Considering moving to primes for my weddings...

jamesbjenkins

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Hey all, I'm considering moving to shooting only primes at my weddings, and I'd love some perspective from any shooters out there who have made the move from zoom to prime or vice versa.

My style is documentary and very natural. I try to be invisible throughout the day, with the exception of formal portraits.

I understand the big, obvious differences like focal length flexibility, weight, max aperture, etc.

My current setup is a D3s and a D3, with my 70-200mm 2.8 on the D3s and my 24-70mm 2.8 on the D3. I'm really getting tired of lugging around 5.5lbs of lenses for 12 hours.

I'd love to hear from you guys who have experience with both.
 

pixmedic

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I love my primes. I only second shoot on occasion, But I typically carry the 50, 85, and 180mm lenses. (28 or 35 if i have a large group later on) swapping lenses can be a bit of a hassle, but I don't find I really NEED to switch lenses all that often if i have room to move, and the primes are small, light, and easy to move around with. The wife loves her fast zooms though. its a matter of whether you want/need to trade the convenience of a zoom for the lightweight/larger aperture of a zoom. (though our 180mm is f/2.8, same as a fast zoom)

I guess my answer is that I have personally had good experiences with primes at weddings and engagements and such and I have not found using primes to be overly limiting. That being said....when I think the situation calls for a zoom, I use a zoom.
 

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I'd say sit down and study your photos that you take and see what focal lengths you use. I think Lightroom should be able to show you, ages go there was some cheap free software linked on the forums that could also brows through the exif data and pull up your most commonly used focal lengths.

That at least will give you some idea of the spread of your shots as to what focal lengths you use as well as how often - you can then consider how many primes you'd need to replace your zooms and also if one zoom might be worth dropping for primes whilst keeping the other zoom.
 

kathyt

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I shoot prime except for the ceremony, and for that I generally use the 70-200mm 2.8. Unless it is a really small venue, then I might use a prime for the ceremony too. Don't get me wrong though, I swap through primes all day long. So, I still have a lot of lenses with me. I will have my 3 top prime lenses in my slinger bag on me at all times, and then I have my other camera bag close by with all of my other lenses and such. I will occasionally have to bust out my 24-70 for larger group shots though.
 

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I grew up studying photojournalism using a two-body, multi-lens shoulder bag system with ALL primes: 24,35,28,50,85,105,135,200, and occasionally a 300/4. Two full-frame film bodies, eigh with a motor drive and eight AA batteries. UGH! I shot a lot of events with that two-body, 18-pound kit--with the smaller,52mm filter-threrad sized Nikkors, the fast yet still slower speed Nikkor primes of the 1980's. Later, I upgraded to the 135 f/2, and 85 f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 which upped the weight like four pounds or so. At that time, there were no "fast" zooms that were any good. The stuff we have today had not been invented. There was no 20-35/2.8; no 17-35/2.8; there WAS NO 80-200mm f/2.8 yet invented at that time. The 80-200 f/4 had just hit the market, up from f/4.5. I did have a Vivitar 28-80mm f/2.8 vari-focal, Series One, which was a massive, variable focal lens I had for a year or so, before it was stolen. It caused terrific "commotion" when it was aimed at people in the early 1980's. It was HUGE. I think it had an 82mm filter thread...can't recall exactly.

Today, 30 years later, I have a lot of gear to choose from, but I have gotten rid of the monster, 48-ounce 28-70, and do not own the 24-70 AF-S. I still own most of the primes, and like to use 24/35/50 indoors, 85 occasionally. Outdoors, I prefer the 70-200 VR over the 85 1.4 or 85 1.8G/105 DC /135DC /180 ED-AF-D quintet. The new 70-200 VR lenses basically eliminate the need for five primes from 85 to 200mm, and weighs less I think than the 105 and 135 DC lenses together. Certainly, there is no need for lens-changing on one's "tele-body".

I think a lot of event work comes down to how you like to shoot, and what you want your pictures to "look like". The 24mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 lenses allow shallow DOF + wide and semi-wide angles of view. 24mm distorts a lot at the corners; 28mm much,much less so. 35mm is a beautiful lens in the new high-speed Nikkor 1.4 AF-S G model...vtec44 shoots it, and it looks great on people work. 50mm is pretty useful,and the new AF-S G models are light and smallish. The new 28mm 1.8 AF-S G is sharp, and seems to be a nice lens. I do not really like the look of 24mm on interior or exterior "people", either in singles or in groups...too much corner distortion. Just does not look naturalistic, which is what I like most.

I think you need to differentiate between the 24 and 28mm f/2.8 AF-D Nikkors and the NEW, 1.4 and 1.8 models in the 24 and 28 lengths; in 35mm you need to look at the f/2 aF-D versus the size and weight and look of the new 35mm f/1.4. If you go with the 24 and 35 1.4 models, the weight is pretty substantial as a pair. I dunno...we now have great high-ISO cameras, so the smaller lenses like 24/2.8 and 50 and 85 1.8 are fine in most scenarios.
 

orljustin

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"I'm considering moving to shooting only primes at my weddings"

Why? If you have a good reason to, then you should. If you don't, why worry about it?
 
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jamesbjenkins

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"I'm considering moving to shooting only primes at my weddings"

Why? If you have a good reason to, then you should. If you don't, why worry about it?

Justin, my main reason is that 1) I'm tired of lugging around so much gear, and 2) I really like the look of the fast Nikon primes I've seen.

Between the 24-70 and the 70-200, I don't have to change lens once the whole day, which is really nice. Also, I really like the flexibility the zooms provide. But I feel like I have become a really lazy composer, that I'm not shooting how I'm capable of.

I already have the 50mm 1.8G and the 85mm 1.8G, so specifically what I'm considering is selling the 24-70mm and picking up a 35mm focal length of some kind, and maybe the 135mm f/2 DC. I know I probably need the 70-200 for the ceremony, but apart from that I probably won't use it.
 

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Justin, my main reason is that 1) I'm tired of lugging around so much gear, and 2) I really like the look of the fast Nikon primes I've seen.

Between the 24-70 and the 70-200, I don't have to change lens once the whole day, which is really nice. Also, I really like the flexibility the zooms provide. But I feel like I have become a really lazy composer, that I'm not shooting how I'm capable of.

I already have the 50mm 1.8G and the 85mm 1.8G, so specifically what I'm considering is selling the 24-70mm and picking up a 35mm focal length of some kind, and maybe the 135mm f/2 DC. I know I probably need the 70-200 for the ceremony, but apart from that I probably won't use it.

Seems like you could be more invisible if your back and out of the way and just use your zoom versus always moving back and forth to get the photo you want.
 

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I honestly think it depends on what you are doing. The right tools for the task at hand. I just covered a three day dance event this weekend and I barely used the 70-200 VR. Only time it came out was when the pro dancers came out to perform at the banquet and for some of the workshops. I mounted it on a mono pod and stood far back and wasn't noticed. For the rest, I either walked around with a 35-70 or a 50 prime. Nice, light, and relatively small. If it were me, I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
 

orljustin

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"Justin, my main reason is that 1) I'm tired of lugging around so much gear, and 2) I really like the look of the fast Nikon primes I've seen.

Between the 24-70 and the 70-200, I don't have to change lens once the whole day, which is really nice. Also, I really like the flexibility the zooms provide. But I feel like I have become a really lazy composer, that I'm not shooting how I'm capable of."

1. Lugging a bunch of primes around doesn't seem like it would help your weight issue.
2. Well, that's up to you then.
3. Never thought a self imposed restriction was that useful for improvement. I like flexibility. If you think you can only be creative at 35, 70 and 100mm, then ok.
 

tirediron

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What is wrong with the product you're giving the customer? Will switiching lenses make it better? Personally, I LOVE the flexibility of my fast zooms and have no issues at all with the IQ. To me switching to all primes is akin to shooting a modern DSLR in manual focus because it somehow seems "more pure". If, for your style, it will improve the end product, then by all means, go for it, but I have to wonder... will it? Really?
 

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Some interesting points have come up. Yes, the "fast" primes could offer some looks that the f/2.8 24-70 simply can NOT create, like 24mm at f/1.4, or 35mm at f/1.4 or f/1.8, with wide-view + shallow depth of field. The 50mm and 85mm 1.8 G-series lenses I own, and they are small, fast-focusing, and small, so people feel kind of at-ease in front of those lenses. As far as the 'other' focal lengths needed, 28mm is a nice lens for wide-work that has people in it. A same-G-series-family, same-era Nikkor, the 28/1.8 is available.

Indoors on FX, a lens of 35mm focal length covers about one foot across the frame at each foot distant, and its somewhat natural rendering of foreground/background makes it pretty easily used. Of course, unless the camera to subject distance is adjusted, the user will need to shoot a bit "loose" and crop-in later in post, which can add a lot of work. This is more like the old days, where we'd shoot event photos on 6x6 with a 65mm semi-wide, and then crop extraneous stuff out.

I dunno...zooming has its benefits...the primes have some benefits...zooms have some drawbacks...primes have some drawbacks. as to the 135/2 DC lens...I would rather have the 105 DC...it's a little bit better optically I think, and I prefer it, but with the 85/1.8 in the lineup, 105 is not much of a difference, so I can somewhat see a 135/2, but at the same time, it's awfully narrow except when needed for "reach" or "isolation".
 

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I switched to primes recently and couldn't be happier. It's a different style of shooting because it requires more work and planning, but the looks that you get is different. Also, shooting very shallow DOF needs some practice especially for fast pace events.

BTW, maybe it's just me but my 35mm f1.4 is and 85mm f1.8 have very gradual transition from black to white compare to my 24-70 f2.8. It's perfect for my post processing style since I don't like heavy contrast looks for weddings.
 

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I grew up studying photojournalism using a two-body, multi-lens shoulder bag system with ALL primes: 24,35,28,50,85,105,135,200, and occasionally a 300/4. Two full-frame film bodies, eigh with a motor drive and eight AA batteries. UGH! I shot a lot of events with that two-body, 18-pound kit--with the smaller,52mm filter-threrad sized Nikkors, the fast yet still slower speed Nikkor primes of the 1980's. Later, I upgraded to the 135 f/2, and 85 f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 which upped the weight like four pounds or so. At that time, there were no "fast" zooms that were any good. The stuff we have today had not been invented. There was no 20-35/2.8; no 17-35/2.8; there WAS NO 80-200mm f/2.8 yet invented at that time. The 80-200 f/4 had just hit the market, up from f/4.5. I did have a Vivitar 28-80mm f/2.8 vari-focal, Series One, which was a massive, variable focal lens I had for a year or so, before it was stolen. It caused terrific "commotion" when it was aimed at people in the early 1980's. It was HUGE. I think it had an 82mm filter thread...can't recall exactly.

Today, 30 years later, I have a lot of gear to choose from, but I have gotten rid of the monster, 48-ounce 28-70, and do not own the 24-70 AF-S. I still own most of the primes, and like to use 24/35/50 indoors, 85 occasionally. Outdoors, I prefer the 70-200 VR over the 85 1.4 or 85 1.8G/105 DC /135DC /180 ED-AF-D quintet. The new 70-200 VR lenses basically eliminate the need for five primes from 85 to 200mm, and weighs less I think than the 105 and 135 DC lenses together. Certainly, there is no need for lens-changing on one's "tele-body".

I think a lot of event work comes down to how you like to shoot, and what you want your pictures to "look like". The 24mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 lenses allow shallow DOF + wide and semi-wide angles of view. 24mm distorts a lot at the corners; 28mm much,much less so. 35mm is a beautiful lens in the new high-speed Nikkor 1.4 AF-S G model...vtec44 shoots it, and it looks great on people work. 50mm is pretty useful,and the new AF-S G models are light and smallish. The new 28mm 1.8 AF-S G is sharp, and seems to be a nice lens. I do not really like the look of 24mm on interior or exterior "people", either in singles or in groups...too much corner distortion. Just does not look naturalistic, which is what I like most.

I think you need to differentiate between the 24 and 28mm f/2.8 AF-D Nikkors and the NEW, 1.4 and 1.8 models in the 24 and 28 lengths; in 35mm you need to look at the f/2 aF-D versus the size and weight and look of the new 35mm f/1.4. If you go with the 24 and 35 1.4 models, the weight is pretty substantial as a pair. I dunno...we now have great high-ISO cameras, so the smaller lenses like 24/2.8 and 50 and 85 1.8 are fine in most scenarios.

I thought Vivitar made a 70-210 in 1975
 

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