Prime versus zoom lenses


A zoom lens is the type of lens which consists of more than one focal lengths within the same lens. Generally laymen call a long lens as a zoom lens which is wrong. A zoom lens may have any range of focal lengths.100-200mm is a long focal length or telephoto zoom lens. 16-35mm is a wide angle zoom lens. 35-70mm is a wide angle to short telephoto zoom lens. 18-200mm is an extreme range zoom lens. In other words, zoom lens is a kind, where you can zoom from one focal length to another. A useful tip- If your shooting involves almost always shooting on 200mm, it may be worthwhile investing a 200mm prime compared to 20-200mm zoom as at a fraction of a cost you will get a 2.8 aperture in a prime compared to a zoom.

Zoom or Prime lens

Prime lenses

Zoom lenses

Fixed focal length for example 100mm, 50mm, 18mm

Variable focal length for example 16-35mm, 100-400mm

More usefull for planned photography when you are doing one specific kind of photography like shooting portraits in the studio or macro photography. Not very usefull in street/travel photography were your

Faster and hence easier to change the composition and perspective of the subject without moving ahead or back. Very useful in photojournalism and kids photography

Prime lenses are supposed to be better in quality.

This was more true when zoom lenses were introduced but with advancement in technology zoom lenses are almost as good as primes.

However, in terms of quality, a cheaper prime lens may not be as good as an expensive zoom lens.

Generally, go for less range in a zoom as it is easier to make a better quality lens as it involves less glass and complications.

Prime lenses are generaly lighter and smaller (not always) ie if most of your work revolves around a particular focal length it may be a better idea to invest in a prime for quality

Zooms may be heavier and bigger but then they have a range of focal lengths. Modern zooms are relatively lighter and smaller

Usually have bigger maximum apertures.

Zooms with bigger max apertures are relatively more expensive compared to the ones with smaller maximum apertures.

Less prone to fungus

More prone to fungus as more glass elements are there.

Fixed maximum aperture.

Variable max aperture for cheaper zooms and fixed for more expensive ones.