Primes vs zoom lens

Prime vs Zoom lenses is a much debated question. There are many reasons why videographers opt to go one route over the other or in some cases use a mixture of both. A prime lens is just a lens that is a fixed focal length and unable to zoom in or out or change focal lengths within the lens itself.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest reasons videographers turn to prime lenses is the capability of shooting at 1.8, 1.4 or even 1.2 apertures. The widest aperture zooms you can ever get are f/2.8. With one exception, the sigma 18-35 that is a impressive f/1.8.

By being able to shoot at ultra wide apertures as shown above you know have more creative control over the final look and composition of the photo. Where with a zoom lens you can potentially shoot at f/2.8, on a prime lens at f/1.4 you can shoot, wide-open if desired at f/1.4 and get a gorgeous background blur drawing attention to your subject and letting them “pop” off the background within the photo.

Being able to shoot at a aperture of f/1.2, 1.4 or even 1.8 is a HUGE difference compared to f/2.8 when limited to using natural light only.  Especially true when filming things like wedding ceremonies in churches where led really aren't welcomed. But remember, the wider your aperture the more light allowed into the sensor and thus the faster the shutter speed to get the same exposure. Another reason why people pick prime over zoom lens is that prime lenses are much smaller in size and therefore you can be more inconspicuous with your subjects and also more comfortable by weighing less than the zooms.

In general, prime lenses are known to be sharper lenses then zooms, however, when matched against some of today’s highest quality zooms this is less true than in the past.  But, all lenses certainly do perform best at one or two f/stops above their widest aperture.  So if you are using a f/2.8 lens, the lens should be performing best at f/4 or even f/5.6, whereas on a f/1.4 prime the lens will be plenty sharp at f/2 and excellent optically at f/2.8.

I hope this gives you some insight about some of the reasons why photographers choose to primarily shoot with prime lenses.

If you are interested in learning more about the basics of photography or videography, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d love to hear from you. You can reach The Burnette Agency by email at or give us a call at 404-850-2081.