primelenses_why2

When you bought your first DSLR, it likely came with a zoom lens.  This style of lens makes it easy to get a wider range of coverage with just a quick turn of the wrist.  Many prefer this flexibility versus having to actually move their feet to get the shot.

So why go “old school” and choose a prime lens that only offers a single focal length? It’s all about aperture. Here are a few reasons to consider.

  • Most prime lenses offer apertures that open as far f/1.2 to f/2. These wider opening can let in more light to hit the camera’s sensor.
  • More light can be truly useful when shooting in existing light or low-light environments. It means you can use lower ISO settings to control noise or combine with higher ISO settings to get sharper photos due to faster shutter speeds.
  • Prime lenses are typically sharper than zoom lenses.
  • Prime lenses tend to be cheaper and lighter than zoom lenses.  This is because they have fewer moving parts and elements.
  • If you want a shallow depth of field to blur the background, prime lenses make this task much easier.
ƒ2.0 — The shallow depth of field keeps the viewer focussed on the emotional details of the photo. Image ©Richard Harrington

Shot at ƒ2.0 — The shallow depth of field keeps the viewer focussed on the emotional details of the photo. Image ©Richard Harrington

A great place to start for most users is a 50 mm lens.  The “nifty fifty” can often be found for as low as $150.  Sure you can spend more to get a 1.2 aperture… but for those looking to get started, the 1.8 aperture is a great place to begin.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. […] Photography News: Want great shots? Make sure you have at least one prime lens. When you bought your first DSLR, it likely came with a zoom lens. This style of lens makes it easy to get a wider range of coverage with just a quick turn of the wrist. Many prefer this flexibility versus having to actually move their feet to get the shot. So why go “old school” and choose a prime lens that only offers a single focal length? It’s all about aperture. Here are a few reasons to consider … Read full story => PhotoFocus […]

  2. […] own six lenses now, and a post by Richard Harrington on Photofocus made me think about lenses I’d choose I was starting over or starting […]

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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