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Thread: prime lens vs zoom lens for 5d mark 3

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    prime lens vs zoom lens for 5d mark 3

    Hello guys,

    Would like to ask everybody's opinion on this. 5d mark 3 is awesome (ISO,etc) which makes me think twice of the value of prime lens. I could not justify getting a prime instead of zoom (L series such as 70-200 and 24-105mm) . Does it really that obvious and appreciable in IQ difference?

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    Id say its not about if you should get a prime or zoom, its about what you need for what you shoot.

    For example, if you regularly shoot say horses galloping towards you, the best prime in the world would be useless to you because you cant run fast enough to recompose your next image before the horse has passed you... Opportunity lost.

    On the other hand, if you only ever shoot static objects and your arent in a rush then a prime may well be a better option.

    For most people L' glass zooms are a good compromise, though note that zooms are usually more expensive than a prime.

    Another problem you'll face if you havent found it already, is what length prime will be right for you.

    Personally, having used the 24-105L a lot and own the 24-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f2.8L, if you want the 70-200, then get the 24-70 also, not the 24-105. The f2.8 will be of more benefit to you than the duplication of 70-105.

    I also have the 100mm f2.8 L Macro - As a 100mm prime, its wonderfully crisp, sharp & fast... but it could never replace the 2 zooms as I would simply too limited with my shooting options.

    HTH
    Jon

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    A 24-105L you mentioned, is not THAT sharp in terms of IQ performance compared to other L zoom lenses anyway, ala a 70-200 F4IS, or the F2.8IS Mark 2. The 24-105L has always been one of the more 'budget' L lenses in terms of performance, with greater emphasis on useful focal range and IS rather than outright performance.

    I only use primes these days on the 5D2 and 5D3 for my line of work. But for your needs it may or may not be different.

    I prefer primes because

    -sharper from centre to edge
    -better/more creamy bokeh
    -the ability to shoot and do more creative things at f1.2 or f1.4
    -less barrel distortion
    -smaller and lighter

    These days I prefer moving quickly on my feet rather than standing in 1 spot to zoom in and out etc. All personal preferences.

    I currently use 35L, 85L, 135L.

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    Two different and great opinions. Thank you both for posting and for the question. cheers Brian
    Cheers Brian.

    Canon 7D Kit lenses EFS 18-55 IS EFS 55-250 IS EF28-90 Canon EF 2xll Extender Sigma DG150-500 OS Speedlight 420EX. 580EX

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    Quote Originally Posted by aalex View Post
    Hello guys,

    Would like to ask everybody's opinion on this. 5d mark 3 is awesome (ISO,etc) which makes me think twice of the value of prime lens. I could not justify getting a prime instead of zoom (L series such as 70-200 and 24-105mm) ...
    Fair enough. I don't think any one will twist your arm and make you buy some thing you don't want. If you like to shoot at high ISO's and with relatively small (f2.8-F4) apertures then that's fine. Many people are happy to do that. I use a couple of F2.8 zooms for the vast majority of my paid work, even though I have many fast primes. It's a matter of horses for courses and fast lenses are not always the best choice. Zooms are also more practical to use in many applications but I (virtually) never use zooms for any personal work.

    Quote Originally Posted by aalex View Post
    ... Does it really that obvious and appreciable in IQ difference?
    Yes, there are obvious and appreciable differences in image quality (with certain primes) but there are many many ways to differentiate the performance of lenses other than sharpness (see here and here) so you need to look at other qualities to see the advantages of primes. Don't assume that a $15 bargain box prime will outperform a $3000 zoom. Many high end zooms perform as well or better than many primes, it just depends on the criteria used to judge them.

    There are many cheap primes (eg Industar 50-2 50mm F3.5, but there are dozens of others, maybe hundreds) that have interesing qualities about their images that make them worth using in certain circumstances but this is a bit of a treasure hunt and you can also waste a heap of money on cheap lenses when you could have just bought a high quality lens in the first place and saved yourself heaps of time as well. The Canon nifty 50 is not a bad place to start if you want to have a play with primes as it is very cheap.
    Last edited by jjphoto; 23-08-2012 at 12:01pm.

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    Thanks to everyone for the feedback.

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    Ausphotography Regular Dug's Avatar
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    Personally, having used the 24-105L a lot and own the 24-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f2.8L, if you want the 70-200, then get the 24-70 also, not the 24-105. The f2.8 will be of more benefit to you than the duplication of 70-105.
    Alternatively even the new 24-70 vers2 has no IS, but the 24-105 does. If the extra 70-105 focal lengths is something you would include as your most used lengths then it is an attractive lens option as a broad use walk around lens.
    If you can pin down focal lengths that you would have the most use for a fast aperture, then that is often a good indication of what fast prime you might want in addition to a less fast zoom.
    If you need a fast aperture over a broad range of focal lengths then the 24-70L 2.8 is indeed a good option as it is fast by zoom lens standards but not as fast as the options you will find in prime lenses.

    You could get better IQ having say three or more well chosen quality primes in place of a zoom that covers the same range, but you could also miss a lot of shots doing lens changes and framing having only primes.
    The IQ difference would be there but you would have to look very critically to see it over say L series zooms.
    A bigger benefit with primes I think is in getting fast speeds at a relatively good price.
    Having a general use zoom and say a fast prime picked out for portrait or low light hand held photography is a good option. Also suggested a macro is an excellent prime choice for its extra close focus versatility.

    A 24-105L you mentioned, is not THAT sharp in terms of IQ performance compared to other L zoom lenses anyway, ala a 70-200 F4IS, or the F2.8IS Mark 2. The 24-105L has always been one of the more 'budget' L lenses in terms of performance, with greater emphasis on useful focal range and IS rather than outright performance.
    I think the 24-105 is an excellent lens in all respects and I see nothing budget about it.
    If it is less expensive than other L's then it is though being an f4 and the volume it is produced in. There is little point comparing it to a 70-200 anything, compared to the 24-70L 2.8 it comes a close second for IQ and at a number of apertures you would be presses to tell the difference.

    In short what is right you you comes down to what you photograph and your shooting habits, there is no this is the best lens for anyone. That also applies to zoom vs prime, you need to be aware of the trade offs and balance that to what suits you in terms of usage, budget and what you are prepared to lug around with you.
    Last edited by Dug; 26-08-2012 at 8:44pm.

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    If it is less expensive than other L's then it is though being an f4 and the volume it is produced in. There is little point comparing it to a 70-200 anything, compared to the 24-70L 2.8 it comes a close second for IQ and at a number of apertures you would be presses to tell the difference.

    Dont know about you but having owned both of them, and originally on the 5D classic, moving to 1DsMKII then 5D2/5D3, I can easily see there is a big difference in IQ between the 2. With the 24-105 being exposed in its sharpness flaws more visibly on higher MP sensors I dont really need to post up pixel peeping comparisons as they bore me, but its effective in comparing.

    You could get better IQ having say three or more well chosen quality primes in place of a zoom that covers the same range, but you could also miss a lot of shots doing lens changes and framing having only primes.

    when ppl change to primes they usually find themselves able to compose photos much better rather than relying on zooming and being in 1 spot, it allows more interaction between you and the subject and quicker on your feet overall - its a win win for your personal development in photography and photo quality.

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    Ausphotography Regular Dug's Avatar
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    Dont know about you but having owned both of them, and originally on the 5D classic, moving to 1DsMKII then 5D2/5D3, I can easily see there is a big difference in IQ between the 2. With the 24-105 being exposed in its sharpness flaws more visibly on higher MP sensors I dont really need to post up pixel peeping comparisons as they bore me, but its effective in comparing.
    I have the 24-105L as you may have guessed and my observations are based on my studying of the two lenses to see what best suited me. Though I have not owned both to form a first hand opinion I did not come across any review that mentioned "budget" or a lacking of sharpness regarding the 24-105L. Any compromise in its design I would suggest is more about those thrown up through its extra zoom range than any due to budget.

    If its zoom range with IS is what you need, then this one is Canons sharpest is another way to look at it.
    If IQ comes first and fore most for the OP then quality primes are the first option and the 24-70L 2.8 would be the pick as a zoom in that range as I have acknowledged, but what I have also said is it is not always that simple for everyone and I back the 24-105L for its intended purpose as a quality versatile walk around/travel lens.

    when ppl change to primes they usually find themselves able to compose photos much better rather than relying on zooming and being in 1 spot, it allows more interaction between you and the subject and quicker on your feet overall - its a win win for your personal development in photography and photo quality.
    I grew up on prime lenses and I agree that they do change your thinking for the better. Regardless of having a zoom or a prime you should be thinking about the most suitable focal length and where you should be standing, sitting , laying on the ground or perched on a wall and not filling the frame with the zoom ring.
    For fleeting shots and examples like the horses galloping towards you analogy given, where you don't have the time to have the right FL or be in the right spot then the zoom gives you a back up plan.

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    Though I have not owned both to form a first hand opinion I did not come across any review that mentioned "budget" or a lacking of sharpness regarding the 24-105L. Any compromise in its design I would suggest is more about those thrown up through its extra zoom range than any due to budget.

    I'd prefer if you form your own opinions of comparing the 2 lenses based on your own experiences, with various full frame sensors to be able to notice quite a difference, since I didnt need to refer to reviews to be able to say that on a higher MP camera the flaws of the 24-105L becomes more noticeable - it is still a sharp lens, but your comment in stating that one would find it hard to notice a difference with the 24-70 is well......interesting. What bodies have you used the 2 lenses on?

    Many reasons why it is not used for professional work by any serious photographer, but for everyone else, myself included when I was first starting out, its fine - or was fine.

    Maybe you could share photos of what you have taken with the 24-105L since you are quite new here

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    I use my 24-105L on my 5D3 for paid work, and the results are very good, even when the prints are blown up.
    Most of my work is in low light too.

    The only critisism I have of it, is that in VERY high contrast lighting, you can get a smidge of colour fringing, but that is easliy taken out with PP.
    All my photos are taken with recycled pixels.
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    Wisdom, is knowing not to serve it in a fruit salad.

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    On my 5DIII I only use primes so far - 35L, 50 1.8, 85 1.4 and 100L macro. I absolutely love the 35/85 combo, there isn't much I can't shoot without those 2 lenses. I recommend primes all the way, I'm not a massive fan of standard zooms. I never bothered looking at the 24-105, and wasn't too keen on the 24-70 - if I am buying an expensive zoom I want optimum quality. The only standard zoom I will be interested in is the 24-70 II (if it ever eventuates). But at this stage I have no need for such a lens and love using the primes.

    The 70-300L, 70-200L f4 IS or 70-200L f2.8 IS II are the only teles I will be looking at when the time comes, I think the one I will most likely end up with is the f4 IS - a perfect compromise on price & weight, the one stop loss can be made up for with the 5DIII in my opinion, and it outweighs the other 2 main factors. I had my heart set on the 16-35II but couldn't bring myself to spend that much on a lens that wasn't perfect quality, so went for the 35L instead. I will still need to fill that niche one day though, might opt for the 17-40 at half the price considering both lenses are not perfect.

    I like zooms in the wide end and in the tele end, but for the standard-to-portrait-range (35-135) range I prefer primes.
    Cheers, Daniel
    5D III | 35L | 85Σ| 100L | 50/1.8 | 600EX-RT | Di622 II

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    another point to mention is, have you looked through a f/4 lens in a dark room. when compared to f/1.2 it is like night and day. I personally have no tried to make my cameras focus with an f/4 lens in the dark, i doubt they could, they already struggle at 1.4!
    Although you can boost ISO, if the camera cant lock focus in the dark, you are in trouble
    1DIII, 5DII, 15mm fish, 24mm ts-e, 35L,135L,200L,400L,mpe-65mm
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    Quote Originally Posted by fabian628 View Post
    another point to mention is, have you looked through a f/4 lens in a dark room. when compared to f/1.2 it is like night and day. I personally have no tried to make my cameras focus with an f/4 lens in the dark, i doubt they could, they already struggle at 1.4!
    Although you can boost ISO, if the camera cant lock focus in the dark, you are in trouble
    I've never had that problem with either my 60D or 5D3 and I do quite a bit of work in dark places at night.
    In fact, both of these cameras will focus accurately when the viewfinder is almost black.

    I just couldn't use a prime lens for the work I do as it is often in confined spaces and I need to be able to frame up from 1 person to a dozen, so a zoom lens is very handy.
    In fact,

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    low contrast areas in the dark they usually hunt and struggle. my 5d2 has more trouble than my 1d3, however at 1.4 it struggles, at f/4 there is 8times less light hitting the Af sensor, I think the difference is significant

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    LOL, there is massive difference between f4 and f2.8 trying to hunt on AF, even on 1D bodies! So im finding it quite interesting if one can say you can still focus when the viewfinder is almost black....?!

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    In dark conditions, I have my 580EXII flash on top of the camera, so I guess the focus assist is doing its job.

    Mind you, the 5D3 focussing is very quick and accurate even without the flash on top.

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