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11-24-2008, 07:43 AM   #1
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Prime vs. Zoom

I don't own any primes yet, thus the following question.

Is a 50mm prime noticably better than say my DA 1:2.8 50-135mm set at 50mm?

Please forgive as I am very much Prime Ignorant, but would like to consider buying one some day for portraits.

11-24-2008, 07:54 AM   #2
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what sort of portraits?

i would gladly not bother with any of my lenses in the 50-135 lineup (and i have more than one should) for the DA*50-135, mostly because its a hell of a lens, in performance, size, and utility

but when you need F1.4 or F1.8, your only option are primes.

Douglas of Sweden has tests up, where he compares some of Pentax's best primes vs the DA*, you should check it out.

having said that, i dont think that an FA50 @ f2.8~f4.0 is going to blow the DA*50-135 out of the water, the differences will be seen in pixel peeping

however any prime faster than F2.8 is infinetly better than the DA* at anything larger than 2.8.

so the better question you should ask yourself is "do i want shallow depth of field"
11-24-2008, 08:08 AM   #3
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Everything Gooshin said and plus: Zooms must correct for a range of focal lengths where a prime is generallly better able to be corrected for its single focal length. This won't really impact portraiture, but additional distortion will affect landscape and architecture for example. Primes of similar focal length are also smaller and lighter as less glass and mechanism is required.

If you've gotten comfortable with a certain focal range on your zoom, a prime will unlock a few more options at that point for all the reasons suggested.

Otoh, necessitating the swapping of lenses more often doesn't appeal to all.
11-24-2008, 08:11 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote

Otoh, necessitating the swapping of lenses more often doesn't appeal to all.
esp in harsh climates/weather conditions

changing lenses truly is a pain in a very real sense when its -28 outside.

11-24-2008, 10:48 AM   #5
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True, all that. I'd just add that one advanage of primes here is size/weight. Not everyone is as sensitive to this as I am, but both from a handholdability perspective but also from a feeling-self-conscious perspective, I'd be more comfortable shooting the FA50 than the DA*50-135 in most situations. Not to mention being more likely to feel like taking it with me.
11-24-2008, 10:59 AM   #6
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Pretty much everything I was going to say about this has already been said. It depends on how and what you like to shoot, and what kind of speed you need out of the lens. With the exception of the DA* lenses, most Pentax zooms start at 3.5 or higher, which wouldn't be considered very fast. Primes are not only quicker, but they're a great learning tool for FOV; that is, if you've got a DA 40 on your camera, you're going to get a feeling over time for what fits in the frame at 40mm, where you need to be to get the shot you want, etc.

Zooms do give you less lens-changing hassle, however. And correcting framing of an image without having to step back or find another angle is sometimes a really useful ability.

Myself, I want to trade my kit lens for the DA 21, 40, and 70. I'll just shoot under an umbrella if I must. $900 for a 16-50 is a lot of cash, weather proofed 2.8 lens or not.
11-24-2008, 01:05 PM   #7
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Once I got the 50-135mm, I only took out my FA 50mm when I needed to shoot at f/1.4-2 (which was rarely as I usually shoot with flash). The FA 50mm is a great lens, don't get me wrong, but the 50-135 is "prime" quality (except for the f/2.8 part.....)

And since I also had the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, my FA 35mm f/2 didn't see much use (again, unless I needed f/2)
11-24-2008, 03:26 PM   #8
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Aye all of the above plus, speed and a joy to use, primes can also be zooms if you use your legs.

11-24-2008, 04:00 PM   #9
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Agreed. While I love my new DA* 50-135, it can feel a bit ostentatious or flashy if you taking your camera along "just in case" the outing turns into a photo op. As it is, even the diminutive size of the 50-135 with the hood mounted (compared to a 70/80-200, for example) sometimes makes me feel a bit out of place at my kid's soccer game.

QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
True, all that. I'd just add that one advanage of primes here is size/weight. Not everyone is as sensitive to this as I am, but both from a handholdability perspective but also from a feeling-self-conscious perspective, I'd be more comfortable shooting the FA50 than the DA*50-135 in most situations. Not to mention being more likely to feel like taking it with me.
11-24-2008, 04:13 PM   #10
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An area where primes usually outshine zooms is in aberration control and resistance to flare. The optical performance for zooms aren't constant throughout the range of focal lengths, with varying amounts of barrel to pincushion distortion. Even if these are manageable and sharpness is good, there is usually some light falloff (vignetting) at maximum aperture. Flare is another issue and from experience the FA 50mm is much better than the DA* 50-135mm, especially when shooting night scenes with point light sources.
11-24-2008, 04:21 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by legacyb4 Quote
Agreed. While I love my new DA* 50-135, it can feel a bit ostentatious or flashy if you taking your camera along "just in case" the outing turns into a photo op. As it is, even the diminutive size of the 50-135 with the hood mounted (compared to a 70/80-200, for example) sometimes makes me feel a bit out of place at my kid's soccer game.

Yeah, well I foolishly thought I could sneak my new (used) 50-135mm past my wife. As in, I got a like-new 50-135mm on ebay, the mailman delivered it while my wife and son were upstairs, I unboxed it, disposed of the delivery box, came upstairs, mounted it on my K200, started shooting around the house a bit (which I do regularly anyway), and then the first time my wife sees it, asks "Is that a new lens?"... She has no idea what my lenses are, but the "diminutive" 50-135mm is not quite sneakable. So I was busted.

As to the original question, on top of their performance, I simply think that prime lenses are a lot of fun to use. Of the three primes I have, they are small, light, inconspicuous, take great photos, and challenge me to get in the right place for the right shot. And so many of the Pentax primes are "classics".
11-24-2008, 08:26 PM   #12
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Using primes vs. zooms to me is night and day. Reason I say this is that a prime will make you think more about what your trying to accomplish when your framing your photograph. I notice when I strickly use one of my zooms (i.e. @ the zoo) I find myself kind of getting "lazy" when I shoot something. Basically thinking that I'll get the photo I want by using the reach of the zoom.
11-24-2008, 08:56 PM   #13
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^ I agree. Zooms have their time and place in a kit, but shooting with primes is a lot more fun and more challenging for me. It also helps that I love the IQ that I get from the primes, and the inconspicuousness of them.

I use both, but I prefer the primes.

c[_]
11-25-2008, 02:15 AM   #14
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Metaphorically speaking, shooting with a zoom lens is like driving a sedan with an automatic gearbox, it is easier, comfortable and much less hassles. Shooting with a prime is like driving a manual gearbox sports car, you have full control over your car and it's much more fun (for people who like driving fast).
As for me, I prefer primes.
11-25-2008, 04:46 AM   #15
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FPhotographer has stated really clearly that there is no difference between prime and zooms especially fa 77 ltd being no differentt from tamron 28-75mm f2.8

So save the money and buy a zoom.
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