5 Reasons Every Photographer Needs A Prime Lens

Adventures of Daru Presents: Mysteries Of Photography

Episode 1, Prime Time!

Prime lenses, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways. Ok that was pretty corny but I really can’t express how much I love prime lenses. From Canon’s “Nifty Fifty” to the legendary Planar 50mm f/0.7 made by Carl Zeiss. Prime lenses have been a staple of photography throughout history… and will continue to be. There’s a reason prime lenses are found on just about every best of list. Well I did promise you at least five of those reasons, so let’s get to it.

1. Image Quality

The color, contrast, and sharpness delivered by prime lenses are astounding! Straight from the camera, they provide images that just “pop.” I use pop because there’s just something about the images that is hard to describe. A depth and life that seems unique to prime lenses.


Canon 85mm f/1.8
[© 2015 Daru Photography]



 2. Depth of Field

Speaking of depth. The maximum aperture size most prime lenses provide creates a shallow depth of field that makes your subject truly stand out in a photo. The shallow depth allows the subject to stay in focus while the background (and many distractions) blurs into a very beautiful “bokeh.” A f/1.0 zoom lens? I don’t think so.

Canon 100mm f/2.8L
[© 2015 Daru Photography]


Canon 50mm f/1.8
[© 2015 Daru Photography]

3. Performance

Low Light Photography
That maximum aperture mentioned above doesn’t just provide great isolation but also allows you to shoot in incredibly low light. This is great for night photography and indoor events. A larger aperture lets you shoot with a faster shutter speed and lower ISO. Faster speeds reduce the chance of having unintentionally blurry pictures due to camera shake caused by having a shutter speed that’s too slow to hand hold your camera. A lower ISO typically means a better quality picture. The higher the ISO the more “noise” your pictures will have, so it’s best to shoot at the lowest ISO possible.

Special Herbs & Spices
There are also many specialized prime lenses available for things such as close up photography (macro lenses) and architectural photography (tilt shift lenses)

4. Value

Dollar for dollar you just can’t beat what a prime lens gives you. Prime lenses tend to be a fraction of the cost of what a zoom lens with comparable performance would be. That’s not to say all prime lenses are cheap. Especially considering that there’s a $2 million dollar custom made Zeiss lens floating around out there.

5. Creativity

While fixed focal length lenses may not have the flexibility zoom lenses provide, they do make you a more creative photographer. With a prime lens, in order to zoom in, you have to move forward. Yup, you actually have to move your feet. The great thing about this is it forces you to think things through and find perspectives you may not have found if you just stood in one place.


Let’s Hear From You

What do you think of prime lenses? Do you see yourself adding one to your collection?




10 thoughts on “5 Reasons Every Photographer Needs A Prime Lens

  1. I love my primes. I use the 24-105 a lot, but usually I have some sort of fixed focal length lens on my camera. More often than not it’s the Holga lens. The Holga has a cheap plastic meniscus lens. It’s focal length of 60mm. I have one that I use on my DSLR. It spends most of the cold months on my camera.


  2. I’m with Valerie, I use my 24-105 a lot, particularly while shooting the Unplugged on the Front Porch concerts. Fixed lens don’t give me the flexibility I want in that situation. HOWEVER, I totally agree with you about the 5 reasons you state above. And, when I shoot with my Leica, I don’t have a choice, all the lens for that camera are prime!


  3. WOW! I want to become a photographer so I can get some of this amazing gear! This is beautifully written and researched. Your photos are nicely framed and your talent comes through in your choice of images. You have cited your images perfectly! This is a perfect example of a well-crafted and thoughtful blog post. Great for you! ~JB


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