If you are taking photographs using a camera with interchangeable lenses than you will be making various decisions about what lens to use. Why not take a look at my previous photography post on Focal Length of Lenses.
This post will quickly discuss why you might choose a zoom lens or a prime lens for you photography.
- What is a Prime Lens?
- Prime Lenses have only one focal length.
- They come in many many different focal lengths (i.e. 20mm, 50mm, 100mm and so on.)
- You cannot zoom in and out.
- Usually cheaper in relation to quality.
- What is a Zoom Lens?
- A Zoom Lens has a range of focal lengths.
- This means that as you turn the zoom ring it moves through 20mm-100mm (for example).
- This is zooming.
- Zoom Lenses are convenient.
- Its like having many lenses all in one.
- They are a wide angle and telephoto at the same time.
The focal length specification of a prime lens will describe itself as 50mm (one number). A zoom lens will describe it’s focal length as 20mm-100mm (two numbers). In other words, the zoom lens is like many prime lenses in one.
So why would you bother with a prime lens? It sounds restricting.
Zoom lenses are said to be improving in quality but are still regarded as not as good a primes.
Prime Lenses are considered to assist in better quality, sharper and cleaner photographs.
One is designed for a sole purpose and one is multi-tasking.
At university we were all required to use prime lenses and not zoom lenses. There are many reasons for this other than quality. It also makes you think much harder about what you are doing.
Prime Lenses make you think harder. Rather than being able to control your environment by bringing it closer to you or farther away whenever you desire, you are forced to concentrate you energy on a common mode. You have to think harder to plan how you will photography the subject given the circumstances. You choose a certain prime with a certain focal length for a certain purpose and then stick to it.
It also takes a lot of pressure off you – you do not need to photography everything in sight in 20 different focal lengths. As you cannot zoom in, you don’t!
Thinking more about the process will also get you more in touch with photography as a medium as you learn not to take the photograph for granted. Your input is increased and you final shot is achieved through higher levels of creativity and understanding of how the camera works in relation to your viewpoint, the world and the science of the lens.
There a benefits to zoom lenses of course. Freedom to take one lens with you means you needn’t worry about photographing all sorts of moments and subjects.
Thanks for Reading,