If you’re a portrait photographer and you’ve got a trusty Canon 5D Mark II, then you know that the right lens can make all the difference.
You probably want to get the best portrait lens for your camera—but what focal length should you choose? What aperture is ideal? Do you need a fixed or zoom lens? What are the pros and cons of each option?
We’ll answer these questions and more in this article, so read on!
Here are the 5 portrait lenses for Canon 5d Mark II:
- Canon 85 mm f/1.2L II USM
- Sigma 35 Art f/1.4
- Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM
- Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
1. Canon 85 mm f/1.2L II USM
This is a lens that I’ve had the pleasure of using for a few years now, and I can’t say enough good things about it. The Canon 85 mm f/1.2L II USM is my favorite canon lens ever and it’s my go-to lens for shooting portraits.
The autofocus speed is somewhat fast and it’s really precise, especially for non-moving subjects. It used the older USM autofocus motor which is a bit slower than the STM motor found in newer lenses.
However, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal since the lens focuses fast enough for me and I’m not shooting sports or tracking moving subjects anyway.
The image quality is just amazing with this lens; you can see every little detail of your subject’s face. It produces sharp, crisp images with classic Canon, which I really like.
The colors are not as punchy and too saturated as the Canon 35 f/1/4L, and I think that is great news for us portrait shooters who prefer a clean and more natural look.
Now, about the bokeh, it’s just WOW! It’s really creamy and smooth, which I love because it’s not too distracting. The bokeh is also beautiful and somewhat unique. It is like a painting. It has round bokeh balls, which I think is great for a portrait lens.
Try shooting the Canon 85 mm f/1.2L II wide open, and you will see its magic.
The lens is very sharp at f/1.2, and it gets even sharper when you stop down. I really like how it renders the background. It also produces creamy skin tones which are really great in portraiture.
This lens will be a great choice for wedding photographers who want to capture portraits of the bride and groom on their wedding day.
I can also say that this lens has superb build quality even though it’s not weather sealed and is mostly made of durable plastic.
It really feels sturdy in my hands, and if you’re looking for something that will last for years without needing replacement parts or repairs, you’ll love this lens!
Now, here are a few things that I disliked about the Canon 85 mm f/1.2L II.
The lens is really heavy, and I think it is around 1000 grams, so it’s not the easiest to use for long periods of time. Make sure that you have a camera strap to help with the weight.
It has a lot of glass inside, which is probably the reason why it’s heavy and a little slower when used with older DSLRs such as the Canon 5d Mark II.
Also, its closest focusing distance is about 3.2 ft. / 0.95m, which means that you need to be a little further away from your subject when shooting.
And because this is one of Canon’s flagship lenses, expect to pay a premium price for it. If you don’t want to spend too much on an 85mm lens, you might consider its little brother, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, or the Sigma 85 f/1.4 Art lens.
Also, check this article if you’re into budget portrait lenses.
Overall, the Canon 85 mm f/1.2L II is an extremely high-quality lens that offers outstanding image quality, unique bokeh, and great build quality. It is a fantastic lens. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny.
2. Sigma 35 f/1.4 Art lens
The Sigma 35 f/1.4 Art lens is a great alternative to the Canon 35L lens. It is significantly cheaper, but it still offers excellent image quality and bokeh.
The Sigma 35mm is a wide-angle prime lens that can be used for a variety of purposes, including documentary photography, weddings, portraits, and more.
I really like this lens for my Canon 5D Mark II, it’s super sharp, and it works well for portraits. The colors are more saturated than the Canon 85L and it has a bit more contrast, which is great if you want more “pop” to your photos.
Its bokeh is amazingly good, it is creamy and smooth, and it’s great for isolating your subject from the background.
It also seems that the Sigma 35 f/1.4 Art is a bit sharper wide open than the Canon 35 f/1.4L, which is really surprising to me. So, if you want your photos to have a more “modern” look, you should definitely consider the Sigma 35 Art lens.
I mostly leave the Sigma at f/1.4 because of the fact that I really like the output that I get when shooting it wide open. The background just melts away, and the focus point (which is my subject) is so sharp that you can almost cut yourself on it.
And now for the bad part, despite the fact that this is an amazing lens it has a quirk that I am not a fan of. And that is its inconsistent autofocus system, especially when used with older systems like our Canon 5D Mark II.
It’s a bit finicky and tends to hunt around before acquiring focus. But when shooting subjects that are standing still, it is fast enough for my needs.
I would definitely recommend the Sigma 85 f/1.4 Art if you’re looking for a great all-around lens that can be used in many different situations (like portraits, landscapes, and street photography) It’s very versatile and has a lot of character when shooting wide-open.
3. Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM
I’ve been a Canon user for many years and I’ve always loved the quality of their lenses. This one is no exception.
Its autofocus speed is pretty fast and precise, which is nice if you’re shooting moving subjects. I also used the Canon EF 135mm f/2L in indoors and other low-light situations and was very satisfied with the results.
Although, I noticed that the AF is a bit slower than using it outdoors.
The image quality is beautiful and sharp, but not too sharp—you can still get great bokeh, which is important to me.
Like most prime lenses with a fast aperture, the bokeh it produces is quite creamy and pleasing to the eyes. The transition from in-focus to out-of-focus is smooth.
The bokeh can be used to create some really beautiful images, especially if you have lots of greenery as a background.
And being a long telephoto lens, the Canon EF 135mm f/2L is my choice for headshots. It provides a different perspective than an 85mm.
With the 135mm, you can make “flatter” images —which means the background will be closer to the subject, creating a detailed context of the scene. It is also great for isolating subjects and abstract work.
If you’re having trouble imagining it because of my terrible explanation, see Saul Leiter’s amazing work. He’s a master of using a telephoto lens which gives his images a unique perspective and is more like paintings.
Now, the Canon EF 135mm f/2L is a staple lens in weddings because of its longer reach, which allows you to be unobtrusive yet still capture some of the emotion and action.
I used this lens for a lot of my portraits during our trip to Europe, and it also made for great street photography when we were out and about in Italy.
This is lens is pretty sharp wide open, but it gets even sharper when stopped down to f/4 or f/5.6. This is a very good portrait lens and the shallow depth of field can get you some nice bokeh effects.
As with most older Canon lenses, the colors from the Canon 135L is neutral and classic. The tones are pleasing with the right amount of crisp on them.
It is also a great companion for traveling because it is lightweight for its focal length. Its price is also affordable and to think that this is an L lens, the Canon 135L is definitely a bargain.
The only thing that bothers me though, is it lacks image stabilization. It’s a long telephoto lens, which can be vulnerable to shaking when handheld.
But because of its lighter weight and affordable price point, I think I understand Canon why did they omit the image stabilization feature.
All in all, the Canon 135L is a great lens. It produces beautiful and crisp images with the right amount of contrast and saturation. It’s lightweight, which makes it easy to carry around on your travels.
4. Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM
Next on our list is the ever-popular, Canon 50 mm f/1.8. The older Canon EF 50mm f1/.8 has been discontinued and they replaced it with this newer STM version.
The STM focusing motor give this affordable lens more speed and silent focusing. It also has a metal mount compared to a plastic mount from the previous version.
Optically, they are actually the same. But the STM has more sharpness wide open until f/8. The most important upgrade from the older one is its aperture blades.
The Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM now has 7 rounded aperture blades for a rounder bokeh as opposed to a pentagonal one from the older one.
This is a great lens for beginners and people who are on a budget but still want to get some nice shots. This lens is also great for video because of its STM motor.
Using a 50mm lens is great for a wide array of subjects. You can use it for street photography, portraits, and many other types of photography.
It is also very compact, lightweight, and easy to carry around. This lens is an excellent option for you if you want something affordable but still a solid performer.
It is quite versatile for shooting portraits as well, you can do full-body or half-body portraits and even environmental portraits.
The Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM image quality is really good for its price. Of course, we shouldn’t expect to behave like an L lens but it is still more than enough for most photographers.
The lens has great bokeh, and you can use it to create beautiful portraits with creamy backgrounds. The lens also has pretty good color rendition and sharpness.
Overall, it is a great choice as your first prime lens for shooting portraits. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM is silent, fast, has great image quality, and really affordable.
5. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 is an excellent lens for all-around shooting, especially for landscapes and portraits. It’s also great for low-light situations.
In fact, this lens is still one of the best 24-70mm amongst all. Its IQ is fantastic, images are super sharp, colors are pleasing and the autofocus is blazing fast.
The colors it produces are contrasty and vivid, which can give more “pop” to your images. The bokeh and the out-of-focus areas are smooth with a nice pleasing look.
Given its aperture of f/2.8, we should not expect it to have a super creamy and buttery bokeh and a really shallow depth of field. But despite that, it still produces a great bokeh and a shallow depth-of-field that you can use for portraits.
We need to accept the fact that we should sacrifice some qualities in order to gain a tremendous amount of flexibility and convenience.
Yes, it’s pricey but the versatility you can get with Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II is worth the price. Its focal length and zoom range are really useful for a lot of situations, both indoor and outdoor.
You can use this lens for portraits, weddings or events as well because it offers high-quality images even in low light.
The only thing that I don’t like about this lens is it doesn’t have image stabilization. It can actually be useful during low-light situations.
And with a wide aperture of f/2.8, either I need to crank up the ISO or shoot at a slower shutter speed to get the photos that I want.
What mount is the Canon 5D Mark II?
The Canon 5D Mark II has a metal EF lens mount that is compatible with most EF lenses whether from Canon, Sigma, or Tamron. It has a full-frame sensor and it can’t support lenses that are designed for APS-C cameras.
Do EF lenses work on 5D Mark II?
It supports most full-frame EF lenses from Canon and other manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina.
Canon 5D Mark II lens compatibility chart
What lenses work with the Canon 5D Mark II? Here’s a lens compatibility chart for Canon EOS 5D Mark II. All of these lenses are designed for Canon full-frame cameras.
|Ultra-wide and wide-angle lenses|
|EF 14mm f/2.8L USM||EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM|
|EF 20mm f/2.8 USM||EF 24mm f/1.4L USM|
|EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM||EF 24mm f/2.8|
|EF 28mm f/1.8 USM||EF 28mm f/2.8|
|EF 35mm f/1.4L USM||EF 35mm f/2|
|Standard and medium telephoto lenses|
|EF 50mm f/1.2L USM||EF 50mm f/1.4 USM|
|EF 50mm f/1.8||EF 50mm f/1.8 II|
|EF 85mm f/1.2L USM||EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM|
|EF 85mm f/1.8 USM||EF 100mm f/2 USM|
|EF 135mm f/2L USM||EF 135mm f/2.8(with Softfocus mechanism)|
|EF 200mm f/2L IS USM||EF 200mm f/2.8L USM|
|EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM||EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM|
|EF 300mm f/4L IS USM||EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM|
|EF 400mm f/5.6L USM||EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM|
|EF 500mm f/4L IS USM||EF 600mm f/4L IS USM|
|EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM||–|
|EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro||EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM|
|EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM||EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM|
|EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM||EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM|
|EF17-35mm f/2.8L USM||EF17-40mm f/4L USM|
|EF20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM||EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM|
|EF24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM||EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM|
|EF28-70mm f/2.8L USM||EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM|
|EF28-200mm f/3.5-5.6||EF28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM|
|EF28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM||EF28-90mm f/4-5.6 USM|
|EF28-90mm f/4-5.6 II USM||EF28-90mm f/4-5.6|
|EF28-90mm f/4-5.6 II||EF28-90mm f/4-5.6 III|
|EF28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM||EF28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM|
|EF28-105mm f/4-5.6 USM||EF28-105mm f/4-5.6|
|EF55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II USM||EF55-200mm f/4-5.6 USM|
|EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM||EF70-200mm f/4L USM|
|EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM||EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM|
|EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM||EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM|
|EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM||EF70-300mm f/4.5-5.6DO IS USM|
|EF75-300mm f/4-5.6 II||EF75-300mm f/4-5.6 III|
|EF75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM||EF75-300mm f/4-5.6 II USM|
|EF75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM||EF90-300mm f/4.5-5.6|
|EF90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM||EF100-300mm f/4.5-5.6USM|
|EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM||–|
Is Canon 5D Mark II good for portraits?
The Canon 5D Mark II is still great for shooting portraits even by today’s standards. It has a 21MP full-frame sensor which can give you more details, resolution, and a shallow depth-of-field, which are useful for portraiture.
Like my older Sony a6000, which is still doing great up until now, the 5D Mark II is a great and affordable choice for portrait photography.
What is the best Canon lens for portrait photos?
Here are some canon lenses that are great for taking portraits:
- Canon EF 135mm f/2L
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L
- Canon EF 85 f/1.2L II
- Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS
- Canon EF 85 f/1.8
- Canon EF 50 f/1.2L
- Canon EF 50 f/1.8 STM
- Canon EF 50 f/1.4
- Canon EF 35 f/1.4L
- Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS
- Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L II
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM
These lenses can help you achieve the shallow depth-of-field that gives portraits a unique look and feel, which is one of the most important aspects when taking portrait photos.
Which lenses are best for portraits?
I prefer shooting with prime lenses with wide apertures such as 85 f/1.2, 50 f/1.4, and 35 f/1.4. These lenses are perfect for shooting in low light conditions, and they have creamy bokeh that can add a lot of character to your portraits.
If you don’t have any of these lenses, then I recommend buying one in the near future.
What Canon lenses do professional photographers use?
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8, Canon EF 50 f/1.2, and Canon EF 35 f/1.4L are the staple lenses for professional photographers. These lenses are great for shooting weddings, portraits, and other intimate or private events.
There are so many different portrait lenses out there that it can be hard to know which one is best for your Canon 5D Mark II.
But hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down your options and given you an idea of what is best for your needs. If you have any questions about these lenses or other portrait lenses, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
Emma Lucy is the Founder & CEO of Emma Lucy Photography. She has over a decade of experience shooting weddings and other intimate events. She also tests the latest digital camera bodies, lenses, analog cameras and other gear from Canon, Nikon, Sony and other camera brands. She currently lives in London where she spends most of her time being a self-employed professional photographer and writer.