Primes vs zoom

Started Jun 3, 2013 | Discussions
Whitty
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Primes vs zoom
Jun 3, 2013

I have made the decision to stay in the APS-C world for now until perhaps full frame is even more attainable than the 6D currently.

For quality, which would be the better combo

I have a 450D, thinking about the 60D for video and articulating screen mostly.

Will likely get a speedlight 430, as my lightscoop is too wimpy

Option 1

24-105 f4 L.

Option 2

17-55 f2.8 IS

option 3

30mm f2 + 85mm f1.8, possibly 50mm 1.4

option 4

24-70 f2.8

How do the primes compare to the zooms? Obviously I would give up speed, but in terms of IQ, how will they compare to my 50mm? I have decided not to worry too much about having to sell EF-S if I go full frame one day, but it is of small consideration.

Don't normally shoot too wide, but my 50mm 1.8 prime is too tight. Love that lens, except the bokeh.

People rave about the 17-55, but perhaps I would rather something a bit longer, and how would it compare to my 50mm at 2.8. Seems weird to replace my kit zoom that I rarely use as I have the 50mm prime on my camera all the time, often frustrated I cant zoom out just a little and cant get further away. Would I still like my 50mm prime, or a 30mm prime better.

I am more interested in Canon lenses as I had a pretty bad experience with a sigma. It just is a confidence thing.

I suppose I am concerned I will buy a zoom, then still decide my prime is better.

 Whitty's gear list:Whitty's gear list
Canon EOS 60D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5
Canon EOS 450D (EOS Rebel XSi / EOS Kiss X2) Canon EOS 60D Canon EOS 6D
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qianp2k
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Re: Primes vs zoom
In reply to Whitty, Jun 3, 2013

You mentioned longer range and video. So EF-S 18-135 STM IS could be another option. STM is good for video and 135mm on APS-C is much longer than 50/55mm.

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paparios
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Re: Primes vs zoom
In reply to Whitty, Jun 3, 2013

Whitty wrote:

I have made the decision to stay in the APS-C world for now until perhaps full frame is even more attainable than the 6D currently.

For quality, which would be the better combo

I have a 450D, thinking about the 60D for video and articulating screen mostly.

Will likely get a speedlight 430, as my lightscoop is too wimpy

Option 1

24-105 f4 L.

Option 2

17-55 f2.8 IS

option 3

30mm f2 + 85mm f1.8, possibly 50mm 1.4

option 4

24-70 f2.8

If you have plans to go to FF in the future, it would be convenient to invest on lenses that can be used in both worlds. Using zooms, you can use like the following sequence (it may be quite expensive):

Option 1:  16-35 f2.8L II + 24-70 f2.8L II + 70-200 f2.8L II IS

Option 2: 17-40 f4L + 24-105 f4 L IS + 70-200 f4L IS

How do the primes compare to the zooms? Obviously I would give up speed, but in terms of IQ, how will they compare to my 50mm? I have decided not to worry too much about having to sell EF-S if I go full frame one day, but it is of small consideration.

Don't normally shoot too wide, but my 50mm 1.8 prime is too tight. Love that lens, except the bokeh.

Generally, primes are better than zooms, except, may be, with the 70-200 lenses which have prime IQ in the equivalent aperture.

Here the options would be something like:

Option 1: 14 f2.8L II + 24 f2.8L II + 35 f1.4L + 50 f1.2L +85 f1.2L + 135 f2L + 200 f2.8

Option 2:  35 f2 + 50 f1.4 + 85 f1.8 + 100 f2.8L

People rave about the 17-55, but perhaps I would rather something a bit longer, and how would it compare to my 50mm at 2.8. Seems weird to replace my kit zoom that I rarely use as I have the 50mm prime on my camera all the time, often frustrated I cant zoom out just a little and cant get further away. Would I still like my 50mm prime, or a 30mm prime better.

I am more interested in Canon lenses as I had a pretty bad experience with a sigma. It just is a confidence thing.

I suppose I am concerned I will buy a zoom, then still decide my prime is better.

Another alternative option, which involves using only manual AF with with very good IQ and price is:

Samyang 14 f2.8 + Samyang 24 f1.4 + Samyang 35 f1.4 + Samyang 85 f1.4

Miguel

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bhollis
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Re: Primes vs zoom
In reply to Whitty, Jun 3, 2013

Whitty wrote:

I have made the decision to stay in the APS-C world for now until perhaps full frame is even more attainable than the 6D currently.

For quality, which would be the better combo

I have a 450D, thinking about the 60D for video and articulating screen mostly.

Will likely get a speedlight 430, as my lightscoop is too wimpy

Option 1

24-105 f4 L.

Option 2

17-55 f2.8 IS

option 3

30mm f2 + 85mm f1.8, possibly 50mm 1.4

option 4

24-70 f2.8

How do the primes compare to the zooms? Obviously I would give up speed, but in terms of IQ, how will they compare to my 50mm? I have decided not to worry too much about having to sell EF-S if I go full frame one day, but it is of small consideration.

Don't normally shoot too wide, but my 50mm 1.8 prime is too tight. Love that lens, except the bokeh.

People rave about the 17-55, but perhaps I would rather something a bit longer, and how would it compare to my 50mm at 2.8. Seems weird to replace my kit zoom that I rarely use as I have the 50mm prime on my camera all the time, often frustrated I cant zoom out just a little and cant get further away. Would I still like my 50mm prime, or a 30mm prime better.

I am more interested in Canon lenses as I had a pretty bad experience with a sigma. It just is a confidence thing.

I suppose I am concerned I will buy a zoom, then still decide my prime is better.

I'd recommend you also consider the EF-S 15-85.  More useful zoom range on a crop than either of the 24-xx zooms, excellent IQ, and 4-stops of IS.  This was my general purpose zoom on my 7D before I went to a full frame, and if I still had a crop, I'd still be shooting the 15-85.  IMO, for a crop, it really comes down to the 17-55 vs the 15-85--the former if you want/need f/2.8, and the latter if you want the wider zoom range.

IMO, the primary reason to go with primes is their faster aperture.  If you need that for lowlight shooting/subject isolation, then they're great.  But of course you lose the versatility of a zoom.

BTW, you haven't told us the most important thing when it comes to lens selection:  What you plan to shoot with it?

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Whitty
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Re: Primes vs zoom
In reply to qianp2k, Jun 4, 2013

qianp2k wrote:

You mentioned longer range and video. So EF-S 18-135 STM IS could be another option. STM is good for video and 135mm on APS-C is much longer than 50/55mm.

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I hadn't considered that one. I was wondering how much autofocussing one really does for video.  I worry about longer zoom range lenses, as from my experience they are bad at the ends. Well cheap ones are I suppose.

 Whitty's gear list:Whitty's gear list
Canon EOS 60D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5
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Whitty
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Re: Primes vs zoom
In reply to paparios, Jun 4, 2013

paparios wrote:

If you have plans to go to FF in the future, it would be convenient to invest on lenses that can be used in both worlds. Using zooms, you can use like the following sequence (it may be quite expensive):

Option 1:  16-35 f2.8L II + 24-70 f2.8L II + 70-200 f2.8L II IS

Option 2: 17-40 f4L + 24-105 f4 L IS + 70-200 f4L IS

Option 1: 14 f2.8L II + 24 f2.8L II + 35 f1.4L + 50 f1.2L +85 f1.2L + 135 f2L + 200 f2.8

I'm not made of money:0)

I could skip the 14mm and the 24 mm and use my kit zoom for the 135 and 200.

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Whitty
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Re: Primes vs zoom
In reply to bhollis, Jun 4, 2013

I'd recommend you also consider the EF-S 15-85.  More useful zoom range on a crop than either of the 24-xx zooms, excellent IQ, and 4-stops of IS.  This was my general purpose zoom on my 7D before I went to a full frame, and if I still had a crop, I'd still be shooting the 15-85.  IMO, for a crop,

I am concerned I wouldn't use it because of speed. But then I am buying a speedlite. I take your point though in comparison to the ef lenses. Does anyone know how fast the speedlights recharge vs the popup flash?

it really comes down to the 17-55 vs the 15-85--the former if you want/need f/2.8, and the latter if you want the wider zoom range.

This I have heard many times. I think my question is I need to know how either compare to primes. Certainly much slower in the case of the 15-85, but in terms of image quality in general. I fear I will have the zoom sitting around not being used as with my kit lens, and keep my prime on the camera because it is faster and sharper and better all round.

IMO, the primary reason to go with primes is their faster aperture.  If you need that for lowlight shooting/subject isolation, then they're great.  But of course you lose the versatility of a zoom.

BTW, you haven't told us the most important thing when it comes to lens selection:  What you plan to shoot with it?

I like shooting shallow depth of field in natural light, portraits, city-scapes at night and I am interested in staged photography and narrative type shots. I also take candid shots of the kids a lot inside, but my kids are young and move fast indoors in low light with messy, busy backgrounds that I like to blur out. So in the house generally 50mm is fast enough in the available light at rapid fire to catch them and all the expressions, but often too close especially with 2 of them to get in the frame. 85mm would be fine on the odd occasion they're happy to indulge me for a portrait (but no good for candid), and outside.  I heard the 85mm was a good portrait lens

I use > 100mm rarely and my 55-250 kit lens comes to the party ok in a lot of situations. I suppose I am outdoors with it so speed is generally not an issue, and it is light and I am happy enough.

I am concerned that 30mm on a crop won't be so good for portraits because of the perspective though. Until I decided it was just too much overkill to go for full frame, I considered a 50mm prime on full frame would be my walk around lens:-)

 Whitty's gear list:Whitty's gear list
Canon EOS 60D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5
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paparios
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Re: Primes vs zoom
In reply to Whitty, Jun 4, 2013

Whitty wrote:

paparios wrote:

If you have plans to go to FF in the future, it would be convenient to invest on lenses that can be used in both worlds. Using zooms, you can use like the following sequence (it may be quite expensive):

Option 1:  16-35 f2.8L II + 24-70 f2.8L II + 70-200 f2.8L II IS

Option 2: 17-40 f4L + 24-105 f4 L IS + 70-200 f4L IS

Option 1: 14 f2.8L II + 24 f2.8L II + 35 f1.4L + 50 f1.2L +85 f1.2L + 135 f2L + 200 f2.8

I'm not made of money:0)

I could skip the 14mm and the 24 mm and use my kit zoom for the 135 and 200.

Neither we are

Well, your option including the 35 f2, 50 f1.4 and 85 f1.8 is quite reasonable and can be realized with about $1000. Now consider than in a 60D, the field of view will be equivalent to 56, 80 and 136 mm.

I have the Samyang 14 f2.8 (a great IQ lens for $370), the Samyang 35 f1.4 (quite impresive IQ at $450), the EF-40 f2.8 pancake (spectacular at $150) and the EF 85 f1.8 (about $350). On my 7D these provide me with field of view equivalent to 22, 56, 64 and 136 mm. The real capability of these lenses is only achieved with a FF body like my 5D MKII.

Miguel

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bhollis
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Re: Primes vs zoom
In reply to Whitty, Jun 4, 2013

Whitty wrote:

I'd recommend you also consider the EF-S 15-85.  More useful zoom range on a crop than either of the 24-xx zooms, excellent IQ, and 4-stops of IS.  This was my general purpose zoom on my 7D before I went to a full frame, and if I still had a crop, I'd still be shooting the 15-85.  IMO, for a crop,

I am concerned I wouldn't use it because of speed. But then I am buying a speedlite. I take your point though in comparison to the ef lenses. Does anyone know how fast the speedlights recharge vs the popup flash?

Don't really use my speedlight much, but I'm sure it's faster than the onboard flash.  How much faster probably depends on which speedlight.  You'll also get much better pictures with off-camera flash (onboard flash tends to give you very flat/uninteresting lighting).

it really comes down to the 17-55 vs the 15-85--the former if you want/need f/2.8, and the latter if you want the wider zoom range.

This I have heard many times. I think my question is I need to know how either compare to primes. Certainly much slower in the case of the 15-85, but in terms of image quality in general. I fear I will have the zoom sitting around not being used as with my kit lens, and keep my prime on the camera because it is faster and sharper and better all round.

The 15-85 and 17-55 will both give you excellent image quality.  The image quality of good modern zooms really rivals that of most primes.  Although a very good prime might still give you slightly better IQ, it's really quite close.

IMO, the primary reason to go with primes is their faster aperture.  If you need that for lowlight shooting/subject isolation, then they're great.  But of course you lose the versatility of a zoom.

BTW, you haven't told us the most important thing when it comes to lens selection:  What you plan to shoot with it?

I like shooting shallow depth of field in natural light, portraits, city-scapes at night and I am interested in staged photography and narrative type shots. I also take candid shots of the kids a lot inside, but my kids are young and move fast indoors in low light with messy, busy backgrounds that I like to blur out. So in the house generally 50mm is fast enough in the available light at rapid fire to catch them and all the expressions, but often too close especially with 2 of them to get in the frame. 85mm would be fine on the odd occasion they're happy to indulge me for a portrait (but no good for candid), and outside.  I heard the 85mm was a good portrait lens.

If you're really into shallow dof/natural light portraits, that argues for a prime.  My grandkids are among my favorite subjects, and when I shoot them indoors, I use my fast primes--35 f/1.4L and Sigma 85 f/1.4.

I use > 100mm rarely and my 55-250 kit lens comes to the party ok in a lot of situations. I suppose I am outdoors with it so speed is generally not an issue, and it is light and I am happy enough.

I am concerned that 30mm on a crop won't be so good for portraits because of the perspective though. Until I decided it was just too much overkill to go for full frame, I considered a 50mm prime on full frame would be my walk around lens:-)

On a crop, I'd recommend you go with either a 35mm or 50mm prime.  The new Sigma 35 f/1.4 is an outstanding lens and good value by most accounts, and would give you an equivalent (to full frame) focal length of around 55mm--a good all round focal length.  Although 85mm is considered a good focal length for portraits on a full frame camera, it gives you an equivalent focal length of 136mm on a crop.  Nevertheless, for tight shots, like head shots, an 85mm lens works quite well indoors on a crop, and also works well outdoors, where you have more room to back up.  If you're interested in an 85mm prime,  I'd recommend the EF 85 f/1.8.  If you want a little better/faster 85, consider the Sigma 85 f/1.4 or EF 85 f.1.2L.

 bhollis's gear list:bhollis's gear list
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