Best portrait lens for Nikon D850

The Best Portrait Lens for Nikon D850

Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body
  • Nikon designed back side illuminated (BSI) full frame image sensor with no optical low pass filter
  • 45.7 megapixels of extraordinary resolution, outstanding dynamic range and virtually no risk of moiré
  • Up to 9 fps1 continuous shooting at full resolution with full AF performance

What is the best portrait lens for Nikon D850?

So you’re wondering which lens is best for portrait photography with your Nikon D850? 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 D850.

How to choose the best portrait lens for my Nikon D850?

Here are some things to consider when choosing your portrait lens to go with your Nikon D850:

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 D850, this small selection is suitable for most portrait photographers.

Note: the product links in this article lead to


  1. Nikon AF-S 85 mm f/1.4G
  2. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  3. Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART DG HSM
  4. Useful accessories
  5. Conclusion

Here are the best portrait lenses you should consider for your Nikon D850:

Nikon AF-S 85 mm f/1.4G

best nikon fx lenses Weight: 595 g
Filter size: 77 mm

“Magnificent”, “breathtaking”, a “jewel”, these are some of the terms used by many users regarding this 85mm f/1.4, considered as a reference for portrait photography, and this all brands combined.

Its optical quality is impeccable, with superb image sharpness, colour rendering and sublime contrast. It’s also known for its exceptional bokeh that allows you to isolate the subject with an impression of a 3D effect thanks to its 1.4 aperture.

Note that there is no integrated optical stabilization (damage), and it’s tropicalized.

Given the price at which it’s sold, the quality of construction is of course excellent. Its high price makes it accessible only to professionals or amateurs who really want to enjoy themselves but at this price it’s one of the best portrait lenses available on the market.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
  • Ultra-fast f1.4 classic portrait lens, Nano Crystal Coat
  • Focal Length : 85 mm, Minimum Focus Distance : 3.0 ft. (0.85m). Compatible Format(s)- FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode
  • Optimized for edge to edge sharpness on both FX and DX cameras;Closest focusing distance:0.85 m


Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Which lens to choose nikon fx Weight: 820 g
Filter size: 77 mm

To cover a wide variety of photographic conditions, whether portrait, reportage or even landscape, this Sigma 50mm is a versatile focal lens that delivers a remarkable overall image quality, coupled with excellent construction quality and a sober and discreet design. The very bright maximum aperture of f/1.4 provides a superb background blur. The minimum focusing distance is 40 cm. The HSM motorization allows you to benefit from a particularly discreet, fast and precise focusing.

A few downsides: a rather marked vignetting up to f/2.8, and a lack of homogeneity of the piqué at f/1.4 but beyond that it offers photos of a remarkable sharpness, even on the edges of the image.

It should also be noted that there is no optical stabilization, although the usefulness of such a technology on a standard focal length at f/1.4 is not really useful. It’s a heavy (800g) and not tropicalized camera lens. This may seem like a lot of negative points, but in the fixed focal length category it’s one of the best.

A USB dock is available for updates and to adjust the accuracy of the autofocus.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Nikon
  • 50mm focal length, Lens not zoomable
  • 75mm equivalent focal length on APS-C cameras, 80mm equivalent focal length on Canon APS-C cameras
  • F1.4 maximum aperture; F16 minimum


Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART DG HSM

best nikon travel lens fx Weight: 670 g
Filter size: 67 mm

An ideal focal length for street or reportage photography. This Sigma 35mm f/1.4 offers spectacular results, with color rendering, contrast, image clarity and an incredibly beautiful bokeh. All the tests on the net recommend it. The autofocus is silent and its construction quality impeccable.

Be careful, however, some users report a focus problem on some 35mm just unpacked. Sigma sells a USB dock that is used to calibrate the device and make updates from time to time (there seem to be more problems with the D800).

Apart from that it’s an optic that gives a natural angle of view, similar to what the human eye sees and therefore very useful when travelling or even to make portraits, but also photos in difficult light conditions thanks to its f/1.4 aperture. An excellent investment, sold cheaper than its direct competitor the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 (also excellent, rather pro-oriented and tropicalized) and a little more expensive than the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 (the Nikon 35mm 1.8 is also lighter). Given the price difference, you may as well opt directly for the Sigma and shoot at f/1.4.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Nikon, Black, 3.7 x 3.03 x 3.03 (340306)
  • 35mm focal length, 52.5mm equivalent focal length on APS-C cameras, 56mm equivalent focal length on Canon APS-C cameras
  • F1.4 maximum aperture; F16 minimum, This model is compatible with all current Nikon cameras (both DX and FX)
  • Ring-type ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing



  • For other portrait lenses options, check this out: The best lenses for Nikon D850


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 D850 if you want to do portrait photography:


To summarize, the important things to consider when looking for the best portrait lens for the Nikon D850 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 D850 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.

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