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Archive 2013 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms
  
 
retrofocus
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


As others mentioned above, zooms and primes both have their place. I started with zooms and added primes later and meanwhile shoot mostly with primes but also keep my zooms for flexibility.

I found it just depends on the situation and your shooting style where either zooms or primes are more advantageous. For museum or night photography, I only use primes like my 50/1.2, 35/1.4 mostly. For outdoor&hiking trips, the 70-200/4 L IS is always in my bag and also the 17-40/4 lens. For architecture and landscapes it is sometimes only the 24/3.5 T/S II lens but for indoors always my 14/2.8. For portraits, I am generally using again the 50/1.2 or the 135/2 (sometimes my 85/1.8, too). For city photography and best flexibility I grab my 24-70/2.8 I lens. My personal preference are prime lenses since I tend to get better compositions with them.



Mar 21, 2013 at 06:35 PM
subjectochange
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


I started out with two zooms on my crop sensor, the 10-22 EF-S and the 24-70L I. I was content for a while until I desired some more shallow DOF portraits, and I ponied up to buy a 50L. Leading up to that purchase, I was torn for the longest time on what prime to get as I wasn't sure if 1) I would buy more primes in the future and 2) if I would move to full frame down the line.

I think those are two important questions to ask yourself right now before you decide to drop money on primes. Primes will change their perspective dramatically on FF. Zooms are usually versatile enough that you won't feel confined by their range, even if you transition to FF (unless you buy FF incompatible EF-S zooms).

Currently I've transitioned to a nearly all-primes kit after moving to full frame. The only lenses I retained from my crop sensor days are my 50L and 70-200L IS II. I personally love the DOF control I have with primes, and I think more carefully about focal length choice and perspective with them, too. There's something about having a discrete lengths to choose from that makes me mentally assign "personalities" to my primes that I never really did to my zooms. Those characteristics didn't really emerge to me until I slowed down and changed lenses less often.

For packing small I still highly recommend bringing good zooms - I just don't pack small as much anymore! My back only complains sometimes.



Mar 21, 2013 at 07:46 PM
DavidP
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


If you don't want razor-thin DOF and don't shoot in caves, the zooms are best, IMO.

Until recently, I had both, because I often shot in 'caves". Now I don't do that so much, and the high ISO has gotten a lot better. Plus I hate razor-thin DOF for most things. So, zooms it is (for now).



Mar 22, 2013 at 12:51 AM
scottam10
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


A couple of things that strike me about your current setup

1. You're lacking wide angle. While the 24-105 is a great range on full-frame, I find that on a crop camera like the 40D it's just not wide enough (equivalent to 38mm on full frame)
- I would find this limiting.

Unfortunately there aren't too many wide primes available for crop. I'd recommend the 17-55 2.8 or the 15-85 (perhaps instead of the 24-105). If you want really wide, you can add the 10-22

2. f4 is limiting when you want low light / shallow DOF, as you have noticed
My choice would be the 35mm f/2 (or 30mm f/1.4) and the 85mm f/1.8
- if you're getting another 30mm, I wouldn't bother with a 50mm as I think it's too close to the 30mm, I reckon you'll appreciate something longer like the 85mm

While the 40mm pancake is tiny, it's only f/2.8, which isn't a lot faster than your zooms.

Hope this helps



Mar 22, 2013 at 01:05 AM
SBell
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


An alternate option to adding a 35 1.4 to your collection is to get something like a Fuji X100 or X100S. You get gorgeous f/2.0 prime quality, a second body, a very light walk around camera, and it's definitely a camera that can revive the pure joy of shooting if that's lagging for you at the moment.


Mar 22, 2013 at 01:31 AM
kezeka
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


I vote that you keep your current gear and pick up a 50 1.8. It is everything you are looking for - light weight, big open aperture, and small! Certainly a gem in the canon lineup, and cheap to boot.


Mar 22, 2013 at 07:03 AM
Breitling65
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


MintMar wrote:
This thread needs this poem:

My primes are fast while my zooms are not

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/23156102




I love it ^ Also I think primes in my bag are better option than zooms personally for myself, but I keep some zooms too



Mar 22, 2013 at 11:42 AM
jaybrams
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


As an inveterate trader/buyer/seller of lenses, I realized I spend too much time obsessing over equipment, not enough time taking pictures.

I think I've got it right - I now have four primes and 3 zooms....Actually, thats way to many.

What I try to do is have the "right" lens for the occasion. Sometimes, its a zoom, sometimes its a prime. Depending on what I'm going to shoot, and where will decide what I will carry that day. For an upcoming trip to Europe, I expect to take no more than one zoom, and a couple of low light primes.

There is no magic to the lens choice decision. They all take high quality images. Its more a choice of subject you will shoot combined with what you are willing to carry that day. If i do a lot of walking in a European city, you bet I will be carrying as a light a kit as possible that gives me low light capability for inside buildings, etc.

So, thats how i've come to approach it. I never could win my self argument until I started to think differently.



Mar 22, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Ben Horne
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


I have just three lenses, a wide angle zoom, a fixed 50mm in the middle, and a telephoto zoom. That's all I've found I need or want. Having a ton of lenses just complicates the matter, and makes it difficult to bring everything with you. You need to find a well balanced kit with both zooms and primes that fit your own personal needs. Very rarely are people served by having entirely zooms, or entirely primes.


Mar 22, 2013 at 02:48 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


I have what might be a slightly different approach - at least different from what Ben describes.

But first, I actually like his concept of simplicity a great deal, and the 50mm plus wide zoom plus telephoto zoom can cover a lot of ground. When I backpack I often do something like that, though I tend to use all zooms. (I may work with fewer lenses than Ben describes in some of these cases - as few as a single zoom occasionally.)

However, I have own more lenses than that because sometimes that isn't the ideal setup for certain situations or subjects. What I tend to do is select various subsets of the whole depending on what I'm shooting, how I'm shooting, and perhaps even practical matters including how much stuff I want to carry.

For example, when I shoot landscape and have access to a vehicle - though much of the shooting will be done while out and about on foot - and will be out long enough that I want to cover all of the bases, I might carry up to four zoom lenses covering 17mm to 400mm. Although I have some primes, in these cases there is very little advantage to using them, so I don't take them. Well, I usually don't take the whole kit, though if I'll be working very close to the vehicle and know I'll be on the road for a long time, I might. Cases in point... I spend the better part of October shooting in Utah last fall. On the first trip I travelled a lot by car and I carried everything with me for two weeks. On the second trip, three of us were jammed in one vehicle and we did a lot of hiking into slots and so forth, so I pared my kit down to three zooms.

But I shoot other subjects, too. I do some street photograph in combination with what might be termed "urban landscape." For this I may go out with as little as a body and a single prime... or I might augment this by carrying a couple additional primes... or I might us a single zoom. It all depends on circumstances, subjects, and how I intend to shoot. I also photograph musicians, often classical musicians and backstage. Since a lot of this is done in low light but close quarters, I frequently work with just a few large aperture primes.

I guess my points might include:

1. What you carry will vary a lot based on what and how you shoot.
2. The right lens(es) for one sort of subject might not be right for another.
3. Even if you have a lot of lenses, it is rare to want to carry all of them.
4. Related to this thread, sometimes you may want zooms and sometimes primes... and sometimes a combination.
5. There is not direct correlation between a preference for either zoom and primes and the quality of the work produced.

Dan

(BTW: Ben is certainly not the only landscape/nature photographer using a setup like the one he describes. He is in good company as a number of other quite good and well-known folks shooting such subjects rely on the wide zoom plus the telephoto zoom. One who I shoot with occasionally carries only the 17-40 and the f/4 70-200. Period.)

Edited on Mar 22, 2013 at 04:36 PM · View previous versions



Mar 22, 2013 at 04:33 PM
 

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Imagemaster
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


andyfs wrote:
I can't make up my mind! My current setup is a 40d with a 24-105L and a 70-200 F4L

I sold my sigma 30mm 1.4 which I loved, but I was drawn by the L glass. Now after about a year I'm getting really tired of the F4 and the size/weight of the 24-105, and I'm considering moving back to primes. Another 30mm 1.4 plus a canon/sigma 50 1.4. Seems about right, but I don't want to get tired of them in a year and want my L glass back. Don't have the money to keep the L and buy primes.
...Show more

I'm confused. Do you mean you would get rid of your two zooms and only have a 30mm & 50mm and not want anything longer than 50mm?

Your two zooms are neither large nor heavy when compared to Canon's BIG lenses.

Zooms are versatile, primes are not. One zoom is often lighter than two or more primes.



Mar 22, 2013 at 04:34 PM
brad_s
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


The answer is - from this point forward - not sell off any of your gear

You're frustrated because you've MOVED from primes to zooms but you should be just adding. Primes + Zooms. Macros + Telephotos. Flashes + Studio Strobes. Shoulder bags + Backpacks (then + roller bags).

I have lots of gear that I would consider selling but I don't because I know it will come in handy and I will regret letting it go. I pretty much only sell my gear if I get a direct replacement e.g. selling a MkII for a MkIII.



Mar 22, 2013 at 05:40 PM
kezeka
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


brad_s wrote:
The answer is - from this point forward - not sell off any of your gear

You're frustrated because you've MOVED from primes to zooms but you should be just adding. Primes + Zooms. Macros + Telephotos. Flashes + Studio Strobes. Shoulder bags + Backpacks (then + roller bags).

I have lots of gear that I would consider selling but I don't because I know it will come in handy and I will regret letting it go. I pretty much only sell my gear if I get a direct replacement e.g. selling a MkII for a MkIII.



I respectfully disagree. When I found myself frustrated with my 24-70 + 70-200 combo I sold off the 24-70 and replaced it with a 35L and was significantly happier with that lens for what I shoot. There are plenty of times where I just straight up have had lenses that I end up not liking and therefore having no great use for them an overwhelming amount of the time. Why not liquidate the stuff you aren't using and use the funds to pick up something that could potentially enable you to take better photos? To me, that sounds like a great way to save money in the long run. If you don't like the latest equipment that you bought, you can always put it up for sale and pick up something else until you find a lens that really gels with your shooting style. I personally don't like stuff laying around that I am not using and would rather pawn it all off and get something useful rather than keeping it around for some magical scenario that may never come. Thats why I no longer have a 14mm lens...



Mar 22, 2013 at 08:14 PM
kezeka
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


That said, in the OP's scenario, I still believe the right answer is to pick up a nifty fifty and have a field day with it for just $100.


Mar 22, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Yakim Peled
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


1. You're going from 24-200 range to 30-50 range or have I misread something?

2. This question really needs to be answered.

lucas lumiere wrote:
what do you like to photograph?


Happy shooting,
Yakim.



Mar 22, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Kisutch
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


My opinion, most photos are limited by content and composition rather than technical aspects of image quality. Further, few good photos would be bad photos if they lacked the shallow depth of field gained from going f/2.8 to f/1.4, or the other technical perks of a prime. On the flip side, things that are boring look kind of cool at f/2. That's my issue with primes, I get distracted taking shallow DOF photos that look cool, but aren't really that interesting. I tried out an 85L the other day and felt a strong urge to take f/1.2 shots of anything in sight. If I use a zoom stopped down to f/8, I'm more motivated to go capture a moment or find a unique composition. Maybe that's just me though.


Mar 23, 2013 at 01:06 AM
lucas lumiere
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


Kisutch wrote:
My opinion, most photos are limited by content and composition rather than technical aspects of image quality. Further, few good photos would be bad photos if they lacked the shallow depth of field gained from going f/2.8 to f/1.4, or the other technical perks of a prime...


I might look at it in a different way. You're right that a weak photo of an uninteresting subject, often gains little from better technical properties or shallower depth of field. But I would argue that a well composed image of an interesting subject, can be elevated from good to great if shot at 1.2 vs. 2.8. Zooms have their advantages, such as the possibility for tighter framing and composition, but I think the drawing style and shallow depth of field of certain lenses is something that can really make your work stand out.



Mar 23, 2013 at 02:30 AM
lucas lumiere
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p.2 #18 · p.2 #18 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


I think the OP is M.I.A.


Mar 23, 2013 at 02:33 AM
anscochrome
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p.2 #19 · p.2 #19 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


The 40mm f 2.8 pancake is one excellent lens. yes , it is 64mm equiv on a crop. But considering 58mm lenses on a full frame not so terrible. Great lens. Try it and see how it works. Works great on crop and full frame for me )full frame, near ultimate normal lens, on crop works ok as long normal lens.



Mar 23, 2013 at 04:12 AM
bambi73
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p.2 #20 · p.2 #20 · Frustrated... Primes vs zooms


OP - I know your feeling.

i have only primes now.

i use the 35L and the 85 1.8 for my family, school events, street photography etc.
these lenses are great, i dont feel im missing something, and i really enjoy taking photos with them.

the problems is when im hiking with my son.
usually i take my 35L + 17mm 3.5 (old tokina), or my 24mm + 85mm.
but sometimes its not easy to switch lens, and i feel that i need a decent zoom.
so for 6 months im thinking about the 17-40L
THE problem: according to the reviews, the 35l is much better than the 17-40, and i really like to take some photos of my son at f2.
SO if i will take the 17-40, instead of the 35L, I will always think "mmm...i could get a better photo of my son with the 35L".

talking about Frustration....





Mar 23, 2013 at 03:01 PM
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