Welcome to this friday’s post.
If you have been interested in photography, you must have heard about prime lenses (we all know that pretty much everyone has heard about zoom lenses) before. But the question that arises is:
” What are the differences? Which ones are better? “
Let me try to explain that today. The first difference between primes and zooms is that a prime lens has a fixed focal length, i.e. 50mm or 60mm, where a zoom lens has a focal length that can be adjusted, i.e. 17-85mm or 70-200mm. Having a zoom lens gives you flexibility, but it comes at a price. I usually carry two lenses with me: a zoom (17-85mm) and a prime (60mm). Why? You’ll find out in just a moment…
Quality and Price
Prime lenses produce sharper images as they are less complicated to build. Just think for a moment about a zoom lens, let’s use my 17-85mm as an example. If you were to get the same range with prime lenses you’d need to have at least 6 or 7 of them: 17mm, 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 60mm, 85mm. But the zoom lens covers all of them and much more in between… However, imagine fitting all this stuff into one (usually quite small) lens… That’s why zoom lenses are usually of poorer quality than prime lenses. Of course, you will find great quality zoom lenses but their price is very high, i.e. Canon EF 24-105 F4 costs around £1500! To compare I bought a fantastic 60mm F2.8 lens for about £300…
Prime lenses are also lighter. My zoom lens is about double the size the double the weight of my prime lens. Weight may not be your concern if you work in a studio. Travel photographers, as an example, usually use zoom lenses as they can carry just one lens instead of two or three.
Prime lenses are definitely winners here. They have wider F stops (aperture), at least for the money. Again an example, I use 60mm F2.8 that cost me ca.£300. If I were to buy a zoom with the same aperture, I’d have to get either 18-55 F2.8 which costs ca.£500-600 and it feels “plasticky”… Wider aperture means getting a very shallow depth of field, fantastic when you take photographs of people and you want to isolate them from the background. In these situations, I put my prime on the camera and use F2.8 to F4.0.
So which one shall you go for? It depends. You need to make your own decision. I use both depending on the situation. For versatility I use a zoom, for quality – prime.
Have fun playing with lenses! And have a fabulous weekend! 🙂