Video: How a prime lens can be a helpful learning tool in photography


posted Friday, June 3, 2022 at 1:00 PM EDT


Photographer James Popsys argues in a recent video that prime lenses are an invaluable tool for any photographer to improve their ability to compose good images. What does Popsys mean by this?

When you use a zoom lens, you don't need to move around to change the framing of an image. You can set up on a tripod and zoom in and out to get the shot you want. However, if you're using a prime lens and want a wider or tighter frame, you must physically move. The simple act of thinking about the framing and needing to move can help teach you important skills about composition and framing.

Of course, you don't need a prime lens to challenge yourself in this way. A fun photography challenge you can take on is picking a single focal length and using only that for a while, even if you are using a zoom lens. For example, if you have a 24-70mm zoom lens, you could shoot at only 50mm and see how it changes how you think about your photography and approach a scene.

There's something liberating about being constrained by a single focal length. It forces you to think differently about your photography, which can be challenging and rewarding. "I think it's a fantastic learning tool," says Popsys in the video above.

Of course, besides being a useful learning tool, prime lenses have some other advantages over zoom lenses, including frequently being smaller, lighter and more affordable. Plus, they often have a faster maximum aperture. Prime lenses are sometimes sharper, too, although their image quality advantage has dramatically shrunk in recent years thanks to significant advancements in optical technology, which has paved the way for many amazing zoom lenses.

If you'd like to see more from James Popsys, visit his website. To see more of his videos, subscribe to him on YouTube. You can also follow Popsys on Instagram to stay up to date with his photography adventures.

There's no doubt that there's a place in any photographer's kit for zoom and prime lenses. Which do you prefer?

(Via James Popsys