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01-11-2015, 07:46 PM   #1
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Dedicated Prime Shooters

I decided awhile back to roll with only prime lenses, to challenge myself to think more when composing and be more active when shooting. I made this decision after learning that one of my instructors uses only primes. A lot of times when I come to the forum, I can't help but wonder who here does the same. I know I'm not the first, the only or going to be the last. So, I just want to ask:

"Who's here amongst us, that currently uses and buys only prime lenses?" And if you don't mind, "how does it benefit you and your photography?"
For me when I shoot, I definitely feel more focused and I have seen big changes in my work.

01-11-2015, 08:08 PM   #2
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I own three zooms. 18-55 (first generation), that came with my K10D. Q02 that came with my Q7.
And a very clean SMC-A 70-210 that I couldn't pass up for $30. I never use any of them. Why?

They're slow, relative to a prime.
They're bulky, relative to a prime.
They're heavy, relative to a prime.

For me, those drawbacks far, far outweigh the convenience of variable focal length. I don't mind
changing lenses and I don't mind changing my vantage point to fill the frame as I want.
01-11-2015, 08:20 PM   #3
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I have found that I take more time, also, since I use only older manual lenses I really think about my shots. I see this as a good thing. I take pictures for enjoyment not money. I enjoy the process of it all. I have had to get quicker based only on the speed of my three children, and I have. I just feel more connected I suppose to pictures now. The little extra time it takes me allows me to actually create a memory to when I was taking the shot. It is just what works for me. Even went as far as getting a split prism focus screen for my k-5 to make this process more successful. Love that "Katzeye".
01-11-2015, 08:35 PM   #4

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Big question. I will think it over for a more thoughtful response and try to get back with you later.

01-11-2015, 08:36 PM   #5
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I have 43mm, 70mm, 77mm, 200mm and 300mm primes, all of which get regular use.

I have a vintage 35mm-105mm zoom (, which never gets used because the focussing isn't good enough for the things I usually shoot. (It would probably be a good landscape lens though).

I don't have anything against zooms, though.

Last edited by Billk; 01-11-2015 at 08:39 PM. Reason: added link
01-11-2015, 08:36 PM   #6
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I use prime whenever possible because I can't stand the inherent image distortion in most zoom lenses.
01-11-2015, 08:53 PM   #7
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Once you've used an fa or da limited, LBA kicks in, and the zooms will have been ebayed.

I just prefer the improved sharpness, contrast, bokeh, and colours you get with primes compared to zooms.

(I have been tempted by the 50-135 and 20-40 though, but only really for the weather sealing. The weight and size is a little off putting!)
01-11-2015, 08:58 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I shoot primes except for my Tammy 18-250 superzoom for events. The FA limiteds made me a true believer. IMHO no zoom can match their IQ - not even the DA* 50-135 "stack o' primes". They're also a joy to use due to their compact size and absence of lens creep, which makes me actually want to get out and shoot, which in turn will make me a better photographer (someday ).

01-11-2015, 09:04 PM - 2 Likes   #9

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For my style of photography the process to get an image is not an easy one. Its not like I just walk down the road and and go 'oooh look at that'... sometimes yes... but at other times no.

Finding good material and/or subject is the first step.... finding a location is another step (sometimes it can be one in the same thing)... checking the lighting to see how the light flows or how to create good lighting... then after that it's about picking a proper do I want that picture to turn out? What about the composure of the artistic elements in the frame?Where do I need to be to get the right angles of my subject?

All of these things are way more important. By the time you get to this point you pretty much know (or should know) which focal length you need to get the job done. And it's all done with a natural flow.

In some situations a zoom is way more practical (and useful) but I haven't gotten in that situation yet. If I do I will gladly buy a zoom.

I can think of a couple of scenarios where I would like to use a zoom instead of a prime...but that choice would be after all that other stuff previously mentioned is done already. Mainly though if I had a model that I was trying to get her to dance or twirl or change poses while I make kissy noises trying to get her to laugh or smile...I think a zoom could probably be better in some cases, but for the most part I like primes. I prefer them.

All that said though there is a need to create chemistry or an 'ambiance'... or to try and capture that 'feeling' in an image...

On balance though I would rather think through my shots and then shoot it with a prime... its just my 'flow'.

But if I was shooting an event of some type... a zoom might also be in order... it all just depends.
01-11-2015, 09:06 PM   #10
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I use zooms and primes. Zooms seems to fit my style, but I will use primes if the subjects are static and I have maneuvering room, or the space in the bag to hold everything and can pick and choose.

I've never bought in to the theory that using primes teaches you something other than how to fill a particular frame with an image.

I like to think I see the image with my eyes and frame accordingly.
01-11-2015, 10:34 PM   #11
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Thanks for the replies. I can agree with/understand all points made and respect all of which. Right now I find myself in new terrain. Where I'm thinking on the photographic process more and more, and less on buying equipment. Even ordering a couple of books last Friday for a deeper understanding. While I have nothing against zooms personally, I've only found myself really wanting one once, when I shot a birthday party a few months ago. After seeing the finished results, I realized there wasn't really much I had missed. But this still leads me to sometimes lust after the DA* 50-135. Other than that, the extra thought, time and physical energy spent toward prime shooting just makes me feel more involved in my own work and this I love. Even if it is all in my head.

Thanks again everybody!
01-11-2015, 11:52 PM   #12
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I have 3 zoom lenses and several primes. While I do use my zooms, for example when I need a range of focal length and cannot (or do not want to) swap lenses, I prefer by far to shoot with primes. Because I need to be more focused and less lazy.

More importantly (at least for myself), you got great IQ with a good prime for much less than a corresponding zoom lens. And the IQ of the great primes (FA31mm, FA77mm) cannot be obtained with a zoom lens. I becoming fanatic about IQ. I am not a professional nor even a great photographer. But I got more keepers and more great shots with a good prime.

My 5 cents....
01-12-2015, 01:08 AM   #13
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Its not so straightforward. For my own pleasure I prefer the size and rendering of a prime (and even the constrains of a fixed focal length), however for events and touristic purposes a zoom (or two) is, IMHO, a better choice. It boils down to whether time, space and expected perspective are limited or not.

BTW, your lens lineup is where I want to be with my primes (except I'm planning DA15 instead of DA21).
01-12-2015, 01:18 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by cxdoo Quote
BTW, your lens lineup is where I want to be with my primes (except I'm planning DA15 instead of DA21).
I do love the potential, but want to play with both the DA* 55 & FA* 85 as well. I want to experiment with various two body, two lens combos.
01-12-2015, 03:57 AM   #15
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I like to go out shooting with a couple of primes, however if I am walking around with my family, as like as not, I will have a zoom (16-50) on my camera, just because of the flexibility. In those sorts of situations, I am not necessarily looking for ultimate image quality, but more capturing memories.

There is no doubt but that primes are smaller, more flare resistant (at least Pentax primes are) and provide better sharpness at similar apertures. All of that makes me want to use them wherever I can.

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