Canon is one of the big shots in the world of photography, and it is the go-to brand for many professionals who want to capture the most stunning images in all types of environments and studio settings. For creative individuals who wish to delve into family portrait work or who want to get into portrait photography involving models and business people, the right gear is imperative, with Canon providing many of the best options.
The first piece of equipment you need to focus on, aside from you camera body, is your camera lens because the right portrait lens can make a huge difference in your ability to capture the sharpest and most appealing photograph of your subject. Finding the right portrait lens can be a challenge, though, especially for beginners. It is a good idea, therefore, to consider investing in a photography course that will teach you how to take great portraits with simple gear before moving up to more advanced gear. In the meantime, the list below features some of Canon’s best portrait lens options, as well as other equipment every portrait photographer should have on hand for a session in the studio or out and about on location.
The Basics of Portraiture
When it comes to taking portraits, most experts will recommend a lens with an 80 to 135mm focal length range. But keep in mind that the type of portraits you are aiming for, as well as the environment that you are shooting in, will dictate what focal length is best, so you should already have the skills in place to determine the focal length that will work appropriately in various shooting situations. A wider focal length, such as one at around 50mm, would be a good idea for a full body portrait. On the other hand, if you are taking portraits of larger groups of people, you may need to go with a 24mm focal length. Headshots and other portraits that are tightly framed would also require longer focal lengths.
Studio sessions, during which you will use special lighting and backdrops, produce the best shots when you are utilizing a lens that gives you the ability to get down to a narrow aperture. If you need some pointers on how to use light in the best possible way for an in-studio photo shoot, read this blog post to gain some valuable insight and tips you can implement right away. Remember, the better able you are to capture the perfect portrait in-camera, the less time you will need to spend on editing the images in a program like Photoshop. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to hone your skills in portrait retouching because you will not always be able to get the ideal image during studio or outdoor sessions.
Opting for a wide angle lens is the best option if you are planning on taking outdoor portraits because it will make the best use of the environment that surrounds the model. This lens can also work very well with indoor photos of a person actively at work because it will be able to capture the workplace as well as the subject. On the other hand, if you want to blur the background in order to remove distracting objects or bring a viewer’s attention to the subject in the photo, it is best to stick with a lens that provides you with a longer focal length and a wider aperture.
5 of Canon’s Best Portrait Lenses
Canon has put out myriad camera lenses that are appropriate for taking a variety of different types of portraits. Therefore, as a photographer, you can choose the lenses that will work for you and your budget.
The list below features just a few of the many lenses offered by Canon that will take great portraits. Some work better in certain settings than others, so consider the subjects you typically photograph and where you typically hold your photo shoots before splurging on one of these high quality, reliable lenses.
EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM
This high-performance Canon lens is able to capture stunningly sharp images. It also features a speedy autofocus and weather sealing, so you can rest assured that your images will be clear and your gear will be safe from damage, no matter what conditions you are shooting in. These features make it a great choice for environmental portraits in the great outdoors.
EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM
Yet another camera lens in a weather-sealed body that will protect it from the elements is the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens, which also provides image stabilization and superior autofocus capabilities. The wide aperture settings will deliver spectacular blurred backgrounds that make your subjects really pop, while the zoom capabilities allow you to stand far enough away from your subjects to soften and balance their features.
EF 50mm f/1.8 II
For photographers on a strict budget, the EF 50mm f/1.8 IIis an ideal option, as it will allow you to get a great blurred background along with plenty of light, thanks to its wide aperture. This makes it a helpful tool when shooting portraits in low-light settings.
EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM
Yet another budget-friendly portrait lens is the EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, which is a good option for those just starting out. With so many focal lengths to choose from, you can experiment with taking portraits in a variety of settings and under varying conditions. Plus, this lens features noteworthy image quality, a lightweight body that is great for traveling, and a fast and reliable autofocus that will not let you down.
EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
The EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens is considered a very good all-around option for photographers who want to do more than just portraits. Just be careful with this lens when taking tightly framed headshot style portraits, as it may not give you the results that you are looking for if you are getting in too close. For other styles of portraits, though, including those that have little to no background blur, this little piece of equipment is sure to please.
Other Equipment Needed For Portrait Photography
In order to be able to create fabulous portraits every time you get behind the camera, there is other photography equipment that you need to invest in. Below are some of the essentials that you should have in place if you want to deliver the best results to your clients, family, and friends.
The Right Camera
A high quality, professional-grade camera body is essential if you wish to capture clear images that are filled with color and details that your clients will love. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a great option for professionals who are willing to splurge on a sturdy and dependable camera that they can rely upon for years to come. This particular model is very popular because it is specifically designed for photographers who use their cameras a lot and who need a body that will not fall apart from heavy usage. It is a bit heavy, making it a little hard to travel with, and it is on the expensive end of the market, but it will be a worthwhile investment if you really want to make a name for yourself in the world of portrait photography.
Lighting equipment is imperative if you want to become a great portrait photographer because conditions will not always be ideal in an outdoor environment and you definitely need the right lights in a studio setting to bring out the best features in your subjects.
Monolights will provide you with the reliable light you need in a studio setting, but they can also be used on-location. A large softbox is a great way to produce soft light that is flattering to models of all ages and body types. Speedlights can be added to your light stands and are a great addition to any on-location shoot where you need extra lighting to capture the clearest and most beautiful portraits. These are also great for tight locations or those where you cannot bring along larger lights because they are compact and easy to pack up and carry with you. They work off-camera and can be directed towards an umbrella or placed within a softbox in order to get the light to appear just as you need it to.
A tripod is a great tool to have if you take portraits in a studio or in an outdoor setting. It will allow you to set up your shot and ensure it is stable and clear, without any shake from your hands. This will give you the opportunity to put your attention on your model while using autofocus or manual focus effectively. Tripods are also great for photographers who like to motion to their models as part of their directing process, or who continually need to step out from behind the camera to readjust the subject and any props in the background. They range in quality and price from budget, lightweight options to sturdy, expensive varieties, so you can definitely find one that will fit your budget while giving you the stability you need.
Bringing It All Together: Becoming a Better Photographer
Having the right photography gear, including lenses, lighting, and more, at your disposal will ensure that you are able to capture stunning images and bring out your subjects’ most attractive features. From lenses that create blurred backgrounds to those that allow you to take lovely headshots for models or business professionals, there are plenty of options to choose from, no matter what style of photography you strive to follow.
Whether you are a beginner or you are an experienced photographer who wishes to continually learn new skills to take his or her work to a new level, consider taking photography courses from professionals. These classes will open your eyes to new possibilities in portraiture that you may never have thought about before, and they may inspire you to approach your work from a whole new angle so that you can improve dramatically. A course that focuses on the art of studio portraiture could be just what you need if you have been struggling with getting the highest quality and most compelling images. And once you are confident enough in your work to sell it to clients, you can take a course that teaches you how to price your photography services so you can make a living from your craft.