If you enjoy capturing the character and charisma of a person then the portrait genre is the one for you. While there are no specific cameras made just to shoot portraiture there are many on the market that are more favourable to this genre and include useful features that will enhance your end results. So here we round up some of our favourite choices for the best cameras for portraits and portrait photography.

How to choose a camera for portrait photography

When it comes to taking amazing portraits there are two aspects to take into account. The first is what type of lens you are using, and the effect this will have on your subject. To capture flattering facial features you should use a lens with a longer focal length as it compresses your subject’s features rather than emphasising them like a wide-angle lens will do.

When it comes to purchasing a new camera for your portrait photography, look at the compatible lenses available as this will have an impact on your final decision. Most portrait photographers aim to have something like a 50mm, 85mm or 100mm prime lens in their bag and possibly a 70-200mm zoom lens as well. Have a look at our guide to the best portrait lenses.

The second aspect to take into account is what image sensor type the camera supports. Dreamy bokeh background blur that is desirable in portraiture photography is easier to achieve on a full frame image sensor, however that is not to say APS-C and Micro Four Thirds models should be dismissed. These types of cameras are often cheaper so work better for those on a budget, and with the right lens they are more than capable of producing excellent results.

Background blur is also affected by other factors such as how far your subject is placed from the background and your lens choice so don’t be put off by an APS-C or MFT model. For more information on sensor size, have a look at our guide to APS-C vs Full-Frame (and MFT) sensors.

Here are our top recommendations for the best cameras for portraits and portrait photography…


Best portrait cameras for under £1000/$1000 – Sony A6400

best cameras for portraits Sony Alpha A6400 in hand, with 18-135mm lens, Andy Westlake

Sony Alpha A6400 in hand, with 18-135mm lens. Photo credit: Andy Westlake.

At a glance:

  • £899/$898 body only
  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-32,000
  • 11 fps shooting
  • 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder
  • 3in, 921,600-dot tilting touchscreen

The Sony A6400 bridges the gap between Sony’s popular full-frame compact system cameras and their APS-C line-ups. We found the 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor to produce excellent results and if used with something like a prime 50mm lens, which equates to a 80mm on full frame, you can’t really go wrong with your portraits!

When we reviewed the Sony A6400 back in 2019 we gave it 4 stars as whilst the camera performed well in terms of image quality there were a couple of niggles such as the slightly dated body design and lack of in-body image stabilisation. For under £1000 though you can’t have it all!

See our guide to the best Sony E-Mount Lenses.

Pros:

  • Excellent AF tracking feature
  • Large ISO range
  • Excellent image quality in almost any shooting situation
  • High level of control customisation available
  • Compact size

Cons:

  • Control setup is poorly-configured out of the box
  • Minimal touchscreen functionality
  • No in-body image stabilisation

Fujifilm X-T30 II

Best cameras for portraits Fujifilm X-T30 Mark II in hand, JW

Fujifilm X-T30 Mark II in hand, body only. Photo credit: Joshua Waller.

At a glance

  • £799 body only
  • 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS IV Sensor
  • ISO 80 – ISO51200 (extended)
  • Speed: Up to 30fps with electronic shutter (cropped), 20fps uncropped
  • Screen 3inch 1.62M-dot, tilting touchscreen
  • Video 4K CINE/UHD 30,25,24fps video recording
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in
  • Available in silver/black or all-black

The Fujifilm X-T30 II is a versatile camera that would suit any hobbyist or enthusiast portrait photographer and is the updated version to what was previously Fujifilm’s best selling and most popular camera in the X-series range, the X-T30.

For portrait photographers the 26.1MP X-Trans 4 CMOS sensor produces excellent results and the camera offers a large ISO range from ISO80 (Low), up to ISO51200 (Extended). The camera also comes with face/eye detection AF and its autofocus system, for a camera of this level, is responsive and fast to react.

The Fujifilm X-T30 II supports the X-Mount, and there are a range of Fujifilm lenses available – both premium lenses available (XF), and more affordable lenses available (XC) – as well as some options from third party manufacturers including Samyang and Tamron.

Pros:

  • Great JPEG results straight from camera, with lovely colours
  • 20fps – 30fps continuous shooting (26.1mp/cropped/electronic)
  • Great value for money
  • Metal build-quality

Cons:

  • Lacks in-body image stabilisation
  • Small joypad, easy to accidentally press Q button

Nikon Z6

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm f/4 lens (MT)

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm f/4 lens. Photo credit: Michael Topham.

At a glance:

  • £1,649/$1696 new or second hand at MPB £939 – £1599
  • 24.5MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor
  • New large diameter Z-mount
  • Works with F-mount SLR lenses via adapter
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • 12fps burst shooting
  • Single XQD card slot

If you’re after a full frame mirrorless model but on a budget the Nikon Z6 is a great option for any type of portrait photographer from enthusiast to professional. If you purchase this camera new it will set you back around £1600. However, shop around the second-hand and used market and you’ll find a few options that come under the £1000 mark depending on the condition of the camera.

In our 2018 review of the Nikon Z6 we found the EXPEED 6 image processor enabled it to shoot and process images up to 12fps, which in comparison to its main market rivals at the time was considerably quicker. It also includes excellent features such as its 5-axis in-body stabilisation and 4K movie mode, which even in today’s market are highly appealing. There are a good range of Z-mount lenses available.

Pros

  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • 12fps burst mode
  • Full frame 4K video
  • Large ISO range

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Single memory card slot (XQD card)

Best portrait cameras under £500/$500: Panasonic Lumix GX80

Best camera for portraits under £500: Panasonic Lumix GX80 credit: Panasonic

Panasonic Lumix GX80. Credit: Panasonic.

At a glance:

  • £449/$597 with 12-32mm Interchangeable Lens
  • 16MP Four Thirds sensor, no optical low-pass filter
  • ISO 200-25,600 (ISO 100-25,600 extended)
  • Dual IS: 5-axis in-body stabilisation working with 2-axis in-lens
  • 4K video recording and 4K Photo mode
  • AF points: 49-point contrast detection
  • 2.76-million-dot equivalent EVF (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • 1.04-million-dot 3-inch tilting touchscreen

If you’re after a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera at a budget price, the Panasonic Lumix GX80 is a great option for portrait photographers. In our review we found the camera to be quiet and discrete, but also comfortable to hold, which makes it a fitting choice for shooting portraits on the go as in street photography, photojournalism and documentary photography.

A nice feature for portrait photographers is the face detection or subject tracking modes. They allow the camera to choose the subject from a 49-area grid spread across almost the entire frame. Alternatively, you can select the focus area manually, and there’s even a pinpoint mode for focusing on especially fine details of your subject.

When it comes to lenses the Panasonic GX80 is (or the GX85 as it is known in North America) compatible with an impressively wide range of Micro Four Thirds lenses, from both Panasonic and Olympus, as well as other brands, including Sigma, Leica, and more.

For sub £500 this camera is a great option for beginners, hobbyists and students on a budget.

Pros

  • Highly effective in-body image stabilisation
  • Compact, portable, rangefinder-style design
  • Quiet, discreet shutter
  • Useful 4K Photo modes

Cons

  • Viewfinder isn’t the best
  • No mic socket for video

Nikon D600

Nikon D600

Nikon D600.

At a glance:

  • Second hand from MPB £324 – £369
  • 24.3MP, full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 3 processor
  • ISO 100-6400 (ISO 50-25,600 extended)
  • Multi-CAM 4800 39-point AF
  • 3D Colour Matrix II metering
  • 3.2in, 921,000-dot TFT LCD
  • 5.5fps continuous shooting
  • Full HD 1080p video capture

If having a full frame sensor is your number one priority for shooting portraits but you’re on a tight budget then a second-hand Nikon D600 should be on your radar. When this camera was launched back in 2012 it was a £2000 camera – now a second-hand model can be picked up between £324 and £369 depending on the camera’s condition.

In our review of the Nikon D600 we found images were high in detail and to remain low in noise. Although camera technology has greatly progressed over the past decade if you’re after a simple no thrills full frame shooter to create beautifully blurred backgrounds then this is a solid choice. There are still plenty of Nikon DSLR compatible lenses on the market and second-hand options too so you won’t be disappointed.

Find the best Nikon F-Mount lenses.

Pros

  • High quality imagery
  • Dual card slot
  • Long battery life
  • Affordable full frame camera

Cons

  • Older technology
  • Limited video capabilities

Best portrait camera for beginners: Canon EOS R10

Best cameras under £1000: Canon EOS R10

Canon EOS R10. Photo credit: Andy Westlake.

At a glance:

  • £839 body only, $999 with 18-45mm lens
  • 24.2MP APS-C sensor
  • ISO 100-51,200
  • 23fps shooting
  • 4K 30p video
  • 2.36m-dot viewfinder
  • 3in vari-angle LCD

For any beginner who wants to take the next step and upgrade to a mirrorless model the Canon EOS R10 is a great option. This camera is one of the smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras in the Canon collection and includes a host of features that will be useful for the portrait genre. This includes a large ISO range and 23fps burst mode.

Stand out features of the Canon EOS R10 include the superb autofocus system and opportunity to shoot high quality video (Full HD shooting at up to 120fps). It’s also possible to record 4K video at 60fps with a 1.6x crop.

This entry level model will attract both APS-C DSLR shooters who want to move to mirrorless and smartphone shooters wanting to progress with their portrait photography.

Pros

  • Compact size and light weight make it easy to carry
  • Excellent control layout and handling, especially given the small size
  • Subject detection autofocus works very well
  • Very good image quality in both JPEG and raw

Cons:

  • Viewfinder is disappointingly small
  • No in-body image stabilisation
  • Extremely limited native APS-C RF-S lens range

Best cameras for portraits: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV (Andy Westlake)

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV in hand. Photo: Andy Westlake.

At a glance:

  • £699 body only, $799 with 14-42mm lens
  • 20MP Four Thirds sensor
  • ISO 200-6400, ISO 80-25,600 (extended)
  • Up to 15 frames per second shooting
  • 121-point contrast-detect AF
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • Dimensions: 121.7 x 84.4 x 49 mm
  • Weight 383g

For any budding portrait photographer the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is an excellent choice. This camera sits at the entry point level of the OM-D range and includes some excellent features, such as the enhanced face and eye priority autofocus to ensure you capture pinpoint sharp results.

The weight of this camera is a mere 383g and other stand out features such as the 121-point contrast-detect AF system and 5-axis in-body stabilisation all perform well and enhance the shooting experience.

If you’re interested to see what else Olympus has to offer check out our guide to the best Olympus cameras.

Pros:

  • Excellent JPEG image quality with extremely attractive colours
  • Stylish design and well laid-out, tactile controls make it a pleasure to use
  • Extremely effective in-body stabilisation keeps pictures sharp
  • Good set of useful advanced features
  • Supported by fine set of small, affordable lenses

Cons:

  • Raw image quality lags behind APS-C peers
  • Below-camera selfie screen incompatible with tripod use

Best mirrorless cameras for portrait photography (full frame): Sony A7R IV

Sony Alpha A7R IV (MT)

Sony Alpha A7R IV with lens. Photo credit: Michael Topham.

At a glance:

  • £2,749/$3,498 body only
  • 61MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-32,000 (expandable to ISO 50-102,400)
  • 10fps continuous shooting
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • 5.76-million-dot EVF
  • 3in, 1.44-million-dot tilt-angle screen
  • 4K/30fps video

If you’re after a full frame large resolution camera for your portraiture photography you can’t go wrong with the Sony A7R IV. This camera supports a whopping 61MP full-frame CMOS sensor and includes a burst mode shooting capability of 10fps, which as a package is pretty impressive.

In our 2019 review we awarded the Sony A7R IV with a top 5 stars and for good reason. We found the image quality to be remarkable and the dynamic range to be astonishing too. At the low end of the ISO range the ability to pull out immense detail from dark shadows without excessive noise creeping in was noted.

We were also impressed by its AI-based real-time autofocus, and when tested on a portrait shoot it accurately demonstrated how good it was at identifying a face within the frame and immediately locked onto the eyes.

For any pro or serious portrait hobbyist photographer the Sony A7R IV should be at the top of your list.

Pros

  • Incredible 61MP image resolution!
  • Excellent AI AF system
  • 10fps shooting burst mode
  • Host of top end features
  • Impressive ISO range and low noise

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Memory card fills up quickly due to large resolution sensor

Canon EOS R5

Canon EOS R5

Canon EOS R5. Photo credit: Andy Westlake.

At a glance:

  • £3,740/$3,699 body only
  • 45MP Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor
  • DIGIC X image processor
  • ISO 100-51,200 (expandable to ISO 50-102,400)
  • 5,940 selectable autofocus positions
  • 5.76-million-dot electronic viewfinder
  • 8K/30P, 4K/120p, Full HD 60p video
  • Twin card slot (CFexpress and SD)

The Canon EOS R5 is another cracker of a camera and full of outstanding features that any pro or serious enthusiast will appreciate. These includes the 45MP full frame Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor that performs superbly, and the way the R5 handles noise at high sensitivity settings. You can expect clean, noise-free images between ISO 50 and ISO 800. Luminance noise starts to appear at ISO 1600, however it’s only apparent when you examine images critically at 100% magnification.

Compared with lower end mirrorless Canon cameras the R5 is far more responsive at identifying people’s eyes and faces from greater distance, and the AF select button and joystick can be used to prioritise which face or eye you’d like the camera to focus on.

If the Canon EOS R5 is way off your budget but you want to stick with the same brand look at the Canon EOS RP instead as this is a budget friendly full frame option. It doesn’t compete with the R5 in terms of features and image quality, however it is by far cheaper.

Read our Canon EOS R5 review

Pros

  • Outstanding image results
  • Performs well in lowlight
  • Stunning electronic viewfinder performance
  • Supports use of EF/EF-S lenses via adapter

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Rather power hungry
  • High-resolution video generates a lot of heat

Nikon Z7 II

Nikon Z7 II with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (MT)

Nikon Z7 II with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Photo credit: Michael Topham.

At a glance:

  • £2,699/$2,996 body only
  • Nikon Z-mount
  • 45.7MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor
  • Dual EXPEED 6 image processors
  • ISO 64-25,600 (expandable to ISO 32-102,400)
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilisation
  • 10fps continuous shooting (Single AF)
  • 4K/60p video
  • Dual card slots (XQD/CFexpress and SD cards)
  • Weather resistant

The Nikon Z7 II is a beast of a camera and although spec wise it falls below Nikon’s high end Z9 in terms of video quality and continuous burst mode speed, it packs the same 45.7MP resolution and is capable of producing top notch results. When you compare the price of the Z9 (£5,299) and Nikon Z7 II (£2,699) the latter seems like a great deal.

To entice the portrait photographer the Z7 II includes 493 focus points and is fast to focus and process images. When we tested the camera in December 2020 we found its face and eye detection feature to be incredibly effective and were also impressed by the image detail and astonishing dynamic range that the camera can produce.

For any portrait photographer whether professional or enthusiast the Nikon Z7 II is an excellent choice.

Pros:

  • Features a much improved buffer performance
  • Introduces dual card slots for backup, overflow and segregation
  • Excellent handling and incredibly intuitive to use
  • Face, eye and animal detection made easier to access
  • EVF automatically disables when screen is pulled out

Cons:

  • A 1.08x crop is applied to 4K/60p video
  • Viewfinder resolution doesn’t match its closest rivals

Panasonic Lumix S5

Best Panasonic camera for portraits: Panasonic Lumix S5

Panasonic Lumix S5. Photo credit: Michael Topham.

At a glance:

  • £1,549/$1,697 with 20-60mm Lens
  • 24.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilisation
  • 2.36-million-dot EVF, 0.74x magnification
  • 3in, 1,840k-dot Vari-angle touchscreen
  • 7fps continuous shooting (5fps in AFC)
  • Dual card slots
  • 4K 60/50p 4:2:0 10-bit, 4K 30p/25p 4:2:2 10-bit video
  • Splash/dust resistant

If you’re buying on a budget but after a full frame mirrorless camera then the Panasonic Lumix S5 is a strong contender. This camera comes with a 24.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor and includes features such as dual memory card slots and 4K video.

In our review we found the AF system easy to control and the joystick and AF-ON buttons well positioned for fast adjustment. When it came to ISO performance the S5 produced crisp details at low ISO sensitivity settings although noise did start to creep in a little at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400. However as our reviewer points out the fine detail that is resolved at these settings is impressive.

The Panasonic Lumix S5 is a good alternative for portrait photographers that have a budget up to £2000. It’s also good to note the S5 is supported by an ever-growing range of L-mount lenses from Panasonic, Leica and Sigma.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Excellent ergonomics and customisable control
  • Magnesium alloy body is splash/dust-resistant

Cons

  • AF point can’t be moved diagonally using the joystick
  • Can’t shoot beyond 1/8000sec using the electronic shutter

Best mirrorless cameras for portrait photography (APS-C): Fujifilm X-T4

Fujifilm X-T4 in-hand with 50mm f1 lens, Andy Westlake

Fujifilm X-T4 in-hand with 50mm f1 lens. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • £1,399/$1,549 body only
  • 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor
  • ISO 160-12800 (ISO 80-51200 extended)
  • 15fps continuous shooting (mechanical shutter)
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilisation
  • 3in, 1.62m-dot vari-angle touchscreen
  • In-camera charging via USB-C

The Fujifilm X-T4 is a great camera that will appeal to a wide range of portrait shooters. One of the most impressive features is its autofocus performance that is lighting quick to respond. For any portrait photographer trying to capture a fast moving subject like a child this will add some reassurance that you’re going to achieve sharp results.

In our review we also found the face and eye detection to be fully responsive when shooting portraits in the burst mode, which comes in handy when you’re working under pressure and want to maximise your hit rate of sharp shots on the eyes.

Another key strength of the X-T4’s image quality performance is the way it handles noise and preserves detail up to its native ceiling of ISO 12,800.

Pros:

  • Effective in-body image stabilisation (IBIS)
  • Responsiveness of Face/Eye detection in burst mode
  • Faster continuous shooting (15fps) with mechanical shutter
  • Improved battery stamina

Cons:

  • Main menu can’t be navigated using the touch screen
  • New vari-angle screen design won’t appeal to all users
  • Looses dedicated switch to take direct control of metering mode

Nikon Z50

Nikon Z50 in hand with lens, Photo: Michael Topham

Nikon Z50 in hand with lens. Photo credit: Michael Topham

At a glance:

  • £929/$1,246 with 16-50mm lens
  • 20.9MP APS-C sensor
  • Nikon Z-mount
  • 11fps continuous shooting with AE/AF
  • Tilting touchscreen
  • 2.36m-dot viewfinder
  • 4K video at 30p

The Nikon Z50 is a 5 star camera and includes many features that will impress the portrait shooter like a tilting touchscreen, 11fps burst mode, and a 20.9MP APS-C sensor. The Nikon Z50 is compatibile Nikon’s range of Z-Mount lenses, and in their current Nikkor Z mount lens collection Nikon have three DX format lenses and 26 FX format mirrorless lenses that are still compatible with the DX sensor. You can also use F mount lenses with a FTZ adapter, giving you more options when it comes to lens choice.

The Nikon Z50 will appeal to beginners and enthusiasts wanting to progress with their photography without having to cost a fortune. In our 2019 review we found the electronic viewfinder and responsive touchscreen to enhance the shooting experience, and was impressed by the 11fps continuous shooting and responsive autofocus system.

Pros:

  • Compatible with wide range of excellent lenses
  • Responsive AF system
  • Tilting touchscreen
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Lacks in body image stabilisation
  • Short battery life

Best DSLR for portrait photography (full frame): Nikon D850

Nikon D850 full-frame DSLR

Nikon D850 full-frame DSLR. Photo credit: Michael Topham

At a glance:

  • £2,799/$2796 body only
  • 45.7MP FX CMOS Image Sensor
  • ISO 64 to 25600 in steps of 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV
  • Max output resolution: 8256×5504 pixels
  • Video 4K (3840×2160) up to 30p, Full HD (1920×1080) up to 60p
  • Weight 1005g with battery and card

Still a favourite amongst many DSLR shooters, the Nikon D850 is a superb camera. Even at a time where mirrorless is taking over, this camera holds its own and is still used by many pros. This mainly comes down to its massive 45.7MP full frame image sensor that captures outstanding images, and other enticing features such as silent shooting in Liveview mode, a fast AF system and a wide ISO range.

This camera is ideal for any type of portrait shooter from those going on location to those shooting in a studio. On the downside the body is considerably heavier compared with most mirrorless models, however on the plus side the battery life lasts far longer and the camera is considerably cheaper than the higher end mirrorless cameras. For those on a budget a second hand model can be picked up for under £2,000 which is an absolute bargain!

Pros

  • Sensor resolves exceptionally fine detail
  • Super-fast autofocus and silent shooting in Live View
  • Inherits AF toggle from D500 for fast AF point positioning
  • Impressive battery life with EN-EL15a battery

Cons:

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Lacks on-chip phase detection AF in Live View
  • Touchscreen doesn’t allow users to adjust key exposure settings

Best DSLR for portrait photography (APS-C): Canon EOS 90D

Canon EOS 90D. Photo credit: Michael Topham

Canon EOS 90D. Photo credit: Michael Topham.

At glance:

  • £1,149/$1,034 body only
  • 32.5MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 8 image processor
  • ISO 100-25,600 (expandable to ISO 51,200)
  • 10fps continuous shooting
  • 220k pixel RGB+IR metering sensor
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Eye Detection AF
  • Microphone and headphone input
  • 1300-shot battery life

The Canon EOS 90D is marketed by Canon at wildlife photographers, however we think this APS-C DSLR will also appeal to portrait shooters for a number of reasons. Firstly the 32.5-million-pixel CMOS sensor performs superbly and captures detailed images. The camera is also fast to focus and also includes a burst mode feature that is capable of firing off 10fps. This is great for capturing those action portraits of children playing or running around.

Ergonomically, the 90D feels great too. We found in our review the large handgrip lets you wrap your hand around it to get a secure hold. This is useful when shooting using a heavier lens such as a 70-200mm f/2.8.

Although we are still not sure of the future of DSLRs, for the time being there are still plenty of compatible lenses with this system whether you buy new or second hand. To get the most from the 90D you’ll want to invest in some better EF-mount glass as the kit lens it is sold with will not deliver the best image quality.

The Canon EOS 90D is one of the best enthusiast DSLRs around at the moment and for the price you get plenty of camera for your money.

Pros

  • Continuous burst at 10fps
  • Long battery life
  • Uncropped 4K video capture
  • High resolution images
  • Easy to hold and operate

Cons

  • Limited capability with kit lens
  • Single memory card slot

Once you’ve found the best cameras for portraits, have a look at our guides to great portrait photography:

Complete guide to portrait photography

Fine art portrait photography

Best portrait advice from the pros

The best lenses for portrait photography


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