Top Lenses for Fashion Photography – My Picks!

Posted by Jerry Avenaim on December 19, 2009 – 1:44 pm
Fashion Photography for Flaunt Magazine

24~70 Zoom for Flaunt Magazine

Fashion photography is a unique combination of all types of photography. Fashion often includes portrait photography, environmental photography, product photography, macro photography, and sometimes even landscape photography are all included under the required knowledge umbrella to be successful in fashion photography.

In order to deliver a successful fashion photography shoot, you’re going to need lenses that allow you to capture each of these aspects with artistry and creativity. In a perfect world, we’d have the finances and manpower to haul every available lens to the venue; but in reality, we’re limited to a handful of accessible, high-quality, and versatile lenses.

Here is a list (from my camera bag) of must have lenses for any given fashion or advertising assignment. I’m listing Canon lenses since I primarily shoot with 5D Mark II’s when it comes to my DSLR choice, but each lens listed should have an equivalent for other brand name DSLR producers.

Variable Zoom Lenses
1. 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Zoom Lens
This is my favorite lenses. it’s fast and versatile, it allows for quick shooting and it’s razor sharp. I can use this lens while shooting a portrait and pull out wider with it to include the environment when on location.

2. 70-200mm f/2.8L Zoom Lens
This lens creates a beautiful bokeh (blur) at f2.8, and the compression you get when you’re zoomed in from 150-200mm gives your image a look that’s hard to achieve with any other lens. It also allows you to get in close on the subject without disrupting the moment you are trying to capture.

3. 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Sometimes the 24-70mm lens just isn’t wide enough to capture everything you want. The ultra wide angle helps you capture your surroundings, such as in reportage on the street or in tight spaces.

Prime Lenses
4. 50mm f1.2 L USM Prime Lens
This is another one of my favorite lenses. It can save the day when the light starts to drop and allow you to bring out the backgrounds. It also, makes you less reliant on your flash, creating a softer, more natural look for your subjects. The 50mm also allows you to create stunning portraits, as the low aperture creates the shallow depth of field that makes your subject pop off the page and softens your subject’s skin.

5. 85mm f1.2L II USM Prime Lens
This is a great lens, but not a necessity if you’re happy with the results from your 70-200mm. The nice thing is it is the perfect portrait lens and carries a fraction of the weight of the aforementioned variable zoom.

6. 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
If your shooting beauty and are not able to back up enough to gain the compression you would with a 200mm here is the solution. With the 100mm Macro, you can capture detailed shots with the same quality and detail as product advertisements in magazines. because t is a macro lens, it is a bit flatter, thus giving you the feel of the 200mm compression. In addition, if you want to come in tight for a detail shot such as the lips or an eye, this is your baby.

What are your favorite lenses?

Jerry Avenaim

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31 Responds so far- Add one»

  1. 1. Moustafa Said:

    My favorit lenses , 85mm and the 24 70mm i can do any thing with them :)

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  2. 2. Larry White Said:

    Hi Jerry,
    The Canon 70-200 f2.8L is my favorite lens and I also use the 50 f1.2L in the lower lights…..love the blogs!!!
    Larry White

    [Reply]

  3. 3. mark pernal Said:

    Excellent article. I agree on the 70-200mm. I do find myself using that at 85mm quite often.

    One of my favorite lenses, you did not mention, is the 135mm prime. A gorgeous lens!

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    Jerry Avenaim Reply:

    Mark I have to agree with you, it’s just not ‘in my bag baby’. Although I’m very much on the fence with putting it in there. It is a deadly lens, and it’s perfect for portrait and beauty shoots! I appreciate the input!

    Keep shooting my friend!

    Jerry Avenaim

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  4. 4. Gerry Hanan Said:

    Great post – not just from the perspective of actually knowing what glass you prefer, but also hearing the reason why each one gets its place on your preferred list. I have a total of 4 lenses, which includes the 24-70, the 70-200 for the zooms, & the 85 1.8 & the 50 1.8 making up the primes. While the 24-70 and 70-200 are smashing pieces of glass, I love the 85 & 50 for their sharpness and low light capabilities when shooting bands live on stage. While I don’t use it the most, my favorite lens is the 50 1.8, but because it produces delicious results while being the cheapest Canon lens out there. In my opinion, for $70, this lens has definitely earned the title of ‘deadly’.

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  5. 5. Prince Vasquez Said:

    Great article.
    By the way, is there a L-lens for that macro you mentioned?

    [Reply]

    Jerry Avenaim Reply:

    Thank you and yes there is. It is a fairly new and expensive model. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM is over $1,000 on Amazon. it does feature image stabilization which is a fantastic feature when shooting in available light!

    [Reply]

  6. 6. Jeff Berlin Said:

    Good post Jerry. I never really liked the form factor of the Canon 85 f1.2, and I’m a bit old school and don’t always care about autofocus, so I bought, and am VERY happy with the Zeiss 85mm 1.4 manual focus lens with Canon mount. I LOVE the contrast, color and sharpness I get with the lens. The 50mm 1.2 — total crush object for me right now. On my short list along with the 100 macro.

    Jeff Berlin

    [Reply]

    Jerry Avenaim Reply:

    If my eys were that good, and I didn’t move around as fast as I do, the Zeiss lenses would be me top choices bar none. I’m still toying with the idea of the Zeiss 85mm prime… Thanks for your input Jeff!

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  7. 7. Luis Alvarez Said:

    the 24-70 2.8 is the one I have for all my fashion and glamour photoshootings.

    I like your statement that you can use it to quickly make a wide angle shoot of the complete environment.

    I do that a lot when I am photoshooting in order to document the lighting for myself. In between the shots I quickly use the 24mm to photograph the whole setup. Its useful for me when I ever want to remember how I lit up a scene. Great lens! And great post!!

    thanks
    Luis

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  8. 8. Arpad Ronaszegi Said:

    Jerry,
    Enjoyed looking at your site and reading your tutorials and this blog. I am an architect and mostly do architectural photography but it was very interesting to find out that I use many of the same lenses (24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8 and 16-35 f2.8) that you have in your list of favorites. I would like do more portraits and thought to get a 50mm. I wonder if you find there is a significant difference between the f1.2 and f1.4? The latter is quite a bit less expensive so I thought of getting that.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Arpad Ronaszegi

    [Reply]

  9. 9. andrew Said:

    hello guys,i just decided to buy the canon eos 550d as my first camera to shoot some models friends but I’m very confused about the lenses,what should I buy to start?I’m a beginner and I’d love some suggestion,should I buy only the body and an extra lenses that allows me to shoot most of what is needed as EF28-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM or keep the original 18-55mm and one extra as 70-200mm,please suggest me something.

    [Reply]

  10. 10. Leene Said:

    Jerry,

    Where should I start? I want to try photography as a hobby so I can see if it fits me to become a professional photographer. My dad bought me a canon eos 550d. Do I really need to enroll myself to photography classes. And what type of bag should I use? I saw this bag yesterday bit I’m not sure if this is the right bag for my camera. What lens should I buy for those detailed shots? BTW, thank you for a very informative article!

    [Reply]

    Red Camera Guy Reply:

    If you’re not sure how far your photography is going to take you then I don’t suggest dropping a fortune on a bag of lenses. One my old favorites is a second hand Nikkor 24mm f2.8 lens (http://bit.ly/1F1Lo) I picked up for $200. I still shoot some of my best work on it. Also consider going for Zooms instead of Primes – you’ll probably have more options that way.

    [Reply]

  11. 11. Sussex Photographer Said:

    As a wedding photographer we too need to use a wide variety of lenses very much like a fashion photographer. The main difference is that we are often limited by how much we can sensibly carry and the time we have to change lenses and settings in what can be a very fast moving photographic environment. Interesting to see the 24-70 in as first choice, my Canon 24-70 is a “jack of all trades” and I would hate not to have it in my bag. Cheers for the interesting post. Pat

    [Reply]

  12. 12. Michelle Said:

    Hi Jerry,

    I just bought myself a Canon 60D and I’m in between minds as to which lenses to buy as I’m on tight budget, I was looking at the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens or the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens, paired with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens or Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 II Lens. I would really appreciate some advice as to which lenses will be best suited for close up shots as well as fashion shots that will allow me to also capture some of the environment.

    Kind Regards,
    Michelle

    [Reply]

  13. 13. Busselton Accommodat Said:

    Really nice information shared in this blog. i really appreciate your knowledge. please keep posting.

    [Reply]

  14. 14. dccrentals Said:

    Thanks for posting this information on your blog! Great Work.

    [Reply]

  15. 15. paramounttours Said:

    Nice post! nice to be visiting your blog again.. You have done a marvellous job!

    [Reply]

  16. 16. Dagny Crafford Said:

    It’s is my first time to the blog,Amazing article! You’ve created some quite helpful statements and I enjoy the time you’ve taken within your writing. It’s easy to see that you simply have an understanding of what you are discussing about. I’m looking forwards to learning a lot more of your website pages material. Nice share!

    [Reply]

  17. 17. Elijah Durr Said:

    Thanks on your great posting at http://blog.avenaim.com/2009/12/19/lenses-for-fashion-photography! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will often come back someday. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great work, have a nice morning!

    [Reply]

  18. 18. alphonso grose Said:

    this is the first time i am going to shoot a fashion show on my own, your comment are good, and thank you
    kind regards
    alphonso

    [Reply]

  19. 19. mina Said:

    Hi.i am mina .i am from iran and i m photographer fashion and wedding .i like your photos .please sent for me your photos.tanke you

    [Reply]

  20. 20. kishore Said:

    Hi, I am biginner in this photography industry, i want know the details of model photography lenses for better and even sharpness images. plz give me a better sugession

    [Reply]

  21. 21. Viisshnu Said:

    Hello jerry, this is a great article, thank you very much for sharing. I have just written an articke called ‘lenses for fashion photography’ for Nikon shooters. Please have a look. Gracie.

    http://subliminalwhispers.blogspot.in/2013/03/good-lenses-for-fashion-photography.html

    [Reply]

  22. 22. D'Andre Said:

    I have about 12 lenses but my absolute favorites and GO TO LENSES are.
    1. AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
    2. AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4 IF
    3. AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G
    4. AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
    5. AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 G IF-ED

    [Reply]

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