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Author Topic: Zooms or primes  (Read 7959 times)
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2013, 06:14:18 AM »
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Hi,

What I wrote was: "I am absolutely with you that if large apertures are needed the fixed focals are in their prime, but many of us shoot medium apertures mostly."

"Many of us" does not mean all of us or even not most of us, at least not in my dictionary.

As has also pointed out, you cannot change vantage point without changing perspective. Zooms add a dimension to your options but remove some other options.

Best regards
Erik

Just because you shoot medium apertures doesn't mean everybody else has to.  Different paint brushes for different paintings.  I prefer primes for photography as I know the perspective before even putting the viewfinder to my eye, so I can visualize what I'm going to shoot and how to execute the vision.  Primes for lowlight too.  99% of what I shoot I have the luxury of time to compose and frame my shot properly.  The larger aperture also helps to isolate subjects should I want to.  Much more versatile than a zoom for me.

With that said, on an African safari, I'd wait for the 200-400/4 w1.4x to come out and bring that.

Not much of a use comparing different tools to achieve different visions.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2013, 10:22:20 AM »
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This image was taken with a 100 mm lens, so I could as well use my 100/2.8 macro, 135 wouldn't work and 85 mm would have needed cropping...

How do you know? This is a serious question and I am not trying to be flippant. An 85mm and 135mm lenses would have made a different images, but no necessarily a worse image. Certainly a tighter crop could have worked with a 135mm. Not knowing what is outside the frame, it is hard to tell what the image would be with an 85mm. There is no such thing as the right focal length, only right solutions.

As far as perspective, there is also no such thing as the right perspective and how much does perspective change if you move a few feet with a landscape? And while the relationship of image size of elements in the image are fixed by the camera position, the apparent perspective does change with focal length. Some photographers do care about apparent perspective as it does change the perception of an image.
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Ray
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« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2013, 11:02:07 AM »
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This image was taken with a 100 mm lens, so I could as well use my 100/2.8 macro, 135 wouldn't work and 85 mm would have needed cropping......


Hi Erik,
With a static subject like that, the 135mm lens might have worked even better. You could have positioned the camera vertically and taken 2 or 3 or 4 shots for stitching. The result would have been more detailed and higher resolution than the single shot with a 100mm lens, and you could have given yourself more options for cropping in post processing.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2013, 12:56:22 PM »
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Hi,

Yes, that would have worked.

Best regards
Erik

Hi Erik,
With a static subject like that, the 135mm lens might have worked even better. You could have positioned the camera vertically and taken 2 or 3 or 4 shots for stitching. The result would have been more detailed and higher resolution than the single shot with a 100mm lens, and you could have given yourself more options for cropping in post processing.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2013, 01:19:08 PM »
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Hi,

A serious question deserves a serious answer.

My point is mostly that in many cases zooms are as appropriate as primes. I don't mean that zooms are superior to primes, just that good zooms at medium apertures are competitive with primes regarding quality. My other intention is to explain that you cannot simply just move instead of zoom, because moving changes perspective.

Now, much because I use zooms, I have an approach where I try to find a viewpoint first, than I find the focal length that gives the crop I want. I move around the tripod, sometimes as little as 15 cm just to find the right spot, this was the case at Oxbow Bend. I actually made a lot of images, at both 100 and 150 mm, and I was actually shooting two different cameras.

In the old time when I was shooting Pentax 67 I had fixed focals on the Pentax and zooms on Minolta, I was using both systems but at that time I was traveling by car. Now, when I am flying I cannot carry dual equipment.

I still use fixed focals. I have a Samyang 14/2.8, a Minolta 100/2.8 Macro, a Carl Zeiss Jena 50/4 in a tilting mount and also a Zeiss Macro Planar 120/4. Add to that 300/4 and 400/4.5, 20/2.8 and also a 50/1.4, but much of that may go into the trunk of the car. In the backpack I normally take three zooms and probably the Macro Planar 120/4 with its tilt mount.

Best regards
Erik

How do you know? This is a serious question and I am not trying to be flippant. An 85mm and 135mm lenses would have made a different images, but no necessarily a worse image. Certainly a tighter crop could have worked with a 135mm. Not knowing what is outside the frame, it is hard to tell what the image would be with an 85mm. There is no such thing as the right focal length, only right solutions.

As far as perspective, there is also no such thing as the right perspective and how much does perspective change if you move a few feet with a landscape? And while the relationship of image size of elements in the image are fixed by the camera position, the apparent perspective does change with focal length. Some photographers do care about apparent perspective as it does change the perception of an image.
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Fine_Art
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« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2013, 07:24:26 PM »
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The problem is that spot does not shot the oxbow bend clearly. The proper location is to climb the hill behind you, possibly climbing a tree to get out of the clutter. You do that in the dark before sun up you will get a great shot. You also have a small chance of becoming dinner. The point of that spot is to combine the curve of the river with the mountain background. Everyone goes to stand with the other gaggle of togs close to the side of the road where they put a cement pad for everyone.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2013, 10:27:16 PM »
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There is little doubt in my mind that:
- Some zoom lenses are good enough for many critical applications. The 6-7 years old nikon 14-24 remains a striking example but the new Canon 24-70 f2.8 also seems outstanding,
- The new technologies used in these designs will result in even better primes. Lenses like the Nikon 85mm f1.4/f1.8 or the new Sigma 35mm f1.4 are simply drop from your chair good on the 36mp D800 and could take 50mp without any problem.

All in all it becomes very difficult to blame the imperfection of our images on equipment. Smiley

I am seriously considering getting rid of my trio of Nikon pro zooms since I can't even remember when I used them last.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 10:32:23 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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Paulo Bizarro
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« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2013, 03:24:25 AM »
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From my 20 odd years of experience with photography, this is what I conclude regarding zooms vs. primes:

1. The most important aspect is to fond the lens, or lenses, that are adequate for the subjects you photograph, and that suit you personal style. This is much more important than obssessing with lines per mm, or MTF, or wahtever;

2. At f/8 or f/11, even the crapiest lens gives excellent results;

3. Don't forget the "fun" aspect. I have recently purchased the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZE for my Canon 6D, and it is a joy to use. But I also have the 24-105 L zoom for landscape shooting, the flexibility is enormous.

Kind regards.
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nandadevieast
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« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2013, 12:15:59 PM »
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Another point that should be considered is, price.
2.8 zooms are expensive, a 85G from Nikon is inexpensive, but it is not only faster, but sharp wide open, which you can not even do on a 2.8 zoom. The fact that you're even comparing 'primes in general' to the best available zooms goes to show how good primes can be.
I agree with the poster who said that one should chose basis what one shoots.
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Quentin
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« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2013, 12:30:42 PM »
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In general, zooms are larger, heavier, have slower maximum apertures, distort more and can encourage sloppy photographic habits.

Good primes are smaller, lighter, often a lot faster, also usually sharper and force you the photographer to think more about composition and framing.

Zooms for convenience, primes for quality. 

I generalise of course and this is only my opinion.   A sports photographer or photo journalist may have other priorities, but I now far, far prefer to use a few choice prime lenses and leave the zooms (most of the time) gathering dust.
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TMARK
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« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2013, 01:17:08 PM »
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Zooms are heavy are bulky, and tend to result in inconsistent looks to images from a shoot that should have consistency.  That is why I rarely ever use zooms now, or used zooms when I was shooting for commerce.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2013, 01:53:26 PM »
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Hi,

Thanks for the suggestion. I will keep in mind for my next planned trip to Grand Teton NP.

I don't think I would risk becoming dinner just before twilight, more probably breakfast. At one of my visits there was a grizly at that spot and around 300 tourist and two park rangers. So the risk is small, but not non existent.

Best regards
Erik


The problem is that spot does not shot the oxbow bend clearly. The proper location is to climb the hill behind you, possibly climbing a tree to get out of the clutter. You do that in the dark before sun up you will get a great shot. You also have a small chance of becoming dinner. The point of that spot is to combine the curve of the river with the mountain background. Everyone goes to stand with the other gaggle of togs close to the side of the road where they put a cement pad for everyone.
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AFairley
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« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2013, 02:00:47 PM »
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In general, zooms are larger, heavier, have slower maximum apertures, distort more and can encourage sloppy photographic habits.

That can be true, but in the urban enviroments I shoot in, I cannot always position myself with a prime lens to get the FOV I am looking for, e.g., standing in the middle of the street in traffic generally is a non-starter (though perhaps I'm just not dedicated enough to my art  Wink ).  So a zoom gets me what I'm looking for.  That said, I do tend to work within a pretty tight zoom range around what would be my default prime focal length.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #33 on: April 04, 2013, 02:01:44 PM »
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Hi,

What I have shown with my initial posting is that professional zooms can offer image quality comparable to top level primes. The 135/2L I compared to the 70-200/2.8 zoom is by many considered to be Canons best lens.

Yes, primes are faster, but that is no advantage for a person like me who mostly shoots f/8 or so on tripod. I don't think photographic habits depend on using prime or zoom lenses.

The reason I made my initial posting was to indicate that zoom lenses can be as good as prime lenses and contradict the perception that if you are a serious photographer you need to use primes.

My take is that a serious photographer is one who makes best use of the gear he or she has.

Best regards
Erik

In general, zooms are larger, heavier, have slower maximum apertures, distort more and can encourage sloppy photographic habits.

Good primes are smaller, lighter, often a lot faster, also usually sharper and force you the photographer to think more about composition and framing.

Zooms for convenience, primes for quality. 

I generalise of course and this is only my opinion.   A sports photographer or photo journalist may have other priorities, but I now far, far prefer to use a few choice prime lenses and leave the zooms (most of the time) gathering dust.

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TMARK
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« Reply #34 on: April 04, 2013, 02:09:37 PM »
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That can be true, but in the urban enviroments I shoot in, I cannot always position myself with a prime lens to get the FOV I am looking for, e.g., standing in the middle of the street in traffic generally is a non-starter (though perhaps I'm just not dedicated enough to my art  Wink ).  So a zoom gets me what I'm looking for.  That said, I do tend to work within a pretty tight zoom range around what would be my default prime focal length.

For events or documentary zooms work fine, but for a catalogue, where the images will be displayed against each other, I alwasy used a single prime.  Ocassionaly I would use a single zoom but within, as you stated, a narrow zoom range.

I couldn't imagine a modern journalist not using zooms.

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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #35 on: April 04, 2013, 02:21:48 PM »
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Hi,

I'm the original poster. I would add that for a long time I was shooting zooms on 135 film and primes on Pentax 67. My main motivation for zooms was that I could find the optimal vantage point without cropping. On the other hand, shooting primes on the Pentax 67 worked just fine.

I used to carry some primes with my 135 film kit, but they got never used and when I used them I could see little advantage. When I went to DSLRs I just continued to use my old zooms and primes. Still the primes got little use, except in extreme wide angle, the Sigma 12-24/4.5-5.6 is extremely wide but not extremely good. I got a 70-400/4-5.6 zoom instead of the 80-200/2.8 and 400/4.5 APO lens I had. In my tests the 70-400/4-5.6 was a dead ringer for the 400/4.5APO, but by using one lens replacing two I have no less problems with carry on weight limits on european flights.

I just added a Hasselblad Macro Planar in a tilt adapter to my gear, so I'm not against primes.

Best regards
Erik
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NancyP
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« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2013, 03:01:56 PM »
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The best zooms are not cheap. Dream Duo: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II, $2,300.00; Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS, $2,200.00. A wedding or event photographer or photojournalist wouldn't need much else - perhaps a macro for the wedding ring closeup.
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Telecaster
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« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2013, 03:44:08 PM »
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But my preference has almost nothing to do with optical quality. When I use zooms for an extended period I find myself getting compositionally lazy. I see it in my photos. I'm just a better photographer when I work with one focal length for a long enough time to, so to speak, get tuned into it. However, not being an either/or kinda guy, sometimes a zoom lens is clearly the best option at a particular occassion or vantage point.

-Dave-
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2013, 05:01:13 PM »
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Can't argue with your numbers you give as examples, but in case anyone hasn't already made the point, if you either need or desire f/2 at 135mm, no matter what ISO setting you choose, an f/2.8 isn't going to get you there. case in point: while on assignment yesterday shooting  with a 1D X set to ISO 10,000. Using the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II f/2.8 would have meant longer exposures and more unusable frames due to subject motion.

If your work doesn't require short shutter speeds in low light, then your point is well made. 
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Ellis Vener
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AFairley
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« Reply #39 on: April 05, 2013, 05:48:26 PM »
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But my preference has almost nothing to do with optical quality. When I use zooms for an extended period I find myself getting compositionally lazy. I see it in my photos. I'm just a better photographer when I work with one focal length for a long enough time to, so to speak, get tuned into it. However, not being an either/or kinda guy, sometimes a zoom lens is clearly the best option at a particular occassion or vantage point.

-Dave-

Dave, I find you comment fascinating, since it's the opposite for me.  As I said in an earlier post, because my ability to position myself ideally is usually constrained, I shoot with a zoom (although within a pretty small range centered around my preferred focal length).  When I switched to the D800E I shot only with a 35mm prime for a while - the only lens I had at the time - and I found that using it I was getting "compositionally lazy" as you put it.  Since the ways I could frame the shot I saw were limited in terms of positioning, it was "get it more or less and fix in post" so I ended up not working as hard on the composition in the field because my choices were constrained.  Whereas with the zoom (which I am back to using having acquired one) since I can nail the composition in camera I am forced to think about what it really is in the scene that caught my eye and what I have to do compositionally to convey that.  So for me, paradoxically, the zoom makes me a better photographer.  Just goes to show . . .  Smiley

(That said, my advice to beginners who want to develop their eye is to use a single prime to avoid the trap of being scattershop with a zoom.)
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 05:58:17 PM by AFairley » Logged

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