If you aren't a professional photographer, the chances are that you have a crop sensor camera.
That's not a bad thing - it just means you have to approach taking portraits a little differently.
One of those differences is in the lenses that you use.
Some lenses are designed specifically for full frame sensor cameras. That means you need to find glass that works well with a smaller sensor.
In this guide, I offer up a few suggestions for a good portrait lens for crop sensor cameras.
Best Portrait Lens for Crop Sensor: 90mm
I've talked about the virtues of prime lenses before, but as a quick recap, prime lenses tend to be less expensive, produce sharp images, and have very large apertures.
Naturally, getting sharp images without spending a ton of money is a great advantage.
And with a large aperture, you can easily blur the background in portraits (and shoot low-light portraits without a flash!).
On a crop sensor camera body, a 90mm lens has another benefit - gorgeous compression.
Depending on the crop factor - that is, how the size of the sensor impacts the effective focal length of the lens - a 90mm lens will behave more like a telephoto lens (135mm on a Canon camera and 144mm on a Nikon).
At that effective focal length, the resulting portraits will have nice compression that's very flattering on the subject - no big foreheads or noses here!
Additionally, many 90mm lenses have minimum focusing distances of less than one foot, which means you can get up close and take detailed shots of the eyes or lips, for example.
Editor's Tip: Fill out your kit with top-notch prime lenses. Find out which prime lenses every photographer needs.
Suggested Focal Length for Portraits on a Crop Sensor: 24-70mm
The great thing about a zoom lens like a 24-70mm is that it gives you incredible versatility in terms of focal length.
On the wide end, you can open up to 24mm and get full-body or half-body portraits, environmental portraits, and even casual street photography, too.
On the narrow end, 70mm gets you in closer to the subject for things like tighter headshots.
On a crop sensor camera, a 24-70mm lens will act like a 36-105mm lens on a Canon camera and 38-112mm on a Nikon camera.
That means you get a little more reach on the telephoto end, which as noted above, gives you more compression for flattering facial features.
Having a little more focal length also allows you to step back from the subject just a little bit, and with that extra room, the subject is more likely to feel a little more comfortable in front of the camera.
An Out-of-the-Box Portrait Lens for Crop Sensor Camera: 70-200mm
I would assume that most portrait photographers don't typically use a 70-200mm lens for portraits, especially with a crop sensor camera.
On a Canon camera, this lens has an effective focal length of 105-300mm and on a Nikon camera, it's effective focal length is 112-320mm.
As discussed above, these greater effective focal lengths give you excellent compression - so much so that facial features in your portraits look much more true-to-life.
Additionally, the longer focal length will help minimize the depth of field, which helps set your subject apart from the background.
This lens is obviously incredibly versatile, too, which is a big part of the portrait photography game.
When considering the best portrait lens for crop sensor cameras, you want lenses that give you the ability to create different types of shots, and this lens (as well as the previous two) will certainly do that.