Top 5 Lenses for Shallow Depth of Field

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The 50mm is considered the classic focal length. It makes the perfect introduction to shooting images with shallow depth of field. Its field of view closely mimics the central area of human vision and makes composition feel effortless. As such, there is no shortage of fast, high-quality lenses at this focal length.

Our top picks in this range are the Canon 50mm f/1.2L and the Nikon 50mm f/1.4. Both make great shallow depth of field images when shot wide open and focused on nearby subject. This lets you capture intimate and natural feeling portraits, or simply to document a scene. Add in the relative lack of distortion and these lenses are capable of great landscape & architecture images as well.


One of the most popular focal lengths out there is the 85mm. Just look at how many we carry! The Canon 85mm f/1.2L and Nikon 85mm f/1.4G would be the obvious choices for most when you’re looking for shallow depth of field.

Despite this, I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art series for both Canon & Nikon. Here’s why. The Canon 85mm f/1.2L is capable of creating beautiful images, but it’s slow to focus. The Nikon is great overall too, but it simply doesn’t deliver on value and optical performance in the same way the Sigma does.

We’ve been seriously impressed with the hard work Sigma has put in over the last few years to improve their brand and create class leading products. The 85mm f/1.4 Art looks to be their best effort so far. Shot wide open and focused accurately the 85mm Art remains tack sharp. Plus, chromatic abberation is much better controlled than either the Canon or Nikon versions. So, if you’re looking for shallow depth of field, and you want the classic 85mm look, you can’t go wrong here.

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