relation between sharpness and prime/zoom lens

Started Nov 12, 2011 | Discussions thread
Guidenet Forum Pro • Posts: 15,748
Re: relation between sharpness and prime/zoom lens

breth wrote:

Could someone please elaborate a bit on the connection (if there is one) between sharpness and the use of a prime lens as opposed to a zoom lens, especially at wide angles in landscape shots?

For example, given that all else is equal, will a 24mm. prime give me the same sharpness and detail in a scenic shot as a 24-150mm. lens? Thanks!

A prime lens may have fewer elements and groups, therefore needing less compromises in design to provide quality IQ. That said, you often get what you pay for. For example, Nikon's superb 14-24 f/2.8 Zoom lens rivals or beats most prime or other zooms in it's range. It's just that good. On the other hand, Nikon's 24 f/2.8 prime is not such a good lens.

Landscape, like other types of photography, has different needs and therefore different lenses do better. Most landscape photographers like wider lenses and tend to stop down to f/8 or there about, so super fast glass is not as important. I often use Nikon's 35 f/2 which is not known as a great lens, but at f/8 is absolutely superb, IMO. I also tend to use Nikon's 16-35 f/4 as a good landscape lens.

That all said, if I were a more serious landscape shooter, I'd use full frame or larger format cameras and tilt shift type lenses by Nikon, Canon or Schneider. I do shoot full frame but have not yet spent the $1800 plus needed for a good tilt shift lens.

If you're shooting a crop camera or entry level, your kit lens stopped down to f/8 or so will probably be just fine. It's more you and your tripod and I'd be concerned with. Contrast, saturation and all that can be adjusted during the processing step.
Cheers, Craig

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