Am I really a "Prime" person at heart?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by ejchem101, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Sooooo...
    I've gone out, an purchased some nice used zoom lenses, because they were convenient and fairly affordable. They work. I've got the 17-40L and the 70-200 F4 L. I've been using them for a couple of years. However I find that I LOVE my 50 1.8 because of it's smaller size and is so less noticeable, and I don't mind zooming with my feet.
    However, I've been reluctant to pick up other prime lenses because I feel like they are covered by my zooms. I guess I am probably most tempted by the 85 1.8, I do senior portraits for fun, and it sounds like it would be a great lens for it. But can I really justify using the 85 1.8 when I have the 70-200 F4? At some points I've thought of ditching the zooms all together to help fund a couple of primes in their place.
    Opinions?
     
  2. First, you can't really zoom with your feet. The whole idea is to use the focal length that gives you the spatial relationships and covers the angle of view you are interested in. Using your feet totally puts the spatial relationship part in the back seat--and sometimes that can be ok!
    I have always shot with primes until I got my digital 35mm camera and then went totally the other way--all zooms. The main reason is because of what I shoot with it and the flexibility they give for those things I mentioned above--spatial relationships are important to me as is the field of view. But I never had any issue with changing lenses on my MF or LF cameras either. So, it is a matter of choice and getting used to working this way or that.
     
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "However I find that I LOVE my 50 1.8 because of it's smaller size and is so less noticeable"​
    well it sounds to me you need some value for money Prime additions like: 24/2.8; 35/2; 85/1.8 and 135/2.8 . . .
    WW
     
  4. I have both zooms and primes in this range and they serve different and complementary purposes. Echoing William, I like
    the Canon 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4, and 85mm f/1.8.

    Dan
     
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Like Dan I like those three lenses particularly and I think the 35/2; 50/1.4 and 85/1.8 are the "GUTS" three value for (least) money prosumer prime lenses . . . the 85/1.8 is superlative IMO.
    I only added the 24 and the 135 to round out a very good value set of 5 Primes.
    The 24 and 135 I mentioned rarely get a run on these forums and are very good lenses.
    And yes the term "zooming with your feet" gets up my snooter sometimes too - not using the term so much as the fact it really has no meaning or it creates a false meaning - the latter is worse.
    WW
     
  6. I have many Canon FD and EF lenses, and way more primes than zooms. Like you, Erik, I do find zooms to be convenient, and the image quality of some of mine (e.g., the FD 80-200/4 L and EF 70-200/4 L IS) is superb. But for the combination of image quality and speed, primes can't be beaten.
    I don't worry about focal length overlap since, like G Dan, I tend to use fast primes and slower zooms for different purposes. I use primes mainly for indoor portraiture in available light (and outdoors in lower light), and use zooms when walking about in daylight.
     
  7. I just picked up the 135mm L f2. Now I cannot put it down. My purchase was influenced by indoor soccer and a need for a faster glass. As for the lack of zoom, I am looking forward to a pre-emptive approach to getting the shot, and placing myself around the field in positions that I may not have considered while armed with the 70-200mm. My only other prime is the 50mm f1.4 and an absolute joy to shoot with.
    Roger
     
  8. Walking around with a big zoom especially if you need a flash is crazy and many times I can attach a small prime and just shoot very discretely though I find over time my primes are getting larger since I got an L bug on a few but the Non L primes are very good. Don't overlook the 100 Non L macro, its an amazing lens for the price.
     
  9. Roger, your mention of the 135mm f/2 brings up a point that vIhave thought about a bit, namely that some non-L primes
    are such good performers that the compete with the L equivalents, while some L primes can be worth the additional cost
    for certain types of shooters.

    I'm a big fan of the three non-l primes mentioned earlier... yet I also have the 135mm f/2. There are a few other focal
    lengths where I think the L prime may be a good option.

    Dan
     
  10. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "There are a few other focal lengths where I think the L prime may be a good option."
    . . . 35 and 24MkII ? ? ?
    the 24 especially for me, is a favourite.
    WW
     
  11. But can I really justify using the 85 1.8 when I have the 70-200 F4?​
    85/1.8 is very affordable, compact and offers excellent image quality. What's not to like. Did I mention it's compact..?
    I don't know about ditching the 70-200 though. How often do you use its 135-200 range? Perhaps you could do with 85/1.8 or 100/2 as your tele lens? Just a thought as 200/2.8 isn't really cheap. 135/2.8 SF is pretty affordable but I don't know how fast it focuses and tracks.
     
  12. I prefer primes because of their weight, size and fast aperture (in this order). Using my EF 200mm f/2.8 L USM prime for street portraiture is much more inconspicious and comfortable than a compareabe white whale zoom. And when it comes to image quality almost all decent non-L primes beat most L zooms at with the same focal length -- even such a lowly lens like the inexpensive EF 24mm f/2.8. I don't really need every single millimeter of focal length covered -- I fully agree with what Y. Peled said:
    With prime lenses you need to use your head more. Pre-visualize the scene, mount the right lens, move to the right position and only then, take the shot. Thus you become more involved in the picture taking procedure. Consequently, the chances of getting the shot you planned go higher.​
    My current kit for my 5D: 20mm f/2.8, 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 100 f/2, 200mm f/2.8 -- so instead of the ubiquitous 85mm I carry its longer 100mm sibling.
     
  13. The 85 f/1,8 is a GREAT lens and it's faster than either of your zoom, thus wouild not be a 'repetition' of what you already have.
     
  14. well it sounds to me you need some value for money Prime additions like: 24/2.8; 35/2; 85/1.8 and 135/2.8 . . .
    WW​
    I think you hit the nail on the head, I am in need of some value primes, I guess this would give me a chance to try them out. Most of the time for a "walk around" lens I find myself wanting a little wider view than the 50. Maybe the 35/2 is the way to go there.
    While shooting some portraits I have found my 70-200 F4 to not be getting me enough of a blurred background (even with moving the subject away from the background). So maybe the 85 1.8 will solve my bokeh problem.
     
  15. Sidetracking here a bit but has anyone compared EF 24/2.8 to Sigma 24/1.8? Both are affordable but Sigma interests me because of the large aperture and close focusing. I enjoy the quite rare combination of wide angle and shallow DoF and have been missing good old Olympus 28/2 lately (and I've been eye balling that Sigma for some time now).
     
  16. Quote:

    "With prime lenses you need to use your head more. Pre-visualize the scene, mount the right lens, move to the right
    position and only then, take the shot. Thus you become more involved in the picture taking procedure. Consequently, the
    chances of getting the shot you planned go higher."

    Not so fast.

    I use both, and I often "use my head more" with zooms than primes. I move around much more when setting up a shot
    with a zoom and consider more options when I happen to be using zooms - here I have one additional compositional
    variable to deal with, along with the attendant effects on depth of field, foreground/background relationships and so forth.
    I'm certainly no less "involved in the picture taking procedure" and it is not the case that "the chances of getting the shot"
    improve.

    Both primes and zooms have their places in the creation of excellent photographs, and restricting yourself to either, while
    certainly your privilege, does not make you a better or worse photographer.

    Dan
     
  17. I have a number of primes in addition to zooms, so don't worry, it is quite normal to want both. The thing to remember is that you can take a good shot of any scene with any lens - there is rarely only "one" good shot, so in some sense what lens you have is not as important as it seems. Having a different lens often pushes you to take a more creative view of the scene. Zooms can make you lazy. The 85mm f1.8 is an excellent lens. I have to say I rarely use mine - tending to pick the 135/2 instead, but that's just me. Certainly it is a good idea to have a faster tele if all you have is an f4 zoom - speed is useful on occasion.
     
  18. >>> Using my EF 200mm f/2.8 L USM prime for street portraiture is much more inconspicious and
    comfortable than a compareabe white whale zoom.


    Hmmm... Looking at the photos, I would not call that "street portraiture." It's something else.

    Not that it's particularly important, I do mine with a 35mm prime.
     
  19. I find that oftentimes my zoom lenses are treated as twin primes–meaning I'm shooting either at the widest or the longest setting, with not much of the middle focal length real estate being utilized.
    It's different, for sure, losing that zoom ring. But there are times when it's good to have it there. If you shoot with a prime, are there going to be times when you wish for some focal distance flexibility, sure, there will be. But same goes for a zoom--there's always going to be times when you want more reach, or a wider field of view, or a faster aperture, or something...but what I like about primes is that I spend more time compositing and paying attention to what is in the frame and what I can do with it, rather than racking back and forth to recompose.
    And recently I've really gotten into the Pentax pancake primes, and have really been enjoying the compactness and low weight of this series of lenses for lots of HDRI and family shots. I'm surprised Canon and Nikon don't have anything like this in their lineups. I'm of an age and station (new baby) where travelling light is a critical part of my day-to-day shooting. I'd love to see some EF-S pancakes, but I really doubt there's any coming down the pike any time soon...
     
  20. Brad, Bueh's series "Faces of Resistance" certainly looks like candid street portraiture to me.
     
  21. If you want to do senior portraits a zoom is way more convenient. It's not that yo can't use a prime, but seniors come in all different sizes. Just imagine having to get up to adjust for every single shot you take.
     
  22. I have the exact setup as you Erik, and I find that my 50mm serves a completely different purpose than my zooms, so having a prime in a FL covered by a zoom wouldn't necessarily be redundant. I use my zooms for walking around and convenience and my prime for low light and bokeh. The 85mm would give you a faster lens that creates more bokeh than your 70-200mm, it would probably also be sharper. If you're really a bokeh freak, then getting a full frame camera (if you don't already use one) would really be great for those senior portraits. You'd be taking advantage of the entire image circle instead of just the small center portion an APS-C sensor records.
     
  23. another nod to the 100/2.8 macro. 2.8 will give you a decent amount of background blur, plus unlike the 85mm, you will have 1/1 macro. A great sharp lens for the money.
     
  24. Joel, Good point about the macro. I don't currently have a 1/1 macro that will allow me to do those type of shots. Something else I have to throw into the mixing pot.
    Nathan, I currently use the original 5D. While it does help with the bokeh on my 70-200 f4, and while I dont consider myself a bokeh freak, there are times when I wish the background was much more out of focus.
     

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