Please comment briefly on what you see as the advantage of a fast prime lens.

Editor's picture
High-ratio zoom lenses certainly are convenient, but may give up speed for convenience. Prime, fixed focal length lenses generally are faster, but obviously do not offer the convenience of zooms. Do you currently own a fast, fixed focal length lens?
Please comment briefly on what you see as the advantage of a fast prime lens.
Yes, I count on it for low light and shallow depth of field.
36% (64 votes)
No, I enjoy the convenience of zooms and don't need another lens in my kit.
32% (56 votes)
I carry both all the time.
32% (56 votes)
Total votes: 176
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Comments
Ray's picture

I carry 14-24 2.8, 24-105mm macro and 50mm 1.8. 105 macro, most the time. Plus a 70-300mm 5.6, next purchase 24-70 2.8.

Joey Lee's picture

When I need the sharpest image, best bohkeh, low light, or some combination of the above I turn to my fast primes. I have a 30mm f1.4, and 85mm f1.8. I also own four zooms which I admittedly use 95% of the time.

Ryan Watkins's picture

I always have my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 with me. I like it a lot more than any super zoom lens I've used. During a recent trip to Michigan's UP I used my 50mm almost exculsivley. I love the wide apeture even though your stuck at one focal length.

Douglas K.  Gilchrist's picture

I do alot of astro=photography and really need the speed of my two prime lenses.

Bob Hall's picture

The good ones are expensive and used rarely. So, no.

Donnie G.'s picture

I use 24mm f-2.8 wide, 50mm f-1.4 normal, and a 100mm f-2, moderate telephoto. Those were my fast prime lenses during the era of film. I had a camera body for each lens, and back then, the muscle to run around all day with this gear swinging from my neck, including my trusty potato masher type flash and its battery pack. I was young, and yes, the images those lens produced when used wide open were soft and dreamy, but that was the flavor of the day anyway, especially for weddings, which was 90% of my workload. My first zoom lens was a Vivitar Series 1, 70-210, f-4. It was a fine lens. It was also very large and heavy compared to what I was used to hauling, so it didn't see much action as a wedding lens. It did become my favorite general purpose optic for the ease of framing it provided, and it did make a favorable impression that just screamed professional photographer. Yeah baby, people took notice when you whipped that big boy out of your camera bag. Slap a deep rubber lens shade on the front for maximum effect and folks would start walking and sometimes running toward you wearing that photogenic twinkle in their eyes that says, take my picture please. Today my gear is based around one camera body and a 10-22 wide angle zoom that I use for 80% of my photography. The other 20% is handled by a 50mm f-1.4, and a 100mm f-2.8 macro, and my trusty, but least used, 70-200mm f-2.8L. Lens wise, things haven't changed that much for me, except that they are generally smaller, lighter, and sharper optics than was available when I first got hooked on photography.

Al S.'s picture

I use a 85mm 1.4. Good for basketball games with no flash.

G.  Pereira's picture

I won't give up speed and image quality for 'convenience'!

Prentiss Berry's picture

While all of my lens are zooms, that is not to say that I would never own/use a fast prime lens. In fact I will probably get some fixed lens. But for now, the zooms give me what I need. Most of my zooms are pro-level lens.

Brigite's picture

I own a Canon 50mm f1.4. It renders sharper and more pleasing images than my zoom lenses.

Steve Larson's picture

For indoor shots where you are not allowed to use a flash, I use my Nikon 85mm 1.4, which is perfect. But for outdoor sports, I use my 80-400mm zoom, which I could not live without.

Patti's picture

I carry with me a lens for every situation. This includes 2 Primes and 2 Zooms. I know my limitations of each lens.

Carlos E.  Delgado's picture

The shallow depth of field and sharpness are great for a prime.

Photoburner's picture

I do own and use zooms along with primes but I would never buy one with more than a 5:1 ratio and preferably a 3:1.

Dennis Simmons's picture

Zooming with your feet lets you think about the subject not the equipment.

Jack's picture

I have filled out my collection of zooms (3) and am thinking about the Canon 50 L or 85 L. I do carry on occasion the far less expensive Canon 50 and 85 lenses.

John Strain's picture

Zooms are great for convenience but you can't beat a good fast, sharp prime. It is also much lighter and smaller and the ability to have shallow depth of field is the clincher. It can also be a good discipline to be restricted to one fixed focal length and to have to compose within its limitations.

Dan's picture

The fast focus and low-light sometimes more than make up for the convenience of zoom-composition. But, just like any toolbox, you really need both for various reasons.

David Ziff's picture

Advantages: 1) ability to shoot in low light at events or weddings 2) Often better glass 3) Often smaller or lighter lens 4) Often better bokeh.

Paul's picture

Without a doubt they both have their place. If I could only afford one lense it would be the convienience of a zoom lense.

Kendall Adams's picture

The optical quality of the prime lens is far superior to that of any zoom. Color and contrast are better. The slight inconvenience of needing to move my feet to best utilize these features is well worth the price and the extra weight.

Mike Homa's picture

Plus they are generally smaller and lighter to carry...

Tom Rogalski's picture

I use my canon 50mm 1.4 for great facial shots and very low light. The only set back I have with it a lot of times I don't have the room to use it in low light areas. I seen an add for a 17 to 50 2.8 have you any news on it?

Russ Meyers's picture

I love my Nikon 105mm, f2.8 macro for portraits, close-ups, and general photography under tightly controlled conditions.

M.  Alvarez's picture

Nikon's new 35mm 1.8 is an excellent tool for low light situations; lightweight and small, easy to carry and very useful.

Andrew Gillis's picture

I don't own any high ratio (18-200, etc.) zooms because the slow speed and optical quality compromises are too great for my work. I still regularly use 85 f/1.8 and 35 f/2 among others on my Pentax digital SLRs for a lot of professional work.

Joel Gilgoff's picture

I love the natural light images possible using my 50mm f1.4 lens.

Ann McClendon's picture

With my budget, the fast zooms are way out of price range. I shoot a lot of low light and need the speed.

R.  Sellers's picture

I use the fixed focal lenght lens for special shooting needs.

Raymond Brown's picture

The optical quality of a prime lens seems better to me. Zooms cannot compete in extreme low light...