Are you looking for the best camera for portrait photography, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options? You’ve come to the right place.
Obviously, you can make a portrait with any camera. However, if you’re planning to buy your first serious camera or you want to upgrade your gear for portrait shooting, this list features plenty of options worth considering.
I’ve included some top-notch professional models, but you should bear in mind that the best camera for portrait photography doesn’t have to be the most expensive; hence, you’ll also find some entry-level cameras and budget-conscious recommendations.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
Its AF tracking and AF face detection ensure that you get the sharpest images for both still portraits and action shots, and even if you miss focus by a few millimeters, the Dual Pixel RAW technology allows you to shift the focus in post-processing. For example, if you get the eyelashes sharp instead of the eye, you can make a few adjustments, and – voila! – the eye appears sharp. Another perk of the Dual Pixel RAW tech is the ability to adjust the bokeh in the background for a more pleasing effect.
The camera has a robust build and environmental sealing, which makes it perfect for outdoor portrait sessions. Just remember that it’s not water, dust, or freeze-proof.
The battery life is around four hours, so you won’t need to worry about interrupting your creative flow. And the 5D Mark IV also features two memory card slots, essential for professionals who need on-the-spot backups of their work.
If you’re looking to upgrade to a full-frame camera but you’re not ready to graduate to a professional model, the Canon 6D Mark II is the perfect entry-level DSLR camera for portrait photography. It features a high-quality 26-megapixel sensor and good noise performance at higher ISO values, even if it’s not on the same level as top cameras on today’s market.
The 6D Mark II packs Dual Pixel AF with 45 cross-type AF points so you can ensure sharp images, even when your subject is in motion. And thanks to 6.5 fps continuous shooting, you can capture the occasional action shot.
The AF does struggle a little in low-light situations, but you can solve this with Live View. To play back your photos or shoot in Live View, use the 3-inch flip-screen with a vari-angle touchscreen.
The 6D Mark II body is lightweight, plus the camera is dust and water-resistant. So feel free to take it with you for some outdoor portrait photoshoots in any weather conditions. The grip is also quite comfortable.
The 6D Mark II has an EF mount, so you can pair it with a wide range of lenses that are perfect for portraiture. To top it off, you also get built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
If you’re looking for the best crop-sensor camera for portrait photography, the Canon EOS 90D is the way to go.
The sensor is 32.5 MP, which is higher resolution than the full-frame 6D Mark II recommended above (though the sensor is smaller, a fact that comes with a series of differences in light sensitivity, dynamic range, etc.). The cropped sensor keeps this model in the prosumer or enthusiast category, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent camera. For some types of portraits – for example, couples or family sessions – you can absolutely do professional work.
When shooting through the viewfinder, the autofocus features a traditional 45-point cross-type system with face detection, which is more than enough for studio portraits.
Also, if you want to capture action shots and the viewfinder AF can’t keep up, the camera does feature a high-res sensor that helps with subject recognition and tracking (and it also has eye detection). And the Dual Pixel autofocus covers 100% of the frame vertically and 88% horizontally for Live View shooting.
4. Canon EOS R5
If you’re a professional looking to embrace mirrorless technology, then the Canon EOS R5 is a great pick, assuming you can afford the price.
The EOS R5 packs a 45-megapixel full-frame sensor designed for professional photography (if you’re looking for the amateur version, you should check out the highly capable EOS R6).
For those who like to make action portraits, you get up to 12 fps continuous shooting via the mechanical shutter, and this jumps to 20 fps continuous shooting when using the electronic shutter. The autofocus has Eye/Face/Head recognition, and its 1053 AF zones use 100% of the AF area to ensure the sharpest images.
For maximum flexibility, the EOS R5 has up to 8 stops of shake correction; that way you can shoot handheld portraits even in low light. It also has dual memory card slots, an optional battery grip, the ability to voice-tag photos and videos, and many other features that make it the perfect companion for your photoshoots. And – for those who like to work outdoors – it’s weather, drip, and dust sealed.
5. Nikon D850
The Nikon D850 is an advanced full-frame DSLR featuring a powerful 45.7 MP, and it’s capable of gorgeous portraits, even if it is bulkier than the competition.
What does the D850 offer? Good image quality and not much noise up to 1600 ISO. Plus, if you need to print large, this camera gives you beautiful files larger than A1.
For action shots, you get up to 7 fps continuous shooting. The D850 also features focus peaking (in manual focus only), which allows you to identify the sharpest area in the picture by displaying a color overlay. If you prefer autofocus to manual focus, you’ll love the 153-point AF system.
The Nikon D850 is designed for F-mount lenses, and there are a lot of them; with such a wide range of glass, you can ensure maximum optical quality for all types of portraits.
6. Nikon D780
The Nikon D780 is Nikon’s latest entry-level full-frame DSLR, featuring 24.5 megapixels, good dynamic range, and outstanding color accuracy.
The autofocus system – when shooting through the viewfinder – uses 51 points, and when shooting with Live View, this jumps to 273. The face detection feature works well, but the eye detection is not as reliable. You might want to do some tests before going out in the field to ensure the eye detection is good enough for your type of portrait photography. The Focus Peaking feature is excellent – and extremely useful when shooting portraits in low light.
The D780 features dual SD card slots – essential for professional shooters – and the grip is comfortable, perfect for long hours of shooting. Plus, the camera is weather-sealed, so you can take it with you on location without worries, even during inclement weather.
7. Nikon D7500
The Nikon D7500 is Nikon’s best APS-C DSLR to date, and while not quite as powerful as its full-frame siblings, it’s still capable of beautiful portrait photography. The 20.9-megapixel sensor handles low-light conditions pretty well and retains a good amount of detail, even at high ISOs.
The AF system has 51 focus points for quick autofocus, and it performs well even with erratic subjects (e.g., dancers), especially when combined with an 8 fps continuous shooting rate.
The D7500 offers a carbon fiber frame, which makes it very light and portable. However, it’s not shock-resistant, so you’ll have to be careful when shooting in tough conditions. It is weather-sealed, though.
8. Nikon Z50
This 20.9-megapixel entry-level mirrorless camera was designed as a transition model for creators who generally work with a smartphone, but don’t let that fool you; the Z50 is an outstanding portrait photography camera, especially for beginners and intermediate shooters.
The Z50 is easy to use and the interface is very intuitive, plus the 3.2-inch screen flips 180 degrees. You can use the SnapBridge app for fast photo sharing on social media. The Nikon Z50 has 20 creative modes, including fun effects, to spice up your portraits.
The Z50 performs best with Nikon Z-mount DX lenses, but it’s compatible with all Nikon Z lenses, and you can also adapt Nikon F-mount lenses with zero loss in quality for an even greater range of choices.
The 209 autofocus points cover over 80% of the sensor (both vertically and horizontally), while the eye detection allows you to nail focus consistently. And the Z50 focuses down to -4 EV, so you can shoot long after the sun has set.
9. Sony a7 IV
The Sony a7 IV is a brand-new full-frame camera packing a 33-megapixel sensor, BIONZ XR processing engine, and advanced autofocus technology; in other words, it’s equipped with some of Sony’s latest and greatest features, and is one of the best all-around mirrorless cameras on the market today.
The sensor retains fine details and achieves a smooth gradation even at high-ISO settings. And it features a 15-stop dynamic range that will give you excellent-quality portraits even in the most challenging lighting.
The AF/AE tracking with 759 phase-detection AF points covers 94% of the image area. The a7 IV also features Real-Time Eye AF for moving subjects, so you’ll never have to worry about missing the focus on your subject’s eyes.
Sony developed two external flashes to pair with the a7 IV that are perfect for portrait photography: the HVL-F46RM and the HVL-F60RM2. In conjunction with the camera’s face-detection technology, these flashes measure the necessary amount of light and do automatic correction of white balance.
The HVL-F60RM2 also has a rotating head feature called Quick Shift Bounce for flexible positioning when you’re bouncing the flash for soft-lit portraits.
10. Sony a7C
The Sony a7C is a small and light full-frame camera, perfect for casual portraits, candid shooting, and even some street portraiture. Its 24.2-megapixel sensor packs a 15-stop dynamic range and supports 16-bit processing and 14-bit RAW output.
The body allows for interchangeable lenses, although you’ll often find it sold in a bundle with a 28-60mm f/4-f/5.6 lens – not a bad deal for beginner portrait shooters, thanks to the lens’s high-quality images at all focal lengths. It also has a minimum focusing distance of 0.99 feet (0.3 meters) to 1.48 feet (0.45 meters) for detail shots of eyes, hands, and more.
The autofocus uses Real-Time Tracking, Eye AF, and features a whopping 693 phase-detection points, which cover 93% of the image area, along with 425 contrast-detection points for extreme accuracy even when capturing portraits with busy backgrounds.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds camera, and thanks to a compact and lightweight design, it’s perfect to carry with you wherever you go.
Because of its weather-sealing, you can use the E-M5 Mark III for outdoor portraiture and action shots. However, for long hours of use, you might want to get an external grip; the body is relatively thin and not especially comfortable to hold.
The E-M5 Mark III is the first model in this series to have on-sensor phase-detect autofocus with face and eye detection, which makes it a great choice for enthusiasts or beginner photographers interested in portrait shooting. And while the camera only offers 20 megapixels, you can use the High-Resolution mode to capture 50 MP JPEGs or 80 MP RAW files.
And you get plenty more features and creative options, including Pro Capture, which registers up to 14 high-resolution shots with a half-press of the shutter button. That way, when you press the button all the way down, you get a handful of shots taken before your finger fully hammered the shutter (you can choose the best shot later on).
While designed for sports photography, Pro Capture is great for working with non-professional models, in case they close their eyes or tense up at the sound of the shutter.
12. Fujifilm X-T4
The Fujifilm X-T4 is the perfect solution if you want to complement your portrait photography with behind-the-scenes footage or commercial video – or if you want an all-around incredible portrait camera with a retro feel.
The X-T4 features a 15 fps burst mode, which is certainly speedy enough for those split-second action images. You also get fast, 0.02-second focusing with 425 AF points. Also, if you’d like to make outdoor portraits, the Fujifilm X-T4 is dust and moisture-proof.
And don’t overlook Fujifilm’s 85 years of experience in color technology. This makes for accurate and vivid colors, and you also get plenty of film simulation modes for nostalgic photographers.
The best camera for portrait photography: final words
As you can see, there are many wonderful portrait cameras – but you need to pick the one that’s right for your needs.
So ask yourself: Do I want a mirrorless camera or a DSLR? What type of sensor do I want? From there, you can start to narrow down your choices depending on your style, the type of portraiture you like, and personal preference.
Now over to you:
Which portrait photography camera is your favorite? Which do you plan to buy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!