Prime as first lens for a beginner

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
sean000 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,618
Re: Digital ILC + Prime would be ideal for learning, but...

Photodog2 wrote:

I am about to send my college age niece an Olympus OM for her first real camera. As is common for her age group, she has not used anything other than a phone for photography.

Now, the OM is a beautiful, to my eyes the most beautiful, camera ever so I am tempted to put a small 50 or 28mm prime lens on it to send her as a package. However, I learned photography with a zoom lens many years ago and I suspect most people did likewise. I wonder if she will just get frustrated and might be disappointed if her first lens is a prime.

Anyone here whose first beginners camera lens was a prime instead of a zoom? Any thoughts or advice welcome.

I assume you mean an OM film camera? That would be a swell gift. Hopefully she will appreciate it. Assuming she is game to shoot film, I'm sure she will. I don't see many people shooting film these days, but when I do they are usually young people in their 20's. Maybe it's because our local college campus still has some dark rooms, and we also have a place downtown where you can rent dark room space. The last time I saw an OM film camera in the wild (a few years ago), it belonged to a guy who looked to be late 20's.

Personally I think an OM-D m4/3 camera with a 25mm f/1.8 prime would be a better learning tool (or a larger sensor ILC with a normal-ish prime). My first serious camera was a Nikon D70 DSLR in 2004. It came with a standard variable aperture zoom, and the next lens I bought for it was a 50mm prime (because it was cheap). Not long after that I bought a 35mm prime which was closer to a normal focal length for the APS-C crop sensor in my D70. I felt like the primes allowed me to experiment with depth of field more than the zoom, but of course I also liked having a zoom for much of what I was shooting. Using a digital camera helped me learn so much faster than I could have using a film camera. Digital allowed me to experiment and shoot as much as I wanted, even shooting many shots of a single scene while changing one setting at a time, and see the effect of those settings instantly and for free. Of course generations of photographers have learned on film cameras. If you are dedicated to the learning process, you'll make do with the tools you have.

Which lens to start her off with is tricky. I think a prime allows you to explore DOF and available light photography better, but depending on what she likes to photograph a zoom could be more useful. Use what you know about her level of interest in photography, or ask her some questions about what she would like to photograph. Her answers should help you decide which lens will be best. She's lucky to have an uncle willing to help her start down the photography path!

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MOD Biggs23
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