Next, remember that you might not always want, or be able, to use a tripod when taking striking portraits. This is where image stabilisation comes in. Lenses such as the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM, RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM and RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM all feature image stabilisation, ensuring your images are super-sharp when shooting handheld. Increased stabilisation allows you to slow your shutter speed to squeeze every ounce of light into your images, giving you the versatility to shoot in all kinds of lighting scenarios. The effect is multiplied when pairing a stabilised lens with a camera with In-body Image Stabilisation (IBIS), such as the Canon EOS R6, where up to 8-stops of stabilisation is possible.
Size and weight
There's also size, weight and versatility to consider. For portrait photographers looking to stay agile, or to use their lenses in multiple genres, a small, lightweight lens is a great choice. The Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM and RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM are both incredibly compact lenses, making them perfect, affordable kitbag additions for street portrait photographers. This comes without any sacrifice to their classical portrait potential, thanks to wide f/1.8 maximum apertures for beautiful background blurring and flexibility with depth of field. For the utmost versatility, though, look no further than the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM. With its vast focal range, this lens is the perfect everyday all-rounder, ideal for almost all genres of photography from ultra-wide 24mm architectural shots to 85mm studio portraits and telephoto 105mm headshots.
Another key factor in selecting a lens suited to shooting portraits is its maximum aperture. Aperture refers to the size of the lens opening that lets in light to your camera sensor.
Each lens is given an aperture rating such as f/2.8 or f/4. Some zoom lenses have an aperture rating depending on which focal length is selected; these will show an aperture range such as f/4-7.1. Other zoom lenses, including the Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM and RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, instead offer a fixed maximum aperture, for a consistent exposure across the zoom range. These lenses, with their constant maximum apertures and weather sealed L-Series build quality are perfect for photographers looking to upgrade from the RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM, or for those simply demanding a professional-level lens.