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07-30-2012, 07:54 PM   #16
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I don't see the point of primes,




apart from them being faster, sharper, smaller and lighter

07-30-2012, 07:56 PM   #17
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If I'm going someplace I've never shot before, I carry a zoom. Usually a 17-70. If I think I might need something longer I'll take a 100-300 also. I'll generally hand hold all my shots and usually won't even bring a tripod on these shoots. With a zoom I'm basically getting "grab shots" and I can shoot hundreds of shots in a session.

As I tend to return over and over to places I've shot, I'll carry one or two primes and no zoom once I know the location well. I'll leave one mounted on the camera and look for shots that exploit it's strengths. After I go through with the first then I'll mount the second and look for shots to go with it. It's a much different experience than shooting with a zoom. It's slower and relaxing. I use manual focus primes so that slows it down even more. You get your mind into a zone where you're only seeing with the focal length you're using. You don't "miss" anything because you're not looking for anything else to begin with. I'll also use a tripod because I'm setting up the shot and taking my time. With a prime I'll shoot much fewer shots per session. It's almost like shooting medium format film with a TLR again.
07-30-2012, 07:57 PM   #18
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I use prime lenses for two reasons: flexibility and performance. I know flexibility is associated to zooms, but while zooms offer flexibility around the choice of focal length, prime lenses offer flexibility around choice of aperture. And when it comes to performance, few zooms can match a high quality prime lens in terms of sharpness and rendering of out of focus areas.

Prime lenses have one more advantage - they get you to think in terms of focal lengths and you get the experience of which focal length might work better for a scene. Users of a zoom will usually be too lazy to move around and try a different perspective with a different focal length - instead of using a zoom as a collection of focal lengths, they will use it as a way to avoid moving around. That will make them waste the principal advantage of a zoom lens.

I described here how I used a prime lens exclusively - you can find an entire set taken with one prime lens. A normal lens works best as a generic lens. I used the FA 31 with Pentax cameras and now I use the Nokton 25mm with Olympus. For one day trips, if I know what I am trying to do, I'll pick the focal length most suited for the task. For example, for the past weekends, I've been photographing cars - a 35mm equivalent is what I am using and it feels perfect in terms of working distance. Sometimes, I wish for a longer or wider lens, but overall, I prefer the flexibility I get from a prime lens to that offered by a zoom lens.

Here are some samples from the set linked above:



Zoom by crop is possible if the lens is sharp:





Zoom by feet works too - I went down to the rock ledge pictured above:



Can do portraiture:



Close up:



Landscape:



Low light:





One more close-up:



It is only when a certain perspective is vital for the composition that you *need* a focal length. You might also need a focal length when the perspective does not matter and could not be changed anyway. These are very valid reasons, but they are not critical for my photography, so I am happier with a prime lens. Everyone needs to evaluate their needs and then pick the equipment that best solves those needs.
07-30-2012, 08:00 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by post_eos Quote
If I'm going someplace I've never shot before, I carry a zoom. Usually a 17-70. If I think I might need something longer I'll take a 100-300 also. I'll generally hand hold all my shots and usually won't even bring a tripod on these shoots. With a zoom I'm basically getting "grab shots" and I can shoot hundreds of shots in a session.

As I tend to return over and over to places I've shot, I'll carry one or two primes and no zoom once I know the location well. I'll leave one mounted on the camera and look for shots that exploit it's strengths. After I go through with the first then I'll mount the second and look for shots to go with it. It's a much different experience than shooting with a zoom. It's slower and relaxing. I use manual focus primes so that slows it down even more. You get your mind into a zone where you're only seeing with the focal length you're using. You don't "miss" anything because you're not looking for anything else to begin with. I'll also use a tripod because I'm setting up the shot and taking my time. With a prime I'll shoot much fewer shots per session. It's almost like shooting medium format film with a TLR again.
This is very valuable. Great post.

It really gets to the heart of what I was trying to figure out. I am an on the go kind of guy... I like being in places I never have been in and seeing what I've never seen and so forth...

But the concept and theory behind what you just said makes a world of sense.

07-30-2012, 08:02 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
I don't see the point of primes,




apart from them being faster, sharper, smaller and lighter

I am getting there. I am just starting out. I am working on my skills as a photographer. I want to be the guy who knows what he is doing, not just the guy who owns a bunch of gear but can't shoot a quality photograph to save his life.
07-30-2012, 08:05 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
I never heard the term "T-stop" before. What does that mean 'officially'...
A good explanation can be found here: F-number - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

QuoteQuote:
A real lens set to a particular T-stop will, by definition, transmit the same amount of light as an ideal lens with 100% transmission at the corresponding f-stop.
Wikipedia has pretty good pages on most technical aspects of photography.
07-30-2012, 08:16 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
I use prime lenses for two reasons: flexibility and performance. I know flexibility is associated to zooms, but while zooms offer flexibility around the choice of focal length, prime lenses offer flexibility around choice of aperture. And when it comes to performance, few zooms can match a high quality prime lens in terms of sharpness and rendering of out of focus areas.

Prime lenses have one more advantage - they get you to think in terms of focal lengths and you get the experience of which focal length might work better for a scene. Users of a zoom will usually be too lazy to move around and try a different perspective with a different focal length - instead of using a zoom as a collection of focal lengths, they will use it as a way to avoid moving around. That will make them waste the principal advantage of a zoom lens.

It is only when a certain perspective is vital for the composition that you *need* a focal length. You might also need a focal length when the perspective does not matter and could not be changed anyway. These are very valid reasons, but they are not critical for my photography, so I am happier with a prime lens. Everyone needs to evaluate their needs and then pick the equipment that best solves those needs.
That's just it...for me I am intentionally trying proactively to NOT be a lazy shooter.

I am looking at photography through the mindset of my travels. Romping through the back streets of Bogota or crusing around villages in Africa is a a non stop movement. Its fluid.

The concepts presented above though about slowing down and geting 'in the zone' in a familiar work area---there is something to that for sure.

I would love to have the sharpness of the best primes on the planet, but with my latter scenario of fluidly moving through areas seems like zooms would be more suited (just so long as I am not a lazy shooter)...

I still want to put thought into my pictures. I don't want to be a spray and pray kind of guy. I still want to be able to think out my shots.

I might end up with two rigs...a prime line up and a zoom line up. I want to make the best of my new interest... I don't want to be stuck in a one track rut. That whole slowing down and thinking through and using the right lens thing has a lot to it.

I probably still would find myself swapping lenses all the time but it wouldn't be without purpose....
07-30-2012, 08:19 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
1. Why do you like prime lenses (in general).
I like the combination of smaller size and superior image quality.

A small zoom like the DA 18-55 has iffy IQ.

Zooms with really good IQ tend to be big
(although maybe the Limited zoom in the Pentax roadmap will be different).


QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
2. Describe your 'style' of how you use prime lenses? Are you primarily doing studio shots or staged pre-organized shots or whatever?
For casual, walkabout photography, I just have one prime lens on one camera, nothing else.

For serious photography, I use two bodies, with primes of different lengths on each.
Mostly a 24mm on one, and a 50mm on another.

07-30-2012, 08:20 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote

Wikipedia has pretty good pages on most technical aspects of photography.
I have been reading so much stuff its just ridiculous. Sometimes though I just stumble across things that are interesting and of value...kinda by accident.
07-30-2012, 08:33 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
For serious photography, I use two bodies, with primes of different lengths on each.
Mostly a 24mm on one, and a 50mm on another.
I am thinking that a second K-5 body will be in the works. It will be good for primes or zooms. It will make my 'street photography' down in some out of the way places move quicker...but it will also allow me diversity if I chose to use primes as well.

The second body might be a great idea at some point in the future. I might have to think it through and create two packs. One for one thing and one for the other.

Really though in some places I go you might only get one shot at it. Its better to have something than nothing. If you are walking around some parts of hustle and bustle in Somalia 'slow and thoughtful' might not be the best idea. More like keep from getting shot or mugged--and don't get too cute.

If I spend a month in Paris or something that's entirely different. Then I could definitely appreciate the slow relaxation of that style of photography.

After some of the comments here I can see the value in both set ups. Second body... real possibility. A line up of good primes... another real possiblity. I never thought about the slow relaxation part of photography to be honest.

That is definitely something to explore.

I just need $20,000 bucks.

Last edited by alamo5000; 07-30-2012 at 08:39 PM.
07-30-2012, 09:39 PM   #26
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I was first attracted to using primes in low light. A 50mm f1.4 is four stops better than the kit lens. With my first DSLR, that was the same as going from the minimum ISO to the maximum, the ISO that no one used except when they were really desperate.

After acquiring a few, I had to learn how to use them effectively. They were/are a mix of screwmount, K, M, A and F lenses, and I had to get used to operating differences as well as focal lengths. Prime lenses have a learning curve, not that hard, and at the end of it you just know you need 24mm here or 85mm there.

I did this in a very disorganized way and it still worked out. I think I've owned at least a dozen different 28mm primes, for example of something not to do. One prime at a time would have been better. Don't get overwhelmed and assume you will not be any good without a complete set of DA and FA limiteds. Buying them all tomorrow be expensive and possibly harder to learn multiple lenses at once.

I never worried about switching lenses except at the beach. Part of that is some practice at doing it without dropping anything, part of it is thinking ahead to the next shot.

Mostly, I am not good enough for the image quality difference over a zoom to matter a lot. But often I need something that my or any zooms can't do. I do rely on them where they are better: where you don't know much about the potential shots, broad coverage of a range quickly, etc. The DA 10-17 fisheye zoom is a great example of a zoom that does so much that primes can't.

Size and weight can be important too. My camera never feels like a P&S but it's definitely more portable with the F 28mm f2.8 than the DA 16-45 f4. Maybe I have the F 50mm f1.7 in a pocket too.
07-30-2012, 09:40 PM   #27
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Primes are something that I love using. I learned on a prime setup using m 28mm 2.8, 50mm 1.7, and a 200mm 4. All of which I still have today, in fact I got doubles of the 28 and 200. Still want all 4 versions of the 50... I only need the 1.4 and the macro!

Theres something primal about using prime manual focus lenses. They really make you think when you take the photo and to me...they help you "create" the photograph instead of just taking one. Sure you are limited in your focal length, but you got more control over depth of field, which can really help make your subject pop.

Primes usually have a few advantages. they generally have better optical qualities for sharpness, color rendering, and contrast. They also are lighter, usually smaller, and have a wider max aperture (usually). All things that I cherish.

Depending on what I'm doing I will usually take the following kits:

DA 40mm 2.8, FA 77mm 1.8, M 28mm 2.8, M 50mm 1.7

or

DA*16-50mm, and FA 77mm 1.8

The idea behind using the primes is learning the lens. learning its weakness, its advantages, and then utilizing those to get your shot. I find I look at the scene and plan the shot differently depending on the lens I have on the camera. I move around differently, and I plan my shot differently. I also find I can be quicker on the action with my prime. Less to worry about I guess.

Zooms I do find more limiting. I don't know why. I actually even find that I usually am around full lock either out or in depending on the scene and then move my body about to frame the shot. This effectively makes the lens a 2 FL prime for me.

What I recommend, and this goes for prime or zoom users, is to take a week/month and only use one zoom. I recall going on a cruise, and the only lens I took with me was my DA 40mm 2.8. I then went on a nature hike and only took my DA 10-17. I now know these lenses better. I know their advantages, their weaknesses, and what they are capable of. I've done this with every lens I own aside from my Tamron 90mm di macro.

Once you know each lenses strength and weaknesses you will know what lens is suited for which situation best and you won't be trying to figure out how to make it work. Sure there are times when I'm out and about with my FA 77mm 1.8 and wish I had my DA 40mm with me. But I figure out a way to make it work.

One thing that really helped me with my prime lenses use and how to choose the best one for the situation was to take a Zoom and learn how focal length affects not only your subject, but how it affects the background.

Take a 18-55 kit zoom for example. Find a place where you can move around a bit and where your scenery includes distance markers... lamp posts on a path for example. Place a buddy in the path. Now take a photo at 18mm and then another at 55mm. But move your body to keep your friend at the same magnification in the image. Watch how the scenery changes around you. this is very cool trick and is very usable in day to day photography. you may just find yourself using zooms more often because of it however...
07-30-2012, 11:34 PM   #28
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One thing I do enjoy using primes isn't so much to learn about using a particular lens, but how to compose using general "wide", "normal", and "tele" ends.

I love carrying my DA70 around because it's such a light, small yet sharp lens. It makes you think differently when you shoot people compared to using a wide, because you get compression effects which has it's strengths and weaknesses (relation of people/objects and their surroundings). I carry an iPhone4 in my pocket, and it is pretty good at capturing wide-ish angle shots (so long as you are photographing for fun and not for a paid assignment )

I personally think it takes time to acclimatize when I change focal lengths/switch lenses. Especially during travel, if you are constantly swapping lenses, you don't push yourself creatively and end up with touristy shots because experience has taught you things like... big building -> use wide angle lens. something far away -> use telephoto.

As they say, less is more!
07-31-2012, 04:04 AM   #29
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The "Single In" challenge is a great way to get acquainted with a lens. Choose one of your primes and start tomorrow:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/mini-challenges-games-photo-stories/19430...st-2012-a.html
07-31-2012, 04:24 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
I am studying so much about composition and artistic value of images and what makes some images better than others...That is the 'know how stuff' you can't buy right there and to be honest a lot of the reason I got into photography.

I do not see myself as a super creative artsy person, but I want to learn more about that and develop my eye for those kinds of things.
Being creative comes naturally to some people. However, up to a point, it can be learned.

Here is what I have done: go to the library and check out some photo books, things like TIME-LIFE, Nat Geographic photo books etc. I am talking about books that simply have photos in them and nothing else. Flip through the books and place a removable sticky on those pages that contain pictures you really admire. The ones you wish you had taken/could take. Then go over them one by one. Ask yourself:
-Why do I like this image?
-Is it the color, the sharpness, the bokeh, the vantage point etc.
Remember! Just go with what your personally like. Not what you think people in general would consider artistic. Then try to take similar pics. This can really help.

Of course, this is assuming, your have a basic idea of iso, aperture and shutter speed to get the exposure of your choice. If not, read this book first:
Amazon.com: Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (9780817439392): Bryan Peterson: Books

As someone else said, taking part in the 'single in [month] monthly challenges can really help as you have to post a picture-a-day for that month with a single lens of your choice. Shooting when you have to post daily for 30 days and getting feedback is a great way to learn...
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