The 8 Best Digital Cameras for Portraits (Updated for 2021)

Michael Sand
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We all want a camera that offers outstanding image quality, a good screen, a speedy autofocus and the best battery life possible. After all, who wants to miss that precious moment?

At the same time, we don’t want to break the bank. That’s why we need to seek the best value for money camera for our budget; the one camera that will get the job done.

So which is the best camera for portrait photography? I’ll sort through the hype and show you the best cameras for portraiture.

NameCategoryProduct
Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR CameraBest OverallCanon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera
Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital CameraBudget PickCanon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera BodyUpgrade PickCanon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body

1. Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera

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This camera comes with a full range of manual features to give you full control over your photos without having to constantly do technical adjustments, plus you can capture amazing high-quality videos.

With this camera you will easily improve your skills as you can control the ISO and white balance in really difficult situations.

The APS-C CMOS Sensor allows you to capture high full-resolution images, virtually eliminating the need for purchasing a prime lens for those lower light situations.

2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body

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Pros:

  • Fast and silent autofocus
  • Best for high-quality portraits
  • Excellent battery life
  • Exceptional image quality
  • Micro Adjustments

Cons:

  • Heavier and bulkier than other brands
  • RAW images are heavy on disk space

The Canon 5D Mark IV definitely isn’t the cheapest camera on the market, but it has to be one of the best DSLRs for portrait photography. It uses a full-frame CMOS sensor that delivers stunning detail and color quality. Its autofocus is both fast and silent however, the focus needs to be tweaked manually after focusing.

The camera is ideal for portraits, studio photography, and weddings with its excellent battery life, fast shutter speeds, and micro adjustments. The camera saves pictures in either RAW or JPEG format with two different resolutions on a half-size SD card – 22.5MP in RAW or 17MP in JPEG.

3. Pentax K-1 Full Frame DSLR Camera

Our rating: 9 / 10

Pentax K-1 Full Frame DSLR Camera

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Pros:

  • A lot of functionality packed into a relatively compact and easy to use body
  • Affordable
  • Great for getting serious about photography
  • Plenty of features for wide variety of photography

The Pentax K-1 was made with portraiture in mind. It is an intermediate level camera that packs a lot of fantastic functionality into a relatively compact and easy to use body. It is available in two colors, black or white, and weighs in at about 26 oz.

I have found that the K-1 has a number of features that work so well for me that I rarely if ever use any of the custom functions. For example, the auto focus is extremely fast and accurate, considering I usually have the camera set for low light. The autofocus also has a feature that allows me to set one focus to the center, which is great for someone like me who does not have a back button focus. The camera does this automatically every time I press the button to take the picture. There is a full array of AF Area modes in case I do not want the camera to focus on the center point, which I have never used. The face detection text detection works extremely well. The best part is this camera allows you to take beautiful high resolution images and has also been designed to allow you to take the highest quality video.

4. Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera

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Pros:

  • APS-C sensor
  • Relatively fast autofocus in bright light
  • Low noise (RAW)
  • Lightweight (21.9 oz)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Compact size
  • Variety of buttons for customization
  • Autofocus stops between shots, so no need to refocus every time
  • Lockable exposure

Cons:

  • Slow autofocus in very low-light or with very shallow depth-of-field
  • No single-shot mode with auto-ISO, so there is a shutter lag when you want to get a quick shot of an animal in low light
  • Not a zoom lens
  • Viewfinder is small and EVF isn’t bright enough with the LCD at wide angle
  • Heavy files (RAW)

5. Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Our rating: 8 / 10

Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera

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Pros:

  • Great for portrait photography
  • Extremely durable
  • Amazing feedback from users
  • Mirrorless model allows for lighter cameras

The Fujifilm X-T2 is a mirrorless model that does not feature a viewfinder. Instead, the view is set up to be more cinematic, back-lighter, and darker. The camera also features a 16-megapixel sensor.

The Fujifilm X-T2 is ideal for portrait photography as it has a Fuji 56mm lens, making it the perfect companion for portraitists.

The camera is also a favorite among food photographers as it has an APS-C sensor with a resolution of 26.1 megapixels. This sensor makes it the perfect camera for recipe bloggers.

6. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Our rating: 8 / 10

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

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Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Impressive image quality
  • E-M5 II has new 5-axis system to reduce blur
  • Excellent focus system
  • Can be used for underwater photography
  • Supports RAW or JPEG
  • Good microphone
  • Touchscreen
  • Perfect for travel photography
  • Comes in small and light body

Cons:

  • Some complain about the relatively small sensor size
  • No weather-sealing
  • Data transfer is slow
  • Expensive when compared to other mirrorless cameras
  • The articulating LCD monitor is delicate and fairly expensive to repair

7. Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera

Our rating: 7 / 10

Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera

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Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • WiFi and NFC enabled
  • Takes great photos in low light

The Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera has a few features that make it excellent for taking portraits.

It has a 42x optical zoom and 4.3-inch LCD preview screen. This allows you to get in close to catch the details, like the hands running through the hair of a child.

This camera is also WiFi and NFC enabled, meaning you can connect to your computer, smartphone or tablet with the touch of a button. This is a great feature for taking portraits at a family get-together. You could point your camera at a group, touch a button, and immediately post the photo to your social media. Or, you could use it to keep in touch with faraway friends and family.

8. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 RII Digital Still Camera

Our rating: 7 / 10

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 RII Digital Still Camera

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Pros:

  • It has an amazing camera body and can capture superb photos
  • Provides the user with extensive manual controls
  • Does not sacrifice any of the other essential features

This amazing point-and-shoot camera can easily take digital photographs that look like high-end DSLRs. Of course, the quality of the photos you take with it will depend on your skills, but this may be the camera that encourages you to take up photography as a hobby.

The RX1 R2 looks like a movie camera ” and it’s thanks to its iconic design. The large, 135mm f/2 Zeiss Sonnar T* prime lens gives the camera that iconic look. Its controls, however, are quite typical compared to other point-and-shoot cameras. The camera does a great job of keeping your options accessible. The majority of the camera’s switches can be controlled with just your right thumb.

However, if you want to have a viewfinder, you can do that, too: you can pop off the left side of the electronic viewfinder (EVF) to gain access to the hotshoe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best camera for taking portraits?

A portrait is a picture of a person or persons that is intended to capture their likeness. This can mean anything from a generic snapshot to a high-quality professional photograph. A snapshot is often taken without care as to lighting, composition, or other factors and as a result lacks artistic value. Because portraits can vary so wildly, it's important to understand your needs before you make a decision about what type of camera you need to buy.

If you are just looking for something simple to take a snapshot of your family, then you may not need a particularly high-quality camera. If you are in the business of taking professional (or even semi-professional) portraits then you will need a camera that you can count on to produce excellent results time after time. No matter your needs, this guide will help you get started.

Which is the best camera in 2021?

Depending on the type of portraits you're looking to take, your needs will be a little different. For those who take a lot of children, pets, travel, family, and destination portraits, your needs will be a little different than if you spend most of your time taking studio-style portraits or high-end commercial work. Luckily, a lot of different cameras will fit your needs depending on your budget and experience.

It's a good idea to read the reviews for any you're considering. It's especially helpful to read the reviews for the mirrorless cameras because most of these are new to the scene and you can get an idea of whether or not they'll make a good fit. If you already have an idea of which one you want to buy, then you're in luck! Because there are so many great options, this is an easy choice.

What camera do professional portrait photographers use?

If you're looking for an advanced digital camera for portrait photography, then we'd have to recommend the Nikon D810. It's the camera of choice for many professional photographers. In fact, it's is so popular that many professional photographers have multiple models of it for professional and personal use!

In addition to having the most sophisticated auto-focus system on the market (you can see the difference in a test done by DP Review here), the Nikon D810 has the most megapixels. The D810 has 36, but some photographers believe that you lose the sharpness of the picture in favor of having more pixels. The Canon 5DS (50.6 megapixels) and the Pentax K-1 (51.4 megapixels) have just as many pixels as the Nikon D810, but it’s the Nikon D810's auto-focus system that makes it an incredible piece of equipment.

Which camera has best dynamic range?

For everyone else, just make sure you’re using a digital camera with sufficient high iso dynamic range to allow you to comfortably shoot at a wide aperture in low light with a minimal ISO setting. Good high-iso dynamic ranges are found on many high-end mirrorless and DSLR cameras, and on some enthusiast and professional models.

A few years ago, some cameras became capable of shooting at ISO 3200 or even higher without the appearance of significant noise in the images. Dynamic range measures how much variation in brightness you can capture in a single image, with ISO measuring the sensitivity of the sensor. Good low light performance often requires a combination of higher ISO settings and a narrower aperture in order to allow for a fast shutter speed. While this is accepted practice in photography, you may find it challenging to get a result that you like if you are not using the right digital camera.

Conclusion

Many people may think that digital cameras are not important for portraits when compared to DSLR’s, but actually, they can get the job done when used with care.

If you really are passionate about photography, then it’s well worth spending time doing a little research and choosing a high-quality digital camera that will help you achieve your goals. So if you’re looking for a digital camera for portraits, than this one’s for you.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR CameraBest OverallCanon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera
Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital CameraBudget PickCanon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera BodyUpgrade PickCanon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body