Best Lens for Shallow Depth of Field

Best Lens for Shallow Depth of Field (Reviews in 2021)

Have you been wondering how to capture mind-blowing portraits with a nice background blur? Well, that’s the shallow depth of field!

It’s impacted by your lens somehow. Of course, there’re other solutions but our intention today is to see which lens performs best when it comes to achieving shallower DOF.

So what’s the best lens for shallow depth of field?

Bear with us and we’ll review some of the high-quality lenses for controlling the DOF with Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, and Olympus cameras. So if you’re using any of these brands, you’ll surely love it!

6 Lenses for Shallow Depth of Field: Comparison

NameFocal LengthMax. ApertureMotor
Canon EF for Shallow Depth of Field50mmf/1.8Stepping (STM)
Canon EF Standard50mmf/1.4Ultrasonic (USM)
Canon EF Medium Telephoto Lens85mmf/1.8Ultrasonic (USM)
Canon STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless50mmf/1.8Stepping (STM)
NIKON Z S Noct Ultra-Shallow Depth of Field58mmf/0.95Couldn’t define
OLYMPUS M.Zuiko Digital ED Pro12-40mmf/2.8Stepping (STM)

Our Top 6 Best Lenses for Shallow Depth of Field Reviews in 2021

During the review procedure, we talked about focal length, maximum F-stop, aperture, closest focusing distance, and so on. We’ve actually tried to explore each of these great items extensively drawing their benefits and drawbacks from every angle.

So hopefully, by the end of the reviews, choosing a suitable lens will be like a hot knife placed on a piece of butter!

#1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

For taking magnificent close shots, this is our best canon lens for shallow depth of field. It has 50mm focal length and with F/1.8 maximum aperture, this lens can take quite pleasing shots in a much shallower depth of field.

Features:                                                           

Focus:

You can magnify up to the maximum of 0.21x. Besides, the distance you can focus is 0.35 meters at max. So it’s way better than any standard zoom lens. The focal length will allow you to take high-quality portrait images with nice blur background.

Usability:

For capturing close portraits, night views, objects in action, this kit has no bounds! Whether you want it vertical, horizontal, or even be it diagonal, you can do it. The large apertures make it easy to pass light through faster. So you can take zooming photos of your targeted object.

Output Quality:

A silent action is crucially needed for creating a high-quality video documentary. That’s what you get with it! With its stepping motor, it adjusts the focus (AF) very silently. Moreover, the quality of still images is just outstanding. You get a sharp and detailed blur-free picture even under low light conditions.

Specifications:

  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • 46-Degree diagonal angle of view
  • Maximum focus distance: 0.35 meters
  • Stepping Motor (STM)

Benefits:

  • Great for everyday use
  • Less noisy focusing motor
  • Outstanding picture quality
  • Continuous autofocus
  • Faster capturing
  • Affordable price

Drawbacks:

  • Didn’t notice anything, you might just expect to get a large focal length

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#2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

This is our second most favorite lens for shallow depth of field canon. It’s a bit pricy than the first model we’ve looked at above. However, the ease of customization is quite amazing. And the quality it produces will surely make you smile!

Features:

Focus & Aperture:

With a maximum aperture of F/1.4, you can take very close shots. So the depth of focus field is much shallower for nice and bright shots even under dimly lighting environments.

Its aperture is a little bit less than the first model. So you can zoom in much closer to the object you’re about to capture.

Lens construction:

This lens is constructed with 8 elements divided into 6 groups. The astigmatic difference is suppressed by the new Gaussian optics and its 2 high-refraction elements. You can efficiently focus a closer object located at a minimum distance of 17.8 inches.

Usability:

The focal length is identical to the previous canon lens. It’s the standard 50mm for effectively capturing high-quality content daily. You can take night photos, beautiful portraits, and much more!

Output Quality:

All in all, with this invaluable kit, you can create high-quality content easily enough! The Hypersonic Motor is quite silent in action. With smooth autofocusing, provided you can create outstanding video content. Moreover, still images put lots of creativity by perfectly focusing on the object turning the background into a nice blur effect.

Specifications:

  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.4
  • Construction: 7 elements in 6 groups
  • 46-Degree diagonal angle of view
  • Liner extension system adjusts the focus
  • Closest focusing is about 1.5 feet
  • Hypersonic Motor (HSM)

Benefits:

  • Nice zero-noise motor functioning
  • Great for close up shots
  • Much shallower depth of filed
  • Both auto and manual focus mode
  • Creates amazing quality contents

Drawbacks:

  • Featured only for Canon SLR cameras

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#3. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed

Here comes another great telephoto lens for close-up photography and videography. If you own a Canon SLR Camera, this could be a perfect choice! Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer and what the drawbacks are!

Features:

Focus:

Its ultra-sonic motor quickly brings up the object closer to your eyes. You can focus to the closest distance of about 2.8 feet.

Efficiency:

Ensure the right angle and keep the object in your frame with the right perspective, your shots will go viral! However, the close focusing power requires attention to the details you’re bounding within the frame. That’s said, it’s an incredible piece of photography kit you should own as a Canon user.

Focal Length & Aperture:

For this lens, the focal length is about 85 millimeters. And with a maximum aperture of f/1.8, you can take telescopic shots of the focused object. However, one thing you should note is that it’s a zoom lens that is not zoomable any further.

Output Quality:

Background blurring is much easier with this lens. No matter what aperture you set, it’ll always produce clean and sharp images on demand. Besides, the filter effects aren’t impacted since the front compartments remain fixed while you’re focusing.

Specifications:

  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Telephoto lens for ultrasonic focus
  • Closest focusing distance is 2.8 feet
  • Ultrasonic Motor (USM)

Benefits:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Perfect background blur
  • Sharp portraiture
  • Highly practical
  • Works great even in low lights
  • Max. aperture focuses shallower DOF

Drawbacks:

  • Closest focusing distance is a little bit away (2.8 feet)

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#4. Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras

Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras [EOS R, EOS RP, EOS R5, EOS R6](4515C002)

In our opinion, this is the 4th best lens for depth of field canon. It’s really compact and lightweight so you can comfortably carry it around for everyday use. The features are pretty much identical to our very first pick. However, we’ll dig down into both of its benefits and drawbacks so bear with us.

Feature:

Focal Length & Aperture:

You should note that the focal length which is 50mm in this lens is fixed. And the aperture is f1/8 – 22 at minimum. At maximum aperture, you can take much closer shots easily enough. And the shutter speed helps to reduce noise and blur.

Usability:

If you have a full-frame mirrorless RF mount canon camera, this lens could be useful. There’s a full list of compatible model names you can check on Amazon. With this mounted on your camera, you can take incredible shots from landscapes to portraits even under low light conditions.

Output Quality:

With all its convenient functions, you get better content with each click. The incredibly beautiful and smooth background blurring technology will enhance your skills and you keep getting more and more compliments. Hence, the 7-blade aperture construction helps you achieve that. And you can be more creative with portraits shots at a much shallower depth.

Specifications:

  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Magnification capability 0.25x
  • Macro with Stepping Motor (STM)
  • Closest focusing distance is 0.98 feet

Benefits:

  • Perfect autofocus
  • Clean and clear shots
  • Soft and amazing background blur
  • Easy to carry around
  • Durable construction
  • Precise shots in low lights

Drawbacks:

  • Only featured as compatible with Canon full-frame mirrorless RF mount

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#5. NIKON Z 58mm for S Noct Ultra-Shallow Depth of Field

NIKON NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct Ultra-Shallow Depth of Field Prime Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras

This is the most expensive version, yet a great lens for having shallower DOF. Considering the price tag, we assume it’s geared more towards professionals. Beginners shouldn’t invest that big for learning the shallow depth technique, though!

However, if you’ve already gone up to an intermediate level where you want to take your skills to a professional level, this expensive kit might be a good option!

Features:

Depth Control:

If you have a Nikon Z mirrorless camera, this is for you! With the maximum aperture of f/0.95, you can have an ultra-shallow depth of field. The zooming feature is really outstanding thus more lights pass through quickly. And the focal length is 58 millimeters at maximum. You can more conveniently control the depth of field and the shots will be more creative even under low lights.

Focus & Resolution:

The focus brings up a spectacular detail of the object. With the max aperture, you can click high-resolution photos of the undiscovered world. It reveals an immersive depth of your focus field.

Output Quality:

Noct standard is the best Nikon lens for shallow depth of field. It’s a groundbreaking kit born from the Z mount. So you get fine detail outputs like what we see in our eyes. The result comes with precision sharpness. Both video and still photos end up with an ultra-shallower depth of field.

Specifications:

  • Focal Length: 58mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/0.95
  • Standard version
  • Black color
  • Nikon Z mount

Benefits:

  • Innovative design
  • Fastest lens for Nikon
  • Superior control over depth of field
  • Enhanced low-light performance
  • Find detail and sharp images
  • Soft background blur effect

Drawbacks:

  • Most pricy model on our list

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#6. OLYMPUS M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro

OLYMPUS M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Lens, for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

If you have a Micro Four Thirds camera, this could be a suitable option! It’s great for focusing on a closer object within a shallower depth of field. After the NIKON Z Noct, this is the second most pricy model on our list. But with great zooming power and superior construction, it is well worth every penny!

Features:

Focal Length & Aperture:

It’s a wide-angle lens with an adjustable 12-40mm focal length. You can click magnificent close-up shots at a maximum of f/2.8 aperture. And the minimum distance you can focus is about 7.87 inches. Hence, the manual focus mechanism is quite amazing.

Construction:

In its construction, 14 lens elements are grouped into 9 sections. The durable construction of this item really grabbed our minds in the first place. Its dust, drip, splash, and freeze-proof capability make it a worthwhile selection for outdoor photographers.

Usability:

It’s compatible with Panasonic and Olympus cameras. The additional pouch and hood come quite handy for outdoor uses. At the maximum aperture and focal length of 40mm, you can take perfect close-up portraits with a nice background blur. Contrarily, at the minimum aperture and 12mm focal length, a wider depth of field can be covered to take outstanding photos of landscape, natural beauty, etc.

Specifications:

  • Focal Length: 12-40mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Wide-angle lens by Olympus
  • For Micro Four Thirds Cameras
  • Minimum focus area 7.87 inches
  • Construction: 14 elements in 9 groups
  • Stepping Motor (STM)

Benefits:

  • Steady manual focus
  • Wonderful handheld performance
  • Satisfying background blur
  • A wide array of application
  • Eliminates ghosting
  • Blur-free images

Drawbacks:

  • Smaller focal length distance
  • Less zoom in

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How to Choose a Lens for Shallow DOF

Focusing on a shallower depth of field requires a few key features from a lens. In this segment, we’re going to lay them all in one place. So you can use this part of the article as a checklist for purchasing the best lens for shallow depth of field.

So let’s check out what you should consider;

Model Compatibility

This should be your very first concern when buying a lens. You’re highly advised to match your camera model number for its compatibility. Compatible camera names are boldly mentioned within the description of each product. Even after that, if you’re in trouble, contact the manufacturer before ordering.

Focal Length

It is the length between the lens and the film of your camera. The more focal length a lens has, the shallower depth of field can be achieved.

Aperture

Aperture is also known as F-stop is written for example f/1.8 and goes all the way to its maximum value (22) based on a specific lens.

Less F-stop value means the aperture is bigger. That means the hole is bigger and it allows for faster light passing. So we end up with a much shallower depth of field. That’s said, you should focus on the least F-stop number.

Closest Focusing Distance

As from the title you can understand what it is! Closest focusing distance allows taking a very close-up shot, still keeping the quality of the content superior. And put a nice background blur effect to make the object really stand out.

Usability

The overall construction should be durable enough. Besides, the lens should be compact and lightweight so it becomes easy to carry around.

With premium quality products like we’ve listed above, you can click magnificent shots even under low lighting conditions. And for outdoor photographers, it should be dust, splash, and freeze-proof.

 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What lens gives a shallow depth of field?

On our list, Canon EF Medium Telephoto Lens can give you a nice shallow depth of field. It has 85mm focal length and the aperture is f/1.8 at maximum.

With Ultrasonic Motor, the lens would focus the subject within a much shallower area. Besides, the closest distance it can focus is about 2.8 feet. All in all, it’s a great choice for that purpose!

2. How do you photograph shallow DOF?

You can achieve that by setting the least F-stop number. So at f/0.95 aperture, you can have the depth of field much shallower than at f/2.8. The larger your aperture size is, the more lights it lets pass through and capture a wonderful quality shot.

You can focus within a short distance. Hence, both the foreground and background get nice blur effects that make the subject stand out from the rest.

3. What factors impact the shallow DOF?

There are 3 main factors that impact the shallow DOF in a camera. First, it’s the distance of your camera from the object. Secondly, focal length plays an important role in this game. And lastly, the aperture size which you should point to for the maximum.

4. Why does a wide aperture reduce the depth of field?

When the aperture is smaller; light passes through at a narrow-angle. Contrarily, when the aperture is wider, the angle is bigger providing you more bokeh. So the focus area reduces and light passes through faster. And that’s how it impacts portrait photography.

Conclusion

That’s the end of our exclusive reviews. We hope you’ve managed to find your best lens for shallow depth of field.

Make sure you’re aware of the compatibility, and it’s good to go! Except for their difference in functionalities, all of these great items are good for achieving shallow depth of field in your shots. You can take outstanding portraits in all circumstances!

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