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5 Best Cameras for Portrait Photography in 2020 (With the Right Lenses)

5 Best Cameras for Portrait Photography 2020

Find out which portrait cameras and lenses are worth buying in 2020.

Let’s face it:

We all want to take portraits with the “WOW Factor”. To do that, of course, you need the right gear.


For portrait photography lovers, I picked the top 5 best portrait cameras for 2020.

It gets better:

I will also recommend you the best portrait lenses for each camera mentioned here. These camera + lens combinations will be good enough to work professionally in this field.

(Whatever your budget is.)

Now, this top rated 5 list was based on the following:

  • experts’ recommendations
  • user reviews
  • camera/lens capabilities (e.g., to give that beautiful background blur)
  • price

Here is a quick navigation table of what to expect in the article. 

*** Please note that the Amazon prices listed below are subject to change ***
Also, the prices exclude the lenses recommended here.

Best Cameras for Portrait Photography in 2020

  • Nikon D5300 – Best budget entry-level DSLR camera for portraits today.
  • Nikon D610 – Great FX portrait camera for advanced photographers.
  • Nikon D750 – Awesome choice for professional portrait photos (under $1500).
  • Sony a7R III – The best mirrorless camera in 2020 for all purposes.
  • Nikon D850 – The best DSLR for portrait photography that you can ask for in 2020.

If you’re a regular reader of my Digital World Beauty blog, you’ll notice that some of these are my top rated cameras for both portrait AND landscape photography.

For what it’s worth:

Don’t choose these if you are into sports photography because sports requires a high frame rate and fast focusing.

One more thing…

You will also notice that the majority of the list are Nikon cameras.

It’s not because I am a huge fan but because most photographers use these DSLRs specifically for portraits.

Alright, let’s get started!

Best Budget DSLR Camera for Portraits 2020

Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS Body Only (Black)

Nikon D5300

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Compact SLR
  • Weight: 480 g
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • LCD: Fully articulated
  • Weather sealed: No
  • ISO: Auto, 100 – 12800 (25600 with boost)
  • Category: Budget portrait cameras 2020

Let’s be honest:

Nikon D5300 is one of the best entry-level cameras.

If you decided to try yourself in photography, including portraits, and are ready to purchase your first SLR camera…

… then Nikon D5300 is practically a dream camera.

Of course, it’s not the current model but it is a great one to pick up, especially if you’re a beginner and on a budget.

Here’s the kicker:

With D5300 you get a camera that…

  • is not inferior to the expensive FX cameras (in terms of image quality),
  • only a step behind the Nikon D7100 SLR camera (in terms of functionality), yet more compact and lighter.

The sensor has 24 MP and has an AA (anti-liasing filter), so the image is exceptionally sharp.

(If it’s not then you are doing something wrong).

Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS Body Only (Black)

Camera ISO:

  • You can safely use ISO 6400 and the quality of the image will be decent.
  • Even at the maximum ISO 12800 and Hi-1 (ISO 25600) your photos will look quite great.

You will also be satisfied with cameras ISO.

One more thing:

The burst rate of 5 frames per second is a very good indicator, especially for a budget camera like Nikon D5300.

(Which is only slightly different from the D7100/D610).


Having 5 fps burst rate is more than enough for shooting portraits, landscapes and even wedding photography.

Nikon D5300 is an example of an excellent camera for a beginner or an advanced photographer…



  • the ease of operation and excellent results in auto mode will appeal to the former,
  • and the highest image quality for this camera class will appeal to the latter.

What else?

D5300 is equipped with a built-in wi-fi sensor that will allow you to synchronize the camera with your smartphone in a matter of seconds.

It’s convenient.

And won’t have a negative effect on the quality of your (portrait) photos.

Check out the video-review below to gain more knowledge:

What you might like about it:

  • great work in auto mode
  • high image detail
  • low noise level up to ISO 3200 inclusive
  • good color rendering
  • well developed management
  • high burst rate for an entry-level camera
  • fast autofocus
  • built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
  • articulated (tilting) screen
  • post-processing functions in the camera itself

What you might not like about it:

  • if you are a beginner, you’ll need to read the instructions from cover to cover
  • small buffer size when shooting in RAW + JPG
  • all the advantages of autofocus appear only when shooting through the viewfinder

💰 Where to buy online? Check availability and price on:

Great Portrait Lens for D5300

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

I suggest you find Nikon D5300 with 18-140mm kit lens because that longer kit lens is going to be really useful as you’re shooting different types of portraits and light wedding stuff.

I also recommend that you pick up Nikon 50mm F/1.8 G.

  • It autofocuses,
  • It’s very sharp,
  • And it really gives you that background blur that portrait photographers love.


Please note that the D model will not autofocus for you with that camera body…

… So be careful and get the G model!!!

D5300 is A Great Budget Entry-Level Camera for Portrait Photography in 2020

If you are:

  • on a budget,
  • a beginner photographer,
  • and looking for the best budget camera for portrait photography,

Then Nikon D5300 is an ideal camera for you.

Lots of professional photographers use this exact combination of D5300 + 50mm f/1.8 G lens to create portrait masterpieces.

It can surprise:

Last but not least…

The 50mm f/1.8 G lens will really give you that desired background blur that portrait photographers love.)

==> Read my full review here.

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Best Cameras for Portrait Photography 2020

Nikon D610 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)

Nikon D610

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Mid-size SLR
  • Weight: 850 g
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • LCD: Fully articulated
  • Weather resistant: Yes
  • ISO: 100 – 6400, (50 – 25600 with boost)
  • Category: Best Nikon DSLRs for portraits

Nikon D610 is a budget full-frame DSLR camera that’s definitely worth getting for your portrait photography.

Initially, the full-frame cameras were intended for professional photography and were pretty expensive.

However, as time went on, the manufacturers decided to release professional, yet affordable cameras, and one of these cameras is D610.

Just like in Nikon D5300 I mentioned earlier, D610 also has a 24 MP sensor and it is camera’s main advantage.

Unlike D5300, this camera has a higher burst rate, which is 6 frames per second at full resolution in RAW.

Now, what can be said about ISO?

Well, the range of photosensitivity is from 100 to 6400 ISO units, and with boost the interval from 50 to 25600 units becomes available.

One thing I’d like to mention is that Nikon D610 has a fantastic HDR mode.

Once you try this mode, you will never shoot without an HDR, believe me. Especially, if we are talking about shooting landscape photos in the evening time.

Nikon D610 HDR settings in low-light, also a great camera for portrait and landscape photography in 2018.

This mode makes 2 frames with different exposures and glues these 2 together in 1, keeping very bright and very dark areas as much as possible.

HDR works only when shooting in JPEG.

In RAW, you will do everything yourself, having spent a lot of time, and the result is unlikely to be better.

So, if you happen to shoot in low-light conditions, be sure to use the HDR function.

(Of course, this focus will not work when shooting the moving subjects, be it during sports-related events or anything else.)

Also, it’s very convenient to have U1 and U2 modes. 

All the camera settings, including autofocus and exposure metering settings can be stored in these modes and instantly turned on.

I have a friend who saves the settings in U1 to shoot landscapes (which is his specialty), and U2 mode for portrait photography.

In any case, if you are looking for an affordable quality full-frame camera for portraits, definitely consider taking Nikon D610.

✓ What you might like about it:

  • ergonomic body
  • advanced and customizable management
  • full-frame sensor
  • high detail images at ISO up to 3200
  • continuous shooting up to 6 frames/s
  • perfectly working tracking autofocus
  • ability to work with two memory cards
  • interval shooting and HDR
  • good optical viewfinder
  • quiet shooting mode
  • full HD video

✕ What you might not like about it:

  • relatively large size and weight
  • no tilting display
  • a challenging interface for beginners
  • autofocus points are grouped close to the center of the frame

💰 Where to buy online? Check availability and price on:

The Best Portrait Lens to Choose for Nikon D610

It’s recommended that you get a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in its Nikon mount.

That’ll be way more versatile, you’ll be able to get those tight headshots with a beautiful background blur and overall your image quality will be just cleaner, perfect high-end portraits.

Tamron SP 70-200MM F/2.8 DI VC USD Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon (FX) Cameras

Final Thoughts: If You Can Afford Nikon D610, You Will Likely Love it

Nikon D610 is an excellent full-frame camera for beginners and advanced photographers alike.

It is hardly an obstacle to the creation of masterpieces. If something doesn’t work out in your portrait photography, then it’s definitely not in the camera’s fault.

This is the most compact and most affordable full-frame SLR camera produced by Nikon, in which the best developments were realized:

  • excellent detailing,
  • low noise level,
  • wide dynamic range.

And, if you belong to a Nikon camp and can afford such a camera, take it. You are unlikely to be disappointed.

The camera will perform an entire range of tasks quickly and efficiently.

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Top Rated Portrait Cameras for 2020

Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Nikon D750

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Mid-size SLR
  • Weight: 750 g
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • LCD: Tilting
  • Weather resistant: Yes
  • ISO: Auto, 100-12800, (expand 50-51200)
  • Category: Best portrait DSLRs 2020


Nikon D750 is one of my most recommended advanced cameras for 2020 that offers a lot for the price.

(You can read my full review here.)

It’s a full-frame (FX) camera with a tilting display, the logical continuation of the line of Nikon FX-cameras, perfectly suited for modern photographers.

Even though the previously mentioned D610 has a fine autofocus, in Nikon D750 it’s a lot better.

The D750 focuses quickly and confidently even in the dark (like the D810 DSLR), so the backlight can be safely turned off.

In addition to high photosensitivity, the autofocus can recognize faces in the frame, which is not present in the older Nikon FX models and Canon digital cameras.

Basically, this allows you to get good shots even without taking a particular aim.

High ISO of 8000 won’t be a problem, in fact, even shooting at ISO 12,800 will be quite decent. This allows you to fully use the burst rate of D750, which is 6.5 frames per second.

I would prefer that the autofocus areas occupy the entire area of the frame, and not just its central part, then there will be more chances to get a sharp shot in the sports or any other moving subjects.

The most noticeable external innovation was the use of an inclined display.

Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

The Nikon developers from year to year avoided using such a design solution in professional and semi-professional SLRs.

And they finally added this feature to Nikon D750! 

Perhaps the creators of the camera simply managed to create a design to which we will not have any complaints.

What we see with D750 is a finely tuned control, which became much clearer to beginners.

A new design with a flip-up display will make it convenient for you to use the camera.

This camera is perfect for portrait photography, weddings and other events shooting.

I started a YouTube channel this year, so I decided to record a video of whether Nikon D750 is good to buy in 2020, with some pros and cons:

==> Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos!

✓ What you might like about it:

  • advanced ergonomics and customizable controls
  • friendly interface
  • tilting display
  • dust and waterproof body
  • burst rate of up to 6.5 frames/s
  • excellent autofocus
  • high ISO performance
  • excellent video mode with Full HD shooting at 60 frames/s
  • a wide range of additional functions
  • built-in Wi-Fi
  • ability to work with two memory cards

✕ What you might not like about it:

  • absence of exposure at 1/8000 s
  • reduced monochrome display on the top panel

💰 Where to buy online? Check availability and price on:

Nikon D750 and The Best Lens for Portrait Photography

It is recommended that you get a second generation Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. 

Just a note:

If you have a bigger budget then the new Tamron lens will definitely be better to get than the old one.

Tamron SP 70-200MM F/2.8 DI VC USD Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon (FX) Cameras

D750 is an Amazing Camera for Professional Portrait Photographers

Nikon D750 is a step up from D610 which has an improved focusing system.

It makes sure that it focuses on the eyes that much quicker and allows you to focus out further towards the edges of a frame (which as a pro you’ll begin to really appreciate).

In a nutshell:

Nikon D750 is an excellent full-frame camera with no visible flaws that could spoil your mood.

If you want an FX camera for portrait photography, then you should take a closer look at the D750 with Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

==> Read my full review here.

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Best Mirrorless Camera for Portraits 2020

Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera: 42.4MP Full Frame High Resolution Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Front End LSI Image Processor, 4K HDR Video and 3

Sony a7R III

Quick Specs:

  • Type: SLR-style mirrorless camera
  • Weight: 657 g
  • Resolution: 42 MP
  • LCD: Tilting
  • Weather sealed: Yes
  • ISO: Auto, 100-32000 (expands to 50-102400)
  • Category: Best mirrorless camera for portrait photography 2020
  • Price Tag: Under $3200 (subject to change*)

Here’s the thing:

While Sony a7R II is a cheaper alternative, without doubt the new a7R Mark III is the best mirrorless camera on the market, whether for landscapes, portrait photography or anything else.

Its versatility can compete with the reportage Sony a9, voted as the best camera at EISA Award event.

Alpha 7R III gives up it’s place to Sony a9 in terms of speed but it does surpass the latter in terms of image resolution and video capabilities.

Those improvements which were introduced in the a7R Mark III still make it one of the fastest multi-megapixel cameras today:

  • continuous shooting up to 10 frames per second,
  • continuous autofocus on the eyes,
  • a buffer for  42-megapixel RAW,

These added features really are amazing.

The image quality remained at the level of a7R II, that is, stably high in any conditions.

The camera can boast about the widest dynamic range, not only at a minimum, but also at relatively high ISO.

I mean the detail of the image is extremely high. You can boldly use values of up to 12,800 ISO units.

As a portrait photographer, you will like the eye-detect autofocus in a7R III. Basically, it can lock on to the eyes so you will never have to move the focusing point around.

Generally, you’ll find the workflow works a little better than, for example, Nikon D850 (that I will mention next).

Check out the video-review of the camera below:

✓ What you might like about it:

  • high detail images
  • solid ISO up to 12,800 units
  • very wide dynamic range
  • high speed of continuous shooting up to 10 frames/s
  • noiseless shooting
  • excellent autofocus
  • effective image stabilizer based on the sensor shift
  • touch sensitive display
  • very good viewfinder
  • high-quality video in 4K and Full HD
  • input for microphone and headphone output
  • dust and moisture protection
  • possibility of charging and working from USB
  • possibility of communication with the smartphone via Wi-Fi, geotagging via Bluetooth
  • two memory card slots, one with UHS-II support

✕ What you might not like about it:

  • not always easy to understand abbreviations in the menu
  • minor delays when working with menus
  • not always smooth work with compatible applications
  • limited functionality of the touch interface

💰 Where to buy online? Check availability and price on:

Sony a7R III and The Best Lens to Choose for Portrait Photography

Sony doesn’t have that much variety of lenses and flashes, especially third-party lenses, but Sony a7R III and a 70-200mm f/2.8 GM lens really is a powerful combination for portraits.

Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens

If You’re a Bit Nerdy for All the New Camera Features, You’ll Love Sony a7R III

Of course, this camera turned out to be very successful and extremely universal.

Does it have any cons

In my opinion, most of them are not so noticeable in comparison to its pros. These are some minor flaws in the interface in the form of a lot of obscure abbreviations and non-obvious settings.

I feel that to understand this camera, it is not enough to read the instruction.

With Sony a7R III you’ll have to work with it and adjust a little bit to it first, and only then fully customize it to your needs.

Either way, it’s one of the best cameras that you can choose for your portrait photography.

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Best Nikon DSLR for Portraits 2020

Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body

Nikon D850

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Mid-size SLR
  • Weight: 1005 g
  • Resolution: 45 MP
  • LCD: Tilting
  • Weather sealed: Yes
  • ISO: Auto, 64-25600 (expands to 32-102400)
  • Category: Best high-end DSLRs for portrait photography 2020

Without a doubt:

Nikon D850 is one of the best Nikon cameras on the market.

Just like in my article on the best landscape camera, I wasn’t sure between Nikon D850 and Sony a7R III.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are bit nerdy for all the new camera features, then you’ll love the mirrorless Sony.

But if you are more into old-school cameras, then Nikon D850 sure is the best SLR camera that you can get for your portrait photography.

Nikon D850 is a full-frame SLR camera which has 45.7 million pixels located at the 24×36 mm crystal.

You might ask, “why do I need so many megapixels”?

It’s like with time and money: you can’t have it too much.

More image detail – the more freedom you have in everything. High resolution allows you to print pictures in large format, gives room for framing and greater flexibility in processing.

For example: retouching a portrait or a subject photo becomes much more convenient if the shot is taken in high resolution.

Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body

That is why cameras with higher resolution are so loved by portrait and landscape photographers.

Nikon D850 combines high speed with incredible detail of images, allows you to make high-quality shots in any conditions, including in poor lighting at high ISO values.

The dynamic range is also wide enough for RAW files to be flexible in processing and allow to “pull out” a decent result even in the most difficult situations.

Continuous shooting is possible at a rate of 7 frames/s, and with a battery pack MB-D18 (with EN-EL18b battery) – it’s 9 frames/s. Ergonomics of the camera at its finest: articulated display, joystick to select the area of autofocus, a lot of separate buttons and selectors.

I think you’ll get to understand better how this camera works if you watch Chris’ video-review below:

✓ What you might like about it:

  • high resolution 45.4 Mp
  • excellent work at high ISO, low noise level up to ISO 6400
  • wide dynamic range, flexibility in processing RAW files
  • ease of use: improved grip, button illumination, high resolution inclined display
  • touch screen
  • optical viewfinder with 100% frame coverage
  • quiet shutter
  • noiseless Live View shooting
  • fast and tenacious focusing
  • high speed of continuous shooting (7 fps), capacious buffer
  • 30 fps 4K video shooting
  • support of modern fast memory cards XQD and SD UHS-II

✕ What you might not like about it:

  • a bit slow focusing of contrast type in Live View mode
  • challenging for beginner photographers

💰 Where to buy online? Check availability and price on:

Nikon D850 and The Best Lens for Portraits 2020

One of the reasons why I’d recommend choosing Nikon D850 over Sony a7R III is that there are more lenses available for the former than the latter.

I mean there are a lot of lenses that won’t match Sony but will definitely match the good ol’ Nikon DSLR.

Anyway, the best lens for portrait photography that’s advisable to get with Nikon D850 is Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8E lens.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens

D850 is An Amazing Portrait DSLR (Definitely Worth Buying in 2020)

The Nikon D850 sets the new quality bar for all camera manufacturers.

It is the one that other players in the market of full-frame cameras will have to equal to in the near future (at least in terms of image quality and detail).

Again, if you are into all the modern cameras and like all the new features, then definitely get Sony a7R III over old-school Nikon DSLR cameras.

If you are more old-school and watch to use a variety of lenses, then take Nikon D850.

Nikon D850 with Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8E lens really is a powerful combination that you can get for your portrait sessions.

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Portrait Photography for Beginners


It’s one thing to find the best camera to take portraits but you also have to have basic skills and the right lenses. 

First of all, for portrait photography it’s convenient to use long focus lenses with a fixed focal length, also known as prime lenses.


Because they don’t distort perspective as much as others do and that’s important.

Also, a fully open aperture when shooting a portrait allows you to get photos with very beautiful background blur.

The basic rules for shooting portraits

When taking portraits, you need to remember some important rules: to give expressiveness to a picture, you need to focus on the model’s nearest eye, and take a shutter speed no longer than 1 / <focal length of the lens>.

For example, if it’s a 85 mm lens, then use 1/85 shutter.

This way you’ll avoid an unexpectedly sharp nose or chin on the overall unsharp portrait of the model. It also will guarantee that you avoid the overall image blue due to the long exposure.

Last but not least:

You don’t want to have a strong digital noise, so try using the 100-400 range ISO. The camera must be used in semi-automatic or manual mode.

5 Best Cameras for Portrait Photography in 2020

5 Best Portrait Cameras for 2020 (With the Right Lenses)

All the aforementioned cameras are absolutely great for portrait photography, whatever your budget is.

In fact, all of these camera+lens combinations were/are used by professional portrait photographers. Test them out!

If you won’t like them, then you can return a camera to Amazon (and leave a nasty comment here). 🙂

Anyway, I really hope you enjoyed this list of the best cameras and lenses for portrait photography and let me know in the comments which camera you found most suitable for you.

Additional resource:

One last thing to mention.

If you are into sports, action or wildlife, keep in mind that unlike landscapes and portraits, sports photography requires fast focusing and high frame rate.

Therefore you’ll have to check out the sports cameras and lenses for 2020.

Any other questions and/or suggestions are welcome in the comments below!

Happy shooting!

P.S. What are your thoughts on these 5 best cameras for portrait photography in 2020

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