Zoom, zoom...

johnny9fingers

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Superior, Wisconsin USA
Prime lenses have dominated my photographic lifetime. Either primes for my OM cameras, or fixed lens TLR's, Hexar AF, Yashica GN, Oly XA..... I lived and breathed primes and believed their dominance unquestionable in quality of build and output. Then along came the E-PL1 and the 14-42mm kit lens. I figured I'd make do with this inferior glass until I secured the funds for respectable glass in the form of a prime lens. So, I reluctantly started shooting to learn the E-PL1. My first outing with the zoom blew me away. The ability to reach out to distant subjects, to isolate them, to capture them in ways I never could before, shook my photographic world to the core. How could I have been so blind to this new and exciting capability? How could I have been so slavishly devoted to primes alone? How could I make pictures I liked without a prime lens? I was (and am) liberated. I can still zoom with my feet, but now, I have the added dimension of zooming with the lens. What joy! :cloud-9-039: I think we sometimes get caught up in what we are told is the best way to shoot, and the best gear to use, that we forget to experiment and try different things to see how it affects and enhances the joy of photography. And for me that's important as I don't do this for pay but for enjoyment. Also, I think the zooms being made for digital cameras are in a different league than the primes for analog. So, the point of this long ramble is to keep trying new things, especially if you feel you're in a rut, and I'm sure you will be pleasantly suprised by what you find....
 

996gt2

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Oct 27, 2010
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Actually, I found myself to be in exactly the opposite position as you. I used to be a big fan of fast aperture zoom lenses, and a 17-50mm f/2.8 was my Canon 40D's primary lens. Once I got a full-frame 5D, however, I realized that the full-frame sensor was much more demanding of lenses and that most zoom lenses under $800 or so wouldn't cut it. So I switched to using primes *almost* exclusively, and it's been great! The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Aspherical is a killer lens, and when paired with something like a Canon 100mm f/2.8 or 70-200mm f/4 makes for a great kit.

And...the one thing that full-frame+fast prime does better than any other system is providing mazing control over depth of field:
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johnny9fingers

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Jan 10, 2010
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Superior, Wisconsin USA
Oh I still use primes, and really enjoy using my OM primes on the E-PL1. It's only recently that I've realized there are some pretty good zoom lenses out there too. I'm gathering cash to get the new M.Zuiko 40-150 as soon as I can.....
 
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I'm also the opposite. My E-P1 is the first camera that has allowed me to appreciate the use of prime lenses (albeit non-native lenses so far). I think that my dislike for primes in the past is due to using Canon APS-C DSLRs. For some reason Canon continue to push 50mm as the stanard prime lens to have, which is fine on full-frame but like wearing blinkers on a smaller sensor camera. I assume it's a good strategy to sell a lot of Canon zoom lenses. If I had tried a 28mm or 35mm prime on my Canon the story might have been different.
 

Kosta

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Sep 29, 2010
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Australia
i've gone from a zoom to a prime, and love the images i can get with it, but feel the restriction causes me to rush instead of take time. i actually prefer to have the ability to adjust how the shot is framed without having to get really close up/far away. I think travelling around a city i would like a zoom and for indoors and evenings i would prefer a faster wide prime.
that said i haven't taken my panasonic 20/1.7 off since i got it...
 

marlof

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Jun 18, 2010
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The Netherlands
I went from a Four Thirds system with excellent zooms (12-60 / 50-200) to a mFT system with two bodies with a prime (E-P1 with 20 1.7; E-PL1 with 45 2.8). I have a mZD 14-150 as a holiday walkaround lens. For me, it's a great setup.
 

Luke

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Buying lenses is altogether new to me. All the cameras I have owned have had some sort of zoom (Well, I'm not going to count my first couple cameras....anyone remember the Kodak disc camera?). So I am looking forward to the arrival of the Panasonic 20mm and learning to shoot and live with a fixed fov. I hope it will force me to focus on composition and think a little more before each shot. But there's no doubt that a good zoom gives you access to a lot more shots.
 

carpandean

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Oct 29, 2010
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Western NY
learning to shoot and live with a fixed fov.
I was thinking about this the other day. A lot of people use a small prime (17mm or 20mm with 14mm coming) and one of the small form factor :43: bodies (E-P1/P2/PL1 and GF1/2) as a pocketable camera. Most P&S cameras offer a combination of optical zoom (feasible in such a small package because the lens retracts into the body) and digital zoom. My GF1 does have menu-selectable 2x and 4x digital zoom (I tried the 4x and, while it did look ugly in preview, the captured image looked pretty good on the LCD; still have to check it blown up.) So, why not offer a digital zoom with a continuous control? There could be a menu to turn it on, like there is for the 2x and 4x, and then it could be controlled with either the up/down arrows or the wheel. It's all software anyway (equivalent to cropping the image later) and it could even still capture the full image in the RAW file, but it might help with composition when using a fixed prime. It wouldn't have to be much, either. Even a 14mm that could digitally zoom from 14-28mm (between "none" and the "2x" setting now) would be very useful.
 

Luke

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certainly an interesting idea, but I'm leaning towards just learning to embrace the "limitation". Before a certain time (I don't really know too much camera history) there was only one focal length. And last time I looked at those photos, there were some pretty awesome ones.
 
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