Can buying a high-quality zoom lens save the investment of a prime lens?

The other day, a friend asked me a question: “Can you buy a zoom lens with excellent quality, so that you can save the investment of a prime lens?” “To be honest, I have also considered this problem, not only to reduce investment, but also to be convenient.

I believe that many photographers have also thought about such questions. Some people even directly wonder if the manufacturer deliberately makes different lenses in order to make more money? Today we will talk about this topic, can they be replaced?

Image quality, can zoom catch up with fixed focus?

A common perception is that fixed-focus image quality is better than zoom. The main reason is that prime lenses only need to perform well at a single focal length, while zoom lenses need to cover multiple focal lengths. This also means that zoom lenses are more prone to distortion and chromatic aberration.

Theoretically, zoom is difficult to match the quality of prime images. Although the image quality of high-end zoom lenses is getting better and better, the image quality performance of prime lenses is also improving. For excellent zoom lenses, such as large ternaries, we can’t feel the gap in image quality because we haven’t found a rival to compete with.

For example, if we compare the strongest zoom lens with the weakest prime lens, the prime lens is definitely not dominant. Like the 2linear and purple fringing of 50mm/1.8 lenses, the shortcomings are undoubtedly exposed, not only the image quality has no advantage, but there is also a big difference in the effect. The most obvious is the out-of-focus effect.

This shot was taken with a Canon 50mm F1.8 lens (5 aperture blades) with a pentagon-shaped spot. With a lens like the Canon 50mm f1.8, few people turn the aperture to the maximum, and it is generally used below f2.0.

Using the RF28-70mm F2 L USM lens Aperture F2 shooting effect, this lens adopts 13 groups of 19 elements optical structure, from the effect of the out-of-focus spot, it is very round. Having tested this lens, the F2’s aperture can be used with confidence.

The image quality is indeed outstanding compared to that of a zoom lens. If you compare good fixed and zoom, the difference is obvious. For example, you originally thought that the 70-200mm lens was good for portraits, but if you want to compare with 85mm F1.2, 135mm F2 lenses, you will seriously doubt, why does 70-200mm shoot such an effect? I have written about the difference between these lenses before, there are comments from users, you can see their evaluation of these lenses.

So in terms of picture quality, it depends on your pursuit. If it is the pursuit of the ultimate, there is really no substitute between the two.

Aperture, zoom and fixed focus shrinking?

Now the aperture of zoom lenses can achieve F1.8, F2.0, which makes many people see the hope that zoom lenses can also achieve a large aperture. Perhaps one day zoom lenses can also achieve a larger aperture. Let’s not talk about whether the picture quality can be compared with the prime lens, but there is still a big gap between F1.8 and F2.0 and F1.2 and F1.4.

RF28-70mm F2 L USM

It’s one thing to be able to make the aperture bigger, the most important thing is the available aperture. The two APS-C lenses of Sigma 18-35mm and 50-100mm, F1.8 aperture imaging. One thing is certain, compared with the maximum aperture of the prime lens, there should be a significant gap, and the gimmick is greater than practical.

At present, the maximum available aperture of the zoom lens in everyone’s mind is the large ternary F2.8 (RF28-70mm F2 L is an exception, which will be highlighted later), if you want to pursue the bokeh effect, F2.8 and F1.2, F1.4 and other large apertures are two worlds. From this point of view, there is currently no substitute between the two.

Portable, zoom and prime vary greatly

Personally, I feel that the difference between image quality and aperture is not a reason why I must choose fixed focus. I think the biggest difference between the two is in portability. This is the fundamental reason why zoom cannot replace fixed focus.

Let’s take the RF28-70mm F2 L USM as an example to talk about my feelings. When this lens was first launched, I was also a little excited and experienced this lens for the first time. But after the first experience, there was no interest in this lens. Until now, I have always believed that zoom lenses with an aperture of F2.8 are the best. More than F2.8 is to achieve the optical quality to the ceiling, and it is not recommended to buy. Because such a shot is made: big, stupid, ugly!

Size comparison between the EOS R 28-70 and the 5D4 24-70

I don’t think the RF28-70mm F2 L USM is a successful lens, nor do I recommend buying one. It’s just a lens that manufacturers use to show off muscles, and although it’s the closest to prime quality, it must be one that whoever buys it regrets it.

The caliber of this lens reaches a metamorphosis of 95mm, and it is extremely incongruous when installed on a micro-single camera. The weight of the lens alone reaches 1490g, top-heavy, not only heavy in the hand, especially abrupt, but also a little silly, and the experience of taking photos is very poor.

RF28-70mm F2 L vs. RF35mm F1.8

The EOS R is instantly small when equipped with RF35mm F1.8, which is the feeling of a slight single.

If you look at this zoom lens only from the volume and weight, some people may not be convinced. There are many good prime lenses that are “outstanding” in size and weight. Among them, the more representative is Nikon is 58mm f/0.95, the lens diameter reaches 82mm, the lens diameter is 102mm, the lens length is 153mm, and the lens weight is 2000g. compare

The RF28-70mm F2 seems to go above and beyond.

Aside from the price of more than 50,000, I think few people will really buy a manual focus weighing 2000g, it is only a demonstration of strength, has no practical value, and is not considered.

The Nikon is a 58mm f/0.95

Practical bulk: the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is a representative, with a lens diameter of 86mm, lens diameter of 94.7mm, lens length of 126.2mm, lens weight of 1130g, this weight and volume also scared off many people. But compared to the RF28-70mm F2 L, it is still a lap smaller.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

From a practical point of view, it can achieve good image quality, and can obtain a small prime lens with a very large choice of space. For example, there are many fixed lenses of F1.4 and F1.8. The zoom lens is almost nothing that F2.8 wants to choose lightweight image quality and satisfaction (Tamron 70-180 F2.8, the picture quality cannot be compared with fixed focus).

Based on the above points, zoom lenses cannot replace prime lenses. With a budget of more than 20,000, our best choice is to buy a good zoom lens with a good quality and lightweight prime lens. Instead of opting for a zoom lens that is large and heavy. In fact, manufacturers have been working hard to produce smaller and higher image quality cameras, but zoom and prime are two different experiences, and there is no substitute for each other.

About the Author

You may also like these