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01-16-2008, 05:17 PM   #1
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Prime/Zoom debate and Nikon

I know this has been debated ad nauseum, but I have an observation and a question. I was on the Nikon site (because I do landscapes, nature and travel and such, was looking for what Thomas Mangelsen carried in his bag), and looking through their extensive list of "Pros," all of the landscape/nature photogs carried zooms in their bags, not primes (exception being long glass for wildlife). Questions: Is the zoom/prime difference overhyped? Why are zooms good enough for published pros, but not many Pentax board users (I'm not trying to be sarcastic here, and not necessarily talking about this board specifically). Is it because Nikon can't match Pentax's primes? Are differences only noticeable when peeping? I'm no veteran with this, so I'm just curious. I thought the "super-serious professionals" would use primes (I realize super-super-serious landscape photogs use MF or LF), but was surprised that pro after pro on Nikon's site had basic 2-3 lens zoom kits.

Is there a simple explanation I'm missing?

Todd

01-16-2008, 05:22 PM   #2
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imo Nikon primes are not fast, aperture wise, most are f2.8 (the usual 35,50 and 85 not included), and the zooms are also f2.8, so not much speed advantage. Also some of the nikon zooms tested extremely well for sharpness, I remember, I think the 28-70 zoom at photozone scored extreme numbers and better than the primes I saw. Add to that the zoom convenience and then no reason to go prime.

Primes have more potential than zooms imo. that doesnt mean every prime is better than every zoom. Pros tend to like zoom lenses because they are fast (in terms of not having to swap lenses).
01-16-2008, 06:06 PM   #3
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I don't have any Nikon primes, just zooms, the 35-70 f2.8 and the 70-210 F2.8. The quality of these two lenses are fantastic.
I recently bought, same time as my 77 ltd, the Nilon 18-70 and i am very suprised, and happy, of the clarity and low light capabilities of this lens.

Hope that helps in another pointless Nikon Pentax debate.

Its what you want from the equipment.

Dave
01-16-2008, 06:19 PM   #4
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I think it's just a "lens culture" difference. Nikon (and Canon, Olympus, Sony, etc) seems to put a lot more emphasis on zoom development, and Pentax has received a lot of acclaim for its primes. The superior backwards compatibility of Pentax DSLR's means that there is an entire universe of lenses available, where that is not necessarily the case for the others. The only other system that beats Pentax for prime lens fanaticiscm is probably Leica, and they have us beat by a mile.

01-16-2008, 06:27 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by gnaztee Quote
I know this has been debated ad nauseum, but I have an observation and a question. I was on the Nikon site (because I do landscapes, nature and travel and such, was looking for what Thomas Mangelsen carried in his bag), and looking through their extensive list of "Pros," all of the landscape/nature photogs carried zooms in their bags, not primes (exception being long glass for wildlife). Questions: Is the zoom/prime difference overhyped? Why are zooms good enough for published pros, but not many Pentax board users (I'm not trying to be sarcastic here, and not necessarily talking about this board specifically). Is it because Nikon can't match Pentax's primes? Are differences only noticeable when peeping? I'm no veteran with this, so I'm just curious. I thought the "super-serious professionals" would use primes (I realize super-super-serious landscape photogs use MF or LF), but was surprised that pro after pro on Nikon's site had basic 2-3 lens zoom kits.

Is there a simple explanation I'm missing?

Todd
As a long time Pentax user, the reason is really simple, because Pentax haven't made much progress on zooms. In the last 2 decades, Canon & Nikon have been pumping out many high quality zooms while Pentax have been busy on consumer zooms. There were a few good zooms from Pentax, but the most recent ones like FA*28-70/2.8 & FA*80-200/2.8 were priced too high back then when compared to C/N. So the Pentax users have been left with a whole bunch of low quality zooms, 2 very expensive zooms, and some affordable primes. Even today, the introduction of the DA* zooms have received mixed opinions, and the AF performance remains an area Pentax seem to miss time and again, even now.
01-16-2008, 06:47 PM   #6
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While I believe (emphasis intended) that my primes (DA Limited trio, FA 35, FA 50/1.4, A* 85/1.4, DFA 100) produce printed images that have something indefinable my zooms (DA 10-17, DA 16-45, DA 50-200, DA 18-250) can't quite produce, I'd hate for that belief to be put to the test.

Frankly, the biggest advantage I realize from my primes comes from the fact that they are small (A* 85 is an exception), fast optically and autofocus rapidly (DFA 100 can be an exception).

If anyone (Pentax, Nikon or Canon) figures out a way to use rubber lenses, force fields, magic or new age philosophy to make fast, genuinely small zooms - I'll be in line to buy into that system.

Jer
01-16-2008, 08:09 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Good replies, all, and thanks. I wasn't trying to start any debate, and I'm not fishing for Nikon info, I was just genuinely curious. I use zooms as they fit my style, but I hate that nagging voice in the back of my head that I could possibly have better IQ if I went to primes. Anyway, the combo of your responses help clear things up a bit!

Todd
01-16-2008, 08:38 PM   #8
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Hopefully Pentax will come out with a DA* version of the 12-24 for landscapers. As good as the DA is, the Sigma version seems to have it trumped both in CA and distortion, if i recall its quite a popular lens among the pro nikon users for landscape as well (probably because its a FF lens meaning full compatabilty with their pro model D3). But as Finn stated quite correctly Pentax are more known among other camps for the quality of their primes. The forthcoming zoom roadmap seems to be improving. I dont think Pentax are too far off in the IQ if the recent DA*'s are anthing to go by.

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