Prime lens selection with full frame DSLR?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by ricardovaste, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. Hi all,

    I thought this would be the best place to ask, seeing as you guys have had full
    frame DSLR for quite some time now and there are bound to be quite a few 5D
    shooters out here atleast id think.

    I feel this question is quite different to 35mm prime selection, as you dont
    always have the ease of cropping so quickly, or of course seeing your results
    so quickly. I have read about a few landscape 35mm prime shooters who carry
    quite a number of lenses with them, for the reason i just mentioned. But
    digital is a completely different matter of course.

    Im not talking landscaping, just general shooting. What lenses do you carry
    with you? I much believe in the idea of 'less lenses more photos'.

    I'm not really interested in what zooms you may or may not use, just your small
    prime selection preferrably... on your FF DLSR of course.

    Any input appreciated and much encouraged. Thanks for your time.

    Best regards,

  2. I use the 50mm f1.4 and the 135 f2.0 lenses on my 5D's.
  3. 14, 28, 50, and 200. I have shot with a very similar selection of lenses for over 20 years now. I will eventually need a 20mm and I am currently considering a 100mm or 135mm or xx-200 fast zoom.

    To me there is no difference in lens selection tactics between 35mm film and full frame DSLR. When I see a scene whether I am using 35mm film, 4x5 film, full DSLR or crop DSLR, I envision what I want in the image and select the most appropriate lens while making sure to fill the frame the way I want it. I have learned to "see" scenes with respect to the focal lengths that I have available in my camera bag.
  4. Can't help but respond to "I much believe in the idea of 'less lenses more photos'."

    I agree. That's why I carry zooms for the most part. One zoom can cover a range that
    might require three primes - and more switching among lenses. And I can more precisely
    frame the photographs in many cases, eliminating or greatly reducing the need to crop.
    (By not cropping as much I also can negate IQ advantages that the primes might otherwise

    I'm not 'against primes' - I do use them, but not for the simplicity reason. I'll use a prime
    if I know that a particular lens will be right and/or I need to reduce the size weight of my
    gear down to one camera and one small lens, or if low light or need for very narrow DOF
    are significant issues.

    I agree with John that there is little or no difference between 35mm and DSLR in regards to
    how you approach lens selection. In either case there are issues to balance including the
    effect on IQ of cropping.

    Take care,

  5. zml


    Im not talking landscaping, just general shooting. What lenses do you carry with you? I much believe in the idea of 'less lenses more photos'.

    Well, using a lens for landscaping may be detrimetal to the lens, but you have to define "general shooting" to get a meaningful answer: you should pick the right tool for whatever you are doing. Say, just recently I spent almost 3 days shooting exclusively with a 35 mm lens. Last week a 300 mm lens was permamnatly attached to the camera for a few days and it looks like it's gonna be a 24-105 day today...
  6. I'm using a 5D. I carry a 50mm f1.4 with me, and as often as not, that's all I do with it. It's handy for low light, interior, night shots. But, my 24-70 sees much more use. I have access to a 35mm f2.0, which is a nice compact wide prime. I've been toying with getting the 35mm f1.4, maybe before an upcoming wedding. Still, the 24-70 is just more practical for me than an assortment of primes.
  7. Dan, I suppose you are right there, my statement kind of clashes with its self really!

    I dont know what i prefer. I just like primes because they are easier to compose with, they often give better IQ, are usually smaller and lighter and i like the freedom of using them in low light and playing with shallow DOF.

    Maybe I've gone crazy though. :/

    General shooting is everything really Michael. It excludes specialised stuff like natural, macro, etc. Just the gear you would carry with you on an every day type basis, when you dont know what you're shooting. But maybe a logical guess comes in handy here..?

    I dont know. I too have had a 300/2.8 lodged on my camera for the last few days! I obviously knew what i was shooting after... but then i dont always know what i will.

    Maybe im over thinking he whole thing too much. Maybe I should accept that a good zoom and a good prime should get you everywhere. I have a 24-85/3.5-4.5 and a 50/1.4 lens. Maybe I shouldnt think beyind that with FF.

    I'm shooting with Minolta/Sony SLR's and DSLR's. We dont have a FF, but I'm very much planning for one, hoping atleast. It will probably be out of my price range/a waste of money anyway.

    Thanks to all for your suggestions/words.
  8. "Well, using a lens for landscaping may be detrimetal to the lens..."

    Indeed. I find that using a shovel, hedge trimmer, lawn mower, and so forth is much more
    effective for landscaping. Using a lens for this is ineffective and tends to ruin the lens.


  9. I dunno: a nice row of on-end L lens could smartly define a path edge.
  10. Yes, but have you ever tried to work around them with one of those string edge trimmers?
    Really difficult. It might be easier to line up a bunch of 400mm lenses end to end.

  11. With 5D I use these primes :
    Leica 19mm. Elmarit f2.8 - Canon 35mm f1.4 - CZeiss 50mm. f1.7 - Canon 85mm. f1.2 -Canon 135mm. f2 - Canon 200mm. f2.8 and Canon 300mm. f4IS
  12. Primes are a slippery slope. I do almost 100% of my shooting with primes & 5D these days. Each
    one has its own characteristics and feeling that make the images it produces or the process of
    using it special. Maybe your daily kit will be small, but your collection could be big.

    My favorite lenses from the last few years are:

    1) Canon 35 mm f2
    2) Canon 85 mm f1.8

    I'm currently evaluating some non-canon primes:

    1) Zuiko 21 mm f3.5
    2) Zuiko 50 mm f1.4
    3) Zuiko 100 mm f2.8
    4) Nikon 28mm f2.8 AI-S

    I really enjoy USING the Nikon 28mm. It seems to have it the sweet spot of the wide view I like, as
    well as a beautifully smooth focusing mechanism and great close focus. I really like the IMAGES
    the Canon 35mm produces. They are sharp, rich and beautiful, but I hate the sound/feel of the
    focus mech.

    My 3 lens travel kit consists of the canon 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4 and Nikon 28mm 2.8.
  13. My Leica rangefindes only have primes so I am used to them.

    The Nikon D200 was purchased with 18/70 and later got the 55/200 vr.

    Ok they work, but then I got primes 24/28/35/50/60 and will get some more, but for now i have adapted my 90/135/200/280/400/560 Leica lenses to the D200. The Zooms are turning me off, but they are handy sometimes as it hard to change digi lenses outside and keep dust out.
  14. Primes that I use on my 1Ds, 17 Tokina, for architecture, Canon 20 f/2.8, Canon 35 f/2, 50 f/1.4. Very low light events the 50 f1.4 (no flash), events with flash or sufficient light, either the 20 or the 35. I also use the 24-70 L
  15. 15 fisheye, 50 1.4, 100 2.8 macro
  16. I think the EF 24mm f/1.4L USM would be my most-used on a 5D. Followed, perhaps, by the EF 50mm f/1.4L USM.
  17. My usual 5D bag has three prime lenses, though which three depends on the expected subject.

    For people indoors and outdoors, I take a 35, 50 and an 85. The 85 is normally for posed portraits and when closer contact would adversely affect the scene. Otherwise, my basic strategy is to have the 35 on the camera indoors and use the 50 outdoors to minimize lens changes.

    I find that I can go a long way with just the 50, so it should be no surprise that my kit has two focal lengths on either side of the 50.
  18. the zeiss distagon 28/2.8 and canon 90tse and 135L do a wonderful job on my 5D.
  19. Cheers for someone wanting to use primes! As others have said, it depends on the type of photography you gravitate towards.

    The 85 1.8 lives on my 1Ds2. Great lens, great out of focus rendition, light. 50 1.4 is a bargain. The 28 2.8 is a very good lens, and I say that from the perspective of owning the Zeiss 28. These 3 lenses cover a pretty wide range for very low cost.

    Going longer, the 135 and 200 L lenses are very good and amongst the lowest cost L lenses. The above lenses cover 95% of my general needs.

    It's easy to think one needs more lenses than one really does. That thinking has led to my aquiring Zeiss 20, 28, 50, 85 1.4, 85 1.8, 100 Makro lenses. In reality, almost all of my shooting is with the first 3 Canon lenses listed above!
  20. How do you define "general shooting?" Most people are fairly specific to the subject matter.
  21. Richard - maybe you want to FIRST buy the cheapest ZOOM lens, covering the biggest range first? Then, don't look at image sharpness, colors, etc. etc. but at your composition and what focal lengths you use most. Based on a 100 film-role or nearabout, you'll have a pretty good idea what suits you. THEN come back and ask - okay I think I need a 50 mm., should i go for f/1.4 or 1.8 AND I need a 100 mm. AND a wide-angle. Someone here will say - hey - why not instead buy a 24-105 instead, etc., etc.? Every individual has his OWN needs and likings... it's important you determine yours first.
  22. I recently bought a 5d and set of primes:

    24mm 2.8, 35mm 2.0, 50mm 1.4, 100mm 2.0.

    The reason I bought the primes was to have small light lenses with the ability to have wide

    All the lenses seem to have image quality that is more than the 5d can capture so that is
    not an issue. The 50mm 1.4 though jams when focusing close and has a poorly designed
    focusing mechanism. Besides that, I'm really happy with the selection.

    If I go out walking around to take photos though, I usually am taking only one or two
    lenses. Usually the 35mm and 50mm.

    Hope this helps.
  23. x


    Main lens is a 50/1.8 Mk 1 and usually take the 35/2, 85/1.8 and 135/2.8 as well.

    The 50/1.4 in my experience is very badly built (sloppy barrel) and will take good pictures sometimes and unsharp pictures other times. I would not recommend it - I have one and rarely use it. Am very interested in seeing test reports on the Sigma 50/1.4 when it appears.

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