I have a Canon EOS 20D so I have used Canon Prime Lenses and Canon Zoom Lenses as examples. The following comparison would be true between Nikon Prime Lenses and Nikon Zoom Lenes.
Ok first question is what is a prime lens and what is a zoom lens?
A zoom lens is one that has a retractable zoom ring, making it easier to get in as much or as little of the scenery as you want, without the need to physically moving yourself in the process. If the lens name has a hyphen (-) between the two mm extreme's, then it is a zoom lens e.g. a Canon EF-S 17 - 85 mm f/4=5.6 IS USM is a Canon zoom lens. The focal length can be set from 17mm to 85mm.
A prime or fixed focal length lens is set to one mm focal length. In other words, the focal length cannot be adjusted. if you want to get more or less in the photograph, then you have to physically move yourself closer or farther away from the object you are photographing, e.g. a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens is a Canon prime lens because it has a fixed focal length of 50mm.
Here are the Pros and Cons for either using a Prime Lens or Zoom Lens
- Prime lenses take sharper images because it doesn't have a lot of moving parts.
- Prime lenses tend to be faster, having a f-stop that is fast can take better photographs in low light conditons of dark attactions e.g. Pirates of the Carribean.
- Compact and Light
- Prime lenses are more expensive than the zoom lenses
- Requires the photographer to physically move themselves closer or further away from the subject.
- A good quality zoom lens can be less expensive than a good quality prime lens.
- Allows you to be stationary while being able to zoom to the subject.
- Can be harder to get tack-sharp (perfectly sharp) images.
- The F-stop is much slower than prime lenses unless you have deep pockets. The more afordable lenses tend to be f/4.5 to f/5.6 speed. This speed tends to not be good for dark attractions. The photographs tend to be more blurry because the exposure time needs to be increased or more noisey because you need to bump up the ISO.
- They tend to be heavier. They can weigh you down when travel around the park.
To put it simply, prime lenses are good for taking photos of close objects while zoom lenses work best for capturing images of far-off subjects. For dark attractions when using a flash is not an option prime lenses are a good thing to keep in your travel kit.
I tend to gravitate to my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Prime lens when taking photos at Walt Disney World. What lenses do you use when traveling to a Disney Park? Why do you tend to use this lens more than others. Leave a comment below.