Best lens for cosplay photography!

If you’re starting to get into cosplay photography and looking to expand your horizons, then you’ll probably want to get some new lenses for your camera! I do want to say that a standard 50 mm camera is more than sufficient to take regular cosplay photography. But if you want to do something more specific, then investing in some new lenses is not a bad idea.

That’s what this guide is all about. We’re going to look at all the different lenses you can use for cosplay photography. But first let’s answer the question…

What are the best lenses for cosplay photography?

Cosplay photography in its basic form is fashion portrait photography. Therefore, a standard default 55mm lens for your DSLR or mirrorless camera is more than sufficient to do cosplay photography. With that said, there are many other lenses you can use when you’re looking into a different environment. For example, a 28 mm wide-angle lens is great for landscape cosplay photography because you’ll be able to fit more into the frame of the photo, which can useful at conventions.

In this guide, I’ll give you 5 best lenses for cosplay photography that will cover all your needs to take the best photos. It doesn’t matter what camera model you have; you can apply these to any DSLR or mirrorless camera you may have.

Without further ado let’s get into it!

The Big 3

Whether it’s cosplay photography or not, there are 3 main categories of photography lenses: standard lenses, telephoto lenses and wide angle lenses.

There ARE other types of unique lenses such as fisheye lenses and tilt-shift lenses, but I highly doubt you’ll be using these types of lenses for cosplay photography. So I don’t feel the need to discuss them; I rather focus on the 3 main ones that cosplay photographers use.

Standard lenses (35 – 85)

A standard lens can take great photos like this! Photo by pastreflections.

Let’s start by talking about the standard lenses, which happen to be around 35-85mm. These lenses are great for everyday photography, including for cosplay photography.

If you buy a DSLR camera, more than likely the camera will include a standard lens. As mentioned previously, these lenses are perfectly fine to take regular cosplay photos. They get the job done, especially if you’re new to cosplay photography. They easily work for cosplay photoshoots and at conventions, for the most part.

I see a lot of cosplay photographers who still use standard lenses to do photoshoots, and that’s totally fine. They still produce great photos!

Much like anything that is middle of the pack, you won’t get anything that stands out with standard lenses. The zoom is good but not great. And if you want to take shots from far away, you can do it with a standard lens but it won’t be anything spectacular.

And that is why we have the other 2 categories of lenses…

Telephoto lenses (85mm-200mm)

A telephoto lens is great for zooming in on the cosplayer and highlighting the details on their costume. Cosplayer: ruruka0v0.

Telephoto lenses are for photos where you really want to zoom in on your subject! In this case, that would be the cosplayer(s). While a standard lens can do the job just fine, a telephoto lens can really produce high-quality photo while also focusing narrowly on the cosplayer. As I mention in my cosplay photography starter guide, the shallow depth of field is a very popular style. It’s where you have that blurry background behind the cosplayer, which makes them look really cool in the photo!

In terms of telephoto lenses, they’re great if you’re only looking to take either a headshot or upper body shot of a cosplayer. I can see this working really well when you want to focus on the face or hair/wig of a cosplayer. Or if you’re taking photos at a convention, a telephoto lens is great if you want to focus in on a particular cosplayer in the middle of the hallway. Keep in mind you still need to get close to the cosplayer to get a good-quality photo. As you could imagine, a telephoto lens is not good for areas that are too big.

If you want big photos, then you’d want to use this type of lens instead…

Wide-angle lenses (14 mm – 35mm)

Petra Cosplay 2 by Aelynn
Wide-angle lens is great for capturing the cosplayer(s) and background. Cosplayer: Aelynn’s Cosplay.

Wide-angle lenses are the opposite of telephoto lenses; they’re meant to take photos from a distance, capturing a huge portion of the background. I’m sure you’ve seen some beautiful nature photos where it feels like the environment is HUGE. Well that’s because the wide-angle lens captures a bigger area compared to a standard lens.

In terms of cosplay photography, you can definitely utilize a wide-angle lens in many scenarios. If you’re doing a photoshoot where you want the background to really be part of the photo, then a wide-angle lens is perfect for this (e.g. Aloy cosplay in the wilderness, Free! cosplay in a large swimming pool). Or if you’re at a convention and want to capture the chaotic scenery showing the large crowds of cosplayers, then a wide-angle lens will capture all that.

As you could imagine, wide-angles lens aren’t ideal for capturing close-ups on a subject or even a portrait. Even your lens is super fancy, it’s not meant to take portrait shots.

So which lens should you use for cosplay photography?

If you’re at a high level of cosplay photography, ideally you’ll want to have all 3 types of lenses with you. Whether you’re doing a private cosplay photoshoot, or taking photos during a cosplay convention, having the 3 different types of lenses will come in handy. You never know when you’ll need one or the other. For example, if you see a bunch of Fire Emblem cosplayers together and you want their photo, a standard 55mm is just fine. But a wide-angle 28mm lens would make them look even better because you’d get them all in the photo AND the background as well.

So if you have the money, having all of them with you at the same time is ideal. But if you can only afford one, then your standard lens will do the job.

Prime or zoom lenses?

Now that you know the 3 main types of cosplay photography lenses, you also have another choice when you buy your new lens: prime or zoom?

Let’s talk about them:

  • Zoom lens. A zoom lens allows you to zoom into a different focal point. For example, if you have a 50-200mm lens, you can adjust the lens from 50mm all the way to 200mm. It can be very convenient as you don’t have to manually switch to a different lens if your subject happens to a bit further away. However, the photo quality won’t be as good as if you used a prime lens at the same focal length. And when you change focal length, you may have to adjust your camera settings such as shutter speed in order to get the optimal photo.
  • Prime lens. A prime lens has only one setting for focal length. For example, if you buy a 50mm lens, you only get 50mm! On the plus side, the quality of the photo will generally be better than say if you used a zoom lens. And because there is no zoom, a prime lens is usually lighter as well. Of course, the downside is they’re not as convenient to use; if you want to change your focal settings, you’ll have to manually switch out the lens for a different one, or physically get closer/farther away from the subject. And while prime lenses are generally cheaper, if you buy a bunch of them, then the costs can definitely add up!

Which one is better? It’s really up to you and your preferences. If you prefer convenience, then a prime lens would be better for you, even if it may cost more. But if you’re picky about photo quality and want the best photos possible, then go for prime lenses.

Summary

I hope you found this guide on cosplay photography lenses helpful!

Again, it’s not mandatory that you go out and spend thousands of dollars on a bunch of different lenses. A standard lens can suit you just fine for the most. You should only buy a new lens when you feel it’s necessary (i.e when you’re bored and want to improve your photography). But with new lenses, you can definitely up your cosplay photography game to new levels!

Which lenses do you own? Let me know in the comments below!