[Camera Beginner] Zoom Lens or Single Focal Length? Single Focal Length? Which one should I choose?

Hi everyone!
This time [Camera beginner] Zoom lens or single focal length? Single focal length? Which one should I choose? I’m going to talk about it.

I was browsing through Youtube and saw two contrasting videos in the video list, and I thought it was interesting, so I thought I’d write my own thoughts on the subject.

My conclusion is that I personally recommend zoom lenses, but in the end you should use whichever you prefer.

Zoom Lens OR Single Focal Length Lens Two Contrasting Videos

These two videos show two professional photographers discussing their theories.

Mr. Nishida says that he recommends zoom lenses for beginners, and Mr. Hishida says that he recommends single focal length lenses for beginners.

What is important to keep in mind here is that these are each person’s “opinion” or “personal viewpoint”, not the right or correct answer.

So, in the end, it is up to each viewer to decide what to do.

In the video, they clearly explain “recommended for this reason,” so you should choose the one that you think matches that point.

Let me briefly summarize the main points of each video.

“Zoom lenses for beginners” – Mr. Nishida’s opinion

I will briefly explain why camera beginners should buy a zoom lens. @Wataru Nishida

  • “Do I have to use a single focal length to get it right?” -> “Zoom lenses are fine, just buy one 24-105mm f/4 and you’re good to go for now.”
  • It’s cosier that way.
  • The point is that 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 85mm, 100mm, and 105mm lenses are in one lens.
  • As for bokeh, f/4 is also sufficient.
  • If you are a beginner, you don’t need a single focal length lens, just one zoom lens will do.
  • In the old photography school, we learned how to use a single 50mm single focus lens to get closer and pull back, organize the background, etc. This is very important.
  • But most people give up before they get to this point. So it is better to “have fun recording” first.
  • Why was it said that it was better to use a single focal length lens?
    The sensitivity of film is like 1600 even at “high sensitivity”. It was technically impossible to shoot at the high sensitivity that we have today.
    In terms of AF, it was impossible to use bright lenses in the past.
    For those technical reasons, it was necessary to use lenses with low f-numbers (bright lenses).
  • A single focal length lens is fine when you get to another stage.
  • I can cover 70-80% of my work needs with the 24-105mm focal length.
  • You will find your favorite focal length as you use the zoom lens.
  • When you know “this focal length for this kind of situation,” it will be time to buy those single focal length lenses.
  • It is true that single focal length lenses have overwhelming descriptive performance compared to zoom lenses.
  • But to be able to understand this, it is necessary to acquire knowledge and skills such as lighting and retouching.
  • So to put it bluntly, after gaining experience in processing RAW data for about 200,000 shots, you may finally be able to tell the difference between a large three-way zoom and a single focal length lens.
  • If you want to “blur”, just buy the 50mm F1.8 (a cheap, light and small lens) in addition to the 24-105mm F4.
  • As you gain experience, you may find that a single focal length is easier to retouch.
  • Even professionals use a large three-way zoom when there is not enough time or when there are many things that cannot be read due to shooting conditions.
  • First, simply think, “Buy the 24-105mm F4. And use this lens to the fullest.
  • Don’t worry about bokeh or anything else, just get the shutter speed (so it doesn’t blur) and shoot around.
  • In the process, buy a single focal length lens with a focal length that you use frequently.
  • By that time, you should be able to verbalize “why you are using that focal length”.
  • That is how one’s own style is established. .
  • I think it is important for me to experience each focal length using a zoom lens.
  • I suggest that you start by buying one of the cost-effective zoom lenses, try shooting a variety of things, and then replace the accumulated experience with a single focal length lens, and so on, until you are ready to move up the ladder.

I guess the main points can be summarized like this.

  • While it is important to learn how to organize and compose the background at one focal length, it is more important to first experience the full joy of photography.
  • A zoom lens is like having several single focal length lenses. Cost-effective.
  • Zoom lenses have a larger f-number, but still provide enough bokeh.
  • It is important to use the zoom lens to the fullest and shoot all the time.
  • You will find your favorite focal length in the process. A single focal length lens is fine then.

“Single focal length lens for beginners” school of thought from Mr. Hishida

[Chat] I recommend a single focal length over a zoom! @Hissy Studio

  • “Personally” recommend single focus
  • 6 features of zoom lenses
    (1) Changing the focal length changes the curvature of the subject.
    (2) Changing the focal length changes the view of the background (angle of view).
    (3) Changing the focal length changes the out-of-focus effect of the background.
    (4) The zoom mechanism makes the camera prone to malfunction.
    (5) The zoom mechanism is prone to dust (with the exception of the inner zoom).
    (6) The f-number tends to be darker than that of a single focal length lens.
  • The main reasons for recommending a single focal length are (1) to (3) above.
  • Advantages of a single focal length lens
    (1) It is easy to organize the angle of view. You can concentrate on the composition of the picture at that angle of view. You can organize the angle of view by moving around instead of zooming.
    (2) You can develop your judgment to decide the composition and f-stop without relying on zooming.
    (3) It is often easier to blur the background or to get a beautiful bokeh effect.
    (4) Many lenses are specialized for specific purposes. For example, “lightweight, small, and inexpensive,” and “able to take a close-up shot.
  • Because zoom lenses make it easy to change the focal length, there are more things to consider in a complex way, and it is difficult to organize them in your mind.
  • Disadvantages of a single focal length lens
    (1) It takes time and effort to change lenses.
    (2) Requires space to own multiple lenses.
  • Zoom lenses are more convenient when you are in a hurry and cannot afford to change lenses.
    A 24mm-70mm zoom lens may be used as a 50mm single focus and a 70mm single focus.
  • It is convenient to use only one zoom lens when traveling. However, I personally take only one 50mm lens in such cases.
  • A zoom lens is convenient because it can cover a variety of focal lengths.
  • Although I recommend a single focal length, I also carry a zoom lens because I need it to do my job.
    It is also meant as insurance in case the single focal length lens breaks.
  • Single focal length lenses are unique because they focus on a single point, and I prefer lenses that have that kind of individuality.
  • It is possible to practice with zoom lenses with a fixed focal length.
  • Zoom lenses tend to produce half-finished images, so I would suggest using a single focal length if possible.
  • The recommended focal length is 50mm, a universal focal length.

Two differences in the two videos

In looking at these two videos, I thought there were two points where I felt the premise was different to begin with.
The differences are these two points.

  • Different definitions of “beginner”.
  • Difference in “methodology” for improving photography.

Let’s consider each of these.

Difference in definition of “beginner”

Watching these two videos, I wonder, “Is the definition of ‘beginner’ a bit different?” I feel that “the definition of ‘beginner’ is a little different.

Mr. Nishida’s definition of “beginner” refers to a user who is just starting out, while Mr. Hishida’s definition of “beginner” refers to a user who has some understanding of photography and a desire to get good at it. Strong>” who “have some knowledge of photography and have a desire to ‘get better’ at it.

Certainly, both are “beginners.
However, I feel that they have different levels of knowledge and skills among “beginners”.

Difference in “methodology” for improving photography

Watching these two videos, I feel that the “methodology for improving one’s photography” is also different.

Mr. Nishida’s method for improving one’s photography is to “shoot around and learn from the output.
Mr. Hishida’s method of improvement is to “first fix the focal distance and learn by thinking + shooting.

The former is a complete “get used to it rather than learn it” method.
The latter also features the act of “thinking.
However, I think that truly new beginners often don’t even know “what to think” or “how to think.
When they are able to “think,” they may be said to be users with some knowledge and experience.

Take in opinions according to your own values and stance

If we were to refer to these videos, we should first think about “where I stand” and “which opinions I can relate to.
Then, we should listen to the opinions that we think “this person’s opinion fits me” or “this person’s opinion is right for me.
There is no right answer, and each person should improve in the way that suits them best.

In the end, use whichever you want to use

When considering whether to use a single focal length lens or a zoom lens, I think it all comes down to this: “Use whichever you want to use“.
Rather than “whichever you want to use,” I should say “whichever suits you best“.

Some people say, “That’s why I don’t know whether a single focal length or a zoom lens is right for me! ” I can understand why some people might say that.
I will write about my opinion on that next, but first I would like to write about the “basic idea”.

Mr. Hishida’s “main reason for recommending a single focal length” is “important,” but Mr. Nishida says “many people give up at that point” and says “then, enjoy using a zoom lens first.
However, Mr. Nishida also says, “It is important to use the zoom lens to the fullest,” and that “in doing so, you will find the single focal length lens you need to buy.

Mr. Hishida also said that while he recommends a single focal length, “I also use a zoom lens in some cases,” and that zoom lenses are “convenient.
In other words, he says, “You have to choose between a single focal length lens and a zoom lens depending on the situation and the purpose of use.

Therefore, there is no absolute correct answer that “beginners use a single focus lens” or “beginners use a zoom lens.

  • What stance you want to take with photography.
  • What kind of situations do you often shoot.

I think it is up to each individual to make their own decision.

Criteria for lens selection

For example.

If you often shoot outdoors or in a large studio where you can move freely and change the distance to the subject, a single focal length lens is fine.

If you are traveling or photographing children or pets and don’t have time to change lenses every time, then a zoom lens is the way to go.

In addition, as both Nishida and Hishida say, “absolute descriptive power” and “single-point individuality,” single focal length lenses have a lot of distinctive features, so they are the best choice for

  • I want to strictly pursue high image quality with a large aperture, high performance lens
  • I want to pursue bokeh with a lens with a slightly smaller f-number.
  • To take portraits of models.
  • To take close-up photos of flowers or insects.

If you have a specific vision, I’d suggest buying a single focal length lens that matches it.

Personally, I recommend a zoom lens

As I mentioned earlier, there is no absolute correct answer of “single focus lens for beginners” or “zoom lens for beginners”.

You want to choose a lens that suits you based on a combination of factors such as what you want to shoot, how you want to shoot it, what kind of environment you tend to shoot in, and what your budget is.

However, there are many people who ask, “Which lens is better, a single focal length lens or a zoom lens?” I don’t know which lens is right for me! If you are such a beginner that you are wondering “Which lens is better for me?

In my experience, I have had situations where I wanted to shoot in a small room, but I only had a 50mm single focal length lens and the angle of view was too tight, but I have basically never had a problem with a standard zoom lens.

I have never had a problem with having a standard zoom lens. But even if I do open the aperture, it’s only by one stop, so I can just raise the ISO by one stop.

Zoom lenses are convenient lenses that save you the trouble of changing lenses

The reason why zoom lenses are so good is that you don’t have to change lenses.
With a single standard zoom lens, you can handle almost any situation.
I think this convenience is irreplaceable.

As Mr. Nishida says, it is exactly like “a cost-effective lens that combines several single focal length lenses in a single lens.

For example, when shooting portraits in a small indoor studio, there are situations where you have to shoot the model’s entire body and close-ups of her face in various compositions in a room of about 8 tatami mats in size.
In such a situation, the model makes facial expressions and poses in a rhythmical manner, and the photographer releases the shutter in a rhythmical manner.
In such situations, there is no time to change lenses every time.
In such cases, a zoom lens that allows the photographer to change focal lengths as the situation demands is really useful.

What do other photographers think?

The choice to buy two inexpensive lenses for the budget of one expensive lens

This is my personal opinion, but I think buying two inexpensive lenses is better than buying one expensive lens.

For example, with Canon, you can buy a single focus RF50mm F1.2 L USM or a zoom lens RF24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM or a single focal length RF50mm F1.8 STM, the standard zoom RF24-105mm F4 L IS USM, a standard zoom.

Certainly, the descriptive performance and bokeh will be different, but even so, I am sure you will be able to take photos that you will be fully satisfied with even with the less expensive lenses.
Of course, the standard of “satisfaction” is different for each person.

I myself usually use RF24-105mm F4 L IS USM as my main lens, and in some cases I use RF35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM, or RF50mm F1.8 STM, or use the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art.

But all the photos I have taken with these lenses have been beautiful and satisfactory enough.

Several times I have used RF70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM or RF50mm F1.2 L USM, and I have certainly experienced their great descriptive power. I have never thought “I guess a low-priced lens is not good enough” even though I have felt “This is a high performance lens!

This is a bit of a digression from the single focal length or zoom lens topic, but I think it is possible to change your mindset and say, “Why don’t you buy two lenses with the same budget for one? I’m talking about that.

So, [Camera beginners] Zoom lens or single focal length? Single focal length? Which should I choose? What do you think?
I hope you guys found it useful!

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