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12-14-2008, 11:46 AM   #1
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are you a zoom or a prime?

While I know many own both zooms or primes, my hunch is that a significant number of people are either zoomers or prime-types. My g/f (who is a sculptor and also does photos) and I were having this discussion last night. She loves zoom lenses as it enables her to see things in a "unreal" way (ie more distant or closer than naked eye). I vastly prefer fast primes as I like to walk for the shot and often need the extra speed. Plus in general a good prime is sharper and has more pop than a great zoom (though my 50-135* is pretty damn good).

So are you zoom or prime and why?

12-14-2008, 12:22 PM   #2
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Generally prime. I've chosen lenses whose unique rendering trumps all other considerations. Using a 50/4 Tak or a 50/1.4 Tak has very different results and in more subtle ways, having a 55/1.2 Porst and a 58/1.4 Nokton also in the same range each give a different brush to approach the canvas. I'd rather walk and get a shot with a 75/1.5 Biotar for example, than sit back and shoot it with something that rendered less to my liking, though I do have a range of focal lengths in flavors I enjoy as the situation dictates.

The way I see it, unless a lens is specifically adding something to a shot, then its pointless for what I'm trying to achieve, whether zoom or prime. Convenience for me is coincidental in that a prime is faster in a smaller package. But I do this for art and fun, not time and money. There is a reason each lens exists.

As an aside, anything outside of 40-50mm would be 'unreal' whether zoom or prime, as it forces our perspective further back or magnifies it forward of our natural point of view.
12-14-2008, 12:31 PM   #3
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I'm a primate.

QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
As an aside, anything outside of 40-50mm would be 'unreal' whether zoom or prime, as it forces our perspective further back or magnifies it forward of our natural point of view.
Or anything either side of 28mm on digital.
12-14-2008, 01:02 PM   #4
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Guess I am Bi...

I use both depending on need. My preference is to use one of my primes (for the reasons noted by thePiRaTE). Each of those lenses has a particular flavor and strong suit. I choose the lens to match the subject and the light.

I only own two zooms, the 18-55 kit and my Tamron Adaptall-2 70-150/3.5. As your G/F noted, a zoom is great help in "seeing" the composition options. The kit is a great walk-around and a lot of fun to use, though I can honestly say that I seldom use it for serious work. I use the 70-150 for sports and the occasional close-up situation where I need greater working distance than my macro lens allows. I have also used the Tammy for portraiture on 35mm film.

Steve

12-14-2008, 01:23 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
Or anything either side of 28mm on digital.
I've been wondering about this. I know that a 50mm on a film camera is classically considered "normal", but with my K20d, the 43mm gives me about the same view through the finder as without. Not sure how all the crop/mag factors fit in, but for my eyes with this combination the 43mm is "normal."
12-14-2008, 01:31 PM   #6
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Prime by Default

Hi all,

For myself it is “Prime Time” all the time. My rationale is similar to the Pirate but it also influenced by the simple fact 90% of my lenses are primes. Primes are almost always faster, sharper, and lighter than a zoom. This suits my style and temperament as I usually know what I intend to shoot before I leave the house. I normally carry the following: K 24/2.8, M 50/1.4, DA 70/2.4, an A 100/2.8 macro, K 200/2.5 telephoto and a K10 camera. Often I only carry one or two lenses. This kit seems to satisfy most of the stuff I tend to shoot. I find my M series zooms are just a pain in the ass to use. This opinion could easily be changed if I had a DA* 16-50 or DA* 50-135 zoom. I’ve played with these zooms in the store and was very impressed. Till these DA* zooms show up in my bag it will be primes for me.

Cheers,

Tom G
12-14-2008, 01:34 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
Or anything either side of 28mm on digital.
QuoteOriginally posted by nostatic Quote
I've been wondering about this. I know that a 50mm on a film camera is classically considered "normal", but with my K20d, the 43mm gives me about the same view through the finder as without. Not sure how all the crop/mag factors fit in, but for my eyes with this combination the 43mm is "normal."
The registration distance from the sensor plane is the same for APS-C and 135. 28 still forces perspective away, FoV is another matter.

Verify by placing a 28 on your camera. Look through the viewfinder with one eye while keeping the other open, you'll note the effect. Try the same with a 50 and magnification is about equal to your open eye.
12-14-2008, 01:39 PM   #8
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Prime person here too

12-14-2008, 01:52 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
The registration distance from the sensor plane is the same for APS-C and 135. 28 still forces perspective away, FoV is another matter.

Verify by placing a 28 on your camera. Look through the viewfinder with one eye while keeping the other open, you'll note the effect. Try the same with a 50 and magnification is about equal to your open eye.
I sure do hope this thread doesn't turn into a "what does normal REALLY mean" thread :P

As for myself, I'm a low-light prime, either an 85/1.5 or 50/1.2. I just have so much fun exploiting the bokeh for different situations.
12-14-2008, 01:53 PM   #10
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Mostly prime but I do have a couple of zooms that I like . . .
12-14-2008, 02:13 PM   #11
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Prime... Optimus prime (I just watched the old cartoon movie again hehe)
12-14-2008, 03:13 PM   #12
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I'd like to consider myself as a prime shooter but...
Sigma 10-20 makes it on many of my trips, and gets heavy duty use. Though main lens is DA40. 28 & 50mm are on second place, Sigma 105 on third. I'd really love to get DA14 or 15 and Pentax 28mm. Then I guess I'd really would be 100% prime. Now I'm 85%...
12-14-2008, 03:27 PM   #13
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Primes, mainly for reasons of process. It's about trying to utilize the unique characteristics of a given focal length, and use them creatively. When I use zooms, I primarily use them to crop in-camera. Using focal length as a cropping method feels artistically wrong. Still, there are times when one has limited access to a subject, and a zoom can be more useful in those situations.
12-14-2008, 03:31 PM   #14
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Rather than co-op this thread with discussion of what "normal" or the effect of focal length on perspective, those who really care can sift through this recent thread:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/42403-fast-fif...fast-75mm.html
12-14-2008, 03:44 PM   #15
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Primes all the way for me, faster the better.
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