Zoom Zoom

My name is Rob, and I think zoom lenses are stupid. And by stupid, I mean inferior, in some instances, to prime lenses.

When I got my first DSLR years ago, it didn't take long to figure out that the 18-55 kit lens wasn't gonna cut it. Unfortunately, I hadn't seen the light yet, and still wanted a do-everything-lens.

My first upgrade was an $800 18-200mm. It was a substantial upgrade from the kit lens my camera came with. I was just pleased as punch with it. For about a year.

I was starting to figure things out, realizing I needed faster glass. When I was lusting over new expensive gear, I sought after more zooms: the 10-22, the 24-70 f/2.8, and the 70-200 f/2.8. That would cover everything I ever needed!

It's a good thing I was broke at the time, or I would have ended up with a bunch of glass I didn't need.

What I did end up with is cheap and very capable 35mm f/1.8.

Through that enormous aperture, I finally saw the light.

Prime lenses are win. They have a number of advantages over zooms.

They're superior optically compared to zooms. They tend to be more compact and lighter compared to zooms. And, they tend to be cheaper compared to zooms, even with a faster aperture.

Most importantly, they make you think! You can't just stand there like an idiot zooming in and out to get the framing and composition you want. A prime lens will force you to consider your perspective, and actually move around to get the shot you want. That's what my 35 did for me. I ended up with fewer snapshots and more real photographs. After a short time, it was all but permanently attached to my camera. The only reason it left, is when I needed considerable more reach than the 35 would allow.

My photographs became better as I learned to fart more. I learned that primes are the way to go for the photography that I like to produce.

All that being said, zooms do still serve a purpose. Professional wedding photographers and photo-journalists stick to zooms because they can't afford to re-position the subject or move to different location, otherwise the shot they wanted is gone forever.

Aside from those two instances, the only thing that zooms offer is convenience. You won't have to change lenses as often, which leads to dust build-up on the sensor and the glass itself.

Prime lenses will still be smaller, and lighter, and sharper, and faster, and cheaper than their zoomy counterparts.

Which are you going to choose?