July 24, 2016

Prime vs Zoom

Prime vs. Zoom
Which is the best?  A question that has plagued mankind for decades!  :)

A photographic lens where its focal length is fixed or unifocal. 

A photographic lens where its focal lengths vary in a single lens. 

When I first started shooting, I started off with Canon's 24-105 L f4 zoom lens. This is a great lens in perfect lighting situations; however, in low light, this lens gave me a hard time.  Even with an external flash, or hot shoe, there seemed to be lots of grain and noise!  That's when I realized that I needed something that would rage on even in the darkest of times!  Ha!  I had read so much about how fixed focal lengths typically performed well in low light, but I really never knew why!  That's when I did my research, bought my first primes, and haven't turned back!
50 mm 1.2f Canon L Series

Here are four reasons why prime (fixed focal length) is the way to go:

Wide Apertures:  
Primes tend to have wide apertures!  1.8, 1.4, and some go even as low as 1.2. They are wonderful!  In situations when you are struggling to get good lighting, these low apertures really make your photos shine. Also, since these apertures go down so low, you tend to get a buttery shallow depth of field while keeping your subject in focus. 

Lower Cost:
You can purchase a prime lens for a great price!  My very first prime was Canon's 50 mm 1.8 lens for around $130!  I was so shocked at the quality of this lens!  Later, I decided to upgrade to Canon's 50 mm 1.2, a larger purchase, but still VERY reasonable for the performance level. Zoom lenses tend to cost much more than primes. 

Sharpness and Clarity:
Primes tend to be sharper than zooms. One reason is because there is a fixed focal length. They are good at being sharp at one fixed length!  Zooms, on the other hand, have a range where they are the most clear, and sometimes this is difficult to find. Some of the more pricey zooms are beginning to prove theory wrong, but when comparing apples to apples (take a zoom and a prime that cost the same) primes take the cake!

You can't be lazy:
Since primes have a fixed focal length, you will need to move around to get closer or further away and capture the shot you want. This makes lots of people nervous. I shoot many portraits and weddings. I typically have my 50 mm 1.2 around my neck the entire time. It's my workhorse. For situations when I cannot move, or if I need to shoot something that is happening far away from me, I'll pull out my 70-200 mm 2.8 and this zoom does the job. I rarely have to do this. Canon also sells 135 mm prime that gives you a closer look and is super clear!  This will be one of my future purchases!  :) I lovvvve Canon's 85 mm for portraits of the bride getting ready, Canon's 35 mm or 24 mm for large group shots, landscape shots, and pictures on the dance floor.  Lastly, Canon's 100 mm for detail shots (rings, shoes, jewelry, and dress beading details) really rocks!

Overall the clear winner in this battle is PRIMES!!!!  While zooms tend to make people feel more comfortable, they tend to lack in many other areas. Why compromise your photos just to be comfortable?  Photography is about taking risks, going the extra mile, and letting your creativity shine. What better way to do this than with a prime?!

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