Many novice photographers ask, “which lens is best for photographing head shots/portraits, and why?” Actually, suitable or not a lens is depends on the needs of the photographer. What you need to familiarize yourself with is actually the characters of the lens you’re using and how it effects the proportions of the object’s face that you’re photographing.
For more detains, you can view the comparisons of the shape of face in the model below, shot using different focal lenghts:
Photo credit: Stephen Eastwood
As you see, there are noticeably different proportions of the face in the photo above. When using lenses at focal lengths above 135 mm, the proportions of the model’s face are easier to the eyes because it appears more proportional. On the other hand, when you look at the shot at 24 mm, the model’s face seems distorted where the nose and lips look stretched making the face look a bit comical.
From the illustrations above, it can generally be concluded that if you want to photograph head shots with proportional outcomes, it’s best you use a lens of at least 135 mm. If you want a disproportionate and seemingly distorted look, go for a wide lens of 24 mm or more. For a more extreme distortion, use a fisheye lens.
There is no “best lens” for photographing portraits, or any other type of photography for that matter. Lenses are best when it can be perfectly used to produce photographs exactly how the photographers want them to look. Experiment with different lenses often, so you’ll recognize the different characteristics of different types of lenses.