Photography Tutorials

Prime Lenses vs Zoom Lenses: Which is Better?


In this video we decide which is better: prime lenses or zoom lenses?

Before we answer this question let's first discuss the difference prime lenses and zoom lenses.

Zoom lenses are common on all compact cameras and have the ability to optically zoom in and change the focal length, getting you zoomed in and close to your subject. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of situations.

Prime lenses have a fixed focal length and cannot be zoomed. They are less versatile on their own but because of the more simple design they are sharper, cheaper and often have a bigger aperture.

Physical size and focal length does not define it as a zoom or a prime lens as there is a misconception that primes are small and zooms are big.

prime lens vs zoom lens

So which is best? Unfortunately there is no definitive answer to this and it is really a matter of both personal taste and what you will be shooting.

I love to shoot with prime lenses because the restriction on focal length can often force you to think more about your shot and the only way to zoom is to use your feet to get closer or move further away from your subject. They are great for portraits and low light shooting due to the large apertures and they can create creamy bokeh. This makes them a common sight in the camera bag of a wedding photographer.

Videographers also swear by prime lenses as they are generally lighter and more portable, easy to use and they give that traditional film look. For DSLR video, zooms will often come with image stabilisation that is essential for hand holding video although there are several prime lens on the market now that also have image stabilisation.

Zoom lenses on the other hand are getting better and better all the time and the difference in sharpness is not as pronounced as it used to be. A lens like the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 is such a versatile range that it is suitable for almost all situations and you really have to start pixel peeping before you see the difference in sharpness.

tamron 24-70

The only way to truly know which is best for you is to try them out. If you nailed me down ands asked which is better? - I think I would have to say prime lenses. If you ask me which spends most of the time on my camera then it is definitely the 24-70mm zoom.

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