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Monday, July 25, 2005

Prime lenses.

Someone on a photo list I belong to asked why I prefer prime lenses over zoom lenses.

Here's why:

1. Lighter lenses.  For those times I know I won't need to zoom, why carry a zoom?  Instead I take a load off and bring a good wide or medium-telephoto prime instead.  Some of the best photographers in history walked around with single prime lenses, usually 35mm or 50mm.

2. Better optics and performance.  In any lens line, primes are almost always better quality.  One exception would be the Canon L zoom lens line which is supposedly on the same quality level as Canon primes.   They are also quite expensive, so be prepared for sticker shock.

3. Much faster lenses, meaning they let in more light and are easier to work with in low light situations.  When was the last time you saw an f/1.4 zoom?   Didn't think so.

4. Smaller lenses.  Easier to pack and carry, more inconspicuous, not always banging into walls as it hangs from my shoulder strap.  A small 50mm will draw much less attention than a huge 70-200 zoom lens.  If you're just going out to impress the ladies, then by all means take your big zoom instead.

5. Better performance at f/2.8.  If the prime is a f/1.4, f/1.8, or f/2.0 then more than likely it will outperform a zoom at f/2.8, giving you more working room and better quality photos when you're wide open or in low light.


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