TPF Noob!
Dec 24, 2011
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JC New York
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When I use my 70-200 with my 1.7 converter the reach is pretty impressive. But more times than none i'm usually adjusting
my zoom to get the image I want. Sometimes i'm to close and others just the opposite. My question is those of you with
telephoto primes, do you often find that the range you have works most of the time or are you constantly moving back and forth
to get the image you want. I would love to invest in a prime but i'm concerned that a 300mm prime would be a pain to use
because of that fixed focal length. Curious what you think.
I use a 300mm prime. I have no issues with it, though I have been using fixed focal length lenses for decades ... so it is second nature for me to switch lenses when necessary.

I used to have a 135mm, a 50mm, and a 28mm when I had my Canon nF-1, but going to this newer system I opted for a high quality 28-135mm Minolta zoom.
I use what I need to use to accomplish the task. I have the trifecta of zooms and a slew of primes. Shooting sports and such I use zooms. Portraits and such where the subject or location is more controllable I tend to use primes as they are sharper than comparable quality zooms.
Short lenses, maybe. Long teles, no way.

I have a 300 prime, and several short primes, for my 35mm body. The reason you mention is the exact reason I don't use prime lenses any longer. Once I bought my first zoom lens I never went back. I'm more than willing to pay the penalty of a slight loss in sharpness for the flexibility offered by my zoom lenses.

Edit ... After reading the post ahead of mine I should mention that the subjects I shoot are part of my reason. I don't shoot portraits, in which a prime would be the appropriate choice. I mostly shoot wildlife, birds, motorsports, and other things that move.
I grew up in the era when "serious photography" meant primes. When I was in my 20's, 25- to 30-ish years ago, primes were just called "lenses". Single focal length lenses, actually, but more often just "lenses". Nothing more. Just "lenses". So, a person would carry the lenses he had, or needed, and would switch, usually between two camera, each with a different prime. Wide-angle zooms were, at that time, typically not very good if they were affordable. Really "wide" primes, like the 17-35, were not yet made by the camera makers. A typical day would see me carrying two bodies, and 24,28,35,50,85,105,135,and 200mm lenses. Keep in mind, those were manual focus Nikon lenses, and at THAT TIME, only Nikon, not Canon, not Minolta, had a complete lineup of high-quality prime lenses that ALL used 52mm filter threads. From 20mm, all the way to 200mm. Even the 105, 135, and 200 shared the same filter diameter--meaning that these lenses were small. VERY, VERY small by comparison with today's equipment. The actual physical size and weight of today's AF lenses is so,so much higher than it used to be that TODAY's prime telephoto lenses are rather big and bulky and a hassle to carry around.

If a person wishes to work with telephoto primes, and finds himself constantly moving back and forth, back and forth, then he really ought to consider a zoom lens. OR, he needs to own more, individual prime lenses. The current lineup of prime lenses that Nikon and Canon offer is really not very conducive to use on APS-C bodies. Today's pro-grade zoom tele zoom lenses are, I think, actually BETTER,optically, than the majority of 1980's primes were. Today's AF telephoto primes are really,really quite good. But the focal lengths today's telephoto primes are made in is really optimized more toward full-frame cameras than for APS-C.

With practice and good fundamentals, if you wear the camera around your neck on a neckstrap, and have the right kind of shoulder bag, a lens can be popped off the body, and another lens bayonetted on, and the other lens put away in the bag in its compartment, in around 5 seconds
... Today's pro-grade zoom tele zoom lenses are, I think, actually BETTER,optically, than the majority of 1980's primes were. ...
I agree. Back in the 70's when zoom lenses first hit the consumer market a zoom ratio of 2:1 (i.e. 75-150, 100-200, etc.) was about all that the manufacturers could handle without a lot of distortion. Today we see lenses of 10:1 ratio (50-500mm Sigma for example) with acceptable levels of IQ. I'd be willing to bet that most of them are at least as good as many of the primes we used years ago.
Well when shooting with the *yawn* 800mm prime *yawn*, my subjects are always really far away and I'm just trying to get it as large as I can in the frame.

In your case, the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 may be a good fit. The lens supposedly has excellent IQ but I've never used it so I can't give personal opinion.
I use a Sigma 70-210 f2.8 for street shooting and it works pretty good.

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