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03-03-2014, 05:58 PM   #1
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Prime Lens Users... Question

How do you do it? I like the quality that you get from primes but I am having trouble juggling. I walk around with a Sigma 28/ 2.8 mega wide that I love. I also have an A50/ 1.8 that I carry around. I am looking to expand a little by picking up either a 21 or something like a 77. A Tamron 28-75/ 2.8 is also an option for me.

My question for you prime users is about the switch. Are you pulling and installing lenses often? Is it not a pain? I walk around in the woods, the city, and car shows. Car shows, swaps are no big deal as they are not going anywhere. But city and other places, switches can be a pain. What do you guys do?

03-03-2014, 06:05 PM   #2
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You basically have to make the most of what you've got. Primes may seem a bit restrictive at first, but with a bit of practice in the field you'll get used to them, and I think they'll end up helping you get better compositions overall.

Adam
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03-03-2014, 06:14 PM   #3
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I'm constantly switching lenses in the field. It makes me slow down and think about my compositions more.

At car shows, family pictures, and the one wedding I've done, I used zooms mostly. Otherwise it's been mostly primes, I've never been bothered by changing lenses and I think that I've gotten more quality shots because of using primes (both through thinking more and the quality of the output) than I've missed from having the wrong lens.

As Adam implied, you realize quickly that you can often get a good shot even if you don't have the perfect focal length lens on your camera.
03-03-2014, 06:22 PM   #4
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I have just put together a prime kit (well almost.... getting a FA 31 to make me feel more complete as a pentax person ). I basically have two kits for two different creative zones. 1st is when I have to get a job done for someone else..... then it's the two zoom and a wide kit (17-50 2.8, 70-200 2,8 and a DA 15....and maybe a fast portrait lens).

But when I'm photographing for me (inc on holidays) it's primes and a special bag that makes it all enjoyable. Definitely with primes I am more considered and take more wow shots but much less shots overall. I also like the option of going faster then 2.8 for the obvious reasons.

I love the way I can have the "it's all about me" camera bag and the "work" Camera bag.

Of course there are times when a mix of the two makes sense (I've been known to take a big zoom on holiday if it's use is anticipated)

03-03-2014, 06:24 PM   #5
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It is a pain, but you get quicker the more you do it. Make sure you have a focal length you're comfortable with for general purpose use. I have 15mm and 40mm Limiteds, which I love, but there's too much space between them. 40 is a bit too long, and 15 is far too wide. I'm thinking about picking up a 21 to fill in.

That being said, I'm also thinking of picking up a zoom for convenience, particularly for travel. I'm considering a 17-70 and keeping the 15, and when available, possibly the Sigma 18-35 art, if I can stand the size.
03-03-2014, 06:32 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by drugal Quote
I'm constantly switching lenses in the field. It makes me slow down and think about my compositions more.
That's a good way to see it. I often challenge myself this way, mount a lens on the camera and go out and shoot. Like loading a 135 to go do landscapes.

But TBH wherever I go, most of the time I've got a super zoom on the camera. In an instant you've got the right focal length no matter what comes your way. But if I feel like the shot deserves a bit more, I'll reach into my bag (or pocket) and pick up a prime. So I switch lens a lot but usually from zoom to prime. When I take both my camera, one has a zoom, the other one has a prime. But two cameras with lenses attached is not very practical in most situations.
03-03-2014, 06:37 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by derelict Quote
How do you do it? I like the quality that you get from primes but I am having trouble juggling. I walk around with a Sigma 28/ 2.8 mega wide that I love. I also have an A50/ 1.8 that I carry around. I am looking to expand a little by picking up either a 21 or something like a 77. A Tamron 28-75/ 2.8 is also an option for me.

My question for you prime users is about the switch. Are you pulling and installing lenses often? Is it not a pain? I walk around in the woods, the city, and car shows. Car shows, swaps are no big deal as they are not going anywhere. But city and other places, switches can be a pain. What do you guys do?
I have all 5 SMC limiteds (most bought used) and DFA 100 Macro WR all of which are nice high quality compact primes. More often than not, I carry just 2 or 3 of them depending on the shooting I will be doing. For example going out for some nature photography I am likely to be taking DA 35mm Macro, DA 70mm and DFA 100 mm Macro. If I am going shooting in downtown New York City the 3 go to lenses would be DA 15, DA21 and DA 40mm (or DA 70). This makes for a small, lightweight, very easy to manage kit and the 3 pancake primes weigh a lot less than, say, for example a DA 17 to 70 mm zoom, of which mine has been seeing a lot less use these days. This in my opinion offsets the convenience of not changing lenses. For the slight inconvenience of changing lenses, I get in return, less weight, more versatility, faster apertures and often the primes can fit dual roles. For example the DA 35 is a super sharp normal lens and a macro and faster than most zooms. Likewise the DFA 100 mm macro doubles as a super sharp and fast telephoto as well as a macro. My preference, Primes!
03-03-2014, 06:37 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DennisH Quote
It is a pain, but you get quicker the more you do it. Make sure you have a focal length you're comfortable with for general purpose use. I have 15mm and 40mm Limiteds, which I love, but there's too much space between them. 40 is a bit too long, and 15 is far too wide. I'm thinking about picking up a 21 to fill in.

That being said, I'm also thinking of picking up a zoom for convenience, particularly for travel. I'm considering a 17-70 and keeping the 15, and when available, possibly the Sigma 18-35 art, if I can stand the size.
I generally have the 21 as the default prime on the camera and find it works well, I then switch to another for specific purposes (wide, fast, close, bokeh, rendering etc)

03-03-2014, 06:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DennisH Quote
It is a pain, but you get quicker the more you do it. Make sure you have a focal length you're comfortable with for general purpose use. I have 15mm and 40mm Limiteds, which I love, but there's too much space between them. 40 is a bit too long, and 15 is far too wide. I'm thinking about picking up a 21 to fill in.

That being said, I'm also thinking of picking up a zoom for convenience, particularly for travel. I'm considering a 17-70 and keeping the 15, and when available, possibly the Sigma 18-35 art, if I can stand the size.
The DA 21 is a nice fill in between the DA 15 and the DA 40 (or DA 35) I held back on the DA 21 thinking that I could just crop 15 mm images but they are two very different lenses and complement each other nicely. Between the DA 15, 21 ad 40, the 21 actually gets the most usage.
03-03-2014, 06:44 PM   #10
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Hard to cover all the bases but I was told along time ago "zoom" with your feet, the only time I have a zoom mounted is family events where I can't always get close enough especially sports. We went hiking the other day and I kept the 43 ltd on the whole time...probably gonna pick up a 15ltd in the near future...

JJ
03-03-2014, 06:54 PM - 1 Like   #11
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I used to have only primes (6 of them) in the SMCT era, and (4) other primes in my Topcon days before that. So for a decade or so, I had only primes. In a typical day when I took pictures, I used at least 3 or 4 different lenses, and swapped between them perhaps a dozen or more times.

The problem is that often you just don't have time to fiddle with lens changes. You might be touring, by yourself or in a group, and extra time in one location means you'll never get to another - maybe ever, in your lifetime. Or, you might suddenly see a changing light condition (rainbow, etc.), and you only have a few mintues (or even seconds) to get the shot. Just a few seconds to change lenses add up when you're making hundreds of different images a day, and those few seconds turn to a lot more if you have to swap filters and remove/replace hoods as well.

Switching from the SMCT screw-mount to bayonet (which I'd already used previously, with Topcon) was an improvement in lens changing speed, but moving to mostly-zooms (at the same time) was the biggest improvement in efficiency.

So, even though I had several of what were (and still are) considered very good SMCT primes, I really don't understand the popularity of primes for the typical photographer. Prime proponents cite performance, but then they sometimes crop to make up for not being able to zoom, so at least some of the extra performance they get from the prime they lose to cropping. Obviously, you can have a situation where only a prime will currently do - you absolutely need a 50/1.2 or 600/4, for example. And sometimes you really do want that last ounce of resolution, but then a photographer is more likely to be using at least full-frame, or maybe medium-format. By using a camera like most of us on the forum use (k5, k3, etc.), that's already a statement that compromising on image quality is acceptable, so it seems like choosing a zoom is just another, usually fairly small, step in that same direction.

Digital adds another reason to favor zooms, which is dirt or other contamination on the sensor. Newer cameras clean themselves much better, andmany people here on the forum swear by WR, and for sure that is an advantage of some pentax offerings. Yet the same people don't have a problem opening up the innards of their bodies during a rain/snow storm, or in the midst of blowing sand at the beach. Every time you open the camera you increase the risk of dirt on the sensor.

So to answer your question: some of "us guys" migrate to zooms, as zoom features and performance evolve to make that a possibility.
03-03-2014, 07:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
You basically have to make the most of what you've got. Primes may seem a bit restrictive at first, but with a bit of practice in the field you'll get used to them, and I think they'll end up helping you get better compositions overall.
I completely agree; it will help you to compose better, and to think and learn more about the FL differences.

For fast paced events you take 2 bodies, with 2 primes, 2 zooms, or one of each.


For some situations there's only one realistic choice anyway, so it's not an issue. For example, for a dark stage performance the FA77 (or FA*85) may be the only one that works well.
03-03-2014, 07:16 PM   #13
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When I use primes my mood changes somewhat, I usually pick a lens and shoot for that lens (I usually know which lens I'll be using most). My lens changes in the field are usually only for specific shots, changing back afterwards. When traveling with others (non-photographers) I might use a zoom so as not to annoy them with having to stop to change lenses.

Having the right kind of camera bag helps a lot, some shoulder bags give you a convenient place to put lenses while changing them without having to put anything down, backpacks are usually much less convenient.

John.
03-03-2014, 07:20 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I have MF prime sets in both M42 and K mount, and while I have something line 20 primes in each collection (16mm FE through 300mm for M42 and 8mm FE through 1000mm in K mount) I rarely am out with more than 3-4 lenses at a time with one body (although I have 4 different FSLRs)

With primes while I do change occasionally, I don't swap them frequently. I look for shots with the lens I have at the time. It is a good exercise to go out with one focal length for 2-3 weeks and try every kind of shot with it. Learn to see with that lens. If you are going to swap frequency then go with 2 bodies.
03-03-2014, 08:06 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Some PF member said: your feet are your zoom in/out with a prime. That is right. With a single prime, you have to learn to be at the right place, and this is an excellent skill to gain.

In addition, there are situations when you cannot change lenses: no time, or too dirty, or too risky. Changing lenses can be messy and you take the risks to contaminate your camera and your lens.

My walk around prime lens is the FA31mm. I love its IQ and I am prepared to use my feet to compensate for the lack of zoom (or the lack of other primes).

My 5 cents....
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