Prime vs. Zoon Lens | Transcription

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 lets first talk about a zoom lens. I have the basic kit zoom lenses. This is the 18-55mm. We also have the 55-250mm with I think the Nikon, and a 55-300mm, one or the other. So we have these different zoom lenses that come with our standard kit sets 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.

Often times 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 sports, when you need to get a zoom in because you can’t really wander onto the field while they’re playing soccer or football or anything like that. You’ve got to stay from the sideline. Same thing if you’re shooting wide types of shots, have the ability to zoom is an incredible feature when having basically to choose your overall composition.

There is a major 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. For example, this 55mm lens, it doesn’t change in overall focal length. This makes it a prime. In general, if you compare 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 heaver, and the reason for that is because they require a lot more glass. 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 be able to 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 fixed aperture zoom lenses, they get extremely expensive. For example, a 24-70mm f/2.8 with either Nikon or Canon or Sony or anybody is going to cost roughly $2,000. It’s expensive. 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. Overall if we jump to 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.

My overall favorite kit to shoot with professionally is my 24-70mm f/2.8. I have the Canon version, the MarkII. I have the 70-200mm f/2.8 Mark II for the Canon and also the 50mm f/1.2, the 85mm f/1.2, and for ultra wide shots I have my 16-35mm. These are the 5 lenses that I use the most for basically every type of scene and between them I have lenses that can shoot with super wide open apertures that are great for that bokeh aesthetic, that are great in low light, and I also have that zoom functionality.

Remember that anytime, any budget basically, you can get these same lenses. We can get the 50mm f/1.8 for a fraction of the cost of the 50mm f/1.2 and you’re still going to get an amazing look out of it.

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 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 85mm f/1.8 is another lens I would highly recommend for a secondary prime lens to start out with, and also the 35mm. Really, between the 35mm, the 50mm, and the 85mm, the only difference there is going to be 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 35mm. If you’re tighter, than maybe with a 50mm or an 85mm. If you do primarily portraits, then the 85mm f/1.8 is an amazing starter prime lens to get it started with.

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 50mm f/1.8 and also my 18-55mm kit lens at 50mm. Let’s go ahead and go over our scene and let’s talk about what we’ve done here.

You’ll notice here on me I kind of have this spotty light and it’s basically because the sun is coming straight through this tree so what we’ve done is we’ve placed Whitney here against the sunlight. You can see that we have a very nice flat look with the light here, and that means that we can do really anything with the light on Whitney’s face.What I’m probably going to do is I’ll have Olivia step in, and we have a nice bit of direct sunlight from right here. I’ll have her use that just to fill into the face a little bit and it’s going to just fill the shadows, fill a little bit of lines on the face. It’ll just be a little more flattering of a look. I could go bottom up, but the problem is that we have direct sunlight coming down on 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 up-lit type of look. We don’t want to do that.

What I’m going to do now is I’m going to back up a little bit. I have Whitney placed; she’s hanging on the tree right now, which looks really great. Olivia, lets bring out that light so we can see what the difference is. I think I’m going to like it with that fill. Lets go head height. Have a slightly different look to it.

I love that. It looks awesome. Let me go ahead and I’m going to switch out here. By the way guys, by the time we release this DVD, this is our one bag. This is one of the bags that we make, and this should be available in the SR Lounge 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. That is 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.

Okay you can see here that the aesthetic to the image is completely different. Here we’re shooting a F5.6. We have a much wider depth of field. That blur that we would get in these branches isn’t really as prominent. We don’t have 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; 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.

CHAPTER 1: BASIC PHOTOGRAPHY CONCEPTS

CHAPTER 2: UNDERSTANDING EXPOSURE

CHAPTER 3: FROM AUTO MODES TO MANUAL

CHAPTER 4: SHARP IMAGES AND FOCUSING TECHNIQUES

Chapter 5: COMPOSITION, ARTISTRY, AND CREATING GREAT IMAGES

Chapter 6: LEARNING MORE ABOUT YOUR CAMERA

Chapter 7: BONUS

Total Course Run Time: 6H 30M 21S