The best cameras for portraits, lenses, and other camera accessories

Whenever I meet or start following newly discovered photographers, I always want to know what camera they are using, so I wanted to share my tips for the best cameras for portraits and people photography and other accessories!

I started out years ago with a very simple camera and slowly upgraded to better cameras and lenses with experience. I mainly use my tools to create beautiful portrait photography, but I have tested them out in many scenarios and environments, and I’ve found that my favorite tools are versatile and adaptable for most types of photography including events, landscapes, and weddings.

Using the best photography tools you can take great photos like this one in travel

Best Cameras for Portraits

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The best camera ever invented – just kidding, but it really is that good. Having a full frame 30.4 megapixels, means that it will not crop any photos. It captures everything perfectly without noise in low light situations and has a beautiful color profile for daylight and close-up photography. This camera does take 4K videos, however the FPS (frames per second) is limited, meaning there will be less flexibility in editing the footage post production. If you’re planning on only taking pictures, its perfect. The body is lightweight extremely versatile and overall is the best canon camera for portraits.

ESO Canon 1DX II

Out of the three cameras that I currently have, I often use the ESO Canon 1DX II as a my number 1 backup. While it is the heaviest piece of equipment I carry (no joke my arms hurt after sessions), its performance makes everything worth it. From videos to landscapes, portraits, and special occasions this camera produces photos with extreme precision and other-worldly color profiles.

The most important feature of this camera for my work is its full-frame 36.0 x 24.0mm and a 20.2 megapixel sensor. Its large size means that it will perform extremely well in low light conditions, perfectly captures fast moving objects (great for sports photos, events), and not crop any of my photos. In portrait photography, this allows for ample creativity for post-production framing and composition. This camera has many more features to obsess over especially in terms of video quality, but for day-to-day work, the results always pay off. In short this camera will also always be on my list of best cameras for portraits.

best cameras for portraits - Canon 1DX and Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon EOS 80D

This camera is the perfect DSLR for a beginner photographer or if you want a simple family camera for family photos. No matter what you use it for, I will always recommend learning how to use the manual mode, but this camera’s automatic modes make it easy for the user to slowly learn how to use those features.

Some of the other biggest pros for me are that it is lightweight (if you’re a frequent outdoor adventurer this is a MUST), it is compatible with a large variety of lenses, and it has one of the best autofocus capabilities. Overall it’s a great camera for daylight or good lighting conditions, especially with high quality portrait lenses, however, beware as it’s very limited in darker settings.

Best Camera Lens for Portraits

Canon 50mm

I absolutely love the Canon 50mm prime lenses. I use both the EF Canon f1.8 50mm (budget option) and the EF Canon f1.4 50mm. For those who love with the blurred background look in photos, these lenses have the dreamiest bokeh effects. Using a prime lens requires a little experience (you must physically move closer or further away from the subject because prime lenses do not zoom in or out) these lenses works wonders for accents and detail shots.

For smoother skin tones, I would recommend the f1.4 option. In my work I noticed that close-up portraits have very pretty and flawless color transitions on the face with a f1.4 than with the f1.8 which is great for wide shots.

Left image: f1.4, flawless color transitions | Right: f1.8, perfect for wide shots, color transitions in the face are not as soft

Canon f2.8

I have to say that my favorite versatile lenses is the Canon EF f2.8 24-70mm. When I say I love everything about it, I literally mean everything! This amazing piece of technology is incredible to use for literally any situation you can think of especially when taking group portraits or spontaneous events. When you don’t know what to expect from your environment, or on the contrary know that it will be a fast-paced environment this lens won’t fail; for wedding and event photography, this is essential. If you’re in the market, look no further for a more dependable lens for quality images, it’s guaranteed that your subjects will always be beautifully captured.

Portrait Photography Must-have tools

Favorite Reflectors for Portrait Photography

As a photographer, the most important skill is to know how to maximize and manipulate light to produce the desired photos. When creating portraits, certain locations and environments may be dark or create partial shadows. To correct shadows or to add some subtle amount of light, I often use the handy Neewer and Etekcity Reflectors.

They fold super small making them easy to travel with. Each reflector also has 4 color options: white and silver (most used for any situation), gold (for darker skin tones), and black (used to dull unwanted reflections or to create shadows). For smaller on the go portrait sessions I bring along the compact 24-inch reflector and for bigger sessions and full-body pictures I use the 43-inch version.

holding up my favorite and best cameras for portraits

Best Budget Flashes for Portrait Photography

The Neewer NW550 Camera Flash is the current flash that I use, and I must always have two – one to work with and one for backup and extra light. What I love about these, is that they already come in a pack of two and they work very well in indoors, easily illuminating large rooms and spaces. The absolute best part of these flashes is how budget-friendly they are and the fact that they last for hours on one charge (if using rechargeable batteries) even on the highest settings.

Pro tip: staying on the topic of money saving tools, check out this Altura Photo Soft Box Diffuser. When creating portraits, it’s important to soften the light with a diffuser to make skin tones appear smoother, saving you countless hours of editing work and ensuring flawless photos.

Portrait Photography Accessories You Need

Smaller photography tools are not always as exciting but nevertheless essential, especially for portrait photography. In addition to the portrait cameras and lenses, I always carry extra batteries and memory cards; even with a full charge, you can’t take any pictures without the cards so having a backup is extremely important. On personal photo shoots I always grab a tripod or two. My go-to sturdy one for the camera is the Manfrotto Tripod. I also use a lightweight smaller tripod as a phone for those behind-the-scenes action shots to share on social media.

My portrait gear is usually stored in the Brevite Camera Backpack. What I love most is the movable compartments, no matter how many tools I need to bring with me the layout can be rearanged and organized quickly. Living in the city and often visiting high-traffic locations I know that my gear is securely put away in a zipped-up inner casing, giving me a good sense of security and helping me ensure that nothing falls or moves around during travel. I do plan to upgrade to a bag that has wheels to make travel even easier so stay tuned for updates!

best cameras for portraits packed away in Brevite Camera Backpack

Best cameras for portraits, conclusion

So, there you have it – my favorite and best cameras for portraits as well as top tools and essentials! I am extremely happy with this collection, but I am sure that as my style and technology evolve, I will make upgrades; I will be sure to keep this list of the best cameras for portraits updated. But if you’re looking for great gear to invest in or just looking around for gifts for photographers I highly recommend considering these tools. Remember though that gaining experience is much more important than the latest releases, so do your research and keep practicing!

You should be a pro at the best tools now, but if you’re a beginner and don’t know where to begin in your photography journey then check out this blog that will help you get started!

Hey There!

Me (4)

Hi, I'm Mariya! I'm a Chicago branding and family portrait photographer. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you've grabbed a good cup of tea or coffee as you browse through the blog :)