Prime lens vs Kit lens

0ptics

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Hello, I just was wondering about prime lens and wanted to know what makes them so important for portraits or photography in general. I have a Nikon D3100 and I've been using the kit lens 18-55mm so far; the images are good but I know they could be better. So then my friend let me borrow his Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX and a 50mm f/1.4 AF-S; both which I very much like but I had some questions about them...

1) I'm still a new photographer but I tried testing the image quality between the three lens and I'll admit, I don't see much of difference in image quality; maybe I'm doing something wrong or cause I'm still a noob to photography/lens/camera. The other two primes lens definitely have better/faster AF, build quality, bigger aperture, etc. but I still can't much of an improve on the image quality, which to me seems the most important.

2) What makes primes lens so essential? As a beginner to photography I like the 18-55mm because it allows me to use the zoom and control my composition, but I know that prime lens are "better' but I guess I don't know why, the photographers I know use prime lens as they're default lens and they always carry it around, but for me I thought the 18-55mm would be better because it's more versatile. Are they really worth the money?

3) My friend let me try out her Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF USM on her Canon T2i and the images came out WAY better than either of the three mentioned above! I don't know if its the camera body or the lens, but even a simple snapshot the image quality was amazing. I did some research on reviews on the Canon 85mm and the Nikon 35mm and 50mm and all three of them had amazing reviews/ratings but if I had to choose one, it would be the Canon 85mm hands down; plus its cheaper (Nikon 50mm is about $500 and the Canon 85mm is about $420). I guess my question if what makes the Canon 85mm SO much better in image quality than the 35mm and 50mm, because its focal length is 85mm (does the Nikon 85mm AF-S compare to the canon's)? Don't get me wrong I love my Nikon camera and lens, but it just seems that the Canon 85mm is cheaper, great build quality, 1.8 is good enough, fast/quiet AF, and the image quality is a amazing.

The help one either question would be VERY helpful, I'd really want to understand the importance of prime lens!!
Thanks
0ptics
 

Kolia

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A fixed is just that, fixed. Less things can go wrong vs a zoom. And they generally have a larger aperture.
 

enzodm

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2) What makes primes lens so essential? As a beginner to photography I like the 18-55mm because it allows me to use the zoom and control my composition, but I know that prime lens are "better' but I guess I don't know why, the photographers I know use prime lens as they're default lens and they always carry it around, but for me I thought the 18-55mm would be better because it's more versatile. Are they really worth the money?
If you do not feel you miss it, it is not worth to have it. If you do not need larger aperture, and possibly better bokeh, then no. This is not a joke: buy a new lens only when you learn you are missing it. To start, the kit lens is more than sufficient.
However, the main reason that typically makes primes essential is aperture.

3) My friend let me try out her Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF USM on her Canon T2i and the images came out WAY better than either of the three mentioned above! I don't know if its the camera body or the lens, but even a simple snapshot the image quality was amazing.

most likely you do not have a clear idea of image quality. What makes you tell that images were better? Try to analyze results. Resolution at center or borders? Distortion? Chromatic abherrations? bokeh? And all of this wide open or at other apertures?
Or simply the kind of pictures taken with the longer focal length of the Canon seemed nicer vs. the ones taken at shorter focal length?

The three lenses are all good/very good lenses, but they are very different in focal length, it is hard to compare them. And you choose focal length depending on the pictures you like to take.
 
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robolepa

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I bought a Nikon D80 a few years back that came with that 18-55 kit lens, and I sold them both to buy a D300s. The D80 I don't miss, but there not a day that goes by that I don't regret selling that 18-55mm lens.
 

Nikon_Josh

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I bought a Nikon D80 a few years back that came with that 18-55 kit lens, and I sold them both to buy a D300s. The D80 I don't miss, but there not a day that goes by that I don't regret selling that 18-55mm lens.

This type of debate always get's me a bit anxious so here goes...

OK, first things first!

The build quality of the 18-55 VR is flimsy and poor, no dispute on that one!

This idea though that some people have about the 18-55 being a POOR lens is completely unfounded, I would like to get the people who say the 18-55VR is a poor optical performer and send them out to sea because their claims are completely and utterly FALSE! :lol:

Check out the results and you will see this lens can offer some very high resolutions images at the F8 range of things. You will get people trash talking the lens all the time, but they are completely wrong. The lens is highly capable and has many good aspects, low distortion, good CA control, good sharpness ratings, effective VR.
 

Nikon_Josh

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2) What makes primes lens so essential? As a beginner to photography I like the 18-55mm because it allows me to use the zoom and control my composition, but I know that prime lens are "better' but I guess I don't know why, the photographers I know use prime lens as they're default lens and they always carry it around, but for me I thought the 18-55mm would be better because it's more versatile. Are they really worth the money?
If you do not feel you miss it, it is not worth to have it. If you do not need larger aperture, and possibly better bokeh, then no. This is not a joke: buy a new lens only when you learn you are missing it. To start, the kit lens is more than sufficient.
However, the main reason that typically makes primes essential is aperture.

3) My friend let me try out her Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF USM on her Canon T2i and the images came out WAY better than either of the three mentioned above! I don't know if its the camera body or the lens, but even a simple snapshot the image quality was amazing.

most likely you do not have a clear idea of image quality. What makes you tell that images were better? Try to analyze results. Resolution at center or borders? Distortion? Chromatic abherrations? bokeh? And all of this wide open or at other apertures?
Or simply the kind of pictures taken with the longer focal length of the Canon seemed nicer vs. the ones taken at shorter focal length?

The three lenses are all good/very good lenses, but they are very different in focal length, it is hard to compare them. And you choose focal length depending on the pictures you like to take.

You clearly know your stuff! :thumbup:
 

DiskoJoe

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There are no pictures here so there is no way for us to see which is better. TEST SHOTS!!!!! Post them!!
 

MReid

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It is not the lens.
Excellent portraits can be made with any lens.
What quality of the 85 was it that you felt made the portraits made with it look better?
 

chuasam

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A fixed is just that, fixed. Less things can go wrong vs a zoom. And they generally have a larger aperture.
for any given focal length, the prime almost always has the larger aperture.
Things hardly EVER go wrong in a lens...zoom or prime.

I think that beginners should be forced to use prime lenses to build good composition habits.
 

chuasam

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I like the 18-55mm because it allows me to use the zoom and control my composition, but I know that prime lens are "better' but I guess I don't know why, the photographers I know use prime lens as they're default lens and they always carry it around, but for me I thought the 18-55mm would be better because it's more versatile. Are they really worth the money?
There in lies the problem. You should not be using your zoom to control your composition. You should be using your feet to control your composition. The Zoom (and changing focal lengths) should really be used to control your compression.
 

MReid

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[/QUOTE]
There in lies the problem. You should not be using your zoom to control your composition. You should be using your feet to control your composition. The Zoom (and changing focal lengths) should really be used to control your compression.[/QUOTE]

Explain.... why shouldn't he use zoom to frame a shot instead of walking forward or backward?
 

rexbobcat

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chuasam said:
There in lies the problem. You should not be using your zoom to control your composition. You should be using your feet to control your composition. The Zoom (and changing focal lengths) should really be used to control your compression.

That is kind of subject to opinion, the feet thing.7
 

EIngerson

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I don't think you should limit yourself by deciding if you shouldbe a prime shooter or a zoom shooter. Both style of lenses have their applications. I primarily use zooms because I haven't settled into one type of photography and I want the versatility, but I have run into situations that I wanted a fast prime.
 

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