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04-26-2013, 01:41 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Zoom lens vs Primes and focal length lazyness...

About a year ago, I bought the 15mm, 21mm, 40mm and 70mm limited lens series to replace my Sigma 17-70mm for higher quality photos. It was a good choice. These lenses certainly produce nicer images. The more buttery bokeh, increased resolution, more accurate focusing, less image distortion are just a few improvements I noticed right away.

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 curious if others here have/had similar experiences...

04-26-2013, 01:47 PM   #2
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Same here. 50mm lens on film instead of an 18-55 and 70-300.
04-26-2013, 02:00 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eric Seavey Quote
About a year ago, I bought the 15mm, 21mm, 40mm and 70mm limited lens series to replace my Sigma 17-70mm for higher quality photos. It was a good choice. These lenses certainly produce nicer images. The more buttery bokeh, increased resolution, more accurate focusing, less image distortion are just a few improvements I noticed right away.

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 curious if others here have/had similar experiences...
Sure have if you notice my lens lineup. I have always felt I took better photos with primes....just because I seem to see the photo before looking thru/at view finder or live view.
04-26-2013, 02:01 PM   #4
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I've gone back and forth numerous times between zooms and primes in my kit (currently on a prime swing) and I mainly go between the two because of exactly what you experienced: with zooms, I don't have to worry about exact focal length as much whereas with primes, what you have on your body affects a whole variety of decisions.
One way I've tried to come to terms with this is by having as simple of a kit as possible- something wide, something long and maybe something in between. This way, I think more in general focal ranges rather than exact focal lengths.

04-26-2013, 02:51 PM   #5
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My bag has become a hybrid

long ago my first kit was a k1000 film camera with a 28/50/70-300
then i went digital and started with a k10 and a 10-20/17-70/50-200

But about 2 years ago, I went on a "prime spree" with the intention of shooting all of my landscapes with an prime lens.
I bought a 15, 28, 35, 50 and 135 to go with a Bigma (for critters)
then i realized i needed a 20, 43, 70, 77 and 100 to cover all bases
well 2 things happened: My credit limits ran out and space in my bag ran out

I still have the primes, but i don't carry them around anymore because i really got tired of changing lenses in the field (read while balanced precariously on a rock in the middle of a stream or leaning over the edge of a ledge!) to get diff perscpectives of same subject. often times its impossible to pick up my tripod and move to recompose so i have swapped out the 28/35/50/135 for a 20-35 & da40 and da*50-135. Now basically 4 lenses cover the 15-135mm focal length for me instead of 8-10 if i had tried to stay all prime
04-26-2013, 02:52 PM   #6
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I go back and forth between wanting the best possible resolution of a limited prime and the convenience of a decent zoom. I do hate swapping primes in and out though, and dislike getting dust on the sensor when do so. I'd like to buy a fixed lens camera like the GR perhaps to force me to just work with what I have, on occasion. Actually, after rethinking this whole post, I am going to off load my aps-c lenses and buy a Fuji X100s and keep my FA Ltd's for a future Pentax full frame. Who wants a Sigma 10-20, Sigma 17-50, Pentax 50-135? No, not for free!

Last edited by Franky2step; 04-26-2013 at 04:37 PM.
04-26-2013, 03:06 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eric Seavey Quote
About a year ago, I bought the 15mm, 21mm, 40mm and 70mm limited lens series to replace my Sigma 17-70mm for higher quality photos. It was a good choice. These lenses certainly produce nicer images. The more buttery bokeh, increased resolution, more accurate focusing, less image distortion are just a few improvements I noticed right away.

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 curious if others here have/had similar experiences...
Yes, everyone (with zooms and primes) had that experience, but no, I don't agree. Primes have slightly better IQ, but good zooms are very close - so that is not an issue. Forcing a composition into a rectangle provided by some arbitrary focal length seems odd - I'd rather match the composition of what I see in my mind. If it means zooming in or out I could care less. And "zoom with your feet" is a simplistic and trite saying that gets bandied about - and it only works to some degree.

Last edited by SpecialK; 04-26-2013 at 03:12 PM.
04-26-2013, 03:12 PM   #8
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With what do you not agree?

Added after edit above: So you are saying that the compositional flexibility of zooms trumps the (varying amount) of improved IQ that (some) primes offer over (some) zooms?

If so - I agree with reservations. I find that when I use a zoom, I don't think as much about the composition, but that's mostly due to a lack of discipline on my part. Using primes does indeed force me to be more disciplined, which for me is a good thing. I also don't find the primes I use very limiting, since most of my pictures fall in the normal-short tele range, and `zooming with my feet' is usually a matter of one or two steps in one direction or another.


Last edited by yorik; 04-26-2013 at 05:02 PM. Reason: responding to response
04-26-2013, 03:17 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I see a lot of people talking about "forcing" themselves to work a certain way, with primes, with zooms... I'd say, it really doesn't matter one bit as long as you use what makes you comfortable. You shouldn't have to force anything.

Personally, I dislike changing lenses, but what I dislike even more is using zooms, except when they are UWA (and there isn't much choice for that). I've always been happy with a 10-20 in that range.

When it comes to normal range zooms, your usual 24-70 etc...I've always simply felt awkward using them. They are often big and honking, except for the kit zooms, but even more than that, I have to think of an extra component when I manipulate my camera to take a photo, not just the composition and focus and my placement, but also turning that zoom ring. It's a personal thing, I feel a lot better when I don't have that in the equation, and I feel that in that range, that whole range of focals isn't often needed. But again it's very personal, psychological even, and I won't force myself to do anything, and just go for what I like to do.

And I'm mostly a wide angle to normal shooter. For a much longer range I'd probably want nothing else than a zoom.
04-26-2013, 03:50 PM   #10
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I ran to Pentax becouse of legacy glass and WR (I like travelling, trekking, hiking, climbing) and I did manage to get ome really nice primes for cheap (A24 F28 M35 F50/1.7 M50/4 A50/1.4 M135) but the truth is that when travelling it is really difficult no to use my 18-55WR with CPL. Also, F80-200 weighs 300grs so it is easy to have with me for particular shots (special landscape). When I do have the chance to swap for my A24 F28 or F50 I do notice a difference when reviewing images back at home..
So now I am lusting for a DA*16-50 to replace the excelent kit but I am aware of the weight and size penalty... Canīt have it all, can you?
I could not rely on primes only becouse of the places and climate I use my camera in but I woul dreally like to. I am traying to use this: DA10-17 (A24 or F28) F50 and F35-70
04-26-2013, 04:02 PM   #11
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The main problem is having to carry and switch the lenses (although the big gap between the 21 and 40 may also be an issue for you). But as long as you're close to the desired FL, "zooming with you feet" is appropriate.

QuoteOriginally posted by carrrlangas Quote
So now I am lusting for a DA*16-50 to replace the excelent kit but I am aware of the weight and size penalty... Canīt have it all, can you?
I agree - the DA*16-50 is just good enough to keep you from wishing you'd used a prime (most of the time). It's extremely convenient when you only want very-good to excellent (rather than ultimate) image quality. While others disagree with me, I don't consider the similar Tamron or Sigma zooms quite good enough to be a prime alternative.

Last edited by DSims; 04-26-2013 at 04:09 PM.
04-26-2013, 04:03 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Franky2step Quote
I go back and forth between wanting the best possible resolution of a limited prime and the convenience of a decent zoom. I do hate swapping primes in and out though, and dislike getting dust on the sensor when do so. I'd like to buy a fixed lens camera like the GR perhaps to force me to just work with what I have, on occasion.
Or, you could just bring a single prime "on location" each time, and save $800
04-26-2013, 04:07 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Originally posted by carrrlangas
So now I am lusting for a DA*16-50 to replace the excelent kit but I am aware of the weight and size penalty... Canīt have it all, can you?
I agree - the DA*16-50 is just good enough to keep you from wishing you'd used a prime (most of the time). Others disagree with me, but I wouldn't make this statement about the Tamron and Sigma alternatives.
That was my conclusion after revising lots of images but I never had the chanche to hold one. It also costs a lot of money!!
I think if I sell all the primes I have put together then I would be able to buy one.. but I surely would miss my full frame primes... I also like shooting film
04-26-2013, 04:07 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by LeChuck Quote
I see a lot of people talking about "forcing" themselves to work a certain way, with primes, with zooms... I'd say, it really doesn't matter one bit as long as you use what makes you comfortable. You shouldn't have to force anything.

Personally, I dislike changing lenses, but what I dislike even more is using zooms, except when they are UWA (and there isn't much choice for that). I've always been happy with a 10-20 in that range.

When it comes to normal range zooms, your usual 24-70 etc...I've always simply felt awkward using them. They are often big and honking, except for the kit zooms, but even more than that, I have to think of an extra component when I manipulate my camera to take a photo, not just the composition and focus and my placement, but also turning that zoom ring. It's a personal thing, I feel a lot better when I don't have that in the equation, and I feel that in that range, that whole range of focals isn't often needed. But again it's very personal, psychological even, and I won't force myself to do anything, and just go for what I like to do.

And I'm mostly a wide angle to normal shooter. For a much longer range I'd probably want nothing else than a zoom.
To me, it is not "forcing myself to work in a certain way", but rather that using a prime forces me to think, consciously, about the photography I am about to take. A zoom. I end up "just snapping without thinking" as I do not need to care about framing (for example). Yes, I have the same problem with P-mode
04-26-2013, 04:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by carrrlangas Quote
That was my conclusion after revising lots of images but I never had the chanche to hold one. It also costs a lot of money!!
I think if I sell all the primes I have put together then I would be able to buy one.. but I surely would miss my full frame primes... I also like shooting film
No, this would probably be a bad idea for you (to sell all the primes). The DA*16-50 was one of the last lenses I bought. As you can see from my profile, I have what feels like like a complete kit. In fact, this was the lens that completed it, in my mind. I immediately realized I'd put it off purchasing it way too long (I paid the used price, of course). I could have had a complete feeling kit much earlier and filled in any gaps in my primes later.

As soon as I got the DA*16-50 (I already had the DA*50-135) I knew I was "covered," and after that I took my time (almost 2 years) before I finally bought a few more (such as the FA*24).

Last edited by DSims; 04-26-2013 at 04:59 PM.
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