Focus on Photography
Photo of the Week "Bodie ghost town home complete with outhouse" by Bob Crum. Photo data: Canon camera, manual mode, Tamron 16-300mm lens @15mm. Exposure; ISO 320, aperture f/.9.5, 1/250sec shutter speed.
Photo of the Week "Bodie ghost town home complete with outhouse" by Bob Crum. Photo data: Canon camera, manual mode, Tamron 16-300mm lens @15mm. Exposure; ISO 320, aperture f/.9.5, 1/250sec shutter speed.
A word about primes
Bob Crum
Bob Crum

I'm delighted. Brenda C, wrote saying: "I did it! I bought the EOS Rebel T8i. However, I did not buy the EF-S 18-55mm IS STM lens because I read that prime lenses are better. So, what prime lens should I consider buying?

First, Brenda, I am so proud of you. With your new camera, you are about to embark on fantabulous photoing adventures.

A lens, often referred to as 'glass', is the most important part of a phonetography kit. And one of the great debates in photography is prime vs. zoom lenses. But generally speaking, the better the glass, the better the photo regardless of the camera is the common refrain. It's mostly true, but as in all things photographic, there are pros and cons to everything. But I digress.

Let's take a look at a couple of comparisons. Combo A: Inexpensive Nikon D3500 ($395 on
Amazon) camera with a $2,500 prime lens. Combo B: $5750.00 Hasselblad camera with a $100 crappy lens. Did you already guess what combo would produce the best photo? Of course, the inexpensive Nikon with a high-quality lens. The cheap lens on the uber high-quality Hasselblad camera will struggle to create quality photos.

Back to primes. It's recognized worldwide by every photographer worth peanut butter that prime lenses are universally superior to zoom lenses in many cases. Prime lenses generally offer wider apertures, shallower depth of field and better bokeh, some for lower cost, perform better in low light, usually sharper optics and less bulky.

Brenda didn't mention what genre of photography she intends to engage in. So I'll use the scatter-gun approach that will apply to all 2,692,585 of my readers. The three prime focal lengths generally recognized for portraiture photoing are 50mm, 85mm, and 135 or 150mm lenses. Two other factors: lens speed and stabilization or not. The faster the speed (aperture opening), the more the lens will cost. If you intend to shoot portraits only, and the camera on a tripod, save money and pass on stabilization.

Now, if you intend to shoot landscapes, consider a wide-angle prime, mid-range primes in the 50 to 100mm focal lengths and a long-range prime in the 100-300mm focal lengths. You can forget a wide-angle prime. I found none in a cursory browse of the Net. However, Sigma produces an 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HS lens, which is as wide as you can go for APS-C Canon DSLRs without going fisheye. For the other lenses, your options are Canon (EF-S) lenses, and lenses from Tamron or Sigma.

I called the camera shop where Brenda bought the camera and they said that they'd sell you the Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS STM lens at a kit price saving you lots of money. Buy it. Shoot with the 18mm-135mm for a couple of months and note what focal length you use most. That's your clue to the focal length of the first prime you might consider buying. Presuming you insist on a prime lens.

All that said, here comes the monkey wrench. Certain prime lenses for particular photography is good. But primes are not always the best lens to use. Every time a lens is changed, the camera's sensor is subject to dust. Just a few just spots in a photo is annoying or means lots of time photo editing them out. Hence, except for a Canon 50-Nifty (50mm), I don't own a prime lens. Regular readers know that I regularly use one lens: Tamron 16-300mm telephoto lens to avoid dust issues. Brenda, unless you're shooting in a studio, I encourage you to reconsider and buy a couple of telephoto zoom lenses. Perhaps zoom lenses discussed next. Stay tuned.

The photo of the week is a home in the Bodie ghost town complete with outhouse!

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