The term prime lens refers to a fixed focal length photographic lens (instead of a zoom lens), typically with an aperture of f 2.8 to f 1.2. Additionally, it can refer to the main lens in a system that includes multiple lenses.

Why Prime Lens?

Prime lenses are better than other lens types because it gives you a fast aperture, crisp details, and clear backgrounds.

Prime lenses are better than zoom lenses due to their ability to better utilize the available light and separate the foreground from the background with an aesthetically pleasing crispness.

Features Of Prime Lens

  • Fixed focal length lens does not allow for zooming in or out.
  • A lens with a fast aperture can maximize the amount of available light.
  • Can open its aperture to an f/2 – f/1.2 or even f/. 95 range
  • Prime lenses are often smaller than zoom lens counterparts, having a variety of other benefits.
  • Prime lenses are more compact and require less effort.
  • Prime lenses are sharper than a zoom lens.
  • Better image and video quality

What Are Prime Lens Good For?

In prime lenses, you have a greater maximum aperture than in zooms, which leads to a shallower depth of field. In this case, the amount of the image which is in focus is measured. With a wide aperture of f/1.4, there is a greater amount of out-of-focus blurring than if you were to shoot at f/2.8.

Categories of Prime lenses

There are three main categories of Prime Lenses as follow:

Wide Angle

All lenses come in either a prime or a zoom version, including wide-angle lenses. The field of view of prime lenses changes depending on how close you are or how far away you are. Generally, primes are lighter, faster, cheaper, and produce better images.

Standard

35mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses are the three most frequently used standard primes. Their value depends on their maximum aperture and overall build quality. They come in a variety of aperture speeds.

Telephoto

A lens is considered “telephoto” if it has a focal length of 60mm or greater. Telephoto lenses and zoom lenses are two very different things, and many people confuse them.

Considerations While Buying Prime Lens

Focal Length

Focal lengths of prime lenses can range from less than 20mm to 600mm. The choice of focal length is dependent on the type of photography you plan to do.

Lens Speed

The aperture of prime lenses is usually wider than zoom lenses, which means you can use them in low-light situations since they are faster.

Quality & Sharpness

In general, prime lenses tend to be sharper than zooms at the same focal length and aperture because they have fewer moving parts and are less variable.

Weight

A prime lens is lighter and smaller than a zoom lens because it has fewer moving parts. A lighter construction, however, will likely result in a lower quality product.

Size

Prime lenses come in sizes that vary from very short (like 63mm x 15mm) to very long (like 156.5mm x 520mm) as well as additional dimensions, possibly even more.

Limitations of the Prime Lens in General Photography

  • The significant disadvantage of prime lenses is their fixed focal length. 
  • You will experience the limitations of prime lenses when you start shooting with them.
  • The lack of zoom means that you have to compose the frame by moving further away or getting closer to the subject.

Difference Between Prime and Zoom Lens

Prime Lens

These lenses have fixed focal lengths and fewer elements than a conventional lens. These are usually smaller and simpler. Their specialized nature allows them to achieve a very high level of quality, price, and overall sharpness.

Zoom Lens

The highly convenient lens can cover a wide range of focal lengths. The parts are stacked, moved, and arranged to work together for the various magnification levels. However, their trade-off is that they don’t produce the sharpest images.

Most Popular Prime Lenses

The most popular prime lenses with their ranges are: 

FAQ's

Which prime lens is best to use?

With a full-frame sensor system, the 50mm prime lens most accurately approximates the human eye’s field of vision, and On a crop sensor (APS-C), it is the 35mm prime lens that approximates the same view.

Why do we use a prime lens?

Using a filter with a prime lens will reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor, allowing you to use slow shutter speeds in daylight. It will also allow you to use wider apertures in bright light situations, which will reduce DOF.

Why is the prime lens better than the zoom lens?

A prime lens is significantly sharper than a zoom lens. Because they do not have extra frames inside that, they can move to zoom, that is why. This results in better quality photos due to a reduction in diffraction, which increases with a greater number of lens elements inside, as in the case of zoom lenses.

Is a prime lens worth it?

A prime lens will also be less likely to experience problems due to general use since there are fewer moving parts. A prime lens will perform better than its zoom counterpart, as it will be sharper and have fewer aberrations.