Lens dilemma: Multiple Primes vs Standard zoom

Started May 6, 2013 | Discussions thread
qianp2k Forum Pro • Posts: 10,350
Re: Lens dilemma: Multiple Primes vs Standard zoom

Doug_PS wrote:

qianp2k wrote:

All these primes are very good.  If you choose all prime route, you will have at least 5 primes or may add another one 50mm.  Carrying many primes in travel is pretty challenge.  Not only you need a big camera bag and it will be heavy, but you will keep changing lenses in reality.  If you had time then it's perfectly fine as many professionals only use primes. However the latest Canon zoom especially two F2.8 zoom, 24-70L II and 70-200L II are excellent and more versatile and flexible  as sharp as those primes but AF faster at F2.8.  But primes are still better in bokeh and could generate even shallower DOF that could be a better choice in portraiture. My traveling bag now contains these two zoom (or replaced 70-200L II with much lighter/smaller but still excellent 70-200L/4.0 IS) and two special primes - 17mm TS-E (also a UWA lens) and 15mm FE.

Thanks for the feedback. If I go the all prime route, I'm going to try really hard to limit the overall number of lenses to 4: 24, 35, 85 and 135 (ie I'll likely sell the 200 f/2.8). To do so, I'd have to be content with wide gaps in my coverage. I don't see that as particularly a problem, but I'd just have to be aware going in that that's the case.

The 24-70 L II would in my case replace the 24, 35 and 85. As you mention, this is certainly a more versatile and flexible option and the 24-70L II is by all reviews a fantastic lens. The downside is the shallow(er) DOF that I'd be giving up at the 35 and 85 range....as you also mentioned.  I do place a high premium on shallow DOF....and if Sigma (for example) came out with an 85 1.4 Art, I might have even better "shallow DOF" options in the 85 range.

Really a tough call as once I head down one road.....it's tough to go back!

You mention you will use these lenses in travel so I guess it will include landscape, casual wildlife or action shots. Then the flexibility of zoom will be very useful. Optical quality of zoom especially the two F2.8 zoom or 70-200L/4.0 IS will be as good as prime especially when you stop down in landscape case. Better bokeh and shallower DOF from prime are certainly help in portrait case. You might want to consider both zoom and prime. Zoom for walk around and general usage while prime for portraiture. Usually those primes are not very sharp at wide open (which may not a key factor in portrait case nevertheless) until you stop down a bit while two Canon F2.8 zoom are already tack sharp at F2.8.

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