Shooting with prime lenses, why I enjoy it
It might go back to when I was in my first year at college where we were only allowed a 50mm, but I’ve never really been a fan of using zoom lenses. My first DSLR came with a kit zoom lens which I used, and is currently my only zoom lens, which is now gathering dust in the cupboard. I don’t own lots of equipment but the equipement I do own, I use a lot (apart from my flash).
In 2008 I bought my first prime lens, a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 that the local camera store had on special. I think this lens sealed the deal and was the beginning of my love affair with prime lenses.
In 2009 I bought my second prime lens, I picked up a Nikon 105mm. I really wanted to experiment with macro photography, and this was a lens I had wanted for many years. It also was a great lens because it could double as the good lens for portraiture.
Then last year in 2015 I purchased a Sigma 24mm ART lens, I needed a lens for my interior and landscape photography. A wide angle was a must, but I wasn’t sure about the quality of Sigma. I had heard their new ART lenses were fantastic, especially they 24mm ART lens. Reviews online said the colour and sharpness were unbelievable. So I took the plunge and ordered one. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I immediately knew I made the right choice when I pulled the lens out the box. The build quality was great, but better still the images I was getting were amazing. This soon became my go-to lens and it rarely leaves my camera.
What I love about prime lenses is you have to move to reframe your subject. You don’t become lazy and just sit in one spot zooming in and out. Another great thing with prime lenses is the sharpness of your image because there are less moving parts. I have a few photographer friends who think I’m mad heading off to shoot a wedding with only 2 or 3 prime lenses. I don’t see anything wrong with it, it just means you have to move around a little more.
Using a prime lens just means you have to have your bag close because if you don’t have second body you’ll be changing lenses often. The only zoom I think I would buy for events like weddings would be a 70-200mm, but I’m just waiting for Sigma to update theirs.
Some things to remember when shooting with prime lenses
1. You’re probably going to be doing a lot of walking to reframe your image.
Because you’re not using a zoom, you have to walk closer or further out when framing your images.
2. They’re faster than their zoom cousins.
Prime lenses generally are faster than zoom lenses, meaning you can achieve a narrower depth of field. Where most zoom lenses have a wide aperture of f/2.8, prime lenses can open up to f/1.4
3. You’re images are going to be sharper.
Because prime lenses have less moving parts, your images are generally going to be sharper. My 24mm Sigma lens proves this again and again.
4. You’re going to have to choose your focal length carefully.
You need to decided before buying what your most used focal length is. You can see this by looking at the metadata in lightroom. Generally a good prime to begin with is a 50mm.