Saturday, April 12, 2008

Foto Friday #2 — Get Closer

by MC Soft Focuz

What are primes and why must I shoot them?

"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough."
— Robert Capa, the most famous war photographer of all time.

A prime or fixed lens, as opposed to a zoom, is a lens that does not zoom.

There are four reasons you shoot primes, the most important of which is to get closer. This is the single most important tip of the ten. Somewhat counter-intuitively, this is the first step to becoming invisible. (More on this in the coming weeks.)

To compose well, you need to fill the frame. You do this either by zooming in or walking closer. It is always easier to zoom in than walk up to a stranger, so if you have a zoom lens, you will do that. This is why I don't own any zoom lenses.

I suggest a moderately wide focal length of 35 mm and if you are slightly braver, a 28 mm. (I'm referring to 35-mm equivalent focal lengths here.) On the zoom lenses from the equipment room, I would tape the zooms at 24 mm, which is equivalent to 36 mm.

The other three reasons for using a fixed focal length are increased maximum aperture (more light, and more importantly, less depth of field, ie. ability to blur background); smaller size (the second step to becoming invisible) and weight; and cheaper cost.

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