The Best Portrait Lenses for Nikon

A couple of days ago our readers in Twitter asked us to write an article about a very important topic that becomes literally your day-to-day concern when you decide to become a photographer. It’s choosing the right lens for the photography style you work in. And if it’s portrait photography, then things can seem a bit too complicated.

If you are about to buy a new lens but still can’t decide which one precisely it’s going to be—and numerous articles on the web are not making too much sense and sound confusing—then you should check this list of the best Nikon portrait lenses with descriptions and prices we’ve prepared for you.

We at KeepSnap are mainly Nikon shooters, but most of Nikon lenses we featured below are available by Canon and Sony, as well as other brands, too. We are planning to test more and more Canon and Sony equipment as we grow so be sure to stay tuned!

You probably know that the most important things about portrait lenses are sharpness, aperture, focal length, and the number of aperture blades. The three latter things influence the amount of bokeh—or the background thrown out of focus—the photo will have. All these four factors have been considered while making this list. The prices are as of April 2016.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G

First things should come first in life and this is exactly why we decided to place this classic and iconic nifty-fifty lens at the very top. It’s lightweight, really sharp, has a wide aperture, nice focal length, and creates awesome bokeh. Apart from it, it’s cheap.

Words are not necessary when it comes to 50mm, it’s simply classic. Priced at $216.

Also, there are f/1.4 and f/1.2 models that have better bokeh and perform better in poor lighting, but they are a lot more expensive.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4G

Not the most acknowledged lens ever, but 58mm will become a great and powerful tool in hands of a witty portrait photographer. Being a tribute to a 58mm f/2 lenses by Zeiss and Helios, which are known for creating something that’s called swirly bokeh, Nikon brought the aperture of this lens down to eye-opening f/1.4.

And though there’s barely anything swirly about the bokeh of Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, it’s still very creamy and powerful thanks to its aperture and nine rounded aperture blades. This lens is perfect for shooting in low-light environments because of its wide aperture of f/1.4. Priced at $1596.

Nikon 85mm f/1.8G

This is another excellent portrait lens—which is considered to be the best portrait lens ever together with 50mm f/1.8—that has the right focal length, wide aperture, and is really sharp. By the way, priced at $476, it’s not that expensive as the other lenses featured in this review.

There’s an older D version of this lens that is said to be a bit less sharper, but is cheaper and has nine aperture blades instead of seven. And, as a matter of course, there’s 85mm f/1.4G, but it’s a lot more expensive.

Nikon 105mm f/2D

Yet another wide-aperture prime portrait lens, but this time it’s 105mm. And that’s where things start getting hot. As you know, the longer the lens focal length the better the bokeh. However, in case of 105mm you will probably need to be quite far away from the subject in order to fit them in the frame.

If walking a few dozen meters doesn’t worry you, then you will be able to enjoy awesome wide f/2 aperture, great focal length, nine aperture blades, and unique Defocus Image Control system for making bokeh even deeper and creamier. Priced at $1196.

Nikon 135mm f/2D

If 105mm is not long enough for you and you are a fan of shooting out in the open, Nikon 135mm is the best choice. It’s really sharp and creates outstanding bokeh due to nine aperture blades, its focal length, wide aperture of f/2, and Defocus Image Control system. Priced at $1391.

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G

A zoom 24-70mm f/2.8G lens is justly said to have killer bokeh. Thanks to its constant aperture of f/2.8,universal focal length, nine aperture blades, and exceptional sharpness, it has long since become a must for all professional photographers for almost any occasion.

All good things come at its price though. The lens costs $1796.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G

The last one but not the least is a 70-200mm f/2.8G lens which is considered to be the most professional Nikon superzoom and one of the most expensive popular lenses by Nikon. It has constant aperture of f/2.8, great focal length for making head and head and shoulders portraits, nine aperture blades, and is super sharp.

Really good at creating out-of-this-world bokeh. Priced at staggering $2096.

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