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Author Topic: prime vs. zoom  (Read 4450 times)

jasonmillard81

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prime vs. zoom
« on: November 19, 2011, 02:32:53 PM »
Greetings Gents & Ladies,

I am purchasing a Canon 60D this upcoming "Black Friday." 

I am in need of advice for lens options:

I'd like the ability to get GREAT DOF on close-ups etc. 

My primary mode:  VIDEO

My primary content: Narrative/Documentary types (secondary = sports)

Question Primes vs. Zooms?


Is it better to get a 70-200 2.8 L (no IS) and have that for about 6 months

or

Is it better to get a 50mm 1.4 along with a 11-16mm for about a year and maybe save for the 70-200

Once again this is mostly for video

Best,

JM

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prime vs. zoom
« on: November 19, 2011, 02:32:53 PM »

TexPhoto

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2011, 03:22:47 PM »
70-200 on a crop sensor camera like the 60D is a very long lens to be your only lens.  So I have to say option 2.

KacperP

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2011, 03:23:38 PM »
I have 60D. For video I use mostly prime, Canon 28mm f1.8. Allows lower ISO in low light than zooms.
I bought it as equivalent of 50 mm for full frame for portrait photography.

As video only lenses I will go for Samyang manual primes in video variants (which have manual continous aperture control). I will also buy some stabilizing/shoulder rig for camera.

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2011, 04:42:42 PM »
You mentioned a secondary video usage for sports. 

Remember, with a DSLR you get a shallow depth of field, and no autofocus.  Manually focusing while trying to follow a fast moving sport is extremely difficult, its impossible for me to do it, particularly if I have a shallow depth of field.  About all I can do is to use a wide angle lens that is in focus over the whole feild and watch the players running around like little ants in the distance.


For still subjects, the video function is fine, but moving ones may be a issue if you need to follow action.

For sports, I'd look at pellicle mirror cameras that can autofocus while takiing video like the Sony A77.  I'm not a fan of Sony, but they seem to have worked out some of the video issues on their latest DSLR's

dr croubie

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2011, 06:20:44 PM »
As video only lenses I will go for Samyang manual primes in video variants (which have manual continous aperture control). I will also buy some stabilizing/shoulder rig for camera.

I keep seeing lenses like these go for more money on ebay than they should. Like Jupiter-9 85mm f/2 are always there for US$100 give or take (perfect condition, reputable sellers), and i've seen a few "clickless aperture" versions go for $200.
I even bought my Samyang 35/1.4 off ebay from a guy who said "I'm only selling it to buy the clickless aperture version". When I got it, I undid 6 screws and took the aperture-click ball-bearing out in all of 5 minutes. Cost me half as much as a new one. (I'm willing to share photos as to how to do it if anyone's that interested and can't figure it out themselves).


as for the OP, options between the 70-200 or 50/1.4 + 11-16, I don't think you could get any wildly different lenses without asking for opinions between a supertele and MP-E 65.

a) Do you have a camera (even P&S) at the moment? How far zoomed in do you want to get? Take some shots and figure out the focal lengths you want to use. (if you've got a P&S, tell us the focal length and which camera, we can work out an equivalent focal length for using on the 60D).

b) at 70mm on APS-C, framing a person's head in horizontal-orientation for video, you'll need to be 150cm away (from the front of the lens, taken from the back of your body maybe ~2m). With a 50mm lens, you can get a bit closer. With an 11-16mm lens you'll fit the entire room in the shot without touching their nose with the lens. Also, a lens that ultrawide taking people-shots is going to distort their facial features like a funhouse mirror.

c) For sports only, yes the 70-200 f/2.8 is going to be perfect. If you keep your shutter speed high (above 1/320s or so, 1/1000s is good for action sports) then you won't need IS.

d) But IS is so useful for video. As a general-purpose video lens you can't go past the 24-105 f/4L IS for about the same price as the 70-200 f/2.8L, or the EF-S 15-85, but neither of them have a fast aperture for low DOF. The EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 has a fast aperture but isn't very long in focal length.

e) For the video-side, if you get something like a steadicam, and don't need to zoom in with video shots (which I wouldn't recommend anyway, don't forget zooming in will change the focus of most lenses), i'd go the trinity of Samyang 35/1.4, Canon 50/1.4, Canon 85/1.8 (or Samyang 85/1.4, get more easily variable aperture and half a stop faster for a bit softer lens). The canon 85/1.8 can make a good sports photo-lens for things like indoor volleyball/tennis/badminton, marginal for a moderate field like ice-hockey, but not so useful for outdoors on a big field like football. Getting a 70-200 f/2.8L for sports together with a 35/1.4 and/or 50/1.4 (and/or 24-105/15-85 if you can afford it) for video would be my recommendation.

f) What did you mean with the line "get a 70-200 2.8 L (no IS) and have that for about 6 months"? I can understand getting the other kit, then selling it a year later to buy the 70-200. But why only have the 70-200 for 6 months? Do you have to sell it all at the end of that time? If so, L-lenses are definitely more highly-recommended, if you take care of your gear you can get back 80-90% of what you paid for it when you sell it 2nd hand.
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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2011, 07:18:03 PM »
for narrative, when you have time to change your lenses, primes are best
for documentary and sports, you can get very nice images with primes, but you'll miss fewer shots with zooms

personally, I'm interested mostly on narrative, so I only have primes, plus the 18-55 kit lens

one very bad thing about that zoom: as your only lens, it would be too limiting, it is way too long

and one very good thing about primes: if you're shooting mainly video, you don't need (or want) AF, which means you can get either vintage glass (amazing, but kind of a lottery) or samyang primes (best bang for buck by a long, long shot)

you can check them here on my equipment recommendations, where there are some interesting comparisons (like the samyang 35mm handily beating the five-times-more-expensive canon 35mm L lens)
http://www.similaar.com/foto/equipment/us_lensc.html

so, I'd say: get the 18-55 kit lens if it costs you $80 or less (it's a very decent 18mm f/3.5 lens), get the samyang 35mm f/1.4, get the samyang 85mm f/1.4, and wait till you decide which focal lengths you need most (ultra wide angle or telephoto)


edit: I also have a "zooms vs primes" section on my photography tutorial, but the level there may be too low for what you're trying to find out:
http://www.similaar.com/foto/tuten/110.html#

KacperP

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2011, 10:37:06 PM »
IS in lens is indeed useful in video, but it's also considerable drain on battery. LCD screen is already draining it's share of energy, and IS adds to equation. Steadicam and/or shoulder rig would be better way to go, even when using IS lens.
As for Samyang lenses I'm curious when announced 24 mm f1.4 is coming. That might be quite a lens for "close quartes" video shoothing on APS-C sensor.

Sports... I think that it depends on discipline of sport what lens/gear you will need.

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2011, 10:37:06 PM »

gene_can_sing

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2011, 12:27:00 AM »
I shoot mostly just video.

Primes and Zooms have a different place.

For example, I shot a surf doc. in Peru and I mostly used the Canon 17-55mm for B-Roll gathering. Zooms are invaluable when you have to work fast (like collecting B-Roll) and the Canon 70-200L 2 IS f2.8 for the filming the surfing stuff and for portraits.

But when I shoot portraits of people or more when I'm in a controlled situation with more time, I mostly used Primes -- Zeiss 50mm f1.4, Zeiss 85mm f1.4 and the Canon 100mm L 2 Macro are really good portraits lenses.

When I need a wide angle or my steady cam, it's the Tokina 11-16 f2.8

If I had to have just 3 lenses

1) Canon 17-55 f2.8. One of the best zooms made and invaluable for video / doc work. Very versatile.
2) Zeiss 50mm f1.4. A great manual focus lens and great for portraits on the 60D.
3) Canon 70-200 f 2.8 IS 2. A great portrait lens and great for close ups. An invaluable lens.

I used the Zeiss 85mm f1.4 for portraits also, but it has a minimum focus distance of 1 meter, so that kind of sucks. But beautiful lens

A macro is good to have because I like to do a lot of extreme close ups.

Hope that helps.

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2011, 01:44:07 AM »
For a 60D perhaps also consider the faster EF-S zooms that have IS.  As far as prime vs. zoom, well IS is a big thing to consider.  The primes don't gain IS until you get into the telephoto focal lengths and the 100mm Macro.  Other than that, Zooms always have slower f/stops than primes but the fastest of them (2.8's) can give reasonably good shallow depth of field results.  And then finally, do you need zooming in your shot (ala the office -comedy style or bourne identity security cam/spy style cinematography), can you afford a full kit of primes, where as you get almost 3 primes in one for each zoom?  Does the speed of your production prohibit lens switching on set.  Once you know, you should have your answer.

Question for those who have worked with a shoulder mount.  Would you still say IS is useful on a shoulder mount, or even high end video tri-pod.  Or would you turn it off for one or both of those considerations.

I've mostly played with either stationary DSLR video, which is fine if your tri-pod is heavy enough (and realistically is my preferred style of directing shots as I'm not a huge fan of camera movement and would rather just cut to another angle to imply movement, but it's obviously not something one wants to entirely limit themselves to forever.  DSLR video handheld without a special rig, and without IS, seems impossibly shaky without some extreme, and perhaps so extreme it's impossible, digital image stabilization in post and then re-cropping.  It's seems just too shakey to even consider working with in serious situations, but have not tried it with IS which may seem doable or with a shoulder mount.  Going to be studying and then building my own custom shoulder rig in 2012.  Thanks for any answers in advance and good luck to OP.

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2011, 02:54:36 AM »
I am a stills guy, so I cannot give you feedback on video.

For low light photography, and artistic photography, primes are the way to go. This is also true of natural light portraits using daylight only.
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JR

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2011, 07:13:43 AM »
Personally I love prime lens, but for Video, I would recommend you start out with the 17-55 EF-S 2.8 IS lens which is razor sharp and gives you IS for some video application.  If you also plan to use a tripod, then maybe you can add a faster prime lens.

I am not a videographer but enjoy taking video with my 5D II.  With primes lens for me the result is just not nice without a tripod.  With IS however I can make great hand held clip no problem.
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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2011, 10:33:19 AM »
Greetings Gents & Ladies,

I am purchasing a Canon 60D this upcoming "Black Friday." 

I am in need of advice for lens options:

I'd like the ability to get GREAT DOF on close-ups etc. 

My primary mode:  VIDEO

My primary content: Narrative/Documentary types (secondary = sports)

Question Primes vs. Zooms?


Is it better to get a 70-200 2.8 L (no IS) and have that for about 6 months

or

Is it better to get a 50mm 1.4 along with a 11-16mm for about a year and maybe save for the 70-200

Once again this is mostly for video

Best,

JM


From your lens choices I figure that by "great DOF" you actually mean narrow DOF, right? I'm not a video expert and actually never use video the video feature of my 5DII. But from all I heard about this from the folks who like using DSLRs instead of a real professional video camera because of the larger sensor allowing for narrow DOF and good low light performance you may be better off looking for fast lenses with manual control of both focus and aperture. Old manual Nikon glass with an appropriate adapter seems to be one of the good choices.

With all that you might want to keep in mind that for any serious video work you also have to address the sound recording and editing. That's one of the things where it gets expensive and complicated and where it may be worth looking into designated video cameras again.

Last time I needed to do some video work that was not documenting my kids I was able to borrow a professional video cam from a local studio. You can rent that stuff also.

Just voicing my opinion here but I personally find that whole DSLR as a video camera thing to be hype. Sure, there are some pretty videos online where people zoom in and out of candles in a dark room. Great. And then what? Then you start investing into all the little designated contraptions that address the shortcomings of these cameras, like AF, auto aperture, viewfinder, ergonomics, sound issues, etc
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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2011, 10:42:22 AM »
7enderbender,

I understand what you are getting at.  But I would suggest, give it time.  We only saw 1 round (generation 1) of DSLR video.  And it was an afterthought.  Wait until Canon, or some other company, continues to push it.  The sensor technology of DSLR is the same used in high end Red cams, and the photography lenses are very high quality yet more affordable than costly pro-video gear.

I do agree with all the gizmo's and adapters, especially if it's all needed and bought outright, that it very well may just make better sense to get dedicated equipment, but even if that, if your goal is to own it, you still don't have a great stills photography camera and have to buy all of that separately, including lenses.

I do completely agree with you, but yeah, just putting that into the mix.  Also, if one doesn't try to get too nuts, and uses DSLR video in it's current form and keeps in mind it's current, temporary, inherent limitations, then really cool work can be done on a budget cheap enough to own, perfect for testing, and can save rental costs of high end kit for special days.

I got excited about DSLR first for the video, but then fell in love with photography and focus on that more since the day I bought the camera.  However I have not forgotten or abandoned the idea of DSLR video.  I think they are perfect for documentary interviews and lectures, which is probably my favorite genre.

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2011, 10:42:22 AM »

AJ

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2011, 01:02:13 PM »
I'd get a stabilized standard zoom (e.g. 18-135 or 15-85) plus a prime (e.g. 50/1.4), then save up for a long lens.

A standard zoom will make your rig much more versatile.  If bought as a kit with the camera body, the incremental cost makes it very good value.

55-250 could be a good stop-gap long lens until you're able to afford (and know what you want) for a faster long lens.

Have fun

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Re: prime vs. zoom
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2011, 01:02:13 PM »