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What is the best portrait lens for Nikon D3500?
So you’re wondering which lens is best for portrait photography with your Nikon D3500? Portrait photography is something we do on a regular basis, whether with friends, family or strangers. Many beginning photographers bought their first camera with the kit zoom lens and a portrait lens is often one of the first tools needed as an extra.
If you want to get good results, it will be necessary to use the right equipment. However, there are many models and choosing a portrait lens can be complicated because it depends on several factors.
To help you, in this article we’ll explain all the features you’ll need to consider when determining which portrait lens to choose for your Nikon D3500.
How to choose the best portrait lens for my Nikon D3500?
Here are some things to consider when choosing your portrait lens to go with your Nikon D3500:
Fixed or zoom lens? Which focal length to choose? The focal length is an important criterion to determine which portrait lens to choose: a fixed focal length cannot zoom, and you will have to move to change the size of your subject on the image.
You must choose according to the type of environment where you intend to take portrait photos: outside (during a trip for example), in a concert hall, in a studio, during a wedding… A zoom lens is more versatile, allowing you to go from a wide angle to a standard or telephoto lens very quickly. Their negative points are that they are generally heavier and more expensive than a fixed focal length.
Although fixed focal lengths don’t offer as much versatility as a zoom lens, they still have many advantages: generally the image quality they provide is far superior to a zoom lenses, for a much lower price. A fixed focal length portrait lens also allows the use of very large apertures such as f/1.4 or f/1.8 which is impossible to obtain with a zoom lens.
The larger this aperture (i.e. the smaller the f/number), the more light the lens will let in on the sensor. It will allow to reduce the depth of field in order to isolate the photographed subject and to realize superb effects of bokeh (background blur).
A large aperture also helps reduce motion blur in dark environments. The choice between a fixed focal length and a zoom lens is above all a matter of compromise between image quality and versatility.
As with any photographic equipment purchase, choosing a portrait lens also depends on your budget. If you are just starting out in photography and want to learn about portraiture without breaking the bank, you may want to consider third-party lenses such as those from Tamron, Sigma and Samyang rather than the official Canon, Nikon or Sony lenses.
They are much affordable and generally offer very similar image quality. On the other hand, the build quality is generally better on the official lenses. If you are a very demanding photographer and are looking for exceptional image quality, I would still recommend investing in a lens from the same brand as your camera.
If you are not sure on what portrait lens to choose for your Nikon D3500, this small selection is suitable for most portrait photographers.
Note: the product links in this article lead to Amazon.com
Here’s the best portrait lenses you should consider for your Nikon D3500:
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
Weight: 187 g
Filter size: 58 mm
Technically, this is a lens dedicated to the FX full-format camera, but it’s compatible with DX and will give the equivalent in focal length of 75mm. Its look is quite similar to the 35mm f/1.8, with one of the lightest weights in this selection and one of the cheapest in this list.
As indicated, it will be used more for taking portraits with a very nice bokeh (background blur) and will give a professional look to your images. Perfect in low light situations. It’s also the lightest objective of all this selection.
- Fast, upgraded f/1.8, compact FX format prime lens. The picture angle with 35 millimeter (135) format is 47 degree and the maximum reproduction ratio is 0.15X
- Focal length 50 millimeter, minimum focus distance 1.48 feet (0.45 meter)
- Newly developed optical system with aspherical lens element, exclusive Nikon silent wave motor (SWM)
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.8G
Weight: 350 g
Filter size: 67 mm
Yet another lens optimized for FX cameras but which can be used on a DX camera. Thanks to its slightly longer focal length, it can be used for portraits but also for sports events or concerts. In short, it offers very good results in low-light areas.
It costs twice as much as the 50mm above and it’s also twice as heavy, data to take into account when buying… but if you decide to switch to full format later, it may be a good choice.
- Fast aperture medium telephoto lens
- Internal focus, focal length: 85 millimeter, minimum focus range: 0.80 meter
- Silent wave motor (SWM). Number of diaphragm blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
☛ MORE PORTRAIT LENSES
- For other portrait lenses options, check this out: The best lenses for Nikon DX
Useful accessories for portrait photography
They are essential to make photos and videos. Whether it’s for transporting your equipment, stabilizing your camera or protecting your camera and lenses, accessories are far from being superfluous. But you have to choose them well if you want them to last.
Here is a small selection of must-have accessories to complement your lenses and your Nikon D3500 if you want to do portrait photography:
To summarize, the important things to consider when looking for the best portrait lens for Nikon D3500 are focal range, aperture and price. If you’re not sure which portrait lens to choose, you can also go to Flickr and search for examples of photos taken with the lens you are interested in, this will give you a good idea of its possibilities.
Another thing, if you are planning to do portrait photography while on vacation or travel, consider the weight and bulk of the lens. If the whole thing is too heavy or bulky and lacks discretion, you won’t want to bother with it and would rather just take your smartphone with you. You may also not want to risk damaging an extremely expensive lens.
And finally, perhaps the most decisive point about choosing the perfect portrait lens for your Nikon D3500 will be if you need to get a portfolio of professional quality portrait photos (it may be your business or it may become your business who knows?).
Last tips: Remember to always focus on the eyes. And whatever portrait lens you choose, try to snap as much as you can, as it is often during the selection phase that you’ll discover the perfect picture. Most importantly, be always ready, as the magic in a portrait may only last for a short moment.