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05-26-2011, 09:28 AM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
"Back in the day" I used to have a Tamron 28-75 mounted on Canon 20D. What I found over time was that the majority of my shots lived in the 33-50mm range.
This is a great point and something that I hope to work on over time to assemble a prime collection. I wonder if there are any photo management tools that are able to compile a database of EXIF information. It would be awesome if you could pull out a histogram of focal lengths from that database and use that information to drive my prime purchasing strategy.

05-26-2011, 12:00 PM   #32
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Just about any photo management tool can help you get a handle on what focal lengths you use - just list your shots sorted by focal length and start browsing. Or if you're rather see a chart, there is "ExplosurePlot".
05-26-2011, 12:03 PM   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by thethirdcoast Quote
This is a great point and something that I hope to work on over time to assemble a prime collection. I wonder if there are any photo management tools that are able to compile a database of EXIF information. It would be awesome if you could pull out a histogram of focal lengths from that database and use that information to drive my prime purchasing strategy.

There is an app that does that, I forget what it is called

maybe the one marc mentions above
05-26-2011, 12:09 PM   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Yes we all mis shots. The reason is we don't practice enough on how to make due. Even if you really wanted a 15mm I am sure there is a way to take a shot with a 70mm. It is not the same shot, but we all should be able to do something in a situation with any lens we have, we are, after all, supposed to be photographers
Yes, that's an important point as well. if you're accustomed to using zooms, you probably won't be very "good" at using primes at first. You'll think about changing lenses to get a shot from the spot you happen to be already standing, rather than thinking about changing position first to get the best possible *perspective* on the shot, and then worrying about what FOV might frame it best from that position and changing lenses if necessary. Of course, zooms don't *prevent* you from changing position, but they don't encourage it either, so a lot of people just don't think way when first trying out primes. So they spend more time changing lenses and less time changing position than those of us who are accustomed to shooting primes.

The other thing that happens when you think in terms of zooming from a fixed position is that that you think in terms of using lots of different focal lengths, and imagine you'd need a whole slew of primes to give you the same flexibility. Whereas if you're in the habit of changing position to optimize your shot, you'll probably find you need fewer focal lengths than you think. Something wide, something normal, something telephoto. Maybe two different wides or two different telephotos, depending on how you like to see things.

The other practical thing that happens if you are shooting primes rather than zoom is that you start to "see" in terms of that focal length and discover shots you probably would have been oblivious to otherwise. That is, walking around looking at the world thinking "what do I see that would look interesting if cropped to the FOV of a 70mm lens" results in you taking shots you'd almost certainly never have noticed if you weren't specifically looking for shots you could take with that FOV. Again, zooms don't prevent this, but they don't encourage it, either.

05-26-2011, 12:14 PM   #35
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I agree with most of your points in this thread Marc!
05-26-2011, 10:48 PM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I know this is a very old debate, and I have no interest in changing anyone's mind here, but I've never really understood this line of thought. I mean, there are zillions of shots every day that we miss because we aren't there, we don't have our camera with us, we aren't looking in the right direction, we are focused on something closer or further away, we are engaged in conversation, etc. Because of factors like these, we miss *far* more shots than we ever think of taking. Which is fine, because I have more pictures than I know what to do with as it is. It's not like another photo-worthy scene won't present itself soon enough. Besides, how many scenes are really *that* fleeting that we can't change lenses, or that specific in nature that they can't be shot effectively with a different focal from the one we might have chosen first?

So I find it hard to get too worked up about some random scene that I failed to get as good a picture of as I could have because I had the "wrong" lens on and the scene was gone before I could change. Sheesh, what if I had stopped to tie my shoelace a minute before; then I'd have missed the scene entirely!
But not all great scenes are random. And some absolutely demand to be shot at a specific focal length, and if one has to stop to change lenses, it can be a real bother, even if the shot is polite enough to wait for you to do so. And how often does it happen that the next great scene requires a different focal length, necessitating another lens change?

I have done it both ways, and I love my Limiteds, but I think that it is unarguable that zooms do serve a useful purpose. Not to mention the fact that some zooms provide IQ that is close to that of good primes and certainly more than adequate for most photographic purposes.

Rob
05-27-2011, 07:48 AM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgo2 Quote
But not all great scenes are random. And some absolutely demand to be shot at a specific focal length, and if one has to stop to change lenses, it can be a real bother, even if the shot is polite enough to wait for you to do so. And how often does it happen that the next great scene requires a different focal length, necessitating another lens change?
if the "great scene" demands to be shot from one specific place with one specific lens, then it is probably so photographed that you are only repeating a very unorigonal shot. while I am sure when you visit such a place you may take that shot, and others would ask where is that shot if you don't, surely there are other ways to take a shot that you can't purchase on a postcard.
QuoteQuote:
I have done it both ways, and I love my Limiteds, but I think that it is unarguable that zooms do serve a useful purpose. Not to mention the fact that some zooms provide IQ that is close to that of good primes and certainly more than adequate for most photographic purposes.
Rob
I too have done it both ways, and agree that modern zooms are quite good, especially if you get quality lenses, but I find also that zooms make me lazy, both physically and mentally. You have a tendancy to stop, and frame with the zoom, to take a shot, and then move on, as opposed to moving around for a better angle, different framing or thinking first how do I want to take this shot with what is on my camera. for me, and I an sure others as well, I use zooms when I fit my hobby into another's time table, because I do not want to impose delays for my hobby on them, but when on my timetable, I love to shoot primes, and look at how to take a shot with perhaps a lens that is not really "optimum" for that shot. it trains you to see, in a different focal length
05-27-2011, 09:32 AM   #38
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QuoteQuote:
I use zooms when I fit my hobby into another's time table, because I do not want to impose delays for my hobby on them, but when on my timetable, I love to shoot primes, and look at how to take a shot with perhaps a lens that is not really "optimum" for that shot. it trains you to see, in a different focal length
I agree completely. Much of my photography is done while traveling with my wife at my side. Frequent changing of lenses, let alone setting up a tripod, would endanger my marriage. Zooms are a godsend at such times.

I love my prime lenses, and I even enjoy single lens shooting, but I cannot deny the limitations inherent in that method. Life is full of tradeoffs, and zooms vs. primes is one of them.

Rob

05-27-2011, 09:42 AM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I too have done it both ways, and agree that modern zooms are quite good, especially if you get quality lenses, but I find also that zooms make me lazy, both physically and mentally.
I completely agree. I would also note that for most of photographic history, zooms either didn't exist, or sucked beyond all reasonable tolerance, and good photographs are not a recent phenomenon.

Zooms are very... pragmatic, and they have improved much over the intervening decades. If I were a wedding photographer, I would use zooms. When I'm taking family snapshots at the reunion, I use a zoom - I'm all about documenting, not creating. Record the events... If I were a news photographer - zooms.

But as an enthusiast, where my goal is to create memorable images, even aspiring to beautiful and artistic ones, "pragmatism" isn't central to my goals. Art isn't pragmatic.

And before anyone gets the wrong idea, I'm not saying zooms cannot create art, or beautiful images. I'm agreeing that they make *me* lazy, and aren't really appropriate for *my* goals. The pragmatism takes over, and a portion of my brain that's normally engaged in creating the photographs disengages because it doesn't feel 'needed'.
05-27-2011, 11:15 AM   #40
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ooms are very handy with sports, or if you are at an event and shooting lot of people. I use them there (also with my kids). And for wildlife photographers zooms can be handy.
But apart from that, I would also say primes are the go. Also for the reason that you will learn to look like the lens, and therefore will get a lot more good shots, as anything that does not fit the lens, you won't see anyway. And you will learn to work around any weakness your lens has. With zooms it is more difficult, as every focal lenght will have it own weakness.
Zooms do make you lazy, instead of looking at a photo opurtunity, you will just zoom and 'hope' there is a good opurtunity. I mostly have a 50mm on my film camera, with a 20 and 135 as backup for those situations I do want to change a lens, which only happens 5% of the shots.
05-27-2011, 12:06 PM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgo2 Quote
But not all great scenes are random.
To the extent that's true, it's then also possible to be prepared by being in the right position and having the right lens mounted. That's actually one of *my* points (although I don't think I had made it explicitly here).

QuoteQuote:
And some absolutely demand to be shot at a specific focal length
"Some"? Can we quantify this? And "demand"? What are the consequences if this demand isn't met?

QuoteQuote:
and if one has to stop to change lenses, it can be a real bother
If you're the type of person who goes in with the attitude that changing lenses is a bother, yes. If it's just part of the process, it is no bother at all - it's just something you weigh against how important it was to get the shot in the first place. Which gets back to my basic point. I missed literally *trillions* of shots yesterday: 3 per second from every location on this planet where I was not currently standing and direction I wasn't looking. Who cares if I "miss" one more? Especially if having a prime mounted and therefore "thinking" in that focal length caused me to notice a scene I might otherwise have missed?

QuoteQuote:
And how often does it happen that the next great scene requires a different focal length, necessitating another lens change?
Depends on what you are doing and what in your mind constitutes a great scene. The idea of just walking along taking pictures of everything that interests me from the spot where I am standing seems at odds with the idea of a "great" shot that "demands" a change in focal length but will gladly settle for being taken from the spot where I am standing.

QuoteQuote:
I have done it both ways, and I love my Limiteds, but I think that it is unarguable that zooms do serve a useful purpose.
Oh, no doubt about that. I just don't think this fear of "missing" shots really holds that much water when you really look at it.
05-27-2011, 01:17 PM   #42
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I only own primes, but to get the benefits zoom users enjoy, I use multiple bodies.

This gives me the best of both worlds.
05-27-2011, 01:24 PM   #43
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Quite a good discussion for this old topic, and civil, i won't complain about that.

I started with a zoom, and now have zooms and primes, and use both quite often.

Because of the wide-ranging discussion, i won't be repetitious and only add one area of discussion. primes are usually much less intrusive for event and street type shooting. If you uncoil a Tamron 18-250 to 135mm focal length, (i measured this one time but don't have the numbers with me), its like 10 or 12 inches in length-anyway its large. On the other hand, a M 135mm pentax prime lens will fit comfortably within your fist. I really like my DA-21, because i can be taking someone's picture without even pointing the camera at them. Light and comfortable.

One of my priorities in a group of people is not to use my camera in such a way that i distract from the event. For me, a less impacting camera is one with smaller lenses, a relatively quiet shutter, and not using a flash at someone's piano recital. Obviously, at a sports event such as a football stadium, noone cares and its all about getting the pics. But at other events, it can matter. YMMV,
05-27-2011, 01:39 PM   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
To the extent that's true, it's then also possible to be prepared by being in the right position and having the right lens mounted. That's actually one of *my* points (although I don't think I had made it explicitly here).



"Some"? Can we quantify this? And "demand"? What are the consequences if this demand isn't met?



If you're the type of person who goes in with the attitude that changing lenses is a bother, yes. If it's just part of the process, it is no bother at all - it's just something you weigh against how important it was to get the shot in the first place. Which gets back to my basic point. I missed literally *trillions* of shots yesterday: 3 per second from every location on this planet where I was not currently standing and direction I wasn't looking. Who cares if I "miss" one more? Especially if having a prime mounted and therefore "thinking" in that focal length caused me to notice a scene I might otherwise have missed?



Depends on what you are doing and what in your mind constitutes a great scene. The idea of just walking along taking pictures of everything that interests me from the spot where I am standing seems at odds with the idea of a "great" shot that "demands" a change in focal length but will gladly settle for being taken from the spot where I am standing.



Oh, no doubt about that. I just don't think this fear of "missing" shots really holds that much water when you really look at it.
Marc,

I really think that you need to be less dogmatic about zoom lenses. Below is a case in point. I was visiting Monument Valley last week, driving the 17 mile loop, when an amazing scene appeared before my eyes. I slammed on the brakes, leapt from my car and began shooting fast and furiously with my K-7 and DA*16-50, because the light was changing from second to second. I managed to get off about 6 shots, before the sun had moved on and the shot was lost forever.

This particular photo was taken at a focal length of 45mm, and I have cropped it slightly at the top and the bottom. If, by chance, I had had a 77mm or a 15mm lens mounted on my camera at the time, I would never have been able to change lenses and get the image that I got. I am very happy with it, and I plan to print it at 21 inches across and mount it on my wall. You may say that I could have taken a different image using whatever lens was already mounted or simply accepted missing out on this one, but in either case, I think it would have been a great loss. Moreover, I have no problem with the IQ that the DA*16-50 delivered. So it is not simply a matter of being mentally lazy or unprepared. It is a matter of getting a shot by any means possible. Zoom lenses can sometimes be very useful in this regard.

Rob



Last edited by robgo2; 05-27-2011 at 06:02 PM.
05-27-2011, 03:57 PM   #45
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Zooms are just too big for me. Size is the main reason I chose Pentax over other brands. I am sure the Canikon offerings in bodies have more features than my K-r, but you don't get those tiny Pentax primes, you just your average big, bulky dslr, which 80% of users just use one lens with. If I didn't want to change lenses, i'd probably not be getting a dslr in the first place.
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