articles for photographers

Comparison of 50mm and 135mm for portrait photography

Why isn't fifty dollars good for full-height portraits? In the examples below, you can see what a full-fledged portrait lens with a focal length of 135mm (Canon 135mm f2L) compared to the standard 50mm (Canon 50mm f1.4). All photos were taken at open apertures f2 and f1.4, respectively.

The photography took place in Mariinsky park early March, when there is still no greenery. In such conditions, the maximum blurring of the background is very important.

50mm vs 135mm

Lenses with these focal lengths convey perspective in completely different ways. At 135mm, in addition to the strong bokeh, the background compression effect is well felt. In most cases, this is beneficial. Especially here. Bare black branches, which cannot be hidden when shooting at fifty dollars, clearly do not make the photo attractive.

50mm vs 135mm3

A similar situation. Only here the background is even more complex. There are a lot of unnecessary things in the frame at 50mm. The environment is clearly distracting from the model. The 135mm frame is perceived much better. We can say that this lens saves in any circumstances. Whatever trash is in the background, you can always annihilate it.

50mm vs 135mm

Here fifty kopecks obviously loses in all respects. The girl even stopped smiling. The transmission of perspective to 135mm allows you to focus on the girl, and not on the trees above her head, paving slabs under her feet or a bench. It's hard to see here, but at fifty dollars, her sneakers are already out of focus. At 135mm, the girl is sharp from head to toe.

50mm vs 135mm2

But with a bust portrait, the situation is slightly different. The fifty dollar already blurs the background more. However, the people on the right in the bottom photo are still readable. 135mm makes a completely abstract picture out of the background with such a large size, where nothing distracts from the model.


135mm (or 85mm) are ideal lenses for portrait photography. 50mm can perform this function, but with reservations. It can give good photos when cropped to the waist and good backgrounds. You can't call him a full-fledged portraitist.

Canon 50mm f1.2L video review:

Recommend article: portrait lens test 50mm, 85mm, 135mm