Friday, February 13, 2015

To Zoom Or Prime?

Zooms or Primes. I waver back and forth about which type of lens I like best. I guess it's a mood thing. I know photographers that swear by one or the other. I like to consider the advantages of both. The Fuji prime focal length lenses definitely exhibit cleaner acuity and better defined tonal separation. But zooms are so much more flexible in tight situations where mobility can be restricted.

I try to have some parameters by which to gauge situations so I can decide which set of lenses to schlep along with me. If I'm out on the street, primes are ideal as I have plenty of room to move around. They're fast, small, and unobtrusive. My favorites are the 14mm f2.8, 23mm f1.4, and the 35mm f1.4. Great for dim light or strong shadows. I don't shoot much at the longer focal lengths, so the 56mm, 60mm, and soon to be available 90mm don't do anything for me. But the newly announced 16mm will be a welcome addition to my lens kit.

If I'm shooting a particular location for a project, such as the work I've been doing on the Lower East Side, Crown Heights, and such, I'm usually in a very small space, so the 10-24mm f4 wide angle zoom is my workhorse. But I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the new 16-55 f2.8 zoom.
These two scenarios are the easy part.

The problem I have now (and it is admittedly a 'first world' kind of problem) is when I travel, as I'm planning to do this spring, what do I take? Of course I want to travel light, but I have no idea what situations I'll find myself in. I'll be doing a lot of street type work, but I'll also be in some very tight spaces. I'm leaning towards packing everything and deciding day to day what I may need depending on the locale. I'm sure the equipment I leave behind will be safe.

I've become lazy of late when I shoot street, sticking mostly with the 10-24mm zoom, and carrying the 18-55mm in my bag, just in case. But there is a clear difference in the crispness of the images between the wide zoom and the fixed 14mm and 23mm lenses. (the 18mm is no slouch either, just not my favorite focal length). And oh yeah, I have a lot of lenses. But I live in jeans - no Armani suits for me, drive a Hyundai - no Merc or BMW, do most of my own cooking, and have no wife or kids (that I know of). So I have one major indulgence. Shoot me. I'm planning to stick with the primes for the near future to get comfortable with them again.

Here's some pics I shot this past week, out in the bitter cold to keep from going stir crazy: