What's the Best Portrait Lens for Beginners? 50mm vs 35mm vs 24mm Lenses (VIDEO)

One of the most common questions we get from beginner photographers is: What's the best lens to get started in portrait photography? Of course, there's no right answer to this question. Some beginner portrait photographers are fine with the basic kit zoom lens that came with their camera. Others want to try something higher quality.

Still, it's a very good question and one that Ben Bach of Bach Photography tries to answer in the below video. For Bach, a prime lens (aka one with a fixed focal length) is the way to go if you're shooting portraits. In the clip, he compares a 50mm F/1.4 lens to a 35mm F/1.4 lens to a 24mm F/1.4 lens in a portrait shootout with a model friend.

Early in the video, Bach explains that he didn't include an 85mm lens (which is popular for portraiture) in the comparison, because he feels most beginner photographers will be using crop-sensor cameras, and an 85mm lens on an APS-C camera turns into a 135mm focal length. "And that is super tight and not really useful for that many things apart from very specific cases in portrait photography and maybe some things like sports and wildlife," he explains.

For his lens comparison test, Bach does a "two-minute photography challenge" where he photographs his model in different locations for only two minutes at a time. The shootout was all done in natural light only.

So, which one of the lenses was his favorite for portraits? Which one was your favorite? Check out the video below and let us know in the comments. Then go visit the Bach Photography channel for more portrait photography tips, tricks and advice.

If you're looking for more lens advice, check out our own video featuring pro photographer Jordan Matter where he shows you why he loves his 50mm lens – aka his "Nifty Fifty"—for photographing portraits. 

Walt_P's picture

This video is totally laughable - Ben says the video is for beginners using a crop sensor camera - and then uses a full frame camera and asks us to imagine what the images would look like on a crop sensor - you know, cropped by a factor of 1.6! Ben, if you want to show what images on a crop sensor look like for us beginners, also remembering you have insulted us and called us out for having and using non-professional cameras, swallow your pride and rent or borrow a crop sensor camera the next time you make such a video.

dcxdan's picture

I understood what he was talking about, but my head started to spin with him bouncing back and forth about the crop sensor effect on various sized lenses. Then the "you are only a pro if you are using a full frame camera" stuff really made me say.. what the...F and I had to say.. WOW. guess I am totally a rube of an amateur using a crap sensor. But... I have recently moved to the 4/3 format.... wonder what I am now. So, I did get through about half the video and stopped. I sure did not find it very helpful at all.