Best lens for portrait photography and headshots

Best lens for portrait photography and headshots


  • Keifer Hunniford Photography says:

    I have this lens but had only been using it for product photography until a month ago when I first saw this video. Hadn't even occurred to me for portraits but I'm very happy to say it's now my go to lens. Much less of a workout than the 80-200 f2.8 than's for sure! Ironically I was out buying a used 85mm f1.8 from someone for portraits and they threw in the Tokina for another $200. Thanks again for all of your words of wisdom. You've had a big impact on my studio work.

  • nz rockdj says:

    Well done Joe a clear concise video and the Tokina lens referral at the end was just what I was looking for, thank you sir.

  • Tony Bennett says:

    OMG Joe. Just crammed in a bunch of your videos while I was debating with myself whether to persevere with photography. No formal training (learnt all I know from online) but a small part time business over the last 8 years on top of my regular job I have done 113 weddings and numerous portraits but never considered myself very good. Your enthusiasm, teaching style and videos are an inspiration and have rekindled my interest. Have all the gear just needed an injection, your it!! Thanks a bunch for your honesty and tutorials, hope you don't mind your being my mentor now. Oh, and I love the way you have replied to most of the comments, not seen that before either.

  • Dennis Maher says:

    Hi. Great video very informative but I have a problem and that's is I no zero about photography so hears my question,IF shooting indoors say for a portrait what settings would you use, I hope that makes sense.

  • Lazaro Blanco says:

    I found your video excellent .. Soon im going to shoot my sister maternity pics in a natural environment i have a 50 mm f1.8 but i feel like a need something better (I have a nikon d5300)

  • Mitsubishi Starion says:

    Hi Joe. Do you use a lens hood while shooting in the studio?

  • Joshua Robinson says:

    I've been watching your videos for a while now, especially when I'm about to go out for shoots, and I don't know why I didn't subscribe earlier. You make your content is fun and informative, which is a win for photographers eager to learn new skills and whatnot.

  • Ryan Dichazy says:

    Just by watching this first video, trying to decide which new lens to get, I'm sold. Impressed with how in depth you got, and explained why. Instant subscribe and I will be watching more videos tonight!

  • Gregg Cavan says:

    Just the right topic I needed with all the information in one video. Excellent!

  • Andrés Catalán says:

    Awesome video! You've become my new master!!

  • ParkSlime says:

    What's the best settings for powershot sx530 portrait shots and headshots ?

  • Steven Topping says:

    I love your style! Straight to the points! Thankyou

  • Peter C says:

    super vid, keep them coming. I had same reservations about the Tokina which was on my radar years ago, after the glowing reviews the last few years I bought one, I have not looked back since, results are stunning, it is my go to lens for a lot of stuff, I also use the Nikon 135mm f2 DC

  • Moto Gyal says:

    Hey Joe, I bought a Pentax K-50 as a starter camera a few years ago. Would you recommend I eventually buy a Nikon or a Canon to step up my game?

  • Joseph Piccirillo says:

    what's a good portrait lens for a crop sensor….nikon d7200?

  • Linnae Carlaon says:

    Excellent video. In fact, all your videos are great.  Love your personality and sense of humor.

  • prashant sahai says:

    Hi Joe, Great videos and wonderful content, also very interesting way of teaching. loved it.
    Now I've one question. I've a aps-c canon camera (700D), and usually use the 50mm 1.8 for the portraits. I feels that when going for a tight shot, the face is feels like a little distorted. Now I am planning for a extensive shoot (Indoor and outdoor both) in few weeks, and here I came across of this video. Now seriously, I am confused. I am on a tight budget, and came with two options,
    1. Tokina 100 mm 2.8,
    2. Samyang 85 mm 1.4
    Tokina is a little costlier, but it's also kind of duel lens, great Macro and portrait as well.
    Now can you please suggest me which one will be much better for me, as with the crop sensor camera the shooting distance will also increase, making the indoor shoots much more difficult. May be for that, I'll use the 50 mm.
    Also what will the effect on the backgrounds considering that one is of 1.4 and other one is 2.8?
    Also if in the near future, I purchases the full frame camera, I wish to use these lenses as well.

  • Evan McKnight says:

    Great video. I have the Tokina 100 and really like it too.

  • Ali Siddiqui says:

    Such a helpful video. No useless stuff, just a straightforward video. Thank you Joe.

  • SneakerNet27 says:

    I have a question "What lens is a very good for landscape im Nikon though.." thanks…

  • Inan Pancito says:

    Now i know. Thanks joe!

  • Laren Pillay says:

    I subscribed after 1 minute of watching you ! You get to the point and explain things really clearly ! Brilliant work !

  • Catalin Andrei says:

    I really wanted to buy a Nikkor 85 1.8. I think I will go for the Tokina.

  • 077 Di says:

    I made closer photo on the face with 24mm and now i know for sure it's make the face round Such a great video! thank you so much! is this 100MM lens good for canon???

  • David Smith says:

    I bought a Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro for macro photos but I've found that it takes amazing portraits & sports photos also. I love gear that can pull double duty if needed. Thanks for another great video Joe.

  • Chagrin Valley-Web says:


  • Alan Kim, Jr. says:

    Hi Joe! Thank you for all of your great and helpful videos. Regarding this video, would you recommend the Tokina for both full frame and APS-C? Thank you!

  • jhon gris says:

    Joe Edelman
    thanks … the problem with the macro tokina 100 2.8, the diaphragm does not stay in 2.8 … it only stays at a certain distance … does this happen with any macro or with nikon for example?

    Thank you..

  • jhon gris says:

    how about Nikon Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 D Lens…Thank you..

  • Karina M says:

    Which lens can I choose for portrait photography on Canon1100D? Help please )

  • Jon Tyrell Esguerra says:

    Instantly subscribed after watching this first video!

  • Phoenix Normand says:

    Thanks for this. I keep kicking myself at how much of my life I've wasted over Christmas break researching lenses. Was just trying to choose between the 35mm, 45mm and 85mm. (portraits). Gonna snag the 85mm and live with it and master it for several months before investing in the 70-200. Great advice…thank you.

  • Alan Kim, Jr. says:

    Very helpful.  Thank you!

  • anthony cook says:

    does a crop sensor negate distortion?
    I understand that the focal length is constant to that specific lens BUT the field of view is dependent on the sensor size. but does a 35mm and 50mm on a crop sensor have the same distortion as a 35mm and 50mm on a full frame sensor?

  • David Smith says:

    I shoot portraits with a canon 85 1.8 but recently started shooting them with my canon 100 2.8 macro lens. I've even shot some indoor sporting events with the 100. I can say enough good things about that lens and focal length not to mention that it pulls double duty as a macro. Not sure why I don't hear more wedding photographers praise this lens. Great content again Joe.:-)

  • Eva PM says:

    Wow, this was a great video. Thank you!

  • Karan Dhawan says:

    Loved it, many thanks

  • Marcelo MyRideNY says:

    What prime and telephoto lenses do you recommend for a crop sensor f-mount for portrait work? Unfortunately I’ve finding it difficult to find fast lenses for my d500. Also, is the lens distortion still there when shooting on the 50mm when using a crop sensor camera? Or does is get magnified even though technically it’s a 75mm?

  • Walter Cisneros says:

    Hello!. First of all, thank you because a very nice video!.
    But, I do not agree with you that shot at 1.8 (or less) to obtain a blurry background is to miss a priority of a headshot or portrait photographer.
    You recommend Irene Rudnyk in another video… and she is amazing shotting at 1.2 with a 85mm.
    Best regards, and sorry because my poor English.

  • Letícia Casarotto says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Joe!

  • Jolan Deschepper says:

    excellent vid !

  • Porky's Wine Bar Music Channel says:

    Thanks for an excellent video lots to go away and think about….

  • stonewall2112 says:

    Thank you! I learned so much from this video. The information here is very well explained.

  • Web Analytics says:

    Great video – Joe is both a gifted photographer AND instructor (a rare combination). Really clear/concise explanations; i.e. Why 85mm is considered a great focal length for portraits.

  • M. Sifflet says:

    At first I was skeptical, but today it's all to your credit. You are a pro!

  • Esaa Saggus says:

    Wow. Great video. I have a Cannon T2i with a 50mm lens. I been taking pictures about six months. I definitely want to be working on portraits and full body but I don't know how far back to shoot from without their feet being cropped out the picture? Any suggestions?

  • Aziz says:

    One of the best videos I've ever seen about photography. Thanks.

  • Enrique Page says:

    Thanks Joe, again you gave us another amazing video!
    First time I used a 50mm prime, I made the mistake of filling the frame, as such, there's noticeable distortion on every photo from that session. I've been thinking if it's possible to fix some of those photos, maybe using a (correct) portrait photo as a guide and then modifyng the photo in Photoshop, using the distort tool to shrink the center of the image, so we get closer to the real deal. What do you think?

    Again, thanks a lot for your videos! I've been binge watching them since yesterday. You just got a new subscriber from all the way from Argentina!

  • John De Zuniga says:

    Very helpful, straight forward thank you

  • Nickyboy says:

    What about micro 4/3 cameeas?

  • Electroprint says:

    What focal length does 100mm covert to for a APC-s camera?

  • DreamStone Studio says:

    Hi Joe, your video was May 2016 and now as we are in late March 2018, do you still think the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 lens is still the top dog in its arena? Or something else is better out there? We have a Panasonic Lumix GH-5 Micro-Four-Thirds EF mount camera with a canon EF metabone adapter so not sure the Tokina will even fit it…? your advice is appreciated. Thanks!

  • Stan Kumiega III says:

    What if you're trying to shoot a group of 40-50 people, in a conference room with a high ceiling and you only have 1 on camera flash? I was thinking of purchasing a wide angle lens, either a Canon 10-18mm or Tamron 10-24mm. I'm usually worried about fitting everyone in the shot and making sure it's properly exposed.

  • Jose Antonio says:

    Very precise… short, but enought explanation, easy to understand and not getting lost in unnecesary details. Really useful.

  • KAMALESH B says:

    You're the best photography teacher ever

  • Rensnswmn6262 says:

    Hi Joe, I recently came upon your site and I love all of your videos. Fun, informative and great tips. I know this vid is almost two years old, but I was wondering if you could do a vid of how you use it for portraits in the studio. Do you limit the range? I have a 6D full frame and I get some vignetting. Also, do you mind the focusing issues.

  • BaddaBigBoom says:

    70mm Lens close up: Great portrait 24mm Lens close up: Barry Manilow 😉

  • BaddaBigBoom says:

    Excellent well presented advice, thumbs up/subbed.

  • Kemi Adun says:

    Hi so what is the best lens to use to take a family of 5 people. Is the 24-70 OK or 23-105 from the canon L lens range . pls advice thanks

  • Bruce Maddox says:

    if you are using a FX 24MP body or less, the Nikkor 180 AF f/2.8 is god-like in it's ability to render as a portrait lens should. It's also easy to buy used, and has no internal motor to fail. Outstanding color, depth, bokeh, and not clinical as all macro lenses are. Distortion, but not compression ends at 85mm. Look at a portrait taken with a fast 300mm. Amazing!!

  • HTC Maria says:

    Mil gracias por estar en español y por argumentarlo todo. Lo hace tan fácil para los, demás….

  • Isfi Moix says:

    Verry nice ur video

  • Bill McDonald says:

    More great advice, Joe. I'm ahead of it, so it's good to have my existing purchases confirmed. I have a crop-sensor body and I use a Canon 'nifty fifty' [EF 50mm f1.8] and a Sigma 105 macro lens. I have found that both lenses excel at portraiture when mounted to an APS-C body. For those on a budget, an entry-level crop sensor body and the nifty fifty will get you where you want to be for the least amount of dosh.

  • Pedrin Nieves says:

    Like all video I see before, great information…thank you, you do a wonderful work helping other people, God bless you, your family and all the other that do the same as you do.

  • Michaela Cannon says:

    How will that Tokina 100mm macro do on a crop sensor canon (T6s) for portraits?

  • TheQQjeff says:

    Hi jeo, can u explain m4/3 and focal lenght relating this topic?
    Like the distortion and etc on m4/3 lens? Thx

  • Hub Towner says:

    I have that lens 🙂 Love it.

  • Hero Shotz says:

    How about best mft portrait lens ?

  • Endy says:

    I’m a little late on the comment train, I just came across your videos today and subscribed. I’m in NC waiting for the hurricane to pass! Does a macro lens make a difference in portraits? I was going to kill two birds with the Sony FE 2.8 90mm macro. I dabble in food pics but wanted to try portraits. your awsome btw!

  • Master Photog says:

    Another great, simple and to-the-point video tutorial. Keep up the good work!

  • Sam Biswas says:

    Absolute favorite shirt

  • Jaime Moreno says:

    Yeah! i just bought the Tokina 100mm, nice surprise

  • Darrell Johnson says:

    Hey Joe, I agree with you about the prime lenses… But right now I'm having a little difficulty choosing my favorites right now… I'm shooting with two Nikon d7100 cameras. The lenses I'm having difficulties choosing is my 50 mm 1.8 G lens, 60 mm D 2.8 macro, 105 mm 2.8 macro lens, and the 85 mm 1.4. For testing I'm thinking of just using the 50 mm, and my 105mm, and for my big money makers my 85mm 1.4. And for my sports and full body fashion, I'm thinking of getting the old all the focus 300mm f4. What do you think?

  • fractal_force says:


  • lalotong says:

    Great video! Very well explained! Thanks!

  • Antoine Schemkes says:

    Thanks for sharing, question: D3400 crop sensor, should i go for a 50mm f1.8 FX much cheaper (€150), or do I need the 85mm f1.8 FX lens (€400,-) I want to do headshots but also full body

  • URBAN EYE New York says:

    Hi Joe-Thank you for your Bullet point video.I was almost decided on 85 1.8 G.What more the Tokina get me at 100 MM.Im seriously considering Head shot photography and Event photography assignments.There is Then the 100 F2 DC Nikkor with a high price tag.Appreciate much

  • BamaBoynCali says:

    photography is so expensive to get into but  im going for it. Getting my Nikon D5600 soon with a couple of lenses and hope that my work will grow

  • Rob Wearn says:

    love you , love your video

  • Nik Skjøth says:

    I like the distortion that the 50mm makes more than a telephoto.. The 180 makes the face look flat like its been punched..

    Also a wide lens makes the image look more deep and gives some dimension, rather than the flat compressed image from a tele lens. My portraits are 50mm most of the time

  • Divi Photos says:

    Great video

  • Carlos Molina says:

    Hi there, what's you opining on a 105mm for portraits?, great video

  • dustovshio says:

    Do you think the tokina will be a noticeable improvement over a canon 18-135 for portaits (at 135 mm) f 3.5-5.6 IS STM for portraits?

  • Vikas Khair says:

    I just got this lens and along with few macro shots, I also used it for a portrait shoot recently for both face and full body shots and loved every bit of it. I am already in love with this lens. Oh yeah, subscribed too 🙂

  • David Pittman Salaam says:

    Joe, when u mentioned that when u attend workshops u look over in the photographer's LCD SCREEN and notice that they're shoot something different from what the lens actually is.

    I'm trying to figure out if I have been doing that but I can't find a setting in my Nikon D3400 that will allow me to choose which lens I'm shooting with (if that's what u mean).

  • Irma Elsie says:

    Just after watching this video, I absolutely wanted to subscribe. I am fascinated by your style of explaining everything! You inspire me to be confident and to experiment. I'll keep watching your videos. Thanks for sharing and for transmitting such a positive attitude. 👍 ¡Adiós! 😉

  • John Cook says:

    Thanks for that video.

  • Charles Jesse Miller Jr. says:

    you are awesome!

  • BT Movements360 says:

    Great video. Learned a lot. What about headshot angles?

  • Jeff Stanley says:

    Great job! Very helpful and informative. This will be a tremendous help to me.

  • P Chic says:

    I use a 50mm prime
    Lens , how is this different from the Tokina ? I use a Nikon camera

  • Jeffrey Erwin says:

    Haha…Looking for best portrait lens, turns out I already have it. Love the Tokina. Still want the Samyang 85 f1.4 though.

  • dave kahn says:

    I use the Tamron 90mm Macro for portraits on the Nikon D7500

  • Crio Kid says:

    I love your videos. It's very helpful! I'm planning to build a small studio at home. I'm currently using Canon EF 50mm 1.8, EF-S 10-18mm 4.5-5.6, and EF 70-200mm F4. However, the space at my studio is very limited, so I don't know if the lens EF 50mm works, or can I use the EF-S 10-18mm? I know this lens can cause distortion.

  • Jim Trace says:

    Can’t you get rid of distortion with ‘lens correction’ in Lightroom?

  • Luciana Wraae says:

    what about a canon macro 60 mm 2.8 ? can Iuse for fashion portraits or even full body?

  • TheThirdMan says:

    1:09 Hurray! Common sense for a change. Most people have enough lenses to find one suitable for the portraits they want to take. The important point is that lenses don't make portraits. Or, more to the point, lenses are just one element and probably a less important one than things like lighting and capturing the right look. 6:09 is an absolute gold nugget. If you're taking pictures and going on about the background blur then the photograph is a failure.

  • Juan Carlos Tamara Motta says:

    Hey that's a lot of nice information , seen your video I was wondering if a macro lens will be ok for portraits, for example a 90 or 100 mm macro

  • Guardian of Justice says:

    Fantastic video well set 100% I learned all this the hard way now I know better and you confirmed it thanks a lot much much success👍👍👍

  • Shasank Gupta says:

    Would be glad if you can reply.. I mainly shoot portraits of my family. I already have 85mm 1.8. But wanted to invest in the longer lens. Should I go with Canon 100mm F2(non-macro) or Tokina 100mm or canon 70-200 f4 ?

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