Please answer this poll question.
I've always had a personal bias toward fixed focal length Nikkors for reasons of superior image quality. I also am easily satisfied with regard to adapting to using a single focal length lens, by utilizing the zooming with feet technique. What are your thoughts about the perceived image superiority of single focal length lenses over zoom lenses? Is it enough of an impediment in your mind for you to exclusively use prime lenses?
#1. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 0hphoto Registered since 19th Jun 2003Sun 13-Jul-03 05:44 AM
I am not a pro, and use 20mm, 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm Nikkors for 20 years and I could not get myself to use zoom lenses (have 35-70/3.5-4.5 and 70-210 Nikkors) unless for snapshots, due to lack of image quality compared to my fixed lenses. Until I took the plunge and used the 17-35/2.8AFS I then became a believer that this zoom lens equals and at times beats fixed lenses. But this is a large and heavy lens relative to fixed lenses - so I will definitely keep my prime lenses. This zoom lens allows me to quickly compose my shots (for people, candids, etc..) without sacrificing image quality.
But using fixed lenses have (and still) taught me a lot about composition and it is a good discipline to have.
#10. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 1Sun 13-Jul-03 07:15 PM
Discipline is the key word that you used, Hphoto. Having to use a single focal length lens, forces the photographer to approach his craft with careful thought---without easy access to the differing fields of view that a zoom would provide. Greater creativity, is the end-result. An analogy might be, using black and white shooting. Shooting in black and white subtracts the easy appeal of color from a photographer's armamentarium. Black and white---like using a fixed focal length---coerces the photographer into overcoming the obstacles that restriction places on him or her. Also, as I said to Lee Anne---I'm a bug believer in the sheer purity of the single focal length lens. Man, it rules.
#32. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 10saschneider Registered since 02nd Jun 2002Mon 14-Jul-03 08:38 PM
whether you have a fixed lens, and have to move to the right spot, or use a zoom to achieve the correct framing, careful thought is still required; fixed or zoom is immaterial; sorry, I beg to differ (and yes, I've been shooting Tri-X since 1972 and recently moved to zooms)
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#2. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 0
>I've always had a personal bias toward fixed focal length
>Nikkors for reasons of superior image quality.
Depends what you mean by superior.
It used to be true but, apart from the recent 14mm D Nikon have not put much new technology into primes.
They have put a lot of new technology into recent zooms by using several asperic elements.
This gives edge quality much closer to centre.
The outcome is the 18-35 at 18mm beats the 20mm D except for distortion, the 24-85G is excellent lenses like the 17-35 and 28-70 are even better.
10 years ago primes did have superior image quality.
In 2003 they are increasingly no better and occasionally slightly worse.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
#19. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 2phyllopod Basic MemberSun 13-Jul-03 10:26 PM
>>I've always had a personal bias toward fixed focal length
>>Nikkors for reasons of superior image quality.
>Depends what you mean by superior.
>It used to be true but, apart from the recent 14mm D Nikon
>have not put much new technology into primes.
>They have put a lot of new technology into recent zooms by
>using several asperic elements.
>This gives edge quality much closer to centre.
>The outcome is the 18-35 at 18mm beats the 20mm D except for
>distortion, the 24-85G is excellent lenses like the 17-35
>and 28-70 are even better.
>10 years ago primes did have superior image quality.
>In 2003 they are increasingly no better and occasionally
Interesting. It's certainly true that, with all the new techology, zooms have gotten much better than they were ten years ago, and if you have the cash to buy a 17-35, you won't lose much over the primes.
That being said, it's interesting to note that the Nikon lens that seems to have gotten some of the best reviews test ratings in years, the 45mm/2.8 P, is based on the oldest design (it's a Tessar): only 4 elements, and nothing fancy at all.
Personally, I like primes because they are small and light and usually cheaper than zooms of equivalent quality.
#21. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 19Mon 14-Jul-03 05:29 AM
Lightness is also a key deciding factor for me, Nike--which is why I chose the D100 over the D1X. I also believe that no matter how close zoom lenses come to the quality of prime lenses, that they never will surpass the image production of a great, single focal length Nikkor.
#3. "Primes rule, but...." | In response to Reply # 0
Without question, great primes rule! However, keeping in mind the following variables, I use zooms:
1. Relying on the "use your feet" method of zooming does not always work out. There are many shots - due to inaccessible terrain, or trying to capture wildlife - or, trying to capture a fleeting moment in time - where primes just won't do. Having a quality zoom that enables you to zoom in on the spur of the moment is essential - at least in my book.
2. The Dust on CCD issue. If you use just primes (nothing wrong with that), you would ideally have to have anywhere from 4 - 8 lenses. This often involves a series of changing sessions and the risk of dust on the CCD becomes greater. I personally don't want to go down that road.
3. Zooms have made tremendous advances in technology and quality. The zooms of yesterday have been bettered by a 100% and it's only going to get better.
From beautiful North Carolina, USA
#4. "RE: Primes rule, but...." | In response to Reply # 3nick p Registered since 28th Jun 2002Sun 13-Jul-03 10:11 AM
i shoot the d100 almost exclusivly now and i'v noticed a HUGE difference in primes vs zoom. i have the 50mm 1.8 and the 105mm micro and there is no comparison to the zooms that i can afford. i think the primes are better at metering on the d100. i rarely have to do anything but add a little contrast to my images in ps when shooting a prime. but with the less expensive zooms (28-105 70-300) it seems i have more exposure correction to do. they don't seem to meter the same at different zoom ratios. i whish i could afford the pro zooms, but i can't so the primes allow me to get better results with less cost, even if i do have to zoom with my feet. i will be sticking with primes for the foreseeable future. i think changing lenses is part of slr photography and if i were to worry about dust on my ccd i might as well not have one. if i take my car out of the garage it may get dirty too but it is a tool and when it's dirty i will clean it.
" the fox fears not the man who boasts by night, but the man who rises early and goes forth"
#12. "RE: Primes rule, but...." | In response to Reply # 4Sun 13-Jul-03 07:31 PM
I'm with you, Nick. Single length lenses will always be better. Hey! If I happen with miss a shot because I have a fixed focal length on my D100---then I miss the shot. There's always another shot to be had, even if it means moving on to a different subject. That's life when "no compromise" is a guiding principle.
#27. "RE: Primes rule, but...." | In response to Reply # 12Mon 14-Jul-03 06:56 PM
" I happen with miss a shot because I have a fixed focal length on my D100---then I miss the shot. There's always another shot to be had, even if it means moving on to a different subject."
Unfortunately, sometimes that philosophy will not cut it in the professional world where your bread and butter depends on getting "the" shot and you have only one shot at it.
#11. "RE: Primes rule, but...." | In response to Reply # 3
coming off of my Terminator100. Actually, there is a precedence for this in my practices. I had my 28mm AI-S Nikkor permanently attached to my Nikon F, my 200mm Nikkor fixed to my F2, and my trusty 55mm Micro-Nikkor married to my F3HP. Those backs and their respective lenses never got separated, let alone divorced.
In a serious vein, when I walk around with my D100 with 60mm Micro, I feel complete. I guess that I'm a throwback to the days when all a photographer ever needed, was his or her "normal" lens. The 60mm is my normal lens. Just like in the old days. There's something to be said for the romanticism found in the old ways in photography.
#13. "Regardless of age, we love our toys" | In response to Reply # 11benherrmann Registered since 17th Aug 2002Sun 13-Jul-03 07:33 PM
Look, we love our toys, regardless of age. I can never just be satisfied with a basic set up of anything. I'm sure you're the same way. I laughed when you said if you wanted another lens you were just going to buy another D100 - right on! I know you just couldn't settle for a basic chopper - you probably have the best of everything on your Harley, and the same flows over to other toys we have. It's the nature of the beast. Aren't these toys just great!!!
From beautiful North Carolina, USA
#15. "RE: Regardless of age, we love our toys" | In response to Reply # 13Sun 13-Jul-03 08:02 PM
There's a used D1 for sale at Adorama for about $1,400. If I bought that, I could use my three AI-S lenses.....nah...it would be too heavy to enjoy carrying every day. I take my D100 every day to work with me, if it's not raining.
#5. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 0
It depends on the zoom. If you're willing to pay the price of the AF-S f/2.8 zooms (17-35mm, 28-70mm, 80-200mm) then I doubt very much that you'll find the quality lacking when compared to primes - they're outstandingly good lenses.
#28. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 5Mon 14-Jul-03 06:58 PM
"It depends on the zoom. If you're willing to pay the price of the AF-S f/2.8 zooms (17-35mm, 28-70mm, 80-200mm) then I doubt very much that you'll find the quality lacking when compared to primes - they're outstandingly good lenses.
DING DING DING!!!!! We have a winner! That is the exact set-up I am slowly trying to build towards -- primes be damned.
#6. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 0
> I also am easily satisfied ..
> .. by utilizing the zooming with feet technique.
There is no such thing as "zooming with your feet".
- If you move, your perspective changes. And with a wide-angle lens, your perspective changes dramatically .. sometimes by just moving a few inches left / right or to the front / back.
- If you zoom in or change lenses, you don't change your position, and hence your perspective stays the same.
Anyway, it isn't always possible to move forwards and back. If I photograph a group of people, and my back is against the wall, then there is nowhere for my feet to go. I have to be able to use a shorter focal length, whether by changing lenses or zooming. In this case, "hold it, hold it!" while you tediously change lenses, isn't going to earn you a lot of respect as a photographer, if anyone else using a point-and-shoot compact can zoom in and out and would've had the shot before you. Guess who looks amateurish now?
I have 3 prime lenses .. 50mm 1.8 .. 85mm f1.8 ... 105mm f2 DC.
I have three zooms .. all f2.8 zooms, including the 17-35 AF-S and the 28-70 AF-S. I very rarely use my primes, because with the quality of these lenses, the ease of use of the zooms becomes an overriding factor. On a shoot, I simply don't have time to continually change lenses.
#7. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 6TheMohaveKid Registered since 11th Jun 2002Sun 13-Jul-03 01:34 PM
If your stalking an animal and you need to use the feet technique and move back ... the animal hears you and runs away and you have an image of a small animal butt ... Do I really care about the resolution difference ???? ..... There is more to making images then resolution a lot more.
Good Day !!
#8. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 0
I just realized recently what a big difference there was between one of my primes and one of my zooms. I was going to take some pictures of my son and planned to do it with my 85mm 1.4 lens. I forgot to change lenses and had my 24-120mm on the camera. I took a couple of shots with it, then changed to the 85mm. The sharpness was much better with the 85mm (no surpirse there), but what did surprised me was the difference in colors I got with the two. The images taken with the 24-120 had a red tint to them and the 85mm images seemed right on with the colors. I haven't done this test with any of the other zooms I have. I don't have any of the better zooms yet, so I can't compare those. Will it make me shoot with primes all the time? No, because I'm usually taking pictures of my kids in action or wildlife, so a prime on my camera really wouldn't work most of the time.
"The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter." Mark Twain
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#9. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 8Sun 13-Jul-03 07:01 PM
I doubt that I will ever own a zoom, Lee Anne. There's just something about the purity of the single focal length lens that appeals to me. A single focal length lens, will never be a compromise. It reaffirms the given photographer's commitment to being more creative, in order to overcome the constrictive nature of a fixed focal length lens' limitations, that the lens places on its owner.
#14. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 9Xopher Registered since 25th May 2003Sun 13-Jul-03 07:54 PM
My D-100 is still somewhat a new addition for me. When I got it, I got a Tamron 19-35mm and a Tamron 28-300mm to start with. Since most of the work I do is event photography (marching band performances/competitions, weddings), I tend to need to move from one view to another quickly and don't have time to change lenses. The 28-300 pretty much stays on the camera most of the time, just switching to the 19-35 ocassionally for specific shots. I was also on a budget since I got everything at the same time.
The next lens I plan to get will be a prime for portrait work. I know I will get a lot better quality image from the prime, but while my photography budget builds back up, I just keep the 28-300 around 100mm and don't zoom the lens at all during portrait shots.
#16. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 9Kenp Registered since 25th Jan 2003Sun 13-Jul-03 08:30 PM
> A single focal length lens, will
> never be a compromise. It reaffirms the given
> photographer's commitment to being more creative, in
> order to overcome the constrictive nature of a fixed focal
> length lens' limitations, that the lens places on its
In the sense of those limitations, I find a fixed focal length to be a compromise. You settle on a specific angle of view, and sacrifice elements of perspective and composition to make everything fit that.
I shot with a fixed 50 mm lens for decades until I got an N80 with a 28-80 zoom. Using that was a revelation. I could get shots that I could not get before. I could quickly twist the zoom ring and pick the framing on something that would be gone by the time I'd have walked back and forth with a fixed lens.
That 28-80 is now the default lens on my D100. (Until I can sneak a 24-120 VR past my wife, that is.)
Zoom, like anything else, is a tool. Selecting any tool is a compromise, since you're excluded the strengths of the tools you're not using.
The choices we have with modern photo equipment are the ultimate ymmv.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#17. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 16Fotoper Registered since 18th Feb 2003Sun 13-Jul-03 08:51 PM
I am using Nikon 35mm, 50mm and 100mm, but when I am shooting sports and action I find my 135-4oomm more than usefull. But my favorit lens is Nikkor AF 50mm/1.8.
hope you can use this
Per from Denmark
#30. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 9
And my zooms reaffirms the given photographer's commitment to being more creative, in order to utilize the constrictive nature of the zoom focal length lens....
Everyone is different dude...one man's fancy is another man's famine....or however the saying goes.
#34. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 29Lee Anne Registered since 28th Jan 2007Mon 14-Jul-03 09:33 PM
Oh, I know that. I was just surprised at the huge difference in color. I'll be getting the 70-200mm 2.8 and 17-35mm for Christmas, so I'll be able to compare then. Will Christmas ever come?
"The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter." Mark Twain
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#18. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 0
As many have mentioned, pro quality f2.8 lenses to me seem to be as good as the few primes I have owned. You are asking this in the D100 forum and on the D100 I believe it would be impossible to
tell the difference between even very good zooms such as the 28-105 AF-D and a prime. The D100 I don't believe is capable of producing much differences between very good to excellent lenses, zoom or prime. I have done dozens of tests with many lenses and have come to this conclusion.
#20. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 18fundy Registered since 13th Nov 2002Mon 14-Jul-03 04:20 AM
I love primes!!
I shoot almost exlusively with a 17mm, 24mm and a 50mm.
i don't know if it is the lenses or not, but i always get better results with primes.
I think it is a preferential thing. Also, it is impossible to get anything in the mid range with a 1.8 aperture unless you are shooting primes. 85mm 1.8 in a zoom. Forget about it.
If you love low light photography, I think you have to shoot primes.
Some people will love zooms.
And ultimately once you skip the really bad zooms, the lens doesn't really matter THAT much, the photographer is much more important.
Oregonian Nikonian presently found on Shikoku, Japan
#23. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 20Mon 14-Jul-03 05:38 AM
angle of view. It is not a jack of all trades, but a master of one trade---to provide the very best imagery possible, using all parameters, at its focal length.
You are right about the photographer being the key to good images. The equipment becomes secondary. With fixed focal lengths, photographers are challenged to a greater degree than with zooms, to create good images. Single focal lengths stimulate increased creativity.
#31. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 23Mon 14-Jul-03 07:05 PM
"With fixed focal lengths, photographers are challenged to a greater degree than with zooms, to create good images. Single focal lengths stimulate increased creativity."
My opinion here, and don't get all bent over it -- but that statement you keep making I am quoting is bull cockey in my book. Creativity either flows or it does not flow. It does not make a difference if I have a prime or zoom on. I choose the tool for the job and start shooting. One does not make me more of an artist than the other.
#36. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 31Tue 15-Jul-03 04:44 AM
That type of statement doesn't bother me, Bandit. We're all enititled to our opinions. The only thing that bothers me is when someone tells me that I'm guilty of Hegelian rambling. In this context, you believe what you believe, and I believe what I believe. No sin there, buddy. By the way, I miss Garcia.
#24. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 0
I, too, prefer single focal length lenses, but I also have and use several zooms. Understanding the high quality of today's "professional" zooms, I count the following as advantages of single focal length lenses:
- optical qualities (resolution, distortion, light fall-off, etc.) on par with or better than the best zooms
- significantly less size and mass on the camera
- overall weight of the several singles that replace the zoom is approx. the same, but 2/3 or more of that weight is in my pocket or camera bag, rather than on the camera; cost is approx. equivalent, but can be spread out over time
- camera / lens combination is much less "intimidating" to the subject with singles than with zooms (the last three say essentially the same thing)
- generally optically faster than the best zooms (or equal); means brighter viewfinder, faster, easier auto or manual focus
The major disadvantage I find is the inconvenience of changing focal lengths - obviously, the zoom is MUCH more convenient. But over the years, I found I could predict pretty well what focal length I wanted, and that when using a zoom, I tended to use it at one extreme or the other, so this is not as much of a disadvantage as it seems.
Having said all that, I will say that there are some situations when I use and enjoy zooms:
- when hiking, I like my 24-85 - its tough rooting through a pack to find a lens I might want. With my D-100, I'll supplement this with a 20 f/2.8 and a 70-300. This makes for a satisfactory, light kit - although I'd really like to take the 80-400VR!
- when traveling light, I can make do with just the 24-85. But, I can just as well make do with just the 20 and 60 ...
- for informal snapshots, the 24-85 is perfect.
#25. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 24kantucky Registered since 16th May 2002Mon 14-Jul-03 05:06 PM
Would you try to tighten a screw with a hammer? Would you try to drive a nail with a saw? Tools are tools, each have specific purposes. So are lenses, you have to use what is the best tool/lens for the job at hand. That being said, a zoom lens can be as handy as a crescent wrench. Feet aren't always going to work out for you, in that situation, boy, a fixed focal length is a real disadvantage!
#26. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 0
I prefer 2.8 zoom lenses. I find the image quality is very good if you buy a good zoom. And I like the flexibility the zoom lengths offer and the ease of having them on(i.e. less changing of lenses etc).
Sure, sure, sure the prime's may be "the" best as far as clarity and sharpness -- but a good zoom is close enough for me.
#33. "RE: Please answer this poll question." | In response to Reply # 26Xopher Registered since 25th May 2003Mon 14-Jul-03 08:58 PM
I think one of the other reasons I tend to keep the 28-300 on my D100 is CCD dust. The more often that the front of the camera is exposed, the more opportunity for dust to get inside and eventually reach the sensor. I ended up getting dust on my sensor when switching to a 80-200mm f/2.8 lens for a wedding that did not allow flash photography. No matter how careful you are at changing lenses, there is always a chance of getting dust inside the camera.
For me, the need to change angles of view for wedding and event photography without interfering with the event makes the zoom a better option. I don't have any 2.8 zooms of my own (yet), but they are on my list to replace my current lenses in the future. I'm also looking foward to a good prime for portraits, which is going to be my next addition.
#35. "Three for the price of two..." | In response to Reply # 0
Personally, (and IMHO), I believe a lens is as good as the bucks you pay for it. Lets say, compare a $300 prime with a $300 zoom, and you're probably right.
But now, let's compare my highly praised "classic" AI-S 28 f/2 Nikkor ($700) with my highly praised AF-S 17-35 f/2.8 Nikkor* ($1.350).
If I *had* to with one lens only (which, of course, I never do), I would choose the latter anytime, anywhere, anyplace.
Not only because it is truely a great lens, but also because of it's flexibility, the ease of cropping; the ability to zoom in or out on a subject to get perfect composition, which goes way beyond what your feet can do. Not to mention you get 3 focal lenghts for the price of 2 (17, 28, 35), and a whole lot of them inbetween.
This does not mean I am biased to either of the mentioned lenstypes: my philosophy: sometimes a prime, sometimes a zoom. My 50 and 28 still spend a considerable time on the camera, and will keep doing so in the near future.
* Note: this lens is getting her head checked, because she showed some focusing probs at infinity but, not witstanding, I am truly impressed with her sharpness and color rendering, which is like nothing I've ever been able to afford.
Edited to add:
BTW: because DSLRs are very susceptible to dust, Nikon recommends changing lenses as little as possible, now there's an argument to go with zooms...
"Always question authority: you might invent something..."