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02-01-2014, 08:01 PM   #16
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I don't mind a heavier lens, and with what I see on that new Sigma 18-35 I've heard people equating it to a bag of primes. Imagine them making a few more with different ranges and at the price they have that one for. I wonder what that will do to the lens market.

02-01-2014, 08:15 PM   #17
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One consideration is that you can only get effective image stabilization for a zoom if it is a modern lens - i.e. one that communicates the focal length to the camera body. Otherwise you have to pick some average value that may not reflect the range you actually shoot for that outing. I'm limited in the autofocus lenses that I have but two of the three happen to be zooms - the kit 18-55 which has its uses, but I probably could have skipped getting and the F35-70 3.F5-4.5. A few weeks ago I was shooting some floor hockey matches for my son's school. I took the F35-70 and also my F50 f1.7. Shot JPG because I didn't want to spend any time post-processing. There were limited vantage points I could shoot from so it became a tradeoff between the lens speed vs some flexibility in what I could capture. The zoom definitely let me capture the action in front of both nets even when I was close to one of them. But I probably enjoyed the F50 more because it was easier to keep the shutter speed up and I think it focused a bit faster.

That said, if I don't think I will mind the weight, my A35-105 is one of my funnest lenses because the range and sharpness are a joy. Works well as a close focus lens too at 1:4, and I've used a combination of focusing and zooming to capture objects nearby. As much as I might love to own a 35 or 40 limited, and a DA 70/2.4, I will probably end up getting a sigma 17-70 or tamron 28-75 next. Both go down to 2.8 for at least part if not all of the zoom range. I find myself in too many situations where a prime just won't do, so these lenses might give me the best mix of speed and range.

Not sure if these ramblings are of any use.
02-01-2014, 08:16 PM   #18
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The thing to remember is that each prime lens is a specialist lens. There are only certain things that each prime will be good at. If someone is going the prime route then they need to cover a range of focal lengths and apertures. The whole zoom with your feet advice is for filling a gap like the DA15 and FA31 by moving closer/farther. If you are using a moderate wide angle and you need a telephoto then no amount of zooming with your feet will work. Same goes for needing a large aperture.

Overall I don't the whole zoom with your feet concept. Not for the reasons that you mention but rather that it changes the relationship between the primary object and any secondary objects.

I like primes mostly for their size but I'm willing to take the time to change lenses and I'm willing to deal with the restraints of only having a certain focal length. The other nice thing is that the slowest primes are usually just as fast as most of the larger zooms. But primes aren't for everyone or for every situation.
02-01-2014, 08:43 PM   #19
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I am still waiting on a prime to grab me and say, "I'm your lens, the one that will make you want me on rather than a zoom" but I have not found it yet. Based on some of these replies I wonder what I seem to be missing. On primes I've had the Sigma 20 f/1.8, a Soligor 28 f/2.8, a Hoya 35 f/2.8, a Pentax M 50 f/1.4, Pentax A 50 f/2.0 (all sold off now) and currently have a Pentax DA 40xs f/2.8 and a Pentax F 50 f/1.7. Some of these I REALLY wanted to like, and I mean really really wanted to like, but I was disappointed. I like the 2 I have now, and I will keep them, but unless I am doing timelapse stuff or chasing my cat around they don't get much use.

02-01-2014, 08:49 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
I am still waiting on a prime to grab me and say, "I'm your lens, the one that will make you want me on rather than a zoom" but I have not found it yet. Based on some of these replies I wonder what I seem to be missing. On primes I've had the Sigma 20 f/1.8, a Soligor 28 f/2.8, a Hoya 35 f/2.8, a Pentax M 50 f/1.4, Pentax A 50 f/2.0 (all sold off now) and currently have a Pentax DA 40xs f/2.8 and a Pentax F 50 f/1.7. Some of these I REALLY wanted to like, and I mean really really wanted to like, but I was disappointed. I like the 2 I have now, and I will keep them, but unless I am doing timelapse stuff or chasing my cat around they don't get much use.
Fair point. The only primes I have of note are the F50/1.7 which I like when I need the speed, and an A28/2.8 which I think works better as a wide angle than the kit 18-55, but I haven't done a head to head. The first time I played with a takumar, and it was all beat up (which made it smoother to focus in some way), I was impressed with the build and love that went into making those lenses (or at least some of them). The first time I played with the SMC Takumar 50/1.4, I was very impressed. A hard lens to use when shooting wide open, but when you nailed the focus, the end product was just a joy.

I don't think you have lo like primes and I see just as many shooters here who use a set of primes vs those who use a set of zooms. That probably makes up a quarter of the membership. The other quarter are new users still looking to buy their next lens. And the rest of us suffer from excessive LBA and have far more lenses than we'll ever use on a regular basis, but will always have just the right lens for any occasion (if we could just find it in time)
02-01-2014, 10:47 PM   #21
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Lots of great points raised in the thread already. I still use primes because they can just do things that zooms can't. My Sigma 30 has 2 stops more loight gathering ability than the majority of zooms. Only recently with the Sigma 18-35 1.8 has this changed. I may one day get it, but for now, the size and weight is a big negative.

Another prime I choose these days is the Tamron 90 2.5 Adaptall. I can't think of a zoom that can give me f2.5 speed at 90mm, with almost zero CA and already excellent sharpness wide open, combined with 1:2 close focus macro magnification.

For me, so far, its been about that unique capability that prime lenses have that keeps them on my camera more than zooms.

I used to use an 18-250 Tamron superzoom. Such an amazing piece of engineering, which provided sharp photos. In the end though, you needed to stop down to f8 to get that sharpness, and nowhere in its huge focal range could I get to f1.4 or f2.5 to get low light shots and/or use shallow DoF.

In the end, use the tool that does the job!

(Caveat: with all that said, maybe one day I'll switch back to having a few zooms, if I decide versatility is more important to me)
02-01-2014, 11:43 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
Just out of curiosity I wonder how much faster primes can get before the DOF becomes too thin to be useful.
There must be a reason why there are lenses that are faster than f/1

QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
Huh, I never noticed a DoF scale on a lens until you said that, and since my light travel bag with the F 50 f/1.7 is sitting right there I looked at it. Now my 40xs OTOH, yeah...
The XS is designed to be cheap. Not printing a distance scale saves costs; the same can be said for other cheap primes and e.g. the DA-L version of the kit lens (not sure about the DA-L WR version).
02-01-2014, 11:52 PM - 2 Likes   #23
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There is no such thing as zooming with your feet. Changing position changes perspective and changing perspective changes composition.

Sooo, the question is not zooms vs. primes, the question is whether the quality of zoom one can afford is adequate to the task.


Steve

02-02-2014, 09:02 AM   #24
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When I switched from all-SMCT primes (28,35,50,135,200) to FD consumer zooms (28-55,70-210) it was a huge improvement for me. I always felt I needed at least two lenses between 70 and 135. I almost always needed f8 and below for depth of field so at least as best as I could measure at the time, the performance was similar, or at least good enough for me. But on the bottom end, moving from the 17/3.5 vivitar to the 17/4 FD, I still had a hole and needed to buy a 24/2.8 FD. And eventually I added the 300/5.6 FD. That was still too many lenses, although obviously at least the FDs changed out faster than the SMCTs.

Now I have the 10-20 Sigma, 17-50 Tamron, and 55-300 Pentax (and a couple others that I don't carry most of the time.) That's really all I want to carry, and of course even fewer lenses would be better. But as I've moved from 6 to 10 to 16mp, I can see where the lenses haven't entirely kept pace. And of course I've documented by quality control issues I've had with all three of those lenses and manufacturers here (and still don't have a particularly satisfying 55-300), so it's not just the the designs haven't kept pace, but the quality control hasn't either.

The DOF thing mystifies me since with digital you should always have a display of what meets your (selectable by circle of confusion or some other measure) DOF in the view finder. So as the camera focuses the center point at 10ft, you see see 8.2-13.6ft or whatever in the viewfinder/top lcd/back lcd. Maybe somebody can explain why that hasn't been happening for the past decade or so.

I think what DxO is trying to do is just the beginning of what software can do to help lenses overcome whatever shortcomings they might have optically (except quality control, which is just inexcusable to me.) The manufactures have started to build some of that into firmware and probably at some point even raw will probably have optical corrections built-in, with easy updates. So that may partly equalize what a given level of technology can do with zooms vs. primes regarding distortion, etc.

I don't get the "zoom with your feet" thing, having lived in both the prime and zoom worlds. Zoom is better, end of story. You can't duplicate the exact effect of 22mm when you want it, unless you have 22mm. To some extent you can crop, of course (although not fully identical), but you paid for whatever megapixels you paid for, not fewer.

I can certainly see where it's possible that specialty lenses (macro, for example, or very high-end tele lenses) might still need to be primes, at least in the immediate future. But for general purpose lenses it seems like, with current technology, we should be able to get very similar qualities (except possibly physical size) in zooms.
02-02-2014, 10:33 AM - 1 Like   #25
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I am thinking about a new lens now and am between getting something to extend my range, either a 50-135 or an FA 77 or something to improve on the range I have now either a DA* 16-50 or FA 31. I know whichever I choose I won't be disappointed, but I think it is like choosing between a sedan or a motorcycle.

The zooms are like sedans, very practical, you can use them in any weather, other people can use them and feel immediately comfortable and confident that they know what they are doing. The primes are like motorcycles, fast, a little bit impractical, and very personal.
02-03-2014, 01:23 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
Zooming with your feet, will new zooms end that?
Eventually yes.
When we compare a zoom to a prime now we are not really comparing anything intrinsic to a zoom or prime but mostly the present state of the art of optics.

Eventually zooms will get to a level of optical performance where they will become the default lens type for most types of photography. It doesn't matter that primes will always be capable of theoretically better optical performance but only that zooms will achieve a certain absolute level of performance that makes them suitable for serious photography.

Primes will still be around but they will become much more specialized and narrow in purpose rather like a macro lens is now but even more so. I can imagine large aperture lens' optimized just for narrow DOF and bokeh for instance and not intended to be normally used at more than f/4 for instance. Many primes may become so specialized we will only see them in studios.

Another thing to consider is that sensors are getting better so that someday f/3.5 may be considered a "fast" lens. Better sensors will have a lot to do with making zooms useful.

Last edited by wildman; 02-03-2014 at 02:33 AM.
02-03-2014, 01:38 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
I am still waiting on a prime to grab me and say, "I'm your lens, the one that will make you want me on rather than a zoom" but I have not found it yet.
Maybe you should try one of the Pentax Limiteds
02-03-2014, 01:50 AM   #28
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Better sensors plus better quality zooms? That combo is what will make primes less necessary & attractive. I think there will probably always be a need for primes. I'm hoping that quality zooms come down in price point.
02-03-2014, 06:51 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Eventually zooms will get to a level of optical performance where they will become the default lens type for most types of photography. It doesn't matter that primes will always be capable of theoretically better optical performance but only that zooms will achieve a certain absolute level of performance that makes them suitable for serious photography.
Yup, zoom lenses are already the default for beginner kits, as well as many professional applications. It's just the stubborn enthusiasts that have the luxury of taking our time and switching lenses, who primarily can actually afford, in cost, time, and risk, to use a kit of primes as our primary kit, as it were. I suppose primes will generally be used in landscape photography, but that is quite specialized and those folks are arguably better served with a medium format camera on their tripod, so carrying a few primes is no big deal. And a lot of pros who do use primes need to carry two bodies.

QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Primes will still be around but they will become much more specialized and narrow in purpose rather like a macro lens is now but even more so. I can imagine large aperture lens' optimized just for narrow DOF and bokeh for instance and not intended to be normally used at more than f/4 for instance. Many primes may become so specialized we will only see them in studios.
Canon has the f/1.0 and nobody would spend that kind of money just to use it at f/8. They didn't even bother with rounded aperture blades on that one.

I wonder if we will ever see another specialty lens like the F85 Soft Focus. (Oddly that one started at only f/2.8 and did go to f/32.)

QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Another thing to consider is that sensors are getting better so that someday f/3.5 may be considered a "fast" lens. Better sensors will have a lot to do with making zooms useful.
As others have noted, the whole DA Limited lineup (including the 20-40 zoom) supports that philosophy. I was initially put off by the slowness of the DA15 and DA21, but the DA21 is one of my most used lenses. I can't say I've ever personally run into a situation where I needed it to be faster, on the K-5.

Also, much of the clamoring over full-frame cameras today are hipsters chasing shallow DOF, because it is so much cooler than their P&S cameras they had as kids, or the cell phones they have now. I don't recall so much obsession over 1-cm-shallow DOF during the original full-frame days (film). 35 mm film became popular because it was as small as you could go, without getting too grainy, not because it was some kind of holy grail. And people knew they needed to stop their lenses down. Fast lenses were more of an necessity for low light, at the risk of getting everything out of focus. And they were always more expensive, which didn't mean they were always better in every way. Okay, sorry for the rant.

I've largely given up on shooting my DA*55 at f/1.4, it's often just too narrow to be useful.

Last edited by Tanzer; 02-03-2014 at 07:26 AM.
02-03-2014, 07:28 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tanzer Quote
As others have noted, the whole DA Limited lineup (including the 20-40 zoom) supports that philosophy. I was initially put off by the slowness of the DA15 and DA21, but the DA21 is one of my most used lenses. I can't say I've ever personally run into a situation where I needed it to be faster, on the K-5.

Also, much of the clamoring over full-frame cameras today are hipsters chasing shallow DOF, because it is so much cooler than their P&S cameras they had as kids, or the cell phones they have now. I don't recall so much obsession over 1-cm-shallow DOF during the original full-frame days of film. People knew they needed to stop their lenses down. Fast lenses were more of an necessity for low light, at the risk of getting everything out of focus. I've largely given up on shooting my DA*55 at f/1.4, it's often just too narrow to be useful
In the days of film though, there was a financial risk associated with getting everything out of focus. Now the marginal cost of a wasted shot is near zero.
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