cjpphotos | Prime Lenses vs Zoom Lenses

Prime Lenses vs Zoom Lenses

June 09, 2017  •  1 Comment

Photography is an expensive endeavor.  There is always that one more piece of equipment we want.  The emphasis on the word want.  My newest want is a long focal length prime lens.


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The two camera lenses I own are zooms:
Canon EF 24-70mm L
Canon EFS 10-18mm


I’ve only ever owned zoom lenses.  I’ve recently begun to consider stepping up to a prime lens.


Without doing much research, I originally looked at the Canon EF 300mm f/4L, because I think I may want to do some close up photography. After a couple of weeks, I decided against the 300mm.  A number of factors went into my decision:
--Many L lenses are white as is the 300mm.  I felt the color was too conspicuous, and I don’t want to draw attention to myself when I’m out with my camera.  Having a white lens could make you a target.

--The cost of this lens is a deterrent.
--The weight is over 2 pounds


So I returned to searching for an alternative.  I wanted to stay in the “L” series.  I already have the 24-70mm L. And I’ve been extremely happy with the quality of photos I get from that lens.  After reading review after review, I think I finally settled on the
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM


At roughly half the price of the 300mm lens it has all the qualities I’m looking for:
The 200mm is not white

The price is a little easier to swallow when and if I eventually pull the trigger.
And it is almost a whole pound lighter.


So why a prime lens instead of another zoom?
--As I stated above, I’ve never owned a prime long focal length lens.
--Prime lenses are known for better image quality over zoom lenses.

--Since prime lenses only have one focal length, they don’t have as many moving parts, thus they allow more light into the lens.  Letting more light in means you have the ability to shoot in lower light situations, such as sunsets and sunrises, one of my favorite events to shoot.
--A prime lens will have you walk around more to find the shot you are looking for since it does have just one focal length.  Thus perhaps teaching you a bit more about composing the so called "perfect shot" in your reportoir.


Taking all these factors into consideration is what led me to covet a prime lens.  And why 200mm?  I once owned 70-200mm lens and found when I used it, I primarily shot at 200mm.  And I do want to start shooting long distance subjects again.  I love my "L" lenses, as I've owned several in the past.  I now have one, the 24-70mm L.  I've been impressed with the image quality that the professional "L" lenses produce and this 200mm L will not break the bank like some other "L" lenses will.


Let me just say as of this column, I don’t yet have this lens.  It’s a want.  Not a need.  But it’s more within reach then the 300mm lens.


What's on your photography wish list?


In the meantime:
Focus on what's ahead of you.



The best lens is a fixed 50mm. It is what Alfred Hitchcock used mostly for he said it most closely matches what the human eye sees. I through away my ridiculous 28 mm lens long ago and only shoot with a 50mm fixed and 135mm fixed lens. Zoom lenses are too lazy and weak for me. Those recent BLOCK ISLAND ferry photos I posted recently on FB were all shot with the 50mm and 135mm lenses.
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