Want great shots? Make sure you have at least one prime lens

When you bought your first DSLR, it likely came with a zoom lens. This style of lens makes it easy to get a wider range of coverage with just a quick turn of the wrist. Many prefer this flexibility versus having to actually move their feet to get the shot.

So why go “old school” and choose a prime lens that only offers a single focal length? It’s all about aperture. Here are a few reasons to consider.

  • Most prime lenses offer apertures that open as far f/1.2 to f/2. These wider opening can let in more light to hit the camera’s sensor.
  • More light can be truly useful when shooting in existing light or low-light environments. It means you can use lower ISO settings to control noise or combine with higher ISO settings to get sharper photos due to faster shutter speeds.
  • Prime lenses are typically sharper than zoom lenses.
  • Prime lenses tend to be cheaper and lighter than zoom lenses. This is because they have fewer moving parts and elements.
  • If you want a shallow depth of field to blur the background, prime lenses make this task much easier.

Shot at ƒ2.0 — The shallow depth of field keeps the viewer focussed on the emotional details of the photo.
Image ©Richard Harrington

A great place to start for most users is a 50 mm lens. The “nifty fifty” can often be found for as low as $150. Sure you can spend more to get a 1.2 aperture… but for those looking to get started, the 1.8 aperture is a great place to begin.

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