Do You Primarily Shoot with Zoom or Prime Lenses?

Do You Primarily Shoot with Zoom or Prime Lenses?


Canon-Ef-50Mm-Lens-1Canon-Ef-24-105Mm-Lens-1Time for another dPS poll. This one is for DSLR users (which is the vast majority of our readers) and revolves around the type of lenses being used in our community.

Do You Primarily Shoot with Zoom or Prime Lenses?

A quick recap for those not familiar with prime lenses – in short they’re a fixed focal length lens. Of course a zoom lens is one which you can…. well…. zoom. It is generally named with the range of its zoom.

For me – my primary lens is a zoom lens (24-105mm Canon) and the second most used lens in my bag is a prime lens – a 50mm f1.4 Canon lens (both are pictured above).

So which do you primarily shoot with?

Do You Primarily Shoot with Zoom or Prime Lenses?

View Results

In comments feel free to expand on your answer and tell us about the most common lens that can be found on your DSLR.

Further Reading from the dPS Archives: Prime vs Zoom lenses – which are best?

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • steve June 21, 2013 08:22 am

    i useually use a voom my shots feel better if i voom in from a distance unless its still life

  • Celebratographer March 30, 2012 05:57 am

    Workhorse: 18-135 f/3.5-5.6, next is 120-400 f/4.5-5.6, lastly: 50 f/1.4 I do lots of candids, some landscape & flowers/butterflies and a few portraits. Next up: 11-17 and 80 (or so) macro

  • DM February 14, 2012 06:15 am

    I use a Nikon D40, D3100 and D90. I carry too many lenses and end up using just one or two.

    My carry around lens is either an 18-70 or 18-105 and my primes are a 50mm F 1.8 and 35 mm F1.8 (both are, thanjfully, auto-focusing). I love the 50mm and if I have planned an outing, that is the lens I mount. The images are crisp and vivid and I do have to plan and compose the picture rather than simply "framing" it. That aspect has made me a better shooter. While the zooms are convenient, the primes are the meat and potatoes!

  • Brandon January 23, 2012 02:17 pm

    I'd shoot zooms only pretty much. I use friend's 50mm's but I usually just use EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 and the 70-200mm f/4L IS

  • kyrin September 14, 2011 09:33 pm

    It seems that everyone is loving their wide to tele zooms, Perhaps they don't notice the distortion caused naturally by the fact that these lenses vary so much in focal length. I usually use my 18-55 3.5-5.6 and my 55-200 4-5.6 and the 50mm for low light

  • Peter September 1, 2011 07:14 pm

    So 20% answered "About half/half " to a question "Do You PRIMARILY Shoot with..." !

  • Ken Stern August 12, 2011 03:15 am

    Prime vs zoom --- IT ALL DEPENDS!!!!!! (My favorite answer to almost all Photography questions)
    Well for me at least it all starts & probably ends with format --- My 6 Canon lenses (5 primes & one zoom) were purchased when I shot film (EOS3) -- I'm one very stubborn individual -- I stopped shooting film when I could no longer afford it & was totally fed-up with fighting with Air Port Security regarding hand inspection vs X rays --- So my 1st & only D-Shooter (5D MkII) had to be a full frame. On the other hand If I had started with a sub-frame digital then I'm real sure the majority of my glass would be zooms --- Canon Lenses currently used:
    24-1.4II L; 35-1.4L; 50-1.4; 85-1.8; 135-2.0 L & 100-400 IS L

  • Adrian McTiernan March 8, 2011 08:12 pm

    The question is an interesting one, and the answer has varied widely over the years. I could only afford the lens which came with the camera when I was young, so it would usually be a standard 50mm.

    However, in the 60's, I became keen on wide angle shots, and looked more towards 35mm as my main lens.

    Later, with digital coming in, the standard kit lens was a zoom, and I love that I can experiment in a shot, by moving in and out to a subject, and by zooming, emphasise it's scale, size, exaggerate it's perspective, and get into a close shot, the whole of a huge structure in one or two shots.

    I love also, to use a long zoom to do portraits, candid and further away, which capture an individual unexpectedly in ungarded moments - I find that people generally are happier, more smiling, and themselves when they are not being concious of being on camera.

    Most recently, I have become very interested in capturing scenic views, and find that when I use a very wide lens, I miss a lot off, trimming top and bottom, so I use say a 28mm lens on an APS sized sensor, camera in portrait or upright orientation, and take say 10 shots of a scene moving left to right, so that I can then combine all of a 180 degree image on one picture, and not lose any due to trimming. It allows me, with a simple - ish lens, to create a much bigger picture of the equvalent of perhaps 60-100 megapixel's worth of information, and cover the whole of a scene, and of course, it is cheaper than buying a medium-format digital costing perhaps £25,000.

    Right now, I am experimenting with 50mm standard film camera lenses, and have some really good results - they are some of the best lenses in any range, at a resonable price, and as you need a lot of shots to make an adequate coverage of a scene, you end up with huge and marvellously detailed images.

    Recently, however, I bit the bullet, and purchased a Carl Zeiss 50mm planar second hand, and am hoping to get some really all-over sharp images - although it cost about £130 second hand, it is cheaper than paying £800 new. It is manual focus, and I set the aperture manually. This means that all the shots in the group have the same exposure, and makes getting a well-balanced wide picture much easier to obtain.

    So, presently, my most used is the standard, non-zoom lens, though I would guess the variety of lenses choice is the most likely choice

  • liviu September 28, 2010 01:50 am

    For the moment I only use the kit lens 18-105MM f/3.5-5.6G VR of my D90 and although the VR is quite ok, I am frequently crying for a lower f. So I am planning for the Nikkor 35mm F1.8G. Hopefully it will happen next week :-).
    I have also used a borrowed 28-200 Sigma, when I traveled to Rome, so only zoom so far.

  • kirpi September 23, 2010 02:41 pm

    @lina Prime lenses are amazingly cheap when compared to zoom lenses. Also, the good news is that you will find very good deals on the second-hand market.

  • Lina September 23, 2010 03:57 am

    I only have a zoom lens for now... I need to start saving money so that I can buy a prime lens =)

  • Gene Duprey September 19, 2010 11:28 am

    Almost all of my lenses are prime lenses. I own only one zoom, a 80 to 200 Vario Elmar R lens. My favorite, most used lenses are my 90/2.8, 180/3.4 APO, 560 Telyt, 21/2.8, 24/2.8 lenses.

  • Charlie Young September 19, 2010 06:54 am

    I don't currently own a prime lens. I used prime lenses years ago when digital wasn't around. Early zoom lenses weren't corrected very well and were to be avoided. Things have since changed (thank heaven). My everyday go-to workhorse zoom is a 28/105mm made bt Sigma.

  • Peter September 18, 2010 07:24 am

    I said both but prefer primes - until I get richer.

    I've shot with primes on an SLR and when I began to DSLR it was A Nikon D40 w/ the 18-55mm kit lens and a Tamaron 18-200mm. One day I missed a shot of kids reacting to one of those street performers that are painted all silver and act like a robot. I did get photos of the scene but realized I'd missed the angle because I just stood there and zoomed in and out. It should have been from a kid's point of view, not mine.

    After that I was saving for a 85mm but my kit was stolen.

    Luckily I was able to get a Canon 40 with a 50mm 1.8 mk I. Love it and am going back to primes...or so I thought.

    I tried a friend's 55 - 200mm L (no IS) last week - WOW! L zooms seem just as sharp as EF primes! Now I'm lusting after that and a 24-70mm.

    I think with today's technology you really can't go wrong with either IQ-wise. I just have to remember to move every now and then.

  • Joe Deal September 18, 2010 06:08 am

    Zoom when I'm just carrying the camera with nothing to do. Fixed when I'm serious about taking pictures.

  • Man In Black AZ September 18, 2010 01:00 am

    I am old school started with 4x5 and fixed lens. Today using Canon 40D with Tamron 18-270mm f3.5-6.3 zoom on camera. Use zoom at fixed position to get coverage I am looking for from angle/position that illumination provides. Second lens in travel bag is Canon 10-22 f3.5-4.5 zoom for wide coverage. Third is Canon 50mm f 1.8 and Have a B+W Macro +10 filter for real close-ups. The result is 10 mm to 270 mm coverage. The nice part of the 270 mm is in 35mm hard it is equal to 439 mm. I also have the Canon 70-200 mm f2.8 plus 2x extender or 400 mm. The 40D with the Tamron and my normal set-up weights less then the Canon 70-200 lens. Big Canon only come out for sports with mono pod or tripod. The G-11 is on my hip all the time even if 40D is in my hand. I look forward to the 60D and G-12 as a holiday self gift when they are in store.

  • jim September 18, 2010 12:51 am

    I will always mount my 85mm when taking portraits. It does beat the 50mm for bokeh...when all else is equal at 1.4 I use primes at 20, 28 and 35mm for panorama work. My 50mm only gets used when I need the 1.4 aperture in low light.

    The rest of the time, I'm either with the 14-24 or 24-70. Rarely, I'll mount the 80-400, but with a full-frame sensor that also can be quite a good portrait/street lens.

  • Jeff September 14, 2010 02:25 am

    I'm loving my Tamron 18-250 lens. I only swap to primes when I need the extra speed.

  • Harley September 13, 2010 10:24 pm

    My walk about lens is the Canon 24-105mmL and my secondary lens is the 50mm f1.8. Love both of them, but want to add the 70-200mmL next for those times when you need to reach out and touch someone.

  • Patrick September 13, 2010 04:07 am

    Really depends on the light & room (the light & physical space) situation for me. Nothing beats that 50mm bokeh & aperture in a portrait. But for a wedding ceremony I like to have a zoom. Great for getting candid shots, close up's of the couple during the ceremony, etc. If there's room for me to move around a lot, I might keep the prime on...

  • Jake Markland September 13, 2010 02:55 am

    i used to always shoot with just a prime lens being my canon 1.8 because i shoot 90% portraits. but i went through about a 3 week period where i was shoot all nighttime long exposure landscapes and cityscapes. and so with those i had to grab my wide lens out and so now i find my self shoot a ton of my portraits at the wide end of my lens's. using the distortion to my advantage. i loooove it. so for now im shooting with a zoom.

  • Pat September 13, 2010 12:39 am

    All I can say with prime lenses is "Bokehlicious". Color, sharpness, and speed, simply amazing. :)

  • zach September 11, 2010 02:47 am

    I progressed from a 18-200 tamron (sucked hardcore), to a 105 f2.8 macro nikkor (and got some great shots with it, but too narrow), then bought the 50 f1.4D, which stayed on my camera until I got the 24-70 f2.8, which, unless I'm going for low weight, will stay there. I know that primes make you a better shooter, that's why i only shot primes for almost a year, but i need the flexibility because i shoot in small rooms a lot. And, with the prime experience, i think I learned the lessons I needed to learn that way, and can translate them into my 24-70 (god that is an awesome lens)

  • zach September 11, 2010 02:42 am

    I progressed from a 18-200 tamron (sucked hardcore), to a 105 f2.8 macro nikkor (and got some great shots with it, but too narrow), then bought the 50 f1.4D, which stayed on my camera until I got the 24-70 f2.8, which, unless I'm going for low weight, will stay there. I know that primes make you a better shooter, that's why i only shot primes for almost a year, but i need the flexibility because i shoot in small rooms a lot. And, with the prime experience, i think I learned the lessons I needed to learn that way, and can translate them into my 24-70 (god that is an awesome lens)

  • zach September 11, 2010 02:41 am

    I progressed from a 18-200 tamron (sucked hardcore), to a 105 f2.8 macro nikkor (and got some great shots with it, but too narrow), then bought the 50 f1.4D, which stayed on my camera until I got the 24-70 f2.8, which, unless I'm going for low weight, will stay there. I know that primes make you a better shooter, that's why i only shot primes for almost a year, but i need the flexibility because i shoot in small rooms a lot. And, with the prime experience, i think I learned the lessons I needed to learn that way, and can translate them into my 24-70 (god that is an awesome lens)

  • jyu September 10, 2010 01:07 am

    [eimg url='' title='optimus_prime.jpg']

    (seriously tho, I spend almost all of my time with a prime lens)

  • Robert September 9, 2010 01:16 pm

    Seem to be favouring my 85L II on 5DMkII lately. Though for travel or outdoors I prefer my 24-105L.

  • Kent September 9, 2010 09:08 am

    When I started this crazy hobby/passion/business, I was a zoom freak...zoom this and zoom that...then a prime lens fell into my bag from the great photo elves in the sky. Suddenly, I found myself a prime freak...the sharpness, the openness, the macro possibilities were endless. I now find myself satisfied in the fact that no lens does it all (that's why they make so freaking many different kinds, I suppose) and I'm shooting about half of my shots with a prime and half with a zoom needed for the specific circumstance. I do have to admit, my walk around lens is a 50mm prime, f1.4...there is adventure in letting my feet do the zooming!

  • Marco Correa September 9, 2010 07:05 am

    Sold my 24-70L, for now only using 35L and 135L on 5DMKII, love it!

  • Xavier Riom September 9, 2010 05:56 am

    Actually, it depends on what I'm shooting. For sports, I've got a telezoom, for landscape it's a wide zoom and otherwise it's a 50mm prime.

  • Dan September 9, 2010 04:10 am

    I don't own any prime lenses yet, so...I shoot only with zooms. I have my kit 14-42mm and 40-150mm, and then a 70-300mm, on an Olympus 4/3 body. At some point I hope to get a macro prime, although I do like that the 300mm gives macro magnification (at a tradeoff of requiring tiny apertures to have any chance of a clear photo) so I don't have to worry about scaring things like butterflies or dragonflies.

  • Terry Straehley September 9, 2010 02:59 am

    Before my 5DMkII, when I had only a 20D, I used mainly my 24 -105, then my 17-40, then the 70-200.
    With the 5D, the 24-105 is on it most of the time. I still have the 20D and mainly use the 70-200 some times with 1.4 extender on it. The 17-40 is rarely needed.

  • John Nadrowski September 8, 2010 04:41 pm

    My Tamron 18 - 270 has upped my game to the Max! It is the Best lens for my purposes! I mainly shoot Drum & Bugle Corps!

  • Martin Soler September 8, 2010 07:40 am

    Just got the Canon 5D M2. With kit lens 24-105 F4. Wow it's the best zoom lens I have ever used. Shot this panorama with it.
    The depth of field is amazing on this lens.
    Then I have a 50mm f1.8 lens as well. Currently that's all in my bag.

  • April September 8, 2010 07:09 am

    Most of the time I have my 18-55 lens on because I can get wider shots. For special shots, though, I love using my "nifty 50" (50mm f/1.8).

  • B September 8, 2010 03:46 am

    Since all consumer DSLR kits come with a zoom lens, this is a pretty obvious one; zoom/half and half is going to vastly outnumber the portion of people who have made the concerted effort to shoot with primarly primes. Not sure why this is even a poll, it's pretty obvious.

  • Calos "Bawawa" September 8, 2010 02:17 am

    At the moment I only use zoom lenses, but have already ordered my 1st 50mm canon prime lens can´t wait for it to arrive, used one when I took a photo workshop, and loved it, now the time has come and think I´m going to use it alot.

  • Hezekiah September 7, 2010 11:10 pm

    Well, I recently just purchased my first DLSR, the Canon EOS Rebel XS, So I would say Prime for now. But Soon, It shall be half/half. :D

  • goreshi September 7, 2010 10:55 pm

    I use 50 f/1.8 a lot these days, because the camera (canon 1000d) and the speedlight (nissin di622) is already heavy for me...**suffered a stiff neck for carrying the camera bag for two days....**.....but if I really need to use the 55-250 mm...that's the time I have to bring them with me....I also bring 18-55mm if I need to do wide shots...

  • gregor September 7, 2010 08:34 pm

    I switch between my Canon 15-85mm and my nifty 50mm, it's only the f1:8 version but I love it, it always amazes me on sharpness and the beautiful bokeh you can get, but my 15-85 is a great walk about lens, I mainly use it at it's wider settings. I would buy more primes if I could afford them, but on a budget versatility is a great advantage.

    Indoors with low light and getting rid of distracting backgrounds, I use the 50mm, outdoors beautiful scenery popped on a tripod the 15-85mmm every time.

  • Julie Fox September 7, 2010 06:09 pm

    I use the Cannon 18-270mm lens for action shots, such as sport or distance shots of bands at festivals. The Cannon 50mm is used for bands at venues with low lighting and no flash.

  • Tomas Sobek September 7, 2010 06:02 pm

    About half-half Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR and Nikon 50mm f/1.8.

  • Carlos September 7, 2010 03:10 pm

    I simply LOVE The sharpness, speed and bokeh of nikkor 85mm F1.4. So i keep it attached almost all the time to either my D3 or D300.

  • Karl September 7, 2010 02:37 pm

    As always, it depends on what you're shooting. For situations where getting the shot is more important & the environment you're shooting in requires a high deal of flexibility & responsiveness (such as shooting models on a runway), zoom wins every time.

    For something where you have the time to compose & set up your shots (eg macro, landscape, portraits), prime has the upper hand for the extra quality of top primes like the 85L.

    For everything in the middle, it depends on your comfort level and what your personal preference is - for me, I prefer primes - for example, at weddings, I'll generally have either the 24L or 35L on one body, the 85L or 135L on another (depending on the location etc) & I'll be set. Others don't like working that way & prefer having a zoom. These days, it doesn't really matter too much anyway...

  • Texastanya September 7, 2010 01:09 pm

    The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L is almost always on my camera. I occasionally use the 70-200mm f/2.8L. It’s heavy but it takes great photos. I also have a nifty fifty f/1.8 that I haven’t used in a while.
    Maybe I’ll challenge myself to using it for a while…

  • Texastanya September 7, 2010 01:06 pm

    The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L is almost always on my camera. I occasionally use the 70-200mm f/2.8L. It's heavy but it takes great photos. I also have a nifty fifty f/1.8 that I haven't used in a while.
    Maybe I'll challenge myself to using it for a while...

  • Liz September 7, 2010 12:18 pm

    I shoot solely with Nikon prime lenses. They force me to be more creative by me physically composing the shots rather than letting a zoom do so, and they are quicker and sharper.

  • Anne September 7, 2010 07:46 am

    I use my 50mm f1.8 almost exclusively, as I only have a sigma zoom lens which doesn't perform well in low light conditions because of the aperture restrictions. And because the 50mm lens just gives me such awesome quality, I don't want to take it off. I am however saving up for a zoom lens (my dream is the 70-200mm f2.8)...but that's not in my budget yet. I must say though that using only the 50mm has taught me unbelievably much and improved my photography no end. If I had to pick only one lens to use for the rest of my life, the 50mm would be it. No contest.

  • Juan September 7, 2010 07:38 am

    Ever since I got my EF 50mm f1.8 and EF 100mm f2 I've kept them mounted on my 450d much longer than my zooms, though it is probably due to the fact I want to explore with them recomposing and all that, and, off course, to their low light performance and image quality. But I have no problem in mounting my zooms and manage with them.

  • idb September 7, 2010 07:15 am

    I voted half and half because it's a toss up between my 50/1.4 and my 18-55 zoom. I REALLY like the fast fifty because of the speed and it's more compact for carrying around but the zoom range is often very handy and I can easily compensate for the slower lens speed by boosting the ISO. I think my ideal everyday lens would be a 14 - 80 f/2.8 if they made such a thing.

  • Jim Stearns September 7, 2010 06:15 am

    These lens and cameras that I use that fills all my requirements. Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM-Macro, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM with Canon EF 2x II and a Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L II USM Super Wide. With both the Canon EOS 20D and EOS 5DMk-II.

  • Daniel Maissan September 7, 2010 05:07 am

    For me it depends on what I work on. When working in studio, or on location with studio lights I mainly use prime lenses. When on asignment for reportage photography I use professional zoom lenses. To make a long story short; it depends how much time I have for a shoot.

  • Nir September 7, 2010 04:14 am

    Canon 24-105 F4 L + Canon 35 F2

  • Garry September 7, 2010 03:56 am

    I have only 1 lens. I carefully chose it to be able to use it in 99% of my shooting. And I skip the other 1% my Nikkor 18-200mm VRII can't handle. In return I don't carry lots of prime and fast weight. Inside I compensate with external flash. And I don't need to bring a P&S with me at all.

  • Scott September 7, 2010 03:17 am

    4 lenses in my camera bag: Nikkor 18-70 f3.5-4.5, Nikkor DX 35mm f1.8, Nikkor 50mm f1.8, Nikkor 85mm f1.8

    I would prefer to shoot with the primes all day long, but I need that wide angle 17-35mm.

  • Will McA September 7, 2010 02:21 am

    I use zoom lenses only simply because my camera came with two zoom lenses for standard and telephoto shooting, and I haven't bought any others.

    I am aware of the advantages of prime lenses and my gearhead friend is forever boring me silly droning on about how much better his prime lenses are but the simple fact is I can't afford a new lens.

    I do have my eyes on a fast prime standard/wide angle lens though.

  • Mark September 7, 2010 02:20 am

    Right now it is mostly zooms. I have the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L and the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS as my main lenses. The 24-70 is mostly used on a tripod for landscapes and the 100-400 is used for wildlife. The funny thing is that I rarely use it at any other length than the max of 400mm. So I am looking forward to saving for super telephotos that are all prime lenses, but the cost is out of reach for now. I have the nifty fifty 50mm f/1.8 and a Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro in the kit, but they rarely get used. Once I can afford the EF 500mm I am sure that most will be shooting with prime, but until then the 100-400 is my working "400mm prime" !!! It actually is nice to be able to back off a few mm's if I am too close to the subject but that is rare in wildlife photography. I will say that for landscape photography, the 24-70 is great. It is wonderful to talk about zooming with your feet, but shooting old barns you often have "three strands (of barb wire)" blocking your zoom!!! So having a zoom lens lets me fill the frame, yet stay on public property while taking the picture. I have also run into situations where I cannot zoom with my feet due to a stream or lake in the way!!!

  • Brian C September 7, 2010 02:17 am

    I have a little Canon Rebel XT with a 50mm, 1.4 and a 18-200mm, 3.5-6.3 my best results are always from the nifty fifty.I just borrowed a 16-35mm 2.8. And am excited to see the results.

  • Hans Maerker September 7, 2010 02:16 am

    I do have a zoom 24-85mm 2.8 and it's sometimes mounted for an "all-purpose-just-to-have-it-with-me" set. However, I grew up with analog photography and from those days I'm used to and still prefer prime lenses. Favored lenses are 28mm / 2.8 and 85mm / 1.4 (35mm equivalent). I always travel light, even on an assignment. In such a case, I prefer to have a 3rd prime lens (135mmm / 2.0) plus a 2nd body with me. I have to have fast lenses since I don't use a flash and shoot 'available light' for years.

  • Gene Duprey September 7, 2010 02:07 am

    Leica R8DMR: I use 60/2.8 Macro, and 90/2.8 lenses primarily (60%). I use a 80 to 200 zoom about 25% of the time, with the rest of the time spent with 24mm, 35mm, and 560mm lenses. About 50 to 60 % of my photography is with a Leica M8 digital rangefinder, which is all fixed lenses.

  • Amber September 7, 2010 02:05 am

    I get a lot more bang for my buck with prime lenses. My zooms just aren't sharp enough and I'd have to be making the big bucks (or at least spending them!) to get comparable quality in zooms. Plus, I like that having to work a little harder to get the right shot.

    Also very important - once you work with a prime lens for a long enough, you get a very good feel for what your frame is going to see, whether or not you've got the camera to your eye. It aids immensely in composing the shot without the camera - necessary for street photography and any other time you don't want a camera strapped to your face.

  • joel September 7, 2010 01:48 am

    I go about half/half. I really love my sigma 28mm f/1.8 and my canon 50mm f/1.8 for art. however, the versatility of my Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS get lots of use out and about and on trips.


  • Iris September 7, 2010 01:34 am

    It really depends on what I am photographing...for portraits I like to use my 50, Landscape I like to use my zoom - so half-and-half.

  • churchie73 September 7, 2010 01:17 am

    My Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 on D700...It's a great pair.

  • Tim September 7, 2010 01:12 am

    zoom, but only because I don't have a prime.

    Anyone want to guide me as to the best prime for a micro four thirds camera? What's the equivalent 50mm?

  • Zibri September 7, 2010 01:10 am

    I primarily shoot with my Canon EF 50mm F1.4 (and previously my F1.8)

    This summer I also used my SIGMA 70-300 APO DG MACRO too..

  • andy September 7, 2010 12:54 am

    i shoot with zooms, not necessarily because i prefer them, but because i don't have any primes, and right now i can't afford to buy any more lenses... a nifty fifty is the next thing on my list though

  • Brian September 7, 2010 12:31 am

    I got a couple of prime lenses (50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8) thinking I would love them, but I hardly ever use them. I use the 85mm more often than the 50mm, but most of the time I've got a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom on my camera. The main reason I still use the 50mm is when I want a wider, fast lens, cause the only other option I've got is the 18-55mm kit lens.

  • Rob September 7, 2010 12:20 am

    My, currently err 99, Canon EOS XSI (going for service soon) usually has my ef 28-135is on when in the car and at home. But when on safari it has my EF 100-400Lis on it. I own only 1 prime and that is the famous ef 50 f/1.8. It goed in the bag and only on when I need a nice portrait or when I'm in dim light and do not want to use my flashgun.

  • JP September 7, 2010 12:01 am

    For studio work or when I need the fastest lens possible I have the Canon 50mm f1.4, and 85mm f/1.8. For macro I use a Sigma 150 f2.8 macro lens.
    For the vast majority of shooting I use zoom lenses. The 24-105mm f/4 L IS, 70-200 f2.8L IS, and 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS. These lenses allow me to best capture action and the fleeting definitive moments that all of us photographers look for. They also allow me to frame the scene quickly without wasting too many pixels.

  • Mei Teng September 6, 2010 11:53 pm

    Depends on the kind of shooting I do. If it's landscape, I'll stick with a wide angle zoom. For others, I am more inclined to shoot with my 50mm f/1.8

  • IPBrian September 6, 2010 11:37 pm

    I was a zoom guy for too long, then I got the 50mm f1.4, its hard to go back to a smaller aperture. I have been interested in getting the 24-70 2.8L for some variety, but I have been holding out to see if they release an IS version soon. I have been watching CR like a hawk.

  • Skibo September 6, 2010 11:15 pm

    I mainly prefer fast zooms for the kind of work I do, mainly event photography. I shoot lots of motorcycle and car events and I'm shooting a 16-50mm f/2.8 most of the time on one body and a 50-135mm f/2.8 on the other.[eimg url='!/photo.php?pid=13795611&id=138097845540&ref=fbx_album' title='photo.php?pid=13795611&id=138097845540&ref=fbx_album']

  • Dmitry Chastikov September 6, 2010 10:56 pm

    Hard to tell. Seems more often I use my versatile zoom Tamron 18-250 but my primes Pentax 50/1.7, Sigma 30/1.4. Samyang 85/1.4 all pretty fast find their use at times when I have time or lack some light or just want some precious bokeh/ However none of them can serve as 18-250 when on the go. At the same time I could perfectly live with a 10mm prime instead of my wide-angle zoom 10-20.

  • jack Larson September 6, 2010 10:54 pm

    I primarily use the Nikkor 24-70mm. Have been envious of Canon users 24-105mm, and am really looking forward to the new 24-120mm Nikkor.

  • David September 6, 2010 10:44 pm

    I primarily use my nikkor 105mm 2.8. I just love that lens but when I go wider I use my nikkor 35mm 1.8. I find it is perfect for stitched panos due to the natural focal length on my cropped body. That said, I recently took my kit 18-55 on a back country trip instead of the 35 and loved the range. if I could get (affordably) a wide prime I probably would use it, the 35 and the 105 for essentially all of my non bird related work.

  • Kathleen Andersen September 6, 2010 10:30 pm

    Zoom all the way. My Nikon 18-200mm seldom comes off the camera and on the few occasions when it does I go to Nikon's 12-24 and 80-400.
    I travel a lot and have missed too many shots in the past fiddling around changing lenses and now there's the dust-on-sensor issue. Plus there's the weight factor - I don't have to lug a camera bag and a pile of stuff around with me all day - just one camera and one lens.

  • Martin September 6, 2010 10:27 pm

    My most oft-used lens on my D90 is the 18-105 kit lens, just because of the versatility. I tend to only put the 50mm f1.8 on for an 'important' portrait shot.

  • Florian Manach September 6, 2010 10:27 pm

    (forgot to suscribe)

  • Florian Manach September 6, 2010 10:26 pm

    I use only Primes.

    Nikon D90 Body
    - AF 20mm f/2.8D
    - AF 50mm f/1.8D
    - AF 180mm f/2.8

    I may add an AF-S 35mm f/1.8 DX but I don't feel the need now.

    The reason I prefer primes is that I'd like to imagine my picture before I put my eye on the viewfinder. So then I select the lense and shoot.

    The other BIG reason, is that if you want great quality, fast constant aperture at low price... than you have to go with primes... I have a wide to long telephoto arsenal and it cost me less than 600$ (I got the 20 and the 180 used, but in really really great conditions).

  • 3afsa September 6, 2010 09:32 pm

    I have both Prime and zoom lens. for most of the time,I tend to use the zoom lens because of the range and flexibility.
    Then when it comes to special situation or effect I change to the Prime lens, but I come back soon to the zoom once I finish with it.

  • Mark Greenmantle September 6, 2010 09:27 pm

    I love shooting with primes but my commercial work has led me to need to shoot with my constant f/2.8 zooms glass more often of late.

  • Hans September 6, 2010 09:18 pm

    I have the 24-105 as well, untill recently I used the 28mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.8 a lot,
    but the zoom saves a lot of time switching lenses.
    I still use a 105mm f/2.8 macro, though.
    Also saving up for a 50mm f/1.4 Planar, since it still is a great focal length.
    For practicality, I'd choose a zoom.
    For sharpness and creativity, I'd take prime.

  • cc September 6, 2010 08:45 pm

    i love primes, they make you a better, more involved photographer. you can't just sit back and zoom in, you need to interact, you have to learn to put people at ease (because you are right in their faces). you develop a better relationship with your client because you are right there with them, which is important for people that are nervous of being in front of a camera. it's too easy to sit back and rely on your zoom, but with a fixed, you are guaranteed a flattering focal length (like 85) but it's up to you to zoom with your feet to create different frames. a zoom would be easier, but a prime is better.
    obviously this only refers to certain types of photography. wildlife photographers might want to disregard all of the above!!

  • Vincent Tassy September 6, 2010 07:51 pm

    Now that I own decent zoom lenses (Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 and Tokina 11-16 f/2.8) I find I can use those and get the same quality as if I used primes ....
    I do occasionally use a 50mm f/1.8 for low light and a Peleng 8mm for panoramas ... but otherwise, why bother ?

  • kirpi September 6, 2010 06:45 pm

    I used to shoot just with primary lenses in the film era: not a choice, mainly, as there were (and are) no zooms for large format cameras, there was no interest in using zooms on Hasselblad, and also for the "small" Leica format prime lenses were the best quality choice.
    Today I just shoot with a Nikon and, while prime lenses are still ahead on optical quality, zooms are quite better than they used to be. Also, Lightroom (or DxO) can now correct most flaws with a simple click, which is just fine.
    On the other hand, continously switching lenses lets a lot of dust enter the camera: this is particularly annoying as the sensor (as opposite to film) remains on the spot for years, and requires cleaning.
    Sure, I would still use prime lenses if I had critical shot to bring home.

  • John September 6, 2010 06:05 pm

    I'm really looking forward to buy Canon 50mm or 85mm, but for now my workhorse lens is Canon 70-200mm f/4 NON IS. But to be honest, I cannot imagine shooting a festival with a prime lens and I agree with Scott.

    You don't know, what will happen ;)

  • Matt Gibson September 6, 2010 05:37 pm

    I was shooting a lot with the Canon 50mm prime (just the cheap f/1.8) but then, when I could finally afford it, I changed up to the Canon 17-55 f/2.8 (EF-S). That gave me similar sharpness and almost as wide an aperture, plus IS, but a bit more flexibility. Albeit for ten times the price.

    I will still shoot the 50mm every now and again, and I always recommend a prime lens, normally the cheap 50mm to anyone who hasn't got one yet.

  • Scott September 6, 2010 05:26 pm

    A zoom is a must in Europe, I use zooms ranging from from 10 to 200mm. Some things just can't be "composed with your feet".

  • Soji Ogunnaike September 6, 2010 05:08 pm

    As a hybrid shooter, using my DSLR for both video and stills, I use primes for video and zooms for stills. Till date, I still haven't seen zooms that produce the kind of amazing images that primes do, without costing as much as a car.

  • matabum September 6, 2010 04:50 pm

    my main weapon is classic 50mm f1.8.
    it almost never leave my camera body. i think that prime lenses are just great, because you have to think more about your composition and you have to move more, because legs are your only zoom:)

  • Didit Mehta Pariadi September 6, 2010 04:48 pm

    I use Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 as my daily lens on my Canon 5D mkII. I rarely use my EF 50mm f/1.4 since I need flexibility in my shooting without having to change lens too often. Only on special ocassion I use my 24-70mm f/2.8 or 16-35mm f/2.8 which basically show that I use mostly zoom lenses than prime lens.

  • alaina September 6, 2010 04:40 pm

    My primary lens is the 24-105mm as well. . .I tend to shoot mostly around 80-100mm range. I contemplate the 85mm and 100mm prime. My next most used lens is the 70-200mm.

  • Ahmed Sharif September 6, 2010 04:28 pm

    I've found the 50mm to be most important focal length for me....... and in confined spaces, I use a 20mm...... I use FF (D700), which is why I'm currently sticking to wide prime..... I switched this prime after my 18-35mm got damaged..... currently, I'm loving this prime and feeling no need for a zoom........ previously, while using a D90, I used to use a Sigma 10-20mm..... and I mostly shot at 10mm..... used it almost as a prime.... when I'm shooting wide, I know I would want it to be widest...... so, I can easily stick to prime..... and when I'm shooting 50mm, I can cover most of my compo with it.... I also use a 150mm Sigma and an 85mm Nikon...

    I do use 70-210mm and 50-500mm..... but their use is much lower compared to the primes..... they're mostly on my camera when I'm in need of convenience..... and thats not an everyday need....

  • Peter September 6, 2010 03:26 pm

    main lens used is Canon 17 - 55 usm IS 2.8 Zoom.

  • Hellsbellarina September 6, 2010 02:14 pm

    On my Canon 40d is a 50mm f/1.4 that rarely leaves that spot. Rarely. I have an 85mm f/1.8, but what I really need is a 35mm f/1.4L and a 5D Mark ii. That would be just swell. I work just fine with what I have though. The latter is sort of a dream setup.

  • darren September 6, 2010 02:09 pm

    i have a tamron 18-200mm, tamron 10-24mm and a 50mm fixed canon lens. i'd love more prime lenses, but it's the price thats that problem.

  • Indra September 6, 2010 02:04 pm

    I'm a prime shooter. Sold my last zoom lens (24-70 f/2.8L) last month, now I owned 15mm fisheye, 50mm, 85mm, 100mm macro, and 135mm. Each with different situation and purpose. Considering to get 24mm fix lens, and Canon's new 8-15mm lens though (circular + linear fish eye lens as one? why not?)

    hate the bad habit caused by zoom lens -- the urge to change and play with your focal length when composing your photo. prime lens force you to think and pictured your desired composition before pressing the shutter.

  • Michael Morris September 6, 2010 01:37 pm

    A few years ago I shot primarily with zoom. Since then I have been shooting a lot with large and medium format and using prime lenses. I now find that when I shoot digital I want more primes.

  • Tom September 6, 2010 12:56 pm

    Sony A500 with a 50mm f/1.4. A simple thing of beauty.

  • OJ Photo September 6, 2010 12:06 pm

    That's a tough question, but the answer depends on what I'm shooting. I love the versatility of a simple zoom, but I love taking portraits that are super-sharp and have great bokeh, and so I always use my 50mm prime for portraits.
    I recently got a <a href="" 200mm f2.8 prime that is much better than my old 70-300mm I had been using.
    You can see more about my 200mm prime here:

  • Marcy September 6, 2010 12:02 pm

    I shoot almost exclusively with one of my primes. I only go to my 17-85mm when I have to... otherwise I almost always shoot with one of my 50mm's (first I had my 50mm f/1.8, then recently got a sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro). I think my next addition will be a canon 35mm f/2 which I'm really excited about. =)

    I love the wider apertures of my primes, and how small & light they are compared to my zoom lens.

  • Kev-o September 6, 2010 11:42 am

    For typical day I use zoom my nikon 24-70 f2.8
    For event work 24-70mm f2.8 or 70-200mm f2.8
    For model work it's sigma 50mm f1.4 or 70-200mm

    I would love to use the new 85mm f1.4

    I think 50mm is to wide for my taste a lot of time...

    But I am trying to use more prime....

  • Kate September 6, 2010 10:49 am

    I have those exact lenses in my bag, and they're my primary lenses too!

  • Marfa September 6, 2010 10:45 am

    I don't even own a prime lens. I do all my photographic work with zoom lenses. I can't imagine not having the versatility of my zoom lenses. However, I don't discard the possibility of a prime lens. I just haven't had the opportunity to try one. I might just fall in love when I do.

  • Wayne September 6, 2010 10:16 am

    I carry the 24-105, the 50mm f1.4, and the 10-22mm with me all the time. I use a 100mm f2.8 macro a lot, but do not carry it with me all the time. I like the versatility of the zoom, but I prefer the sharpness and aperture of the primes. If you opened my camera bag, half the time it would have the 50mm, the other half, the 24-105. The 50mm was the last lens I purchased and I wish it was the first.

  • David Barto September 6, 2010 10:08 am

    I got the 24-105L specifically because so many people said that it was the best 'walking around lens' that they had.

    Love it. Sharp, short zoom covers that nice medium wide to medium tele area.
    And not too heavy.

  • Martin September 6, 2010 09:54 am

    I love my Canon 35mm f/2 and 100mm f/2.8 macro lenses - but also use a 10-22 and 24-70 f/2.8L on a regular basis.

  • Cynnes Gwyn September 6, 2010 09:17 am

    My most-used lens is Canon EF 24-105 f4L zoom. Close on its heels is the EF 100mm f2.8. That lens is super sharp and crisp (this is the older non-IS lens), and is great at Macro when the mood strikes.

  • Boyd September 6, 2010 09:14 am

    I have a prejudice in favor of the wider aperture available with a prime. I occasionally discover that if I switch to a zoom, I won't lose anything since I'm shooting with a smaller aperture than 3.5, but I always seem to start with a prime.

  • Karel September 6, 2010 08:33 am

    I love my 70-200 f/2.8 for sports and portraits, although my prime 85mm does a wonderful job for people as well.
    My 50mm f/1.4 is most always on my camera when on the move without a specific purpose. Love to shoot street photography with it as well. Need to get close to people and getting them sharp at f/2 or f/2.8 is challenging!
    When on holidays I take my 24-105 on camera and my 50mm in the bag.
    I thought I was equally shooting with primes and zooms, but counting in my library for different lenses, I shoot about 65% with zoom lenses. (Or I don't delete the bad shots as well as I should...)

    BTW: Most common errors/bad shots with Zoom lenses are composition, with my primes I get a lot of out of focus shots. (Probably shoot a lot with open apertures).. Maybe a nice poll?

  • Rick September 6, 2010 08:32 am

    Three months ago I would have said half-and-half, splitting between my Canon L 70-200 f/4 and my 50mm f/1.4. Over the summer, I picked up the Canon L 17-40mm f/4, and I do 90% of my shooting with it now.

  • Barry Cunningham September 6, 2010 08:28 am

    Depends what I'm shooting.
    I shot an air show today. I'm not going to do the Blue Angels and wing walkers with a prime.
    On the other hand, a couple of months ago I was shooting fish in the New England Aquarium. Very dim light. There I'm going to use the fastest lens I have, my f/1.4 50mm prime.

  • Porf September 6, 2010 08:17 am

    I also carry my Nikkor 17-55mm 2.8 lens in my bag which is faster than my Tamron 18-270mm 3.5-6.3 but the zoom factor on the Tamron keeps me hooked. I do find myself switching to the Nikkor at times depending on the lighting.

  • John W. Rivard September 6, 2010 08:14 am

    I shoot mostly nature and wildlife. 90% of the time my Canon will have either the 55-250mmIS zoom or a Lensbaby "Composer" on it. The other 10% is the 18-55mmIS. I will use Kenko extension tubes with any of htese lenses when needed. Don't feel the need for faster zooms/primes as alomst all of my shooting is done from a tripod. For walk arounds wihtout the tripod I usually just bring a G10 or my 5MP Droid phone.

  • September 6, 2010 07:57 am

    I keep a zoom 14-54 on my camera, but I would say my work is 50/50. it depends on what i'm shooting, but i favor the fixed length for most things besides landscapes.

  • Chris Leonard September 6, 2010 07:56 am

    I use the same two lenses (24-105 and 50 f/1.4), though I may actually use my 85 f/1.8 a little more often than the 50. I'm not sure.

  • Frank T September 6, 2010 07:54 am

    Depends on what & where I am shooting - I have both zooms & primes - prefer the primes (portraits: 85/1.2, 50/1.4; sports: 300/2.8) - but the zooms definitely have their place.

  • Tony September 6, 2010 07:53 am

    Primes. My favorite lens is my Sigma 50 1.4 and use that one most of the time. Next the 28 1.8 and a 135 2.8. Just ordered today a 90 2.8 and that's a perfect set for me. I do have somewhere a 50-200 but never use it.

  • Ron September 6, 2010 07:48 am

    The Lens on my camera most of the time, is my Tamron 18-250, the lens allows me to be ready for almost any situation. I have been able to catch news stories, shoot concerts, candids and do promo shots and never have I had to remove the lens. It allows me to always be ready and catch the shot when it happens.

    I use a 150-500 for nature and sports. my prime is used for special occasion shooting, and portraits (although my tamron takes care of that area as well}

  • Techpriester September 6, 2010 07:46 am

    My every-day-lens is a 35mm f1.8 prime which is the "normal length" for my crop camera. It serves me well, especially in low light situations.
    Mostly I also carry a 55-200mm with me, but I rarely use it because of its poor quality :(

    But I'm thinking of stepping up to a 18-50mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8 over the next months.

  • Jacob September 6, 2010 07:40 am

    These days I'm only using prime lenses. I sold the kit lenses (both zoom) that came with my camera to get the new Nikkor 35mm AF-S and I don't regret it one bit.

    I guess I like the speed, wide aperture and lightweight form factor of prime lenses in favor of the zooms.

  • Valerie September 6, 2010 07:31 am

    at 18-270mm - my Tamron is on my cameron almost all the time, it keeps me ready for whatever situation I may be in. Love that lens. I am still too much of a newbie to shoot with a prime.

    I am hoping and saving for a 2.8 zoom - that will be great inside and out! Especially it will enable me to catch those shots in the auditoriums when my kids are in concerts. Only thing is once I finally get enough - they will have graduated! LOL

  • Ben September 6, 2010 07:21 am

    My two lenses do about equal duty, though I treat my 18-55mm zoom as if it were a prime. That's no doubt due to my newer 35mm f/1.8 that forces me to do move my feet to compose shots.

  • Tyler F September 6, 2010 07:15 am

    I mainly shoot with my telephoto (70-300mm), but if I'm not using that lens, then it'll be the 50mm on the end of my camera, and on a rare occasion - the 18-55mm kit.

    I do both photography and film, telephoto is generally used more for photography, however when in video mode its often the 50mm or the kit. All depends on what I'm shooting, if I have a tripod etc.

  • Ollivier Robert September 6, 2010 07:13 am

    Primary lens is a Pentax FA-31mm/f1.8 Limited, awesome lens as it is and focal length is perfect for my K-7 (1.5x crop factor) body. Next one is the Vivitar 105mm/f2.5 Series 1 Macro, for well, macro and portrait. After that it is mostly the Pentax DA-55-300mm and a bit less seldom the kit lens at 18-55mm.

  • Paul September 6, 2010 07:09 am

    I prefer the look and speed of a prime, but with pro-level zoom lenses reaching down to f/2.8, the versatility is hard to pass up!

  • Russ G September 6, 2010 07:07 am

    Canon 50mm f1.8

    I love it. People are blown away by the pictures it takes. Of course, almost anything taken by a DSLR makes the social media generation double-take.

  • Porf September 6, 2010 07:07 am

    My Tamron 18-270MM lens is my primary lens for every day shooting. My 50MM Nikor Prime gets a lot of love to but the versatility of the zoom keeps it attached to my D200.

  • Jack Foster Mancilla September 6, 2010 06:49 am

    My walk around lens is usually my Canon 28-300, or my Canon 16-35, depending on the distance I am traveling between the office, and the goal. … Since I am usually targeting some specific goal, and my walk around is only between, here and there. … At the goal, I usually pick the best lens for the desired effect. … I have also found that the Sneaker Zoom, is my favorite ways to compose variably framed images.. (i.e. Tennis Shoes and feet)

  • Serge Van Cauwenbergh September 6, 2010 06:47 am

    During my photography education at the academy I used primes lenses. When starting a part-time freelance photography business I bought a pro zoom lens. At the end of last year however, I sold it to go back to prime lenses. I feel more comfortable with a prime and shoot more consistent than with a zoom, I'm more aware of my composition. Also, a pro zoom is huge and heavy to carry around all day.

  • Christian Vermeulen September 6, 2010 06:45 am

    Right now I simply only have Zoom lenses.
    However, I had a go with a prime lense from a friend and I am now saving up to get one too!

    The biggest reason is low the diafragma values prima lenses have. I just love pictures with a big field of depth.