Lens Types

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by photoeagle, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. photoeagle

    photoeagle Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 25, 2015
    Brad Harris
    I seen numerous discussions about lens. My question is about lens terminology. What is a prime lens? What is an artist lens?
  2. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Prime = not a zoom. Fixed focal length.
    Artist lens = marketing fluff
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    As Paul said, Primes are single focal length lenses while zooms have their focal length variable within a range. A lens like the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 is a prime lens and it's focal length is fixed at 25mm. A lens like the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO is a zoom and you can vary the focal length to any length within the 12mm to 40mm range.

    I've never heard the term "artist lens" so I wouldn't say it was marketing fluff though I would say that whoever was using that term was trying to say that it "rendered" its subjects in a way they thought was appropriate for "artistic photos". That could mean any one of a number of things. Back in the early 1900s, those pursuing photography as an art tended to work in a style called "pictorialism" and they absolutely hated lenses which produced sharp focus. They created a market for what later were called "soft focus" lenses and long after the days of pictorialism were gone photographers would occasionally choose to achieve similar results with their much sharper lenses by adding a soft focus lens or other techniques such as stretching a stocking over the front of the lens or smearing the front element or a UV filter with vaseline. These days the "artistic" side of the way lenses render things tends to refer to "bokeh", a Japanese term referring to the character of out of focus parts of the image. This has nothing to do with depth of field which describes how much of the scene is in focus and how much is out of focus. Bokeh is about how the out of focus area looks and it's fans have preference for different sorts of looks such as round pearly highlights or a swirly looking character to the out of focus areas and so on. In other words bokeh is not about the amount of blur but about how the blur looks.

    So my guess is that someone who refers to a lens as an "artist lens" is saying that the lens does something in a way that they believe enhances the pictorial qualities of the image. Of course it will go without saying that one person's "artist lens" is most definitely going to be another person's "piece of trash". Lens characteristics which get appreciated for subjective reasons often tend to generate strong responses, both positive and negative. Not everyone has the same subjective response to such characteristics.
  4. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Kiillarney, OzTrailEYa

    sadly I'm aware of this ...
    Lenses | Sigma Corporation of America


    I applaud you not declaring it as fluff given that you've not heard of it, but I'm with @pdk42@pdk42 ... fluff ... competent lenses, but just fluff as a term. Part of the King Wang series of marketing.
  5. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    But that's "Art Lens" rather than "artist lens".

    I love the descriptions for the 2 lens lines. Taking my cues from the description of the "Contemporary Lenses" since they have "superior optical performance and compactness for high-performance lenses" and looking at the wording used to describe the "Art Lenses", I could easily conclude that the "Art Lenses" are big, bulky, and trade superior optical performance for pleasing aberration. Looking at what I wrote above, I think that "pleasing aberration" covers what I was trying to say quite succinctly, and it seems it's still alive and well in contemporary photography.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.