Often when a zoom lens is mentioned, what comes to mind is the convenience and versatility of a one lens do it all solution. With a zoom, light needs to pass through more glass and extra elements altering light so many times that sharpness is bound to diminish. Prime lens produces sharper images due to their simpler design, single focal length and fewer moving parts. This also makes prime lenses smaller, lighter and cheaper to buy.
Prime lenses have wider apertures than zooms therefore they can produce a very thin depth of field. For portrait photographers this allows for “bokeh” or that creamy out of focus look around your subject. These wider apertures also allow for excellent results in low light.
In my opinion, the most important reason for using a prime lens is that you have to slow down and think about your composition. As a point of reference, the 50mm prime lens is considered a standard lens as it closely provides the same perspective of a scene as viewed through the human eye. Keeping this in mind, it forces you to think about your lens choice and composition and in turn makes you go to great lengths to get the one great shot. This makes choosing a focal length one of the most important decisions when considering a prime lens.
Patience grasshopper! Since we can’t zoom into a scene, we must take our time to scout, visualize, and move around to find the best location to capture an image. The end result will be an exceptional image.
The following images were taken with prime lens using both crop sensor and full frame Nikon cameras: