Prime as first lens for a beginner

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Photodog2 Regular Member • Posts: 286
Prime as first lens for a beginner

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.

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Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 17,450
There's probably a lot of us
9

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.

When I was a beginner. there weren't any zooms. So my first camera (a Brownie Hawkeye), my first 35mm camera (a Bolsey B2) and my first interchangeable lens camera (a Zorki) all had primes. So it's clearly possible to learn photography with prime lenses. And an OM (I am inferring that you mean the exquisite film camera) is an excellent tool.

But these days, a film camera with a prime lens is a very limiting device. It's inconvenient to use, hard to get pictures out of and not a good lead-in to modern digital cameras. So I'd sooner see you get her something like a 1" sensor fixed-lens zoom.

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threw the lens
threw the lens Senior Member • Posts: 1,615
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
4

If you're going to give them a 28mm, it's not much different from them taking photos  with an iPhone, there are just more fiddly settings getting in the way.

If they have to contend with waiting to see the developed film then things are even worse.

Better would be an OM digital with zoom lens. Then they can choose to learn the technical aspects when they are ready.

Jonsi
Jonsi Veteran Member • Posts: 4,600
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
4

Nothing more frustrating for a beginner than not being able to get the shot you want.

Imagine wanting to take a picture of a distant subject and only having a 28mm.

Don't limit her.

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tkbslc Forum Pro • Posts: 13,413
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
2

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.

Olympus OM was not a system known for it's zooms.   If you are going for film, go for the full experience and get a 35, 40 or 50mm prime.

yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 12,119
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
1

I learned with a prime and I am glad every single day that I did.

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tkbslc Forum Pro • Posts: 13,413
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Jonsi wrote:

Nothing more frustrating for a beginner than not being able to get the shot you want.

Imagine wanting to take a picture of a distant subject and only having a 28mm.

Don't limit her.

Every lens has limits.   You create by working within them.   An ancient OM zoom is going to be slow and not very sharp.  That's also a limitation.   So is weight.

Jonsi
Jonsi Veteran Member • Posts: 4,600
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

tkbslc wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

Nothing more frustrating for a beginner than not being able to get the shot you want.

Imagine wanting to take a picture of a distant subject and only having a 28mm.

Don't limit her.

Every lens has limits.

Not as many as a single focal length lens.

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 8,748
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
1

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.

Assume you mean OM-D, a digital camera?

That's a micro-4/3 sensor.

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.

Yes.

A 14-42mm zoom is the standard kit lens for OM-D cameras.  Didn't the camera come with one?

Anyone here whose first beginners camera lens was a prime instead of a zoom?

Sure.  It was ca. 1976 and I was seven years old using a camera from my dad's collection, an Agfa or similar made of brown bakelite.  I don't recommend such a first camera for a college-age person in 2019.

Any thoughts or advice welcome.

My immediate thought it to ditch the micro-4/3 idea and get something like a Nikon DX (APS-C camera) that, for the same price, offer a larger sensor and much more affordable lens options.  It just seems like Olympus is overpriced for what you get compared to an entry-level APS-C DSLR or mirrorless system camera.

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David5833 Senior Member • Posts: 1,171
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
2

I learned photography on a camera with prime lenses and no automatic settings, not even a built-in light meter.  My first camera with a built-in light meter was a godsend.  I can't remember when I got the first zoom.  I really doubt that zoom vs prime makes any difference to a beginner regarding learning how to use a camera.  However, they might enjoy the versatility of a zoom.

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Brev00
Brev00 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,829
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
6

Can't you ask her?

If she is serious about learning photography and wants to take a class, she may need a certain lens for the class, probably a prime. She may even need a film camera. If she is doing this for fun, she may very well want a zoom. If she doesn't know the difference, explaining basic things like this may be a good thing to do before buying her a camera. She is an adult. Let her decide.

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tkbslc Forum Pro • Posts: 13,413
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Jonsi wrote:

tkbslc wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

Nothing more frustrating for a beginner than not being able to get the shot you want.

Imagine wanting to take a picture of a distant subject and only having a 28mm.

Don't limit her.

Every lens has limits.

Not as many as a single focal length lens.

I disagree.

CMCM Senior Member • Posts: 4,902
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
3

My first camera was a Yashica with a fixed 45mm lens.  I remember being slightly frustrated when I found that I couldn't remove the lens and add a different focal length.  Later when I got my F3, I had just primes, but  a few years later I bought a Vivitar 28-200 zoom and I was in heaven with it for travel because I didn't have to change lenses all the time.  Quality wasn't as good as with the primes, but it was so much more convenient using it, especially since I was traveling a lot and carrying my camera gear.  I'm not sure I learned anything with the primes that I couldn't have learned wth that zoom.

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,986
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
5

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.

Is your goal to get her to love photography by getting her a "real camera" or does she already love photography, and your goal is to provide her with better tools?

If you are trying to get her to love photography, I suggest a zoom lens.  A kit with the most versatility will make it easier for her to try different things, and find which aspects of photography she loves.

On the other hand, if she already loves photography, and really wants to be able to take the sharpest photos, or photos with shallower depth of field, then a wide aperture prime may be the way to go.

Having only a prime lens adds restrictions and challenges to photography.   If you are trying to get her to develop a love for photography, you may want to minimize any challenges.

On the other hand, if she already loves photography, she may not mind challenges that need to be overcome.   Having only a prime lens may get her to think about her photography in a different way.

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john Clinch Veteran Member • Posts: 4,035
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Bobthearch wrote:

Bob are you sure

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.

I thought he meant a an old film OM SLR

Assume you mean OM-D, a digital camera?

That's a micro-4/3 sensor.

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.

Yes.

A 14-42mm zoom is the standard kit lens for OM-D cameras. Didn't the camera come with one?

I don't think Olympus ever made a 28mm or 50mm lens for a digtal camera. But they did for their film SLRs...

Anyone here whose first beginners camera lens was a prime instead of a zoom?

Sure. It was ca. 1976 and I was seven years old using a camera from my dad's collection, an Agfa or similar made of brown bakelite. I don't recommend such a first camera for a college-age person in 2019.

Any thoughts or advice welcome.

My immediate thought it to ditch the micro-4/3 idea and get something like a Nikon DX (APS-C camera) that, for the same price, offer a larger sensor and much more affordable lens options. It just seems like Olympus is overpriced for what you get compared to an entry-level APS-C DSLR or mirrorless system camera.

I'd send her a prime. The film thing is about hard to get my head round. But it will look reall cool which will help. She'll think more about each shot with an OM. Having prints might well be novelty

Aberaeron Veteran Member • Posts: 7,656
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

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.

Assuming you mean an OM-D E-M10 or E-M5 or any digital Olympus rather than an old film camera, then I would certainly send her the kit lens which, depending on model and your location, is usually the EZ 14-42 or manual zoom 14-42. If you can stretch to it, the 45mm f1.5 portrait lens is also light and compact and demonstrates the potential of the system nicely.

Only a prime? Not really. Not with her current experience with a smartphone camera only.

Compactness and convenience would be primary objectives if I were a student again. A camera and second lens that, if I were female, fitted easily in a small to medium size handbag. You can't choose much better than the above kit to meet that convenience objective which means that the camera is more likely to be carried and used than not.

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Gerry Winterbourne Forum Pro • Posts: 16,240
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Photodog2 wrote:

I am about to send my college age niece an Olympus OM for her first real camera.

has she been involved in choosing this camera? The surest way to make someone lose intertest in photography is to buy them a camera they haven't chosen for themselves.

So before thinking about lenses make sure she's happy with the camera.

Do you mean an old 35mm film OM camera? if so, will she be happy with the limited number of shots and the delay while they are processed? Or do you mean an OM-D digital camera?

The difference is important for another big reason - the sensor on the OM-D cameras is only half the width and height of a 35mm film frame so lenses give a dramatically smaller field of view. You mention below 28 and 50mm lenses; for the OM-D cameras the same field of view would need 14 and 25mm.

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.

My first serious 35mm camera had a fixed prime lens of (I think) 45mm. I was fine with it for about three years before I got frustrated; at that point I bought an SLR - yes, Olympus OM1 when it first came out - with three primes of 27, 50 and 135mm.

I still use primes for preference.

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 8,748
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
2

john Clinch wrote:

Bobthearch wrote:

Bob are you sure

I am not at all sure.  Not even 50%.

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PhotoFactor Veteran Member • Posts: 3,221
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

tkbslc wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

tkbslc wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

Nothing more frustrating for a beginner than not being able to get the shot you want.

Imagine wanting to take a picture of a distant subject and only having a 28mm.

Don't limit her.

Every lens has limits.

Not as many as a single focal length lens.

I disagree.

Yes, zoom limits include poorer IQ, weight, size, cost, slower aperture just to name a few.

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BBbuilder467 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,816
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

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 learned everything originally with a film body and 50mm prime, so a 25mm prime with the m4/3 seems perfectly natural to me.

i have noticed that it can be quite limiting compared to a short zoom lens. I can basically substitute one for the other, but I rarely go anywhere without both.

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