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Thread: fixed focal lenses

  1. #1

    Default fixed focal lenses

    hi. i'd like to know if theres a difference in the image produced by a fixed focus lenses (besides the fact it has no zoom) as compared to some normal lens..... say... a standard zoom lens? i would also like to know what sort of photography is suited for the fixed focus lenses and if it is practical. yeap. i really appreciate any help. thanks alot.

  2. #2
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    there's a difference in sharpness, but doesn't really show up on 4R prints... If you print a lot of 12x18, you can see some differences... Check out the articles section in fredmiranda.com as it might help.
    The equipment can only bring you so far - the rest of the photographic journey is done by you.

  3. #3
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    In a nutshell, for fixed lenses, your legs do the walking, as for zoom lenses, your fingers do the zooming.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by not me
    hi. i'd like to know if theres a difference in the image produced by a fixed focus lenses (besides the fact it has no zoom) as compared to some normal lens..... say... a standard zoom lens? i would also like to know what sort of photography is suited for the fixed focus lenses and if it is practical. yeap. i really appreciate any help. thanks alot.
    That depends on what kind of zooms you're comparing the fixed focals (primes) with. Theoretically most if not all fixed focal length lenses or primes give you better image quality compared to their zoom counterparts for that focal length. Question is: By how much? May not be significant for your purposes.

    Distortions and flare are often minimized in primes compared to the zooms. And they sometimes have larger apertures than zooms, meaning you can take even lower light shots or those requiring faster shutter speeds, and also blur the background even more.

    If you are talking about the fixed aperture zooms, like an f/2.8 or f/4, then these are more expensive than 'consumer' zooms with variable apertures. The former are very sharp on their own and give the primes a good challenge in image resolution.

    On a personal note, these days I find the quality of zooms are generally very good. Primes, I feel are more specialized... as I've mentioned, if you need to do low light shots or maybe you find you use that particular focal length very frequently, eg in the studio, product/portraiture/macro shots.

    Otherwise, I find primes are a pain to use.. especially when you go travelling. You got to carry a few of them and change lenses every now and then. That's my personal opinion... Some may think otherwise. But I'd rather spend my time getting possible shots than miss an opprtunity or worse, can't get a shot well cos of my limitation in focal length!

  5. #5

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    that other that is bokeh, which primes normally offers more stops of max of aperture. You get a more shallow Depth of Field and render more background/forground out of focus.

    Really its a different beast, Zooms and Primes, one offers you the convience of the variable focal length with relative moderate f-stops, f2.8 while most primes offer greater sharpest, bigger apertures, more bokeh. YOu must understand what you needs first before engaging in one for any lenses.

  6. #6

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    for zooms, they normally tend to soft at the tele ends and the wide ends...

    but the same thing on a prime will be nice crisp and sharp...

  7. #7
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    The main difference is quality and aperture. On a prime, the lens designer, needs only to cater to a fixed focal length. With the use of computer, etc it can be checked for quality and also easier to build one with bigger aperture opening.

    On a zoom, the designer has to cater for the entire ranger from z1 to z2 of focal length. Even with computerize ray tracing, there still will be compromises normally at the ends (boundry condition). It is also more difficult to maintain a contant aperture size as you must both cater to the zoom range and keep in mind the movement of the zoom element as well.

    That said, some of the newer zooms are getting almost as good as the older primes, if not better like the 12-24 DX at 24mm.

  8. #8

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    primes = fun
    zooms = not as much fun

    dude, sometimes sharpness issint everything, if you took up photography as a hobby then its all about having a good time. generally photographers become too technical... after a while. blur or not, its about caputring the monment.

    i had to admit, i only own primes now. they generally test the skill and make the whole photography game more fun and gives it more challenge.

    zooms can be fun too, in fact very, but to me its in the challenge which is what makes the whole game fun

  9. #9
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    depends on your need...if u want more convenience then zoom would be better.....but if u dont mind carrying around so many lens then buy prime lens
    i hav about 10 prime lens and i am now finding it very troublesome to carry them around......but of cos like what the others say....the prime lens are sharper ....i agree with that.......if u are really doing professional photography and really want ur pics to be supper clear then its worth investing in primes ......

  10. #10

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    Some ramblings about my amateur experience...

    A piece of old advice I read about when picking up photography is to use a prime 50mm lens to learn how to compose, since there's no zoom to 'distract' you, you have to run, bend, kneel, shuffle on your knees to compose that pic. I started out with a 28-70mm F2.8 lens & added a 50mm 1.4mm lens after that... I found both equally useful while taking holiday shots - for the prime lens, it was good training to quickly compose & snap away at the things immediately around me (also helps that it's a fast & bright lens!). The zoom was invaluable when I wanted to snap at things further away or for wide-angled purposes, say, a high ceiling or a building across the road. So even though my lenses overlap in terms of focal length, they still had their niche. It really depends on what your purposes are.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barret
    primes = fun
    zooms = not as much fun

    dude, sometimes sharpness issint everything, if you took up photography as a hobby then its all about having a good time. generally photographers become too technical... after a while. blur or not, its about caputring the monment.

    i had to admit, i only own primes now. they generally test the skill and make the whole photography game more fun and gives it more challenge.

    zooms can be fun too, in fact very, but to me its in the challenge which is what makes the whole game fun

    yes capturing the moment is everything!its the essence of your photograh that matter not so much the tool.

    I sometimes like to bring two prime lens out for shooting and test myself and walk more to get better angles, find the space to compose the shot, in a nutshell more challanging and fun.

  12. #12

    Default Always

    Fixed Focal lengths are almost always sharper!

    Less glass for the image to travel thru means sharper image!

  13. #13

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    Most of what have been written is correct. We are talking about the IMAGE, not speed etc. Of course a 50mm f1 can take pictures where a zoom with 2.8 may not be able to, given the same ASA rating for the film or chip setting. If there is a technical difference regarding versus zoom, it will be that a prime will be better, at least on MTF testing. Whether it makes any practical difference for average photo images is another point.

    But for most of us, but I think the most obvious difference is perspective differences. If you print up to say 8x10 for a 35 mm, the sharpness factor may not matter too much. The "bokeh" might, especially when your fixed lens have a wide aperture, such as a 180mm f2, or 50mm f1, AND you shoot wide.

    But the perspective difference WILL be very obvious. A full frame of a person taken with a 35 mm prime and a 70-210 zoom will be very, very, different!

  14. #14
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    I like prime lens because I feel the image is richer in colour, and the distortion (for wide angle) is less. When I shoot portrait/commerical, when the subject does not move a lot and I can move a lot, I use prime lens. On the other hand, when I travel, or shoot for event/stage, when the subject moves a lot and I cannot move a lot, I use zoom lens.

  15. #15
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    I use both primes and zooms. Basically, both cater to different needs.

    For primes, I usually use them in controlled environment like a studio. Even for outdoor shoots which are controlled. Or when I need the bigger apertures, like low light concerts. I know one guy here who uses the humbe EF50mm f1.8 for most of his fashion shoots. You just need to get off your butt and move. Primes are also excellent for potrait shots.

    For zooms, I usually use them when the subjects can be at different places and I don't have the time to change lens. For example event coverage and fashion shows. Sometimes the action is gone by the time you walk there.

    Primes render bokeh better and image reproduction is superb. Primes also has less distortions. However, newer zooms can get quite close to prime quality although they usually compromise on either the wide or tele end.

    Hope this helps.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Astin
    I like prime lens because I feel the image is richer in colour, and the distortion (for wide angle) is less. When I shoot portrait/commerical, when the subject does not move a lot and I can move a lot, I use prime lens. On the other hand, when I travel, or shoot for event/stage, when the subject moves a lot and I cannot move a lot, I use zoom lens.

    same workflow for usage of lenses for me.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zplus
    Primes render bokeh better
    depends on the aperture blades, some primes have only 5 blades, the highlights are hexagontal while most L zoom have at least 7 aperture blades.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Belle&Sebastain
    depends on the aperture blades, some primes have only 5 blades, the highlights are hexagontal while most L zoom have at least 7 aperture blades.
    Yup, that's true. The L zooms DO render nice bokeh too. And the 50mm f1.8 has only 5 blades.

  19. #19

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    True, but an L zoom may cost 15x as much as the 50/1.8. It's also cost vs performance vs weight vs build quality.. usually a compromise.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by sriram
    True, but an L zoom may cost 15x as much as the 50/1.8. It's also cost vs performance vs weight vs build quality.. usually a compromise.
    yes its always a compromise!

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