Best Portrait Lenses For Nikon D850 in 2023

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The Nikon D850 is built to capture detail. This camera is packed with features and specs that provide an undeniably solid foundation for shooting stunning portrait photography.  Of course, building on this foundation with the right equipment only amplifies its success at shooting portraits.

In this article, we’re going to cover some of the best lenses to use with the Nikon D850 to produce incredible quality portrait photos.

What are the best portrait lenses for Nikon D850?

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

The first lens that we’re going to look at is the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G prime lens. This D850 lens is a super-fast, lightweight lens that can produce flawless, high-resolution portraits.

Let’s take a look at what makes this lens so powerful.

50mm lenses provide a perspective that is comparable to our own vision, which lends itself to creating portraits that are more personal for the viewer.

This lens can focus at a distance as close as 1.5 feet, which allows you to work closer to the subject, and within tighter locations.

50mm is also the go-to focal length for full-body shots. It allows you to have more working distance and get closer for waist-level portraits.

At a maximum aperture of f/1.4, this lens can produce bright, detailed photos, even in low-lighting situations.

A staple of portrait photography is bokeh, that attractive background and foreground blur we all know and love.

Well, this lens is no stranger to that. Because of the f/1.4 aperture and rounded 9-blade diaphragm, the bokeh is smooth and exaggerated, creating a dramatic contrast that makes your subject stand out.

Weight and construction are important factors when choosing lenses that you’ll have to lug around with.

This lens keeps it small, with dimensions under 3 inches both ways (length and width). It also keeps it light at just under 10 oz. With its robust features, wide aperture, and compact design, it’s certainly worth keeping in your arsenal.


  • Wide aperture
  • High resolution Images
  • Compact design


  • Slower autofocus
  • No image stabilization

Read More

The Ultimate Guide to 50mm Lens Photography

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G

The next lens we’re going to discuss is the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens. This D850 lens is another prime lens with a fixed focal length; it falls into the realm of medium telephoto lenses.

This particular focal length is perfect for shooting stills that aim to accentuate the subject’s head and face.

This lens offers a minimum focusing distance that is just shy of three feet, which forces you to stay further back from your subject and allows for more natural poses.  

This lens comes equipped with a 7-blade diaphragm and a maximum aperture of f/1.8. At a focal length of 85mm, the f/1.8 aperture does allow for some shooting in lower-light scenarios.

To get the most out of the fast action aperture, this lens is ideal for shooting in situations where lighting is more readily available, such as studio settings.

With a longer focal length and wide aperture, this lens produces some of the most stunning background blur. Despite being a medium telephoto lens, it still offers a more than reasonable compact design (3.1 in. x 2.9 in) and weighs in at 12.4 oz, making it easy and convenient to haul around.

It’s also a great lens to bring to the studio, where it can be used to capture those close-up head shots in insane detail with greater lighting.


  • Accurate autofocus
  • Perfect focal length for portraits


  • No built-in image stabilization

Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

This is an 85mm fixed focal length lens, with a maximum aperture of f/1.4. This is another lens that is ideal for portrait photography, especially headshot portraits.

This lens produces excellent image quality and a phenomenal background blur thanks its exceptionally wide aperture and 9-bladed diaphragm, which highlights the subject and eliminates the distracting background.

At maximum aperture, the images are tack sharp in the center, and the loss on the full frame corners is negligible.

For those instances where you want everything in the shot to be in focus, a low aperture of f/16 is available.  

It comes equipped with a hypersonic focus motor for quick autofocusing and an option for manual focusing. The manual focus ring is ergonomically sound and smooth.

The build of this lens allows for a minimum focus distance of less than three feet (about 33.5 inches), which affords a pretty decent opportunity for close-up shots that are vibrant and sharp.

This distance is perfect because it will flatten your subject in a beautiful way without unpleasant distortion.

Overall, this is a handy and effective lens for shooting portraits. The large aperture and sharp images are ideal for portrait photography, even in low-lighting scenarios such as weddings, parties, etc.


  • Ideal focal length for portraits (85mm)
  • Large aperture
  • Sharp images across full frame


  • No image stabilization
  • Slightly heavy

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G

If you recall from earlier in this article, we discussed Nikon’s 85mm f/1.8G lens, well, this is kind of like that lens’ big brother.

It boasts the same fixed focal length but has a larger max aperture and two additional rounded diaphragm blades.

What this amounts to is a much greater control over the depth of field, sharper images, and even better background blur.

With an f/1.4 aperture, this lens can definitely shoot portraits outside of the studio and in situations where lighting may not be ideal.

This lens will focus at a distance as low as three feet, providing great flexibility to get up close for stunning head shots.

Another feature that sets this lens apart is Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coating, which essentially eliminates internal element reflections.

It comes with Nikon’s standard silent wave motor autofocusing and a slick focusing ring for manual focusing. The ability of this lens to perform well in a wide array of lighting makes it ideal for portrait shooting in the field.

The 85mm focal length provides the flexibility required to shoot head shots, as well as full body portraits, with stunningly brilliant results.


  • Large aperture
  • 9-bladed diaphragm
  • Anti-reflection coating


  • Slightly heavy (21.0 oz.)

Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED

For our last lens, we’re going to step away from the fixed focal length primes and take a look at the lens with zoom capabilities.

Let’s take a look at the focal length range first. With an available range of 70 to 200mm, this lens essentially covers all of the stops that are ideal for portrait photography, including the 85mm focal length we’ve been discussing for a while now.

It provides flexibility in shooting positions that prime lenses just can’t, which is definitely great to have, especially in the field.

The zooming capability of this lens makes it a perfect fit for events like weddings. It provides the ability to capture stunning images from an angle that doesn’t interfere with the event.

This particular D850 lens has a fixed maximum aperture of f/2.8, which isn’t quite as large as some prime lenses offer but can still provide some unique and detailed shots in the lower lighting ranges.

With its 9-bladed diaphragm, zoom capability, and f/2.8 aperture, this lens does produce some of the smoothest background blur of the lenses we’ve looked at.

The build of this lens is pretty spectacular also. It holds all of Nikon’s usual features and throws its vibration reduction technology in the mix for image stability.

Its weather-sealed design and magnesium-alloy construction ensure you can work in almost any weather conditions.

To sweeten the pot, this lens is constructed with extra-low dispersion glass to correct any chromatic aberrations.


  • Image Stabilization
  • Zoom Capabilities
  • Weather sealing


  • Heavy/Large
  • Smaller Max Aperture (f/2.8)


At the end of the day, any one of the lenses that have been mentioned in this article will partner up perfectly with your Nikon D850 camera, as well as many others.

Each one has some features that make them slightly better positioned for different situations, but they’re all flexible enough to do the job. Every lens will provide stunning image quality, incredible bokeh, and bright, vibrant colors.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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