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No, this is not another round in the pointless battle of zoom vs. prime. They are both good choices, and you have to give it to the optical technicians for making pro zooms incredible in the past twenty years. Most of the times, you will have a hard time spotting the difference in detail between a top zoom and a prime, so you are not in danger no matter what you choose.
But there are some situations or conditions when having a prime lens mounted might take you one step further. Here they are.
In portrait photography
What’s interesting about portraits is that they can be captured in spontaneous moments as well as in a thoroughly controlled shooting session. If you’re in a studio, you have no problem putting on a 24-70mm lens and setting the aperture at f11. But there are those special times when you are in a dark café in Paris or late at dusk on a mountain in Europe trying to take portraits of a lonely sheppard. Surely you wouldn’t go for the zoom lens if you had an 85mm f1.4 in your bag. Just saying.
In food photography
The top food photographers of the world are in very high demand for good reasons. One of them is knowing how and what details to capture in a dish. And to do so, they mainly rely on prime macro lenses that sometimes capture more detail than the human eye.
Shooting video with a DSLR means you have to switch everything to manual. Just try manually zooming and focusing to see if you like it, without the proper extra gear.You probably won’t. Primes are the best option for shooting video and what’s cool about that is that you don’t even have to spend a fortune. Some of the old manual lenses from the film era have been proven to work very well for Full HD video.
In landscape photography
There probably aren’t too many types of photographers who are as obsessed with detail as landscape photographers. Now, as I’ve said before, the detail is there with zoom lenses too, but not 100%, corner to corner. The ace in the sleeve for prime lenses is that no compromises have to be made, and therefore top quality is easier to achieve.
You might not be the biggest fan of architecture photography, but let’s face it: you love a good tilt and shift photo when you see one.
Who doesn’t? Well, so far, you just can’t get that awesome, miniature world looking effect with a zoom lens. Of course you can fake it in Photoshop, but it’s very time consuming and unless you are really good it at, it will just look like a fake knock-off.