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

W.  Goodrich's picture

Low light sharpness and good depth-of-field control are the reasons I have these prime lenses. Zooms do not measure up.

David's picture

I tend to use my 18-50mm zoom all the time, since it is a fast macro lens. But I also keep my faster 77mm lens at hand for portraits in low light.

High Desert Pete's picture

As someone who started out in 1969 with manual everything Konica 35 mm SLR with a 50mm f 1.4 lens I have found this to be an indispensible tool for capturing light in the search for expression. Before there was AMEX we said of such a set-up, "Don't leave home without it!"

Mel Reimer's picture

It all depends on the assignment. Most of my work is landscape & plants, so I usually have time to arrange whatever look I want.

Michael Rosenberg's picture

My choice of lenses is dependent upon my subject. For portraits and macros, primes are an indespensible tool. For day to day and everything in between, fast zooms fit the bill.

Richard Baker's picture

I have a high-ratio zoom, faster small-ratio zooms and fast primes. When shooting in low-light situations, sometimes the fast primes are the best choice to keep ISO values within the camera's best performance range while allowing reasonable shutter speeds.

Allen's picture

High ratio zooms are a waste because they don't let in enough light. But zooms with a large fixed aperture are very useful. My two primary zooms are 24-70 f2.8 and 70-210 f3.5.

Robert Woodward's picture

Different situations call for different lenses. To restrict oneself to only one type of lens is just that - a restriction. My walk-around lens is a zoom but I always carry a couple of primes as well.

Robert MacLeay's picture

Using my ancient, great manual focus legacy primes via adapters, but primarily for studio work. When I'm out and about, I leave them at home; they are heavy, and accurate manual focus is difficult with modern DSLR bodies.

Derek's picture

I always keep a "fast 50" in my bag.

Dan Mouer's picture

My 50/1.4 is my "carry-around" lens on my Sony Alpha DSLR. I use it for "street photography" and informal portraits. If I'm off to the country for some general shooting, then I carry my gadget bag with two zoom lenses, a macro lens, and a pinhole adapter for my Sony. However, the 50 is what stays on the camera the most.

Carl Berger's picture

I use old Canon FD and Olympus OM lenses on my Lumix DMC-G1 for the excellent depth of field and fast shutter speed in normal light. The virtual doubling of the focal length in my Micro 4/3rds make them great sports lenses!

Joe Mirenzi's picture

For me, However, the fixed aperture zoom lens does give better all-around sharpeness at any five focal length than the variable aperture zoom lens. So for me, when I want a zoom portrail lens I use my 28-75 f2.8 Tamron or my 80-200 f2.8 Nikon.

Vaggelis Ritsos's picture

I have and use prime lenses, but only for purposes zooms don't exist, like fisheyes and macro lenses. For me the biggest advandage of zooms over primes is that they allow you to compose perfectly. Composition is allmost everything for me.

Joe Sutherland's picture

Another reason to carry a prime lens is that most primes are lighter than high-quality zoom lenses, an important factor for me and my arthritic neck.

Jon O.  Clarke's picture

I use Primes in 100mm focal length and below for ultra sharp "money" shots. Sometimes I frame the shot with a zoom to determine which focal length prime to use instead of trying several primes. I use zooms when I'm moving fast and for most telephoto shots, except with my 600mm prime. Not all primes are sufficiently sharp, so you need to run comparative tests of your camera maker's and independent lens maker's various offerings in similar focal length before buying. You'd be amazed at the difference once you display the image on screen at high magnification. Buy primes wisely!

Sam Feder's picture

I usually have a 28mm 1.4 lens on the camera. But I also carry either a fast 60 macro, or a 28-85 zoom. with the 1.6 factor of my 40D that covers most of my needs.

Will Siler's picture

Although I carry both, I absolutely love the speed of the 50mm/f2.0 macro.

Mark Hayes's picture

Can't beat the light weight and contrast provided by the 35 f/1.8 and 50 f/1.4 AFS Nikkors.

Gregory Harestad's picture

Almost all of my shooting is of the walk around type - travel, portraits, etc - and I rely 100% on 3 zooms which cover 17mm to 300mm. This so far has met my needs completely and I don't have to keep thinking about trying a different lens; not to mention the time to switch out and lug a lot of different glass around. I also make 11x19 prints and sell them using this set up.

Michael McGuire's picture

I do not currently own a prime long lens, and wish I did. I have always liked the quality, and the fact that I have to think a bit more when framing an image. When I can afford a good, faster prime lens in the 400 mm range, it will be mine.

Eugene Marrero, Jr.'s picture

Actually carry both most of the time. When I need to go compact for whatever reason, I use the zooms and higher ISO's.

Pete's picture

Amazing what you can get out of the primes. There are zooms that are very fast but is just not the same.

Don Gerrish's picture

The Canon EF 50mm 1.4 is my all time favorite lens, both for 35mm film and full frame digital. Lightweight, small package, superior optics, fast focusing, bright viewfinder, zoom with your feet, exposure becomes second nature. I own big heavy zooms but always return to my 35mm, 50mm and 85mm primes.

Gary Zak's picture

I always carry three lens. A 10-20 wide angle zoom, 18-250 all- purpose zoom, and a 50mm f1.4. The prime is too perfect for low light & Shallow DOF.

Ed's picture

Most zooms are way too slow for low light action photography. Sure it can be done by setting the iso to6400, 12800, 25600, ... . But who wants the grain. Then there's AF. A slow lens can't AF as well as a fast lens and sometime not at all.

Dale Hazard's picture

I prefer high-ratio zoom lenses. If I need shallow depth of field I use the maximum zoom focal length. One good advantage of a prime, fixed focal length lens with the wider aperture is that it allows more light to go into the camera for the auto-focus mechanism to better do its job. After years of shooting weddings with a fixed focal length lens, high-ratio zooms are a Godsend.

Steve Ferris's picture

High quality primes offer unsurpassed quality and good value. They encourage one to take care with composition.

Bill Lubben's picture

I'd love a fast, fixed lens, but they are beyond my budget. I use my zoom and learn to live within its limitations.

Bob Horner's picture

In addition to low light capability, fast lenses are important to me as I age since they provide a brighter image in the viewfinder. Also, they may tend to be sharper at actual shooting apertures since it would not be needed to shoot wide open at certain times. One would tend to shoot slower lenses wide open more often.