Lessons Learned from 3 Fast Prime Lenses: 35mm, 50mm, 85mm f/1.4

How these primes have made me a better photographer

By mhsp1948 in Columns on Aug 19, 2020

I love photography; it is a wonderful hobby and lots of fun. I like shooting landscapes, cityscapes, street photography, portraits, walkarounds, travel photography and close-ups on flowers. On occasion I shoot sports and wildlife with my 200mm, 300mm primes and my 150-450mm zoom on my Pentax KP, but this article is about the three fast prime lenses that made a difference in my photography. They have made me a better photographer causing me to use even better composition skills when shooting with my zoom lenses. I will tell you which is my favorite prime focal length towards the end of this article.

Three fast prime lenses are as follows: the Samyang 35mm f/1.4, the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm f/1.4 and the Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 and these meet the needs I have in the above-mentioned areas of photography.  When using a Pentax K-1 or K-1 Mark II in manual mode and manually focusing (focus assist) with a prime lens tends to slow me down, and that’s a good thing! It causes me to think about, as well as evaluate, what I want to photograph and from where I want to take the photo. It makes me take the time to compose a good shot. It allows me to be and feel creative, and it  causes me to think about the scene. It keeps me from being bored or lazy as sometimes can happen with a point and shoot or zoom lenses. It makes me move instead of shooting a series of photos from one spot all with the same angle. That is what a prime lens can do for the photographer. It adds elements of composition that, without moving around, I might never have realized. Prime lenses cause the photographer to begin to compose the scene and take fantastic shots. Prime lenses tend to be very sharp from corner to corner, and they have excellent bokeh and clarity and can be very fast lenses. Sometimes f/2.8 on a premium zoom lens is not fast enough and I would like f/1.4,  and my prime lenses deliver.   This gives me a lot of latitude in how, when, and what I can photograph.

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