Is a prime worth it?

Started Nov 25, 2012 | Discussions thread
antoineb Veteran Member • Posts: 6,575
yes it's worth it

a "fast" prime (i.e. one with a large aperture ie a small "f" number), will allow you to:

- have much more leeway to photograph in low light:  you can do away with flash, and/or you can stay at lower ISO.  The f numbers don't really reflect the reality:  for a given focal length, if you go from f3.5 to f1.8 (ie half the f number) the size of the pupil allowing light in, quadruples.

- separate much better the background from your subject (which would be key for portraits)

- as an aside, many (though not all) primes will include some better quality glass elements

Now a prime for what use?

- if portrait is your main pursuit, then 85mm is good.  It is good on "full-frame", and it is good on smaller APS-C sensors where it becomes 127mm equivalent.  Issue here is that even Nikon's "affordable" 85mm, the f1.8 AF-S version, is around $500.  But you can also get the older and still great f1.8D AF for around $350 - note that this doesn't have an AF motor so will auto-focus only if coupled to a body that has an AF motor
I own the very expensive, but great, 85mm f1.4G.  I find that this truly is a great focal length for portraits - but again, it depends whether portrait is important for you

- a 35mm (ie about 50mm in full-frame equivalent) f1.8 will be cheaper around $200.  It will deliever a more "classical" field of view.  I own it but frankly I don't use it that much:  for portraits it distorts faces a bit too much for my taste, and for other shots it doesn't bring that much to the party.

 antoineb's gear list:antoineb's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 Olympus TG-610 Nikon D7000 +5 more
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