5 Best Lenses for Fashion Photography

Before shopping for the best lenses for fashion photography, it is best to consider their focal length, aperture, and camera compatibility. With these in mind, I’ve included my favorite products below. Continue reading to learn why they matter.

When I think about fashion photography, I always have this impression that it requires specific lenses. However, upon further research, I found out that there is a wide range of lenses suitable for this photography genre. Varying from prime to zoom lenses, these pieces of glass help you capture stunning fashion photos.

With so many products on the market, though, it can be difficult to choose the best one. 

Fortunately, in this article, I will walk you through the most common focal lengths used in fashion photography. I also picked the five best lenses for fashion photography today, based on various articles and user reviews.

But frankly speaking, there is no such thing as the absolute best choice. It will still come down to personal preference and the type of photos you take. 

With that in mind, we also included a lens buying guide below to help you know which features are essential for your particular fashion photography needs.

So without further ado, let us dive right into the article!

The Best Focal Lengths for Fashion Photography Lenses

50mm Lens

Also known as the Nifty Fifty, the 50mm lens is perhaps the most versatile lens for fashion photography. Its focal length offers little to no distortion, resulting in a natural-looking perspective.

Moreover, it usually has a wider maximum aperture which provides two essential benefits. First, it allows more light into the camera’s sensor, perfect for low-light settings. Second, it delivers an impressive narrow depth of field that can isolate the subject from the background, thus making it stand out.

Overall, the 50mm lens is suitable for capturing the essence of fashion, whether it is an editorial portrait or a candid social media post.

85mm Lens

Another favorite among fashion photographers is the 85mm lens. It offers a tighter frame that makes it easier to capture headshots for portrait photography. Meanwhile, its wider aperture effectively separates the subject from its surroundings, resulting in stunning background blur or bokeh.

The longer focal range also means that it can capture all the details present in fashion shoots, suitable for close-up photography. Such a tight crop even accentuates the textures of the clothing, hair, and skin.

35mm Lens

The 35mm lens shows the beautiful details in a location or background while still maintaining the focus on the model and her clothes. The wider focal range also allows you to insert other elements in the frame, which encourages you to be more creative. It is ideal for ¾ length or full-body shots where capturing details are of utmost importance.

This focal length even makes for an interesting angle that can create an intimate connection with the viewer. It feels like the model or subject is close enough to touch, which brings about a sense of intimacy.

To sum up, the 35mm focal range is among the best focal lengths for fashion photography to convey a story within the image.

24-70mm Lens

The 24-70mm is one of the most versatile lenses for fashion photography. It features a variable focal length that is ideal for any situation, whether it is an editorial or catalog shoot. It can go as wide as 24mm to provide an interesting overview of the location. At the same time, the 70mm focal length enables you to get closer to the subject for stunning portraits.

This all-around zoom lens is the perfect choice for the fashion photographer who does not have the time to switch between prime lenses.

100mm Lens

The 100mm lens is ideal for expansive locations, such as a big studio, where you have the space to take a step backward. This telephoto focal length allows you to get real close to the model for stunning beauty shots.

It also has a sharp focus with a narrow depth of field. This helps separate the subject from the background or emphasize small details. Thus, a 100mm lens is not only suitable for portraits but also product photography.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
View On Amazon →Read Our Review
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
View On Amazon →Read Our Review
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
View On Amazon →Read Our Review
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Focal Length: 24-70mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
View On Amazon →Read Our Review
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Focal Length: 100mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
View On Amazon →Read Our Review

5 Best Lenses for Fashion Photography

1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G – Must-Have Lens for Fashion Photography

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f1.8G

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G is a must-have lens for fashion photographers using a Nikon camera body.

This prime lens features a fixed 50mm focal length that offers a realistic perspective without distortion. It is suitable for taking pictures of the model from the waist up and headshots. 

It also has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 that allows more light into the sensor. Thus, it can deliver a narrow depth of field for stunning detailed photos. Such a maximum aperture even allows you to use a faster shutter speed in dramatic low-light situations.

Moreover, this Nikkor lens has a fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus, owing to the Silent Wave Motor (SWM). This technology ensures sharp rendering across the frame.

Finally, it is compact and lightweight, making it ideal to carry alongside other prime lenses for a fashion shoot.

Most customer reviews for this lens were overwhelmingly positive. However, some users noted that photos are vignetted when shooting at the widest aperture. It also lacks Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, which is essential for minimizing camera shake.

Nevertheless, the NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G is still worth checking out due to its versatile focal length and light build.

Pros:

  • Versatile focal length
  • Stunning bokeh for fashion portraits
  • Great in low-light situations
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons:

  • No Vibration Reduction (VR) to reduce camera shake
  • Some users reported vignetting issues when shooting at the widest aperture

Alternatives:

2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G – Best for Fashion Model Portraits

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f1.8G

If you are a primarily portrait shooter, consider getting the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G.

The 85mm focal length allows you to get closer to the subject than a 50mm lens, given that you are standing at the same spot. The tighter crop frame makes it easier to capture the emotion of the model while showcasing details in the costume or fabric.

Meanwhile, the f/1.8 maximum aperture offers a narrow depth of field. It effectively separates the subject from the background so that the viewer can focus on the details within the image. A smaller f-stop number also has a wider aperture opening. It allows more light into the sensor, suitable for low-light shooting conditions.

Furthermore, it includes the silent wave motor (SWM) technology to ensure fast and accurate autofocus no matter the situation.

Despite these advantages, this Nikkor lens lacks built-in optical stabilization. A few users also said that the minimum focus distance of 80 cm (2.62 in) is not close enough for detailed photography. So if you want to capture the texture of the fabric or the jewelry of the model as sharp as possible, it is best to look for another lens with a closer focusing distance.

Otherwise, if you want to capture model portraits, the NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G will help you achieve beautiful results.

Pros:

  • Medium telephoto focal length is ideal for portraiture 
  • Shallow depth of field for stunning background blur
  • Reliable low-light performance
  • Fast and accurate autofocus

Cons:

  • Lack of a Vibration Reduction (VR) stabilization technology
  • The minimum focus distance of 80 cm (2.62 in) might not capture all the details in small subjects

Alternatives:

3. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G – Best for Street Fashion Photography

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm

For those who want to showcase both the fashion model and background, a 35mm lens like the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G might meet your needs.

It offers a wide-angle perspective that enables you to include more elements into the frame. At the same time, the 35mm focal length is still close enough to the subject to capture the emotions in the scene. 

This Nikkor lens also has a maximum aperture opening at f/1.8, ideal for night or low-light shooting. It can even offer a shallow depth of field to create a distinct background blur for portraits. 

What’s more, the silent wave motor (SWM) system ensures accurate and near-silent autofocus. It ensures detailed and tack sharp images, even when the subject is in motion.

But before purchasing this excellent lens for fashion photography, it is essential to know that it is specifically designed for crop-sensor cameras. That means it is not compatible with any full-frame camera, and it will only result in vignetting when used.

Some users also reported that the lens has chromatic aberration when wide open at f/1.8.

That said, we still think the NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G is one of the best prime lenses for fashion photography if you own a crop-sensor camera. It is best for street fashion photography, where you want to create a relationship between the model and the environment where he or she is standing.

Pros:

  • Unique wide-angle perspective allows versatility
  • Stunning background blur for portraiture
  • Fast, accurate, and near-silent autofocus
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Budget-friendly

Cons:

  • This DX-format lens is not compatible with full-frame cameras
  • No built-in optical stabilization
  • A few users said the lens has chromatic aberration when shooting at f/1.8

Alternatives:

4. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art – Best All-Around Lens for Fashion Photography

Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG OS HSM Art

The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art offers a variable focal range that is ideal for various fashion photography needs.

It opens wide at 24mm to capture a broader scene, perfect for full-length model shots, street fashion photography, and environmental portraits. It can also inspire you to use the elements in the background in creating a unique story. 

Meanwhile, the longest focal length at 70mm allows you to get closer shots of the subject. It is suitable for portraits, beauty shots, and even runway photos.

Furthermore, the maximum aperture stays constant at f/2.8 no matter the focal length chosen. It enables more light into the sensor to offer tack sharp images, even in low-light situations.

This lens features an optical stabilizer (OS) function to minimize camera shake when shooting at slow shutter speeds or handheld. 

On top of all these benefits, this zoom lens includes a super multilayer coating. Its unique optical design helps reduce flare and ghosting, resulting in sharp and high-contrast results.

However, it’s essential to know that there are still some downsides to this particular lens.

First, it is on the expensive side. It is also quite heavy, so carrying it for an extended period can be tiring. Some users also reported that the autofocus is slow and inaccurate.

That being said, we still think that the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art is worth the cost, especially for its robust features. It is among the best and most versatile lenses for fashion photography.

Pros:

  • Versatile focal range
  • Great in low-light situations
  • Narrow depth of field for stunning portraits
  • Built-in optical stabilization to reduce camera shake
  • The multilayer coating minimizes flare and ghosting in the widest aperture

Cons:

  • Quite expensive
  • Heavy lens
  • Some users said that the AF system is slow and inaccurate

Alternatives:

5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM – Best for Advertising Fashion Photography

Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM is one of the best prime lenses for portrait and advertising fashion photography.

The 100mm focal range delivers flattering close-ups of the model without distorting facial features. It can also capture incredible details of the subject, such as the texture of the fabric or the components of jewelry.

This medium telephoto lens even has a 1:1 macro magnification ratio. It can bring small objects up close for an impressive larger-than-life perspective.

Meanwhile, the f/2.8 maximum aperture allows more light into the sensor, which is handy for low-light conditions. This zoom lens also offers stunning background blur, ideal for portraits and other close-up shots.

Furthermore, the built-in hybrid image stabilization reduces camera shake when shooting handheld or at slower shutter speeds.

However, some users reported that the stabilization motor produces a loud noise. A few users also said that the autofocus system is slow.

The pros far outweigh the cons, though.

For this reason, we highly recommend the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM for fashion photographers, especially those who specialize in advertising and portraits. 

Pros:

  • The telephoto focal length brings you closer to the subject
  • A magnification ratio of 1:1 captures images in life-size
  • Portrait lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0.99 ft
  • Ideal for low-light situations
  • Reduced camera shake enables handheld shooting

Cons:

  • Loud built-in image stabilization
  • Slow AF system
  • Expensive

Alternatives:

How to Choose the Best Lens for Fashion Photography

By now, you are already familiar with the best lenses for fashion photography. All our recommendations can help you achieve creative fashion photos.

However, it is also essential to focus on certain factors if you are looking for the perfect lens for your fashion photography needs. Below are several considerations you must know before buying a lens. 

Type of Lens

In the fashion photography world, you can use different types of lenses to achieve your desired look or perspective.

Some professionals prefer a lens that has a fixed focal length. Also known as a prime lens, this type of glass is usually sharper than zoom lenses due to the constant aperture opening and less moveable components. It is also compact and lightweight. 

However, other fashion photographers tend to use zoom lenses for their versatility. This lens type has a variable focal range that eliminates the need to switch in between different prime glasses to achieve a particular look. Not only does it save you time, but it also takes up less space on your bag. However, most zoom lenses are usually not sharp enough due to the smaller maximum aperture. 

Choosing between these two main types of lenses and their respective focal lengths will depend on personal preference and the kind of photos you want to shoot.

Aperture

The next factor to consider is the maximum aperture of the lens. It affects how much light enters into the sensor of the camera. The larger the aperture opening, the better performance the lens has in low-light situations.

The aperture also determines the depth of field or how much blur you want in the background of your photos. This effect is essential in fashion photography where you want to showcase the subject and the emotions conveyed. 

So if you want to emphasize the subject, you want to get a lens with a maximum aperture of at least f/1.8 or f/2.8.

Camera Compatibility

This one is pretty self-explanatory—you want a lens that is compatible with your camera. 

Although you can use a Nikon lens to a Canon camera via an adapter, nothing beats the quality and usability of a native lens.

So while we mostly included Nikon lenses in this article, we also mentioned some of their alternatives in this list. These lenses are compatible with Canon and Sony cameras to ensure optimal functionality.

Sensor Size

You may also want to consider the sensor size of your camera when buying the best lens for fashion photography.

A full-frame camera can only accept full-frame equivalent lenses. In contrast, a crop-sensor camera is compatible with both full-frame and crop-sensor lenses.

Thus, choosing a full-frame lens might be a better decision because you can use them in various camera sensor sizes.

But before buying such a lens, it is essential to know that the same lens offers different results on two distinct sensor sizes. For instance, a 50mm lens has an equivalent focal length of around 75mm on a crop-sensor body.

Stabilization

If you want to ensure image sharpness, consider a lens for fashion photography with built-in optical stabilization. This technology helps minimize camera shake and offers clear photos, even when shooting handheld or at slower shutter speeds.

Price

The best lens for fashion photography comes in different price points. So before buying a lens, it is essential to determine how much you are willing to spend for one.

If you are short on budget, you can still find excellent fashion lenses that provide value at a lower price.

But if you have the money, it is best to get more expensive lenses. You usually get what you pay for because they offer advanced features and the highest quality results.

Warranty

Finally, it is essential to buy a lens for fashion photography that has a warranty. This guarantee allows you to ask for a refund or repair if the lens malfunctions within the specified period.

Frequently Asked Questions

What lenses do fashion photographers use?

Fashion photographers use various lenses on a shoot to achieve their desired results. As previously mentioned, they can either grab an 85mm or 100mm telephoto lens for capturing details up close. But they can also work with a 35mm wide-angle lens to shoot more of the scene in front of them.

Which lens is best for fashion photography?

The best lens for fashion photography will depend on a lot of factors. These include the type of fashion photography that you do, your personal preference, your budget, and more.

In this article, we listed the top five lenses that we think are best for fashion photography. Feel free to check them and find out for yourself if they are perfect for your needs.

What type of lens is better: 35mm or 50mm?

Again, it will come down to your needs and preferences.

A 35mm lens allows you to capture a larger scene, ideal for full-body and half-body shots. Meanwhile, a 50mm lens offers a natural-looking perspective without distortion. It is suitable for taking shoulder-length portraits and headshots. Of course, it can also photograph a wide scene, but it requires you to have considerable distance from the subject, which is not always convenient.

Conclusion

That sums up our list of the best lenses for fashion photography!
We highly recommend each product as they can deliver promising results for fashion shoots. But if we only have to suggest one, it would be the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G. Although it has a fixed focal length, it is still versatile enough to capture both close-ups and wide shots. Moreover, it is compact and lightweight without costing you a fortune.