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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Primes VS Zoom
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Showing posts 26 - 34 of 34, (reverse)
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06/19/2008 05:58:26 AM · #26
I love primes. How much? I use:

15mm 2.8 fisheye
20mm 2.8
35mm 1.4L
50mm 1.4
85mm 1.8
Used to own a 100mm 2.8 macro

I love using so many lenses, I think I got my switching down to under 8 seconds, with the lenses I use most on lens pouches on my belt. Weight doesn't bother me as I'm use them for everything except hiking and mountaineering.
But it's not as though I'm averse to zooms, I own a 17-40 f/4L that I love. It's just as "sharp" as any prime when it's at 17mm, less so at 40mm. I used quotes there because sharpness is an illusion, you're eye can only see so much sharpness. Now, I do understand that the 17-40L is one of the better zooms out there, by far, and most zooms fail to match a prime in terms of sharpness. Thats a given, because they have more elements than primes. But what they lack in sharpness and usually aperture they make up for in certain situations. Personally, I love shooting in the field with a prime, but as stated by some others, hiking with a full bag, especially in strenuous terrain, is almost out of the question. I've come to taking only my 17-40L on most hikes unless I know I'll need another lens, usually the fisheye which is pretty light. Wedding photography, photojournalism and wildlife too, are times when you might not be able to change a lens and still capture the moment. A sunrise can disappear in a flash, more so in the tropics than at higher latitudes, and I'd rather sacrifice a tiny bit of sharpness no one sees in print (thats the catcher, is that so much of todays work is displayed on the web and not in print. Stand three feet from a print and sharpness as you and I think of it goes out the door) than to miss a great moment.

Just use what works best for you.

06/19/2008 07:32:13 AM · #27
Originally posted by Corwyn:

...I heard people say to be a pro you need prime...


That I don't believe. You should have a prime or two but I just can't think of any pro without a zoom or two as well. That would be giving wrong impression to people who wants to be pro and pushing them to do something they probably are not ready for full time... using prime only.

I have NO problem with any of my zoom lenses, I don't disagree my 50mm 1.8 is sharper, although I can't use it in all my studio shootings. I need flexibility when I have only limited time and shoot verity of shots. Money has a lot to do with it (they are expensive), but also I am not for to keep changing lenses every minute if things move fast...

There might be other option, carrying multiple machines with different prime lenses attached... I think that's what most "high-end" pros do.
06/19/2008 07:47:28 AM · #28
wow, old thread ... but on a topic that I still think about often.

For me, I wish my photography was so specialized that I only needed a single prime or 2 and never had need for anything else, but that simply isn't the case for most of us. Like kirbic said (years ago now) - I won't buy another consumer zoom, but I do see the benefit in owning a zoom.
06/19/2008 08:07:55 AM · #29
Originally posted by hopper:

...Like ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' kirbic said (years ago now)...


...and he still looks sharp as he was years ago :P

by the way, shouldn't we address him as "Captain" ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' kirbic? or he retired by now :P
06/19/2008 09:25:35 AM · #30
I have a selection of zooms and primes (L and non L in both) and each has it's place. It's like golf - you get to take 14 clubs on every round, but you don't use every club every time. Some you use a lot - the putter for instance. Even your driver only use 12 or so times on 18 holes. Same for lenses. I don't need 1.2 often but when I need it, there is no substitute. Generally a zoom will give you the ability to frame it just the way you want everytime where a prime may force a compromise or you'll miss the shot because you're changing lenses.

As for sharper...how sharp do you need? For portraiture sharp can be a bad thing - ask any woman with bad skin! Focus speed is a bit tougher call though. Most primes focus faster, but L glass focus' faster than non-L and the 85 1.2 is slow as snot to focus.
06/19/2008 09:44:24 AM · #31
As with most things photographic, there isn't just one right answer.

I prefer to shoot with primes when possible because I get better results when I pick my perspective (focal length) first and then adjust my position to get the image I want. If I have to move back ten feet to get a compressed perspective, I have time to change lenses on the way. This isn't the right answer for everybody, it's just what works best for me.

I have recently purchased a 24-70 f2.8L zoom for the situations where I must get the shoot and may not have time to switch lenses. I think I have a good copy, but when shooting portraits I still prefer the crisp images I get from my 50 1.4 or 85 1.8.

This isn't to say all primes are better, I tried two different 28mm lenses and both were terrible. One thing I have learned is that you cannot look at lenses simply by the focal lengths they cover. Each lens will have it's own characteristics that go beyond focal length and aperture, you find the ones that suit your style of shooting and stick with them. For example, I find canon's 85mm f1.8 on a 1.6 crop camera to be an amazing portrait lens and I would not go to a portrait session without it. It's just what works for me.
06/19/2008 09:50:03 AM · #32
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

I have a selection of zooms and primes (L and non L in both) and each has it's place. It's like golf - you get to take 14 clubs on every round, but you don't use every club every time. Some you use a lot - the putter for instance. Even your driver only use 12 or so times on 18 holes. Same for lenses. I don't need 1.2 often but when I need it, there is no substitute. Generally a zoom will give you the ability to frame it just the way you want everytime where a prime may force a compromise or you'll miss the shot because you're changing lenses.

As for sharper...how sharp do you need? For portraiture sharp can be a bad thing - ask any woman with bad skin! Focus speed is a bit tougher call though. Most primes focus faster, but L glass focus' faster than non-L and the 85 1.2 is slow as snot to focus.


I think this sums it all.. Great post :)
06/19/2008 11:21:42 AM · #33
There can also be a placebo effect present. The OP noted a very large difference between the 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.8. this lens comparison will show you that at 2.0 there is a small difference seen but once you get to f/2.8 they are virtually identical.

That being said, I actually own 3 primes and one zoom so what are you gonna do?
06/19/2008 11:32:56 AM · #34
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

There can also be a placebo effect present. The OP noted a very large difference between the 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.8. this lens comparison will show you that at 2.0 there is a small difference seen but once you get to f/2.8 they are virtually identical.

That being said, I actually own 3 primes and one zoom so what are you gonna do?


and you do own the same 50mm like i do... I feel honored :P
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