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Archive 2012 · Primes vs Zooms
  
 
gdanmitchell
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p.5 #1 · Primes vs Zooms


marko1953 wrote:
Type 4: Older, wise, very mature photographer with 6303 posts on FM forums (some containing links to their own website so we can all benefit) who likes to show off their superior knowledge by giving advice and picking everyone up on things he disagrees with on his perception of reality. Will often post photos of themselves on their own websites along with long pretentious lists of their gear (past and present) "who remembers the Apple Quicktake?" Also makes inane statements on their website like " I carry a selection of high quality lenses, tripod, filters, and there other usual stuff".
...Show more

6303 posts? I had no idea... Does this make it 6304 now? ;-)

And thanks for catching that typo on the "About" page at my blog.( "... there other usual stuff...") Just fixed it.

Trendily yours,

Dan



Jan 04, 2013 at 07:47 AM
marko1953
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p.5 #2 · Primes vs Zooms


gdanmitchell wrote:
6303 posts? I had no idea... Does this make it 6304 now? ;-)

And thanks for catching that typo on the "About" page at my blog.( "... there other usual stuff...") Just fixed it.

Trendily yours,

Dan
BTW Dan I forgot to say your photos are amazing.



Jan 04, 2013 at 08:13 AM
DynaSport
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p.5 #3 · Primes vs Zooms


Back on topic. I shoot primarily with zooms, although I own a couple of primes as well. I have the 85 1.8 that I bought for portrait and HS basketball use and the 50 1.8 which was one of my very first lens purchases when I knew nothing about photography but point and shoot.

I am a total amateur and most of my photography is family stuff, but I have done a couple of weddings and I also take photos for a church newsletter. I find that I don't use the primes nearly as much as I thought I would. Very little of my photography is set up and the zooms allow me to catch shots I'd miss with the primes.

I have done some senior portrait work and some engagement photography and I used the primes on those, but when I reviewed the photos I found I liked the ones taken with my 70-200 2.8 about as well and used it more.

What bothers me, is that when I look at pictures on sites like this and others, often the ones I like best were taken with fast primes. So, I keep thinking I should buy more primes and learn how to work around their limitations. But then when I can't get a shot I want and don't have time to change lenses, I end up with my zooms mounted. When I need more light I add my flash with a diffuser or bounce it if possible.

I don't know if any of this helps or not. I really want to use primes myself and will probably end up buying another one or two, but I am afraid I won't use them.

Oh, and I used to always use a filter. It went on the lens when I bought it and never came off. I have stopped using them, though, and now use lens hoods. I try to be careful with my gear. I'm not carrying multiple bodies and lenses tossed into a bag. When I carry several of my lenses with me, they are protected in a well padded bag and when I change lenses I don't just toss them back in. Maybe that's why I can't change lenses fast enough and miss shots.



Jan 04, 2013 at 01:10 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.5 #4 · Primes vs Zooms


DynaSport wrote:
I don't know if any of this helps or not. I really want to use primes myself and will probably end up buying another one or two, but I am afraid I won't use them.


That seems to be a pretty common experience. Folks who are driven by either the "shooting with primes is better" mantra or by Gear Acquisition Syndrome can easily find that the desire for a prime is a more fascinating thing than actually shooting with them.

Primes can be very useful and they most certainly have their place. However, the great majority of photographers shooting DSLR cameras today will be very happy without them.

Dan



Jan 04, 2013 at 04:16 PM
StarNut
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p.5 #5 · Primes vs Zooms


Shutterbug2006 wrote:
After all these years though, I've never had a situation where a filter would have saved me money because of an accident.


I have, and my daughter has.

YMMV



Jan 04, 2013 at 04:33 PM
boingyman
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p.5 #6 · Primes vs Zooms


There's obviously benefits to both and it really depends on what you shoot. At the end it's a personal and creative preference. I personally like to have a combination of both for more flexibility and since I also shoot a variety of photography genres that I enjoy. Of course with certain specialty lenses you have no choice to go prime.


Jan 04, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Imagemaster
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p.5 #7 · Primes vs Zooms


DynaSport wrote:
I find that I don't use the primes nearly as much as I thought I would. Very little of my photography is set up and the zooms allow me to catch shots I'd miss with the primes.

I have done some senior portrait work and some engagement photography and I used the primes on those, but when I reviewed the photos I found I liked the ones taken with my 70-200 2.8 about as well and used it more.

What bothers me, is that when I look at pictures on sites like this and others, often the ones I
...Show more

Stop worrying about the "prime is best" propaganda and stick with your 70-200 2.8 and upgrade to the version II.
Just because many of the best shots you see on this site were taken with a prime, does not mean that a zoom would not have done just as well. Show these "prime promoters" a hundred 16 x 20 prints made from both primes and zooms, and I bet most of them could not tell you the difference. Those people also do not boast about all the shots they missed because they had a prime on their body instead of a zoom.

In wildlife and sports photography, you miss many shots if you are trying to change lenses or use TC's, when instead you can just zoom in seconds to change your focal-length.

As for filters, their main purpose is not for protection. Anyone who damages a lens that has a lens hood on it, is a clumsy oaf.

The best lens for you is the one you are most likely to use and give you the most versatility. Primes are not versatile.



Jan 04, 2013 at 07:06 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.5 #8 · Primes vs Zooms


Imagemaster wrote:
Stop worrying about the "prime is best" propaganda and stick with your 70-200 2.8 and upgrade to the version II.
Just because many of the best shots you see on this site were taken with a prime, does not mean that a zoom would not have done just as well. Show these "prime promoters" a hundred 16 x 20 prints made from both primes and zooms, and I bet most of them could not tell you the difference. Those people also do not boast about all the shots they missed because they had a prime on their body instead of a
...Show more

+1



Jan 04, 2013 at 09:58 PM
 

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didierv
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p.5 #9 · Primes vs Zooms


I think a good quiver has both primes and zoom.
A good fast prime I believe is a must in anybody's set up along with a nice set of zooms.

I am trimming my collection quite a bit, when I am done I will have 3 zooms 2 primes
16-35
24-105
70-200

35 1.4
135 2.0 or 100 2.8



Jan 04, 2013 at 10:06 PM
ggreene
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p.5 #10 · Primes vs Zooms


gdanmitchell wrote:
Most serious photographers do not use a "protective" filter on the front element.
Dan


I won't try to interpret what a "serious" photographer is but of the sports photographers I see at games most of them are using a protective filter on lenses that will allow it. Especially lenses like the 16-35 which needs it to be weather proof. I've never noticed any degradation in IQ because of them. I would love to see a double blind test to see if people could see any differences at all with or without a good quality filter.



Jan 04, 2013 at 10:19 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.5 #11 · Primes vs Zooms


ggreene wrote:
I won't try to interpret what a "serious" photographer is but of the sports photographers I see at games most of them are using a protective filter on lenses that will allow it. Especially lenses like the 16-35 which needs it to be weather proof. I've never noticed any degradation in IQ because of them. I would love to see a double blind test to see if people could see any differences at all with or without a good quality filter.


In most cases, most people will see no difference. In some cases there can be additional reflections, notably in night photography where reflections between the front element and the rear of the filter can create "ghost" images of bright objects in the frame.

The real question is whether or not the cost of the so-called protective filters meets the cost/value test.

Dan



Jan 05, 2013 at 01:48 AM
ggreene
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p.5 #12 · Primes vs Zooms


I have no problem with the cost/value test as each photographer has their own budget and know what they want to prioritize. It's the "degradation" argument that doesn't hold up IMO.


Jan 05, 2013 at 02:29 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.5 #13 · Primes vs Zooms


ggreene wrote:
I have no problem with the cost/value test as each photographer has their own budget and know what they want to prioritize. It's the "degradation" argument that doesn't hold up IMO.


The argument against protective filters is not based on any single issue, such as degradation of the image, but on the overall question of the trade-offs involved. A rational discussion of the issue doesn't focus entirely on image degradation (or one would never use any filters) or cost (since cost is often measured against value) or anecdotes (since some will almost invariably support whatever position the speaker favors), but on the overall question of whether, on balance, these things are providing the value that some imagine and at what cost.

A few high points:

1. While there are stories of a filter minimizing or preventing front element damage in the case of something striking the front of the lens, there are also stories of an impact that would have created little or no lens damage instead breaking the filter into pieces such that the shards damaged the front element. Choose your poison.

2. While the filter may prevent some kinds of lens damage, its insurance value is limited to the small percentage of ways that a lens can be damaged that involve an object striking the front element. They won't help, for example, with a dropped lens except in very rare cases.

3. While there are some cases in which a filter might minimize some sorts of front element damage, the vast majority of photographers will never have such an accident - it turns out to actually be quite unlikely, and the risks can be minimized even more by adopting smart ways of handling lenses.

4. The UV filtering capability of the filters most often sold for protective purposes is entirely worthless on modern DSLR cameras, which are not subject to the effects of UV light in the ways that film supposedly was.

5. The extent to which the full-time use a filter might affect the image quality varies - this is not a simple "yes it does! no it doesn't!" proposition. The use of a very high quality coated clear-glass protective filter will not produce any noticeable degradation of the photos in the large majority of cases. However, the use of inexpensive protective filters (of the sort often sold as part of "kits" or purchased by those who can't see spending $100 or more on a filter) is much more likely to have negative effects in normal shooting. There have been tests showing reduced contrast, additional reflections or flare, a softening of the image, and even optical distortions from cheap filters. Even with the best filters, internal reflections from the back of the filter can cause "ghosting" effects in night photographs and similar work in some cases.

6. The cost benefit story is not as simple as "it is worth $100 to save a $1200 lens!" For example, this makes the idea of using a protective filter on an inexpensive lens pretty silly. The value of the lens might be not that much more than the cost of a filter good enough to avoid the optical issues described above - so not using filter makes sense on a $100 or $200 lens from this perspective. Putting an inexpensive and less than optically great filter on an expensive first-class lens doesn't make much sense, and excellent filters for, say, 77mm filter diameter lenses, can cost in the range of $100 each. You can easily spend $400 or $500 (or more) to outfit a set of excellent lenses with individual filters. Unless you imagine that you'll damage all of them in ways that would have been prevented by filters, the cost benefit starts to look a bit less interesting.

7. In the process of preventing possible (though not always certain) front impact lens damage, the filter will be destroyed or at least rendered unusable. So while you can imagine that you saved the cost of the lens - though actually, in many cases, you saved the much lower cost of a front element replacement or of living with a small scratch - you lost the cost of the filter and you'll now have to replace it.

8. The very sorts of damage that a filter might protect from can also be warded off by using the lens cap you already have when you are not shooting - and this provides better protection than the filter - and/or a lens hood when you are, especially with long focal length lenses. (The hood provides considerably less protection on wide angle lenses.)

9. Related to all of these points and especially to #8, the filter will not protect from all foreseeable front impacts, much less protect from a wide range of other types of damage such as dropped lenses/camera, side impact, etc. So it seems to me that anyone who is so concerned about supposed lens protection from a filter would also invest in a serious insurance plan to cover all of these types of damage and other real risk such as theft. Do you?

10. There are undoubtedly a few cases in which using a protective filter makes sense. If you regularly shoot in very risky environments (and this doesn't include occasional shooting along the beach or in the desert nor probably the potential of finger prints from a child touching your lens... ;-) and you work with a camera body that is sealed and can therefore also be protected from such threats, adding a filter can seal some (but not all) L lenses and complete the relatively greater protection. (I'm often amused when people who shoot a relatively unsealed DSLR body insist that their lens must be sealed...)

In the end, everyone has to make his or her own decision about the value and costs of using protective filters and about employing alternatives ranging from careful handling, to using filter/hood, and buying real insurance. But there is nothing wrong with thinking about the real costs and value of the various approaches before you spend money on any of them.

Dan

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Jan 05, 2013 at 04:11 PM
StillFingerz
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p.5 #14 · Primes vs Zooms


gdanmitchell wrote:
Primes can be very useful and they most certainly have their place. However, the great majority of photographers shooting DSLR cameras today will be very happy without them.

Dan


+100

This may indeed be quite true in today's ever increasing usable high ISO world. Primes for the most part, with my shooting, serve one main purpose, usually a stop or two faster aperture and it's many benefits, subject isolation being but one.

I can roll around just fine with a 17-40 and 70-200 f4 zoom and shoot most of my subject matter all day long; okay small fib, I do carry a set of extension tubes and one 'mandatory' prime with me, the 100 macro...flowers n such beg for them.

Having come from the old school of film when you didn't really have the freedom to change your media's sensitivity on the fly, it's really nice to have a fast prime handy when the light just gets too low, and bumping up the ISO isn't a valued option.

Jerry



Jan 05, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Paul Mo
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p.5 #15 · Primes vs Zooms


didierv wrote:
I think a good quiver has both primes and zoom.
A good fast prime I believe is a must in anybody's set up along with a nice set of zooms.

I am trimming my collection quite a bit, when I am done I will have 3 zooms 2 primes
16-35
24-105
70-200

35 1.4
135 2.0 or 100 2.8


That's almost identical to me. The 35 being the fastest, followed by the 135, and then slower (f2.8) zooms.



Jan 05, 2013 at 05:31 PM
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