When you think of “portrait lenses,” you might automatically think of something like a 35mm, 50mm, or 80mm prime. Plenty of photographers go even longer and use a 135mm prime lens for portraits. But there’s something to be said for zoom lenses in portraiture, particularly a 24-70mm. Here’s a few reasons why a 24-70mm lens is ideal for portraits.
24-70mm Lenses are Versatile
Perhaps the biggest benefit of using a 24-70mm lens for portraiture is the sheer versatility of the focal range. Shoot at 24mm for group photos, full-body portraits, or environmental portraits.
Alternatively, you can zoom in and shoot at 70mm for upper-body or headshots with nice compression that’s flattering for portraits. Of course, there’s a huge range of focal lengths between the two for experimentation as well...
Zooming with your feet is often preferable to relying on your lens to do it for you, but sometimes a flick of the lens barrel is just too tempting! That kind of versatility can certainly speed up your workflow and help you to capture a wide variety of portraits quickly.
24-70mm Lenses are Ideal for Full Frame and Crop Sensor Cameras
If you shoot with a full frame camera, the 24-70mm focal range gives you wide-angle to standard to short telephoto range.
As noted above, a 24mm portrait is well-suited for something like group photos where you need that extra real estate to include everyone in the shot while 70mm is perfect for short telephoto compression.
And on a crop sensor camera, the effective focal length (roughly 36mm-105mm, depending on the crop factor of the camera) offers more reach for exploring telephoto portraits while still providing you with options in the wide-to-standard realm.
In particular, having that extra reach at 105mm on a crop sensor camera can help you capture higher-quality portraits because you have more operating space between you and your subject.
In other words, it can be difficult for some models to relax when you’re just a few feet in front of their face snapping away. With more room between the two of you, it’s more likely that their comfort level will increase, and with greater comfort in front of the camera, you’ll get better results in your photos.
24-70mm Lenses are a One-Stop Shop
If you’re running and gunning and only want to carry one lens, the 24-70mm is a fantastic choice.
Rather than having to lug around a 24mm, a 35mm, a 50mm, and an 85mm lens, you can get nearly the same reach with a single lens.
Not only is that more convenient from the standpoint of how much stuff you have to carry, but it also cuts down on lens changes, which, again, streamlines your workflow. The less time you’re swapping lenses, the more time you have to actually take awesome portraits!
Besides, not having to change lenses means there’s less opportunity for dust and debris to get on your camera’s sensor and on the lens glass. What’s not to like about that?!
So, all that said, if you’re in the market for a new portrait lens, give a 24-70mm strong consideration as the next occupant of your camera bag.