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06-24-2017, 05:02 PM   #1
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Who's a (mostly) prime only shooter?

I'm shuffling around some of my gear and am wondering who on here is a prime only or mostly prime only photographer?

Long story short, I've noticed that I enjoy using prime lenses a lot more than zoom lenses. I also don't use zoom lenses to their full potential, as I either step back and forth to adjust the frame while almost always just using the ends of the range on the zoom. I'm wondering if it's possible to get by with just primes. I suspect it is, and for some applications like macro work, they're really the only choice.

06-24-2017, 05:08 PM   #2
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Hi sabzijoon,

I own a few zoom lenses(mainly telephoto) but do 90% of my shooting with primes. To which I'd add, has always been the case for me since the beginning of my photography obsession.

With that said, and interestingly enough, I've used a number of older macro zoom lenses over the years that were pretty descent as well. As they offered the capacity to enter into macro-mode(so-to speak) if and when the need should arise - which was quite practical out in the field.
06-24-2017, 05:11 PM   #3
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I suspect you will find a good many folks on here with nothing but primes. Personally when I have the time primes are great fun, but for work I use the zooms. Image quality is comparable and the convenience wins hands down.
06-24-2017, 05:55 PM   #4
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For me mostly prime. Four lenses always come wherever I go they are DA 15, 21 and 40 Limiteds. The only zoom that I am now always taking with me is the DA 55-300 PLM. I also have a DA 17-70 zoom but much prefer the Limiteds so the 17-70 is not getting much usage these days. If I do not need telephoto then I carry an all prime kit including either the DA 70 Limited or the DFA 100 Macro WR with the other limiteds. So most of the time I am using a prime but with the DA 55-300 PLM I do not rely on primes exclusively.

06-24-2017, 06:08 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by sabzijoon Quote
I'm shuffling around some of my gear and am wondering who on here is a prime only or mostly prime only photographer?

Long story short, I've noticed that I enjoy using prime lenses a lot more than zoom lenses. I also don't use zoom lenses to their full potential, as I either step back and forth to adjust the frame while almost always just using the ends of the range on the zoom. I'm wondering if it's possible to get by with just primes. I suspect it is, and for some applications like macro work, they're really the only choice.
I share your feeling. Shooting prime lenses gives me a lot better grasp of the FoV in my mind while doing compositon. I have only one zoom which is not bad. But it gathers dust majority of the time
06-24-2017, 06:09 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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I'm a studio photographer, I have a preference for using primes due to the significant increase in image quality that using high quality primes brings to the table. However being a studio photographer means I have control over the spaces in which I work - so I rarely need to change focal lengths, the only time when I have to change focal lengths is when I need to go for a tighter shot - and while I'm changing lenses* It affords time for makeup and wardrobe to work on the model. For on-location work I do use zoom lenses, but they are still outnumbered by the prime lenses in my bag.

QuoteOriginally posted by sabzijoon Quote
I'm wondering if it's possible to get by with just primes.
Bear in mind you will need two cameras to make a switch to all primes viable, one camera with a wide lens and another with a short telephoto is a common combination.

* I can change lenses really quickly, so they don't get much time really.

Last edited by Digitalis; 06-24-2017 at 06:41 PM.
06-24-2017, 06:34 PM   #7
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checking in, primes here too.
I do all my shooting with just one body on location, so have no problem correctly guessing which focal length is right for the shot and swap lenses quickly.

...and if you're gonna zoom with your feet, put on your zoomin' shoes.

06-24-2017, 06:37 PM   #8
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Pretty much just primes for me, mostly the dfa100mm macro, da*300mm, and the da14mm. An fa50/1.4 from time to time. The only zoom is the DA10-17mm, but it's pretty much a prime as I use it at 10mm most of the time. Also only one camera, I rarely ever need to swap lenses quickly or have another focal length on instant standby. It really depends on what sort of things you like to shoot and how you like to shoot them (specifically in my case, there's basically never another human being waiting on me, so I can take my time).
06-24-2017, 06:49 PM   #9
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I have slowly swung over to Primes as my main lenses. I still have a couple of zooms I use on occasion when I need more reach.
06-24-2017, 06:50 PM   #10
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I have one zoom lens and four primes (15, 21, 31, 40 Ltd). I think the last time I used the zoom was 2010.
06-24-2017, 06:52 PM   #11
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I'm glad I'm not the only one! This is encouraging. So, what do you guys recommend for ultrawide lenses, especially on full frame? I'm thinking of picking up one of the Samyang/Rokinon/Bower ultrawide lenses unless I can be persuaded to grab a Pentax DA 15mm Limited for use on the K-1. I've used it on the K10d took some of my best pictures with it.
06-24-2017, 07:07 PM   #12
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I love my 15Ltd, but it's only going to be usable (without vignetting) in crop mode on the K-1; in which case it really isn't a super wide.
06-24-2017, 07:47 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by sabzijoon Quote
I'm glad I'm not the only one! This is encouraging. So, what do you guys recommend for ultrawide lenses, especially on full frame? I'm thinking of picking up one of the Samyang/Rokinon/Bower ultrawide lenses unless I can be persuaded to grab a Pentax DA 15mm Limited for use on the K-1. I've used it on the K10d took some of my best pictures with it.
You are definitely not alone. I haven't used a zoom in years... Regarding ultra wide, have you considered Irix?
06-24-2017, 07:52 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
You are definitely not alone. I haven't used a zoom in years... Regarding ultra wide, have you considered Irix?
I've considered it. The 95mm filter size is absurd though...
06-24-2017, 08:28 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by sabzijoon Quote
I'm shuffling around some of my gear and am wondering who on here is a prime only or mostly prime only photographer?

Long story short, I've noticed that I enjoy using prime lenses a lot more than zoom lenses. I also don't use zoom lenses to their full potential, as I either step back and forth to adjust the frame while almost always just using the ends of the range on the zoom. I'm wondering if it's possible to get by with just primes. I suspect it is, and for some applications like macro work, they're really the only choice.
I have gone the gamut on this subject. I started out using just a zoom. Then I bought primes. I didn't even own a zoom for quite some time. 100% prime 100% of the time (back then). Then I bought a WR zoom for a trip and now I am back to using zooms.

Right now I am about 60/40 zoom/prime ratio. Sometimes 70/30.

Now as to the whys: Definitely I love my primes. If I could afford multiple camera bodies I would do it with a prime on every one. That said nothing can replace a good zoom in many situations.

At the end of the day it boils down to your shooting style and what you're trying to accomplish. As a general rule if I have anything that has some planning involved in it I will shoot with a prime. On the other hand if I am walking down the streets of a foreign country a zoom provides maximum flexibility. The action doesn't slow down or stop just because I showed up. I have to be ready and able to react.

This is not to say that you cannot walk around with a prime. People do it all the time with fantastic results. You just have to really shift gears mentally and more than anything sharpen your mission so to speak.

If I am walking around an area that is new to me odds are I will have a zoom on the camera. If someone asks me 'what are you taking photos of' and my response honestly would be 'I don't know'... then odds are I would use a zoom simply because of the unpredictability of everything.

On the flip side I've walked around places before with a specific intention to shoot unplanned portraits of people. For example I went to a Renaissance Festival and I wanted to capture people's faces and costumes but not so much the guy munching on a sno-cone in the background. Just based strictly on experience shooting wide angle at those events does not yield results that I like.

Another example is I am the designated photographer at family reunions. I will often just put a prime lens on and find a good spot for people to stop by and have their picture made. Inevitably they all hate it but also inevitably 4 or 5 years later or after someone dies I get asked for photos.

Basically there is a role for both primes and zooms. Your mindset and what you are doing should dictate the best tool to use.
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