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04-26-2013, 04:49 PM - 2 Likes   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eric Seavey Quote
However, one thing I also noticed, now that I have been using this set for almost a year, is that I am now able to pick the correct lens and focal length easily for framing what I want to shoot. With the sigma zoom, I wasn't very aware about what focal length I was zooming to, I just zoomed. I feel using this set of primes helped my skills as a photographer, mainly in terms of increasing my awareness of framing and focal lengths....
I am 28 years old. I took an intro to B&W film photography class about ten years ago with my dad's old Minolta XD 11 and his three prime lenses. Shortly thereafter I bought a Pentax *ist DS and took an intro to digital photography class. I haven't gone back to film since.
I feel I learned far more starting out with primes, an aperture ring, and a shutter speed dial than I ever could have if I started out with digital. Having such things MAKES you learn your equipment and what to do in certain situations.
My problem with zooms is I feel dumbed down. Same thing with choosing shutter speed and aperature digitally. I don't get to see every possible step when selecting digitally the way you can with manual controls. So even now, with my K-5 IIs, I can't tell you every step in shutter speed or aperature selectable until I dial it to there.
That is one of the things I covet from newer "old school" digital offerings like the Fuji X100. All the dials. You can see it all, which helps you memorize your scale, and how to dial into a given situation. The newer beginner Nikon DSLRs give you a skewmorphic aperture and shutter dial graphic that mimics the physical controls on old cameras.
And it's just like primes. Use them enough and you can picture the frame in your head before even looking through the viewfinder. And you always know what it is capable of and at what aperture.

04-26-2013, 05:06 PM   #17
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I really like the primes, but at the wide end I became stuck. The DA40 and 70 are easy keepers, but would I use a 15 or 21 often enough to justify squeezing the wallet tighter? Then I found a 17-35mm Tamron (full frame friendly) that is f/2.8-4.0 so as fast as the 21, does not compete with the DA40 (or my Sigma 15/2.8) - and well under half the price of either DA15 or 21. Love the primes, but this is a great fit for my kit. I had sought the 17-50 or DA16-45, but this was cheaper then either, almost as fast and is a very good lens.

As to mental framing, I haven't shot enough recently for that. I could manage it in my film days long ago, and it sure beats guessing or trial and error. I'm retiring soon so perhaps it will come back to me!
04-26-2013, 05:13 PM   #18
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My experience with the DA 16-50 is that I use it at 4 focal lengths: 16, 20, 35 and 50 and most shots are at 16mm or 50mm. I rarely zoom the lens while looking through the viewfinder, but rather preset the focal length and go from there. My biggest complaint about the zooms is the size, they are beastly things. Having recently purchased a ltd 21, what a difference in shooting experience in Terms of weight and portability, but I haven't so far seen too much a difference in shooting style.
04-26-2013, 05:33 PM   #19
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I'm still trying to find my balance. I've got an 18-135mm and 55-300mm to cover my zooming. I like that I can take 1-2 lenses and do everything I need to do when I have to shoot in a hurry - which with a 2 year old is most of the time!

But I also really like the results I get when I shoot with my 50mm at large apertures. I also want to get a macro lens someday which will of course need to be a prime. If there's one application where you need maximum detail, it's in macro right? Next weekend I'm visiting my father and he's giving me some old m42 prime lenses he found when they were cleaning out the garage, so I'm anxious to try those out. Don't know yet what exactly he has or how much I'll end up using them.

Maybe someday I'll be able to afford a set of high quality primes, but right now my pair of zooms is a good compromise and occasionally I'll take my 50mm or 28mm and just shoot with that. If I'm lucky, this m42 lot may contain an 85mm and 135mm and then I'll have a nice 4-lens set. I'll find out soon enough

04-26-2013, 05:41 PM   #20
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Last week I spent some five days in sunny Granada, Spain. Guess what three lenses I took with me ?
Attached Images
 

Last edited by kh1234567890; 04-26-2013 at 05:47 PM.
04-26-2013, 05:46 PM - 6 Likes   #21
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Using a zoom lens is neither good nor bad. It can be a most efficient and economical tool. Would you rather carry a bag full of box-end wrenches or a single, adjustable wrench for routine jobs? Don't let the snob-factor influence the logical selection of tools - consider each tool on its own merits.

If the process of using a prime is the goal you want, simply treat the zoom as a convenient collection of the two or three primes you would otherwise carry instead. A tight elastic/rubber band or piece of tape readily 'locks' the zoom ring at a pre-selected FL encouraging you to use the lens as a fixed FL lens. Changing lenses then becomes easy, and dust-proof, as well.

If the esthetics of using a prime lens is your goal, and that can be a satisfying thing in its own right, acquire those primes that fit your needs. The choice doesn't have to rest upon which class of lens is 'better' according to some arcane review or price tag and both types of tools have their place in the kit-bag.

As an added benefit, an economical, consumer-quality zoom lens allows you to easily explore various FL options to help select the high end prime(s) you'd eventually like to invest in -- a far more useful exercise than asking others to recommend your own kit. The chart above is the companion tool for this effort.

If you haven't yet acquired the personal experience to have confidence in your choice of lenses, the type of lens you use will have very little to do with the quality of the results. I'd note, however, that it's never a mistake to acquire the best quality of tools one can reasonably afford as it does make the learning process more enjoyable.

I'd also note that too often FL is considered solely in terms of magnification. An equally important characteristic is the perspective and field-of-view offered by camera location and the effect on the "story" told by the resulting composition. Note the subject image size is identical and that two different "stories" are expressed by these scenes. (This concept also applies to the choice of FL when using macro lenses - it's not just stand-off distance that counts.)



H2

Last edited by pacerr; 04-26-2013 at 05:51 PM.
04-26-2013, 05:58 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
Guess what three lenses I took with me ?
Equally interesting is to observe how you used the focal length range(s) you had available without reference to the images.

Could you group all the shots into just a few FL choices?

H2

18-55, 21, 50-200 - we tend to max out the wide and tele ends of zooms - rather than the sweet spots.

Last edited by pacerr; 04-26-2013 at 09:53 PM.
04-26-2013, 06:36 PM   #23
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I use both primes and zooms depending on subject matter, conditions and my mood.

04-26-2013, 06:52 PM   #24
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I have DA* 16-50mm and 50-135mm but the lense I always use is Limited 15mm, 43mm and 77mm.
04-26-2013, 07:45 PM   #25
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I tend to prefer primes, but frequently wish that I were carrying a zoom. The reason? Perspective is a huge component of composition and perspective is driven by point-of-view. When you "see" a photo it is nice to be able to accurately frame the image from the point where you saw it. Yes, cropping is an option, but there are limits.


Steve


(translation...there is no such thing as zooming with your feet...)
04-26-2013, 07:55 PM   #26
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I have small children. Zooms are a MUST.
04-26-2013, 09:43 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
Last week I spent some five days in sunny Granada, Spain. Guess what three lenses I took with me ?
DA L 18-55

DA L 50-200

DA 21 LTD

?

04-27-2013, 01:10 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eric Seavey Quote
pick the correct lens and focal length
Its just about pre visualisation and comes with experience and lens usage.

That's why I always suggest to folk with any new lenses to leave it on the camera for a month or so.
04-27-2013, 01:24 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by pacerr Quote
Don't let the snob-factor influence the logical selection of tools - consider each tool on its own merits.
Key sentence and absolutely spot-on! Image quality is influenced by more that the differences between quality zooms and outstanding primes.

Sometimes, getting the shot is more important as you might lose the moment while switching primes. I love my F50mm/f1.7 as it is an absolutely amazing lens and I have tried out a few Ltds that seem even a grade up from that, yet I always fall back on my 17-70/50-135mm combo when travelling as they just deliver the results I want/need.

I pack the 8-16mm only when I actually purposely intend to use it and the 50mm prime is so small it always fits my coat pocket.

I readily accept that under some conditions, a prime will render an image much better than even high-quality zooms but in many, many cases, stepping back instead of zooming will actually have you plummeting off a cliff, falling in a river or worse. Stepping forward will put you in front of an oncoming truck or off the same cliff.

Using primes is great fun and delivers great results, arguably a bit better than using zooms. However, using zoom gets you the images you need every time, all the time.
04-27-2013, 01:32 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by pacerr Quote
Equally interesting is to observe how you used the focal length range(s) you had available without reference to the images.

Could you group all the shots into just a few FL choices?

H2

18-55, 21, 50-200 - we tend to max out the wide and tele ends of zooms - rather than the sweet spots.
That is the ones - 18-55 WR (histogram is a bit distorted because I shot quite a few panoramas with this one at 18mm), DA21 (a great sneaky street shots lens as well as being so small that you can't leave it at home) and 50-200 WR (because the 55-300 wouldn't fit in the Ryanair 'strictly only one on-board bag'). I could have probably managed with a 18mm Ltd (no such thing), a 50mm and a 200mm (is there an affordable and light AF one ?).

It wasn't a pre-meditated shoot - just holiday snaps

Try this yourself on a set of your shots, all you need is ExifToolGUI or similar.

Last edited by kh1234567890; 04-27-2013 at 01:38 AM.
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