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difference between prime lens and zoom lens

prabhuv 7 4 India
3 Apr 2012 10:04AM
Hi all

I am beginner. I want to know about the difference and use of prime lense and zoom lense.

Please advise.

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darranl 8 318 England
3 Apr 2012 10:06AM
A prime lens has a fixed focal length so the only option to bring object closer or to move them further away is to either move the object or move the camera.

A zoom lens has a range of focal lengths that you can adjust without needing to move yourself.
prabhuv 7 4 India
3 Apr 2012 10:13AM
Thanks for your clarification.
So prime lens and micro lens is different. its right?
darranl 8 318 England
3 Apr 2012 10:34AM

Quote:So prime lens and micro lens is different. its right?

I am not sure if there are any true macro lenses that are zoom so at the very least most macro lenses are prime lenses but not all prime lenses are macro lenses.

(When I say true I mean giving you a 1:1 image reproduction on the image sensor - there are plenty of zoom lenses that claim macro capabilities but I think those are generally 1:2 or maybe even 1:3)

As an example I have a Nikon 50mm f1.4 prime - that lens is not a macro lens, I also have a Sigma 150mm f2.8, that lens is a macro lens but is also a 150mm prime lens.
prabhuv 7 4 India
3 Apr 2012 10:45AM
Ok .. Thanks.

I am using Nikon D3000. I want to buy a macro lens.
When i search Macro lens , I got some confusion prime lens , macro lens and zoom lens.
Please advise , If i want to buy a macro lens , which one is best? , and also i got some suggestion from web buy extension tube and filter is best option.
if i want to buy extension tube and filter , which one is best? any url available Please share wit me.
darranl 8 318 England
3 Apr 2012 10:51AM
What existing lens or lenses do you have with your D3000?

Also what type of images do you want to capture (macro and non macro), also do you have a budget at the moment?

The reason I ask is there is no one size fits all solution each have their pros and cons but with a bit more info some options can be included / excluded.
prabhuv 7 4 India
3 Apr 2012 10:55AM
Now i am using 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR lens.
I want to take photos like this https://www.ephotozine.com/user/prabhuv-154320/gallery/photo/hibiscus-flower-macro-22607331 This one i have taken the zoom lens.

My budget is up to 10000 Rs or US $ 200 only
darranl 8 318 England
3 Apr 2012 11:14AM
I don't know what the secondhand budget is like where you are but at the moment I think your budget is going to be ruling out a new dedicated macro lens.

For flowers one big advantage you have is that you have more options to control the movement and also getting the camera close is not going to scare them off Wink BTW do you have a tripod? One issue with macro photography is having a very shallow depth of field so movement can easily change what you are focusing on although that is sometimes to your advantage so you can fine tune the focus by moving slightly.

If I was on your budget I think I would also be looking at the options like extension tubes, filters and even a (hope I get the name right) a reversing ring to allow you to turn the lens completely around.

Alternative both Sigma and Tamron (and possibly a few others) make a fairly low cost zoom lens in the range 70-300 mm, these have a "macro" option for closer focusing although as I said above not true macro as it is not 1:1 - these lenses are sometimes criticised for being a little soft at the long end but if you look at my portfolio I have been able to capture images like the butterfly with the Tamron lens - that did need a tripod as there is no image stablisation.
miptog 12 3.6k 61 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2012 11:17AM
Is seems you like close up macro shots. You may find a set of extension tubes would be a cheaper alternative to a macro lens.
robthecamman 6 1.7k United Kingdom
3 Apr 2012 11:22AM
could try diopters that screw into the front of another lense
prabhuv 7 4 India
3 Apr 2012 11:27AM
Could you share any url for diopters and extension tubes, that would be very helpful for me.
3 Apr 2012 11:34AM
3 Apr 2012 11:35AM
pulsar69 14 1.6k 6 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2012 12:11PM
or try a reversing ring on your lenses ?
Cagey75 7 42 Ireland
3 Apr 2012 1:32PM
I've tried both reverse rings [on my old 50mm] and extension tubes [which broke and almost ruined the mount on my camera]

Don't buy cheap extension tubes! The little screw used to mount is very likely to break when you're removing the lens from them. It happened to me, a little panic, but I managed to get the ring off with a screwdriver. You don't want to be doing this.

Reverse ring is the cheapest way to go. Again they can be fiddly on the mount, but no screw to worry about. You really need to be using a lens with an aperture ring though.

Your best bet, on your budget, is to look towards the new Nikon 40mm micro. I've seen excellent results from people using these for close up macro shots. I used the 60mm for a while and managed bug shots, spiders etc ... and some say you need to use 105mm for that purpose.


I will be buying one of those myself at some point, for abstract/close ups. It will also double as a very good portrait lens.

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