Those who know me, know that the majority of the time I will go out with just the one camera and the one lens. A lot of the time, that one lens is the Viltrox 23mm F/1.4, although I have also just been out with the TTArtisan 40mm F/2.8 macro and used it as a prime.
One of the most common things I hear is something like, “you’ll miss more shots using just a prime”. However, I don’t think, when I’ve been out with just a prime lens that I’ve ever thought that.
How do I decided which one lens to take out?
First things first, I decide what I want to shoot, in what style and what focal length. I will also dictate the way I want the compositions, and will not change focal length so I am in full control of what I want to photograph.
I think about where I’m going to go, and what could potentially be there. If I know there’s going to be wildlife, it’s going to be the 50-230mm or 18-135mm, depending on how far I think I will be from them, but generally if it’s an area I roughly know, I can decide on which print to use
The 23mm is equivalent to 35mm on a full frame camera, and it’s the perfect focal length for the majority of photographs. It’s both wide enough and long enough for just about every occasion. It’s also small and light, and has all the benefits that a prime offers.
What happens if I need a different lens?
Sometimes when I’m out with just the 23mm (or just the 15-45mm for that matter), something might happen in the far distance. It’s always something that’s not on my mind that day, as I already know what I want to photograph. However, I can still take a photo of it, and crop in on it if needed. I have no concerns about cropping, of the sharpness off the images my camera and lenses produce.
If I find something that’s extremely wide, no matter what prime I have on, I can simply do a panorama. That not only works, but gives more resolution and even better quality images that using a single zoom lens.
Do you really miss shots with a prime lens?
The honest answer to this is, no you don’t. You’ve made the choice to use a particular focal length, and your brain is usually switched on to how to compose with that lens. In fact, a lot of people prefer prime lenses as they just make you more aware of composition and force you to be a better photographer (as described in this article here).
Are prime lenses for everyone?
Everyone should own at least one prime lens, they are very handy for low light (they usually have much wider apertures) are nice and small, and make you think about what you’re photographing, rather than you just standing there zooming in and out without much thought.
Of course, currently, three of my six lenses are prime lenses, and I absolutely adore them. But, that said, I also enjoy being a bit lazy and using the 18-135mm more and more, although I never feel as creative when using it, but it does get the job done.
There’s no need for you to ever use a prime lens if you don’t want to. You can buy great zoom lenses these days, but there’s no F/1.4 zoom lenses, and it’s all about that aperture. Lovely bokeh, a few more stops light, (generally) sharper image and compact size.
If you’re happy with a zoom, that’s fine, they’re very useful and half my lenses are zooms, but there something very, very different and special about using a prime that a zoom lens just can’t replicate. And when you get the shot, you know it’s going to be a shot that others would have missed with their zoom lenses, as they’re too busy zooming in and out, while you’re zooming, and hunting on your feet.