These days I’m becoming more and more of a fan of prime lenses. There are a lot of reasons why, but what is the one thing that ALL photographers seek? TACK SHARP images! And when it comes to tack sharp, a prime lens will be a zoom any day of the week.
I won’t dive into the weeds of the technical differences between primes and zooms because you would all be asleep by the time I was done. But in short, primes have fewer moving parts and less glass which presents a smaller window for error in the optics. Zoom lenses also tend to be more susceptible to front or rear focusing, which requires the lens to be sent back to the manufacturer for adjustment (unless your camera body is capable of fine focus adjust).
I did a quick comparison while shooting my daughter’s 6th birthday photos. I compared my Nikon 16-85mm VR lens @ 50mm against my Nikon 50mm f1.8 prime lens. I shot at f8 because that’s the tell-all aperture between all lenses. Most lenses are somewhat soft when shooting wide open anyway.
Click on the shots below and view them at 100 percent. Look at the eyes and you will see exactly what I mean. The first image was shot with the 16-85mm VR and the second with the 50mm f1.8. (If you’re new to Flickr, click on the image and then at the menu bar at the top of the image click “All Sizes” and then click “Original”.)
It’s pretty evident when you look at the images at 100 percent. I can definitely tell a difference and that means a lot to me. Especially if you plan on making big prints, a sharp image is critical. Not to mention that we should all strive for the sharpest shots we can get.
Speaking of which, I didn’t apply ANY sharpening in Lightroom to these images either. They are just as they were imported from my camera. I only made adjustments to color and tone.
I could go on an on about why I am favoring prime lenses to zoom lenses, but that would make for a really long post. I only own one prime lens currently (my Nikon 50mm f1.8), but I plan on adding at least 3 more to my camera bag and possibly a 4th too!
Have a great weekend and happy shooting!