All Prime Setup Feasible?


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Randius

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Mar 9, 2006
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#1
Currently I have the D80, 18-200 and the 50/1.4 and I am thinking of getting an all-prime setup.

The setup I have in mind:
AF 24/2.8D
AF 50/1.4D
AF 105/2.8D Micro (non-VR)
AF 180/2.8D
Teleconverter TC-14E

I think the above setup should give me good flexibility while keeping the size and weight to a minimum. The 24, 50 and 105 can also use and share 52mm filters/CPL and that should cut some cost. The 180 is also pretty small in size and with the teleconverter, still offers good quality images.

I have tried shooting with the 18-200 set at 24, 50, 105 and 180 (chose a single FL and shoot for the whole day) and though the experience is quite "liberating" but not being able to compose with the subject(s) at the desired size/position can be pretty frustrating.

I am wondering if the "better" IQ of a all-prime setup justifies the cost of losing the convenience of zooming? Also, with the quality of top zoom lenses fast approaching or even surpassing the quality of primes, is it sensible to stick to primes?

Wish to hear opinions from fellow bros. TIA.
 

Randius

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Mar 9, 2006
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#3
Well, that is according to what I've read in couple of forums and some of the top zoom lenses do come close to the quality of primes with the exception of barrel distortion at the wide end.
 

lsisaxon

Senior Member
Nov 29, 2004
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#5
I am wondering if the "better" IQ of a all-prime setup justifies the cost of losing the convenience of zooming? Also, with the quality of top zoom lenses fast approaching or even surpassing the quality of primes, is it sensible to stick to primes?

Wish to hear opinions from fellow bros. TIA.

If you compare new zooms with old primes, yes, the quality does surpass. But what doesn't is still the maximum aperture. The fastest zooms available still max out at f/2.8 (with the exception of 4/3 lenses). So if you are using f/2.8 primes (other than special purpose lenses like PC or Micro), then you're losing out on the convevnience.

However, if you compare the modern zooms with modern primes, the modern primes still beat the zoom flat!

In fact, you don't even need to go that far back. The quality of Sigma 24/1.8 is slightly better than the Nikkor 28/1.4 and the quality (contrast and coma) of the Nikkor only start to match the Sigma when you stop it down to f/4. There is only a half stop advantage for the Nikkor but the price is nearly 3 times. No wonder Nikon discontinued the 28/1.4.
 

Randius

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Mar 9, 2006
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#6
If you compare new zooms with old primes, yes, the quality does surpass. But what doesn't is still the maximum aperture. The fastest zooms available still max out at f/2.8 (with the exception of 4/3 lenses). So if you are using f/2.8 primes (other than special purpose lenses like PC or Micro), then you're losing out on the convevnience.

However, if you compare the modern zooms with modern primes, the modern primes still beat the zoom flat!
Though I do not have experience with the older primes (AIS and ealier) but some primes such as the 55/2.8 micro attain legendary status as one of the sharpest lenses (please correct me if I am wrong) while some of the newer primes do not enjoy such status. In addition, "newer" WA primes (some are already a decade old) are all f/2.8 which the older and newer trinity lenses are already capable of. Therefore, will it still be worthy to invest in prime lenses?
 

lsisaxon

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Nov 29, 2004
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#7
Though I do not have experience with the older primes (AIS and ealier) but some primes such as the 55/2.8 micro attain legendary status as one of the sharpest lenses (please correct me if I am wrong) while some of the newer primes do not enjoy such status. In addition, "newer" WA primes (some are already a decade old) are all f/2.8 which the older and newer trinity lenses are already capable of. Therefore, will it still be worthy to invest in prime lenses?
Yups. That's what I'm trying to say. The modern primes I was referring to are the 105 Micro and the super teles. Nikon doesn't seem to come out with newer wide angle primes except for the 10.5/2.8 fisheye. You don't need to compare with the AiS primes because I think most of the AF-D versions seems are using the same optical formula, they have not been redesigned for ages.

If you want convenience, zooms are good. Even though I get to use the 28/1.4 which is not that old actually, I still recently acquired a Sigma 24/1.8 because the 28 is not wide enough on a DX crop and I need the max aperture for low light shooting without flash, even f/2.8 is too slow for me. And I'm surprised that the optical performance of the Sigma is really good. It really shows what computers can do for aspherical lens design nowadays.

However, I won't deny the fact that the high ISO capabilities of the recently announced D3 might change the way I shoot if I ever acquire one. I find the DoF at f/1.4 quite shallow and your focusing need to be really spot on. Given a choice I would rather shoot at maybe f/2 or f/2.8 with a higher ISO. Then, there would be no advantage for primes except the special purpose lenses like Micro, PC and DC.
 

Mar 13, 2007
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Atlanta, GA
#8
all prime setup will work if you know what you are going to shoot.

but if you are not going to know what scene, or what object etc you might be shooting, it might be more convenient with a zoom.

if you take care of your primes, you will find lens swopping a little tedious, cap on, unmount, make sure rear cap is dust free/clean, cap the rear, put into bag.. take out 2nd prime, uncap.. mount.. etc
 

westwest2

New Member
Jun 6, 2007
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#9
all prime setup is already...if you can afford it..why not...
 

Randius

Senior Member
Mar 9, 2006
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#10
Yups. That's what I'm trying to say. The modern primes I was referring to are the 105 Micro and the super teles. Nikon doesn't seem to come out with newer wide angle primes except for the 10.5/2.8 fisheye. You don't need to compare with the AiS primes because I think most of the AF-D versions seems are using the same optical formula, they have not been redesigned for ages.

If you want convenience, zooms are good. Even though I get to use the 28/1.4 which is not that old actually, I still recently acquired a Sigma 24/1.8 because the 28 is not wide enough on a DX crop and I need the max aperture for low light shooting without flash, even f/2.8 is too slow for me. And I'm surprised that the optical performance of the Sigma is really good. It really shows what computers can do for aspherical lens design nowadays.

However, I won't deny the fact that the high ISO capabilities of the recently announced D3 might change the way I shoot if I ever acquire one. I find the DoF at f/1.4 quite shallow and your focusing need to be really spot on. Given a choice I would rather shoot at maybe f/2 or f/2.8 with a higher ISO. Then, there would be no advantage for primes except the special purpose lenses like Micro, PC and DC.
Gosh, the venerable 28/1.4 :eek:

Sounds like the only advantages left of primes are the minimal lens distortion, bigger aperture and compactness...

Also notice that though the trinity lenses are seemingly out of reach but getting 3 brand new primes like the 18/2.8, 24/2.8 and 35/2 will likely to cost more than a 2nd-hand 17-35/2.8 :sweat:

all prime setup will work if you know what you are going to shoot.

but if you are not going to know what scene, or what object etc you might be shooting, it might be more convenient with a zoom.

if you take care of your primes, you will find lens swopping a little tedious, cap on, unmount, make sure rear cap is dust free/clean, cap the rear, put into bag.. take out 2nd prime, uncap.. mount.. etc
Yes, I intend to focus on landscape and portrait, hence the first three primes I mentioned. I opt for the 105/2.8 only because it can double up as a decent portrait lens while being an excellent macro lens if the need arises. Changing lenses may pose a problem but I will be using the 24 as my "normal" lens, hopefully that will reduce the lens changing ;p

The thing that kept bothering me about the top zoom lenses is their size and weight. 17-35 + 28-70 + 70-200 amount to 4Kg. I will also need a big backpack to hold the 3 lenses. Price is less of an issue because it is possible to get 2nd-hand lenses.
 

lsisaxon

Senior Member
Nov 29, 2004
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#11
Gosh, the venerable 28/1.4 :eek:

Sounds like the only advantages left of primes are the minimal lens distortion, bigger aperture and compactness...

Also notice that though the trinity lenses are seemingly out of reach but getting 3 brand new primes like the 18/2.8, 24/2.8 and 35/2 will likely to cost more than a 2nd-hand 17-35/2.8 :sweat:

Yes, I intend to focus on landscape and portrait, hence the first three primes I mentioned. I opt for the 105/2.8 only because it can double up as a decent portrait lens while being an excellent macro lens if the need arises. Changing lenses may pose a problem but I will be using the 24 as my "normal" lens, hopefully that will reduce the lens changing ;p

The thing that kept bothering me about the top zoom lenses is their size and weight. 17-35 + 28-70 + 70-200 amount to 4Kg. I will also need a big backpack to hold the 3 lenses. Price is less of an issue because it is possible to get 2nd-hand lenses.
If you want to use 24 as your 'standard' lens, then it might not be a bad idea to get the Sigma 24/1.8. Mine had some front focus but Sigma fixed it after I went in for calibration. Otherwise it's quite a sharp lens and it's 1.5 stops faster than the Nikkor 24/2.8 for about the same price. In the lenses you listed, they are not any faster than the zooms in that range except for 35/2 which is only a stop faster. If you're shooting DX, 35mm is virtually a normal lens which is quite useless unless you go FF. ;p
 

giantcanopy

Senior Member
Feb 11, 2007
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#12
I am wondering if the "better" IQ of a all-prime setup justifies the cost of losing the convenience of zooming?
I doubt there are that many ppl who can make out the difference from the final picture

Ryan
 

lsisaxon

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Nov 29, 2004
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#13
I doubt there are that many ppl who can make out the difference from the final picture

Ryan
This is very true.. Actually you just need to look at the MTF of the lenses to see what kind of zooms we're having today! If you see the MTF of the new 14-24/2.8 and the 24-70/2.8 it's like :bigeyes:!!
 

Randius

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Mar 9, 2006
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#14
I doubt there are that many ppl who can make out the difference from the final picture
This is very true.. Actually you just need to look at the MTF of the lenses to see what kind of zooms we're having today! If you see the MTF of the new 14-24/2.8 and the 24-70/2.8 it's like :bigeyes:!!
Yes, thus the question of whether primes do offer any significant advantages for me to invest in them. For the time being, it doesn't seem to be the case. Even after playing with the 50/1.4 for tonight, I find the focal length to be very restrictive despite the benefit of a large aperture and I have to fall back to my 18-200. And judging from the shots taken tonight, I believe the 17-35 will serve me far better than any prime lens in the 17 to 35mm range.
 

lsisaxon

Senior Member
Nov 29, 2004
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#15
Yes, thus the question of whether primes do offer any significant advantages for me to invest in them. For the time being, it doesn't seem to be the case. Even after playing with the 50/1.4 for tonight, I find the focal length to be very restrictive despite the benefit of a large aperture and I have to fall back to my 18-200. And judging from the shots taken tonight, I believe the 17-35 will serve me far better than any prime lens in the 17 to 35mm range.
I think so too.. minus the hassle of changing lenses. ;p That's why I say, the only advantage prmes offer now is large aperture. If not, there is no advantage at all, maybe 50/1.8 can qualify as 'small and light'.
 

zac08

Senior Member
Feb 21, 2005
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#16
Yes, thus the question of whether primes do offer any significant advantages for me to invest in them. For the time being, it doesn't seem to be the case. Even after playing with the 50/1.4 for tonight, I find the focal length to be very restrictive despite the benefit of a large aperture and I have to fall back to my 18-200. And judging from the shots taken tonight, I believe the 17-35 will serve me far better than any prime lens in the 17 to 35mm range.
It all depends on your shooting habits and what do you shoot. For me, if I'm shooting animals like cats and dogs, a 50mm is just nice for me and on insects, the 90mm macro works better with a slightly longer range.

But if I need to do landscape, etc, then I would prefer to have a wider zoom like 12-24 or 17-35 to work with....
 

Randius

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Mar 9, 2006
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#17
It all depends on your shooting habits and what do you shoot. For me, if I'm shooting animals like cats and dogs, a 50mm is just nice for me and on insects, the 90mm macro works better with a slightly longer range.

But if I need to do landscape, etc, then I would prefer to have a wider zoom like 12-24 or 17-35 to work with....
I understand your point. I have concluded that an all-prime setup is feasible but does not suit my style and I will need to substitute certain lenses with zooms. I also realised a wide zoom will serve me better for landscape shots and I am now thinking of an excellent portrait lens as these two categories are what I shoot most. Will my current 50/1.4 suffice or the 85/1.8 / 105DC be a better choice? Though I have seen great portrait shots with the 70-200/2.8 but carrying such a heavy lens around is kinda tiring...
 

hacknet

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Mar 20, 2007
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#18
to me, primes are light for the aperture they shoot. i've been shooting with a 28 /2.8, 50 /1.4 and a 105/2.5. its still lighter than the a 28-70mm f/2.8 zoom. sharpness wize, i dont think its any worst and of course, is much much much cheaper.
 

zac08

Senior Member
Feb 21, 2005
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#19
I understand your point. I have concluded that an all-prime setup is feasible but does not suit my style and I will need to substitute certain lenses with zooms. I also realised a wide zoom will serve me better for landscape shots and I am now thinking of an excellent portrait lens as these two categories are what I shoot most. Will my current 50/1.4 suffice or the 85/1.8 / 105DC be a better choice? Though I have seen great portrait shots with the 70-200/2.8 but carrying such a heavy lens around is kinda tiring...
For shooting portraits, I would go with a 50 and a 85... (currently have a 90mm to take the place of a 85, no money to get one yet) :sweat:

Mebbe a 135 if I have a FF camera and have the range for it...
 

Frijj

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May 1, 2006
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#20
You can think of a hybrid set -up. Wide primes are usually quite large anyway and since you're thinking of a f/2.8 prime, it might be better to get a zoom for the wide end (the 17-35 gives you some flexibility) and primes for the longer focal lengths.

17-35 f/2.8
AF 50/1.4D
AF 105/2.8D Micro (non-VR)
AF 180/2.8D <--- you can put this on the back burner if you're doing mainly landscape and portriat (180mm gets a little long on DX - the alternative is to use the TC with the 105 if you really need the extra reach)
Teleconverter TC-14
 

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