Prime lenses

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by bmiller, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. Prime lenses seem to be a lot more popular than i expected them to be. Are they that much sharper? A 24-85 f2.8 would take care of 3 of the more popular
    ones.
     
  2. cotdt

    cotdt

    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    prime lenses perform much better at wider apertures, and actually even stopped down the better primes are still sharper. i use them because they allow me to handhold nighttime photography which is super fun. but most important, they have bokeh which can be very important for people photography. you can zoom by using your feet :)
     
  3. TVayos

    TVayos Guest

    I have an 18-70 nikkor that I thought was sharp enough. Then I bought 35 F2 because of all the positive things said about it and pictures posted, I have not use my zoom since.

    Its not that it is sharper, they are brighter, they have better contrast, the lower f stop lets me separate my subjects from the back ground. It really makes my pictures pop.
     
  4. SP77

    SP77

    Jun 4, 2007
    Rockville, MD
    Ah, another 35 f2 fan. :biggrin: :cool:
     
  5. cotdt

    cotdt

    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    the sharpest zoom i've ever used is the nikkor 18-70mm. it is sharper than the 18-55 and 18-200VR, and definately sharper than the 18-135. ken rockwell says it's the sharpest lens possible, and superior to the 17-55/2.8 above 24mm. i have a good hand-picked sample so max sharpness occurs at f/5.6-7.1. yet even at wider apertures like f5.6, the prime is clearly sharper than the zoom:

    Here is my Zoom Nikkor 18-70mm f/5.6 at 35mm:
    [​IMG]

    Now here is my Prime Nikkor 35mm f/2 at f/5.6:
    [​IMG]

    See the difference in sharpness? at wider apertures the zoom goes soft while the prime lenses are still sharp, so there is no need for a comparison there. there are even sharper primes than the 35/2, while i have yet to come across a zoom as sharp as even a typical prime lens.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2007
  6. cotdt

    cotdt

    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    actually if you have a good sample of the 35/f2 then this lens should indeed be sharper (and more contrasty) as my post above shows :)
     
  7. With few exceptions (the 28-85/2.8 is not among them), zooms are slower and less sharp than primes. They sometimes cover huge ranges that require compromises in their design, 18-200, 18-135, etc. It's amazing how good some of them can be but learning where the sweet spots are can take time.

    What zooms do, is provide convenience and control that feet can't match in some circumstances. The only zooms I've used for a few years now are a Sigma 12-24/4-5.6 EX and a Sigma 24-60/2.8 EX. My experience is that most of them perform best at the extremes, usually on the long end. YMMV.

    Primes offer sharpness at large apertures (generally), bokeh (often), OOF area softness (often), and simple designs that make for high IQ from the best of them. Mine are a mix of Sigma and Nikkor and, while I have holes in coverage, I have what I need for now.

    As zooms get better through improved technology, more and more of us may be lured to them. The famous AF-S Nikkor trio of the 17-35/2.8, 28-70/2.8, and 70-200/2.8 VR might be the only lenses many of us would ever need.

    Be well, shoot lots and ...
     
  8. What I like about primes is how small/light they are, yet they do not skimp on optical quality (there are a few that are less desirable than other's but in general...).

    They also force me to be more creative during composition. Since I can't always zoom in, I have to be more creative in getting something decent. Sometimes, I get things I never expected.
     
  9. TVayos

    TVayos Guest

    I agree that it is sharper. What I meant is that the lens captures/renders pictures in a different way which to me is more important. It's tough to explain in words. It gives my shots the umph I was looking for. The images just POP out at you. I wasn't left wondering if something better existed out there.

    It also has a way of making photography easier for me. I am doing what I like to do best, take pictures.

    It's lighter too, so I find my camera is with me everywhere.

    My only problem now is I need more hard drive space. Lately I have not been able to bring myself to hit the delete button as often.
     
  10. SP77

    SP77

    Jun 4, 2007
    Rockville, MD
    Great point, Ed!

    This was shot with my 35/2 and I was in fact kneeling on the floor while taking it since it was the only way to get enough distance between me and my subject to keep everything in the frame in tight quarters. And it's one of my favorite shots.

    D80, 35/2 @ f/2.8, 1/15s, iso560

    [​IMG]


    If I was just using the 18-55 mid-zoom I probably would have just backed it out at face level to about 24mm or so and wouldn't have managed to get that much more interesting perspective.
     
  11. bruheim

    bruheim

    194
    Jul 1, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    Primes are sharper. After getting my first one, an 85 f/1.8 to shoot indoor sports, I'm convinced that there must be a government conspiracy to keep the secret from the public. My original need was speed, but the sharpness difference (admittedly, I was using only consumer-level zooms before) absolutely blew me away.

    Get one - it will change your life!
     
  12. nykonian

    nykonian

    570
    May 4, 2007
    New York
    Edward, seems that you missed one "beautiful" prime on your list - the legendary 85/1.4, a must-have Nikkor :)
     
  13. cwilt

    cwilt

    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Until they can design zoom lenses with less glass elements the primes should nearly always win.
     
  14. rubendparra

    rubendparra Guest

    I think that's true in the film era in the Digital era : the 12-24 , 17-55 , 70-200 are hard to beat .
     
  15. cotdt

    cotdt

    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    when 20MP cameras become the norm, the difference in sharpness between the primes and the zooms will only grow.
     
  16. Holmes

    Holmes

    Oct 28, 2006
    Wyoming, USA
    I do love the primes but in the wide angle sector I'll take the zoom every time without hesitation. The wide primes just don't make the film-to-digital transition very well.
     
  17. cwilt

    cwilt

    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Agree

    Agree

    oh yea! :biggrin::wink:
     
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