Why Should I Use a Prime Lens?

Do only shoot with zoom lenses? Maybe you’re still shooting with the kit lens that came with your camera or you’ve never looked beyond the convenience of being able to stand in place and change focal length. Either way, there are some key benefits to having at least one prime lens in your kit. Photographer David Bergman explains why in the video below:

What is a Prime Lens?

Prime lenses are lenses that work at only one focal length; they don’t zoom. If you’ve never used a prime lens before, you’ll find it a very different experience from using a zoom for all of the reasons that Bergman describes. I first bought mine in order to get a faster lens—one that would let in a lot more light at a shallower depth of field. It took me a while, though, to wean myself off of the zoom factor; I definitely had to move around a lot more to frame my shots. Still, the upgrade in sharpness and quality made it truly worth it. On top of that, it was much easier to find a good prime lens in my price range than any of the comparable zoom lenses.

And the fringe benefit? The size and weight. All of the primes I’ve worked are indeed considerably lighter than the zooms I carry.

Still, if the choice is between a bag full of primes and only one zoom lens, you might not get much added benefit there. And some of the zooms out there these days are almost as sharp as primes. Also, it can be a pretty big downer to miss that once-in-a-lifetime shot all because you needed to change from a 24mm to a 135mm prime lens.

Still, it never hurts to have at least a 50mm or 85mm in your kit. Both of these lengths are extremely versatile and quite affordable.

Using a prime lens

So, prime or zoom? Which do you use and why?

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One Comment

  1. Morgan says:

    Working on my prime collection now. Got the 24-70 & 70-200 early on

    But now I am really prioritizing weight and I do enjoy the look of 1.8 vs 2.8. I’ve got a 50mm, 60mm macro and 85mm, next will be a 35, then I might try and get a 20mm 2.8D

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