23 Apr The Picture Patch Club – #4
The Picture Patch Club presents: Zoom vs Prime Lenses
We’ve discussed cameras with DSLR vs Mirrorless. We’ve discussed lighting with Artificial vs Natural Light. Now it’s time to discuss camera lenses with Zoom vs Prime Lenses. One of the most important aspects when discussing camera lenses is the focal length.
What is the focal length?
The focal length, usually measured in millimetres, is the distance between the convergence point and the imaging sensor. The convergence point is the point at which the light rays combine in the lens. In the simplest of terms, the focal length is the measurement of how zoomed in your camera lens is.
About Zoom Lenses
Zoom lenses have a range of different focal lengths. Having a zoom lens carries the advantage of cropping your image in camera. This allows you to change the angle of your image by ‘zooming’ in or out. Of course, this is all capable by standing in one spot, whereas with fixed lenses you’d have to physically move to change the angle.
Zoom lenses are available for just about anyone. For example, you could pick up a zoom lens with focal lengths from 18-250mm. This would be good for beginners because you would have the full focal length range, which obviously eliminates the need for multiple lenses.
For professionals, I would recommend the 24-70mm lens. This lens was made for users who want a high-quality lens, where the photographer can crop in the photo as they see fit. It doesn’t have the same zooming capabilities as the 18-250mm, but with that focal length range, the beginner’s lens does have its drawbacks. Nonetheless, it is an excellent lens for starting out.
About Prime Lenses
A prime lens is a lens that has only one fixed focal length. Unlike zoom lenses, this lens does not have a zoom ring, which means there are less moving parts on the lens. This could be seen as an advantage because less moving parts equals better quality.
However, a disadvantage of this lens could be because there is only one focal length. Therefore, if you wanted to crop the image you would have to physically move to achieve the shot you want. Advocates of prime lenses would say that physically moving to achieve the right shot is a good thing because this allows the photographer to think about each shot they are taking. As a result, it allows the photographer to be more creative about every shot they approach.
Another advantage of prime lenses is that their lack of moving parts allows the aperture to go wider than their zoom counterparts. The main advantage of having a wide aperture is that you can take photos in low light. The wider the aperture is, the more light that is allowed into the lens. This makes prime lenses very suitable for taking photographs in low light in places such as; bars, clubs and dimly lit rooms. Along with this attribute, a wide aperture also allows more depth of field. As mentioned previously in our depth of field article this can prove to be aesthetically pleasing.
What lens is for you?
Truth be told, there is no preference in the question to which is the best lens. It really depends on a few aspects such as which type of photography is being taken, the versatility of the lens, price etc. It’s completely up to you. However, I hope this information gives you the inspiration to see which camera lenses are best for you!