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Prime Lenses  
User currently offlineSovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2614 posts, RR: 17
Posted (6 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3736 times:
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Every once in a while while browsing photos I come across images which list the equipment as 300mm, 400mm, 500mm, etc.. prime lenses. Are these really worth it? As far as I can see the only advantage is that they are faster. But on the other hand you lose all versatility and there is only some narrow margin in which you can shoot photos(when the aircraft is far away), otherwise you will cut off parts of the aircraft. For example there are three 400mm prime lenses which are F5.6, F4 and F2.8. You get F5.6 on a 100-400 as well so why limit yourself to only 400mm? The F2.8 is more than $6000!! Sure it's faster but it has no zooming capability and for $6000 that is very limited use. I guess I don't understand what attracts people to buy long prime lenses, to me being able to zoom in and out is very important and many shots are not possible without it. Anyone care to explain?

24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineClickhappy From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 9635 posts, RR: 68
Reply 1, posted (6 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3730 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER

If you have ever shot with a prime lens you know the difference.

Comparing a 100-400 f/5.6 to a 400mm f/2.8 would be like comparing ground beef to a nice ribeye.

Zoom lenses are a compromise. The quality of glass and element layout of a hyper prime is what makes the difference, not just the aperture.


User currently offlineDehowie From Australia, joined Feb 2004, 1060 posts, RR: 33
Reply 2, posted (6 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3729 times:

Well i own a 300/2.8 500F4 and 600 f4 and all are truly amazing lenses.
There ability to resolve detail is sofar ahead of a zoom as to be like comparing a VW Beetle anda Ferrari F4. The zoom buys you flexibility the prime buys you the best money can buy in detail colors and reach.
At many airports the reach comes in handy and when not it buys you a crop no one else can match for detail.
I find it very hard to use the old 100-400 these days as once you have used the best money and technology can buy its hard to go back.



2EOS1DX,EF14.2.8LII,17TS,85/1.2,16-35L,24-70LII,24L,70-200F2.8LII,100-400,300/400/500/800L
User currently offlineMaiznblu_757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 5112 posts, RR: 50
Reply 3, posted (6 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3717 times:

I'd take a prime over a zoom any day of the week for IQ, although I have both for different situations. Place the zoom on one body and the fixed focal length lens on the other and you have flexibility.


As much hype as the 70-200mm F/2.8 L gets, its got nothing on the 200mm F/2.8 L as far is IQ goes.

[Edited 2008-09-29 09:33:39]

User currently offlineTimdeGroot From Netherlands, joined Apr 2002, 3674 posts, RR: 64
Reply 4, posted (6 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3699 times:
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As far as quality is concerned, no comparison. The fixed lenght is a tradeoff though and not useful in all situations.

I have the 300 2.8 and the quality over the 100-400 did it for me + the ability to couple it with extenders and get some more range.

Downside is that it's bulky although not as bad as the larger primes. When shooting airside I dont bring it as it attracts far too much attention.

Tim



Alderman Exit
User currently offlineDABZF From Germany, joined Mar 2004, 1201 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (6 years 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3693 times:



Quoting Sovietjet (Thread starter):
Anyone care to explain?

Quality, quality, quality...

Quoting Maiznblu_757 (Reply 3):
As much hype as the 70-200mm F/2.8 L gets, its got nothing on the 200mm F/2.8 L as far is IQ goes.

I love my 70-200 F2.8 Nikkor to death... or did until I recently got a change to try out a 200mm and 400mm Nikkor primes (both F2.8)... WOW... the difference in quality is just amazing.

I will never be able to afford such a lens... so I will stick with the zooms.  crying 



I like driving backwards in the fog cause it doesn't remind me of anything - Chris Cornell
User currently offlineDlowwa From Canada, joined Apr 2005, 7328 posts, RR: 30
Reply 6, posted (6 years 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3678 times:

Don't forget the wider end of the range for primes! When getting down to the wider end of things, besides IQ, the size of primes is actually a strong point, especially when traveling. Both of these were taken with tiny little pancake primes, 40mm and 21mm, respectively.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Dana Low




View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Dana Low



A lot easier to inconspicuously pull out a dSLR when in flight to shoot out the window when it looks like this...



...than when it looks like this!


 Wink

Dana


User currently offlineRuudb From Netherlands, joined Jun 2005, 164 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (6 years 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3651 times:

I started some time ago to use primes too and now I would love to have only primes, you miss the universal zoom only in some cases, but taking pictures of moving object, you really won't!
Primes are really much better than you would think before you've used them! And the good thing is you can't zoom, and can concentrate on a few shots!


User currently offlineEksath From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1309 posts, RR: 25
Reply 8, posted (6 years 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3592 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
ARTICLE EDITOR



Quoting Maiznblu_757 (Reply 3):
I'd take a prime over a zoom any day of the week for IQ,

Agreed. Primes are worth the money.


Size DOES matter.



World Wide Aerospace Photography
User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4820 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (6 years 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3546 times:
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I don't own a prime, nor have I shot with one but I can say I can tell the difference just by browsing the database! Such clarity!  drool 


ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlineCpd From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 4879 posts, RR: 38
Reply 10, posted (6 years 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3539 times:

I have used both prime (300mm) and super-zoom (50-500mm).

You see the difference with the prime immediately. The 50-500 is consistently less sharp, and it is very obvious. They are worth the money.

They also force you to think about framing your shot a bit better, because you don't have the versatility of clicking off 10 or so shots of the one subject.

Quoting DABZF (Reply 5):

I love my 70-200 F2.8 Nikkor to death... or did until I recently got a change to try out a 200mm and 400mm Nikkor primes (both F2.8)... WOW... the difference in quality is just amazing

The 200 is the F/2.0 - amazing lens if you can get it. The 400 is impressive too. My 300 is one of the older series - (non AF-S) but I love it to death. It really does the job.


User currently offlineTopGun3 From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 263 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (6 years 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3526 times:

Primes are definitely the way to go if you are after quality of photos. One of the first lenses that I have purchased when I got into spotting was a 300mm F2.8 prime....at first I wasn't sure if I got the right lens for the job because everyone was shooting with the customary 70-200mm or 100-400mm glass. Well, I got myself 80-200mm f2.8 as well, and I use it a lot too, but I have definitely started appreciating more and more of some of my shots that I make with the 300mm. Since then I have also purchased 50mm and 16mm fisheye primes.

I would sell any of my other zoom lenses, but none of my primes (only to maybe buy a newer model).

Just my 2 cents worth.



I'd rather be flying.
User currently offlineBuyantUkhaa From Mongolia, joined May 2004, 2900 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (6 years 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3526 times:



Quoting Maiznblu_757 (Reply 3):

As much hype as the 70-200mm F/2.8 L gets, its got nothing on the 200mm F/2.8 L as far is IQ goes.

Are you talking Canon or Nikon? Because I have the Canon 70-200F4L IS and it is incredibly sharp. Although prime lenses generally have far better IQ than zoom lenses, of course.



I scratch my head, therefore I am.
User currently offlineDABZF From Germany, joined Mar 2004, 1201 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (6 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3489 times:



Quoting Cpd (Reply 10):
The 200 is the F/2.0

Oh yes... the 200mm is actually f/2.0 and not f/2.8... anyway, like said it's superbly better than the already great 70-200mm f/2.8

Quoting BuyantUkhaa (Reply 12):
Are you talking Canon or Nikon?

Please don't start another C vs N war  grumpy 

I believe in this case it doesn't matter if you talk about Canon or Nikkor - the difference between the same manufacturers zoom or prime will always be there.



I like driving backwards in the fog cause it doesn't remind me of anything - Chris Cornell
User currently offlineMaiznblu_757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 5112 posts, RR: 50
Reply 14, posted (6 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3469 times:



Quoting BuyantUkhaa (Reply 12):
Are you talking Canon or Nikon?

"L" should have been a good clue as to what I was talking about.

Quoting Cpd (Reply 10):
The 200 is the F/2.0

Not the lens I was talking about... It's F/2.8


User currently offlineAKE0404AR From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2535 posts, RR: 46
Reply 15, posted (6 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3450 times:

Quoting Sovietjet (Thread starter):
I don't understand what attracts people to buy long prime lenses

lens envy.....  

Quoting Sovietjet (Thread starter):
I don't understand what attracts people to buy long prime lenses

Borrow one, go out shooting, look at the results => then you know why people spend a good amount of money.

I thought my 70-200f2.8 L IS was sharp, but when comparing it to the 600f4, the images taken with the 70-200 looked like a piece of junk.

I have been shooting with prime lenses for the last 5 years and will never ever go back!

Even though you limit yourself to a certain focal length, you got to plan ahead or choose plan B if you are too close to get a full frame shot of the subject.


Vasco

[Edited 2008-09-30 09:18:46]

User currently offlineSluger020889 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 456 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (6 years 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3419 times:



Quoting AKE0404AR (Reply 15):
Borrow one, go out shooting, look at the results => then you know why people spend a good amount of money.

I agree. I spent a weekend shooting with a good buddy of mine last year and the results from his 400 5.6 pretty much convinced me to sell my 80-400 for a 300 f4 in about 30 minutes. The difference is night and day.

Of course people are worried about missing a shot because of the lack of versatility with a prime, but the way i see it, where you lack versatility you posses the ability and quality to be more creative with your shots.

Joey



I would love to fly a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong!
User currently offlineBuyantUkhaa From Mongolia, joined May 2004, 2900 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (6 years 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 3361 times:



Quoting Maiznblu_757 (Reply 14):
"L" should have been a good clue as to what I was talking about.

It was - I missed it. Still I wonder if the difference between the 70-200F4L IS and a 200 prime is that big. If it is, well, time to start saving again...



I scratch my head, therefore I am.
User currently offlineSkidmarks From UK - England, joined Dec 2004, 7121 posts, RR: 55
Reply 18, posted (6 years 15 hours ago) and read 3321 times:

Prime lenses are the best, no doubt about that. But, for versatility, a zoom is the only option unless you are in a position where time and locaion are not a problem.

If you can move around your subject for the best point to shoot, f you have an unobstructed view and maybe a slave to carry your gear, then prime lenses all the way. Oh, and did I mention a very healthy bank balance! Big grin

On the other hand, if you are a spotter with a limited budget, heaps of enthusiasm and limited access/shooting options, then a zoom is a must. This category, I believe, encompasses the bulk of photogs on A.net. And the pictures still get accepted, are still damn good and comprise a large bulk of the DB I would imagine. Which, lets face it, is what A.net is all about.

I am currently about to open negotiations with my accountant (aka the wife) to buy a prime lens. Sadly, it will not be a 200/300/400 but a lowly 60/105 Macro with which I hope to expand my photography skills (such as they are). The chances of geting, like so manyof us, a long lens for a small mortgage is fairly remote.

Andy  old 



Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional
User currently offlineSoon7x7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (5 years 12 months 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3222 times:

This thread could not have come at a better time...I currently have a 300 2.8 and a 600 f4. I've been struggling with the nikon 200-400 trade off as flexibility is key...however, that 300 2.8 can't be beat. I've also got the 70-200 2.8 with a 1.4 extdr. In reading replies on prime optics...think I'm convinced...I'll keep the heavy artillary. When you hold these lenses in your hand you can't help but appreciate the quality of the lense itself and the images they yield. Currently I shoot with a prime set up and a zoom set up simultaneously...that way I keep flexibility close at hand...the $$$ should always be placed into the glass...

Does anyone know if a 1.4 xtndr exists for Nikon 300,2.8 AF/ED. for use on digital bodies?...j


User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 20, posted (5 years 12 months 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3218 times:

I've been eyeing up primes for a few months now. I already have the 70-200 F4 L and the 28-105 F3.5-4.5 USM II, and am about to expand my horizons with the 100-400 L (next week). Now for what I do zooms are pretty essential and, let's face it, the high-end ones do produce fantastic results. I'm aware primes present better quality but how expensive do you have to go to see the difference? Would a prime at £250 ($500) - £350 ($700) for my Canon give better results than my L zooms or would the primes have to be Ls themselves to match the quality?

Cheers,

Karl


User currently offlineSoon7x7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (5 years 12 months 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 3211 times:



Quoting Skidmarks (Reply 18):

For what its worth...When I purchased my Nikon 600mm, it was used,...Hardly...but in perfect condition and still is...but I paid $5,000 US for it. My Nikon 300mm 2.8 was $3,200.00 used. In mint condition...still is...Now with the introduction of VR technology, the masses are switching over to the new tech toys...this is driving down the price of ultra high end prime lenses. Currently you can buy a Nikon 600, m/f for about $1,000.00. Give or take a few hundred depending on condition. The Nikon 300 2.8...same thing...anyware from $650.00-$1,800.00. These lenses come with hard shell cases and all the other goodies. These are incredibally good optical pieces of equipment that will stand the test of time...unlike the fragile NEW stuff...Another point is on the 600mm...MANUAL focus...this lens to me is more advantageous as it makes a great sunrise/sunset lens...With lens flare fooling the autofocus mechanism...in these conditions, I have found that I must set focus to manual anyway...so the M/F 600mm is a good score. It offers VERY GOOD focus track, MANUALLY...even as aircraft is coming towards you. The 300 doesn't do this...you have to have A/F. Point is...Ebay offers fantastic deals on HIGH END optics...It's worth the $$$..j


User currently offlineSovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2614 posts, RR: 17
Reply 22, posted (5 years 12 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3172 times:
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Thanks everyone for the replies. I'm going to have to see if I can borrow someone's prime lens to try it out. Too bad they cost so much, I would love to get a 400mm f2.8...

User currently offlineLOCsta From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 306 posts, RR: 8
Reply 23, posted (5 years 12 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 3152 times:
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Prime's are great. Take a bit of getting used to, especially the weight on the larger ones. The 400f.28 is almost 12lbs!


Missed 4 chasing 1
User currently offline600mmf4 From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 12 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (5 years 12 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3087 times:

Hi all,
yep,really no doubt about it,a prime is really stunning in qual.!
My too primes-AF Nikkor 85mm 1:1,4D and AF-S Nikkor 400mm f2,8 IF-ED II-,the supertele even with 1,7 or 2x extender,performs so great,just dont want to miss them!
Greetings
Achim Stemmer


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