#AskScottWyden Prime Versus Telephoto (Both With Fast Apertures) Which Is Better?

Prime Versus Telephoto (Both With Fast Apertures)I sent an email out to my community sharing a summary about why I sold my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II lens and why I am trying to sell my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 lens.

The responses I received were fantastic. I thought it would be beneficial to share some of my favorites, and also how I replied to them.

But to begin, I want you to read the email I sent.

I recently sold my Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR II and I’m in trying to sell my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8.

If you’re wondering why I am getting rid of two lenses worth well over $4,000, you’re about to learn why.

The answer is…

I don’t need them.

It’s as simple as that.

I mostly use prime lenses:

  • 20mm
  • 35mm
  • 85mm

When I am not using a prime lens, I am using either the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR II or the Nikon 28-300 f/4.5-5.6.

When I’m using the telephoto lenses, I am often between f/4 and f/11.  So why do I need 2.8?

Think about that when you’re considering new lenses. And think about that when you are considering selling lenses.

scott-wyden-kivowitz
Using the Nikon 28-300. Photo by Mike Criswell

Now on to some of the replies I received and my answers to them.

Wow, so interesting know about that. In many web tutorials some professional photographers do explain about the importance of the f2.8 zoom lenses vs prime lenses but they still use f2.8 zoom lenses on wedding ceremonies because they are fast and give the chance to use a better ISO (low ISO).

Its so interesting this topic, Im Really curious, I need to tell you first Im starting my photo bussiness and I dont have your knowledge and your experience so I need to ask you something. Its true and “really real” that the image quality of a prime lens are better than a zoom lens? And I got a second question, Is f4.0 right for you because your camera have quality results on high ISO’s? If not, how you do? Whats the reason?

Thanks for sharing. And by the way, sorry about my english, when I read I understand everything, but when I write or speak Im a little…cow.

If I were photographing a wedding, I’d use prime lenses without a doubt. My prime lenses range from 1.4 lenses to 1.8 lenses, so they’re better than the telephoto lenses in low light. With that said, I use a D810 and Df from Nikon. Both of which do well with higher ISO. So when I need the extra boost, I have no problem raising the ISO.

Why do you need f2.8 in a telephoto? I use my telephoto (Tamron 20-250) especially in less friendly environments where i don’t want to keep changing lenses. I would often love to have that extra speed that f2.8 would give me, just a bit more hand held convenience.

However I have a 50mm prime (and a 2/3rds sensor so I guess thats nearmy equivalent to your 85mm. So my next lens purchases will probably be 35mm and 12mm primes.

nj photographer scott wyden kivowitz
My portrait from 2013, holding the Nikon 70-200. Photo by Daryl Meek.

I don’t, and that’s why I sold it. The beauty about the Nikon 24-120 f/4 I use now as needed is its a f/4 lens with VR II. So handheld it performs extremely well.

I use my Canon 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8 quite a bit because I really like the sharpness that I can achieve.

I recently purchased the Canon 16-35 2.8 which I needed for shooting in tight spaces like the interiors of

buses and small rooms.

And there are tradeoffs, all of that glass makes a heavy camera.

I, also, use the Canon 100-400; I just replaced the old push/pull version for a regular focus.

The Canon 24-70 probably get used the most.

The main reason that I bought the Canon 16-35 was to replace a Canon 18-200 variable lens.

Everyone has their reasons, of course. It’s worth noting that Prime lenses are typically sharper than any telephoto lens, even the 2.8 lenses. I should say “quality prime lenses.” There are a lot of poor prime lenses out there.

Good Thought!
Have to think about the 35mm Prime. Any suggestions for my D800?

I have the Nikon 35mm 1.8 and 1.4. I use the 1.4 mostly, but it’s much heavier so when I want to pack light I use the 1.8. Both are fantastic and fast!

prime-vs-telephoto-compare-weight
Note the weight difference.

Which is better?

It’s up to you.  It depends on what you photograph and your style of photography. It depends if you like changing lenses or prefer fewer lenses. It depends if you don’t mind the extra weight and size.

It depends on you.

You determine which is better.

Your photography determines which suits your needed.

Want to see my current gear list? Click here to check it out.

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