Fast primes vs good zooms

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spike29 Senior Member • Posts: 1,911
Fast primes vs good zooms

Trying to get insight about why a prime with a fast aperture is "needed" to accomplish a set of zooms for casual photography.

Getting GAS about a PL15 f/1.7 but didn't pull the trigger when  got the prime in the cross hairs. hesitated to burn 300 something euro's

Primes are often faster in aperture so f2.8 against a f1.7 is a officious victory for the prime.   I don't want a shelf full of lenses to choose from before i leave the house and don't want to over-tech/buy my gear for the use i have. I like my one bag solution of only choice do i bring my tripod or not, rest in a backpack ready to go. There is some room for the prime but what do i get more out a fast prime besides the officious of faster aperture and shallower dof up close.

So why is a PL15mm f/1.7 preferable over a PL12-60?

- 15mm on the pl12-60 is about f/3.1 so around 2 stops slower then f/1.7

field of use i can think of: inside buildings, evening city /landscape/ architecture. (when there is no movement no difference to the zoom and the zoom is more convenient wile walking and i have 12-15mm more FOV.)

So Do i want it because of ,  well,  to much time here on DPR fireing up GAS for no reason other then rub off / inhalation of Techtalk? or is there a good practical upgrade for a casual shooter experience and is a 300-469 euro the proper investment?

please push me of the fence either way because it starting to itch LOL.

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Isola Verde
Isola Verde Veteran Member • Posts: 9,388
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms
2

Two stops applied to shutter speed may well make a lot of difference to any movements of your subject, or of other passersby, etc...?

Peter

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OP spike29 Senior Member • Posts: 1,911
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms

Isola Verde wrote:

Two stops applied to shutter speed may well make a lot of difference to any movements of your subject, or of other passersby, etc...?

yes:(used a app)

2.8 3200 iso 1/50 vs 1.8 1250 iso 1/50

2.8 3200 iso 1/50 vs 1.8 3200 iso 1/125

And it's f/1.7 so it's a 1/135 a 1/145sec.

Does that be the point of buy?

(i mean do you mount the prime before pl12-60/pl12-35 for instance?)

Peter

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Gnine Contributing Member • Posts: 841
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms
22

You either like shooting primes, or you don't. No need to justify what you enjoy. Just go do it. Or not.

dgnelson Senior Member • Posts: 1,197
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms
9

spike29 wrote:

Trying to get insight about why a prime with a fast aperture is "needed" to accomplish a set of zooms for casual photography.

Getting GAS about a PL15 f/1.7 but didn't pull the trigger when got the prime in the cross hairs. hesitated to burn 300 something euro's

Primes are often faster in aperture so f2.8 against a f1.7 is a officious victory for the prime. I don't want a shelf full of lenses to choose from before i leave the house and don't want to over-tech/buy my gear for the use i have. I like my one bag solution of only choice do i bring my tripod or not, rest in a backpack ready to go. There is some room for the prime but what do i get more out a fast prime besides the officious of faster aperture and shallower dof up close.

So why is a PL15mm f/1.7 preferable over a PL12-60?

- 15mm on the pl12-60 is about f/3.1 so around 2 stops slower then f/1.7

field of use i can think of: inside buildings, evening city /landscape/ architecture. (when there is no movement no difference to the zoom and the zoom is more convenient wile walking and i have 12-15mm more FOV.)

So Do i want it because of , well, to much time here on DPR fireing up GAS for no reason other then rub off / inhalation of Techtalk? or is there a good practical upgrade for a casual shooter experience and is a 300-469 euro the proper investment?

please push me of the fence either way because it starting to itch LOL.

There are many reasons why you might want a fast prime, they have their advantages. They are, however, not as versatile as a zoom.

More light: A fast prime will let in more light. This could mean that you use a lower ISO and have less noise. Or you might want a faster shutter speed to avoid motion blur.

Sharpness: A prime less will generally be sharper than a zoom, especially if it's stopped down a bit. Having said that, there are some very sharp MFT zooms to chose from.

Shallow depth of field: There is a portrait style where the eyes are in focus and the rest of the face slips out of focus. This technique can be useful for other photographic subjects as well. That can look pleasing, natural, it's how our eyes work.

Blurred background:  Photos can look better if the background is more blurred, the result of opening the lens wider.

Size: Primes are mostly smaller and lighter than zooms, (there are exceptions). I like to put the Oly 17mm 1.8 on either my EM5.1 or my GM5. That combination is small and light, easy to carry around. If I want even smaller, I put on the Pany 20mm 1.7.  It can also look less intimidating when you're photographing people, so they're more at ease.  When I want more versatility, I put the Pany 12-35mm 2.8 on my GX8.

Challenge: It can be fun to go out and take photos with one prime, to see from a fixed perspective.  I like to try to get good photos with a minimum amount of gear.

A 15 mm prime is a versatile focal length.

Dan

Tom Axford Veteran Member • Posts: 6,479
Size and weight
3

I choose to use MFT because of the small size and weight and I choose lenses accordingly.  So my preferred lenses are slow zooms and small primes.  I do have a fast zoom, but it gets much less use.

alcelc
alcelc Forum Pro • Posts: 11,928
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms
2

I am a zoom guy. For last 10+ years since my first MILC, I had an all zoom lenses setup for my travelling. The Panny OIS can deal with a lot of my low light shooting requirement.

I had once bought a 14 f/2.5. On AF speed, low lighting AF, IQ, it is very close to 14~45 f/3.5~5.6. Under the 3~3.5 stops of OIS, I could indeed use slower shutter speed than the 14 on a non IBIS body...

With improved higher ISO of newer models, and now the DUAL IS of Pannys, basically any f/1.7~2.5 non OIS lens has no real speed advantage for my relative still object / deeper DoF shooting.

Last year, could not resist GAS and bought the 15. It is a fantastic lens. But on slow shutter speed shooting, basically the Panny IBIS doesn't do much better than a DUAL IS f/3.5 lens 😣. I never regret the purchase because to Have a Leica lens in my bag always feeling good. But practically 15 is not really a MUST need item to my sort of usage.

YMMV.

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Albert

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Jouko Senior Member • Posts: 1,638
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms

Well, the decision is yours...

But, some thougts of having a bit similar setup:

I have the old Zuiko 12-60 F2.8-4 FT- lens, brilliant IQ, but a large and heavy lens for the mFT-system, maybe. Works fine, anyway, my workhorse for most portraits, travel, landscape etc. Maybe now about 60% of my shots done with that, except birds which usually need something longer.

But I also have the 15mm PanaLeica, and PL 25mm F1.4 FT, Zuiko 50mm F2 macro and the m.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 from about the same range. Thinner DOF when needed, more light for low light and indoors, street etc. No, I don't carry everything with me all the time, but plan ahead what  I will need. IQ differences between all of those lenses are minor, mostly about rendering the out of focus areas.

So, if I can take just one lens or there will be problems with changing the lens (rain, sand, crowd etc) or I'll need to change the focal lenght fast, the zooms are the way to go. And, when the lights go down or the shooting situation is more controlled, the primes take their place.

The 15mm lens is great for landscapes, nightscapes, street - and anywhere you'll need a fast and light setup. The FOW is good, wideish, but not too wide - even for environmental portraits or groups. The lens needs some software correction, but that's done automatically with most RAW converters - or in camera for JPG shots. Without correction you'll get quite a lot of barrel distortion, but also a wider field of view...

Cheers!

Jouko
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RobbieBear Senior Member • Posts: 1,797
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms

Well, I pretty much use my two Oly Pro zooms for most things I shoot. Having said that, chucking my 20mm Panny 1.7 in the bag adds little weight, gives me a small fast lens if needed and set me back less than £200.  A nice outfit that fits with room to spare in a Tenba Cooper 13 slim.

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OP spike29 Senior Member • Posts: 1,911
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms

Gnine wrote:

You either like shooting primes, or you don't. No need to justify what you enjoy. Just go do it. Or not.

it's not about  "enjoy" it's about would i spent 300-469 euro for it specifications and type of use? Does it bring me that what i can't do with my zooms?

i am not a photo hobbyist as in go out and fill up my  gallery in Flicker more a family shooter who like's to have the proper gear to enjoy photographing wile walking along.

So building a gearset isn't main goal in my budget. It needs to have a clear purpose to help out or fill a gap in my toolbax)

(i bought a flash wile the g80 has one on it's  body, why?  that snakeflash isn't very useful in many occasions. do i use the flash often?No,  i have it in the bag so i can mount it when i need. (natural light is better but flash as fill-in or extra light to lower iso is with the mounted flash much better to control then the snakehead so that's why i bought the flash even when i don't use it monthly.)

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farmer35 Contributing Member • Posts: 833
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms
2

Photographing with a prime lens that you are familiar with is simply a different kind of experience.  You learn to see the images that are possible with the lens and just kind of know where to be in order to get the picture.  You lose something but you gain something too.

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Bruce Regier

ahaslett
ahaslett Veteran Member • Posts: 5,579
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms
3

dgnelson gave a good answer.

I'd also say that you should choose your primes with care - look at the reasons in the list and choose a lens that matches why you want a prime.  No good buying a lens for shallow DoF if the bokeh is ugly; no good buying a big chunky fast prime with great IQ, if you wanted something smaller than a zoom; no good buying a cheap prime with poor IQ if you wanted something sharper and more contrasty than your zoom...

If you don't know why you want to buy a lens, then either it's GAS or you want to try something new.  I'd say you can't go wrong with a great Olympus Pro prime, but the cost will really make you think why you need it.  At the other end, get a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye or a used Panny 20/1.7 and see what that tells you about what you need.

Good luck

Andrew

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OP spike29 Senior Member • Posts: 1,911
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms

alcelc wrote:

I am a zoom guy. For last 10+ years since my first MILC, I had an all zoom lenses setup for my travelling. The Panny OIS can deal with a lot of my low light shooting requirement.

Me too,  i seldom go out by my self just for taking pictures. I use my gear mostly in family walks or day outs and holiday's. Then the Zooms are great because then anoying waiting time when swapping lenses is less for others.

I had once bought a 14 f/2.5. On AF speed, low lighting AF, IQ, it is very close to 14~45 f/3.5~5.6. Under the 3~3.5 stops of OIS, I could indeed use slower shutter speed than the 14 on a non IBIS body...

With improved higher ISO of newer models, and now the DUAL IS of Pannys, basically any f/1.7~2.5 non OIS lens has no real speed advantage for my relative still object / deeper DoF shooting.

Last year, could not resist GAS and bought the 15. It is a fantastic lens. But on slow shutter speed shooting, basically the Panny IBIS doesn't do much better than a DUAL IS f/3.5 lens 😣. I never regret the purchase because to Have a Leica lens in my bag always feeling good. But practically 15 is not really a MUST need item to my sort of usage.

Ah it seems i am a bit in your street. As an other wrote: subject movement or other motion in the frame can be handled by the faster aperture to gain faster shutterspeed but in general dual is2 does helpout much.

YMMV.

It's the itch of thinking i need that faster lens (and faster can only be a prime in my budget) and i am trying to clean up the GAS from the "need".

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OP spike29 Senior Member • Posts: 1,911
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms

Thanks Andrew,

clear round up.

I think i go rent this particular lens when i am in the mood and have the time to spent time with my camera. Or rent it on a holiday (14 days is about 70 euro) to see if i use it much and what it brings to my captured images.

As you said, just go out and buy a prime without a clear purpose or well thought argument to do so isn't smart.

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OP spike29 Senior Member • Posts: 1,911
zoom vs 15mm f/1.7

Could you be so kind to show some examples of your use of the 15mm?

and the counterpart of the zooms like the PL12-60/ oly version or pl12-35?

(it should outrun the lumix zooms in resolving power/resolution but does it the PL-zooms?)

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Barry Twycross Senior Member • Posts: 1,758
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms
1

I use primes for different things than I do zooms.

Zooms are quick and convenient. Most of my travel photography is done with zooms because of that.

When I have time to set up a shot, to do photography for photography's sake, I'll start with a prime, unless I find I need a capability that the prime doesn't have (usually a particular focal length).

Sometimes, I'll use a prime (usually the 20mm) predominantly for a day when I'm traveling, just because it's a different experience/discipline. It's fun fitting your scene to a fixed focal length, rather than fitting your focal length to a fixed scene.

All lenses have compromises. Zooms compromise on size and weight or aperture compared to a prime. You can have a relatively fast aperture zoom, but it's enormous compared to a prime it covers, and probably doesn't even get to the same aperture. (Compare the 20/1.7 to the 10-25/1.7).

Or you can have a zoom with a modest aperture, and modest size, m4/3 has some amazingly compact zooms with very modest apertures, like the 12-32, one of my favorite lenses, and the most compact 12mm you can get. I give up 1.5-2 stops using the 12-32 instead of a prime. But I also get back 2-3 stops because it's stabilized (for static subjects). So as much as I like fast glass and primes, I also value compact, so I've never found a 12mm worth the compromise over the 12-32.

You're not going to find a zoom with a 1.2 aperture. So to indulge my love of fast glass I got a 1.2 prime, even though it was my biggest and heaviest lens (until I got the 100-300, which is amazingly compact for what it does).

So which do you value more? Size, speed, flexibility? Zooms vs primes compromise on at least one of those. I value them all, in different proportions in different circumstances, so I use a mix of zooms and primes.

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OP spike29 Senior Member • Posts: 1,911
This is the list which started my GAS

Now i need to determine if this list of plusses is the investment worth.

So i try to gather some thoughts of users of primes and people like me, the (lazy) Zoom carriers.

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Tim Reidy Productions
Tim Reidy Productions Senior Member • Posts: 3,497
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms

The main reason to get a f2 or less prime is to get more light than a zoom lens would.

so if you run in to situations where more light is preferred get a fast prime.

I could have used a fast prime yesterday, but not for my whole day.

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Isola Verde
Isola Verde Veteran Member • Posts: 9,388
Re: Fast primes vs good zooms

Tim Reidy Productions wrote:

The main reason to get a f2 or less prime is to get more light than a zoom lens would.

Wouldn't that cause over-exposure, every time?

so if you run in to situations where more light is preferred get a fast prime.

I could have used a fast prime yesterday, but not for my whole day.

I guess I know what you meant, but...

Peter

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left eye
left eye Senior Member • Posts: 1,859
PL12-60 vs P12-35 f2.8

spike29 wrote:

Could you be so kind to show some examples of your use of the 15mm?

and the counterpart of the zooms like the PL12-60/ oly version or pl12-35?

(it should outrun the lumix zooms in resolving power/resolution but does it the PL-zooms?)

This is comparing the PL12-60 to the P12-35 f2.8, so not a comp with the 15mm prime, anyway these are full res so you can compare as far as the zooms are concerned, may be of some help, though I realise not the comp you are really after...

Sharpness, fully open,

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/60830735

Distortion

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/61779585

Curved plane of focus at infinity

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/60833972

Reach

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/60831815

/

Both are a similar size weight and price.

The PL 12-60 is slightly sharper than the 12-35 at all FL plus has extra reach.

The PL has better microcontrast and colour, the 12-35 has lower overall contrast and often a bluish wash.

The PL 12-60 at the wide end has slightly more distortion (when un-corrected), though even when corrected the corners are slighter sharper than the 12-35.

Both are good options, though the PL12-60 is just a bit better in every way.

For video, the PL 12-60 is parfocal if that is of use and when zooming the aperture shows no flickering. The 12-35 f2.8 to maintain f2.8 has to automatically adjust its aperture - in clicks, I'm not sure if the mk2 solved this. This is actually is why I generally avoid constant aperture zooms - the constant aperture is usually not optical but achieved by automatic aperture adjustment.

/

The 15mm prime will have better uncorrected distortion, other than that has a weight and size advantage. You have to take into account the 60mm reach of the PL12-60mm, if you need that flexibility, and so probably no lens changes, and no other lenses in your bag etc is a big plus. It's really not about IQ, but about FL flexibility against size and weight.

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