Prime Vs. Zoom Lens

Photography - 101 Learning More About Your Camera
6 minutes
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In this video I want to talk about prime versus zoom lenses, essentially, what are the differences between the two? What are the advantages and disadvantages. Now let's first talk about zoom lens. And I have like the basic kit, zoom lenses. So this is the 18 to 55. We also have the 55 to 250 with I think the Nikon and a 55 to 301 or the other.

So we have these different zoom lenses that come with our standard kit set and they're great. I love zoom lenses, but really the main functionality or the main reason why we get zoom lenses is for the convenience, the fact that they can zoom and they can change focal length means that it saves us a lot of trouble. Oftentimes, there are many scenes where we simply can't get wide enough we simply can't get close enough to our subjects. So having a zoom lens is exactly what you need. This is a case if you're shooting say sports when you need to get a zoom because you can't really wander onto the field while they're playing soccer or football or anything like that. You got to stay from the sideline.

Same thing if you're shooting say wide types of shots have the ability to zoom is an incredible feature when having basically to choose your overall composition but there is a major trend trade off in that zoom functionality? Well, there's actually several major trade offs. One is that in general, zoom lenses aren't going to provide the same quality as a prime lens. A prime lens is a lens that has a fixed focal length. So for example, this 50 millimeter lens, it doesn't change an overall focal length, this makes it a prime. In general, if you compare it the same quality of zoom to the same quality of prime, well, you're going to get a little bit better image quality out of the prime lens.

In addition, zoom lenses are going to cost more, they're going to generally be heavier. And the reason for that is because they require a lot more glass. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense because for a zoom lens, to be able to change in focal length and do all the things that a zoom lens does well you need additional glass. This makes them more expensive. It makes them heavier and more bulky as well. In addition, if we're talking about say fixed aperture zoom lenses, they get extremely expensive.

For example, a 2478 with either Nikon or Canon or Sony or anybody is going to cost roughly $2,000 it's expensive and this is kind of the issue with a zoom lens, inexpensive zoom lenses, they're going to lack the image quality They won't have a wide aperture they have varying apertures. And overall if we jump to say expensive zoom lenses with fixed apertures with wide open apertures, well, they still can't get as wide as a prime lens and they also get very expensive and very bulky. Now my overall favorite kit to shoot with professionally is my 2470 f two eight, I have the Canon version, the mark two, I have the 7200 f two eight mark two for the canon, and also the 51.2, the 85 1.2. And for ultra wide shots, I have my 16 and 35. These are the five lenses that I use the most for basically every type of scene and between them.

I have lenses that basically can shoot with super wide open apertures that are great for that book is that thick, they're great in low light and also have that zoom functionality. Now remember that anytime any budget basically you can get these same lenses, we can get the 51.8 for a fraction of the cost of the 51.2 and you're still going to get an amazing look out of it. So what I would say is get your prime lenses. A prime lens is the easiest way to take your images to the next level, especially if you're just using the standard AR kit lenses and it's inexpensive as well, this is only 100 bucks or so and you've got a great lens that can do quite a bit. The 85 1.8 is another lens I would highly recommend for a secondary prime lens to start out with and also the 35 millimeter, really between the 35, the 50 and the 85.

The only difference there is going to be well the types of scenes and the types of overall compositions that you typically take. If you're typically shooting wider, then you might be better off with a 35 if you're tighter than maybe with a 50 or an 85. If you do primarily portraits, then the 80 518 is an amazing starter prime lens to get started with. Alright, so what we're going to do in this scene is I'm going to go ahead and show you the difference in kind of that overall aesthetic by shooting the same scene with our 51.8 and also my 18 to 55 kit lens at 50 millimeters basically. So let's go ahead and go over our scene and let's talk about what we've done here. Now you'll notice that on me, I kind of have this spotty light and basically because the sun is coming straight through this tree, so what we've done is we place Whitney here against the sunlight, okay, so you can see that we have a very nice kind of flat look with the light here and that means that we can do really anything with the light Whitney's face is it weird for me to sit here talking about like, the way he's like just talking about me, whatever.

So what I'm going to probably do is I'll have Olivia step in and we have a nice bit of direct sunlight from right here. And I'll have her use that just to fill into the face a little bit, and it's going to kind of just fill the shadows fill a little bit lines on the face, it'll just be a little more flattering of Look, I could go bottom up, but the problem is that we have direct sunlight coming down that reflector, we're going to get direct light coming up, and it's not going to look good, because it's going to have that uplift type of look. We don't want to do that. So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to back up a little bit. I have Whitney kind of play. She's kind of hanging on the tree right now, which looks really great.

Now let me Let's bring out that light so we can kind of see what the difference is. I think I'm gonna like it with that, Phil, let's go right ahead. Hi, I have a slightly different look to it. I love that. It looks awesome. So let me go ahead and I'm going to switch out here.

By the way, guys, by the time we released this DVD This is our one bag. This is one of the bags that we make. And this should be available in SLM store. It's our Quick Change lens bag. So it makes it really easy to flip lenses in and off, which is something that we do frequently. And that is kind of the other downside, obviously, that we didn't mention with prime lenses that there is more movement involved, you have to move and get into position quite a bit with a zoom, you're just using that zoom functionality.

So Alright, give me that same lean into me a little bit. There you go. Gorgeous. Okay, so you can see here that the aesthetic to the image is completely different. Here we're shooting at F Five, six, we have a much wider depth of field. And that blur that we would get in these branches isn't really as prominent, we don't have kind of that nice aesthetic with her popping off the background.

This is why I chose this tree because with this tree we have a lot of jutting kind of branches are coming forward towards the lens and away from the lens. So it makes for a great example, showing you exactly what that shallow depth of field does in a scene like this. That's it for this video. What I want you guys to do is go ahead and for your assignment, you're going to compare your primes to your zooms, shoot them at the exact same focal length so you can kind of see the differences on your own. afterwards. Once you're done, go ahead and post those images to star lounge calm and tell everybody about your experience.

I'm going to go ahead and shoot a couple more shots with Whitney in this scene. We'll show you the shots and you guys can head on to the next video now.

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