Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
02-11-2017, 03:13 PM - 1 Like   #1
Pentaxian
hcc's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,638
On zoom versus prime lenses

Roger Cicala (lensrentals) wrote an interesting commentary on the optical quality of zoom versus prime lenses:
https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2017/02/things-you-didnt-want-to-know-about-zoom-lenses/

There are really interesting thoughts, backed by real data. A worthwhile read IMHO.

A few examples:
  1. A great zoom is not as good as a good prime at comparable apertures, but it’s plenty good, especially in the center of the image. ...
  2. Zooms have more variations [than primes] ...
  3. Where a prime usually has 6 to 12 elements, zooms often have around 20. ....


02-11-2017, 03:32 PM   #2
Forum Member
Gros Loup's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Terrebonne,Québec
Posts: 93
I prefer Zoom because i don't know in advance what will be my subject and where it will be. It's more versatile, i choose the frame than i want.
02-11-2017, 04:00 PM   #3
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Michigan
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 406
It's a good article and it makes sense. As much as I love the IQ of a good prime, my three zoom lens kit goes from 15mm - 250mm and the image quality is pretty good. Shooting landscapes does not always allow you to 'zoom with your feet.' And I prefer not making a lot of lens changes as I might be in a dusty or wet / humid / snowy environment. And spontaneous shots are hampered with primes as it seems I always have the wrong one on the camera. But I do pay a price when I buy the zoom lenses and I have to carry more weight in a larger bag. I have about a dozen lenses, most zooms and most at relatively high cost, and my best lens for IQ is the cheap DA 35 f2.4. Ironically, it's rarely used. But after seeing the IQ on some recent test shots, it may take it out more often.
02-11-2017, 05:05 PM   #4
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
kiwi_jono's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,402
Well, to weigh in, I was keen on zooms but now I prefer primes and its not just IQ.
I also prefer the smaller size of primes (especially Pentax primes). Most of the time on the K-1, I get by with the FA35 and FA50 which are amazingly small. It also forces me to use my imagination a bit more if I don't have the focal length I would like. Sometimes I take my Sigma 20mm and sometime the Samyang 85 depending on what I am shooting.

But it all comes down to what you, the photographer, likes doing - because you should be having fun!

02-11-2017, 05:38 PM   #5
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter




Join Date: Mar 2015
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 6,290
At the end of the day, my personal bias is toward primes, particularly film-era primes and especially Takumars. But there are occasions such as children's parties and scout hikes which have clearly demonstrated to me that for some things, "practicality trumps optics" (and in the world of the tiny DA limiteds and various other pancakes, it sometimes also trumps compactness).

Also, though the very best zooms are so close in performance to the very best primes that for 99% of things it probably doesn't matter, said zooms are expensive and we should remember the old saying "the best is the enemy of good enough". And after we get done with sharpness, resolution, aberration, distortion and whatever else we can quantitate to one degree or another, there is still that mysterious quality called "rendering".

Most of us here, I would wager, are amateurs and enthusiasts without the luxury of billing other people to pay for our gear. Under such circumstances, sanity and rationality must prevail.
02-11-2017, 06:25 PM - 1 Like   #6
Pentaxian
Site Supporter
normhead's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Near Algonquin Park
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 32,273
I just like lenses, from my old FA 35-80 and A-400 and SMC 50 1.4 to my DFA 28-105 and 40XS. I see nothing to be gained by picking a horse in this race.It's all about knowing when to put it on the camera.
02-11-2017, 07:14 PM   #7
Pentaxian
E-man's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 554
I'm a zoom guy, myself. While I do have a couple of manual focus primes from the late '80s, I really like the flexibility zooms offer and zooming has just become a part of my composing process. I usually start with the lens zoomed all the way out, line up my subject where I want it, then zoom in to tighten up the image and crop out extraneous elements from around the edges. I accept that my images might not be as sharp as they might be if I had shot the same thing with a prime lens, but it suits my shooting style. I'm not a fine art photographer and as pathdoc suggested, I don't have the luxury of billing clients for my gear, but I have found that I can get nice results with late film era zooms that I have been able to find at good prices. Someday, I may come across a digital era prime that just calls my name and if that happens, I'll be interested to see what kind of results I get with it. But for now, I'll just keep on zoomin'.
02-11-2017, 07:19 PM   #8
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
pres589's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Lawrence, KS
Photos: Albums
Posts: 2,301
Hey pathdoc, what are your favorite Takumars, and why?

02-11-2017, 11:44 PM - 1 Like   #9
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Feb 2015
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 6,024
On K3 , you need a decent sharp and fast lens because of the pickel density of the sensor, camera body small, ltd fast primes balance well with the body, primes are a good way to go. On K1, larger sensor less sensitive to lens sharpness, higher iso not a problem, zooms deliver the IQ. Primes on full frame, even better, but that more of a luxury, IMO.

And it's not all about sharpness, FL versatility is a key feature for landscape photography.
Lets say you are outdoor in front of a pond and you want to photography the scenery at the far end of this pond: if you have a prime and you need to walk forward to zoom in, you fall in the pond (pluuffff glouuu gluu), even tough you'd use a Pentax WR prime, zooming with your feet and getting wet is not the best way, even if you are a fan of sharp images. Now, if you have the DFA28-105, in the same situation, you just zoom in with the zoom and stay dry.

---------- Post added 12-02-17 at 07:47 ----------

I like the articles from Roger Cicala, at least he delivers some interesting / value added content by doing marketing promotion of his lens rental business.
Typically not the case of DPR who just stick subjective grades to cameras and lenses based on how much money they get paid by the brands.

But Roger Cicala did not talk about focal length and perspective. Hopefully I won't trigger the debate of "perspective depends on focal length.." oh no, not this one thread again.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 02-12-2017 at 12:01 AM.
02-12-2017, 03:39 AM   #10
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Gladys, Virginia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 19,597
Zooms are about flexibility. Certainly the DFA and DA * zooms are sharp stopped down a stop, the same as most primes. Size and large resistance are the biggest two differences to me. Compare the DA *200 to the DFA * 70-200 and the difference is huge.

I prefer primes when I can get away with them, but there are plenty of times shooting on a family excursion or something like that where they just don't make sense.
02-12-2017, 04:09 AM   #11
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Feb 2015
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 6,024
QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
Certainly the DFA and DA * zooms are sharp stopped down a stop, the same as most primes. Size and large resistance are the biggest two differences to me. Compare the DA *200 to the DFA * 70-200 and the difference is huge.
Browsing in LensTip dot com, a while ago, I observed that primes usually can resolve >50 lpmm in the center, while zooms don't peak that high, usually around 40lpmm. Zoom have flattened responses versus aperture. A good hint that MTF response curves can be compared is that MTF of both primes and zooms join the same point once diffraction kicks in at f16, f22, then the difference between prime and zoom is negligible.
02-12-2017, 04:22 AM   #12
Pentaxian




Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 2,176
Tiny differences in "technocratic Image quality" is the most nonsense attribute if anyone wants to understand why to choose a prime or a zoom these days.

There are two things which are undisputed and make or break it:

a) Well made primes can be considerably more portable so you take them with you instead of leaving a clunky lens at home, which would net you "image quality" worse than the bottom of a beer bottle : no image at all.

b) Primes can be considerably faster than zooms, there are enough F0,95 primes out there. No typical 3x-5x Zooms out there come even close to that.

Usually you can only get one of those two aspects. The queen of all lenses, the Pentax 77mm, is the notable exception to the rule.
02-12-2017, 04:34 AM   #13
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Feb 2015
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 6,024
QuoteOriginally posted by beholder3 Quote
There are two things which are undisputed and make or break it: a) Well made primes can be considerably more portable so you take them with you instead of leaving a clunky lens at home, which would net you "image quality" worse than the bottom of a beer bottle : no image at all. b) Primes can be considerably faster than zooms, there are enough F0,95 primes out there. No typical 3x-5x Zooms out there come even close to that. Usually you can only get one of those two aspects. The queen of all lenses, the Pentax 77mm, is the notable exception to the rule.
That 's about the Pentax Ltd vs Pentax zooms. Due to in the lens VR/VC/IS image stabilization, your rule does not apply to Canikon/Sigma, because a Canikon/Sigma prime can be larger than a Pentax zoom. Take a Canon 50 f1.2, see if that's what you want to have as walkaround lens.
02-12-2017, 04:45 AM   #14
Moderator PEG Judges
Loyal Site Supporter
Kerrowdown's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Highlands of Scotland.
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 39,691
I think I may well be considered as a tad bias...
02-12-2017, 06:09 AM   #15
Pentaxian
p38arover's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Western Sydney, Australia
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,085
QuoteOriginally posted by Kerrowdown Quote
I think I may well be considered as a tad bias...
Yes, and, as I have commented before, KD, about your use of old film era lenses, it shows up in your work: Old film lenses are no good for digital - Page 3 - PentaxForums.com

I like both but I usually carry zooms for convenience. [Who'd have thought that, back in 1989, when I bought my Pentax SFX that I should have taken the Pentax F 50mm f1.4 prime (still expensive) option rather than the 35-70mm zoom (now almost worthless)]
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
body, centre, da*, edge, image, images, iso, k-mount, klaus, lens, lenses, ltd, pentax, pentax lens, post, primes, reason, sensor, sharpness, shot, sigma, slr lens
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
For Sale - Sold: Pentax Q7 (Black) Kit, 01 Prime and 02 Zoom Lenses Price Update EricBrown Sold Items 12 11-10-2016 04:20 AM
zoom versus prime ShellyRosenberg Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 22 12-07-2014 03:19 PM
Zoom and Prime lenses for IR? HawaiianOnline Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 10 12-24-2011 02:28 AM
Prime and zoom lenses quality difference alphalt Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 16 05-08-2010 03:04 PM
Zoom versus Prime Aaron1971 Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 17 01-03-2009 02:33 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:33 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top