Lenses are very sacred when it comes to digital photography. Without a proper lens, no picture you take will be worth anything. That’s why choosing a lens is so important. There are two kinds of lenses: prime and zoom. Most compact cameras have zoom lenses, whereas most professional cameras have prime lenses. The difference between them is rather easy to understand. Prime lenses have one focal length and can be used for specialist photography. On the other hand, zoom lenses are great for general photography, because they have a wide range of focal lengths.

Of course, there are other tangible benefits from using both types of lenses. Like any field, both have their merits and demerits. Below are a few guidelines you can use when choosing the right lens for your photography!

You may want to think about some of the following features when choosing a prime lens:

1.) Superior images: Prime lenses generally offer high quality pictures, because they are largely made for professionals who want to be perfect in their chosen field. What they offer is priceless: clean, crisp and precise shots.

2.) Economical: There are two sides to prime lenses. While there’s the nifty 50mm variety that comes cheap, there are others that come with a higher price. Generally though, prime lenses are cheaper, because unlike a zoom lens, they don’t have too many moving parts.

3.) Lightweight: Since prime lenses lack complex construction, they are smaller and lighter as well.

4.) Faster: If you’re constantly taking pictures in low light conditions, prime lenses offer a great way to capture your subjects faster (in terms of aperture). Both the 85mm and 50mm lenses are fast and allow you to shoot without a flash.

Now, here are some features to consider when choosing a zoom lens:

1.) Portable: Prime lenses might be lightweight, but zoom lenses are lighter in a different context. If you have to carry a range of prime lenses for different focal lengths to suit different kinds of photography, you might as well just carry one zoom lens that can deliver all of those angles at once.

2.) Dust: If you use several primes, you will have to change the lenses more frequently than with zooms. Every time you change the lens, you’re running the risk of letting dust surround the body and sensors.

3.) Affordable: It’s true that some zoom lenses are more expensive than prime lenses, but you have to look at the cost benefits. If you had to buy three prime lenses to meet your photography needs, the sum total would come up to as much or even more than what one zoom lens would cost.

4.) Flexible: This is the best part of a zoom lens. You don’t need to constantly change your prime lenses to shoot at different focal lengths. You can simply adjust the zoom and you’re ready. That’s very ideal for taking surprise pictures or quick shots where you don’t have time to change your lenses. It’s also great when you have to take close-up pictures from a distance.

Here are a few additional options for lenses:

1.) If you have a Canon DSLR, a couple of 50mm lenses would be great for low light conditions. In addition, you could buy a 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. It’s not only good for macro shooting, but it’s also great for portraits. If you’re going to buy a zoom lens, go for one or more of these: 17-40mm, 24-105mm or a 70-200mm.

2.) You could go for a 70-200mm zoom, because the focal range is too big to cover with several primes. In addition, you could buy a 28mm and 50mm prime lens for lower focal lengths.

3.) For general photography, it’s best to go with a 24-105mm mounted lens. Or, if you want to get more creative, you may want to consider a 50mm prime lens.

4.) For those of you who are beginners, a basic zoom lens or a cheap 50mm prime will do. You can then take it from there.

Since there are advantages to both prime and zoom lenses, the best way to make the most of them is to own one of each and use them accordingly. That way, you’re not deprived in either direction. It really all just depends on what kind of photography you do and how passionate you are about your work. Prime lenses are definitely faster, but zoom lenses are more versatile, so you just have to figure out what will work the best for you. Happy lens shopping!

~Zahid H. Javali