Singapore 2016: The Concourse And The Power Of Prime Lenses

Singapore 2016: The Concourse Building 2Singapore 2016: The Concourse 1
Nikon D610, 28mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO 100

“Prime lens or zoom lens?”

This continues to be among the top frequently-asked questions among the photography community. I personally came to the conclusion a while ago that unless you are doing a commercial shoot and require the best pixels possible, the zoom lens is the better choice. This is because you are far more likely to miss moments you have the wrong focal length on your camera or is busy changing lenses. A cloud could roll over and block your wonderful golden sun the one minute it takes you to change a lens – and stay there for the next 20 minutes. Meanwhile you keep losing other shots that you could have taken with another lens while waiting for the cloud to go away. Getting excellent pixels of great moments is better than having other-worldly pixels of nothing.

However you still can’t deny the great results produced by a prime lens.

Singapore 2016: The Concourse Building 1Singapore 2016: The Concourse 2
Nikon D610, 28mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO 100

I was just reminded of how special the image quality of a prime lens can be recently, when I decided to bring out my Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G instead of my usual Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-5.6G. The 28G has been left mostly untouched ever since the 18-35G joined my collection. But just for a day, I brought it out. The final results of the images speak for themselves. Of course any differences are invisible at web size. However when viewed full-size on a 24-inch monitor, the optical superiority of the 28G is discernable to the experienced eye. I don’t even need to switch to 1-1 magnification or lean in to look closely to know immediately that the 28G has produced results that the 18-35G never could.

In my experience, the optical advantage actually extends to high ISO usage as well. At high ISO values up to the 3,200 – 6,400 range, the 28G continues to deliver better results simply because of its optical superiority. The final images always retain details better after noise removal because the quality of the image projected on the sensor is simply better in the first place.

Yeah, pity that the usefulness of prime lenses is limited for my photography needs. 😦

Still I enjoyed my time with the 28G. I have a few more images that I will share in a subsequent blog post. It remains to be seen if I have an opportunity to bring it out again before the end of the year. – WY

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