Zoom vs Prime: What Lens is Best for Portraits?

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In the video above, the fine folks at Mango Street offer their perspective on the issue.

As they discuss in the video, they prefer to shoot portraits with prime lenses. But, for comparison’s sake, they shoot with a Canon 24-70mm as well as 24mm and 35mm primes.

Below, I’ve outlined a few arguments for zooms and primes as being great options for portraits.

Which Lens is Best for Portraits? The Argument for Zooms 

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photo by meatbull via iStock

So, both zooms and primes have their advantages, and as you can see in the video by Mango Street, you can create gorgeous images with either kind of lens.

In the end, the selection between the two will mostly come down to your personal preference and budget.

Fortunately, no matter if you’re after a zoom or a prime lens, all major camera manufacturers have a huge selection of both types in all manner of price points.

Better still, you can find great deals on used lenses so you can save some money at the same time (or use your extra cash to buy multiple lenses!).

Learn More:

4 Prime Lenses You Should Own  7 Reasons Why a 50mm Lens is All You Need For Great Photography 

Best Sony Cameras for Portraits

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Speaking of focusing, the a7R III has an ultra-fast hybrid autofocus system. Using 425 contrast-detect points and 399 phase-detect points, this camera can easily track a moving subject for beautiful action portraits.

See how the a7R III handles a portrait shoot in the video above by Manny Ortiz. 

The only issue with the a7R III is that it is spendy. At $2,798.00, it’s a serious investment, though you can often find well-cared-for used a7R III cameras for much less.

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So, while the a6500 doesn’t have the same resolution, ISO performance, or autofocus system of its big brother, it still has a weather-sealed body, 5-axis image stabilization for shooting handheld, and eye-detect autofocus as well. All that for a new price of $1,198.00 or a used price of $849.00.

Get more details about the Sony a6500 in the video above by Gear Glasses & Gadgets.

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In fact, the a6000’s autofocus system is fast, accurate, and has the same eye-detect autofocusing capabilities of the more expensive cameras outlined above.

Best of all, you can find a used Sony a6000 for barely over $300.00, so it’s by far the least expensive portrait camera on this list. 

From just $300.00 to nearly $3,000.00, now you have four solid choices for the best Sony cameras for portraits.

Learn More:

Top Accessories for Sony a6300, a6400, and a6500 

Did Sony Get It Right With the a6500? 


Portraits in Harsh Sunlight: Tips for Success

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Learn how to use a diffuser to soften harsh midday lighting in the video above by Matt Granger.

Quick Tip: If you don’t have a scrim or a diffuser, a plain, white sheet can also work to create shade. Again, you’ll need helpers to hold the sheet tight to get the most pleasing light.

Learn More:

4 Pro Tips for Better Portraits You Can Use Today Why Your Photos are Bad – and How to Fix Them

Taking Portraits in Bright Sunlight: Just Embrace It

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I know that not all portraits you take will be ones you want to have made into a big black and white print.

However, once you get the hang of shooting portraits in harsh sunlight, trust me, you’ll want your best portraits printed by CanvasHQ!

Learn More:

How to Make Your Photos Stand Out Things to Consider When Having Your Photos Printed