Prime vs. Zoom Lenses - Which should you buy?Jun 10, 2021
Hey guys, what's up? Welcome back to the channel and welcome back to my not so organized studio. This is actually a spare room in our villa here in Bali and I'm still trying to figure out how to organize it. I just have a bunch of stuff, we're using it for storage, so there's a bed right there turned against the wall, so it's not the cleanest space, but it works, it's a creative space and I don't need it to be perfectly spotless. if it does everything it needed to do,
whichI think for the most part it does, but today we're going to talk about
lenses, the age-old debate about
shouldbuy, which one is better, and why it's us.
In fact, I just got back from a trip to Uluwat, the southern tip of Bali, and there I was shooting a bunch of movies on this little bad boy, right here, the Canon AE1 program, which has a 50 millimeter f 1.4
primelens. and um, shooting with it this weekend really helped me remember how much I love shooting with primes in the past. I used to shoot almost exclusively with prime lenses. I had a 35, a 55 and an 85 and that was all I needed. I have everything I needed. I needed those three lenses, but recently I've been shooting almost exclusively with
I haven't even used my primes much and shooting with this camera reminded me of the beauty of a prime lens and what it's really capable of doing. Over the years I have accumulated quite a few lenses for my photography business and in this video I want to talk about the differences between prime lenses and zoom lenses and ultimately which one I think you
shouldbuy, so let's take those lenses and let's take a look. and uh, have a little conversation about lenses, okay, oh, this is a bad idea, not trying to move all my lenses at once, okay, these are all my lenses, these are all my Sony lenses, I have more fixed lenses at the back. for film cameras, but we're not going to talk about them, we're just going to talk about my main camera system, the Sony system, these are my cousins and these are my zooms, we have a 35, 55 and 85, uh, and a 16. to 35 24 to 70 and 70 to 200 zoom guys over here, but let's dive into this comparison guys what is the main difference between prime lenses and zoom lenses and I think it's pretty simple, zoom guys can do Zoom and prescription lenses cannot zoom, they have a fixed focal length, for those of you who are completely new to photography, focal length is essentially the angle of view of a lens, so the smaller the number , the larger the viewing angle, the more you see in your scene and the higher the number. narrower angle of view, so the more magnified that image appears, prime lenses have a fixed focal length, zoom lenses have a variable focal length, so they can zoom in or out depending on what that lens is, so What this lens is from 24 to 70, it can go from 24 to 70 millimeters, which is a nice solid range, so at first glance it might seem like why would you buy a prime lens if you could buy a zoom lens and having that flexibility to be able to zoom in or out and capture a lot of different types of photos and I agree with you, versatility is very, very important for photography, but fixed lenses also have their own benefits and on top of That list, the main benefit you get from a prime lens is that they often have a wider maximum aperture.
What does that mean? Well, the aperture of a lens is the small hole inside the lens that can be opened or closed to restrict the amount of light entering the camera. The maximum aperture of a lens. is how wide that lens can open up and having a wider maximum aperture is beneficial for two reasons: it's much better for capturing low light photos and you also get more separation from the background behind the main subject, so if you like those photos with really great autofocus areas or what we could call bokeh, having a wider maximum aperture is beneficial because prime lenses can have a maximum aperture of f 1.8 f 1.4 even f 1.2 on the really expensive professional lenses mine are 1.4 and 1.8, while zoom lenses only have one maximum aperture. of f 2.8 even in the most expensive lenses on the market now this is slowly starting to change.
Some of the camera manufacturers now, like Canon, are releasing zoom lenses with a maximum aperture of f2, which is quite unheard of in photography and is a big leap. In terms of photography technology, though, there aren't many camera companies out there yet, and those lenses are super expensive, but having that wider maximum aperture is really beneficial for shooting in low-light environments, and if you like that background separation , as if you were taking portraits. for example, and you really want to blur the background, you'll get a much blurrier background with something like a prime lens than with a zoom lens and I really prefer to shoot things like portraits with the prime lens, now another benefit. that prime lenses have more than zoom lenses and this is a highly debated topic, but sharpness is that prime lenses are generally a little sharper than zoom lenses and this is especially true on the cheaper side of lenses. lenses if you have a cheap kit from 18 to 55 millimeters. lenses, those lenses really aren't very sharp, whereas you can buy a 1.8 50 millimeter prime lens for very little money and it will be much sharper than the kit lens that comes with your camera once you start using more expensive professional lenses . the sharpness split collapses a bit, I mean, these lenses are pro level zoom lenses and they are very, very sharp.
Yes, these prime lenses may be a little bit sharper, but it's a little negligible, and especially nowadays, zoom lenses, high-end zoom lenses. They are getting very, very sharp so this is not always a big argument but it is something to consider especially when you consider some of the cheaper lenses on the market the last benefit of prime lenses and this is very subjective, it may not be a benefit for you, it may be a benefit for some people, but it's just an easier shooting experience. When you shoot with a prime lens, you know exactly what focal length you're shooting with and you're limited to that focal length, so instead of seeing being confined to a single focal length as a bad thing, you might as well look at it.
I know I understand this focal length perfectly. I only photograph with a 35 millimeter lens. I know exactly the type of photos I'm going to take. to capture when I shoot with this lens, I know what this lens is capable of and I totally understand the 35 millimeter focal length, whereas if you're shooting with a zoom lens, you're shooting at a bunch of different focal lengths and you're not going to have that consistency in your portfolio and it's going to be harder to really understand a single focal length like you would if you were shooting with a prime lens.
I like that. I like to be a little confined and have a simpler shooting experience. I think that's why I like shooting with film so much. Whenever I shoot film, I'm always shooting with prime lenses and I like to be limited to that focal length and have to think outside the box a little bit and come up with new things and interesting compositions and if you've seen any of my courses you'll know how much I'm a fan of zooming with my feet constantly moving around the subject trying to capture different photos. I think that's the best way to capture great compositions and speaking for my courses.
You guys can check out my 16 free photography courses for 14 days on Skillshare if you use the link in the description. I have 16 courses there, starting with my photography basics course which has over 15,000 students. I highly recommend you check it out and also. My editing course to find your unique editing style which I believe has over 20,000 students now, so click the link in the description. You can watch those courses and watch them for free for 14 days, but that's okay, those are the main benefits of a fixed lens. the main one being that you get a wider maximum aperture, which is great for low light conditions and great for background separation.
The lenses can also be sharper depending on the lens and you also have a simpler shooting experience and forces you to think. out of the box and come up with different compositions that may or may not be positive for you, okay so let's talk about the zoom guys now, why would you choose a zoom lens over a prime lens and on top of That list is versatility and you might think that's okay, versatility is just a minor factor on the scale of importance and that is very false, depending on what you photograph. Versatility may be by far the most important factor when choosing equipment and that is simply because there are certain types of photography where things are constantly changing.
There is a lot going on and if you don't have a zoom lens you will miss out on photos, for example documentary photography, wedding photography or sports photography, where things are constantly changing, things happen close to you and things happen far away. away too, if you have a 35 millimeter prime lens on and you're capturing a scene in front of you and then something crazy happens a little further away, you'd better run over there to capture those photos or, if you had a zoom lens, You could just zoom in and capture it that way, so for people who are taking photos in dynamic environments where things are changing and that versatility is really required, it's much more important to capture the photo than to capture it in a specific way and that's why the zoom lenses are so popular for certain types of photography, now the versatility, aside from zoom lenses, you just have a much greater range when these three lenses here I have everything from 16 millimeters to 200 millimeters, it's a crazy range with which I can capture so many different types of photos. these three lenses, but with these three lenses I only have 35, 55 and 85 and nothing in between, just those three focal lengths, nothing in between and nothing beyond that and with primes, good luck finding an affordable and compact prime lens for Above 100 millimeters or 140 millimeters, they simply don't make affordable or practical prime telephoto lenses, so in terms of 70 to 200 you simply can't find a prime lens that has the functionality and size of the 7200 millimeter lens, another reason which is why you may want a zoom lens.
Regarding a prime lens, not all types of photographers need to have a super wide maximum aperture. Landscape photographers, for example, many landscape photographers like to reduce the aperture to get more depth of field in their scene to get more sharpness from the foreground. the way to the background, so as a landscape photographer, you will very rarely shoot at f 1.4 unless you really want to get that shallow depth of field or if you are shooting in a low light environment, you are taking astronomical photographs. for example, that could be beneficial, but most of the time having that range is much more important than having that maximum aperture because you're going to stop your lens down to f 5.6 or f 8 anyway and lastly, zoom lenses are, ultimately cheaper if They require one-to-one range zoom lenses to be more expensive, but again, you would need to buy several prime lenses just to equal the same range as a zoom lens, for example if you bought a 24 to 70 f 2.8, this lens is so incredibly versatile and if you had a single lens kit this could be it and you can capture so many different types of things, whereas if you wanted this same versatility with prime lenses you would need two or three fixed lenses, uh, you have to switch between them and it just wouldn't be very practical, so those are the main positives and negatives of fixed lenses and zoom lenses.
Now let's talk about which one is right for you and which one you should buy and you might be thinking, what the heck does it do? I got really confused and I apologize if I did that, but wait, we're not done yet and I have some opinions on what lenses you should buy and just a disclaimer. These are my opinions and other photographers could tell you other things. but with my experience working with emerging photographers and all the students I have worked with over the years, these are my recommendations on what lenses you should buy and ultimately it will be up to you where you are in your photography journey. find and two. what you plan to photograph in the future, so let's do a little case study here.
Let's say you are a new photographer and you are diving into the hobby and are very interested in exploring photographing many different things. things maybe you're going to travel and you want to shoot portraits and you want to shoot cars and you want to shoot landscapes and you want to shoot flowers, you just want to capture as much as you can and then explore the craft I would 100% recommend a zoom lens and would say rule out the lens with 18 to 55 millimeter zoom that comes on most cameras forbeginners because that lens really sucks and I would try to choose something like a 24 to 105 f4 or a 24 to 70. f 2.8 or 18 to 105 f4, that range is really important and if you can get a good zoom lens with a maximum aperture of f4 , I mean you can photograph a lot of things with a lens like that when I went on my first solo trip. trip to China, which was crazy.
I spent two months backpacking alone in China. All I had was my Sony A6300 with an 18-105 millimeter f4 lens and that lens was beautiful. I was able to capture so many different types of photos that I captured at wide angle. shots of the great wall of china and could get really close and capture portraits of people on the street. It really was the perfect lens for a trip like that. And I only had one lens and it was perfect. So zoom lenses that Versatility cannot be underestimated and also if you are new to photography you may not understand focal length much and you may not know what kind of focal length you like to shoot at so Having a zoom lens and shooting at all the different focal lengths will give you a better idea of what focal lengths you'd like to shoot at, so if you want to buy a prime lens you'll know.
Oh, I will definitely buy it. A 35 millimeter issue is either because I love the way 35 millimeters render my images or I'm getting an 85 because I really like that tight focal length. I like to focus on my subject and really blur the background behind it, so that's the main reason I recommend a zoom lens for beginner photographers; however, I also recommend all beginner photographers to buy a 50 millimeter f 1.8 lens and the reason is that they are very very affordable lenses, regardless of your camera manufacturer you can buy one for around 150 Dollars, the images are sharp and you can really play with that f 1.8 aperture.
You can take photos at night, you can take portraits and have a really blurry background. It's just a great lens to have in every kit and I think every photographer should have it. one because they're very affordable and they're amazing lenses, okay, so the beginner photographer side says you're an intermediate photographer or an advanced photographer, maybe you're making money from your craft, you've had zoom. lenses in the past and now you want to experiment a little with prime lenses, then I would say definitely pick up some prime lenses, especially if you're shooting something like portraits or food or products, something where you don't really need the versatility of a prime lens. lens and you want to capture maybe a little sharper images or you really want a wider maximum aperture or you just want to start understanding certain focal lengths better.
I would say definitely go for a prime lens because they are amazing lenses, they were my first love and I will always love prime lenses for that maximum aperture for that blurred background and that sharpness too now ultimately both types of lenses have their place in everyone's kit, like I said I use both for my trips, I only carry my zoom lenses because it is much more important for me to capture a photo than to capture in a specific way if I am traveling and flying, I don't want to carry all the weight of the prime lenses I'm going to bring I bring my zoom lenses and that's it, but if I'm shooting here at home taking a portrait session or a lifestyle session on the beach or something like that, I'm definitely going to shoot with a lens Mainly because I love the wider maximum aperture.
I love being limited to one focal length and I also understand these lenses. I know what my images will look like at each focal length. I have been using these lenses for years and will continue to do so because I really love the Prime. lenses now, if someone gave me an ultimatum and was like Sean, you have to choose prime lenses or zoom lenses for the rest of your life and you will never be able to shoot with the other again, I would definitely choose prime lenses and the reason is because These three lenses here were some of the first lenses I bought when I started investing in my Sony system and I love them.
I mean, they are amazing lenses. I've had them since day one and, um, I'll never sell them. Some of my favorite photos were captured with these lenses and like I said, maximum aperture is something that I love in my photography and I like to be limited to those focal lengths, so for my prime lenses, but I want to hear. Of you, if you had to choose one or the other for the rest of your life, what would you choose, zoom or prime lenses? Let me know in the comments below and tell me which lenses you are thinking of purchasing.
They are thinking? Coming soon about purchasing a zoom. I think of a fixed lens. You're not sure which prime lens to buy. Leave a comment below. We'll talk about that. Maybe I can help them decide which lens to buy, but that's it. that's the end of this video guys I really hope you enjoyed it and if you're new here consider subscribing and once again if you want to learn more about photography check out my courses on Skillshare. Honestly, it's a bargain, they will have access to everyone. 16 of my courses plus tens of thousands of other amazing courses for about 15 a month after your 14-day free trial, it's a no-brainer if you want to improve not only in terms of photography but in almost anything you can imagine. in terms of creativity, business or productivity, something like that, but again, thank you all so much for watching.
See you next week and I hope you have a wonderful day.
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