What’s the best lens to use for headshots?

There is no “correct” way to take a headshot, and preferences for how a headshot should look will always vary from client to client.

When it comes to lens selection however, you can pretty much use these two general criteria to help guide you (assuming you’ve already got your lighting and location all figured out):

  1. How compressed do you want the scene/subject to look?
  2. How creamy do you want the overall image to be?

If you really like the compressed look (where the background looks super pressed up against the subject), I would choose a telephoto lens, somewhere in the range of 100mm to 200mm. The thing to keep in mind is that the greater the focal length, the “wider” and more two-dimensional your subject will look.

If you’re in love with creamy looking images or images that have a lot of blur to them, opt for a lens that will give you shallower depth of field. Anything f/2.8 and below is great. f/4 means that most of the subject’s body will still be in focus (if you were standing right in front of them and shooting straight ahead).

To get the best of both worlds, my lens of choice for a headshot would either be an Sigma 85mm f/1.4 or a 105mm f/2.8 Macro lens. The above image was taken with a Sigma 105mm Macro lens at f/2.8. Keep in mind that because it’s a Macro, the blurriness is intensified at f/2.8 compared to non-macro lenses.

What’s your preferred lens to use for headshots? Leave a comment below :)

JL

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