Prime lenses sharper than zoom lenses at the same focal length?

4 months 1 day ago #692149 by Jennifer Krueger
Just like the title is asking, are ALL prime lenses considered sharper than zoom lenses at the same focal length?  Like the 85mm prime compared to 85mm set from a 70-200mm?


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4 months 1 day ago #692156 by Screamin Scott
The short answer is no, however you may be hard-pressed to notice differences unless you pixel peep and even then it may be difficult to discern. The big difference will be in weight and bulk with the Pro zooms being much bigger and heavier due to all the glass needed in them. Plus the uber-expensive zooms will come a lot closer in IQ than consumer-grade lenses

Scott Ditzel Photography

www.flickr.com/photos/screaminscott/

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4 months 22 hours ago #692186 by fmw
The short answer is yes.  Single focal length lenses have better corner sharpness and lower levels of optical aberrations particularly at larger apertures.   Zooms will have a sweet spot in the zoom range where optically it can compete with a single focal length lens but you specified the same focal lengthl which may or may not be the sweet spot. 

Zoom lenses are very good these days but just a tad short of the performance of the prime lenses.  The primes are also faster and lighter.  I like and use zoom lenses but more often I use a fixed focal length lens.


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4 months 22 hours ago #692190 by Piechura

Screamin Scott wrote: The big difference will be in weight and bulk with the Pro zooms being much bigger and heavier due to all the glass needed in them.

Not necessarily. The Sigma Art 24-70 f2.8 for example is pretty close in weight to the Sigma Art 50mm f1.4, and they're the same series of lens. But obviously an f2.8 prime would be much lighter than the equivalent zoom.

As far as I'm aware (and DXOmark test sharpness) the best primes will generally be sharper than the best zooms. But that doesn't mean that you $200 prime would be better than your $2000 zoom. But I've even heard some portrait photographers deliberately choosing the less sharp lens because sharpness isn't what they're going for in beauty shots. Specifically you'll see a lot of 85mm primes that don't have the ridiculous sharpness of some other lenses.


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4 months 22 hours ago #692191 by fmw
Let me add that, in some cases, the difference between the performance of a zoom and a fixed focal length lens can be obviousl.  Take for example the inexpensive 70-300 zoom lenses used by many amateurs.  Set one one up on a tripod next to my Zeiss 300mm f4 prime and compare the results.  You will shake your head with understanding. 

There are great zooms and not so great zooms, as we all know.  There aren't very many bad single focal length lenses.


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4 months 22 hours ago #692193 by Screamin Scott
You are comparing specific lenses whereas the OP's post was a generalization. For an exact answer, one has to be specific... 

Scott Ditzel Photography

www.flickr.com/photos/screaminscott/

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4 months 19 hours ago #692221 by garyrhook
Okay, this is hysterical:

"no"
"yes"
"maybe"

As Scott points out, it depends upon the lenses under consideration. There are middling primes, and excellent zooms. What are you comparing? There's not answer that applies across the board.

Points to consider: overall IQ, corners as well as center; quality of optics; quality of build; aperture. Each of these has some impact upon "sharpness", and is variable.

N.B. DXOmark is worthless, IMNSHO. They got (get?) paid to measure exactly 3 parameters of a lens. Their results should be considered only one point of interest in evaluating a lens.


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4 months 15 hours ago #692237 by Jennifer Krueger
So it basically depends on the lens.  Right? 


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4 months 15 hours ago #692238 by Shadowfixer1
That is correct. A high quality zoom will outperform a standard zoom in a lot of cases. Quality is lens dependent, not whether it's a zoom or prime.

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