Prime as first lens for a beginner

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,967
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
2

BBbuilder467 wrote:

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.

When many of us learned we did not have the option of a smart phone.  If the "real camera" has significant restrictions, then the person may not see the advantages and stick with her smart phone.

When I learned, a camera with a single  prime lens was the most convenient camera available.    Of course, at the time being a photographer wasn't as common as it is today.  Many people were turned off by the complexity.

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Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 16,366
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Michael Fryd wrote:

When many of us learned we did not have the option of a smart phone.

Back then, options for the general public were along the lines of 35mm film; 126 and 110 cartridge film; disc film; APS film; and Polaroid instant film.

https://thedarkroom.com/film-formats/

Papa48 Senior Member • Posts: 1,503
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

So many have gotten used to the 28-31mm (effective) range of phone camera "normal" lenses. The 28mm Zuiko would come closest to that. But my OM-1 had the 50mm 1.8, which I loved. I sold a bunch of those simple kits, when an Olympus dealer long ago. A few came back for other focal lengths, but not many. Times have really changed. Zoom kits are now most popular.

Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,967
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
2

Tom_N wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

When many of us learned we did not have the option of a smart phone.

Back then, options for the general public were along the lines of 35mm film; 126 and 110 cartridge film; disc film; APS film; and Polaroid instant film.

https://thedarkroom.com/film-formats/

If I had a smart phone back then, I may never have used (or developed) 126 film.

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sean000 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,636
Re: Digital ILC + Prime would be ideal for learning, but...
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.

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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Papa48 Senior Member • Posts: 1,503
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
1

Michael Fryd wrote:

Tom_N wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

When many of us learned we did not have the option of a smart phone.

Back then, options for the general public were along the lines of 35mm film; 126 and 110 cartridge film; disc film; APS film; and Polaroid instant film.

https://thedarkroom.com/film-formats/

If I had a smart phone back then, I may never have used (or developed) 126 film.

Smart choice! I worked a summer stint in a mini 1 hour photo lab in the seventies. That 126 and 110 stuff was not pretty!

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 16,366
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Papa48 wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

Tom_N wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

When many of us learned we did not have the option of a smart phone.

Back then, options for the general public were along the lines of 35mm film; 126 and 110 cartridge film; disc film; APS film; and Polaroid instant film.

https://thedarkroom.com/film-formats/

If I had a smart phone back then, I may never have used (or developed) 126 film.

Smart choice! I worked a summer stint in a mini 1 hour photo lab in the seventies. That 126 and 110 stuff was not pretty!

Yet Pentax and Minolta came out with 110 film cartridge SLRs.

Ron Poelman
Ron Poelman Veteran Member • Posts: 7,602
Why ? Is it for a class she'll be doing ?
2

If it is, there'll be guidelines.
If it isn't, ask HER.
(A)  Does she want a film cam at all ?
(B)  Does she want a zoom ? (Of course she does, phones don't zoom and as a beginner, she'll be much less fussed with IQ, than framing.)

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MOD Biggs23 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,595
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
3

I'd argue that a prime is a BETTER lens for a beginner than for someone who is experienced. It forces you to work within the boundaries of the lens and adjust accordingly. It stretches you. That's great for a beginner. Once good framing and composition is old hat, then zooms are far more convenient.

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Christian Scarlet Regular Member • Posts: 294
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
2

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.

Even as a beginner I found zooms uninteresting and understood ‘not getting the shot’, thus it wasn’t frustrating.

Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,967
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
4

Biggs23 wrote:

I'd argue that a prime is a BETTER lens for a beginner than for someone who is experienced. It forces you to work within the boundaries of the lens and adjust accordingly. It stretches you. That's great for a beginner. Once good framing and composition is old hat, then zooms are far more convenient.

Putting barriers in the path of a photographer weeds out those who are not yet passionate about photography. Those who are left are happy with the path they took.

If the student is not already passionate about photography, unnecessary barriers (such as limiting her to a single prime lens), may turn her away from real cameras and back to smart phones.  This may not be the OP's goal.

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Bob Senior Member • Posts: 1,253
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
2

You’d be a hero of an uncle if you just got her a nicer phone.

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Papa48 Senior Member • Posts: 1,503
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Tom_N wrote:

Papa48 wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

Tom_N wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

When many of us learned we did not have the option of a smart phone.

Back then, options for the general public were along the lines of 35mm film; 126 and 110 cartridge film; disc film; APS film; and Polaroid instant film.

https://thedarkroom.com/film-formats/

If I had a smart phone back then, I may never have used (or developed) 126 film.

Smart choice! I worked a summer stint in a mini 1 hour photo lab in the seventies. That 126 and 110 stuff was not pretty!

Yet Pentax and Minolta came out with 110 film cartridge SLRs.

Very short-lived, too. The format was just too small for the film technology of that day. And the plastic cartridges did a poor job of holding the film flat, so that even excellent optics wouldn't have mattered. Those cameras just became conversational pieces.

OP Photodog2 Regular Member • Posts: 286
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
3

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions! Great group of people here at DPR forums.

To clarify, it is an OM10, the non-pro version of the classic OM1 that I am gifting her. A beautifully designed film camera. Arguably one of the prettiest of all time. I never used it or any other OM during the film days as my budget and interest in gear at that time was limited to compact 35mm cameras. Most of them were less expensive Olympus clamshell models with zoom lenses, not the famous XAs.

My niece expressed an interest in film cameras during a Skype conversation (she studies in Australia and I'm in the U.S.) and she keeps an active Instagram account with all the photos taken by whatever smartphone her parents have bought for her.

I decided on the OM10 because it is stylish and I know for my niece that is an important consideration. I think a big zoom lens ruins the aesthetics and a small prime keeps it looking at its best.  But as some have pointed out a zoom lens might make her taste more success as a beginner and encourage her interest. She is used to the wide angle of smartphone cameras but pinch to zoom works well nowadays in good phones.

I have a nephew that I "converted" from smartphones to "real" cameras by gifting a Sony A3000 and zoom kit lens. Recently he has discovered the joy of adapting old lenses after I gave him 3 of my classic Minolta prime lenses. In return, he has become an expert in using Rawtherapee and sometimes coaches me on how to use it. This was a case when the versatility and convenience of a  zoom lens I think helped encouraged his interest in ILCs. Well, I suppose if my niece finds a film camera and prime lens too inconvenient, I can always ask her to send it back and I would not mind to regain possession!

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PhotoTeach2 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,690
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.

YOU learned w/ zoom ...???   Lucky You !!!

There were no "zooms" when I started, (1959),  and when they did first come out, they were unacceptable for several reasons.

I wonder if she will just get frustrated and might be disappointed if her first lens is a prime.

Possibly, but at the same time, there can be advantages to them, if you get a "fast" lens and she may even learn better by being forced to concentrate on composition.

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

I had zooms available through the 80's and into 90's, but CONTINUED to ONLY use a prime for weddings, (because it was "faster" and I often could not use flash).

Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 8,733
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
1

Photodog2 wrote:

To clarify, it is an OM10, the non-pro version of the classic OM1 that I am gifting her. A beautifully designed film camera.

Lol. 

That's an important detail to leave out, especially at a website called Digital Photography Review.

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OP Photodog2 Regular Member • Posts: 286
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
1

Bobthearch wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

To clarify, it is an OM10, the non-pro version of the classic OM1 that I am gifting her. A beautifully designed film camera.

Lol.

That's an important detail to leave out, especially at a website called Digital Photography Review.

But it will be using lenses that can easily be adapted for a digital camera 

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LoneTree1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,603
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
1

Photodog2 wrote:

Bobthearch wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

To clarify, it is an OM10, the non-pro version of the classic OM1 that I am gifting her. A beautifully designed film camera.

Lol.

That's an important detail to leave out, especially at a website called Digital Photography Review.

But it will be using lenses that can easily be adapted for a digital camera

Honestly, using old lenses on a digital camera is something for a seasoned photographer.  Beginners need AF and ideally need zoom lenses.  I know the millenials and some teens are "into" film today, but who knows how long that fad will last.  A decent digital camera (Olympus E-M10II) and two basic zoom lenses, 14-42 and 40-150mm is probably ideal for a beginner.  Film cameras today are so cheap to obtain ($20 for a body and 50mm lens) that could simply be thrown-in.

Smaug01
Smaug01 Senior Member • Posts: 2,944
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

I started with a 50/2, and quickly found it limiting. It never seemed to be wide enough or long enough. I was just reading about a retired National Geo photographer who shot with two bodies, each with a prime lens and the same film. He liked 28 and 90 mm, for just about everything.

I went to zooms for a decade or more, only pulling out the 50 when low light called for it.

These days, I'm trying to shoot more with primes; I think it's making me a better photographer.

If recommend a 35/2.8 Zuiko and encourage her to work within the confines of that lens for awhile. If she wants it later, get a 28-80. Or even the Zuiko 30-105.

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

LoneTree1 wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

Bobthearch wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

To clarify, it is an OM10, the non-pro version of the classic OM1 that I am gifting her. A beautifully designed film camera.

Lol.

That's an important detail to leave out, especially at a website called Digital Photography Review.

But it will be using lenses that can easily be adapted for a digital camera

Honestly, using old lenses on a digital camera is something for a seasoned photographer. Beginners need AF and ideally need zoom lenses. I know the millenials and some teens are "into" film today, but who knows how long that fad will last. A decent digital camera (Olympus E-M10II) and two basic zoom lenses, 14-42 and 40-150mm is probably ideal for a beginner. Film cameras today are so cheap to obtain ($20 for a body and 50mm lens) that could simply be thrown-in.

Have you recently looked at the prices of film cameras in ebay? Due to the interest from millenials and the younger generation, their prices have gone up. You'd be hard pressed to find any of the well regarded or even average models from the Big Five that are in good working and cosmetic condition for less than $50 body only. Still that's not too much money and so depending on my ebay shopping in the next 2 weeks, my niece might just end up with two packages on her door step. The OM10 with a 28mm prime, and a used 1 inch sensor digital with a zoom.

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