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Monday, 07 December 2015

Comments

Whew! For a minute there, I thought maybe you'd gone off the deep end and bought a long telephoto! ;-)

"Zooms usually come into their own in my opinion when you can't control your standpoint."

These situations happen so frequently, and zoom lenses are now so good, that my primes stay at home or in the bag unless a special need requires a fast lens.

- Richard

I have the Panasonic 12-35 and, if I didn't think that a zoom cheated on the OC/OL/OY premise, could easily be my choice. What a lens, and it's range is my comfort zone.I also have the equally wonderful 35-100 Panasonic but only use it the 10% of the time that I'm not using the 12-35.

Maybe you could rent/borrow the Fuji 16-55 and see if you liked it.
I have never heard anyone say anything bad about and mirrorless Fuji lens.

A moment of weakness. Don't fret, we understand.

While you may have felt those primes limited you or added to your photographic workload, the resulting arborist images were quite effective. I think you've become adept at working with familiar focal lengths. The story is more than adequately illustrated; it's really a photojournalistic piece.

Never even thought of it until you mentioned it, and looking at the photos now I can't see it. They look fine to me, with nothing lacking.

I love zooms. This comes from about a decade of walking around with 4 cameras strapped to me when I was working as a newspaper photographer. Back then (60s and 70s) we kept testing zooms hoping to find one that was good enough to use. We didn't. But in the 90s when there were finally good quality zooms I was happy to start using them. This has been especially good since digital came along and made it financially difficult to have 4 camera bodies, not to mention the dust issues of changing lenses often.

I got a surprising (to me) number of keepers from the slow 14-45mm that came with the Panasonic G1. Later, they cost engineered it down to 42mm and a plastic mount ...

I disagree. Your photos tell the story and, most importantly, give the context. I especially liked the first photo. The curved branch and the man looking like a bird about to take off under it are wonderful. Hey, it's ok if at first glance the subject of the photo is not obvious and requires some examination. With a zoom closeup, it would have been just another photo of a guy in a bucket in a tree.

In railroad photography there's a term for someone who always zooms in too close so as to lose context: rivet counter. Yes, of course there's a place for zoom lenses and rivet counters, but only when needed and not abused. And, yes, there are times when only a zoom can do the job. It's hard to get birds in the wild with 14mm and 23mm primes, even with a 1.5 factor. It might even be hard to get Butters bounding in the distance without a zoom.

With cropping and stitching, you can turn a prime lens into a "zoom."

Somehow, this brings a smile to my face. Your humility does you credit.

My favorite zoom is actually the most recent Olympus kit zoom.* For me, it's more than sharp enough from wide open, it collapses to a mere two inches in length, and weighs a scant 4 ounces!

Oh, and it's only $150, new. Probably the best buy in m43's.

It, and the Panasonic 20/1.7 are my only two native lenses, and I rarely feel anything lacking.


*14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII MSC, not the EZ motorized zoom. And sure it's not ultra sharp in the corners wide open, but for everyday use, it's great. And technically, it's 1.9 inches and 3.9 oz.

Seems to me that a 70-200mm or similar zoom would have been a good choice for your 'tree toppling' photos. Also good for birds nests, squirrels, birds at a feeder, woodchucks, lake photos, etc. Just sayin'

You want a close up of the guy on the 70 foot cherry picker? No, the 14mm or the 23mm aren't going to get that for you.
However...You want a small, capable camera with conventionally laid out controls? Adding a big zoom to the XT-1 isn't going to get you that either.
I've got the 14mm and the 23mm(using them with an XE-1), and given the funding I'd certainly acquire the 50-140 and maybe the 16-55 as well. But the small, similar-to-a-Leica size thing would evaporate at that point.

Wow. I'm not sure I agree that a zoom would have been better. Different, yes. Better, maybe? A zoom would have changed your photos, no guarantee of improvement.
As for being at the racetrack with only a 50mm... If your goal was to get close shots of the horses in action then yes, you may be ill equipped. But when faced with the situation, you can always decide to shoot differently. Maybe focus on the atmosphere on the track, the fans in the stands or the hustle at the windows.
Rarely is the gear what stands between the photographer and a great photo.

"...shooting the arborists at work dismantling trees, a zoom would have been a better choice than my XF 14mm and 23mm primes."

I don't think so, Mike, but I guess my response would depend on your objectives. If you were trying to take detailed process images for instructional purposes, then yes. A zoom and/or a cherry-picker would have been useful.

But the images you presented were lovely for presenting a tiny stand-back essay on the work of arborists. The first image and the last are wonderful. You weren't obviously hampered from my view. In fact, as is often the case, being focal-length confined may have forced a much more interesting point of view.

That aside, zooms are unquestionably useful for general photography. The prejudices that many of us old-timers sometimes hold against them are no longer valid. Optical design and manufacturing have come a long way from that crummy old Tamron 100-400 F6.3 circa 1976, lurking in musty old camera bags. Firmware mediation often bolsters image quality further.

That Fujifilm XF 55-200 is an excellent example. It's wonderful. I've been using one most of the summer and early fall on a personal project. (Here's a detail of this image taken with Fuji X-T1 and XF 55-200.) Sharp, lightweight, stabilized, it's a marvelous lens.

For a real value in a general lens you should treat yourself to Fuji's XF 18-55 F2.8-F4 for Christmas. Sharp, light, small, OIS, sturdy, and budget-priced. I greatly prefer it to its bulkier and costlier 16-55 cousin which I returned.


Hi Mike
My Fuji 18-55 that came with the XT-1 has turned out to be brilliant. I love primes and particularly the 35mm F1.4, but the zoom has been a boon photographing steam engines from a fixed viewpoint.
Cheers
Ian Hunter

It's not like long focal lenghts can only be made available by zooms! I suppose a good, fast zoom can't do you any harm, but you can do without it if you've got a good telephoto prime lens.
Generally, zooms are associated with slow maximum apertures and have a reputation to pick all of the several issues of different focal lengths and gather them in one single piece. That's true for budget zoom lenses, but not all zooms are that way.
On the other hand, many people - and I mean real people, not gearheads - tend to buy one zoom lenses to make it a jack of all trades, because thay can't be bothered with swapping lenses; hence the popularity of some inexpensive long-reaching zooms, say like 18-105. As for me, I bought a zoom lens during my personal Dark Ages of Photography. The only good thing about it was that it made me more aware I am a prime guy. Now I have all significant focal lengths covered by primes - 28, 50 and 135 mm - and I don't need anything else. Ocasionally, I might think I do, but I really don't. And I certainly don't need zooms.

I have been thrilled with the Fuji 16-55mm. Yes, it's large, and heavy, but it doesn't feel that bad, and when I need it, I just acknowledge that I need it, and that it won't be discreet. I've owned the 18-55mm as well. Also a great lens, but I find that there is a lot of overlap between situations when I need a zoom, and situations where weather sealing is appreciated, so the 16-55mm made more sense, and cost more money.

I did a full week head to head with a Fuji X-T1 with 16-55mm an Olympus E-M1 with 12-40mm, thinking that the size of the Olympus would win the day. It didn't. And the Olympus didn't even feel that much smaller.

I do agree, Mike. I am a prime guy, myself, so when I switched from Nikon to Olympus around two years ago, I settled on a lens kit consisting of 14/2.5, 19/2.8, 25/1.8, 45/1.8 - and a Panasonic 14-45/3.5-5.6 for those rare situations where I really need to be able to zoom. Since I feel most comfortable in the 28-90 range, I found it perfectly natural to choose a zoom that covered my primes 100%.

I remember reading the late Victor Blackman (who was a PJ with the Daily Express in the UK in the '60s and 70's, and had a column in Amateur Photographer), say in one of his columns that he only needed four lenses to do almost all his work: 24mm, 35mm, 85mm, and 200mm. Zooms were only useful he said, for shooting sinking ships from aircraft, which he had to do from time to time. This would seem to make zooms something of a niche product.

His remarks have helped me more than once in picking lenses.

I wonder if there is some law of physics that makes 55-200 lenses so good. Seems like even the cheapest kit lens are superb. I say this after using the Sony version, but seems true for other brands as well.

I live about 8 miles from the Keeneland race track. I have not shot there in more than 30 years, but when I did, I used a 180/2.8 on a Nikon F3.

Despite the longish lens, I was not shooting the running horses. Instead, I liked hanging around the paddock area where the horses are brought just prior to racing. People can get a closer look at the horses, ostensibly to better judge their fitness for running well that day.

I'm no judge of horse flesh, so I always shot the people looking at the horses. Much more interesting to me.

Have you owned the Fuji 18-55mm f2-8-4 ?

[No. --Mike]

When I bought my Fuji X-E2 with kit lens, I fully expected to leave it at home a lot (I never got along with any of my Pentax kit lenses). Upon taking it out of the box I thought this teeny thing is an f/2.8-4 zoom??? Yep, it's tiny, and not only that, it's optically good, maybe even great. It's certainly great for the size.

Anyway, long story short, I use it quite a lot and have no desire to purchase Fuji's new f/2.8 normal pro zoom. I most often take it to the park to photograph my toddler. Talk about not being able to control your distance to the subject!

If you haven't already, try it, Mike.

Now, Fuji's 55-200mm zoom...that's another story I'll leave for a different comment on a different post.

"Zooms usually come into their own in my opinion when you can't control your standpoint."

For me, zooms are for when I WANT to control my standpoint -- for those times when I have found my spot (as Sheldon Cooper might say) with angles, perspective and foreground-background all working. Then I use the zoom to control cropping. Although as you say zooms are invaluable when you do not have control.

As zooms have become better and better I have moved away from the idea of picking a lens and shifting position to frame in favor of finding the picture then adjusting the focal length to frame.

There's no shame in zooms anymore Mike. I think you'd find that, particularly with a lens like the 50-200 you wont do a lot of zooming in and out but will use it like having a 85, 105,135,200,300 and will most likely have chosen your focal length before bringing the camera up to your eye. Just like the "old days" but without having to carry five different lenses! I have the Fuji 55-200 and its great, just don't plan on shooting any fast moving events- sports, concerts, etc with it.

When I had a small studio, I had about 12-13 Canon prime lenses. After some testing, I realized that my Canon 24-70 2.8 II waa as good as any of the primes for my purposes (portrait, fashion, find art.) The only time that I would turn to a prime was to get a faster aperture & look, like the Canon 85 1.2 II near wide open; or a special function, like the Canon 45 TS-E or 90 TS-E tilt shift lenses.

I have been shooting a lot of musical events in the past few years, and I have stuck with the 2.8 zooms for stills and video. The Canon 24-70 2.8 II and 70-200 2.8 II, Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR II, Panasonic 12-35 and 35-100 2.8 II.

Probably the best value though is the Sigma 17-50 2.8OS on an APS-C body. DxO rated that as the sharpest standard zoom on the Nikon D7100. It sells for about $300 as a direct import on eBay, or for $400 recently on sale from B&H and others.

That lens combined with a $400 used or $500 new (refurbished) Nikon D5300 body makes for am incredible low cost kit with a fantastic 24 MP APS-C sensor.

I still have a Sony A6000 body, but neither Sony or Fuji can come close to the low cost of that kit with a 2.8 zoom for low light work. The lens is not that large or heavy, and the body is pretty reasonable too.

The depreciation on that kit will probably be about $100 to $125 per year max. The newer Nikon 18-55 VR II collapsible kit lens is also pretty decent for what it is.

The Sigma 50-150 2.8 OS zoom was the sharpest zoom overall on the Nikon D7100, tied with the Nikon 70-200 4.0 Either one makes for a pretty complete kit that I wouldn't have hesitated to use as a pro (now retired due to chronic pain. )

Signed- Michael from Waukesha (not you- I don't think? ) :)

Cheers! Happy Holidays.

M.

I started using zoom lenses more when I changed to the Nikon digital bodies back in the day. Mostly this had to do with Nikon being slow in making good prime lenses for their cropped sensor bodies (still true now). The old 18-70/3.5-4.5 cropped zoom is still one of the best lenses you can get for those bodies when you take all the tradeoffs into account.

For Olympus, I started with their prime lenses but have been getting the 2.8 zoom lenses as they come out. I just took a two week trip and almost every shot I took I took with the 12-40 zoom lens. I can't really see a reason to use the primes now, except that the 12 and the 45 are too lovable not to have around. Maybe I'll sell the others.

I tend to use zoom lenses as a collection of multiple single focal lengths rather than standing in a place and zooming in and out to crop things. So the 12-40 is really more of a 12, 18, 25, or 40. I dial in the focal length before framing the shot and then might fine tune it a a bit after, depending on how much room I have to move around.

I guess it's time to man up and get over my case of 43 to 86mm Nikor PTSD and move on.

[THAT never goes away. My condolences. --Mike]

I love the Olympus PRO zoom lenses. All the flexibility of zooms plus all the quality of the best prime lenses.

I admit they are bigger, and I wish it wasn't so, but they are still only half the size and weight of equivalent full frame lenses.

To naughtily counter your expression Mike, I would say that prime lenses come into their own when you know exactly what you are going to shoot and from what distance. As a "Street bum" this is never so for me.

For my EM5 I have the Olympus 7-14 the wonderful Lumix 12-35 and the equally niceLumix35-100.

I look on it as having an infinite number of primes between 7mm and 100mm in my bag.

Me too: a Fuji 18-55mm 2.8-4 kit lens that I rented is the only zoom I've ever liked (in terms of the way lenses see/render).

If you happen to be looking for a backup body for the XT1, it might be worth getting one that comes with the lens (the lens is pretty pricey by itself, though not overpriced for what it is).

I'm sure the premium Fuji zooms are objectively better (no pun intended), but I can't speak to their character.

I miss zooms some for the video work I'm doing. In video it's expected that the framing will be exact, no cropping later, and in many situations I can't move forward or back even two feet. I suspect the camera collection will eventually move to higher-end zooms for the video-capable cameras. (Although using the Nikon 70-210/2.8 zoom on my M43 camera is kind of nice -- FOV of a 420mm, real aperture of f/2.8 and light gathering is most of what I care about, 2.8 is enough DOF for closeups. Even with IBIS it's a bit of a handful to hand-hold, by which I mean I really need to hold it in my lap or something.)

I can echo Ken Tanaka's recommendation for the 18-55. It is what came with my new-to-me X-Pro1, and seems to be optically excellent. As mentioned, it is reasonable compact and it balances well with the body.

I will always be more comfortable with prime lenses, especially considering the kind of work I do.

But aside from the overall quality of today's zooms, I think they are useful when you are learning a new camera system. It gives me the ability to change focal lengths without changing lenses, thus concentrating on learning menus, options, buttons etc., etc. One less thing to fiddle with.

As a matter of debate I offer the following observations and opinions.

"...which is that zooms are typically as large or larger than the largest prime they replace,..."

I dunno 'bout this any more. Good primes seem to be getting larger and heavier while zooms have, if anything, trimmed significantly. Plus, schlepping a bag of primes to cover, say, a 24-70ish range is hardly being svelte or efficient. What will you "miss" while you're changing lenses?


Which is the zoom?*

"...and as slow or slower than the slowest prime they replace."
In an age when you can shoot one frame at ISO 100 and the next at ISO 10,000 I'm not sure that this is the issue it once was. In fact, it's not.

"From a "seeing" perspective, I believe there are distinct advantages to primes,..."

I know this is a core idea of your one-camera-one-lens regimen. But I take issue with it. Familiarity with the fields of view and spacial characteristics of various focal lengths is unquestionably essential knowledge. But "seeing" should be a skill learned independently of equipment. It's a skill best done with the mind and eye. The role of the lens is to facilitate that skill, not the reverse. So to that end I usually want to be using a lens that provides the shortest circuit between what I "see" and what I capture. When shooting casually, that usually means a zoom.

I, too, am a prime lens fan and estimate that I've spent 10x-15x more on primes than on zooms over the past 10+ years. But when I look back at what I used for most of my favorite images...it's zooms.
______

* The Fujinon 14mm F2.8 Aspherical is on the left, the Fujifilm 18-55mm F2.8-4 is on the right.

The most notable zoom that is not on this list or in the comments is the Fuji 55-140 f/2.8. The 55-200 is a good lens; the 55-140 is a spectacular lens, better than the Canon 70-200/2.8 L IS II, and that is saying something (I own and shoot with both).

I , like many here have preferred primes for a very long time.
But I have and use zooms -but I tend to use them a bit differently.
Learning photography with a prime or two helps you learn where to stand. If you have a pair of primes, say a 35 and a 90 or 105, they force you to start composing before you lift the camera to your eye.
It is easy to learn the approximate fields of view of two significantly different lenses--- a great way to start seeing frame lines in the air.
It Also lets you know if you should start backing up or running forward to Zoom with your feet.
Once you learn that, it stays with you.
So I tend to use zooms as dual focal length lenses. If I'm carrying a camera with a 24-70, if I see a picture I'll decide is this a 24 or a 70, and start moving forward or back and rack the zoom to one extreme or the other before it gets up to my eye.
I know what 24 looks like, I know what 70 looks like.
I know what 24mm will do to spacial relationshis and what 70 will do. Do I want space expanded or compressed?
I carry my camera on an old fashioned hand strap so I can easily zoom one handed.
So I think you can have a prime lens mindset with a zoom, and I think it can be helpful in organizing the world into stronger pictures. And Yes, there are times when an intermediate focal length is better, and I use it. But mostly I use 24 or 70 because my can more easily organize around an either / or scenario.

Using primes over zooms represents a slight shift in the speed of photography. Using a prime lens is one step towards the slow and deliberate process most typified by photographing with a large format view camera.

I don't know if other photographers have this problem but I find that I get a bit of tunnel vision with a zoom lens. I find myself concentrating on the subject rather than the whole picture. Rather than composing a photograph and carefully adding elements to my frame, I simply take a picture of the subject.

Zooms are convenient when one's vantage point is fixed or when rapid action requires rapid focal length changes. But zooms come with compromises too. I would point out that while premium zooms are nowadays of high quality, they tend to make image quality compromises. One such compromise that is frequently seen is that there is a noticeable difference in edge and center sharpness, which can be nuisance for certain subjects.

Hoewever, despite modern zooms being convenient and perform well, I took the opposite approach and went for a highly portable single focal length camera to pare down things to the essentials when I'm not going out specifically to photograph. It does make visualization a lot more focused to have a limited set of options.

Another reason to use a zoom is to decrease the number of lens changes and the concomitant risks to the sensor glass. Maybe I'm a bit sensitive right now but I just paid Fuji a decent sum to replace the sensor cover glass on my X T-1 after it became scratched. I have no idea how it could have happened especially since the scratch was shaped like a boomerang. I'm considering the 16-55 f/2.8 to replace my beloved 23 and 35 primes. I cannot let go of the 14 or the 56 which I use at f/1.4-2 for my fast moving grandson.

Although my regular ready-to-shoot kit is an EM-1 with 14mm, 25mm, and 50mm lenses (the 25mm is the Pana/Leica f.1.4 and it's pretty much always on the camera) the truth is, when I first moved from 4/3 to micro-4/3, the first "lens" I bought was the adaptor to keep using my Oly 4/3 zooms. Those zooms are almost always more than sharp and fast enough for whatever I need them to do (especially the 11-22).

Every once in a while I toy with idea of using only primes and then I end up travelling somewhere and finding that the 11-22 is the perfect tool for narrow European streets, old castles, art museums and so on.

I appreciate that, if you spend a long time with one lens, you do learn to 'see' the way that lens sees.

However, I think that if it only has one fixed focal length, there is a danger that you 'unlearn' the ability to see everything else.

I use the Fuji 18-55 quite a lot, and I think it has actually taught me to 'see' pretty well throughout it's moderate range. I almost always have it zoomed before I put the camera to my eye and seldom adjust more than a few mm either side.

I use it mostly for street/travel work, so that would coincide with having limited control over one's standpoint, as you say.

I do tend to stumble with much longer focal lengths because I seldom use them, but I can 'see' pretty well at 18, 23, 35 and 55, partly because having a zoom has enabled me to pre-visualise at all those angles of view and use them very regularly.

The only real downside is the limited ability to defocus the background.

Why? There's nothing at all wrong with your pics. Tailoring available tools to a job will often inspire greater creativity than having a choice of every tool for the same job. What would you have done with a long zoom to tell a better story than your pics already do?

"...zooms are typically as large or larger than the largest prime they replace, and as slow or slower than the slowest prime they replace."

Right. Well, sort of. Partially right.

You certainly do give up the possibility of having the largest aperture and a given focal length when you use a zoom. If the is an issue for your photography, then a prime may be a better choice.

However, the size comparison isn't quite that simple. Let's take a 70-200mm zoom. Is it larger than a 85mm prime, a 135mm prime, plus a 200mm prime? Is it larger than a 70mm prime, a 71mm prime, a 72mm prime, a... ?

The point is that there is a trade-off when it comes to zooms and primes and both have their pluses and minuses. (For my part, I tend to prefer primes for street photography because they give me less choice, thus speeding up the shooting process. I prefer zooms for landscape and certain other things where flexible framing is critical.)

I think Mike is trying to get his blog hammered with responses.

Mike Plews - "I guess it's time to man up and get over my case of 43 to 86mm Nikor PTSD and move on."

Aw! C'mon!
That was the lens I bought with my first Nikon. I couldn't afford more than one lens at the time so I used it exclusively for nearly a year and it served me well, shooting thousands of candid frames for my college yearbook. I eventually sold it, but a few years ago I ran across a mint copy of the last design, and I bought it. I haven't used it yet— in fact, it's possible that I never will—but as a piece of precision manufacturing, it's probably the most beautifully made lens I've ever owned.

Zoom lenses confuse my eye and mind.

They take away the "study" from a photographic study. I'm perpetually deciding between choices of cropping (which is what zooms do) while time should be spent on awareness of what is in front of me. When I carry a camera with a zoom into a situation, I have no sense of purposefulness when I walk in.

The only time I've found one helpful is when I do high-school stage photography from far away. Then, I appreciate being able to zoom into a single actor on occasion, rather than having to wait for just the decisive moments in a scene of many actors.

It's just me. Others seem to do fine.

I'm not particularly fond of zooms yet I have a few as I need them for work. The one I do think is absolutely stunning is the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8. I sold my prime 14mm f2.8 to get the zoom and it is better in every way. It has less distortion all around and is a joy to use.

I'll "third" Ken Tanaka's comments about zooms in general, and the 18-55 in particular. This lens has been undeservedly dismissed by some as a "kit" lens. The only reason it received that designation is that it first debuted as a "kit" when the Fuji X-E1 appeared. Optically it is anything but a kit lens, is as good as the orignal Canon 24-70, and better than the Canon 24-105. Like Ken, the majority of my best Fuji X-cam images have been taken with zooms (second would be the 14mm prime).

It's interesting from reading the commments here that there is still what I personally consider some unfounded bias (and views) against zooms; for exaample, Oscar's comment that zooms bring compromises. For "kit" or consumer level zooms that might be the case, but absolutely not for the professional Canon, Nikon, Olympus or Fuji zooms. The optical performances of the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 II, 70-200/2.8 L IS II and the Fuji 55-140/2.8 are, in a word, astonishing.

Rather than debate the old adage, or pour over MTF charts, it might be easider to consider whether zooms meet the needs of working professonials, folks whose gear and image quality has to put food on the table and pay the mortgage.

All I can say is that there are an awful lot of pros gettin' the job done using zooms. If those zooms weren't "fit for purpose", pros wouldn't be using them.

Mike, maybe next time you can do the Peter Stackpole thing, and climb into the cherry picker with the arborist!

I don't agree Mike. I really believe that the photo posted as the heading for your Dec 6 post was terrific, and it will stand as a very good photograph for a very long time. If you would have had access to a zoom I don't think you would have ever taken that photo.

Zoom (extended range) lens:

Better known as the Long & Short of it!

Well, after using primes most of my life except for some Nikons when I went to digital with the D70 and D300 about 10 years ago, I have come to want a good zoom, thus am thinking of the Panasonic 12-35 or the newer Olympus 12-40. Perfect range for me on a 4/3 and 2.8 will be enough for most. If not, will use a 1.4 or 1.8 fixed. I want to take the photos I want more than be restricted to those I can get with a fixed length. No, one cannot always zoom with one's feet unless you wanna get flattened by a truck or gnawed by a griz. I know even using that I will often be at about 25mm (50mm equivalent) but I wanna have the instant choice.

I tend to agree with you, but it is not all that practical to shoot sports with a prime exclusively. For non-sporting events, I prefer the ZA 135/1.8 or the 50/1.4 lux for my M6. I really like the 85mm focal length, but that lens decided, on its own, to take a dive off of my camera to see how many times it could bounce off of the concrete sidewalk. The lens lost to the sidewalk.

People may think of us prime shooters carrying one or two primes as intrepidly mobile, zooming around everywhere, free to create! But the truth is, if you want a certain thing to be a certain size, a prime gives you only one distance for that. Your feet must take you to that preset distance. The distance then predetermines your depth of field. It's a hard life :)

Oh, thanks! Take me to the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12–35mm ƒ/2.8 Asph, a lens about which I previously knew nothing. I don't need it, I can't afford it, I don't shoot much 4/3 these days. But, gee, wouldn't it be nice on my Olympus Air? And on sale!

Santa? Please? Santa?

Much like Gato above, when I'm out shooting, my first concern is for composition. For any given composition in a 3-D space, there is only one place from which you can shoot it. When I find a composition that I find pleasing, my next concern is getting the detail and framing that I want. To do that, I can either crop in frame with a zoom lens, crop in post and lose detail, or find the right lens in my backpack.

For me, a fast prime is a special-purpose tool. I use them when I want the specific characteristics they can give me but otherwise it's nearly all zooms all the time.

"...zooms are typically as large or larger than the largest prime they replace, and as slow or slower than the slowest prime they replace."

True enough. But they're smaller than that bag of primes and you're more likely to have one that covers the right range on your camera when a shot pops up, which means that I'm much more likely to get what I want than if I have to change lenses. For me, those considerations are usually more important.

My kit these days, a 550D and a 18-55 IS (<- ehem). Bought it as a throw away camera and to play with ML (MagicLantern). But it works great, outfocusses my Olympus, can tream 997 .jpg's to my memcard in 20 minutes (I like really fast shooting when I scan) and creates sharp images in the proces. So byebye Olympus......

I've been shooting with a do-everything 24-120 zoom for a while now on my D750, but I just ordered a 40mm f/2 prime yesterday. It'll take the place of the zoom for everyday purposes. Lower profile, lighter weight, and two whole stops faster. Also, I think simplicity and limitation foster creativity; the zoom is maybe too many options to have all the time. Good to have, but sometimes too much. (I'll probably end up writing a ton more about this on my own blog once I have the lens on the camera for a week).

I use a 35/1.4 and a 135/2.0 outdoors, and swap the 135/2.0 for an 85/1.2 if I'm shooting indors. Those three lenses and a 5d3 body are all I have.

Camera body and either pair of lenses (just) fits into a very small Billingham L2 bag, together with a passport and a Nexus 7 tablet.

A bit heavier, but no larger than as Leica M setup for travel.

Zooms... Not really as good as primes. ;)

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