Friday, July 24, 2015

Short Circuting the Zoom vs. Prime Lens Debate

There's a long running debate in photography circles: which is better, zoom lenses or prime lenses? Obviously the zoom, because, well it zooms. But many pros will tell you just how misguided your thinking is if you're in the zoom camp.

And then comes along this video which reshapes the discussion in my mind. I'll post the video below, but the very short version is that a photographer demonstrates shooting the same headshot with different lenses, ranging from a 10mm lens to a 500mm lens. It's a practical experiment that shows the impact of focal length on a photo.

But it struck a more obvious point in me. If you look at a typical zoom lens, it has focal length markings. Here I've set my lens to 100mm:

Which means, if I don't adjust the zoom, for all and intents and purposes, I'm holding a 100mm prime lens. As long as I'm disciplined about setting the focal length and then framing the shot around said focal length, I'm getting many of the key benefits of a prime lens. So obvious. So simple.

I've been trying this photography habit for a few weeks now, and I've found it really does change how I take photos. After all, by selecting a single focal length (say, 100mm) you're left with only one way to a frame a shot: move around. And in many respects, it's this moving around that prime lens lover so praise.

Here, what the video and see if you find it as insightful:


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