What's your favorite focal length and why?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by SquarePeg, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Which is the zoom lens shot and which is the fixed focal length lens shot?


     
  2. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg Hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Purely guessing... the 2nd shot without the foliage on the left is the zoom.
     
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  3. Frank F.

    Frank F. engineering art Supporting Member

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    I do not think one can see the difference between Zoom and Prime. There are bad primes and great Zooms.

    Primes of the same quality and speed are generally cheaper and smaller esp in the manual focus version.

    I use primes because I can get them in 1.8 and 1.4 speed which is often unavailable as Zooms esp in film format 24*36 and because I like the drawing.

    For subjects like sports I wish for a zoom. If I did sports professionally I would sure get a 70-210 kind of zoom.
     
  4. BananaRepublic

    BananaRepublic No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well you have lost weight lately
     
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  5. zombiesniper

    zombiesniper The camera takes the Pic. I just point the way. Supporting Member

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    500mm.
    I shoot primarily wildlife and go figure birds just won't come to the studio.

    Only true of shorter primes.
     
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  6. rexbobcat

    rexbobcat Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    85 probably. Was my first lens and "seeing" at that focal length comes second nature compared to others focal lengths now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
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  7. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    So - Why is important focal length?
     
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  8. Fred von den Berg

    Fred von den Berg No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Assuming 35mm film or digital equivalent, I like 50mm, 35mm and 28mm prime but also enjoy using 35-70mm zoom. As well as these I also like 135mm prime, but only use this occasionally. The 50mm I like for the crispness but also there is some play possible with the DoF. The 35 and 28mm wide angle are among my favorites because of what can be included in the frame and the depth that can be achieved (these are my favoured choices for street/situational shots). The 35-70mm is a great convenience tool that affords a lot of diversity and is my first choice for family days out, birthdays, etc. The 135mm is wonderful for isolating the subject, especially in people photos.
     
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  9. davidharmier60

    davidharmier60 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I used to do Airshows. And knew a guy who could get us onto almost any base. Usually kept a 70-210 on my AE-1 and a 28-105 on my EOS650. Never shot a heck of a lot on a 50 but in Canon I preferred the 1.8 to the 1.4. I have a real loose plan to get a Canon 40D body and an adapter to FD and one to Nikon.
    Because I don't own an EF prime.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
     
  10. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not in an internet jpeg image. But the single focus length lens should produce more resolution and contrast than is normally visible in a 100% crop. Now I have to go out do a test to back up my claim. I have three zoom lenses. Two of them produce spectacular image quality. I'll see if a prime lens can outperform them. Be back later.
     
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  11. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mission accomplished. I won't judge. I'll let you do that. The subject is my garden shed. It has a lot of texture. The Fulji X-E2 camera was tripod mounted in the same location for all the shots. All the images were made aperture priority at f8. The lenses were:

    1. Zeiss 32mm f1.8. The Zeiss name is legendary for high quality lens design. This lens is no exception.
    2. Fujifilm 18-55. This is Fuji's most popular lens and is know for its excellent image quality.
    3. Fujifilm 60mm f2.4 macro. Sharp as a tack.
    4. Fujifilm 50-230mm consumer zoom lens. Good IQ for the price.

    Here are the images with the labels on top of each:

    Zeiss 32mm prime

    zeiss32.jpg

    Zeiss 32mm crop

    zeiss32crop.jpg

    Fuji 18-55 zoom

    fuji18-55.jpg

    fuji 18-55 zoom crop

    fuji18-55crop.jpg

    Fuji 60mm prime

    fuji60.jpg

    fuji 60mm crop

    fuji60crop.jpg

    Fuji 50-230 zoom

    fuji50-230.jpg

    Fuji 50-230 crop

    fuji50-230crop.jpg

    There you go. Any comments. Any decisions about whether the primes outperformed the zooms?
     

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  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The above is pretty good commentary. I used to use Nikon's little f/3.3~4.5 35-70mm autofocus lens...really liked it in the 40-43mm range a lot of times, on APS-C. I like the 35mm f/2 AF-D prime, and the 28mm length too.

    One of the differences between zoom lenses and prime lenses is the lens drawing and lens rendering style...with "some" primes having very unusual lens drawing style, or very beautiful, or weird, or exotic bokeh. Sharpness is EASY these days on zooms, but some of the prime lens designs that the lens makers have developed are very,very special.

    A good case in point: Nikon's 180mm f/2.8 lenses, those from the 1980's to today; the "look" of the images this lens makes is very different from say, the 70-300 f/4.5~5.6 AF-S VR-G Nikkor when shot on a lot of scenes...and it's not the "sharpness" so much as it is the way the lens "draws" the scene. Many prime lens designs have fewer lens elements than today's 17-,18,19,20,21, or even 23-element zoom lens designs, and that can increase contrast in the prime lens shot as compared to the zoom lens shot, especially when shot directly into strong light, or can allow "some" optical aberrations in the prime lens to remain not-quite corrected away, which can give that "lensy" look to a simple 6- or 7-element prime lens shot. Of course, this might be considered to be lens esoterica , and thus beneath the level of notice or awareness for many shooters, who do not really concern themselves with lenses to a high degree; almost ANY modern (modern as in post-1975) lens can make a decent picture, but to say that zooms and primes are "equal" is an overreach.

    Some lenses have WEIRD image character: Frank's two poets [sic, poets], the 105mm f/1.4 AF-S G Nikkor, and the old-school 35mm f/1.4 Ai-S Nikkor...both are totally,totally,totally not imitatable by any zoom lens. The 35mm f/1.4 has super-strong field curvature...this causes a most-unusual sort of sharp center/soft edges look, a look that some love and others dislike. If a person reaaallllllly wants to do research, the info is out there. The lens is also VERY fast, at f/1.4, which can make images that a slower-aperture f/2.8 zoom cannot make.

    See this as a starting point. How Good a Lens?

    As is suggested the len's signature is something that a serious shooter might be concerned with.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017 at 10:49 PM

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