Prime Vs. Zoom Lens: Which Should You Choose?


Gear Focus

Jul 22, 2020

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Every photographer finds immense joy in experimenting with a variety of lenses, but sometimes it’s hard to choose which one to use for which application. While there are several other variations of lenses, the foundation of lenses includes prime and zoom lenses. In our guide below, we’re going to answer the question of prime lens vs. zoom lens: which should you choose? Read on to learn more.

Prime lens

The main difference between a prime lens and a zoom lens is that a prime lens only has one focal length. In simple terms, a prime lens can’t zoom. While some photographers might argue that the limit in focal length is a disadvantage, they obviously didn’t consider the benefits that come with prime lenses. Prime lenses come in a variety of focal lengths and apertures, but they’re commonly known for offering wide apertures like f/2.8, f/1.4, and f/1.2. Wide apertures are especially favorable for those who like to do landscape and night sky photography. Another benefit of prime lenses is that of the wider apertures, as prime lenses typically perform better in darker environments. Additionally, pairing a single focal length with a wide aperture gives the photographer a better chance of achieving smooth-edged bokeh in their images. Unsurprisingly, prime lenses are also more lightweight and usually less expensive than a zoom lens.

Zoom lens

As the name suggests, a zoom lens gives you a focal length range to zoom in and out of. A standard zoom lens typically falls in or around a 24-105mm with either a fixed or variable aperture. You may opt for a superzoom lens like Canon’s EF28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM if you’re shooting far away subjects like wildlife or a professional athlete. Of course, the primary benefit of a zoom lens is the option to zoom, but there are a few cons to consider. One of the biggest disadvantages of zoom lenses is their ability to perform in low-light scenarios. The reason is that many zoom lenses don’t have a top aperture beyond f/3.5-f/5.6. Now, that’s not to say you can’t use a zoom lens in a dark scenario, it’s merely less ideal. Although most manufacturers are improving the sharpness of their lenses, prime lenses still provide the sharper image quality over zoom lenses. Additionally, unlike prime lenses, a zoom lens is much heavier, so it’s not necessarily the ideal lens to bring on your hike through the mountains. So, you’re looking for an answer about prime vs. zoom lenses and which you should choose, right? The answer is both. Prime and zoom lenses have their own advantages and disadvantages, and having both will allow you to reap the benefits of each. If you’re a beginner photographer, your gear should never keep you from progressing. Similarly, if you’re a professional photographer, your gear shouldn’t be the reason you have to decline a job. Now we recognize that camera equipment is expensive, but most of us have gear we never use anymore, so why not sell your gear so you can upgrade? The hardest part about selling your gear is finding the right buyers, isn’t it? At Gear Focus we have a targeted market of photographers and videographers so you can buy and sell used camera equipment with confidence. As an added bonus, we request low seller fees of 3.5%, unlike many other online marketplaces. If you’d like to sell or buy your next lens, camera, tripod, lighting equipment, gimbal, or any other photography gear, check our online shop today. Our inventory is always growing!

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