MEET A PRO

Buidling a Prime Lens Kit

Nic Taylor

Photographer from UK




Prime lenses are lenses with a fixed focal length. So if you need to change your composition and move closer to or further from your subject you would need to physically do so as there is no means to do this via the lens.

In more recent years I have turned more towards prime lenses and in fact aside from occasionally using a 16-35mm for interior work I now use primes exclusively. Prime lenses tend to be a lot sharper than zoom lenses as they are dedicated to optimally work at a specific focal length and there is less glass that moves around in the lens which reduces diffraction.

With prime lenses it’s possible to shoot in lower light situations as they feature wider apertures than the typical f2.8 of a zoom lens so you can get lenses which shoot at f1.4 or sometimes even wider. A result of having a wider aperture is that you can achieve a much shallower depth of field (DOF). They can also force you to think more about each shot and make you a more creative photographer as you don’t have the luxury of standing in one spot and zooming. You have to “zoom with your feet”.

Advantages to prime lenses:
Cheaper than zoom lenses
Sharper than zoom lenses as there is less moveable glass to cause diffraction
Ability to shoot in lower light situations due to wider apertures
Usually smaller and weigh less than zoom lenses
Make you a more creative photographer as you think more about each shot

Disadvantages to prime lenses:
You need to carry more lenses to cover more focal lengths
Cannot zoom
You need to change lenses if you want another focal length




Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE on a shoot


The lenses I use
There are a number of prime lenses that I use on a regular basis which I find would form part of an essential prime lens kit for most photographers. A 35mm f1.4, a 50mm f1.4 and an 85mm f1.4. These three lenses will cover most situations for most photographers. I know a lot of wedding photographers who indeed just use these three lenses to cover an entire wedding with amazing results. When shooting food for various clients I tend to use the three mentioned above but also add in a dedicated macro lens for close up detail shots of the food. So for this Samyang’s 100mm f2.8 macro lens is perfect.


85mm lens is not just great for portraiture
An 85mm lens is pretty much ideally suited to portrait photography as it gives a good amount of compression between the subject and the background. An essential piece of kit for any wedding photographer as it allows you to be a little further away from your subject. At this focal length it doesn’t distort facial features like a wide angle lens would. I use my 85mm to get beautiful, detailed images of drinks/food where I need to isolate the subject from the background by using a relatively wide aperture to capture a shallow DOF with stunning bokeh (out of focus elements). This can also be used on a cropped sensor camera and give a focal length of around 127mm depending on crop factor.




Sony A7Riii with Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE @ 1/160th, f3.5, ISO 160



The "Nifty Fifty"
A 50mm lens is also sometimes referred to as a "Nifty Fifty" as you can get cheap versions which offer great bang for buck performance and usually come with an f1.8 aperture. This is possibly my most used focal length. I love using my Samyang AF 50mm f1.4 FE when taking candid photos of my family or for shameless self portraits. I also use it heavily for food photography as it can pretty much be used at any angle including top-down or side on for images of food. This lens creates beautiful bokeh in the image allowing you to make your subject stand out from the background. At this focal length you still don't get much distortion as you would with wider lenses and it compresses the background and subject together nicely. This can also be used on a cropped sensor camera and give a focal length of around 75mm depending on crop factor.



Sony A7Riii with Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE @ 1/100th, f11, ISO 200



Everyone needs a 35mm right?
A 35mm lens has a similar angle of view to what the human eye sees so has to be one of the most versatile focal lengths and can be used for just about anything ranging from street photography to architecture to wedding photography amongst others. I tend to use my Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE when photographing overhead food shots of multiple dishes to get as much in the shot as possible without having to position the camera as high as I would if was shooting with a 50mm or longer focal length. This can also be used on a cropped sensor camera and give a focal length of around 52mm depending on crop factor.

 

 

 

Sony A7Riii with Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE @ 1/100th, f13, ISO 200

 

 

 

Macro Lenses - great for close-ups and so much more
Macro lenses are essential if you want to shoot close up images. These lenses have very close minimum focus distances which allow the camera to get closer to the subject. They also feature a really narrow minimum aperture so that you can control what you want in focus. Dedicated macro lenses are also renowned for being the sharpest type of lens with its main use being for highly detailed images. They also make great portrait lenses as the focal length is usually pretty long, around 90mm - 180mm. The typical aperture range on a macro lens is f2.8 - f32 as the closer you are to the subject the shallower the DOF so a narrow aperture is essential to retain as much detail and focus as possible. The caveat with shooting with such narrow apertures such as f32 then the amount of light be allowed onto the sensor is very little so to compensate you would need to either use a faster shutter speed, higher ISO, a tripod or introduce flashes or studio strobes. I shoot food using a studio strobe so I can keep my ISO down which will also give me a better quality image.


Conclusion
Zoom lenses offer a great deal in terms of flexibility and as such I think are a great way to discover as a beginner what you like to shoot. Both types of lenses have their advantages and disadvantages but I think that after experiencing different types of photography the quality in terms of image sharpness and the ability to shoot in low light will be a major determining factor which will steer most photographers in the direction of prime lenses. If you are trying to capture images with stunning bokeh then a prime lens is a must. Prime lenses will make you a more creative photographer and you certainly can't go wrong by getting a 35mm, a 50mm and an 85mm. If you're a landscape shooter and want something wider than 35mm, Samyang also has a great range of options for you.  From the ultra-wide AF 14mm f2.8 which offers great optics at a very good price to the smaller "pancake" lenses - AF 18mm f2.8, AF 24mm f2.8. Let's not forget the tiny AF 35mm f2.8 which is a very capable lens and great for travel photography and the AF 45mm f1.8 (which fits right in between the 35mm and 50mm range). Out of all these lenses there's something for everyone.

Below are some images captured using some of the lenses mentioned above:




Sony A7R with Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE @ 1/80th, f3.5, ISO 64



Sony A7R with Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE @ 1/100th, f2.8, ISO 100




Sony A7Riii with Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE @ 1/160th, f8, ISO 125



Sony A7R with Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE @ 1/50th, f2.2, ISO 200




Sony A7R with Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE @ 1/160th, f8, ISO 200




Sony A7Riii with Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE @ 1/320th, f10, ISO 100



Sony A7Riii (Crop Mode) with Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE @ 1/160th, f5, ISO 125




Sony A7R with Samyang AF 14mm F2.8 FE @ 1/25th, f4, ISO 64



Sony A7R with Samyang AF 24mm F2.8 FE @ 1/500th, f5, ISO 100




Sony A7R with Samyang AF 24mm F2.8 FE @ 1/200th, f4, ISO 100



Sony A7R with Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 FE @ 1/30th, f9, ISO 100


 

Sony A7R with Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE @ 1/125th, f2.2, ISO 64

 

 


 

Sony A7Riii with Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE @ 1/250th, f11, ISO 100

 

 


 

Sony A7Riii with Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE @ 1/200th, f13, ISO 200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Nic Taylor

  www.nictaylorphoto.co.uk/

  www.instagram.com/nictaylorphoto

  www.facebook.com/NicTaylorPhoto 

  For any enquiries about hiring for Food/Drink, Interior, Commercial photography, 
  events or any other potential projects, purchasing prints or image rights.

Samyang’s Guide to Achieving the Optimal Angle of View

The perfect spacing and distance are always necessary when shooting all kinds of subjects, including people, to give them a proper relationship with the beautiful space around them. So, what’s the exact distance that helps you best appreciate a work of art, or a photo?

The correct answer is the diagonal length of the full frame of a subject.

표준화각 자료 이미지
표준화각 자료 이미지

The best standpoint from which to appreciate the full view of a subject is the distance of the diagonal length of the subject frame. This wider angle is superior to standing closer at a 50 degree angle to get a more detailed view. This notion of an ideal distance or view point is also applicable in the world of photography.

For still images, keeping a distance equal to the diagonal length of the full image surface is recommended. The full frame sensor of a digital camera is 36 x 24mm and the diagonal length is 43.26mm so any distance close to this number is nearer to the ideal than the currently accepted industry standard of 50mm.

Back when film cameras were common, 45mm was the industry standard and this continued as reflex cameras needed extra space to fit a mirror. However, as mirrorless cameras become more popular again, there has been a need to return to this industry standard…which is the impetus for the Samyang AF 45mm F1.8 FE. With less distortion than a 35mm lens and wider angles than a 55mm lens, the Samyang AF 45mm F1.8 FE is a perfect lens for portraits, landscapes, architecture photography, and pictures of pets.

DSLR / Full Frame
1D X Mark Ⅱ
1D X
1Ds Mark Ⅲ
1Ds
5DsR
5Ds
5D Mark Ⅳ
5D Mark Ⅲ
6D Mark Ⅱ
6D
DSLR / APS-H
1D Mark Ⅲ
1D
Mirrorless / APS-C
M6
M5
M10
M3
M2
DSLR / APS-S
7D Mark Ⅱ
7D
80D
70D
60D
30D
D60
D30
77D (9000D)
760D (8000D / Rebel T6s)
1300D (Kiss X80 / Rebel T6)
1200D (Kiss X70 / Rebel T5)
200D (Kiss X9 / Rebel SL2)
800D (Kiss X9i / Rebel T7i)
700D (Kiss X9i / Rebel T7i)
100D (Kiss X7 / Rebel SL1)
650D (Kiss X6i / Rebel T4i)
600D (Kiss X5 / Rebel T3i)
550D (Kiss X4 / Rebel T2i)
500D (Kiss X3 / Rebel T1i)
1000D (Kiss F / Rebel XS)
450D (Kiss X2 / Rebel X냐)
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D850
D5
D810A
D4S
D810
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Df
D610
D4
D800
D800E
D600
D3s
D3x
D700
D3
DSLR / APS-C
D7500
D3400
D500
D5600
D7200
D5500
D3300
D7100
D5300
D5200
D7000
D300s
D300
DSLR / Full Frame
Z6
Z7
D810A
D4S
D750
D810A
DSLR / APS-C
D7200
D500
D3300
D5500
D5600
D3400
D7500

* Cameras released within 5 years from 2019 are tested.

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