What is the Best Nikon Portrait Lens?
- Good Nikon Portrait Lens - Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S
- Better Nikon Portrait Lens - Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S
- Best Nikon Portrait Lens - Nikon Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S
- More Amazing Nikon Portrait Lenses
- Samyang MF 85mm f/1.4 for Nikon Z
- NIKON NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S
- Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon DSLR
- NIKON NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S
- Lensbaby Velvet 85 for Nikon Z
- NIKON NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S
photo by Lyndon Stratford via iStock
Portrait photography is one of the most popular types of photography in the world today. Unfortunately, not all lenses deliver the same results when shooting portraits.
That’s why I created this guide covering the best Nikon portrait lenses. To help you learn what options are out there, what to look for in a portrait lens, and what option is ultimately best for you!
The three most important factors to consider in a Nikon portrait lens are focal length, maximum aperture, and image quality. Outside of that, you will also want to look at the build quality, autofocus capabilities, and lens mount.
In this article, I focus primarily on Z-mount lenses for Nikon’s lineup of mirrorless cameras, but the list of additional lenses at the end also includes some DSLR lenses. With all that said, let’s check out the top Nikon portrait lenses!
Table of Contents
Good Nikon Portrait Lens
If you want the versatility provided by a standard zoom lens, the Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S is the best Nikon portrait lens. It gives you the ability to shoot a wide variety of portraits without ever needing to switch the lens.
At the wide end of 24mm, it’s ideal for family portraits, group shots, or portraits in nature where you want to include the background. On the other end of the spectrum, you have 70mm, which will allow you to crop in tight on your subjects and show off specific details.
Another standout feature of this Nikon portrait lens is the constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. It creates an astounding bokeh effect, especially when zoomed in and using longer focal lengths. The only downside of the constant aperture is that it contributes towards making this lens far and away the most expensive one we’ll talk about today.
Other key specs of this lens include fast and quiet autofocus courtesy of Nikon’s Stepping Motor System (STM), a recent firmware update to Nikon’s mirrorless cameras that makes autofocus run more smoothly, and a weather-sealed build.
For those who don’t want to worry about carrying multiple prime lenses, this is without a doubt my number one recommended Nikon portrait lens. If you want even more versatility, consider pairing it with its brother and sister lenses, the Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S and the Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S.
Better Nikon Portrait Lens
If you are new to the world of prime lenses, the Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S is a fantastic choice. Thanks to the lightweight, compact design and a relatively inexpensive price tag, it’s the go-to Nikon portrait lens for many photographers.
The first thing that stands out about this lens is its impeccable sharpness. The Z-mount system does a terrific job of evenly distributing the light, and when paired with this lens, you can create images that are stunningly sharp from edge to edge.
Furthermore, thanks to two extra-low dispersion elements (ED), two aspherical lens elements (AS), and a nano crystal coating, virtually all ghosting, chromatic aberrations, and flares are eliminated. Personally, I have never run into any of these issues when shooting with this lens.
With nine aperture blades and a maximum aperture of f/1.8, the 50mm lens works great in low light, even when shooting handheld shots. When paired with one of Nikon’s powerful Z-mount cameras that has 5-axis vibration reduction, you will see even better results. Additionally, the f/1.8 aperture creates dreamy bokeh when shooting portraits.
If all that wasn’t enough, this lens has lightning-fast autofocus, a customizable control ring, a minimum focus distance of 1.32 feet, and is perfect for video. Video shooters who work with a gimbal will especially enjoy this Nikon portrait lens. Other people who will benefit from it are travel photographers, street photographers, and food photographers.
Best Nikon Portrait Lens
Without further ado, the best portrait lens for Nikon is the Nikon Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S. It is in the same lineup of lenses as the 50mm, but instead offers portrait photographers their favorite 85mm focal length. If you are a serious photographer or professional, you will fall in love with this state-of-the-art lens the moment you get your hands on it.
At 85mm, this Nikon portrait lens is ideal for tight shots like close-ups and headshots. When working with those shots, your number one priority should be sharpness, and fortunately, that is the biggest strength of this lens. It constantly delivers incredibly sharp photos corner-to-corner and never adds unnecessary distortion.
Moreover, the autofocus is excellent. It uses two synchronized motors that work together to ensure crystal clear results. If you prefer to focus manually, you will be blown away by the customizable focus ring. It’s easy to use, easy to grip, and makes pinpoint adjustments. Yet, the coolest thing about it is that it can be changed to control other settings, like aperture and exposure.
A few other key features of this mind-blowing Nikon portrait lens are a well-placed focus mode switch, an f/1.8 maximum aperture, edge-to-edge brightness that limits vignetting, solid video specs, a weather-sealed body, and a minimum focus distance of 2.62 feet. Besides portraits, this lens also excels in fashion, product, and macro-photography.
>More Amazing Nikon Portrait Lenses
photo by jacoblund via iStock
Those are hands down my favorite Nikon portrait lenses on the market today. However, if none of them fit your needs, there are plenty of other capable lenses, including some terrific third-party options. Check out below my list of the best of the rest!