Top 5 Canon Lenses for Headshot Photography

canon 100mm f2.8 IS macro

Headshot is an inevitable part when shooting people. Be it weddings, corporate functions or street photography, the requirement is to capture human emotions in the most captivating way. If you’re Canon head, here is a list of top 5 Canon lenses for head-shot photography:

1. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

This medium telephoto Canon glass has impressive optical performance and sits top in this list.  85 mm is the classic portrait length and it won’t distort your subject while allowing you shoot from a comfortable distance. It’s wide aperture allows you to shoot with a limited available light.  The circular aperture creates a shallow depth-of-field that brings attention to the subject and blurs the background.

canon 85mm 1.2

On the good side this lens is exquisitely sharp and contrasty, even wide open. On the bad side it is slow at auto focusing and has a long minimum focusing distance.  It also lacks an in built image stabilization (IS). You could also consider the cheaper 85mm f/1.8 lens if you have the guts to sacrifice a few stops of light and sharpness.

2. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Almost similar image compression like the 85mm, this is the first mid-telephoto macro lens to include Canon’s sophisticated Hybrid Image Stabilization. Even though marketed as a macro lens, it is capable of producing great razor-sharp portraits.

canon 100mm f2.8 IS macro

On the positive side excellent optics, superb autofocus, light weight and fantastic Image Stabilization for ultra-sharp results makes this a good option. As quoted by fellow photographers, the built quality put against the premium price is the only downside. If you don’t feel IS is not that important to you could consider Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro which has similar optical performance.

3. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

This telephoto-zoom from Canon is undoubtedly the most versatile lens available today. It is the sharpest zoom tested till date making it the choice of amateur still photographers to veteran film makers. For head shot photography the lens enables you to compose the shot from a safe distance from your subject.


canon 70-200 2.8 IS ii

On the good side this lens covers all the favorite portrait focal lengths; 85mm, 135mm & 200mm. It is sharp and focuses fast but weight and form factor makes it a macho job to carry it around. There are no direct substitutes for this lens, might be the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 non IS version will be the closest option i you are willing to compensate for the IS.


4. Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

It is a stellar portrait and available light lens which has been in the photography market for almost two decades now. It is the fastest telephoto in its class which focuses at razor sharp levels wide open and returns stunning head and body shots. You could really fill up the frame without being very close to your subject.



On the positive end this lens creates a very natural and comfortable photographer to subject space, especially for head shots. It has the finest color reproduction and produces a beautiful bokeh. On the negative side this lens has less versatility, since it is limited to only portraits / headshots.

5. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The EF 24-70 f/2.8 II USM is a standard focal length zoom lens that features a large aperture throughout its focal length. The well built lens is a work horse for events where speed and versatility are top most priorities. At its full zoom, the lens is capable of capturing head-shots with a minimal distortion, great colors and a nice background isolation.

canon 24-70

On the good side it has fast-accurate autofocus, sharp rendering, punchy images and a reasonable zoom range. The weight and price tag of this lens are the only concerns you’ve to think when choosing this lens.

Final Word

The primes are best option if you are looking for low light and image quality. You could definitely prefer the zooms for their versatility and speed.

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