • Good control of aberrations and flare

Cons:

  • Extremely expensive
  • Not compatible with teleconverters
  • Tripod foot not Arca-Swiss compatible
  • Not particularly sharp in corners until smaller apertures

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens is an exceptional choice for portrait photography. It is a step-up from the EF version, being lighter, faster, smaller, and focusing closer, while maintaining the same excellent build quality and outstanding optical performance. Its f/2.8 aperture creates a very narrow depth of field, producing pleasing bokeh, and the autofocus is incredibly fast and accurate, allowing for quick and easy focusing on subjects.

One unique feature of this lens is that it can focus so close at 200mm that it allows for stunning close-up shots, even though it is not a macro lens. With all popular portrait focal lengths available, it is incredibly versatile, making it ideal for weddings, portraits, events, and even small-court sports.

The image quality is impressive, with the wide aperture, all of the right focal lengths, and the image stabilization, which provides high-performing results, especially in low light conditions when a tripod is not available. Moreover, the pro-grade build of this lens offers weather-sealed construction, making it a rugged and reliable lens.

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens features two Nano USM motors, which provide a high level of autofocus speed for still images and a smooth and silent autofocus for video shooting. The floating focus control is another first from Canon, allowing the two lens groups to be driven independently while using the Nano USM motors, which shortens the focusing distance and reduces breathing, resulting in consistent and reliable performance.

Compared to the latest EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens for Canon’s D-SLRs, the RF edition is significantly smaller and lighter due to its extending inner barrel instead of a fixed physical length. Autofocus is incredibly fast and can track erratically moving objects, thanks to three switchable modes on offer for static and panning shots and a third option that applies stabilization only during exposures.

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens is an essential lens for working professionals, providing flexibility and different options when shooting portraits. The lens design is innovative, with a compact, flexible form factor that makes it easy to use on mirrorless bodies like the Canon EOS R5. The lens’s balance and weight are excellent, making it a pleasure to use for extended periods.

However, there are two primary disadvantages to this new lens design. The first is that teleconverters do not physically fit, meaning that one loses an advantage that they might have relied on in the past. Secondly, the price of the lens is relatively high, making it an expensive option for those who are on a budget.

In summary, the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens is an outstanding lens for portrait photography, with excellent image quality, autofocus performance, and versatility. It is a great investment for working professionals and amateurs alike, providing a compact, flexible form factor with all the necessary features for taking stunning portrait shots.

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens: $2,799 at AmazonB&HAdorama.

Want to know more about the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens for portrait photography, we suggest watching the review by Zach Mendez:


How to Choose the Best Canon Lenses for Portraits

When it comes to portrait photography, having the right lens can make all the difference. Regardless of whether you are shooting studio portraits or outdoor/indoor environmental portraits by natural light or retro portage, street portraits, selecting a lens that fits your camera needs is essential. Here are some of the key factors to consider when selecting the best Canon lens for portraits:

Focal Length:
Focal length is a crucial factor to consider when selecting a lens for portrait photography. It refers to the distance between the lens and the camera’s image sensor, which determines the magnification and angle of view of the subject. For portrait photography, the ideal focal length range is between 45mm and 85mm. This range allows for realistic and engaging proportions of the subject’s face and body.

Aperture:
The aperture is the opening through which light passes into the lens. A lower aperture number indicates a larger opening, which allows more light into the camera. A larger aperture also results in a shallower depth of field, creating a blurry background that helps to draw the viewer’s attention to the subject. For portrait photography, a lens with a wide aperture (f/1.8, f/1.4 or f/1.2) is recommended.

Sharpness:
Sharpness is an essential factor to consider when selecting a lens for portrait photography. A sharp lens can capture the minute details of the subject and ensure that the image is clear and crisp. Look for a lens with a high-quality glass and coatings that will help to reduce lens aberrations and distortion.

Autofocusing:
Autofocusing is a crucial feature to consider when selecting a lens for portrait photography. Canon lenses offer both manual and autofocus options. Autofocus is essential for capturing images quickly and accurately, especially in fast-paced situations. Ensure that the lens is compatible with your camera’s focusing system.

Image Stabilization:
Image stabilization helps to reduce blur in images caused by camera shake or movement. It is especially useful when shooting in low light conditions or when photographing moving subjects. Canon lenses offer image stabilization (IS), Nikon lenses offer Vibration Reduction (VR), and Sigma lenses offer Optical Stabilization (OS).

Portability:
The portability of the lens is important, especially if you’re planning to shoot portraits in various locations. A lightweight lens is ideal, allowing you to move around without any difficulty and capture the perfect shot.

Type of Lens:
When choosing a lens for portrait photography, consider the type of lens that will best suit your needs. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length and are faster, lighter, and more portable than zoom lenses. They also produce sharper images, even in low light conditions. Zoom lenses have a variable focal length and are more versatile, making them suitable for a wide range of photography genres.

Budget:
Finally, budget is a crucial factor to consider when selecting a lens for portrait photography. Canon lenses come at different price points, and it’s essential to choose a lens that fits your budget while still meeting your needs. A clear understanding of your requirements and investment can help you select the perfect lens for your portrait photography.

By considering these key factors, you can choose the best Canon portrait lens that meets your specific needs and preferences.

Final Thoughts

Portraiture, the art of capturing a person’s essence in a photograph, is one of the most rewarding genres of photography. It offers endless possibilities for creativity, allowing you to explore a vast array of styles and techniques to create captivating images. Every portrait you capture can tell a unique story and evoke different emotions in viewers. Whether you aim to create a classic and timeless headshot or a striking and dynamic environmental portrait, you have complete control over the entire process, from concept to execution.

One of the most critical factors in portrait photography is choosing the right lens. Canon, one of the most trusted and reputable brands in the photography industry, offers a vast range of lenses that can help you achieve your desired results. With the right lens, you can capture stunning details and create a sense of depth and dimension in your portraits.

For example, if you want to create a traditional headshot that emphasizes your subject’s facial features, you may opt for a prime lens like the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 or 135mm F1.8. These lenses provide a shallow depth of field, allowing you to isolate your subject and create a beautiful bokeh effect in the background. They also have a narrow angle of view, allowing you to focus on the subject’s face and create a flattering and engaging portrait.

On the other hand, if you want to create an environmental portrait that showcases your subject’s surroundings and personality, a standard prime lens like Canon RF 50mm and 35mm, or a standard zoom lens like the Canon RF 24-70mm or 24-105mm can be an excellent choice. With a wide focal range, these lenses can capture a broader perspective of your subject’s surroundings and create a sense of context and environment in your portraits.

Finally, if you want to capture intricate details in a beauty shot, a macro lens like the Canon RF 100mm or 50mm can help you achieve stunning results. With a high level of magnification, these lenses can capture fine details like skin texture, hair strands, and eye lashes, creating a visually striking image.

In conclusion, portraiture is a fascinating genre of photography that offers endless possibilities for creativity. With the right lens, you can capture stunning portraits that evoke emotions and tell a unique story. Whether you choose a prime lens for a classic headshot or a zoom lens for an environmental portrait, Canon has a range of lenses to help you achieve your desired results.

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