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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 11 Mar 2013 (Monday) 07:51
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Bag of primes or zoom?

 
dballphotography
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Mar 11, 2013 07:51 |  #1

Hi all, I'm looking at changing my bag a little and wandered what peoples views of primes vs zooms was.
Ive mostly been a landscape man up to now and have 16-35mm 2.8 L paired with my 5D mk2. I find this combo works well for me. I'm however getting much more in to portrait work and paid commercial photography these days. So my 28-135 IS I have is a bit on the slow side, can be a little soft and not great in low light, so its time to upgrade it.

So I already have a 50mm 1.8 prime which even though a little noisy and slow to focus on occasion I do really enjoy using it and its nice light and sharp... and really what more can you ask of a £70 lens!

So.... do I continue down the prime route and go for an EF 80mm 1.8 and an EF 100mm 2.8, this with the fast 16-35L I have should probably cover most things id need. Id just use my feet to zoom in and out. I also think primes make you think more about the shot and help you learn... or do I go for the convenience / laziness of say a 24-104mm f4 L IS??

Any input greatly received!


Dave
1 x Nikon D810 - 2 x Nikon D750 - Nikon 24-70 2.8G - Sigma 35mm 1.4Art - Sigma 50mm 1.4Art- Nikon 85mm 1.4G - Lots of lights and other stuffs.
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Superdaantje
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Mar 11, 2013 08:32 |  #2

First you can ask your self. Do I like to work with primes. Personally I do not think you will be more creative with primes and thinking more about the shot. You also have to do this with a zoom. It is all between the ears :D

For me personally I do not like to work with primes. I'm more a zoom user. I use as default kit the Canon 24-70 II and 70-200 II.


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ZoneV
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Mar 11, 2013 08:48 |  #3

I am a prime user.
For me fast lenses are very helpfull, in regards of low light ability and small DOF. This booth gives me additional creative freedom.
For sure I can not taken exact the position (=perspective) I want in every shoot without croping afterwards, cause I dont can adjust the focal length.

Furthermore I like special lenses, like the Meyer Trioplan 100 (external link) or others.

But I can not reccomend what would be best for YOU.
Probably you should test prime lenses to get the feeling wheter they help you, or you miss images cause the focal length on the camera is every time the wrong one.


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gfspencer
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Mar 11, 2013 08:49 as a reply to  @ Superdaantje's post |  #4

When I shoot with a Canon I mainly use zooms. (I only have one prime Canon lens.) When I'm shooting with my Leica M8 I have to shoot with primes. I have no other choice. From that experience I would say that you have to "work" more with prime lenses. You actually have to move around to get the best shot. If I am shooting with a zoom and I am too far away from my subject I can zoom in. If I am shooting with a prime I have to walk in.

I am not a professional photographer so I have never done any studio (portrait) work but I would guessthat a prime lens would work fine there.


Canon 50D - Canon 7DII - Canon 6D - 16-35mm f/2.8L - 24-105mm f/4[COLOR="red"]L IS - 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS - 50mm f/1.2L - 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS - 100-400mm II f/4.5-5.6L IS - Extender EF 2x

  
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w0m
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Mar 11, 2013 08:53 |  #5

The Canon zooms have just about caught up with their primes as far as sharpness at equivalent f/stops; so it comes down to whether you want the reduced weight or need the speed.

(Is f/2.8 fast enough? Your 50mm can help you gauge).

24-70 mkii is a pretty impressive piece of kit if it can keep you from buying multiple 1k+ primes.


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MikeG2012
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Mar 11, 2013 08:58 |  #6

The best advice for figuring this out is to take the zoom lenses you have which cover the prime focal lengths you are thinking about, tape the zoom ring (or whatever means you think of that will keep you from turning your zoom ring) at the various points and shoot like that a few times in different situations. It's basically turning your zoom into a prime and seeing if you like it. This can also help you determine which prime lengths you may want.

Unfortunately for me, I'm one of those photographers who shoots every thing. So I find that zooms are generally the better way to go, even though primes tend to be sharper and faster. However, I'm still planning on adding a wide angle prime to my kit for the sake of portrait and low light event photography. If you can afford to be a little redundant in glass, then the sky is the limit. Otherwise, zooms are generally the way to go if you're multi-disciplined.


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5D3 | EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II | EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS | EF 24-105 f/4 L IS | EF 16-35 f/2.8 L | Ʃ 35 f/1.4 | EF 50 f/1.2 L | EF 85 f/1.8

  
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Preeb
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Mar 11, 2013 09:04 as a reply to  @ w0m's post |  #7

As you can tell from my signature, I prefer zooms for most things. I like the versatility, and I figure the less often I swap lenses, the less chance for dust to penetrate the innards of the camera. For landscapes, shallow DoF and high shutter speed are not normally as necessary. I have several f2.8 options if it does become desirable. I like the IS with my 17-55, 100mm L macro, and 70-200 - makes lower shutter and hand holding more feasible - but I also have a decent tripod when I have the time and flexibility to use it.


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Tapeman
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Mar 11, 2013 09:05 |  #8

The newer zooms have such good IQ and are so convenient that primes have little advantage. (IMO)
There are exceptions: superteles, macro, and some manual focus W.A. lenses for example.


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dballphotography
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Mar 11, 2013 09:30 |  #9

Wow, thanks for all the replies, definitely food for thought going forward.
I actually have just purchased an EF 85mm 1.8 prime... was such a good buy, 5 months old as new, boxed for £255 (about $380) I couldn't resist. I think for most of the commercial work I do between the 50 and 85 I usually have enough space to walk through the focal range id need, anything else they are so sharp I can crop in I need be.

I am however thinking to still look at a zoom but something like a 70-200.. so this would give me a 16-35, 50mm, 85mm and 70-200 - seems like I could cover most ground this way?


Dave
1 x Nikon D810 - 2 x Nikon D750 - Nikon 24-70 2.8G - Sigma 35mm 1.4Art - Sigma 50mm 1.4Art- Nikon 85mm 1.4G - Lots of lights and other stuffs.
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taemo
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Mar 11, 2013 09:38 |  #10

I would say bring the right gear for what you are shooting.
if I'm shooting landscape, I load my bag with my 17-40L and 100-400L
if shooting portraits then it's just my 50 and 135L

for you i would recommend the 100 2.8L since it will allow you to take portraits and macro


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sandpiper
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Mar 11, 2013 09:59 |  #11

gfspencer wrote in post #15701718 (external link)
From that experience I would say that you have to "work" more with prime lenses. You actually have to move around to get the best shot. If I am shooting with a zoom and I am too far away from my subject I can zoom in. If I am shooting with a prime I have to walk in.

I disagree that you have to work more with a prime (apart from maybe at the PP stage when you crop to your composition). The statement that "You actually have to move around to get the best shot" is one that applies to every shot you take, surely? It has nothing to do with what sort of lens you are using. Yes, standing in one place and just zooming in is bad practice, as you are accepting the perspective you are given. However, simply walking in until the subject fills the frame is equally bad, you are again accepting the perspective you happen to get.

A thinking photographer wanders around the subject or location (where time allows) to decide on not only the best angle, but also the best distance to shoot from. There is just one spot that will give the best perspective and angle for the shot as the photographer envisions it. Having found that spot, you need to choose the focal length that frames the subject the way you want. A zoom lens will more likely provide the best focal length for the shot than a bag of primes, because it is more versatile. However, a shorter prime than ideal can be used and the image cropped later.

I am not knocking primes or saying zooms are better. They are different tools for different jobs and I have 3 zooms and 4 primes in my bag. Zooms are great for versatility, and having the correct focal length to allow me to shoot from the position that I feel is best photographically. Primes are great when I need a faster lens due to low light, or wanting a shallower DoF than the zooms will give me.

As far as how much work is involved though, I see no difference. The "work" is thinking about the shot, where to shoot from etc. and that has nothing to do with primes or zooms. Only when I know where I want to shoot from, do I need to start thinking about which lens to use.




  
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gonzogolf
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Mar 11, 2013 10:07 |  #12

It doesnt have to be an either/or proposition. I have zooms for versatility, primes for specific jobs. I use the 17-40 for wide work, the 24-105 and 70-200F4 for walkaround occasions. For portraits I prefer the 135L or 85 1.8. The ability to destroy a background with the fast primes makes them more useful for certain portraits. If I dont care about that, then I'm also happy using the either of the two longer zooms.




  
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w0m
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Mar 11, 2013 11:59 |  #13

For clarification of previous comments...

If you have a 35L; it will be wonderful for full body portraits. If you need a neck shot; however; you will either have to stand back and crop; or if you fill frame you will get a likely unflattering distortion. 135mm will give you that nice compression; but it may be hard to get a full body shot. With primes if you want both; you will be swapping between the two (or two bodies) depending what you want. With a 24-70; you can zoom to get the compression and framing you want when you want it without swapping lenses (But @ f/2.8). If space is no concern; You could just get a 135L and be happy in nearly any situation... :D Real world is rarely so forgiving though.


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noisejammer
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Mar 11, 2013 12:14 |  #14

I am almost a prime purist. I do have a 8-15/4L and 70-200 II, but every other lens I own is a prime. I don't use many Canon primes but I have a wide selection of Carl Zeiss and Zuiko to choose from. My most recent is a Minolta 58/1.2 ... which is very special.

I sometimes pick out a lens or two and go walkabout. Even the act of selecting two lenses from twenty forces me to think over what I intend to do. This stimulates creativity. Of course, I'm just playing. If I was earning my living with a camera, I'd have totally different perspective.


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kevindar
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Mar 11, 2013 12:22 |  #15

Prime advantages
1. smaller and lighter.
2. larger apertures. at allows for lower light photography, and better control over Dof.
3. easier to get sharp lenses at a cheaper price point
4. Teaches you more to see in certain focal length (does not make you any more creative as far as I am concerned.
Disadvantage.
1. Versatility: you may not have the right lens on, with the right focal length. You cant cover every focal length for perfect framing. sometimes you cant just move closer or further. also moving changes perspective, and you may want a different perspective.
2. Convenience. Lens changing is a hassle, may make you miss the shot, etc.
Now, for professional work, on full frame sensor, you usually have enough dof control with a 2.8 zoom. also high iso image quality has improved a fair bit. a fast primes of course can still shoot in lower light, as long as you are not dof limited.
I would argue that most working professionals shoot a lot of zoom, b/c of versatility and convience, except if the work cannot be achieved by zoom (TS lenses for architecture, or a fast long prime lens for wildlife, indoor sports, etc). they also may have sever bodies with a prime mounted on each.


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