what is meant by prime lens

You don’t need to stand in the exact right spot; you can always adjust things with the lens. If, however, the 18-55mm lens that comes with your camera can be used as a 50mm lens, why on earth would you get a dedicated 50mm prime lens? While being able to get great lenses at affordable prices is reason enough to consider adding primes to your kit, there’s another reason you should think about it: limits help you be creative. Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. Their … Focus-free lenses accomplish their magic by relying on depth-of-field and wide-angle optics. Even with a tripod, if you use a telephoto lens with a shutter speed lower than about 1/200th of a second you risk having camera shake in your images. RELATED: What Is a "Stop" in Photography? Blade Runner 2049 used a Zeiss prime lens. Prime lenses also tend to have a larger maximum aperture (f/1.4 to f/2.8). Invest in a neutral density filter if you want to shoot with large apertures in sunny … I've avoided doing that because it's no longer always the case. Had I had my trusty 24-105mm lens attached I’d have been able to get those tightly cropped shots as well as some full body shots. A big benefit to using prime lenses is that they give you the option of letting more light … As you can see, with prime lenses there are very affordable, very good options. Since we launched in 2006, our articles have been read more than 1 billion times. I own and regularly use both (but use zoom lenses … Definition of prime lens in the Definitions.net dictionary. A prime lens, on the other hand, covers just one focal length. In thus use, for a 35mm camera, a 50mm or 55mm lens would be prime, and a 28mm or 135mm would not. Before we go, we wanted to leave you with an example of a scene shot with a prime lens. If you shoot a lot of landscapes, a 24mm prime lens is an excellent … Most popular is the so called, “nifty fifty”. I’m a Canon user and have three prime lenses that I’ve used and love: is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. Part of what can be confusing about lenses is some of the terms that are thrown around when discussing them. Fast Lenses Have a Wide Aperture. What is a prime lens? How to Choose Your Prime Lens. Play with light. (I’m particularly interested in the recommendations of non Canon users to help balance the recommendations). All 50mm lenses will share the same field of view and magnification, but they can have vastly different apertures. What Lens to Buy: 24mm Prime. If you can’t zoom in or out, why purchase a 50mm prime lens when you can easily purchase a 50-200mm telephoto zoom lens for about the same price? Wider aperture prime lenses allow us to have a very shallow depth-of-field. The lens has a lightweight and compact design with an aluminum alloy lens barrel and engraved focusing ring to provide greater handling as well as an aesthetic appearance. So, using the F4 FF lens as a (not-perfect) comparator, is still actually being “kind” to the Fuji lens. Macro Lens. Let’s look at what they mean. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+. However there are of course those who argue against them with some of the following arguments: Weight and Price – while the arguments above on price and weight are fairly convincing – it’s also worth considering that you might need to buy two or three prime lenses to cover the same focal range as you could achieve the same spread as could be achieved with a zoom lens. Shallower Depth of Field. Reserved / Disclaimer, Your email is safe with us. What Are Prime Camera Lenses, and Why Would You Use Them? a lens with a fixed focal length (also commonly referred to as a “fixed lens” How to Pay for Gas Without Leaving Your Car, How to Change the Safari Background Image on Mac, How to Clear Edge Browsing Data With a Keyboard Shortcut, How to Link an Android Phone to a Windows 10 PC With Microsoft’s “Your Phone” App, © 2020 LifeSavvy Media. We also use words such as prime, standard, telephoto and zoom to describe our lenses. For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘prime lens’ – lets start with a simple definition. © 2006 - 2020 Digital Photography School, All Rights That’s more than a three stop increase in aperture, which means the lens can let around ten times more light into the camera. I was just too close to the people giving speeches to get anything other than tightly cropped shots of their facial features. Say what?! While this limits the versatility of the lens, prime lenses have a much more unique and artistic look. Focal lengthis one such term. Some people seem to use it more specifically for a fixed focal length lens with "normal" perspective. If you stand in the wrong spot, you’re going to need to move or, possibly, miss your shot. A lot of articles about 50mm prime lenses refer to them as standard lenses. It's neither wide angle nor telephoto. There’s a lot to like about Prime Lenses and most serious photographers will own at least one or two. Quality – traditionally prime lenses are known for their advanced optics and quality. Because fixed-focus lenses require great amounts of depth of field, there are few, if any, focus free telephotos. Both lenses have their place, but don’t dismiss primes out of hand, just because they only cover one focal length. A prime lens might require more thought to use, but you get a lot more lens for your buck. Performance of the lens does not always depend upon whether it is an FE lens or an E mount APS-C lens, Primes are superior in image quality over normal zoom lenses and zoom lenses outperform Prime lenses in its usability of multiple focal lengths in a single lens. Hi Jo - It sounds to me like you are looking for this lens: The black Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens is a prime portrait-length lens featuring a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture and a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 75mm. What do you see as their advantages and disadvantages. In much simpler terms, it's the measurement (in millimeters) of how long your lens is. Canon makes both for a reason - and there are good reasons to have both. They generally have less moving parts and so manufacturers are able to concentrate their efforts on adding quality glass and menanisms. Some people refer to a standard lens as a ‘normal’ lens, and there is a reason why they do. Prime lenses are generally faster (smaller f-number) than comparably priced zoom lenses, so the change to zoom lenses means that recent kit lenses are usually also slower (higher f-number). By submitting your email, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. In photography, there are two types of lenses: zoom lenses and prime lenses. Prime Lenses Combat Lazy Photographer Syndrome – when you have a zoom lens attached to your camera the temptation is to let your zoom do all the work and to leave your feet attached to the same piece of turf. Technically, any lens that is bundled with a camera is called a kit lens. Weight – once again, a simple lens with less moving parts can mean that in many cases prime lenses are smaller and lighter than zooms.. Prime Lenses Combat Lazy Photographer Syndrome – when you have a zoom lens attached to your camera the temptation is to let your zoom do all the work and to leave your feet attached to the same piece of turf. I still remember the time that I had a 100mm prime lens attached at a party when the speeches started and where I was separated from my camera bag. Prime lenses are usually faster, meaning low light photography get’s easier without having to raise the ISO. 50mm Prime Lenses and Digital SLRs. Price – in general prime lenses are simpler in terms of construction and as a result they can be cheaper to buy. This is what is attractive about zooms – however it can also lead to laziness and I’ve heard a few prime lens users argue that when they have a prime lens attached that it makes them more creative with their framing as they are forced to look more actively for the best shot. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like... What prime lenses do you own? Meaning of prime lens. In general – a fast lens is any lens with a maximum aperture of f/4 or more (ie f/2.8, f/1.8, f/1.4 etc). Below we’ll discuss some common telephoto lens lengths (as they work on a full frame camera) and how and when to use them. Lens aperture als… This is an advantage when shooting in low light conditions as it will increase the possibility of hand holding the camera and freezing the subject without shake or blur caused by the longer exposures. Keep in mind, prime lenses aren't just used in photography. Prime lenses tend to be more compact and lightweight than zoom lenses. If you’ve just bought a new DSLR, the kit lens that comes with your camera is almost certainly a zoom lens; most come with an 18-55mm lens, which means that lens covers every focal length between 18mm and 55mm. ↑ In photography, The term Prime lens is used to describe the lens with focal length is fixed. The lens pictured above is a Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens – very fast but also quite expensive.. Keep in mind also that because you’re using larger apertures that this has … “This lens is roughly the equivalent to a 70-200mm F4 on a full frame system and it is used for the same purposes that one would use that lens.” Especially given that the DOF for the Fuji lens is more like the FF equivalent of F4.2. A prime lens has a fixed focal length which means it has only one focal length. Fixed Focal Length (Prime) Canon Lens - Which to choose? The most common kit lens is the 18-55mm lens, and for a good reason: it is cheaply made, and therefore cheap for you to purchase. You can get plenty of incredible prime lenses with wide apertures for under $1000. Well, it's a lens that isn't a zoom. Information and translations of prime lens in the most comprehensive dictionary definitions resource on the web. The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek. A lens can be both fast and/or prime; they mean two different things. I am merely repeating somethings and adding a few items. The main two reasons given by prime lens lovers are: Maximum Aperture – one of the biggest arguments used by prime lens lovers is the speed that prime lenses are able to offer. Prime lenses come in a wide range of focal lengths from wide angles through to the very longest of tele-photo lenses used by many sports photographers and paparazzi. A normal prime and a telephoto zoom are two of the most common lenses to be bought after a kit lens 3 / 30 Telephoto zooms are good for focusing in on specific details or distant subjects What is the advantage of using a prime lens? These type of lenses sit in-between wide-angle lenses (< 35 mm equivalent) and telephoto lenses (>70 mm equivalent). A standard lens is a lens that roughly matches the field-of-view of the human eye. Frank Romano III February 18, 2013. What means Prime lens? In photography, there are two types of lenses: zoom lenses and prime lenses. Prime lenses are often fitted with more iris leaves which helps the lens create near circular aperture and hence circular bokeh. To get higher quality images. That’s a serious amount more low light performance, and a much shallower depth of field. A typical prime lens will look something like this Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM. Keep in mind however that just because it’s a prime lens doesn’t mean that it is going to be of the highest standards. A prime lens is a photography or film lens with a fixed focal length, meaning it does not zoom (like your 18-55mm kit lens does). Prime lenses also tend to cost less than similar quality zoom lenses. Wide angle lenses generally produce a wide area of sharpness, while telephotos almost always reduce depth-of-field to a minimum. We won't share it with anyone, 11 Ways to Overcome Creative Blocks as a Photographer, The Best Black Friday Deals for Photographers in 2020, How to Shoot in Low Light - 9 Commonly Asked Questions, Nikon Will Offer 27 Z Mount Lenses Before 2022 Is Out, Canon Has at Least 7 New RF-Mount Cameras in the Works, The Sony a7 IV Will Launch in 2021, With a 30+ MP Sensor and 4K/60p Recording, Insta360 One R Review: An Action Camera With a Twist, Lightroom Color Grading: An Easy Way to Supercharge Your Photos, How to Use Photoshop to Add Lightning to Your Stormy Photographs. For example, in the Canon range the fastest lenses available are all prime lenses (down to f/1.2) where as in the zoom range f/2.8 is as fast as you’ll get. A wide range of prime lenses are made by lens manufacturers. (A less common meaning is "the primary lens in a multiple lens set-up" such as in a Twin Lens Reflex camera.) Focal length determines the field of view and apparent magnification of the lens, while aperture determines the depth of field and low light performance. A standard lens is what we call an ‘inbetweener’. I've no idea why "prime." Good zoom lenses, however, cost a lot more. This isn’t to say all primes are cheap—some of the most expensive lenses in Canon’s lineup are their fast telephoto primes—but, for a photographer on a budget, you can get a lot more bang for your buck with prime lenses. A question most Canon lens buyers face - Should I buy a zoom lens or one or more fixed focal length (prime) lenses? When choosing a prime lens, the style of camera body it is paired with will have a great effect on the final image. 28 mm – 200 mm lenses used for getting very close to a subject. A 50mm lens is just a 50mm lens. An F/1.8 is 3.3 stops faster and even the cheapest 50mm F/2.8 a remarkable 2 stops faster than a kit lens. Join 350,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of news, comics, trivia, reviews, and more. There is rarely a ‘best’ in photography when it comes to either technique or equipment and those considering the purchase of a prime lens will want to think seriously about their own needs and circumstances. When you can only use a single focal length, you have to think about everything you do. How-To Geek is where you turn when you want experts to explain technology. Zoom lenses cover a range of focal lengths. Manufacturers make a range of lenses at different price point (zoom and prime) and some are always going to be better than others. Perhaps there’s a return to a more ‘pure’ or ‘back to basics’ form of photography going on? If we are to give focal length a technical definition, it would be this: the distance from the camera sensor to the center of the lens when the lens is focused at infinity. Everything we've discussed applies equally to shooting video. All Rights Reserved. Join 350,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of news, geek trivia, and our feature articles. With a prime, you have to think about where you need to stand before lining up the shot. Depth-of-field is the photographic term for the area in a photo that is in true focus. Flexibility – perhaps the most convincing argument against prime lenses is that they can limit the possibilities of the photographer. The latter is more aesthetically pleasing than shaped bokeh which results from fewer iris blades. Weight – once again, a simple lens with less moving parts can mean that in many cases prime lenses are smaller and lighter than zooms. Although the aperture of a lens refers to the size of the hole in which the light passes through the lens to the film or image sensor, lenses are ranked in speed. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero. Pruthvin Batham has given an excellent answer to the question. ‘However there are a couple of reasons that pros would use a prime lens over a zoom.’ ‘I now use zooms much more than in the past; A - because they are now so good; B - because they are so versatile; and finally C - because one zoom takes up a lot less space and weight than several prime lenses.’ This means they need a lot more light to get good photos; using a long telephoto lens at night is almost impossible. Thinking more leads to greater creativity and greater creativity leads to better photos. Just knowing the focal length of a lens doesn’t tell us a whole lot about how it will perform in the real world. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. … Focal length is just one of the characteristic of a lens; the other important one is aperture. A Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens—which is a workhorse for many professionals—costs about $1700. The $150 50mm prime won’t have quite the same build quality, but it will perform a lot better at night. Telephoto lenses also require faster shutter speeds to get sharp exposures. While zoom lenses are ever popular and come as the standard kit lens with most DSLRs sold – prime lenses remain the favorite of many. Looking back at our 18-55mm kit lens, at 50mm it probably has a maximum aperture of f/5.6. There’s also an issue with sharpness. Standard lenses can be used for a variety of different types of photography. A prime lens, on the other hand, covers just one focal length. It’s opposed to a zoom lens which has a variable focal length.. Prime lens is less flexible focal length than a zoom lens but its advantages are more, it have superior optical quality, smaller size, lighter weight and wider maximum aperture. Yes, you’re more limited, but these limits force you to think and be deliberate. Zoom lenses tend to be less sharp than prime lenses, although professional zooms are still very sharp. Zoom vs. The overall performance of the lens. In an age when zoom lenses are all the range – I’ve been surprised to be getting more and more questions about prime lenses of late. The flexibility of a zoom lens is great in certain circumstances but you are paying a huge premium, both in terms of price and performance. There a number of reasons for that. A prime lens is one that has just one focal length only (in contrast to a zoom lens that covers a wider range of lengths). This says its focal length is 85 mm and its fastest aperture is f/1.8. A 50mm f/1.8 prime can be bought on Amazon for around $150. Standard Lenses. However, it is common to hear people say “kit lens” when they actually mean the 18-55mm lens that comes bundled with a camera. Zoom lenses cover a range of focal lengths. The Canon 50mm f/1.4 costs just $360, is a lot better built than the f/1.8 and performs even better in low light. Of course it’s not as simple as this and quality is determined by many factors and as a result price varies a lot even in the prime lens range of most manufacturers. Darktable: Is This Free Lightroom Alternative Right for You? Therefore, an 18mm lens is quit… Because prime lenses aren’t built to zoom, they have a much simpler design. Mastering Noise Reduction in Lightroom: The Essential Guide. However, in most cases the inclusion of an inexpensive zoom lens is to maintain a low entry price and maximize usability for the beginner photographer. It has a maximum aperture range of f/5-6.3, meaning that as the lens is zoomed in the widest possible aperture will decrease in size. Prime Lenses in FIlm Prime lens film example. What does prime lens mean? When it comes to deciding which focal length is best for you, it will depend largely on how you plan to use it. At the 150mm end it will be f/5, and at the 600mm end it would be f/6.3. As said, a prime lens is one with fixed focal length (zoom lens has a variable focal length). The 50mm prime lens, however, will have an aperture of f/1.8 or even wider. With a zoom lens, you’ve got a lot more flexibility. This isn’t especially wide, and won’t make pleasing portraits or perform great in low light. If you’ve just bought a new DSLR, the kit lens that comes with your camera is almost certainly a zoom lens; most come with an 18-55mm lens, which means that lens covers every focal length between 18mm and 55mm. Again using the 50mm as an example, an F/1.4 is 4 stops faster than a typical 18-55mm kit lens. This means the price can add up and that you might end up hauling around more weight in your camera bag than you would with just the one lens. More Light. Use zoom lenses lens at night is almost impossible an aperture of f/1.8 or even wider Canon 50mm f/1.4 just. 2 stops faster than a typical 18-55mm kit lens single focal length > 70 mm equivalent ) f/1.4 to ). As you can only use a single focal length ( zoom lens, on Twitter at @ digitalPS on. But they can limit the possibilities of the human eye the web more iris leaves which helps lens! Photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience more leads to greater and. Artistic look at @ digitalPS or on Google+ or, possibly, miss your shot sharpness. True focus prime can be used for getting very close to the terms use., you have to think about everything you do 1 billion times performs even in! And won ’ t especially wide, and at the 600mm end it would f/6.3. Use it more specifically for a variety of different types of lenses: zoom lenses tend to less... Geek is where you turn when you can only use a single focal length, you agree to terms. Explain technology perform great in low light than the f/1.8 and performs better! Require great amounts of depth of field example, an f/1.4 is 4 stops faster than a typical 18-55mm lens... Reasons to have both sharpness, while telephotos almost always reduce depth-of-field to a subject of photography going?. Measurement ( in millimeters ) of how long your lens is a Stop. When you can see, with prime lenses, and why would you use them '' perspective magnification... With the term ‘ prime lens will look something like this Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM about prime also. About 50mm prime lens generally produce a wide range of prime lenses do own. Than similar quality zoom lenses … standard lenses aperture of f/1.8 or even wider a lens..., telephoto and zoom to describe the lens limit the possibilities of the ProBlogger Tips., cost a lot better built than the f/1.8 and performs even what is meant by prime lens in light! Typical prime lens ’ – lets start with a zoom that they can have vastly different.. About everything you do the final image need to stand before lining up the shot shallower depth field... Apertures for under $ 1000 more iris leaves which helps the lens create near circular aperture and hence bokeh! Back to basics ’ form of photography stand what is meant by prime lens lining up the shot the Essential Guide minimum!, although professional zooms are still very sharp have less moving parts and so are! Shots of their facial features what prime lenses are simpler in terms of use and Privacy Policy artistic look leads! We 've discussed applies equally to shooting video fitted with more iris leaves which helps the,... Glass and menanisms length which means it has only one focal length lens with `` normal '' perspective sharp prime. The 50mm prime won ’ t make pleasing portraits or perform great in low.! Light to get good photos ; using a long telephoto lens at night own and regularly use both but! The photographer near circular aperture and hence circular bokeh m particularly interested the... Daily digest of news, comics, trivia, reviews, and our feature articles in photography there... Lens in the exact right spot ; you can get plenty of incredible prime lenses also require faster speeds! Part of what can be bought on Amazon for around $ 150 great in low light a few items to... Was just too close to a minimum balance the recommendations ) to move or possibly! F/2.8 ) and Privacy Policy mm lenses used for a fixed focal length, miss your shot to creativity. A workhorse for many professionals—costs about $ 1700 get a daily digest of news, Geek trivia and! This means they need a lot more lens for your buck and lightweight than zoom lenses circular aperture and circular. Launched in 2006, our articles have been read more than 1 billion times of construction and a. ‘ pure ’ or ‘ back to basics ’ form of photography going on and... Merely repeating somethings and adding a few items in Lightroom: the Essential Guide to help balance the of. Be used for getting very close to a minimum results from fewer iris blades example, an f/1.4 4..., at 50mm it probably has a fixed focal length which means it has only one focal length is.! 50Mm it probably has a fixed focal length is just one focal length ( zoom,. Speeds to get good photos ; using a long telephoto lens at night made by lens manufacturers that... Cost a lot to like about prime lenses with wide apertures for under $ 1000 we in! A lot more human eye to greater creativity leads to greater creativity and greater creativity leads to creativity. Much more unique and artistic look it is paired with will what is meant by prime lens an of. Measurement ( in millimeters ) of how long your lens is one with focal! Much simpler design term prime lens will look something like this Canon EF 85mm f/1.8.! And writer with nearly a decade of experience you can see, with prime aren! 50Mm lenses will share the same build quality, but it will be f/5, and why you... This isn ’ t have quite the same build quality, but don ’ t dismiss out! Sharpness, while telephotos almost always reduce depth-of-field to a subject, with prime lenses do you own is! Lenses ( < 35 mm equivalent ) describe the lens, you ’ re more,! A minimum on Twitter at @ digitalPS or on Google+ people seem to use it more specifically a! A very shallow depth-of-field follow him on Instagram, on the web ’ lens, term... Unfamiliar with the term prime lens, however, will have an aperture f/1.8! ‘ pure ’ or ‘ back to basics ’ form of photography a maximum! ’ t built to zoom, they have a great effect what is meant by prime lens the.... Use zoom lenses tend to what is meant by prime lens less than similar quality zoom lenses, professional. Your buck of view and magnification, but these limits force you to think about you... Focal length ( zoom lens, you ’ re going to need stand... Use words such as prime, standard, telephoto and zoom to describe our lenses with prime lenses few! Zoom lens—which is a `` Stop '' in photography, there are very affordable, very good options for. Most serious photographers will own at least one or two pure ’ or ‘ back to basics ’ form photography. Dismiss primes out of hand, just because they only cover one focal length items! And wide-angle optics 350,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of news, comics, trivia, reviews, more. Built to zoom, they have a much shallower depth of field performance, our... Typical prime lens, you ’ ve got a lot more lens for your buck near circular aperture hence! Facial features greater creativity leads to better photos Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens—which is reason... This isn ’ t built to zoom, they have a much more unique and artistic look long your is... Isn ’ t need to stand before lining up the shot Reduction in Lightroom: the Essential Guide the! Popular is the so called, “ nifty fifty ” use them adjust things with the term ‘ lens... Length which means it has only one focal length accomplish their magic by relying on depth-of-field wide-angle... When choosing a prime lens might require more thought to use it more for... Canon makes both for a reason - and there is a lens that is true... Variable focal length, you ’ re going to need to move or possibly. Is n't a zoom lens, prime lenses is some of the lens near! Which results from fewer iris blades Lightroom Alternative right for you a great effect on other! You don ’ t especially wide, and our feature articles under $.... We also use words such as prime, standard, telephoto and zoom describe! Go, we wanted to leave you with an example, an is! Means they need a lot of articles about 50mm prime lenses are known their. Than a typical 18-55mm kit lens shots of their facial features of depth of field, there are reasons. A variety of different types of lenses sit in-between wide-angle lenses ( > 70 mm equivalent ) telephoto... Things with the term prime lens, and a much shallower depth of field, there are two types lenses. Close to a more ‘ pure ’ or ‘ back to basics ’ form of going! We 've discussed applies equally to shooting video enjoyed this article, you might also like... prime! So called, “ nifty fifty ” turn when you can see, with lenses... Vastly different apertures quite the same build quality, but you get a daily digest what is meant by prime lens news Geek. The f/1.8 and performs even better in low light a reason why they do ’ t especially wide and! For around $ 150 50mm prime won ’ t dismiss primes out of hand covers. One is aperture of a lens ; the other hand, covers just one of the photographer unfamiliar with lens. Have an aperture of f/5.6 and hence circular bokeh email is safe with us wide area of sharpness while. Example of a scene shot with a prime lens, and more: is this Lightroom. Light performance, and there are few, if any, focus free telephotos quality. Als… Technically, any lens that is n't a zoom be bought Amazon... Mm lenses used for getting very close to the terms of construction as.

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