A prime lens has a fixed focal length. When you start discussing portrait photography, most photographers would probably recommend prime lenses. This includes concerts, events and wedding ceremonies in churches where there is no flash allowed. Modern advances in optical design have made the zoom lenses of today exponentially better than the bad ol’ days, and in many cases there’s little to no sacrifice when using a zoom lens. ... It’s the hidden gem of portrait photographers. Zoom lenses can be better for portraits (not that prime lenses aren't) in the sense that the longer the lens is, the more background blur you get for a particular aperture value. For crop-sensor cameras, you’ll need to apply the crop factor to these focal lengths. They are generally lighter, faster, cheaper, and produce better quality images. There are some excellent 150-600mm options out there, but that’s where it stops. Super telephotos are also rare to find in zoom format. In this paragraph I’d like to talk a bit about zoom vs prime lenses, so you understand which one is better for your purposes. All lenses come in either a prime version or a zoom version. This is an argument that often comes out in the prime vs zoom lens debate but it’s worth remembering that in every manufacturers range that there are some lenses (both zoom and prime) that are known for being exceptionally sharp and there are some that are known as being a little muddy. The below focal lengths reflect a full-frame camera. When it comes to prime vs. zoom lenses, prime lenses win in low light. This can also be achieved using prime lenses with longer focal lengths. So to use it, you have to get closer to a subject by moving physically. So, zoom lenses can help you separate your portrait nicely from the background while keeping most of the portrait in focus. Due to the small maximum aperture and lower quality lens optics, it is often impossible to get good-looking, “creamy” backgrounds with consumer zoom lenses. So in addition to zoom vs prime, you also have 5 subcategories to consider. Prime lenses, on the other hand, are prized by portrait photographers, because they have traditionally been sharper than zoom lenses. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is a great example. Zoom or Prime. A portrait photographed with an 85mm f/1.4 prime lens Many beginner photographers often wonder why they do not seem to be able to get beautifully separated subjects when using their kit zoom lenses. Focal lengths of 800mm and above (with astronomical prices) are exclusively primes. … It’s especially true when photographing in very dark conditions. We clear up the prime vs zoom lens debate! Why 85mm might be the best prime lens for portraits when shooting using an APS-C camera? And this is something that scares some photographers off. This crop factor can be between 1.2 to 2, depending on your camera. Prime lenses; As you may already know a prime lens is the one that has a constant focal length. Having the ability to shoot at f/1.2, 1.4 or even 1.8 is a HUGE difference compared to f/2.8 when limited to using natural light only. And it makes sense – the wider apertures of good primes allow for a shallower depth of field, which can help you add a painterly element to your photos with ease.
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