What Is a Prime Lens? (Types and Purpose Explained!)

In recent years, zoom lenses have become the preferred, more practical option for most professional photographers. Obviously, it makes sense that more people have been gravitating toward the ease of zoom lenses, given that recent image sensors produce exceptional quality, even at exceptionally high ISOs. However, what is a prime lens compared to in photography?

Zoom lenses offer effective image stabilization technology and are sharp enough for daily use, including some inexpensive kit lenses.

Some of today’s professional-grade lenses provide image quality comparable to or even better than prime lenses with the same focal length. Prime lenses have not really lost their appeal despite all of this.

Manufacturers of lenses like Canon and Nikon have been adding new and improved options to their lens lineups at a quick pace. Independent producers like Sigma are confidently entering the market.

As a result, it is more complicated than ever to decide between a zoom and a prime lens. This article will answer about prime lens, purpose of uses of various prime lenses and it’s benefits.

In short, a prime lens represents a lens with unchanging focal length. You will learn more about this in this write-up. You need to know when to use it in your photography and the best prime lens for your landscape and portrait photography.

What is a Fast Prime Lens?

When a lens is referred to as “fast,” it signifies that its maximum aperture is huge (the bigger the aperture, the faster the lens will be). Consider that a large maximum aperture will usually be a small number, such as f/1.8, even though the aperture is frequently shown as an f followed by a number.

If a fast prime lens’ maximum aperture is less than f/2.8, it is said to be fast. An aperture of f/2.8 would be regarded as fast for zoom lenses.

What is a Prime lens?

Usually, the term “primary lens” refers to a lens having a predetermined focal length. When using a fixed-angle camera, you cannot modify the image’s size or position within the frame unless you move your body.

You can only physically move closer to your subject if you want to enlarge it and make it cover more of the frame.

A prime lens has a stationary focal length and cannot be zoomed in or out. In this case, the focal length is the range between the lens’s point of convergence and your camera’s sensor.

Furthermore, the apertures of prime lenses are extremely large or wide. A camera’s aperture measures the size of the hole created when the lens extends.

01. Zoom lens

Hardly can anyone talk about prime lenses without mentioning zoom lenses. To give you an idea, let us look at what zoom lenses are and why they are commonly talked about alongside prime lenses.

Unlike prime lenses, a zoom lens has a changing focal length. You may change the angle of view by moving the zoom ring, which moves optical parts inside the lens.

What it implies is that by using the zoom ring in one direction, you may make objects appear larger, or by rotating it in the opposite direction, you can fit more objects into the frame.

02. Zoom Lens Benefits

No one will need zoom lenses if everything favors prime lenses. They are well-liked and can be very practical despite their additional weight and expense. Even the finest prime lenses fall short in a few situations compared to a solid zoom. Here are some benefits of using a zoom lens.

03. Versatility

Zoom lenses are versatile. Zoom lenses are perfect for photographers who need to manage a variety of scenarios. You can switch from wide-angle to telephoto with a fast turn of the zoom ring.

Landscape and animal photographers are limited to a specific point or area; thus, zooming can help frame a shot. Therefore, a zoom lens is suitable for wildlife photography. In addition, depending on the location, you can use it for sports photography.

04. Portability

Another benefit is using a single zoom lens instead of two or even three prime lenses. Because of this, you will only require a single lens attached to your camera. A single zoom lens may reduce the need to carry a hefty backpack.

Therefore, you need one lens to cover the entire range when you utilize specific zoom lenses; you can save some space and weight by not bringing as many prime lenses. When you change lenses less frequently, the sensor and other optical elements stay cleaner.

What Are The Uses Of Prime Lens?

Prime lenses are handy when taking pictures with a blurred background. A prime lens works best when used for portrait photography, nighttime sky photography, and macro photography.Reasons why people use a prime lens is explored here.

Prime lenses are more flexible:

They are more portable and lighter, making them simple to carry around while mounted on your camera. Some zooms can become bulky and reduce your desire to photograph more or for a more extended period. Seriously, everyone loves traveling without carrying something bulky.

Better construction or make:

With so many extra lens components packed into the lens barrel, each with its own design and composite material, zoom lenses become difficult. Because prime lenses are made more simply, they are frequently more affordable and durable.

Prime lenses are faster:

Their maximum aperture is bigger, making it faster. These lenses enable you to see the scene faster while shooting in dark locations. Furthermore, you get faster shutter speeds.

Prime lenses bring creativity:

Zoom lenses might make us sluggish by taking the need to reposition ourselves. A prime lens compels you to walk around and consider different angles, which is good. Naturally, experimenting with various camera angles encourages more creativity.

A higher-quality image:

We all want the best quality in our photographs, and prime lenses are often less likely to have any problems with distortion, chromatic aberrations, or edge sharpness because of their straightforward design.

What is Importance of Prime Lens in Photography?

They have a single focal length. No zooming in or out is possible. There is just one viewing distance available. Prime lenses give you better and more precise control over the focusing process. A wider maximum aperture is one benefit of using a single lens system.

What is the Best Prime Lens for Portrait and Landscape Photography?

Professional photographers have a few lenses when seeking the ideal one for portrait photography. Interestingly, using a Canon, Nikon, or another brand makes no difference.

There are several excellent prime and zoom lenses available for photography. Let us look at the possibilities so you can make the greatest investment possible.

85mm f/1.4 Prime lenses

Concerning portrait photography, 85mm prime is one of the most used lenses. Professional photographers often regard the f/1.8 version of this lens as one of the best for pictures. Most camera manufacturers, including Sony and Nikon, offer this feature.

An 85mm prime lens produces the most appealing results when capturing people’s faces for use with a full-frame camera body.

Lenses smaller than 85mm do not provide the same perspective. Regrettably, the image becomes increasingly distorted as the focal length decreases. For this reason, a shorter focal lens provides a wider field of view.

To put it another way, your camera and lens catch a larger part of the picture in front of you. A more condensed composition is suitable for pictures. Images seem better when there is not a lot of space surrounding them.

50mm f/1.8

A 50mm f/1.8 (a regular prime) or even a 35mm f/1.4 will work well for environmental photographs, but you will need something shorter if you want to capture people in their natural settings.

Thus, a wider view of the scene can be captured. When used in conjunction with a bokeh filter, this lens makes for excellent street photography.

135mm Prime Lenses

Without an 85mm prime lens, there is no need to be alarmed. Try the 135mm f/1.4 instead. It is a lovely portrait lens for individuals who prefer to take a photo from a distance instead of a close distance.

Aside from their diverse focal lengths, the 85mm and the 135mm lenses are best used for several types of portrait photography. Nevertheless, a portrait photographer who wants to create an intimate connection with their subject most commonly employs the 85mm prime.

Because the closer you get, the more difficult it is to fill the frame with your subject. Most photographers choose a tighter composition when shooting portraits. Use either an 85mm lens and move closer to the subject or a 135mm lens and move far from the subject to get an even tighter composition.

Should I Get a 35mm or 50mm Prime Lens?(Great Comparison Video!)

You are considering replacing your kit lens and looking to decide which focal length is best. Peradventure, it is never an easy decision if you are contemplating buying a 35mm or 50mm primary lens.

Or you might already have a few zoom lenses under your belt and wonder what the big deal is about prime lenses, and which one is the best place to start.

The 35mm and 50mm are standard lengths with many adaptabilities. Despite having similar focal lengths, they are best suited for slightly different tasks and can have diverse characteristics.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both lenses, even though many of them overlap—both are excellent for capturing people. It is possible that you may eventually end up buying both.

35mm Prime Lens Pros

In terms of focal length, the 35mm prime lens is the closest thing you will find to our typical point of view. Besides that, the broad angle is present without any lens distortion.

Versatile lens:

One unique benefit is its excellent versatility! The 35mm will enable you to capture stunning family portraits, striking landscapes, or chase your kids around. In addition, the short depth of field offers a lovely background.

Fantastic for traveling:

Do you like traveling? You cannot go wrong with the 35mm as your travel companion because it is lightweight and small. That said, since it is a compact prime lens, it will not add extra weight to your bag. More importantly, if you are a street photography fan, you love the lens as it captures the whole scene.

Best suitable for interior photography:

If you can fit more in the frame, which is sometimes difficult to do inside, the 35mm is typically chosen over the 50mm.

50mm Prime lens Pros

People frequently refer to this lens as the “Nifty Fifty.” Another excellent prime lens for taking stunning pictures.

  • Optimum for portraits photography: Nifty-fifty’s best friends are portraits and close-ups photography. You can use a 50mm lens to capture how individuals appear.
  • Valuable from a financial standpoint: Unlike the 35mm lens, this lens is the less expensive choice if you are working on a tight budget.
  • Excellent for food photography: 50mm prime lens is a favorite among most food photographers because of its adaptability and stunning overhead photos.

Which 35mm or 50mm Lens is Best for You?

Are you looking for a full-frame or a crop sensor? If you want a crop sensor, it is preferable to opt for the 35mm. However, the 50mm lens resembles that of a 75mm lens. With that said, choosing between a 50mm and a 35mm lens depends on your preferences for focal length.

Important FAQs:

Is a 50mm prime lens good for landscape?

However, the 50mm prime lens is a fantastic choice for landscape photography, especially when you are a novice; it will challenge how you view your shots, free you from the limitations of a bulky setup, and make it simple for you to take beautiful, clear pictures.

Is a prime lens suitable for taking landscape pictures?

In terms of landscape photography, both lens types have benefits and drawbacks. In general, prime lenses are thought to have sharper optics than zoom. Because there is less glass in them, they will weigh less and have a superior wide open aperture range, making them appear “faster.”

What lens is a prime lens?

A fixed focal length prime lens typically has a maximum aperture between f/1.2 and f/2.8. They are excellent for photographers and filmmakers who desire the highest optical quality and like a narrower depth of field in still photos and moving images. 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm are standard focal lengths for prime lenses.


If you are new to photography, you need to know what is a prime lens camera entails before thinking of buying one.

Several options can be daunting; however, even professional photographers who capture images and 4k videos do not become experts in a single day.

Whether you want to create YouTube videos or start a vlogging career, there is always a camera lens to suit your need.