Yeah, I know, it’s an overly dramatic clickbait title. There is no reason whatsoever to blame Fujifilm, but my time of shifting from zooms to primes occurred in my Fujifilm days so if I figured it would get people’s attention.
When I shot Nikon, I had the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm along with a couple of other primes like the 20mm and 50mm and 90mm macro. I’d heard so much about the 50mm f/1.4 that I got one but it never quite worked for me and I battled to get anything that really stood out. The 20mm was probably one of the few primes that worked for me but I never thought to try other primes because of my experiences with the 50mm. I honestly just thought it was a “prime vs zoom” thing rather than a focal length thing.
When I shifted to Fujifilm, I got the 16-35mm (24-70mm full frame equivalent) and 50-140mm (75-210mm full frame equivalent) along with one or two primes that were recommended, essentially matching what I had before with Nikon. The problem was that I was at a life stage compared to my Nikon days…two young kids, 35 birthday parties a year and lugging around larger lenses was often intimidating to other parents at a birthday party who would give you the evil eye for bringing a large lens like a 70-200mm to a party. It’s like carrying a big lens instantly made you some sort of pervert.
Fujifilm offered some nice compact primes named the Fujicrons which were small f/2 lenses so I decided to get a couple of them. I picked up the 23mm f/2 (35mm full equivalent), 35mm f/2 (50mm full equivalent), 56 f/1.2 and 90mm f/2. The 90/135 wasn’t my preferred focal length at the time, I wanted the 56/85mm but the 56mm had notoriously slow AF whilst the 90mm was lightening fast so I got the 90 because of my kids. Despite not wanting the 135mm focal length, it’s something I subsequently fell in love with but that’s a story for a different day.
When I switched to Sony, I decided to give the zooms another go. The 28-75mm was small enough to match my 16-55mm and the 16-35mm offered some flexibility for sports. Great? In theory yes, but in reality I realised I’d already got used to using primes so my 16-35mm was only really used at the wide end and I never adjusted it. The 28-75mm on the other hand was relegated to my bag in favour of my primes, the 24mm, 35mm and 85mm so it just wasn’t being used unless I was in the studio stopping it down to f/5.6 or f8. If I went out, I almost always took primes. When I took out the 16-35mm, if I had a 16mm or 18mm prime, I would probably rather have taken that.
So what have I realised?
At some point I lost my love of zooms. I don’t think it’s a skill thing. I know plenty of better photographers that love zooms. Initially it was the size and weight that got me, but I don’t think that is the case anymore. I love my Sigma ART 135mm f1.8 and that is huge. Maybe it’s the flexibility of size to suit all occasions that I now appreciate. With a 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8, that’s all you have, it’s one or the other or both. There is no way to carry light. With primes, you can carry a 24mm, 50mm and 85mm or just a 24mm and 85mm, or just a 24mm.
The 24mm Sony weighs in at 445grams, the 55mm at 281 grams, the 85mm at 371 grams, the 24-70mm at 890 grams and 70-200mm at 1480kg. When you combine lenses, a lot of the time you could still get away with a lighter combination. So is it the weight or the flexibility of varying weights? I don’t know to be honest. I just know that I prefer taking my 24mm, 35mm and 85mm on most days.
What I have definitely realised is that sometimes focal lengths just don’t work for you. I will probably still get something in the 50mm range, but I’m not going to spend $2000 on a prime where I don’t use it for anything other than studio portraits.
Where to now?
So from the looks of it, I could be the first person in history to sell my 28-75mm if the Tamron hype would have you believe anything. I’m not saying it’s a bad lens, I’m saying that I’ve lost my love for zooms. It’s sounds like a bad breakup letter, one of those “It’s not you, it’s me” stories. I’ll still keep my 100-400 but thats more to do with my lack of funding for the 400mm f/2.8 or that would be a logical choice.
The big question is what do I replace it with? My initial thoughts are the 18mm Batis for the 16-35mm and the 40mm Batis for the 28-75mm given I have the 24mm and 35mm already. It gives me a lot of flexibility with a combo of the 18mm, 24mm, 35mm, 40mm, 85mm and 135mm but getting a 40mm does seem like a waste when the 55mm might fill the gaps better.
Sigma is also rumoured to have some primes coming through, so the question is whether it’s worth waiting to see if the 35mm f/1.2 and some of the other primes rumored to come out are real.
For now, I’ll replace the 16-35mm with the 18mm and wait and see for the 28-75mm based on the next Sigma release. That may gives me some indications of my next move.