You Don't Need a Zoom Lens

I stumbled across it two more times this week, the advice about using a high-quality prime lens instead of the zoom lens that comes with most DSLR kits. The idea is that a high-quality prime lens is much more affordable and takes sharper and more vibrant images than a zoom lens at the same price.

The loss of versatility is mostly an imagined problem. A prime “portrait” lens will work great in most scenarios. You don’t need a zoom lens. You certainly don’t need a zoom lens as much as you need your DSLR sensor to be bathed in as much light as possible, at a price you can justify to your spouse.

Taken at f/1.4 under cloudy skies at ISO 800.

I purchased a Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4 G based on Ken Rockwell’s review. He’s not a great photographer, but he’s a fantastic product reviewer. I trust his opinions on gear more than anyone else’s. He’s also more likely to be found shooting with Nikon gear (I have a D5100), so his opinion is backed by a lot of real-world use.

For an everyday prime lens he still prefers the older AF-D model, but that lens won’t auto-focus when used with a D5100, so I went with the closest alternative. I was expecting good results, but I was not prepared for just how much better it was than our old kit zoom lens. Believe the hype.

|  1 Aug 2013