Prime Lenses or Zoom ?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by elrafo, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. elrafo

    elrafo TPF Noob!

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    Hello there,

    I am a happy owner of a Canon 5D MII since yesterday, can't wait to start shooting seriously.

    I am still wondering what would be the best choice balancing budget and quality in terms of Lenses:

    I can't really own a 24mm f/1.4 + 35mm f/1.4 + 50mm f/1.2 + 85mm f/1.2 ...
    But I can certainly buy the less expensive prime (USM EL?) lenses open at f/1.8 or f/2.0...

    Compared to the NON L prime lense, is the zoom 24-70 f/2.8L a serious alternative in terms of quality ?

    I mean, is there a REAL improvement in DOF quality, bokeh and sharpness if get a 24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2.0, 50mm f/1.4 and a 85mm f/1.8 instead of the 24-70mm f/2.8 L Zoom?

    It is certainly less handy but I would like to know what is the best outfit it terms of quality and budget, your advice is really appreciated. I am not affraid to carry a few lenses in my pocket, but if the only alternative is the L prime lenses, I will be a bit out of budget...

    Raphael
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    It's hard to generalize and you sort of have to consider each lens on it's own.

    For example, I haven't heard anything good about the 35mm F2.0...but people rave about the 35mm F1.4L. That's to be expected as one is an L lens and several times more expensive.

    The 50mm F1.2 L is a lot more expensive than the 50mm F1.4 and the 50mm F1.8...but I've heard from a few people who have said that it's not worth it...and the F1.4 is a great lens for the price. There is a new Sigma 50mm F1.4 in the mix as well.

    The 85mm F1.8 is another one that gets great recommendations and is a good price. The 85mm F1.2 L, also has people raving about it...but it's a lot more expensive and gives such a shallow DOF that it's hard to use.

    The 24-70mm F2.8 L is known to be a great lens (although some say that you need to get a good copy of it because some of them don't focus accurately). This is a big heavy lens, so consider that...but it's been the workhorse lens with many pros for a long time.

    Some people like shooting with primes because they *usually* give you the absolute best image quality and with the wider apertures you can get really shallow DOF. Many people give up those advantages for the convenience of the zoom lenses...and the quality of L zoom lenses is still very high.

    Zooms or Primes really is a personal choice. It will depends upon your style and probably influence your style as well.

    I think a good compromise (especially when price is an issue) would be to spend your money on the lens or range that you will use most and then maybe get other lenses that have a great value (quality for the money). For example, maybe you really like shooting at 35mm. Then get the 35mm F1.4 L...and supplement that with the 50mm F1.4 and the 85mm F1.8...or maybe the 24-70mm F2.8 L.
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    In a lens test a few years back in one of the major photo mags (Pop Photog or Petersons or something) the $80 Canon 50mm f/1.8 beat every Canon L zoom it was compared to when it came to color, micro contrast, and the resolution of fine detail.
     
  4. elrafo

    elrafo TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike, I like this point of view, I will certainly consider le 35mm 1.4 you're right if I go with prime. indoor portraits in small rooms and even landscapes must work pretty well with it... how do you know that you get a good copy of the 24-70 if you buy it used? is there a fabrication date to avoid?
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    I'm not sure...I've never had one (good or bad). Actually, 90% of photographers that I've talked to about it, really love it. But I know one guy, who is a great photographer and a perfectly reasonable guy who said he has had 6 different copies and none of them met his standard for accurate auto focus. It's not just him, I've heard similar from a few others...but they are the minority.
     

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