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Thread: Primes or Zoom?

  1. #1

    Default Primes or Zoom?

    Hmm, i am considering a zoom lens after getting caught in a several "not-wide-enough" situation..

    Currently my 50mm + 90mm is my walk around lens.. 50m is a f1.8, 90mm is a f2.8 macro..

    Anyway, recently had this shot, but the subject was simply too.. er.. high.. and i can't move back anymore.. then when i got my prints, figured that it would have been a better shot with a wider lens

    I know all the fast-zoom-is-expensive-and-prime-is-sharper-and-has-better-value-for-money talk alraedy.. so now i need is some real life testimony! and maybe some opinions too! Thanks!!

    ho right, i missed out, am looking at the 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 USM lens.. Canon if you haven't noticed.

  2. #2
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    I shoot Nikon so I can't really comment on specific Canon lenses, but can talk abit about focal lengths

    Anyway, personally I feel that 28mm is still not wide enough. It's sort of a middling wide angle lens, good for couple and group portraits in a tight situation, but not too good when you are taking cityscapes. I would recommend a 24mm, which is normally wide enough for most situations you would encounter in the city, but not too wide that you have difficulty with distortion or composing.

  3. #3
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    I'm not sure what you're after, but if you want a quick run down of the pros and cons of primes versus zooms, then here's a quick and dirty and by no means comprehensive listing.

    [1] Zooms are slower in terms of maximum aperture, generally speaking. Affects ISO you can use, dimmer viewfinder, slower AF.

    [2] Primes are optically better generally speaking, although as always there are exceptions (Thom Hogan rates the 24mm end of the 12-24 Nikkor as being the sharpest 24mm Nikkor around bar none), and as a rule, zooms are going to be good enough. Think beyond sharpness, and also include contrast, flare control, distortion, chromatic aberration, light fall off.

    [3] Zooms are lighter and cheaper, compared to a set of primes covering the landmark focal lengths. Primes are lighter and cheaper, one for one. A Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S covers the Nikon 18/2.8, the 20/2.8, the 24/2.8, the 28/2.8 and the 35/2. It is far lighter and cheaper than the prime collection.

    [4] Zooms are more versatile. There is a good reason for the argument that suggests that zooms make you lazy, but at the same time, if you are really conscientious about it, then in truth, primes make you lazy. The bottom line is that ultimately, there is a difference between shooting at 24mm, and shooting at 28mm taking two steps back. Which is better depends on what you're shooting and the context. By similar extension, your ideal focal length might be 24mm, when you only have a 20mm and a 28mm. Or your ideal focal length might be 26mm, which you cannot generally get as a prime. Sometimes speed of use is far more important than perspective considerations, a zoom gets you to the framing you want faster, and can be the difference between got and missed.

    I use primes and zooms across similar focal lengths. Ultimately you need to feel comfortable with your lens selections and certainly you should try a zoom for a bit if you haven't yet done.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed
    I'm not sure what you're after, but if you want a quick run down of the pros and cons of primes versus zooms, then here's a quick and dirty and by no means comprehensive listing.

    [1] Zooms are slower in terms of maximum aperture, generally speaking. Affects ISO you can use, dimmer viewfinder, slower AF.

    [2] Primes are optically better generally speaking, although as always there are exceptions (Thom Hogan rates the 24mm end of the 12-24 Nikkor as being the sharpest 24mm Nikkor around bar none), and as a rule, zooms are going to be good enough. Think beyond sharpness, and also include contrast, flare control, distortion, chromatic aberration, light fall off.

    [3] Zooms are lighter and cheaper, compared to a set of primes covering the landmark focal lengths. Primes are lighter and cheaper, one for one. A Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S covers the Nikon 18/2.8, the 20/2.8, the 24/2.8, the 28/2.8 and the 35/2. It is far lighter and cheaper than the prime collection.

    [4] Zooms are more versatile. There is a good reason for the argument that suggests that zooms make you lazy, but at the same time, if you are really conscientious about it, then in truth, primes make you lazy. The bottom line is that ultimately, there is a difference between shooting at 24mm, and shooting at 28mm taking two steps back. Which is better depends on what you're shooting and the context. By similar extension, your ideal focal length might be 24mm, when you only have a 20mm and a 28mm. Or your ideal focal length might be 26mm, which you cannot generally get as a prime. Sometimes speed of use is far more important than perspective considerations, a zoom gets you to the framing you want faster, and can be the difference between got and missed.

    I use primes and zooms across similar focal lengths. Ultimately you need to feel comfortable with your lens selections and certainly you should try a zoom for a bit if you haven't yet done.
    w00t! Thanks justarius and Jed!

    Jed, i agree with you on point 3. Both my primes cost me like $600 already.. And if i were to get a 24mm prime, it would cost like $1k in total! As opposed to getting a Constant zoom..

    I like the idea of using both Zooms and primes though they overlap..

    Ok, saving up time.. Zoom, here i come!!

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    17-40 L thats the zoom you need... go for it!
    "I want to have the best camera in the world and shoot XMMs."

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    Quote Originally Posted by OzOn3
    w00t! Thanks justarius and Jed!

    Jed, i agree with you on point 3. Both my primes cost me like $600 already.. And if i were to get a 24mm prime, it would cost like $1k in total! As opposed to getting a Constant zoom..

    I like the idea of using both Zooms and primes though they overlap..

    Ok, saving up time.. Zoom, here i come!!
    u could always sell ur primes later to recope, but i like the idea of having a faster lense in hand..

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by y0ngcheng
    17-40 L thats the zoom you need... go for it!
    siao.. i not as rich as you ar.. haha.. I'm actually thinking of third party lens

    foxtwo: Eh, but the issue of multiple lens at hands still exists.. Still got too many lens to cover the range And flexibility too.. That's what i think is lacking in the case of primes. Though primes are really fast and is a charm to work with

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    Quote Originally Posted by OzOn3
    siao.. i not as rich as you ar.. haha.. I'm actually thinking of third party lens

    foxtwo: Eh, but the issue of multiple lens at hands still exists.. Still got too many lens to cover the range And flexibility too.. That's what i think is lacking in the case of primes. Though primes are really fast and is a charm to work with
    Well, u can't have EVERYTHING, this is the real world after all...
    up to me, i'd get a short prime fast lense for street photog. that would pretty much complement my current zoom & macro.
    (let's not bring Ls into this eh? )

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    Quote Originally Posted by OzOn3
    siao.. i not as rich as you ar.. haha.. I'm actually thinking of third party lens

    foxtwo: Eh, but the issue of multiple lens at hands still exists.. Still got too many lens to cover the range And flexibility too.. That's what i think is lacking in the case of primes. Though primes are really fast and is a charm to work with
    hehe, i also not rich lah. juz save $ and buy. well 3rd party ah.. tokina 17-35 is doing great i think..

    seeing u so happy to go into zoom lens, ever heard the mazda car song?
    zoom zoom zoom!
    "I want to have the best camera in the world and shoot XMMs."

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by y0ngcheng
    hehe, i also not rich lah. juz save $ and buy. well 3rd party ah.. tokina 17-35 is doing great i think..

    seeing u so happy to go into zoom lens, ever heard the mazda car song?
    zoom zoom zoom!
    haha! Lame arrrhh! ahahaha! I will never bring the L's into my life! not now! haha! =x

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by y0ngcheng
    hehe, i also not rich lah. juz save $ and buy. well 3rd party ah.. tokina 17-35 is doing great i think..

    seeing u so happy to go into zoom lens, ever heard the mazda car song?
    zoom zoom zoom!
    Tokina don't have a 17-35 .......

  12. #12

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    have...nikon and canon mount...or is it 19-35...anyway...i own a set of zooms...4 lens from 28 to 300 ... but the thing is...there is only so much u can zoom... now is seriously tinking of prime...

    wat i suggest is.... get a good zoom.or two...like 28-80 and a 100-300...both are pretty cheap if you buy tamron....they give u good ranges....then for other things....use ya prime...

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    Senior Member The_Cheat's Avatar
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    Hmm... get a good zoom lens? Get the Sigma 50-500!!

    Anyway Ozon, all the best for your papers!!

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Witness
    have...nikon and canon mount...or is it 19-35...anyway...i own a set of zooms...4 lens from 28 to 300 ... but the thing is...there is only so much u can zoom... now is seriously tinking of prime...

    wat i suggest is.... get a good zoom.or two...like 28-80 and a 100-300...both are pretty cheap if you buy tamron....they give u good ranges....then for other things....use ya prime...
    where got ..... they only have 19-35 .... Tamron and sigma have a 17-35 though .......

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Cheat
    Hmm... get a good zoom lens? Get the Sigma 50-500!!

    Anyway Ozon, all the best for your papers!!
    eh adam, sponsor ar.. HAHA! *bling* *bling*! haha.. Thanks!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by OzOn3
    eh adam, sponsor ar.. HAHA! *bling* *bling*! haha.. Thanks!
    Me? Sponsor? No way man! No way!!

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