If you’re like me, you’re constantly testing new lenses. I carry prime lenses for my portrait shoots, but I was curious about using a 24-105mm lens for one of my sessions. I’m glad I took a chance and made it happen.
Can you use a 24-105mm lens for portraits? Yes, the variable focus lengths of a 24-105mm allow for wide portraits that capture your scene and environment, while the longer 105mm focal length can get up close detail shots of any portrait subject. The 24-105mm is a versatile lens that allows portrait photographers a range of options when creating and composing a composition, without having to constantly physically move around an environment.
Ideally, you want to capture many different angles and focal lengths of your subjects and the 24-105mm lens can help make that happen. Let’s take a look at this model test shoot I did in downtown Dallas and see why the Sony 24-105mm f4.0 lens is a great choice for portrait photographers.
Table of Contents
- Getting started 24-105mm Portraits
- Model Test Shoot Concept
- Portrait Gear for TFP Shoot
- Sony a7riii Mirrorless Camera with Sony 24-105mm f4.0
- Camera and Lens Combo
- Sony 24-105mm – Shooting at 24mm
- Sony 24-105mm – Shooting at 105mm
- Sharpness & Quality of the Sony 24-105mm Lens for portraits
- How much does the 24-105mm weight
- 24-105mm Focus for Portraits
- Can you get bokeh in your portraits with the Sony 24-105mm f.4 lens?
- Benefits of the 24-105mm lens
- What I would like to see changed about the Sony 24-105mm
- Does OSS Optical Steady shot help with portraits
- Is the 24-105mm F4.0 good in low light
- Price of the Sony 24-105mm lens
- Would I recommend this lens for beginner portrait photographers?
- Alternatives to 24-105mm lens
- Sony 24-105mm portrait gallery
- Is the 24-105mm worth the price
- Is the Sony 24-105mm still part of my lens collection
- Would I buy the 24-105mm f4 lens again?
- Final thoughts on the Sony 24-105mm lens
Getting started 24-105mm Portraits
At first glance, the Sony 24-105mm f4.0 was not my first choice for portraits. I knew I wanted a wide-angle lens because I was going to be shooting in an environment with large buildings, but I also wanted a good telephoto choice so I could get close up shots of my model.
Zoom lenses typically provide this type of variety and accessibility without having to switch lenses. For example, if you shoot with prime lenses, you would need a 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 105mm lens to cover all the focal lengths of the single 24-105mm zoom lens.
I originally had my Sony 55mm f1.8 and 35mm f1.8 prime lenses packed for this shoot, but I wanted to try and test out my new Sony 24-105mm. The lens performed great and I had no trouble getting a wide variety of shots for myself and the model.
Model Test Shoot Concept
The goal of this shoot was to give a lifestyle feel to the portraits. I wanted my model Ashley to interact with the environment and showcase her on the downtown streets of Dallas.
Downtown Dallas is a great place filled with skyscrapers and other interesting architecture.
This was street fashion and casual fashion with a lifestyle flare. I sent the mood boards to Ashley and she brought the concepts to life in these shots.
Portrait Gear for TFP Shoot
The goal of this shoot was to stay lightweight and nimble so we could walk around the downtown streets without attracting too much attention. I settled on a single camera and lens combo for this model test shoot.
Sony a7riii Mirrorless Camera with Sony 24-105mm f4.0
My main camera for this portrait shoot was the Sony a7riii mirrorless camera. It’s a 42mp beast that provides lots of details and capabilities. This camera is my main go-to camera for portrait shoots.
Paired with my Sony a7riii was my new Sony 24-105mm f4.0 lens. I’ve used this lens a few times for video work but never for portraits. This shoot was the perfect opportunity to test out the quality and sharpness of the lens in such a detailed environment with plenty of light.
The goal of this shoot was to use natural light on the model while we were outdoors. I normally shoot portraits with my off-camera flash system which consists of a Profoto B2 strobe and 2×3 OCF softbox and air remote, but again I wanted to stay nimble and not have much equipment with me.
Don't Miss This
Camera and Lens Combo
The Sony a7riii and Sony 24-105mm lens pair together really well. The lens does extend at the telephoto end but still balances well with the small body of the Sony a7riii. I also attached a small grip to my camera to help my pinky not hang of the bottom. It helps in situations when I am shooting with one hand.
Sony 24-105mm – Shooting at 24mm
If you haven’t shot with wide angle lenses or focal lengths, then you need to give it a try. The 24mm-35mm focal range is well suited for capturing your environment in portraits.
We were shooting with lots of tall buildings, so I wanted to make sure to make Ashley look larger than live in these shots. I stayed low to the ground (yes, I laid on the ground) to get the shots of her walking towards me.
Sony 24-105mm – Shooting at 105mm
85mm is widely considered the perfect portrait focal length and many photographers stick with prime lenses. I moved the lens into the 85mm-105mm and still got creamy bokeh and subject separation.
I positioned myself about 6ft-8ft back from Ashley and got my closeups. The lens performed as expected and focused in the eye on almost every frame.
Sharpness & Quality of the Sony 24-105mm Lens for portraits
Is the Sony 24-105mm a sharp lens? Yes, in my opinion the lens is sharp at most of the focal lengths. I did notice some softness around the wide end (24mm) but I was also standing a good distance from my model when shooting at that length.
I’m not a pixel peeper and I don’t do sharpness tests on the regular. The main goal in my portrait photography is to get in-focus images with correct exposures.
How much does the 24-105mm weight
The Sony 24-105mm weights 663 grams or about 1.5 pounds. This is less than a pineapple or a quart of water. When holding the lens, I didn’t notice it being heavy. My test shoot with Ashley lasted about 3 hours as we went from location to location in the downtown area.
The 24-105mm balanced well with the camera and didn’t tire out my arms after a few hours of shooting. This is all that matters to me when going on a portrait shoot.
24-105mm Focus for Portraits
How fast is the focus of the Sony 24-105mm f4? The focus system in the lens did an adequate job when faced with bright daylight and even low light areas.
I normally have my models in movement when shooting TFP portrait shoots. This gives them a more natural look, so I need to have a lens that can stay with me and focus on moving subjects.
The Sony 24-105mm did a great job. I found that it did struggle a bit when shooting directly against the sun and my model positioned in the middle. Any lens would have struggled with this, so I don’t put much emphasis on it. I just wanted to call it out.
Can you get bokeh in your portraits with the Sony 24-105mm f.4 lens?
Yes, you can get good blurry bokeh and subject separation with a 24-105mm lens. You can get bokeh in just about all situations when shooting with a shallow depth of field. It is easier when shooting at f5.6 or below and watching your distance to your subject.
The Sony 24-105mm has a maximum aperture of f4.0 so this should allow for plenty of light to enter the lens and a shallow depth of field for your composition.
Benefits of the 24-105mm lens
- Wide focal range (24mm to 105mm)
- on crop sensor cameras this lens is the equivalent to 36mm to 158mm (approximately)
- Sharp and great for portrait photography
- Light weight and balances well with my Sony full-frame cameras
- Fast focus for moving subjects
- OSS – Optical Steady Shot built in (Sony version)
What I would like to see changed about the Sony 24-105mm
- f4.0 – yes, I wish it was an f2.8 but that would make the lens huge I am sure
- Price – The Sony 24-105mm starts at over $1200 for an f4.0 lens
Don't Miss This
Does OSS Optical Steady shot help with portraits
Every camera manufacturer has a 24-105mm lens. Sony’s 24-105mm lens has optical steady shot (OSS) built into the lens. This means it can help with shaky hands when shooting at slower shutter speeds.
In my honest opinion, I don’t think it helps or hurts to have the optical steady shot for portraits. I think this feature comes in handy for videographers in a majority of cases. Many Sony mirrorless cameras have in-body image stabilization (IBIS) built right in, so I don’t put too much emphasis on IBIS.
Is the 24-105mm F4.0 good in low light
Sort of. Traditionally most portrait photographers want to go with a larger aperture of f2.8 or higher for low light shoots. This will help the camera gather even more light in low-light situations.
The Sony 24-105mm f4.0 can be good in low-light when paired with a full-frame mirrorless camera like the Sony a7iii or Sony a7sii. The ISO range of the newer Sony cameras can make up for the f4.0 max aperture of the 24-105mm.
If you are using an older model e-mount camera, you might start to see more grain in your photos when shooting with higher ISO settings. This is when I wish the lens was an f2.8 or higher.
Price of the Sony 24-105mm lens
Current pricing for the Sony 24-105mm is around $1,199 new. You can also find used or second hand versions of the lens for under $1,000 as of the publishing of this article. If you’re really interested in getting this lens, check out the current pricing here and get more details.
Would I recommend this lens for beginner portrait photographers?
I think the 24-105mm lens is a great choice for beginner photographers. Budget is the first question on everyone’s mind when looking into new lenses so you will need to decide if the $1000 price tag is something you can live with.
If you can only have a single lens, then the 24-105mm is a perfect choice. It gives beginner photographers a wide range of focal lengths to work with when learning about composition and how different lengths can give you different looks in portraits.
Alternatives to 24-105mm lens
Your next option is the common 24-70mm f2.8 but this can be just as pricey and doesn’t give you the range of the 24-105mm. It does give you a wider aperture but at the cost of focal length.
For the Sony e-mount system Tamron has a 28-75mm f2.8 lens that has a price right around $850. You can also find these in used condition for less. Check out the current pricing of a new Tamron lens here if your curious.
Sony 24-105mm portrait gallery
Is the 24-105mm worth the price
You can get plenty of focal range in the 24-105mm but I still wish the lens had a wider aperture. The $1200 price tag is a bit high for many beginners, but you get multiple prime lenses in a single body with this lens.
This can be hard to answer for beginner photographers as we all have different budgets and needs. I didn’t buy my lenses brand new. I was able to find a used copy of the lens for around $800 so this made it a great buy for me. Make sure to do your research and save a little bit of money on a used copy.
Is the Sony 24-105mm still part of my lens collection
No, the Sony 24-105mm is not currently a part of my lens collection anymore. I sold the lens to purchase the Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GMaster lens. I like subject separation and isolation in my portraits, so I wanted the f2.8 aperture over the f4.0
Would I buy the 24-105mm f4 lens again?
Yes. I am moving more and more into video work and I have rented the Sony 24-105mm lens to capture footage. The focal lengths are perfect and even the f4.0 aperture works great for video. I rarely shoot shallow depth of field so I find I stay around the f4.0-f5.6 range in my video production.
Final thoughts on the Sony 24-105mm lens
The 24-105mm lens is a perfect walk around lens and is a pretty good option for portrait photography. The wide and telephoto range of the lens provides plenty of choices for your composition. Like with all lens or camera purchases, consider renting the lens first and see if it will work for you. You won’t regret it.
Author - Jason The Creative
*Affiliate Disclaimer - I am a proud partner of the various affiliate programs including the Amazon.com Affiliate Program. When you click on my links and make a purchase, a small part goes to helping maintain and grow this website. It is very much appreciated and it does not cost you a thing. Thank you!