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02-03-2014, 08:06 AM   #31
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Zooms have already reached the point where it's not so much a quality issue but rather a size issue when dealing with the zoom/prime debate. You will need to pay but that's always been true.

Primes will likely always have their place because that's how you make a system small. A niche market has even been created making high end non-interchangeable lens single focal length cameras to create a smaller complete system. In some ways the world is going in the other direction of zooms.

02-03-2014, 09:26 AM   #32
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To each their own. For me (and others) working with limitations actually helps with creativity. If all you're trying to do is capture the moment, this matters less. I have zooms and primes. I use them at different times, for different purposes.

We now have the technology to capture light fields and then focus an image after-the-fact with Lytro:

https://www.lytro.com/camera/

Canon showed off a concept camera that demonstrated what they feel will be the camera technology 20 years in the future with their "Wonder Camera":

Canon Wonder Camera Concept promises single-lens perfection (video)

I may get a Lytro someday, and if/when a "Wonder Camera" comes out, maybe I'll get that. But I'll still shoot with primes because it helps me with my creative process.
02-03-2014, 09:37 AM - 1 Like   #33
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Hey you guys realize that Sigma 18-35 Art lens weighs a lot right? It weighs 811 grams (1.78 lbs)! My FA 31 Limited weighs less than half what it weighs (346 g), and it probably renders everything better. This is also a lens a lot of people think is "large". If the FA 31 is large, that Sigma lens must be a humongous.
02-04-2014, 03:36 AM - 2 Likes   #34
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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.
Another thing I hadn't thought about:

The way lens correction can be done by software right in the lens and/or the camera rather like what is being done by Nikon and Canon now.
Sort of like a DxO Optics Pro program built right into the lens. This would be especially relevant to super zooms with all their problems with geometry and CA.

Along those lines...

Ran across this old file. Taken with the Tammy 18-200mm superzoom first introduced in 2006 I believe - $189 delivered to my door. Hardly a high end modern zoom but you can see what a bit of software correction can do.

handheld, slight crop, RAW.


Last edited by wildman; 02-17-2014 at 02:19 AM.
02-04-2014, 04:30 AM - 2 Likes   #35
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Of course, zooming by changing focal length is not the same as zooming with your feet. When you move in relation to your subject in order to frame it, perspective changes. When you change focal length and remain on the exact same position relative to your subject, perspective does not change.

IMHO zooms do make lazy photographers. I.e. a zoom makes it easy to fit a subject into the camera's frame. Now, this is not the same as framing an subject for an image. The former is a 2D crop operation, the latter a 3D composition effort. When you wish to include a subjects relation to foreground and background as compositional elements, "zooming" with your feet is essential, regardless of the lens you have on camera.

However, after having determined the 3D composition of a shot, a zoom does make it easier to crop exactly the envisioned shot, without requiring a change of lens.

Recent zoom lenses with limited focal range such as the Sig 18-35 or the DA20-40 may indeed change things. For me the DA20-40 does in any case. It's range is sufficiently limited to ensure my not becoming lazy and just zooming to get a subject. It's not wide/long enough for that. Hence I still have to move to get the subject nicely framed in relation to its foreground and background, and the 10mm I can zoom in or out from its "standard" position at 30mm allow me to crop more accurately than I might when shooting a standard prime such as the FA31/1.8.

It's not really an IQ issue to me. It hasn't been for many years to be honest. It's always been a choice between convenience and flexibility on one hand (for zooms) and slow photography (when selecting primes). I feel that a lens like the DA20-40 offers both.

Wim
02-04-2014, 05:51 AM - 1 Like   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ishpuini Quote
zooms do make lazy photographers.
Unless I completely misunderstand, your logic escapes me.

Aren't you really just talking about a lack of discipline on the part of the photographer?
If you are using a zoom and you want to "zoom with your feet" then keep your hands off the zoom ring and do so.

Know the difference between a crop and a change of perspective and use your gear appropriately.
If you don't it has nothing to do with the gear and everything to do with the photographer.

In any case it has nothing to do with any inherent limitation of zooms and, in fact, with a zoom
you can easily have it both ways unlike a prime. With a prime you can't crop without also changing perspective.

Last edited by wildman; 02-04-2014 at 06:20 AM.
02-04-2014, 07:15 AM - 2 Likes   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Unless I completely misunderstand, your logic escapes me.

Aren't you really just talking about a lack of discipline on the part of the photographer?
If you are using a zoom and you want to "zoom with your feet" then keep your hands off the zoom ring and do so.

Know the difference between a crop and a change of perspective and use your gear appropriately.
If you don't it has nothing to do with the gear and everything to do with the photographer.

In any case it has nothing to do with any inherent limitation of zooms and, in fact, with a zoom you can easily have it both ways unlike a prime.
Exactly, it has everything to do with the photographer and nothing with the gear as such. And also a bit with what circumstances allow.

I do believe that most people start as "lazy photographers". Partly because of the ease of a zoom. This is the reason why most photography schools I know of (including the one where I took my photography degree) request first year students to use a standard prime for all assignments. My teacher verified focal length in the EXIF and refused to even review images with too short or too long a focal length, let alone accept them. A full year of not having zoom flexibility ingrains a compositional approach that removes most people's seemingly innate reflex to zoom first. Though there are always students for whom this approach doesn't work at all...

Once that hurdle is taken by a learning photographer it comes down to discipline and what circumstances allow indeed. However, I observed many (if not most) fellow students revert to substandard compositions when they were allowed to use their zoom again from the second year on. Which is what I meant by zooms make lazy photographers: these students stopped moving once they felt they didn't "have to" anymore. Of course, that's because they never really understood why they got better results by moving around. The students that kept their hands off the zoom ring when framing and only used it when subsequently cropping, ended up being the ones that made it through the four years and got the degree. Most others dropped out before the end of the second year, frustrated with their inability to grow in their photography.

However, had these dropouts used a limited zoom such as the DA20-40 instead of their then fashionable 18-200 style zooms, perhaps this "limitation" might have given them the extra time for the required realization. As such these particular "new" zooms with limited range make a difference that is not necessarily IQ related.

It's not the gear's fault of course, nor is this observation in any way related to a (non existing I agree) limitation of zooms. That was in no way what I wanted to imply.

Wim
02-04-2014, 03:52 PM   #38
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It is perhaps a bit ironic, that to get the most out of a zoom, you have to know how to shoot with primes.

Most people use a zoom by looking through the viewfinder (which is misleading because of viewfinder magnification) and zooming to compose. Better to set the focal length first, then move into position.

Zooms often have some optical weaknesses at certain optical lengths, usually at the extreme ends. I always thought it would make sense for a zoom to be produced, which would only support certain focal lengths. For example, I don't need every single mm between 18 and 135. Just give me maybe 4 or 5 settings that I know how to work with. This would make it easier for me to commit to a given focal length, without having to look at the focal length scale to see that I was set to 55 mm, for example. Not my idea really, I think the Sony RX-10 has a similar feature.

And if the zoom only supported several discrete focal lengths, it could be optically optimized for those lengths.

02-04-2014, 05:37 PM   #39
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I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I use zooms and primes exactly the same way (at least as far as composition goes):

Step 1: Visualize the scene and/or move around (if possible) and pick the perspective you want
Step 2: Go to that spot (if not there already)
Step 3: Pick the focal length to get the field of view/crop you want as best as possible with the lenses you have with you

The only difference being that for step 3, on a zoom you can just go directly to the focal length you want, while a prime involves changing lenses.

Letting the lens dictate the scene, whether by "lazy zooming" or "zooming with your feet" to get a certain subject size, seems totally backwards to me. To me the "proper" way to shoot is to observe the scene, visualize how you want the photo to look, move to the position that gives you that perspective, pick the focal length, in that order, unless practical limitations get in the way (e.g. can't reach the spot, don't have other lenses with you, etc).

Then again I do like to think I have a pretty good eye for judging perspective just by eyeballing the scene. It comes with the style of shooting I like: combining relatively close (which can vary greatly depending on the effect you're trying to get) foreground objects with distant features such as mountains or the sun.

Last edited by Cannikin; 02-04-2014 at 05:50 PM.
02-04-2014, 05:54 PM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
then why primes
For me it's usually lens speed that dictates for my photography the use of primes, as many of my lenses are fairly quick ish, my main three are below f2.
02-04-2014, 06:15 PM   #41
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I think what people mean with "zooming with your feet" is that you should not stay in one place and only do the composition with zooming, but should rather choose the focal length according to the picture you want to get. While you can do that with a zoom lens without any problems, a prime kind of forces you to do so. Also, in some cases it can really increase my creative output, since I need to think of other ways to position myself and therefore change composition if I just can't zoom in/out.

What I mean is: for me, a prime does not solve any technical issues a zoom is having, but solves issues that I am having (laziness).

Mike Browne summed that up pretty nicely:

But you are right in general, in general I think modern zooms can do all that a prime could do for me.
Only thing is, I can easily afford F1.4 or F1.7 in a Pentax legacy prime.
I cannot afford it in any zoom.
02-04-2014, 06:34 PM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tanzer Quote

Zooms often have some optical weaknesses at certain optical lengths, usually at the extreme ends. I always thought it would make sense for a zoom to be produced, which would only support certain focal lengths. For example, I don't need every single mm between 18 and 135. Just give me maybe 4 or 5 settings that I know how to work with. This would make it easier for me to commit to a given focal length, without having to look at the focal length scale to see that I was set to 55 mm, for example. Not my idea really, I think the Sony RX-10 has a similar feature.

And if the zoom only supported several discrete focal lengths, it could be optically optimized for those lengths.
That would be one of the Tri-Elmar lenses, for example.
02-04-2014, 10:16 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
That would be one of the Tri-Elmar lenses, for example.
I had to look that up, I never heard of those before. Probably because those are in a, um, slightly different price class than what I am used to.
02-05-2014, 04:39 AM   #44
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Zooming with your feet has to do with reframing, but keeping the same focal length. You can do it with a zoom lens, just as easily as you can do it with a prime lens. And sometimes you might want to. Say you are shooting a photo at 20mm because you want to include some of the background, but the person you are taking a photo of is too small, you are better off stepping forward a step or two, than zooming with you zoom ring.

As to benefits of primes, they have decreased a little over time, as zooms have gotten better. They still tend to be smaller, most are faster and sharper at similar apertures (the Sigma 18-35 is the one exceptioin), have less distortion, and are more flare resistant. Rendering of out of focus areas is often quite a bit better. My best zoom is my 50-135 f2.8 and it is really sharp and has smooth out of focus rendering. But either the DA *55 or FA 77 knocks its socks off when it comes to sharpness or bokeh.
02-05-2014, 05:52 PM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tanzer Quote
I had to look that up, I never heard of those before. Probably because those are in a, um, slightly different price class than what I am used to.
Probably not much hope for a black friday sale on them, either.
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