Prime as first lens for a beginner

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fferreres Senior Member • Posts: 2,684
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.

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.

Phones, except for very recent ones, have always been a "prime semi wide" affair. Send her TWO primes. They are cheap. The only doubt I have is regarding sending her a "film" camera. I think film is old tech and makes the learning slow.

Jonsi
Jonsi Veteran Member • Posts: 4,500
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
4

Photodog2 wrote:

A beautifully designed film camera. Arguably one of the prettiest of all time.

along with..

a small prime keeps it looking at its best.

Boy, your priorities for choosing a camera are quite different than mine

But as some have pointed out a zoom lens might make her taste more success as a beginner and encourage her interest.

Of course.

But, since she's used to shooting digitally and posting to Instagram, I bet her interest in film fades fast.

Especially if stuck with a single prime.

DeathArrow Senior Member • Posts: 2,313
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.

I hope you are not sending the poor girl a film camera. I know I wouldn't get into photography if it weren't digital cameras. If someone forced me to use a film camera instead of a digital camera, that would have moved me far away from photography.

As for zoom vs prime for a beginner, I think I've struggled very much with the dark 16-50 and 18-55 kit lenses. A 50mm equivalent fast prime would have been a lot nicer.

The only thing better than a fast prime is a fast zoom like Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8.

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DeathArrow Senior Member • Posts: 2,313
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

threw the lens wrote:

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.

I would get an iPhone any day over a film camera.

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DeathArrow Senior Member • Posts: 2,313
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.

Imagine there's an astronaut on the moon and you want to photograph him on earth. There's always going to be some limitation and you can't take a good shot in any situation.

I used for about 2 years a 50mm lens on Canon 6D. I didn't find it limiting. I knew I couldn't photograph sports or buildings in crowded streets, but I could do a lot of things with it.

Even a zoom is limiting. How can I shoot wildlife if I only have my 15-30mm with me?

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threw the lens
threw the lens Senior Member • Posts: 1,450
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Jonsi wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

A beautifully designed film camera. Arguably one of the prettiest of all time.

along with..

a small prime keeps it looking at its best.

Boy, your priorities for choosing a camera are quite different than mine

But as some have pointed out a zoom lens might make her taste more success as a beginner and encourage her interest.

Of course.

But, since she's used to shooting digitally and posting to Instagram, I bet her interest in film fades fast.

Especially if stuck with a single prime.

Olympus 50mm f1.8 could be the cheapest system prime he could add to this, and one of the best. I would think he could find one for under $30

Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 17,412
A thing of beauty is a joy forever
1

Jonsi wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

A beautifully designed film camera. Arguably one of the prettiest of all time.

along with..

a small prime keeps it looking at its best.

Boy, your priorities for choosing a camera are quite different than mine

Fer sure. I have a Nikon FE2 which, I think, is a very good-looking camera. But I don't care about that. As I recall, I haven't used it in 20 years. It's what's in front of the camera that's supposed to look good.

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Ron Poelman
Ron Poelman Veteran Member • Posts: 7,602
and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,

Leonard Migliore wrote:

Fer sure. I have a Nikon FE2 which, I think, is a very good-looking camera. But I don't care about that. As I recall, I haven't used it in 20 years. It's what's in front of the camera that's supposed to look good.

so, bad luck with her preferences ?
She may well be a Leica fan or just wants a half decent digital  to go on with.
Whatever, does the OP remember the appetite for expensive batteries the OM10 had ?
Mine was voracious.

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Jonsi
Jonsi Veteran Member • Posts: 4,500
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

DeathArrow 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.

Imagine there's an astronaut on the moon and you want to photograph him on earth.

Then I suppose I'd have to wait for him to get back.

There's always going to be some limitation and you can't take a good shot in any situation.

I used for about 2 years a...

I gave an opinion about limiting a beginning photographer to a single focal length and some of you argue that with the 'ole "that's not what I used, and I turned out fine!".

I honestly don't care what you used. It's irrelevant.  But certainly make it known to the OP, it is a valid opinion too.

I think most of you started before zoom lenses were invented anyway, so it is understandable.  And no, that's not an age joke...just a probability.

I didn't find it limiting. I knew I couldn't photograph sports or buildings in crowded streets,

So your single focal length limited you from shooting stuff?

Even a zoom is limiting.

Someone tried that one already. A single focal length is more limiting. That cannot be argued.

How can I shoot wildlife if I only have my 15-30mm with me?

You bought the wrong lens. I would never suggest such a limited zoom for a beginner.

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Jonsi
Jonsi Veteran Member • Posts: 4,500
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner
1

threw the lens wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

A beautifully designed film camera. Arguably one of the prettiest of all time.

along with..

a small prime keeps it looking at its best.

Boy, your priorities for choosing a camera are quite different than mine

But as some have pointed out a zoom lens might make her taste more success as a beginner and encourage her interest.

Of course.

But, since she's used to shooting digitally and posting to Instagram, I bet her interest in film fades fast.

Especially if stuck with a single prime.

Olympus 50mm f1.8 could be the cheapest system prime he could add to this, and one of the best. I would think he could find one for under $30

Seems he's not going for "cheap"...

He's going for "pretty".

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Jonsi
Jonsi Veteran Member • Posts: 4,500
Re: A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Leonard Migliore wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

A beautifully designed film camera. Arguably one of the prettiest of all time.

along with..

a small prime keeps it looking at its best.

Boy, your priorities for choosing a camera are quite different than mine

Fer sure. I have a Nikon FE2 which, I think, is a very good-looking camera. But I don't care about that. As I recall, I haven't used it in 20 years. It's what's in front of the camera that's supposed to look good.

Agreed.

I have a fondness for my Konica A3. Most would probably call it ugly, but to me she's a beaut!

Doesn't matter though... The results did.

Had no pics of it on my phone so I Googled this

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sportyaccordy Forum Pro • Posts: 15,358
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

These days most kids are shooting with ~30mm EFL primes, so it should be no issue for her.

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jrtrent Veteran Member • Posts: 5,250
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Photodog2 wrote:

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

My early cameras all had normal focal length, fixed prime lenses. My first SLR came with a 55mm prime, and it was years before I bought a second lens for it. Philip Greenspun, in an article for which the link no longer works, said, "The novice photographer who starts with a zoom lens typically uses it in lieu of backing up or stepping forward. An experienced photographer visualizes the scene first, chooses a focal length, then gets into the appropriate position to capture the scene with that focal length. It is much better to get a lens with a fixed focal length, learn to recognize scenes where that lens can be used effectively, and then add additional lenses once that focal length has been mastered."

He recommended starting with something around a 50mm equivalent, suggested several photography projects to help learn that focal length, and felt that acquiring and using things like image editing software and a tripod should come before the purchase of the beginner's next lens.

Of course, your niece is not a novice, and has been accustomed to using the wide angle lens of a phone camera with the ability to pinch to zoom, but I don't see where there could possibly be any harm in her trying the OM10 with a 50mm standard lens.

For my own pictures, after much fun in using a variety of focal lengths for a while, I trimmed back a decade or two ago and now shoot about 95% of all my pictures at a 50mm equivalent focal length, and a short telephoto (about 85mm equivalent) takes care of everything else.  Even with my digital compact zoom, which has a 28-300 equivalent focal length range, I simply toggle between 50 and 85 mm equivalents using its step-zoom feature.

Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 17,412
Re: A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Jonsi wrote:

Had no pics of it on my phone so I Googled this

Don't your phone have a camera?

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Leonard Migliore

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Jonsi
Jonsi Veteran Member • Posts: 4,500
Re: A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Leonard Migliore wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

Had no pics of it on my phone so I Googled this

Don't your phone have a camera?

Well yeah.  It actually is the first one with some of the features Apple stole for their new iPhone. Like the 3 lens Triple Shot.

But I wasn't going to dig up my film gear just to post a picture of a camera.

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Bob Senior Member • Posts: 1,240
Throw money at it.

Get the pretty prime.  And also get a zoom.

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Gerry Winterbourne Forum Pro • Posts: 16,178
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

Photodog2 wrote:

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.

I owned both in the 1970s. My wife preferred prints, I preferred slides so I put one type of film in each camera.

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.

Do you know how deeply this interest penetrates? The camera you propose is manual focus so she'll have to learn that. There's a fair amount of other stuff she'll need to learn too - here's a link to he camera manual. I'm not trying to put you off but ...

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.

… with all that to learn I think messing about with a zoom lens for different fields of view could easily be a step too far. I'd start with a standard prime lens to let her see how things work. If she gets sufficiently interested it's easy enough to follow up with either a zoom or more primes.

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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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 8,625
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.

I've never seen anyone do that in real life.

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.

Price is right.

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OP Photodog2 Regular Member • Posts: 279
Re: Throw money at it.

Bob wrote:

Get the pretty prime. And also get a zoom.

You have a point there. We're not really talking major money here for an old prime and an old zoom. Whatever combination of old camera bodies and lenses I send her, it will all still cost a lot less than the cheapest model of iPhone 10 or 11. I'll leave that problem to her parents 

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OP Photodog2 Regular Member • Posts: 279
Re: Prime as first lens for a beginner

jrtrent wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

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

My early cameras all had normal focal length, fixed prime lenses. My first SLR came with a 55mm prime, and it was years before I bought a second lens for it. Philip Greenspun, in an article for which the link no longer works, said, "The novice photographer who starts with a zoom lens typically uses it in lieu of backing up or stepping forward. An experienced photographer visualizes the scene first, chooses a focal length, then gets into the appropriate position to capture the scene with that focal length. It is much better to get a lens with a fixed focal length, learn to recognize scenes where that lens can be used effectively, and then add additional lenses once that focal length has been mastered."

Nice quote to think about. Thanks.

Of course, your niece is not a novice, and has been accustomed to using the wide angle lens of a phone camera with the ability to pinch to zoom, but I don't see where there could possibly be any harm in her trying the OM10 with a 50mm standard lens.

You are right! I have been thinking of my niece as a total beginner from the perspective of an old guy who did not start out with phones. Yet, people her age have captured thousands of images with their smartphones. She has plenty of artful photos on her Instagram account that I would proudly claim to have taken myself. So being given a film camera actually would not be a first step in photography for her but would be a natural next step in her journey in photography. No wonder some kids her age have developed an increased interest in film, they've already been doing digital for years, mostly with the wide angle prime lenses of their phones.

Thanks, that gave me a totally different perspective on things!

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