Prime Lens? What are they?

Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 III’ve noticed that a lot of people especially beginners and amateurs like me are confuse about prime lenses. Often they refer to zoom lenses with fix aperture as prime lenses, and some refer to Canon L lenses as prime lenses, so I decided to do a little research myself.

Prime lens is a lens that have fixed focal length or one focal length, a great example of a prime lens in the Canon Lens lineup is the famous and cheap Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II or The Nifty 50.

Here are some characteristics of a prime lens:

  • It is less versatile than a zoom lens mainly because of its focal length. You have to zoom with your feet.
  • It requires technique and some skill. To some photographers it’s a challenge to use prime lens. Most probably because of the zooming with the feet. (:-)
  • They have only one focal length therefore they can’t zoom.
  • You might have to switch lenses a lot if you need to zoom or if you need to go wide.
  • But they are generally sharp compare to zoom lenses
  • They have superior optical quality
  • Lighter weight,
  • Smaller in size
  • Lower cost compare to zoom lenses
  • They have fewer moving parts.
  • They have less problems compare to zoom lenses
  • They usually have a larger maximum aperture (ex. F/2.8, F/2.0, F/1.4)
  • You will get excellent looking bokeh
  • Great in low light and indoor situations

Where will you use a prime lens?
It depends on what type of photography you are doing, like zoom lenses, you can use prime lenses in just about any type of situation. I have three prime lenses, the EF 50mm F/1.8(nifty fifty), the EF 85mm F/1.8 and EF 100mm F/2.8 Macro USM. I use the 50mm as a walk around lens, for portrait and in indoors or low light, I use the 80mm for portrait, mainly outdoors, but you can also use it indoors if you have plenty of space, and since it’s a F/1.8 its great in low light and lastly I use the 100mm Macro for macro photography, i also use it, for portrait, landscape.


Here are some of the prime lenses available in the Canon Lens Lineup:

Wide-Angle Prime Lenses:

Standard and Medium Telephoto

Macro

Telephoto

Note: All Canon EF Lenses are compatible with Canon Cameras with Full Frame, APS-H and APS-C sized CMOS Sensors.
All Canon EF-s Lenses are compatible only with Canon Cameras with APS-C sized CMOS Sensor

Below are Prime Lenses from Sigma Corporation:

Wide Angle

Standard Sigma Prime Lens

Sigma Macro Prime Lens

Notes:

  • All DC Sigma Lenses are only compatible with Cameras with APS-C sized sensors.
  • All DG Sigma Lenses were designed for Full Framed cameras but is also compatible with Cameras with Full-Frame and APS-C sized sesors.
  • All of these lenses are also available in other camera mounts like nikon, pentax, olympus and sony. Please read the lens specification to see if it is compatible with your camera.

Tamron Prime Lens. Tamron only have prime lenses on their macro line up.

Note :

  • All Tamron Lenses with the Di:II designation are only compatible with cameras with APS-C sized sensors.
  • All Tamron Lenses with the Di designation were designed for Full Framed cameras but is also compatible with cameras with Full Framed and APS-C sized sensors.
  • All of these lenses are also available in other camera mounts like nikon, pentax, olympus and sony. Please read the lens specification to see if it is compatible with your camera.

Tokina only makes two prime lenses both of them in their macro line up

Note :

  • All Tokina lenses with the DX designation are only compatible with cameras with APS-C sized sensors.
  • All Tamron Lenses with the D designation were designed for Full Framed cameras but is also compatible with cameras with Full Framed and APS-C sized sensors.
  • Most Tokina lenses were made for the Canon and Nikon mounts, but some of their lenses are compatible with other mounts as well. Please read the lens specification to see if it is compatible with your camera.

Prime Lenses from other Third Party Manufacturers:

According to some unconfirm rumors, these lenses are manufactured by a company named Samyang, and were rebranded, you may see this very same lenses to have different names, other than the ones listed above. They are also marketed as Opteka 85mm f/1.4 Medium Telephoto Portrait Lens and Polar 85mm F/1.4.

If I’m not mistaken, these lenses are available on Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus and Sony mounts.
Notes:

  • Please read the lens specification to see if it is compatible with your camera.

If there are some points that needs correction, please feel free to do so. I appreciate any comments or inputs you may have.

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