One of the biggest mistakes many young photographers make when they get into photography is getting the wrong kind of lenses, especially if they have never had an encounter with the art. They get a nice camera, and the first thing they think about is that the kit lens is of no use. The second thing they think about is getting a telephoto lens for all those zoomed-in photos.
While telephoto lenses are useful in a number of situations, and I am in no way saying that one kind of lens should be preferred over another, but they might not be the best choice for young photographers. Now you may be asking yourselves what a good lens choice is then if not telephoto. The answer, at least for me, is a prime lens.
What is a Prime Lens?
A Prime Lens is one that has a fixed focal length. This means that it can’t zoom in on a subject. This is one of the reasons why many new photographers don’t go out and buy a prime lens, as a telephoto’s varying focal lengths seem more attractive. However, as I am going to explain to my readers in this article, prime lenses are far better than telephoto lenses in a variety of situations.
• They Turn You into a Better Photographer
The main reason why I suggest new camera users to get a prime lens is because it turns them into better photographers. Why, you may ask? Well the simplest answer is that prime lenses make you work harder. You can’t just stand in one spot and look around through your camera’s viewfinder, and then zoom into something that you want to take a picture of while using a prime lens. With a prime, you have to actually work to get the shot you want. They teach you how to look at a subject, which ultimately leads to teaching you how to view something seemingly ordinary from a different perspective. Trust me, once you move in closer to your subject, you see it in a completely new way.
• They Give You Better Quality
Once you start using a decent prime lens, you’ll realize that the image quality you get out of it is generally better than what you get from a telephoto at the same focal length. This is because a prime lens has fewer lens elements and moving parts inside it that can contribute to bad image quality. Images from a prime lens are usually sharper, with lesser chromatic aberration and lens flare as compare to a telephoto.
• They are Faster
For a lens to be fast, its aperture value needs to be low. For example, a lens that has an aperture value of f/1.8 will be faster than a lens with a value of f/3.5. This is because a lower aperture value means that more light gets into your camera sensor, allowing you to use faster shutter speeds to capture action shots.
• They are Lighter and Smaller
Due to lesser parts crammed inside them, prime lenses are lighter than telephotos. This may not seem like a big deal to a new photographer, but once you start shooting with your camera all day, you’ll soon realize why a lower weight matters. They are also smaller, and have a better build quality most of the time, making it easier to keep them in your bag all day without worrying about the space or weight they occupy.
• They give you Bokeh
Ever seen those portrait shots that have a sharp foreground with a silky smooth background? That’s background is known as Bokeh. These kind of images put all the focus on your subject and make the background fade away. Prime lenses generally allow for better bokeh, especially at lower prices. The amount of bokeh you get from a lens depends on how low the aperture value is. This doesn’t mean that telephoto lenses don’t have low f-numbers, but the ones that do are usually very expensive. In the realm of prime lenses, you can have an excellent amount of bokeh for around $200.
These are my top reasons for every new photographer to get a prime lens as one of the first lenses they get for their cameras. A basic prime, usually the 50mm f/1.8, can be bought for around $200 no matter what brand you have chosen. This was my first prime lens as well, and I still use it every time I go out for a project. The image quality you’ll get from this basic prime will be much better than other telephoto lenses in the same price range. So my advice to you, as a young and aspiring photographer, is to invest in a good prime lens first, learn to look creatively through your camera, and then move up to bigger and more specialty lenses.