Shooting a portrait goes way beyond capturing an individual. These must seize emotion, personality, thoughts, identity. In other words, if a portrait doesn't tell you a story, you are doing it wrong. Here are some of Nikon's best options to help you with that.

Before you learn about the best Nikon lenses, you should understand the essentials of portrait photography.

9 of the best Nikon lenses for portraits

1. Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8S

Key features

  • Z lens mount
  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/16
  • Angle of View (DX-format): 18°50′
  • Angle of View (FX-format): 28°30′
  • Internal Focusing: Yes
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 2.62 ft. / 0.8 m
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.12x
  • Filter Size: 67mm
  • Weight: 16.6 oz. (470 g)


Pros

  • Top class build and image quality
  • High contrast and sharpness
  • Dust and moisture-resistant
  • Fast and accurate autofocus


Cons

  • Price
  • Not very compact

2. Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8S

Key features

  • Z lens mount
  • Focal length 50 mm
  • Aperture range: f/1.8 to f/16
  • Angle of view (FX-format): 47°
  • Angle of view (DX-format): 31°30'
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.4 m/1.32 ft
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.15x
  • Filter-attachment size: 62 mm
  • Weight: 14.7 oz (415g)
  • Supplied accessories: LC-62B 62 mm snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-N1 Rear Lens Cap, HB-90 Bayonet Hood, CL-C1 Lens Case

Pros

  • Sharp even at wide apertures
  • Reduced chromatic aberration
  • Weather sealing


Cons

  • Heavier than F-Mount 50mm f/1.8
  • Pricier than F-Mount 50mm f/1.8

3. Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8S

Key features

  • Z lens mount
  • Focal length: 35 mm
  • Aperture range: f/1.8 to f/16
  • Angle of view (FX-format): 63°
  • Angle of view (DX-format): 44°
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.25 m/0.82 ft
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.19x
  • Filter-attachment size: 62 mm
  • Weight: 13.1 oz (370g)
  • Supplied accessories: LC-62B 62 mm snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-N1 Rear Lens Cap, HB-89 Bayonet Hood, CL-C1 Lens Case

Pros

  • Reduced distortion and chromatic aberrations
  • Increased sharpness and clarity
  • Enhanced exposure stability during fast bursts
  • Resistant to dust and splash water
  • Lightweight


Cons

  • Expensive

nikon lens ground

4. Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8S

Key features

  • Z lens mount
  • Focal length: 24-70 mm
  • Aperture range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • Angle of view (FX-format): 84° - 34°20'
  • Angle of view (DX-format): 61° - 22°50'
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.38 m/1.25 ft
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.22x
  • Filter-attachment size: 82 mm
  • Weight: 12.4 oz (805g)
  • Supplied accessories: LC-82B 82 mm snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-N1 Rear Lens Cap, HB-87 Bayonet Hood, CL-C2 Lens Case

Pros

  • Sharp results
  • Excellent flare resistance
  • Dust and moisture-resistant
  • Easy to handle
  • Very customizable


Cons

  • Price
  • Distortion levels
  • Vignetting

5. Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4-1.8G

Key features

  • Mount: Nikon F (FX)
  • Focal length: 85 mm
  • Aperture range: f/1.4 to f/1.8
  • Angle of view (FX-format): 28.5°
  • Angle of view (DX-format): 18.8º
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.80 m
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.124×
  • Filter-attachment size: 67mm
  • Weight: 350g (0.77 lb)


Pros

  • Increased sharpness and reduced distortion
  • Wide aperture
  • Low-priced


Cons

  • No optical stabilization
  • Limited close focus capability

6. Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Key features

  • Mount: Nikon F-Bayonet
  • Focal length: 200mm
  • Aperture range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • Angle of view (FX-format): 34°20'
  • Angle of view (DX-format): 22°50'
  • Minimum focus distance: 1.4m (4.6 ft.)
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.12x
  • Filter-attachment size: 77mm
  • Weight: 54.3 oz. (1540 g)

Pros

  • Sharp with all zoom ranges
  • Doesn't elongate when zooming
  • Focus limiter switch
  • Reduced vibration


Cons

  • Some distortion.
  • Close focus restricted to 4.6 feet.

nikon lens table

7. Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4-1.8G

Key features

  • Mount: Nikon F-Bayonet
  • Focal length: 50 mm
  • Aperture range: f/1.8 to f/16
  • Angle of view (FX-format): 47°
  • Angle of view (DX-format): 31°30'
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.45 m (17.72″)
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.15×
  • Filter-attachment size: 58 mm
  • Weight: 185 g (0.41 lb)


Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Fast aperture.
  • Low price


Cons

  • No vibration reduction or aperture ring.


8. Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G

Key features

  • Mount: Nikon F-Bayonet
  • Focal length: 24 - 85mm
  • Aperture range: ƒ/3.5 - 4.5 to ƒ/22 - 29
  • Angle of view (FX-format): 84°
  • Angle of view (DX-format): 61°
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.38m (1.25 ft.)
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.22x
  • Filter-attachment size: 72mm
  • Weight: 16.4 oz (465g)


Pros

  • Weight
  • Sharpness and focus
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Some distortion
  • Below average built quality

9. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Key features

  • Mount: Nikon F-Bayonet
  • Focal length: 18 - 140mm
  • Aperture range: f/ 3.5-5.6 to f/ 22-38
  • Angle of view (DX-format): 76°
  • Minimum focus distance: 1.48 ft. (0.45m)
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.23x
  • Filter-attachment size: 67mm
  • Weight: 17.3 oz. (490 g)


Pros

  • Good sharpness
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Effective VR system
  • Convenient zoom range


Cons

  • Distortion (especially at 18mm)
  • Price

4 Things to consider in a Nikon lens

Best Nikon Lens for Portraits

1. Distortion

When capturing a wide field of view, your lenses capture the edges of the image at a different distance from its centre, leading to some distortion.

Of course, when shooting a portrait, you will want your results to be as close to reality as possible. To avoid that your subject's face looking disfigured, this is an aspect you will want to consider when choosing a lens.

2. Sharpness

Portrait photographers want their lens to capture the subject's soul. Since that might not be possible, you will want at least to catch the peach fuzz on its face. In other words, when selecting a lens, invest in sharpness. Ideally, choose ones apt to soft focus.

3. Weight and size

It is not all about the image you capture. Photographers' choices need to incorporate the entire work experience. Depending on the shooting you planned, you might have to consider portability and weight.

4. Bokeh

Bokeh refers to producing a blurred background, and it is crucial to make your portraits look professional. Such an effect allows you to clearly distinguish between your subject and the setting, allowing it to stand out.

Rent or subscribe to a Nikon lens

You are ready to give portrait photography a try, and you have some great options to select from. Do not waste more time and rent or subscribe to a Nikon lens.

If you are still figuring out what photographer you want to be, have a look at our page on photography to figure out which set-ups are for you.

Best Nikon lenses FAQ

Which Nikon lens is best for portraits?

Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8S

How do I take better portraits with my Nikon?

Consider distortion, sharpness, portability and bokeh.