Do we really need fast wide prime lenses?

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Tom Caldwell
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Do we really need fast wide prime lenses?
2 months ago

Some talk on another thread about the impeding demise of readily found black limited edition Olympus 12mm f2.0 lenses.

These are quite expensive and the subject has come up in my mind at least on whether a fast wide angle lens is seriously necessary outside a niche area of use.

I think it is but the idea seems worth a discussion.

I make an argument to start it: it could be said that wide angle lenses are used mainly for full body portraits for close photography or "for scenes".

In most social photography flash is used almost as a matter of course.  Therefore maybe a really fast wide angle is not necessary in this type of photography - the flash cures all ills and in wide angle lack of dof is accepted as part of the game.  Fast wide primes become an oxymoron in this and the next type of circumstance as I have already suggested elsewhere.

For scenes flash is not really required as available light is normally all that is required and in any case "flashing" is useless.

There would be occasions where low available light shots make this type of lens quite desirable but any movement in the image even with a fast lens is going to show up. I suggest more a niche type of use than a common one.

I search for other possible uses - at "events" the lens might be useful but really "too far away" unless stage-side and even then the angle of view would limit the benefit to more atmospheric than documentary.

Interior shots without flash and/or where flash is not permitted.  But serious images of objects might show up the controlled, but still perceptible, lens distortion.  Maybe (further) repaired in post processing but one would hope that this would not be over-necessary with what is an expensive lens already and has a certain amount of software in-camera correction already.

Therefore it may not be a serious-use interior documentary lens either.

Of course there are other fast wides but maybe the Olympus 12mm f2.0 is fairly unique for the M4/3 mount in being fast and also AF?

I am willing to be corrected. I look for ideas and something that will expand my own knowledge productively rather than a simple argument about black versus white.

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Tom Caldwell

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