The best camera for portraits in 2024: cameras that are perfect for people pics

What's the best camera for portraits? Traditionally, portrait professionals look for two key things in their gear: a focal length that gives you the best shooting distance for flattering facial features, and fast apertures that can create beautiful background blur and subject separation.

However, these days there is more to it than just the lens that goes on the front of your body. The best cameras for portraits boast sophisticated autofocus systems that offer eye, face, and head detection, removing the need to manually place focus points and meaning that you can focus on shooting – leaving the camera to focus on the focusing.

Another factor that comes down to the camera, rather than the optics, is the sensor size. The larger the camera format, the easier it is to get the background blur characteristic of portrait shots. This is because the larger the physical size of the sensor, the shallower depth of field it is capable of achieving. So this gives full-frame cameras an advantage (and medium format cameras, for that matter), but you shouldn't rule out APS-C or Micro Four Thirds cameras with the right lenses.

So here's our list of what we think are the best cameras for portraits right now. If there are cheaper options that could do the job almost as well we will mention them, and we'll also suggest some portrait lenses to use with these cameras.

Gareth Bevan headshot
Gareth Bevan

Gareth is the Reviews Editor at Digital Camera World and the person in charge of approving all the latest camera-related tech. With several years of experience as a professional portrait photographer, he knows exactly what to look for (and avoid) when choosing a camera for portraiture. Outside of photography, expect to find him cycling around London, or deep in a Netflix binge.

The Quick List

Best camera for portraits in 2024

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Best portrait camera overall

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)
The best overall camera for portraits

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 45MP
Monitor: 3.15-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 2,100k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 12fps mechanical shutter, 20fps electronic shutter
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch OLED EVF, 5,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max video resolution: 8K DCI or UHD at 30p
User level: Professional

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible image quality
+
Industry best AF detection and tracking
+
Up to 9 stops of image stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

The EOS R5's 45MP sensor produces images of incredible detail and has a class-leading autofocus system with a whopping 5,940 AF points for photography and eye detect AF – perfect for portraits, including animal portraits should you be a pet portrait photographer (thanks to the animal eye AF deep learning in the Dual Pixel AF II technology). The inclusion of a joystick means that you can take quick manual control over your focus points, too. 

A benefit of the R5's resolution is that you can shoot a three-quarter portrait and crop it into a tight headshot, should you need to. It also has a fantastic feature in the form of Frame Grab, which enables you to extract high-resolution 35.4MP stills (as JPEGs) from 8K video footage. 

You also get dual card slots, to protect against card failure, and crucially the camera offers up to eight stops of in-body image stabilization (IBIS), enabling you to shoot at longer focal lengths without introducing camera shake.

Canon has a great choice of RF portrait lenses, too, and we love the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM. It's a hefty lens with a hefty price tag, but camera-lens portrait combinations don't come better than this. You can also adapt Canon's vast range of EF-mount DSLR lenses, too.

Read more: Canon EOS R5 review

Best budget camera for portraits

(Image credit: Future)
The best budget camera option for portraits

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Monitor: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36 million dots
Max video resolution: 4K UHD

Reasons to buy

+
10fps continuous shooting
+
Highly sophisticated AF system
+
Uncropped 4K video

Reasons to avoid

-
Imbalance with larger lenses
-
No drive or focus mode dials
-
Burst shooting buffer nowhere near A7 IV's

So you're just getting started in portrait photography and you don't want to spend a lot of money to get set up with a great portrait camera? Well, look no further than the Sony A7 III. 

This full-frame mirrorless camera is getting on a bit now and has even been superceded by the Sony A7 IV, but there is no stopping the popularity of the Mark III version with it offering the perfect balance of features and cost. The A7 III offers a now comparatively small 24MP sensor, although that will still net you plenty of image quality for small and medium-sized screens or prints.

The A7 III also has super useful features like eye detection autofocus and in-body image stabilization, that will help any photographer, fresh or experienced, just get more reliable images.

As mentioned, all this can be had at quite a bargain compared to newer Sony cameras (and most rivals), and stock is still easy to come by, with regular discounts during sales events like Black Friday, so keep checking prices regularly to save even more!

Read more: Sony A7 III review

Best portrait camera for resolution

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)
Best high-resolution camera for portraits

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: 61MP full-frame Exmor R CMOS
Lens Mount: Sony FE
Autofocus: Fast Hybrid AF with Eye AF
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch, 9.44k-dot OLED
Screen: 3.1-inch, 2,095k-dot tilting touch-sensitive TFT LCD
User level: Expert

Reasons to buy

+
Very high resolution sensor
+
Excellent lens range 
+
AI-powered AF 

Reasons to avoid

-
High price 

If you’re looking for the most detail possible in a full frame camera, then the Sony A7R V should be at the top of your list. Toting a spectacular 61MP sensor, making it the highest resolution camera without going medium format, it’s the ideal choice for those who favor portraits with ridiculous levels of detail. 

I am a big fan of Sony’s Eye AF, which can not only recognize human eyes but animals' too, and the new AI-powered autofocus can also detect subjects by limbs and body shape – so nailing portrait focus is as simple as can be.

Other fantastic features include a super-high resolution viewfinder and a useful tilting touchscreen. The A7R IV is pretty pricey, and there is the cheaper Sony A7 IV – but it's not a lot cheaper. 

Sony has been in the full-frame mirrorless game the longest, so its lens line-up is the broadest, with some stunningly sharp G Master lenses to elevate your portraits to the next level. Our recommendation is the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 G Master, a stunning portrait lens that's the perfect partner for the A7R V’s high-resolution sensor. Consider the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens if your budget is tighter.

Read more: Sony A7R V review

Best APS-C camera for portraits

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)
The best APS-C for portraits

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: 40.2MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS
Autofocus: Intelligent hybrid AF
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch, 3.69-million dot OLED
Screen: 3.0-inch tilting touch-sensitive screen
User level: Expert

Reasons to buy

+
Highest resolution for an APS-C camera 
+
Good lens range 
+
Classic film simulations

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly expensive
-
Smaller sensor = wider depth of field

APS-C cameras come under criticism for two major reasons when it comes to portraiture. The first was due to limited resolution sensors not being able to show subjects in their full glory. The Fujifilm X-T5 has come along to shatter those resolution constraints with its new 40.2MP sensor – delivering a ludicrously packed amount of pixels and an unprecedented level of detail for APS-C cameras. 

The second criticism is APS-C cameras can't deliver the same shallow depth of field as larger full-frame sensors. While this has some basis to it in a like-for-like comparison – there are some real benefits when you look at the effect a smaller sensor has on lenses. Fuji cameras have a 1.5x crop to the listed lens length, and this means you can achieve more flattering focal lengths in much smaller and lighter lenses. Fujifilm's 56mm f/1.2 actually has an equivalent focal length of 84mm and is considerably smaller than most full-frame 85mm lenses of the same aperture.

So if you're looking for more lightweight gear that's easier to lug around and shoot with, this is a major win in the X-T5's favor. It also boasts a number of classic Fujifilm film simulations, giving you in-camera creative options unavailable on other systems. And it also just looks damn good too, with vintage styling harking back to film cameras.

If the X-T5 is outside your budget, get the Fujifilm X-S10 instead. For both cameras, we'd recommend the excellent Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 R WR portrait lens if you can afford it (84mm equivalent), or the Fujinon XF 50mm f/2 WR (75mm equivalent) if not.

Read more: Fujifilm X-T5 review

Best medium format portrait camera

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
The best medium format camera for big portrait quality

Specifications

Sensor: GFX (medium format)
Megapixels: 102MP
Lens mount: Fujifilm G
LCD: 3.2-inch 2-axis touchscreen, 2.36 million dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 3.69 million dots
Max continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 4K at 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
Surprisingly compact and affordable
+
102MP images
+
Snappy AF performance
+
Improved image stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
Still heavy for long handheld use
-
8-way joystick takes getting used to

For the longest time, the very best portrait photographers shot medium format film, and while film isn't quite dead, you can come closest to replicating those big quality portraits with medium format digital cameras.

My pick of the best medium format cameras is the Fujifilm GFX 100S, it isn't the newest model, and it isn't the cheapest model – but it hits the perfect middle ground for being just affordable enough for professionals while also offering the latest technology headlined by a huge 102MP sensor. 

The more affordable GFX 50S II also came so close to making this list, but I think when it comes to medium format resolution, it's go big or go home, although if you are watching costs, then the GFX 50S II is also a fine portrait snapper. 

The sensational resolution can also give you the freedom to take a wider shot and crop into portraits as much as you need. If color accuracy is essential for you then the GFX 100S's Pixel-Shift photos not only create images with no false color, but these can stretch to 400MP.

When it comes to how the medium format camera performance, the GFX 100S offers dynamic range, tonality, and color depth that blew me away when I tested it. One of the big things that turned me to Fujifilm in the first place is Fujifilm's hugely popular Film Simulations for recreating the classic look of Fujifilm film stocks.

Fuji's GFX medium format cameras have a 0.79x crop factor, which means that you might need to go a little longer than the full-frame equivalent, I would recommend the Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR, or if you want a bit of zoom flexibility, the Fujifilm GF 100-200mm f/5.6 R LM OIS WR.

Read more: Fujifilm GFX 100S review

Best to slip in a pocket

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best portrait camera that goes right in a pocket

Specifications

Rear cameras: 48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP 5x telephoto
Front camera: 12MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 221g
Dimensions: 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25 mm
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent camera performance
+
RAW photos are loaded with detail
+
Premium IP68 design
+
Powerful internals

Reasons to avoid

-
No SIM slot for US customers
-
Telephoto camera isn't class-leading
-
Very expensive

Okay, this might be cheating a little and you probably didn't expect to see a phone gracing this list, but hear me out – we are now at the point where phone cameras are rivaling what dedicated cameras can achieve, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the pinnacle of that.

Just slightly edging out the Google Pixel 8 Pro (which is my top recommendation for Android fans), the portrait mode on the iPhone is class-leading. This might be down to Apple's LiDAR technology that uses lasers to take a 3D map of a subject, or just some superior computational computing inside the phone, but either way, it is getting harder and harder to tell that a photo was "shot on iPhone".

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the first phone from Apple to feature a 5x camera, which in full frame lens terminology is around 120mm, which is right in the sweet spot for beautiful subject isolation from the background, as well as compressing a person's features into the most flattering perspective. This combined with Apple's portrait mode blur, AI-driven portrait lighting, and just the ease of all this being a few taps away in a single device that slips into your pocket makes this a real winner for portrait photography. 

Read more: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max review

Best camera for portraits and more

(Image credit: Adam Waring/Rod Lawton)
The best camera for portraits – and other subjects

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 45.7MP
Monitor: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,100K dots
Continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max video resolution: Uncropped 4K UHD up to 30p, cropped 4K UHD up to 60p

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image quality
+
Lovely handling
+
In-body image stabilization
+
Best-in-class build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
EVF resolution lower than rivals
-
Tilt-angle display, not vari-angle

The Z7 II was Nikon's flagship full-frame mirrorless camera until the mighty Nikon Z9 came along. Even so, while the Z7 II can't match the Z9's continuous shooting speed or 8K video, it delivers the same super-high resolution for portrait photography but varied enough specs for everyday non-portrait use as well – and all at a competitive price!

This Mark II version brings dual memory card slots and faster processing but retains the excellent design and handling of the original, and Nikon's equally excellent in-body stabilization system. Its eye-detection AF system has hit some speedbumps in the past, but it's largely superb.

Nikon has quickly built an impressive range of pro-spec Nikkor Z lenses, so the Z7 II makes an extremely good all-round camera for professional use. The lens we would recommend for portraits is the Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S. It's not as fast as some rivals but produces beautiful results at a far more affordable price.

Read more: Nikon Z7 II review

Best portrait camera for enthusiasts

(Image credit: James Artaius)
The best camera for enthusiast portrait photographers

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Monitor: 3-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 1,620k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 12fps mechanical shutter, 40fps electronic shutter
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch OLED EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max video resolution: 4K 60p, 1080p 180p
User level: Enthusiast/professional

Reasons to buy

+
Mind-blowing autofocus
+
40fps burst shooting
+
Uncropped 4K 60p

Reasons to avoid

-
Slower SD cards
-
Not the biggest buffer
-
4K recording limits

Canon's EOS 6D series came along and revolutionized the DSLR market for enthusiasts, taking the flagship EOS 5D of the moment, but stripping it down to the essentials to include some seriously good specs for an affordable price. As Canon moves to mirrorless, the Canon EOS R6 Mark II is a worthy successor to that mantle.

Now the 24.2MP isn't the highest around, so it depends on how you plan to display the portraits you take, but that is plenty of resolution to display on screens or in medium-sized prints. What the R6 MII does have going for it though is one of the best autofocus systems in town. I am continually blown away by how fast and accurate Canon's subject detection autofocus is, picking up subjects' eyes in milliseconds and tracking them across the frame. And this isn't just for people, if you fancy taking some pet portraits, then the R6 Mark II has animal eye detection too.

If you want to step outside of portraits, then the EOS R6 Mark II has benefits from beautiful oversampled 6K video in 4K 60p video, a very quick shutter speed for fast-moving subjects, a silent electronic shutter, and compatibility with Canon's excellent RF lenses.

If you want to capture beautiful portraits then I would recommend looking at the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM for an affordable but quality portrait lens, or if you really want to splash out then the Canon RF 135mm f/1.8L IS USM is sublime.

Read more: Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

How to choose the best portrait camera

Choosing the best portrait camera really depends on how you intend to display your portraits. If you want to create big prints to display on a wall at home or in a gallery then you should take a look at the cameras on this list with high-resolution sensors like the Sony A7R V, or if you are looking to go very high-end, the Fujifilm GFX 100S.

If you are only looking to display your portraits on screens – maybe via social media or a website – and while all the cameras on this list would make exceptional portrait cameras for this purpose, you can get away with using a much lower-resolution camera and save some money or get a smaller camera.

So how do you choose between all the cameras in this guide? Well, one of the first decisions to make is simply which one best fits your budget the best, and there is a range of options here. But it isn't just the camera to think about, also take a look at some of the suggested lenses listed in this guide, as that can push the price into unaffordable territory, and a camera is only as good as its lens when it comes to portraits. 

Other factors to consider are how big would you want your camera to be – if you want something to slip into a pocket then take a look at some of the smaller cameras on this list, like the Fujifilm X-T5, or even the iPhone 15 Pro Max. If you don't care, then go the other way and get the Fujifilm GFX 100S, if you can afford it.

How we test portrait cameras

When testing portrait cameras, we do the obvious, and test how good they are at taking portraits! Our reviewers take portrait shots of subjects and report their experiences of different aspects of using the camera such as how well the autofocus handled selecting human (or animal) faces and eyes, how easy the camera was to use, and how they rate the quality of the final shots for the intended purpose for portraiture.

We also tested all these cameras in our carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. 

Finally, I have combined the lab results and all of our expert reviewer's experiences to inform my comments and recommendations in this buying guide.

Find out more about how we test and review on Digital Camera World.