What is a DSLR Prime Lens and is it worth buying?

Do you own a DSLR camera and are looking for different lens options to improve your photography? A prime lens can bring around a significant improvement in your photography, especially if you are a beginner.

DSLR photography is a new trend and youths, in particular, are more inclined towards getting their hands on their first best camera or a Digital SLR. However, this hobby may be quite expensive for many and also confusing when exploring through different make and models, lens and accessories.

When we talk about DSLRs, we mean the cameras with a detachable lens that are available in different specifications. Since this post is meant for beginners or amateur photographers, the explanation will be kept simple and to as far extent as possible, no jargon shall be used.

What is a Prime Lens for DSLR?

In simple words, Prime Lens basically is a fixed focal length lens or in other words a single focal length lens. If compared to other types of the lens such as Zoom Lens for DSLR, the prime lens does not cover a wider range of lengths. Practically speaking, you cannot zoom in or zoom out like that of a zoom lens.

So if you want to get a closer view of your subject using a prime lens, you are left with no feasible option than to move your feet and get closer to an appropriate position to capture the intended frame.

Is a Prime Lens for DSLR a good option to buy?

Continuing with our explanation on Prime Lenses, the question is if one cannot zoom using a Prime lens then why should anyone even care to buy it? Is the zoom lens not a better option while purchasing a lens for DSLR rather than getting something that cannot zoom? We have tried to explain all of it in detail as listed below and why Prime Lens is the most favorite lens for the most photographer, both amateur and professionals alike.
  • Less Expensive: Prime Lens are literally less expensive as compared to any other type of lens. But when we say it is less expensive, it doesn't mean it is priced in a few hundred only but actually, the cost may start from a few thousand to even lakhs for a good Prime Lens.

    But what is cheap here is that unlike expensive lenses that render superior quality pictures, you get more or less the same premium quality in your photos using Prime Lens which when compared to its prices is definitely on the lower side. Simply speaking, if you get a Prime Lens at around Rs.10,000/- and compare its picture quality with the ones clicked with any other lens at the same price range, the output of the primes will be way better and more professional.

  • Less Weight & Smaller Size: The zoom lenses are generally big ones and quite heavy. More to it, the body of the DSLR is also heavy as compared to other point and shoot cameras and adds to the overall weight. As such, the Prime Lens has the advantage of being lightweight owing to the fact that it is only a single focal length lens and does not have the zoom optics and elements.

    At the end of the day, the weight matters a lot if you are not using a tripod and doing any photoshoot with a handheld camera. A heavy camera will become quite tiring and painful with continuous usage. Being of small size, it is easier to carry while traveling.

  • Wider Aperture: Aperture is actually the hole in the lens through which light enters the camera. The aperture is normally denoted by a numeric scale which can be seen on most lenses while in some lenses where it is not indicated, it can be accessed through the command dialer in the DSLR body. Just remember one thing which is very important and that is larger the number such as f1.4, f1.8, f3.5 ... f8, f11, f16, the smaller will be its aperture which in turn means less light entering the camera. Prime Lens opens up to a wide aperture and hence results in better background blur.

  • Faster Focus & Low Light Photography: Focussing is a challenge using DSLR, particularly when you are shooting in low light conditions. Autofocus in Prime lens does not struggle much as compared to a zoom lens when shooting in low light and therefore gets more sharpness and better picture. Due to this reason, Prime Lenses are also called as the best budget lenses for low light photography that yields better and clean image quality using lower ISO and wider aperture as compared to higher ISO and smaller aperture using zoom lenses. The main logic behind better photo quality in the primes is that it allows more light to enter the camera due to its wider aperture which helps get cleaner pictures in low light conditions.

  • Safety Aspect: Prime lenses are smaller in size and not retractable which means it can be carried more conveniently while traveling. Moreover, unlike zoom lenses, these Prime lenses do not have any zoom elements and hence there are fewer chances of dust getting into the camera sensor. In zoom lenses, constant zooming in and out can create gaps for letting dust into the DSLR sensor which in the long run shall deposit spots in the images if not cleaned properly.

Practical use of DSLR Prime Lens for beginners

Operating a DSLR may sound simple for many, but without proper concept, on photography, the output of the camera may not be of professional quality. So all the beginners who have already bought an entry-level or professional DSLR and tried clicking with the kit lens or telephoto lens that comes along with the camera, some of you must be wondering why your pictures are not having the DSLR look; am I right?

By DSLR look on photo quality, what I mean to say here is that the pictures do not have that butterish bokeh effect or the background blur with cinematic effect on the overall photo quality. This is because, for a better bokeh effect, you need a wider aperture lens which works great with the Prime Lens. Further, Prime Lens also makes you a better photographer as you have to keep moving to get a perfect shot rather than standing at a distance and zooming in and out as it is a fixed focal length lens.

So, do you own a DSLR and tried clicking with any Prime Lens? Do share your experience and leave your feedback on whether you prefer shooting with a Prime Lens or Zoom Lens?


Guest Author: Bhaskar Raj03 Mar 2019

Thanks once again for your detailed guide for using Prime Lens with DSLR cameras.
Many beginners who are new to photography are confused to buy Primd Lens for use with DSLR cameras.
Your detailed information of the pros and cons of Prime Lens will help in using Prime Lens with DSLR cameras without spending more and make usd of the advantages.

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