35mm vs 50mm vs 85mm Lens Comparison for Portrait Photography


hey everyone Jessica Whitaker here I am

a New York city-based photographer and

today I'm going to be sharing with you

the differences between three different

prime lenses a 35 millimeter a 50

millimeter and an 85 millimeter in your

portrait photography these are my

personal three favorite and of course

there are still a few more out there but

I wanted to begin with the basics we

have an incredible model Kelly joining

us today and I'm going to just be

sharing with you in the most simple

broken-down way as possible the

differences between these lenses and

what I would use the lenses for in my

own portrait photography before we hop

into the video I do want to thank keh

camera for sponsoring today it's

tutorial keh has been buying and selling

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listing definitely check out keh i

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I have everything about keh as well as

all the gear that we use and today's

shoot linked down below as well as a

discount code to keh camera let's get

into the video we're gonna begin with a

35 millimeter this lens is great for

travel because the focal length is wide

enough that I can usually whip it out

snap the photo that includes a ton of

background in the environment without

having to scoot back in extra two to

three feet it opens quite enough 21.4 to

be able to compress my subject nicely

with a super shallow depth of field you

want to be mindful though when using

this focal length or portraits in full

body shots for portraits I suggest avoid

taking close-up head shots this will

just distort your subjects face and make

their nose and face look longer and

wider because it is a wide-angle lens

with a 35 I cannot stress

this enough it is the most important to

hold it at the proper angle either

straight and parallel to the ground or

up and slightly tilted down if you don't

pay attention to the angle and how

you're holding the lens you will risk

making your subject look short and stout

because it is a wide-angle lens this

Canon 35 millimeter 1.4 lens typically

retails for about 1,600 new however on

keh I found this one for about 999 I

would suggest this lens to anyone

interested in portrait photography but

more so if you are doing maybe bloggers

live style photos or you do travel a lot

and want to incorporate the background

into your portraits more the 50

millimeter is probably the most popular

lens amongst beginner photographers and

for good reason the focal length is

ideal for standard portrait photography

it's versatile and it's wide enough to

place more than two people in the frame

without compromising on leaving too much

of the background out there are three

popular at 50 millimeter options at

three different price point fifty one

point eight fifty one point four and

fifty one point two which is what I'm

shooting on today the 50 millimeter 1.8

lens was my first purchased eight years

ago and it's now about a hundred and

twenty-five dollars new however on keh

you can find incredible deals for even

half off

so I found a fifty millimeter one point

for originally 264 228 I would suggest

to begin with a fifty one point for

especially if you find yourself shooting

a low light situation this lens is

extremely flattering to the subject

because it won't pull your features or

distort it making this lens a little bit

more versatile as far as getting

creative and shooting at different

angles can go I would highly suggest

this as my number one top pick of a lens

whether you want to go with the 1.8 4 or

2 it's incredible and I think it's

something that everyone should have in

their gear collection even if it's the

only lens in their collection it's

incredible versatile I mean look at how

nice and compress the backdrop is and

how sharp these images are


thirty-five versus the fifty millimeter

as you can see in the full-body shot the

background is slightly more compressed

on the 50 but the 35 is a little bit

more elongated I would definitely

suggest for these shots in particular

the 50 millimeter over the 35 last step

is the 85 1.2 lens this has been hanging

out on my wish list for a while and it's

always fun to play around with in my

opinion this lens is not a necessity but

it does an incredible job for portrait

photography especially closeup portraits

like head shots I will be sharing how a

full-body shot looks on this lens and

look at how far away I do have to be

from my subject so I believe it's more

intended for close-up photos it's razor

sharp and can really make your subject

pop out because of how shallow you can

get with the depth of field and the

focal length combo I would recommend

this lens for portrait photographers

especially if you do a lot of wedding

photography senior portraits or even

newborns it really is an investment into

your business and it will improve the

quality of your portraits just use

wisdom when making the move because of

the focal length it won't be as

versatile for say traveling with but it

does the job of portraits Thetis lens

really can't stand alone in your kit you

will have to bring other lenses on

sessions but what this does for your

portrait photography is amazing keh

makes purchasing these fun 85 millimeter

lenses that aren't necessary to your

collection but would enhance your

business so much more affordable

50 versus the 85 I prefer the 50 on the

full body shot however I really really

love the 85 through these close-up shots

just giving that example that this lens

really can't stand alone in my opinion

on your sessions that always will need a

little bit of the companion all three

lenses side by side I made sure that the

angle was the same and that the pose was

extremely similar hopefully this will

give you a good idea of what lens you

might choose depending on the pose and

the angle and the overall final result

you want in your portraits next up I'm

going to now be using all three lenses

for their specific purpose at least in

my own portrait photography so we begin

with a 35 1.4 and I'm going to be doing

wider photographs incorporating a lot of

the background into these particular

portrait I'm being very intentional on

how I'm even angling the lens itself and

this is what I would use on a portrait

session with a client with a model this

lens for something that I want to

highlight the background with it also

adds a very kind of lifestyle feel to

all of these photographs



50 millimeter is next i'm using the 1.2

but this could apply to 1.4 or 1.8 this

lens like i said it is a really

versatile I'm just getting some torso

shots of Kelly sitting down I could also

do some up-close photographs but I'm

gonna save that for the 85 this is

definitely my favorite lens like I said

if itís just one two all of you out of

this whole video it would definitely be

the 50 millimeter I like how this lens

enables me to stand a little bit closer

to my subject so I can carry on a

conversation and just make them feel

even more comfortable and I mean the

final result in the gist do speak for

themselves on why this lens is a really

great accessible portrait lens option to

go with


next up is 85 1.2 but again like with

the 50 85 focal length you could do 1.4

or 1.8 I'm doing very close-up portrait

shots I'm think's really intentional

with this lens and I'm also being very

careful because the focus can be a

little bit finicky so you do have to pay

attention and you do have to take your

time with this lens but the result that

it creates is so unique and really

really gorgeous also take note of how

far back I have to stand for my subject


I really wanted to do an indoor setting

for this tutorial showing you how almost

like proximity wise the lenses work so

for me my own photography business I

work with a lot of bloggers I do a lot

of branding photos and I do it quite a

lot inside people want to use images for

Facebook ads or Instagram story

advertisements with a lot of white space

and room for text so the 35-millimeter

is a fantastic option because I don't

have to be too far back and really worry

about proximity when it comes to the

portraits and I can still make sure that

the background is nice and blurry like

how clients love it while leaving tons

of room for text see how far back I

really don't have to stand to be able to

get a ton of this beautiful background I

mean look at this horizontal photo I

wouldn't be able to do this with a 50 or

85 just because the proximity


next we have a 50 millimeter this one is

a good option but do take note of the

fact that I do have dispute a little bit

further back and if this was in a really

tight coffee shop or even if I was

across the street but I was backed up

against a wall you know you do have to

be mindful of the proximity but of

course I mean this lens is gorgeous for

portraits it's just something to be a

little bit mindful of


I wouldn't use an 85 1.2 on this kind of

session just because I have to stand

quite far back and if I was in a smaller

setting it just wouldn't work but it is

great if you want about one or two very

intentional very shallow portraits like

you've seen the end result but just

something that again I wouldn't use for

the entirety of the session all three

lenses side by side in this indoor

tighter space the 35 is definitely my

favorite because I was able to be

intentional about bringing as much of

the backdrop and the portrait as

possible but I think the second

runner-up for me would probably be the

85 just because the focus is completely

and only on the subject however the 85

is the runner-up because of the

proximity if I was in a tighter space I

probably wouldn't even have been able to

use the lens that's it everyone thank

you so much for watching today's video I

hope that you learned something I hope

that you can take these tips and run

with it and maybe you have an idea for

what lens you want to upgrade with add

to your collection or even to begin with

be sure to subscribe if you enjoy these

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keh for sponsoring today's video and I

do have a discount code for y'all links

down below thanks so much for watching

I'll see you next video