Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Prime lenses can be challenging to shoot with if you are used to using zoom lenses. However in all truth, they simplify your shooting experience more than they challenge it. Old school shooters used DSLRs with a 50mm 1.8, a 35mm, or maybe even a rangefinder style 24mm that was non-removable. 

So what are some of the difficulties of shooting with prime lenses. In truth, there is only one and that’s the fact that prime lenses do not zoom. All other issues people talk about usually stem from that one main thing. 

1. Missing the range of a zoom’s versatility

2. Changing lenses all the time

3. Having to move around

4. Can’t use it if you are in a tight space without a wide-angle lens

Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

First, go back and look at my previous blog post, “The Case for Prime Lenses” to see the benefits of shooting primes. The trade-offs might be enough for you to forget about these minor infringements. If you’re still having a tough time seeing it, then read on.

None of the cons of a prime lens inhibit your ability to make a good shot. Unless, that is, if you want to make your photographs from the comfort of a recliner with cup holders and a foot rest. If that is the case, then I will concede your point right here.

Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

However, I’d wager this is not the case. Prime lenses simply make you an active shooter, but in a good way. You become more engaged and alive. You bring in more movement and it pushes you to “see” and become more creative as your continue to work and gain experience. Dare I say it, it could be considered exercise! Because you will activate and engage photographic muscles that don’t get developed as well when you use a zoom lens. 

Here is what you do. Get used to using your feet. Have a comfortable pair of shoes. This doesn’t mean you need hiking boots. Just something comfortable to walk in, at least. If you are outdoors in the backcountry, then yeah… have some boots. Just make sure you are comfortable in them so you aren’t tiring too quickly as you move around.

Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Understand your shot selection and shoot according to the lens needed. For instance. Moving your person back and forth will usually suffice when you are using a lens in a single perspective. if you have a need to shoot at 50mm you can move in to get a 70mm perspective. It’s practically the same. However, when necessary, get all your wide perspective in one group. Then change lenses and get all your portrait perspectives. See what I’m saying. Don’t mix the two. If you do, you’ll be switching lenses more than necessary, going back and forth more often than you need. 

As far as tight spaces go… well hell. You’ll have that problem even if you have a zoom lens. The answer is simple… know your location and shot selection requirements. Then bring the gear necessary to accomplish the goals. 

I get it. Some locations aren’t planned. Sometimes, you have a camera kit and see something spontaneously and it just doesn’t work. Well, chances are, you’ll run into the same problem with a zoom. In that case, you have to live with the hard lesson all photogs have to learn: You’re not going to get every shot. Sometimes, you don’t have the right gear. Sometimes, autofocus misses. Sometimes, there isn’t enough light. Live with it and try to learn from the experience. 

Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

You should be able to cover 85% of your shots at all times with your gear. That’s 85% of what you traditionally do. If you don’t shoot wildlife, don’t be pissed because you missed a rare sighting of a Blue-Eyed Ground Dove (Columbina Cyanopis) because you don’t have a 600mm 1.4 lens. No… that’s not your gig. Eighty-Five percent of all I do is covered between my 24mm 1.4, 55mm 1.8, and my 90mm 2.8 macro. The far away stuff, I let it go or get the best I can with it and maybe crop-in. If you endeavor to stand out, don’t look for safe, security, easy, or SOS (Same Old Sh*t as everybody else is doing). Be like Trixie. Trixie don’t do safe. Her brilliance will likely leave you feeling less secure about your own. Nothing about her is easy (Except for her hospitality! You will get drunk!) And she definitely does not put up with SOS people. Be a Trixie!