A weekly trio of top photo tips
Zoom lenses are great, aren’t they? They cover several focal lengths all in the one lens. You can zoom in to distant subjects with it or shoot something close-up, all without even moving your feet. They offer great value for money and whilst they might have average maximum apertures, combined with a high ISO, you can shoot in most situations and light conditions with them. So, with all that in mind, why would you even consider a prime lens? Well, let me give you three reasons why you should in fact, consider a prime lens.
One big advantage of a prime lens is that they are fast. Yes, primes have speed on their side. You may be thinking here, Craig what are you on about! What exactly is a fast lens? Well, the term refers to their maximum aperture and this is usually wider than any equivalent zoom. So, whilst your favourite zoom lens may only have an f4 or even an f2.8 maximum aperture, a prime lens may have an f1.8 or even f0.95 maximum aperture. What this means, is more light coming in through the lens. More light means quicker focusing, brighter viewfinder, more bokeh effect (shallow depth of field), better low light capabilities and less need for high ISO settings, so ultimately better quality images too. Yes, a fast lens, i.e. a prime lens, is all good news.
Size and weight
The other advantage of a prime lens, is its size. Because there is less glass within its build and therefore it’s not trying to do multiple jobs as a zoom is, they are usually smaller and lighter than a zoom. This means you can chuck a couple of primes in your bag and travel light with a single camera body. Their compactness and lighter weight means they are easier to handhold in low light conditions too, allowing for lower shutter speeds required to capture a sharp image. Add in the factor that most are a lot sharper than a zoom lens, then these pocket-rockets have a lot going for them.
Improve your photography
So, despite being smaller, lighter and better quality than a zoom lens, how will these primes improve your photography? Well, there’s a well-placed theory that restriction makes you a better photographer. Zooms do tend to make you a bit lazy as a photographer. Stick a prime lens on your camera however and you have just one focal length to work with. You have to think about the field of view more. You consider your subject more and you start composing for the lens rather than the other way around. In short, a prime lens can make you a better photographer, because you may have to put more thought into the image capture. A prime lens is the best teacher you will ever have!
You can read more about prime lenses in my eGuides. These are available as part of an e6 subscription or to purchase separately. www.e6subscription.co.uk