please clarify for me

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by RobinChen, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. RobinChen

    RobinChen TPF Noob!

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    Hi guys I've been here on the forum for a month or so ever since I got my 30D. I really would like to know what classify's a lens as a "prime lens" thanks in advance
     
  2. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    A prime lens has a fixed focal length. (50mm) It does not cover a range of focal lengths, like a "zoom" lens does. (24-70mm).
     
  3. RobinChen

    RobinChen TPF Noob!

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    perfect thanks :thumbup:
     
  4. agwhite

    agwhite TPF Noob!

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    so whats the advantage? Is it easier to use? Or i guess its just for different purposes?
     
  5. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, the only zoom with a prime lens are your feet, which keeps you slim and sportsy ;) ... just kidding.

    the main advantage of a prime lens is, that it is easier to achieve good optical quality with a prime, since everything can be optimised for that one focal length, whereas zoom lenses are always compromises with respect to distortion, sharpness, aberrations and all over the whole zoom range.

    prime lenses also need less glass/optical elements, which also helps all mentioned above plus they hence are often less prone to lens flare.

    last but not least, it is easier to build prime lenses with large maximum aperture.

    Overall you pay a lot more money for a zoom lens with similar optical quality as a comparable prime lens. a factor of 5 to 10 is not a rarity.
     
  6. agwhite

    agwhite TPF Noob!

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    so starting out just trying to get quality looking photos, it would be easier to work with a prime lens?

    I have two zoom lens's that a buddy gave to me and shot a roll and it wasnt pretty. Real grainy most of the time some blur.. got lucky on one or two but man oh man... at least its a practicing this art is a good time haha
     
  7. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't want to sound old, but before zooms were invented it was not rare for an amateur to own a single prime lens (usually a 50mm for a 35mm camera) and to take all his/her pictures with that. Canon makes a cheap f/1.8 50mm prime lens, which will offer better quality than a cheap zoom
     
  8. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    which offers quality comparable to much more expensive zooms I was told
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Many people, especially 'older' folks will say that it is much better to start with a prime lens. There are several reasons...
    Yes, the quality is usually better than zoom lenses...at least for the price. A $1500 zoom lens is going to be pretty good...but so is a $200 prime lens.
    Prime lenses usually have large maximum apertures. A 50mm F1.8 has a larger maximum aperture than an 18-55mm F3.5-5.6. A larger aperture means that you can get a faster shutter speed, which probably means fewer blurry photos. Also, a larger aperture can give you a shallow Depth of Field.
    As mentioned, zooming with your feet is often more beneficial to your photographic education than standing in one spot zooming with your lens. A prime lens can force you to move around and think more about what you are shooting.
    Along those same lines, a prime lens can force you to learn about perspective.
     
  10. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    well, you still need to compose your image well, and with a prime that requires more thinking about where you position yourself... but actually, that is important with a zoom too (even though neglected often) ;)

    [/quote]
    I have two zoom lens's that a buddy gave to me and shot a roll and it wasnt pretty. Real grainy most of the time some blur.. got lucky on one or two but man oh man... at least its a practicing this art is a good time haha[/quote]


    so you shoot film ... if it is grainy, either exposure was way off ... or you used high-ISO film. Try fine grain pro film maybe.

    Blur menas either camera shake or fast moving objects. make sure you shoot with a tripod and/or short exposure times ("shutter speeds") then respectively. The latter becomes more easy with large-aperture prime lenses of course.
     
  11. agwhite

    agwhite TPF Noob!

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    Wow, great info. I really appreciate that you guys are so quick to help out starters like myself. Real cool of you guys

    Ive read a WHOLE LOT about that cannon 50mm f1.8 lens. Seems like the way to go hands down especially for the price so im gonna do that.

    Real quick question.. when talking about lenses...
    "50mm f1.8" means....?
     
  12. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That may be different issues. Grain is film / sensor and ISO related, and the blur from lenses is constant at given settings, often blurrier at the border.

    One of the cheapest lenses you can buy for any camera is a 50mm f/1.8. It also happens to be by far one of the highest quality lenses. The $250 Nikon lens nearly outperforms the sensor of the D200 quality wise. Then take a look at a basic kit lens like the cheap but optically "excellent" rated 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 ED also from Nikon. This "excellent" lens is 3 times the price, and at 50mm doesn't even come close to the prime as far as sharpness.
     

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