Photography Tips: 5 Reasons to Own a Prime Lens

The last photography tips had discussed about 10 Factors to be Considered Before Buying a Lens, and basically we know that there are two types of lenses, the prime lens and the zoom lens.

Prime Lens

Above is the Sony Zeiss SEL55F18Z prime lens which provides one wide and smooth focus ring. You won’t get the second zoom ring here because it is a prime lens that does not change focal length!

There are many photography amateur and professional who are in love with the prime lens or even insist to use prime lens whenever possible. However, many people who just migrated from Point-and-Shoot camera to DSLR or new to DSLR are scared off by the prime lens because we have to physically move closer or get away from our subject, and we will think “the prime lens is for professional use, not for me”.

So let’s get rid of that mindset because we are going to have a look that why so many people are in love in the prime lens in today post.

1. Fast Prime

We always heard people talk about “fast prime”, so what is it? Prime lens usually comes with larger aperture like F 1.8, F 1.4 or even F 1.2 that is never seen on any consumer zoom lens (conusumer zoom lens has the max aperture at F 2.8). Larger aperture allow the same amount of light to hit the image sensor in a shorter time which means we can use a faster shutter speed to avoid hand-shaking. This is especially useful when we are shooting in low-light scene.

2. Best Optical Performance

Taken by Prime Lens
Taken by Prime Lens

Prime lens structure is relatively simpler than zoom lens because it only has to focus at single focal length so that its optical performance can be greatly optimised. The images taken by prime lens are sharper, and better control in distortion, vignetting, flare, and etc.

3. Cheaper

When we compare the price of a constant aperture F 2.8 zoom lens with a F 2.8 prime lens, the price difference is enough for us to buy a second or third prime lens of different focal length. With the same amount of money spent, we may get several really fast prime lenses (F 1.8, F 1.4, F 1.2 etc.) that cover the same focal-length range of the bulkier and heavier constant F 2.8 zoom lens.

4. Force You to Think

Thinking of framing subject is necessary regardless of prime lens or zoom lens. However, many of us had misused the convenience of the zoom lens, by keep zooming in and out to decide what to shoot or how to frame our subjects.

Prime lens force us to think how to frame a subject, and zoom by moving our own legs instead of fingers. When moving around our subject, we will get the different angle of view and feel ourselves. The other advantage of move ourselves to zoom in/out of the subject is we get the physically distance from the subject.

Once we get used to the specific focal length, our brain will frame the subject automatically, then we can take out our camera and “gotcha”!

5. Bokeh

Fast prime not only allow us to shoot at a faster shutter speed, but also create an addictive effect that zoom lens not easily to produce — the bokeh! When we use normal zoom lens like F 3.2/5.6 24-105 mm, we get largest F 3.2 at 24 mm and only F 5.6 at 105 mm!

Bokeh by 50mm Prime Lens at F 1.8
Bokeh by 50mm Prime Lens at F 1.8

You may argue that we can get a constant F 2.8 24-105mm zoom lens, so that we can get some lovely bokeh effect at F 2.8 as well. Yes you are right but how many of us are affordable for those constant F 2.8 zoom lens? And a constant F 2.8 zoom lens is heavier and bulkier than a F 1.8 prime lens. Besides, we may get a F 1.8 24mm prime and a F 1.8 105 mm prime lens easily at a cheaper price and they are much smaller and lighter (yes, there are two lenses but we only put one of them on the camera at one time aren’t we?).

Bottom Line

Although prime lens is not as convenience as zoom lens, but its optical performance has greatly outperformed normal zoom lens. If you are shooting night photography or in any low-light scene, bring along a fast prime and you’ll appreciate for it.

That’s all for today. Thanks for your reading and hope you like it.


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