Gallery: Please visit the gallery to view images in full size. From the gallery, you will be able to add the images to the shopping cart and checkout. YouTube: I have a YouTube Channel (Hari PHL) where I post videos once a week. Please subscribe to my channel and share my videos. I appreciate your support. Thank you for visiting my site.
A prime lens is a type of lens that has a fixed focal length as opposed to a zoom lens which has a variable focal length.
Traditionally, the term ‘prime lens’ has often been used to refer to the primary lens in a system of combination lenses. In this case, the prime, or primary lens, is part of a system that might also include a teleconverter or a close up lens.
In the modern world however, the term, prime lens, is almost exclusively used to describe a fixed focal length lens. To avoid this type of confusion the term fixed focal length (FFL) is also used to describe a prime lens.
A prime lens has a fixed focal length and can be described as less versatile than a zoom lens although it has other advantages including being lighter weight, more compact and often has a better optical quality with a wider aperture.
A prime lens is also a more accurate representation of a human perspective which can make the photographs look more natural. A prime lens is a simpler type of lens than a zoom lens and doesn’t have extra glass within it that moves to achieve the different focal lengths which helps to keep its cost down.
Are Prime Lenses Better Than Zoom Lenses?
There are pros and cons for both prime and zoom lenses however there are several ways that a prime lens can outperform a zoom lens.
- Great for Beginners. If you’re starting out in photography the learning curve when using a prime lens can end up being a lot steeper than otherwise! Without the convenience of the zoom capability you’ll have to learn to move around to frame your images and you’ll get a better sense of creating an image from wherever you are standing. You’ll have to work harder for your photos which will be more rewarding in itself but it also means you’ll have to have a much clearer idea of what you’re doing to achieve the results you envisage.
- You can get sharper images with a prime lens. Due to the simplicity of the lens’ structure there is less diffraction within the lens which means you can get much sharper images than with a zoom lens. This is great for portraits and landscapes alike and can be a powerful tool in your kit when used correctly.
- Prime lenses are much lighter and compact than a zoom lens. If you want to travel light then a prime lens will allow you to do that while still giving yourself quite a lot of versatility in terms of shooting your photos on site.
- There are amazing bokeh possibilities with a prime lens. A prime lens has a much wider aperture than a zoom lens and although this means you’ll have a shallower depth of field it also means you can create beautiful photos with stunning bokeh, out of focus highlights, and blurry backgrounds. This looks fantastic for portrait shots and can be used to great effect with a bit of practise.
- Excellent for low light or night time photography. With the wider aperture the prime lens can take in more light than a zoom lens which makes it great for evening and night time photography. Ideal for outdoor restaurant shots or poorly lit indoor shoots, with the help of your prime lens you can become an expert low light photographer !
How Do You Select A Prime Lens?
When choosing the right type of prime lens you firstly need to make sure that it’s compatible with your camera. This will largely depend on the type of image sensor that your camera has. For instance, if you have a full frame camera a 50mm prime lens is probably the best choice whereas if you have a crop sensor then a 35mm prime lens will be more compatible.
As a general rule though, a 50mm prime lens, nicknamed the ‘Nifty Fifty’, is the most versatile and popular choice on the market and can really help to supercharge your photography.
Top 3 Prime Lenses – Picture Perfect Additions to Your Camera Kit.
The prime lens that is a perfect fit for you would depend on the type of camera and camera system that you are using. Having said that, the following are my favorites.
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens: Coming in at a great price, this 50mm lens is perfect for full frame and crop sensor cameras alike. It’s the ideal lens for sharply focused portraits and general everyday use and it’s small size means you can easily pack into your bag. With the shallow depth of field you can create beautiful photos that let your subjects clearly stand out and whether it’s sunny, rainy or overcast you can shoot bright pictures with clear definitions, even in the poorest of lighting.
- Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens: Compatible with both full and crop sensor cameras this Canon lens delivers superb quality in an arguably more flexible way than a 50mm lens. Ideal for street photography and low lighting conditions its unobtrusive casing and compact size makes it a good all round choice for photographers on the move. With its shorter focal length than a 50mm lens it can work more effectively in smaller spaces and wider angle shots, making it very handy for architectural and basic real estate photography.
- Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Lens: With its incredible price and compact size this lens is best suited to a crop sensor camera and creates softly blurred backgrounds in portraits and subtle bokeh highlights. The images it captures are extremely natural making it a fantastic general purpose lens for beginners and a great addition to the kit of an experienced photographer.
Is a Prime Lens Overrated?
There are some people who swear by their prime lenses and others who won’t go near them; however, despite their limitations they are a superb addition to any camera system. They can capture very natural looking shots with subtle highlights in the background. The wide apertures allow more light to reach the sensor so they are very versatile and can operate without any problems in poorly lit conditions and even at night, where a standard zoom lens would struggle without a flash.
A prime lens is not for everybody but if you’re looking to get your first lens then it’s a great choice; not only because they are extremely reasonable in price but because they will really help to bring out your creativity and skills in framing an image.
Prime Lens – The Unsung Hero of Photography?
Although they don’t often get the press they deserve the prime lens is a beautifully quirky addition to your camera set up. These incredibly compact and versatile lenses make ideal travel companions and can shoot professional level portraits, street photography and even landscapes in the right circumstances.
If you’re unsure about taking the leap then you can try renting a prime lens to find out if you like to work with it first; but as far as a first lens for a budding photographer goes, you can’t beat the all round qualities and versatility of a good prime lens.
Which prime lens are you currently using?