What is a Prime Lens?

Camera Equipment

For those who are taking their photography beyond just an occasional hobby, the time will come when investing on the best prime lens becomes a must. The focal length of camera lens plays an important role on being able to achieve just the right kind of photo you are shooting. But there’s so much more to photography than just the focal length of camera lens. The main difference that the prime lens has compared to other lenses is that it has a fixed focal lens. You cannot zoom in or out when you use a prime lens.

It sounds kind of disappointing when you’ve gotten used to a zoom lens’ twisting action and the control that it gives you, but prime lenses exist for a reason and they’re still in circulation because of the qualities that are unique only to the best prime lens you can find in the market. Sure, your zoom lens can be very flexible but for things like portraits, studio work, landscape and street photography, a good prime lens will serve you very well indeed.

Prime Lens vs. Zoom Lens

A zoom lens has an adjustable focal length. The focal length of camera lens determines how close or far the final image captured appears. When you have a zoom lens, you’ll be able to zoom in and out of its focal length range. A new DSLR camera body normally has a zoom lens included with it, known as a kit lens, and this is what a lot of DSLR amateurs will start with as they get used to the camera.

A prime lens, on the other hand, can sound very limiting when you consider that you can make no adjustments to its focal length range. You will get just one viewing distance, and that’s pretty much it.

You can say that it takes a little getting used to not having the zooming option, but once you get used to it, you’ll appreciate all the perks of having the best prime lens on your camera body.

Pros and Cons of Prime Lenses

Compared to zoom lenses, prime lenses are lighter and this is because they have fewer moving parts. This makes them a bit easier to handle and a joy to bring around. With less interchangeable parts, they are also less expensive and would probably be one of the first kinds of lenses that someone slowly investing on camera lenses would buy to begin a collection. They are also usually smaller compared to zoom lenses and this makes them great for travel purposes. This is one of the reasons why prime lens for landscape photography is popular since they are lighter and more comfortable to bring compared to the bulkier zoom lenses.

Prime lenses also have a wider aperture. This means that you can have better chances of taking clear photos even in low light conditions. This is something that a zoom lens usually cannot do. Despite the much simpler optics that prime lenses have, they produce superior quality compared to zoom lenses.

The many moving parts of zoom lenses get in the way of producing crisp photos and this results in some optical aberrations. What I mean to say is that prime lenses have the ability to give clearer and somehow purer photos because there is nothing you can do about how the lenses “see” and capture the photo for you.

However, there are some cons when using prime lenses. The main one is that you have to do the distancing when you are framing the subject. Unlike using a zoom lens where you can simply flick your wrist and bring your subject closer without moving from your spot, a prime lens would require actually moving to closer or farther from your subject to properly frame it. Another con is that should you decide to suddenly want to capture a subject in a much closer fashion, you can’t do so without first changing your lens to a zoom lens or something which gives you a closer distance.

How to Choose the Best Prime Lens for You

Choosing the best prime lens can be a great investment especially when you want really high quality and clear photos. The wider aperture on these camera lenses allow you to have stunningly clear photos you cannot get with a zoom lens, even if you don’t zoom in. First, you should understand that there are three main kinds of prime lenses which are:

  • Wide angle lens
  • Telephoto lens
  • Standard lens

The focal length of camera lens that don’t zoom also vary and this gives you the “zoomed in or out” option, only in a permanent manner. Longer focal lengths, or higher numbers, mean more magnified or closer-looking images.

If you want to first get used to a prime lens, you can get the 50 mm lens or standard prime lens which gives you what is closest to what your eyes can see. That idea may sound boring to some though, and you may want something that gives you more of a special view. Enter the wide angle lenses and telephoto lenses.

A wide angle lens is the perfect prime lens for landscape photography. This allows you to capture so much more than what your eyes can see, and can give you a wider view of the landscape in front of you. You can capture so much more from all sides, and take postcard-worthy pictures when you use this prime lens for landscape photography. Anything under 50 mm can be considered as a wide-angle lens.

A telephoto lens, on the other hand, brings your subject so much closer to you, even when you’re actually quite a great distance away from it. Telephoto lenses are those which are around 70 mm up to 300 mm and these can give you truly magnificent close up photos of subjects from far away. Because of this, they are perfect for wildlife photography. You can capture the detail of your subject without getting physically close to them.

Now that you have a basic grasp of what a prime lens is and what it can do for you, you can consider investing on some of these lenses and enjoy seeing the world in a whole new way!

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