In praise of primes - which next?

Started Nov 11, 2012 | Discussions thread
australopithecus Contributing Member • Posts: 569
Re: In praise of primes - which next? Some answers.


Your question is interesting and relevant.

I grew up with Pentax SLR's and purchased my first one in 1965.  In those far off days zoom lenses were almost unheard of and the so-called "standard" lens that came with my Pentax was a 55mm f2.0.  For some reason this focal length was regarded as the most suitable for ​all round​ photography (whatever that was supposed to mean).

Several years later I took the leap and bought a 35mm f3.5 Super-Takumar prime (the ​Super​ denoting an automatic lens i.e. one that stopped down to the correct f-stop when the shutter was released).  The 35mm was a revelation. It was tiny and I loved the wider angle of view. It became my standard lens and I kept it for many years until upgrading to K-mount Pentaxes.

Once I'd moved on to the K's I purchased 35mm f2.0 and a 24mm f2.8 A-Series lenses. Both, obviously primes, and versatile.  In time I grew to like the 24mm more, I found it extremely useful and as a professional Forester I tended to carry my Pentax about with me when working in the field (rain-forests).  I did buy a 35 ~ 70mm Pentax A-Series Zoom in later years, but never used it much.

Fast-forwarding to today :  Would you believe it, I no longer own a Pentax and am considering buying a K30 when next in the U.K. as I have a number of Pentax primes stacked in my cupboard.

To end my reminiscing and to (try to) answer your question,  I think your choice of the DA 21mm Limited was an excellent one.  If your forte is travel/landscapes and urban photography, then I doubt you could do much better.  the 21 gives you 31.5mm in 35mm equivalent, which is an extremely useful focal length.

Furthermore, primes are lighter, faster and in most cases sharper.  I currently use a Panasonic Lumix G1 which came with a 28 ~ 90mm (35mm equivalent) zoom.  A great lens but a bit too bulky for my liking so I purchased a "pancake" 20mm f1.7 Panasonic lens and find this a pleasure to use. 20mm equates to 40mm (35mm equivalent) in Micro-Four-Thirds speak. No bulk, no fiddling with a zoom ring, fast and sharp.

At times, especially with landscapes, one ​does​ need a bit of reach, so I would take a serious look at the DA 70mm Limited.  The Limiteds are beautifully built (like my legacy primes) and at 70 x 1.5 = 105mm (35mm equivalent) you'll have a very handy lens.

Hope this helps.

My trusty 24mm.  Purchased from B&H Photo in 1984 !

In closing, may I suggest that you take a close look at DP Review's test of the DA 15mm Limited, if I'm not mistaken, they weren't entirely happy with it (some softness, I think, but it's several years since I last read their report).

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Olympus E-M5 II Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm 1:2 +1 more
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