Today I’m so excited to be sharing with you this post! I get SO many photography questions from all of you, I decided to make my photography posts a regular here on Dressing Dallas! Today we are going to be talking about prime lenses and answering questions like, What are they used for? and What is the difference between each prime lens? Let’s dive in shall we…
Prime lenses are literally my favorite type of lens. Why you might ask? There are a couple reasons why I choose to use prime lenses for all my photography. This first reason is that they can be a lot less expensive starting out then zoom lenses because there are less parts and less glass. This is perfect for anyone that is starting out with photography. You are able to get a great quality lens for $100-$500 (nice zoom lenses can easily exceed $1000, yikes!). The second reason why I love prime lenses is the quality of photos they give, and the beautiful bokeh they produce. You are able to get a beautiful, crisp subject in low lighting and the background has the most beautiful blur! The pictures look magical! I rarely use a zoom lens for my blog photography, just because I’m so obsessed with my prime lenses!
So what is a prime lens exactly? A prime lens simply means the lens is fixed at one focal length. This means that YOU as the photographer move your body to achieve the shot you want. I honestly love being able to move around and capture the image I want. It helps me feel more involved in the picture taking process!
Currently, I own 4 prime lenses. Each is beautiful in their own way, and it’s hard to pick favorites! Here’s the one’s I currently own:
Canon 50mm f/1.2 (I would definitely recommend the f/1.4 to start!)
Canon 85mm f/1.8 (I hope to upgrade to the f/1.2 someday!)
I also recommend the Canon 35mm f/2 (which I don’t own…yet!)
To show you the difference between the 4 prime lenses I own, I took pictures of the same perfume bottle, standing in the same spot, just so you can see the difference in focal length. Basically, the rule of thumb is the smaller the focal length, the farther away you are from the subject. PS: Notice the pretty Bokeh and crisp subject #swoon.
As you can see, the greater the number for focal length, the closer the zoom will be. Also, I should add that I am using a cropped frame camera (Canon Rebel SL1). If you were using a full-framed camera, the look of each lens will be different, just because on a full-frame you are able to capture more picture.
So which situations are best for each type of lens? Really, you can use any of these lenses for your pictures, and they will turn out great! The difference is that you will want an 85 mm lens when you need to stand farther away from a subject (detail photography or portraits) or a 35 mm when you need to capture a whole room. Really take into consideration your subject matter when choosing your prime lens. This will help you capture everything important in the picture as well as beautiful details! Here is a list of ways I’d use each of these lenses, and what I use them for in my photography:
- 24mm lens: I use this pancake lens often when I’m carrying around my DSLR to capture moments around Dallas. This lens allows me to capture a lot of detail in a room or scenery, and it’s very compact, which is perfect for a purse. I also love to use this lens when I’m taking lifestyle pictures of my family and friends. You have to be careful with the 24mm lens though, it’ does cause a little bit of distortion (similar to a fisheye lens), so take that into account when choosing this lens.
- 40mm lens: I love using this pancake lens for portraits. It is so easy to carry around and it’s very light. It captures the perfect amount of background and it keeps my subject crisp as can be. I also love using this for capturing room shots. This spectacular lens can capture a whole room with ease. There is a lot less distortion than the 24mm and the 35mm, which makes it an awesome lens to pick (and it’s really inexpensive!).
- 50mm lens: This lens is known as the nifty 50, and for good reason. This is honestly the all around best lens for, well, anything! I chose to upgrade my 50mm lens to the really expensive version first, just because I use it SO much. The 50mm lens is perfect for bloggers of any kind (especially fashion and lifestyle bloggers!) because it has literally no distortion, creates the perfect amount of bokeh, and you don’t have to stand super far away, or super close to a subject to capture them! I love using this lens for my outfit pictures because it makes my outfit perfectly focused and crisp, while the background is beautifully blurred. I also love using this for lifestyle photography and for portraits just because of the beautiful bokeh it creates. Want to see an example of what the 50mm can do? Check out my most recent lifestyle photoshoot featuring my sister-in-law and her cute newborn!
- 85mm lens: If I was to choose a second favorite prime lens, it would be this one. I love using this lens for close up shots and shots that require me to capture a lot of detail. This lens is really nice to use for these type of situations because you don’t have to bend down a ton in order to capture what you want. It also keeps the subjects nice and crisp when shooting. I use this lens primarily for my recipe posts and some of my beauty posts, because those require that I capture a lot of detail! This lens is also great for capturing fun situations like a party or gathering, because you don’t have to stand super close to your subject to capture them in the moment. It’s a really great lens to take to weddings for that very same reason. You can shoot the couple’s rings without holding your camera awkwardly close to their bodies. The next lens I upgrade to the lower f-stop will be the 85mm!
A word about f-stops. I plan on doing a whole post on f-stops, but I wanted to mention them here just because they alter a picture using a prime lens SO much. The basic rule of f-stops is that the lower the f-stop, the wider the aperture (opening of the lens) gets. This lets in more light to a picture and creates more beautiful bokeh. I would recommend starting off getting a prime lens with an f-stop of 1.4 and then upgrading later. An f-stop of 1.4 is perfect for capturing that nice blurred background, and it works perfectly in low-light situations. For portraits, I try to stay around an f stop of 2.8-5.6 to make sure my whole subject is in focus. If I’m shooting still life, or I’m trying to get a dreamy looking photo with a lot of soft lines, I’ll go down to a f/1.4 or even a f/1.2. You want to invest in a lens that’s in your budget with the lowest f-stop available. This will insure that you can have a lot more options in low-light situations and in all of your photography.
I hope you enjoyed this really fun photography post! What are your favorite lenses? What can’t you live without?
Want to check out more of my photography posts? Check out Life Is Cool, The Best Cameras and Lenses for Bloggers, and Life Is Artsy.
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