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Thread: Zoom or Prime

  1. #1
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    Question Zoom or Prime

    I'm thinking of selling my beloved 28-75 (Tamron) and buying a 50mm 1.4. I'd lose on versatility but I'm hoping to gain picture quality.

    My thought is this: I have the Sigma 30mm and a 70-300 zoom, so if i add a 50 mm prime I can cover most of the range and the shots with the primes should be better.

    thoughts or advice?

  2. #2
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Stick with the zoom unless you're really picky about the quality.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Depends on situation i guess. if you're stuck at a seat in a concert hall trying to shoot definately primes will miss out many chances. However if its a posed shot or if you can have a good working distance primes are excellent.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by zac08 View Post
    Stick with the zoom unless you're really picky about the quality.
    Just take a look at the MTF of the newer Nikkor zooms. They leave primes with almost nothing to be desired except faster apertures.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by lsisaxon View Post
    Just take a look at the MTF of the newer Nikkor zooms. They leave primes with almost nothing to be desired except faster apertures.
    i don't understand this line, especially when ts has a "canon whatever whatever" listed in his signature

    ts - why do you aim to gain picture quality? is it to make you happy being a pixel peeper, i.e. when you have nothing else to do, you will open files on photoshop, and open them to 100% and feel happy that it looks marginally better.. or is it more valid than that, i.e. you actually wish to make large prints

    every different lens has different optical quality.. there are situations sometimes where people buy primes and find out that they don't exactly deal superior image quality as touted. that is not impossible, what i understand with my limited gearhead knowledge is that sometimes prime lenses are designed for full frame sensors, not digital (smaller) sensors. also, when you buy a prime lens and shoot wide open with it, given the extreme optic somersaults needed it might not be razor sharp either.

    but what a prime lens DOES offer, USUALLY, is an option of getting extremely fast lens at relatively lower price. fast as in, maximum aperture is really large. also tend to be lighter than zooms.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

    I bought the Sigma 30mm 1.4 about 6 months ago and it is the sharpest lens that I have. I'd like to use it more and if the 50mm is as sharp, then i'm wondering if it is a step up in quality. I'm about to look back through my photos to see if the metadata helps me see how often i shoot between 50mm and 70mm.

    I'm not a pixer peeper and rarely to i blow up photos (although i do stream them to my 42 in TV - that's a novelty though).

    Keep th e comments coming - they all help!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    I think primes are more critical for portraitures and weddings, just to state examples. Zooms are versatile for more coverage without having to change lens.
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Kit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by ballwackers View Post
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

    I bought the Sigma 30mm 1.4 about 6 months ago and it is the sharpest lens that I have. I'd like to use it more and if the 50mm is as sharp, then i'm wondering if it is a step up in quality. I'm about to look back through my photos to see if the metadata helps me see how often i shoot between 50mm and 70mm.

    I'm not a pixer peeper and rarely to i blow up photos (although i do stream them to my 42 in TV - that's a novelty though).

    Keep th e comments coming - they all help!
    You should be buying lenses that suits your needs instead of finding ways to use your lenses. These are tools. You find the tool for the job and not the job for the tool.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by Kit View Post
    You should be buying lenses that suits your needs instead of finding ways to use your lenses. These are tools. You find the tool for the job and not the job for the tool.
    Fair point. I'm looking for feedback on sharpness etc in the mid-range of my Tamron.

    Is there anybody out there that uses a Tamron 28-75mm and a 50mm prime? Comparisons?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Leong23's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Personally felt that you should keep your Tamron 28-75mm even if you are getting a 50mm prime.

    The 28-75 zoom can be a walkabout lens and use for family/friends gathering. The 50mm prime will be useful if you doing portrait.
    Last edited by Leong23; 31st January 2008 at 03:56 PM.

  11. #11
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by ballwackers View Post
    Fair point. I'm looking for feedback on sharpness etc in the mid-range of my Tamron.

    Is there anybody out there that uses a Tamron 28-75mm and a 50mm prime? Comparisons?
    sharpness is not ultimate issue, you should use the right tools for the right job, Kit already highlighted to you.

    If the situation allowed and call for a prime lens, than you should use prime lens, like shooting a group photo of 50 pax, using a tripod, and need a 16x20 photo, why would you use a zoom lens if you have a prime lens with you?

    and if you are shooting a fast pace event in a confine space, why use a prime lens and in the end you miss lot of action?

    the quality of images is important, so are the content of images.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Depends on whether you really truly need the fast prime... sometimes you also need to consider the quality. having f/1.4 may not always mean that it is ideal to shoot at that aperture. softness/CA/etc may manifest itself. sometimes forcing you to always stop down to maybe f/2.8 or f/4 to get a usable image. At which point the argument comes in... some of the f/2.8 zooms start out sharp already wide-open, so in reality it would make much more sense to get the zoom.

    So you have to be careful in the selection of which prime lens to purchase/use. Don't jump for one just because its wider than f/2.8 ... there are plenty of crap out on the market. But of course, there are also many good primes out there that will beat the pants off any zoom.

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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Prime with BiGer aperture - well great for low light situation, to give you that bokeh. But then, please dun forget that you have very, very shallow depth of field, so much so that when you shoot portraits, very often, you get one eye razor sharp and the other eye not so sharp. That is just one example. And then, other issues like CA, corner sharpness, vignetting etc.....
    I love big car, big house, big lenses, but small apertures.

  14. #14
    Senior Member cichlid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    For me, i use prime lenses for portriats...and zoom lenses for non portraits la...

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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by cichlid View Post
    For me, i use prime lenses for portriats...and zoom lenses for non portraits la...
    I second that!
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Got $ go for zoom.
    Got more $ go for prime!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by dotaboy View Post
    Got $ go for zoom.
    Got more $ go for prime!
    Got even more $$ go for L prime.
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by Snoweagle View Post
    Got even more $$ go for L prime.
    It is the camera, not the photographer.
    my flickr - adamloh.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Don't start a brand war

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Zoom or Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by Snoweagle View Post
    Got even more $$ go for L prime.
    brudder!I don't know what are you talking about when CZ OWNS teh L!

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