zoom lens vs prime lens for portraits


Oct 30, 2010
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#1
Hey guys I would like to know what Are the differences when you use a normal zoom lens like 55-200 4-5.6 and zoom to 85mm and if you just use the 85mm 1.8g prime lens to shoot portrait? Other than it being a faster lens and have nicer bokeh, or subject isolation, is there anything else? Thanks
 

devilry

New Member
Feb 16, 2006
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#2
Hey guys I would like to know what Are the differences when you use a normal zoom lens like 55-200 4-5.6 and zoom to 85mm and if you just use the 85mm 1.8g prime lens to shoot portrait? Other than it being a faster lens and have nicer bokeh, or subject isolation, is there anything else? Thanks
"Other than it being a faster lens and have nicer bokeh, or subject isolation" - this would be the main objective already. If u use the 85mm f1.2 lenses, the image is even sharper, colour more contrasty, and the isolation much more superb.. This is something which the normal zoom lenses can only dream of achieving,l
 

eleveninth

Senior Member
Jan 17, 2006
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#3
[video=youtube;KIFZzq6D3dw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=KIFZzq6D3dw[/video]
 

Rashkae

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
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#4
You could also read the dozen or so previous threads that discussed this...
 

Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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#5
If u use the 85mm f1.2 lenses, the image is even sharper, colour more contrasty, and the isolation much more superb.. This is something which the normal zoom lenses can only dream of achieving,l
Colours cannot be contrasty. Colours can be saturated, Contrast itself is a different parameter. And a few clicks in post processing can change it all. What remains is sharpness, isolation, bokeh - and for some it's the feeling of the red ring ..
 

ricohflex

Senior Member
Feb 24, 2005
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#6
Just shoot with a prime lens say, Contax mount or Rollei mount Carl Zeiss 85mm f1.4 or Summicron 90mm F2 and all will be revealed.
Other prime lenses such as Nikkor 105 F2.5, Olympus Zuiko OM mount 100mm F2 and screw mount M42 Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm F1.8 Pancolar can do the same revelation.
 

area0404

New Member
Nov 10, 2011
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#7
Besides making you feel good about yourself and exercising, it is those points you already stated. A prime lens has less glass elements, so better image quality and cheaper price. Faster, of course. Lighter, too (assuming you won't need to bring multiple lens as a result). Smaller, less intimidating to subjects, make you look less professional (a.k.a. like a paparazzi), occupy less space in a bag. Last sentence is rather subjective though since there's always that "super zoom" option which is really small at the cost of image quality.
 

Blur Shadow

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2005
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#8
area0404 said:
Besides making you feel good about yourself and exercising, it is those points you already stated. A prime lens has less glass elements, so better image quality and cheaper price. Faster, of course. Lighter, too (assuming you won't need to bring multiple lens as a result). Smaller, less intimidating to subjects, make you look less professional (a.k.a. like a paparazzi), occupy less space in a bag. Last sentence is rather subjective though since there's always that "super zoom" option which is really small at the cost of image quality.
Woah. There are a couple of ideas that don't seem right though.

1. Less glass doesn't mean better image quality. It does, however, generally speaking, lead to better light transmission. You may search up f-values and t-values to have a better understanding of this.

2. Prime lenses are not always cheaper. Just look at the f/1.4 primes and the telephoto primes.

3. Primes aren't always smaller and lighter either. Go check out the 200mm f/2 or the 300mm f/2.8. They are way larger than most zooms.
 

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devilry

New Member
Feb 16, 2006
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#9
Colours cannot be contrasty. Colours can be saturated, Contrast itself is a different parameter. And a few clicks in post processing can change it all. What remains is sharpness, isolation, bokeh - and for some it's the feeling of the red ring ..
Take a normal canon 70-300 f4-5.6 lens and take a normal canon 300 f2.8 lens. Use both at 300mm to shoot the same subject wide open. It will be rather clear that the image from the 300 2.8 is much more contrasty than that from 70-300 lens. The blacks are blacker and the whites are whiter. Even when shooting a simple flat patch of green grass, u can see more tonal gradation from the images of a 300 f2.8. I.e. u can actually see a range of green. The 70-300 images would just show a flat dull green without much gradient in the green colours.

And even if u subject the 70-300's images to photoshop, their green will never appear as nice as the 300 f2.8. In fact it will just make the greens of the 70-300 look more artificial. This is because in the first place, the range of green is much narrower than that from the 300 2.8.

Sharpness, isolation and smoothness of bokeh wise, 300 f2.8 definitely triumphs, no match.
 

Rashkae

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
19,105
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#10
Take a normal canon 70-300 f4-5.6 lens and take a normal canon 300 f2.8 lens. Use both at 300mm to shoot the same subject wide open. It will be rather clear that the image from the 300 2.8 is much more contrasty than that from 70-300 lens. The blacks are blacker and the whites are whiter. Even when shooting a simple flat patch of green grass, u can see more tonal gradation from the images of a 300 f2.8. I.e. u can actually see a range of green. The 70-300 images would just show a flat dull green without much gradient in the green colours.

And even if u subject the 70-300's images to photoshop, their green will never appear as nice as the 300 f2.8. In fact it will just make the greens of the 70-300 look more artificial. This is because in the first place, the range of green is much narrower than that from the 300 2.8.

Sharpness, isolation and smoothness of bokeh wise, 300 f2.8 definitely triumphs, no match.
Sorry, I've not had such a great laugh in a long time! What utter nonsense. Hahaha!
 

devilry

New Member
Feb 16, 2006
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#12
Sorry, I've not had such a great laugh in a long time! What utter nonsense. Hahaha!
Prove me that i m wrong then, that's if you could. Prove to me that the colours on 70-300 can be made the same as 300 f2.8.

If not, this would be the best joke for all the 300 2.8 owners in the world!
 

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SilentSeth

New Member
Jun 7, 2011
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#13
I believe it's not because the 70-300mm is a 'slow' or 'normal' zoom lens and the 300mm is a fast prime that cause the contrast difference (as in what TS asked in this case), but maybe because of the purity of the glass material, and probably the coating.

For example, I believe a Helios 44-2 58 f/2 prime is less contrasty then Canon 70-300L f/4-5.6 zoom.

But I might be wrong here.. So CMIIW :)
 

Rashkae

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
19,105
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#14
Prove me that i m wrong then, that's if you could. Prove to me that the colours on 70-300 can be made the same as 300 f2.8.

If not, this would be the best joke for all the 300 2.8 owners in the world!
Actually, it's FAR harder to prove your "theory" because I have yet to see anyone able to prove (or, other than you, even think) that the 300mm f/2.8 has "greener greens" or "whiter whites" or "blacker blacks" than the 70-300. The only way what you say could possibly happen is if your 70-300 kena bad fungus / lens haze.
 

HighTone

Senior Member
Jul 4, 2011
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Altona
#15
Take a normal canon 70-300 f4-5.6 lens and take a normal canon 300 f2.8 lens. Use both at 300mm to shoot the same subject wide open. It will be rather clear that the image from the 300 2.8 is much more contrasty than that from 70-300 lens. The blacks are blacker and the whites are whiter. Even when shooting a simple flat patch of green grass, u can see more tonal gradation from the images of a 300 f2.8. I.e. u can actually see a range of green. The 70-300 images would just show a flat dull green without much gradient in the green colours.

And even if u subject the 70-300's images to photoshop, their green will never appear as nice as the 300 f2.8. In fact it will just make the greens of the 70-300 look more artificial. This is because in the first place, the range of green is much narrower than that from the 300 2.8.

Sharpness, isolation and smoothness of bokeh wise, 300 f2.8 definitely triumphs, no match.
Sorry there, any reference to back you up? cause it doesn't make much sense to my small brain inside my head....
 

SkyStrike

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Nov 29, 2010
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#16
When I first upgraded my 55250 to 70200, the thing I noticed is definitely not contrast. But rather is the clarity, more vibrant colors, sharpness.

Soft images will kinda affect the colors/clarity parameter to a certain extent. but it's still not the contrast parameter you are taking about.
 

rhino123

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Sep 1, 2006
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#17
I am sorry... I do not pretend to be an expert in this area... but I would like to point out... I think the main difference between lenses of the same focal range (eg, prime lens of 300mm f2.8, 70-300mm at 300mm), was the resolution of the image that then lens could capture, in another word, some of the lens couldn't resolve the details of the overall pic, while others could. This could be caused by lots of variable, such as the design of aperture blades, the number of elements in the lens, the coating (or lack of it) on each element and the manufacturing and assembly of elements.

As to the phenomenon as to why (as claimed) a 300mm f2.8 lens produce more 'contrasty' images as compared to the 70-300mm when shot in 300mm... might easily mean that,

1) The confusion of image isolation to having greater contrast as compared to a lens with smaller aperture, whereby 300mm f2.8 shot wide open would have better subject isolation because all other parts are blurred out, while 70-300 having a smaller aperture, would mean more of the picture are in focus and not blurred out, so the image might came out abit 'messy'.

2) The manufacturing process is different between 300mm f2.8 and 70-300mm.

3) 300mm f2.8 might produce sharper image as compared to 70-300mm lens (there are many reason behind this claims... but it is by no means a claim that prime lens are sharper than zoom lens).

4) the 300mm lens might be design and build to resolve more details as compared to the 70-300mm lens thus mistaken to produce much better contrasty image... which might be a different thing.

5) The 70-300mm lens that Devilry used had bad lens haze on it...

Again, I am not an expert in this area, just wanting to voice my opinion :)
 

TWmilkteaTW

Senior Member
May 30, 2011
2,251
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#20
Hey guys I would like to know what Are the differences when you use a normal zoom lens like 55-200 4-5.6 and zoom to 85mm and if you just use the 85mm 1.8g prime lens to shoot portrait? Other than it being a faster lens and have nicer bokeh, or subject isolation, is there anything else? Thanks
With regards to the differences. Many people have already mentioned.

While some prefer Prime..others would prefer Zoom. (although a zoom might not go larger than 2.8 (in many many case) but with the close up u can get. You would still be able to get very good isolation and bokeh though..) For me. I'll gladly just use the 70 200 for portraits work. :)
 

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