A prime shooter's musings on light zooms (XC 50-230,XC 15-45)

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
OP FTOG Contributing Member • Posts: 876
Re: A prime shooter's musings on light zooms (XC 50-230,XC 15-45)

biza43 wrote:

Zooms are pretty convenient and flexible for travel, especially in natural surroundings. High IQ at high ISO, image stabilization, have revolutionized the way we take photos. Back in my film days, roughly between 1990 and 2004, I used a lot of zooms, f/2.8 and f/4. This was shooting 100 ISO slide film. I remember the first lens I used with IS, Canon's EF 75-300, it was a revelation.

After some time with the first generations of DSLRs, I shot a lot of film, because I appreciated the smaller size of 1970-80s SLRs - a good decade before the first mirrorless Fujis would be released.

So I'm definitely familiar with more grain/noise from those days, and more limited dynamic range, too. While it was a great camera in its day, my 5D Mk I managed just over 8 stops of DR - at base ISO! APS-C sensors delivering 8 stops of DR at ISO 1600 - and in excess of 10 stops at base ISO - really shows how far even smaller sized sensors have come. Not to mention that this is despite a substantial increase in resolution/pixel density.

Even then, reviews would diss slow zoom lenses, and experts would say only Canon's L zooms were capable of top IQ. A load of BS honestly, but this mantra or dogma is repeated even today. So thanks for a refreshing take, and good images to prove it. In 2008 I went to the Empty Quarter of Oman with a Canon 18-55 kit zoom, the cheapest one you could buy. For landscapes, it was great, as f/8 is a nice equalizer of IQ.

I think the fallacy/distortion comes from faster zooms traditionally being better not for being faster zooms, but for being better corrected premium lenses and being stopped down at any comparative aperture.

Once the 'precedent' is set, it can be difficult to not perpetuate outdated 'truths'.

Stopping down certainly does some lenses favours, but even wide open modern slower zooms have come a long way. These days, f4.0 zooms or even variable aperture zooms starting at f4.5 can outperform older designs with faster max apertures.

None of which is to say that faster apertures - in primes or zooms - don't have their place. The convenience of having a faster aperture available where necessary can't be discussed away. Although it comes at a price both monetary and in weight/dimensions.

Today, I am ok with primes only, but that is because I sometimes accept the limitations; what I regret I gain on the learning side, and I really enjoy using primes mostly. But I do miss a telezoom now and then:)

Unfortunately, there is no moderately fast tele prime available for Fuji, say a 135/2.8 or 200/2.8. Probably Fuji fears it would cannibalize the 50-140/2.8 or the 200/2.0. But a light-ish tele prime, ideally stabilised, would be a lovely lens indeed.

So, on the tele end, I find it hard to look past zooms, at least when it comes to Fuji. For wide to moderate tele (the 50/2.0 is a phenomenal lens), I also tend to favour primes over zooms, where I don't need the instant flexibility of a zoom.

 FTOG's gear list:FTOG's gear list
Fujifilm X-E2 Fujifilm X-E3 Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8 R Fujifilm 50-230mm II Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 R WR +3 more
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