How to use a prime lens pin

If you have a DSLR camera then I am sure you have heard your next investment should be a prime lens.  So you may be wondering what a prime lens is. Simply put, a prime lens is a fixed focal length lens or a non-zoom lens.  There is no zooming as with the kit lens that may have come with your camera. I am going to explain why and how to use a prime lens with some easy to follow bullet points.

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First things first why would you want a prime lens?  The main benefit to a prime lens is the low f-stop capability, i.e. larger aperture.  A kit lens typically has a maximum aperture of around f4.0. A prime lens will allow an aperture as large as f1.2.  The lower f-stop value will allow you to introduce more bokeh to the image i.e. a blurrier background. Here is an example of how the aperture affects the image:

camera lens comparison

How to Use a Prime Lens

  1. Choose the desired aperture.  The true benefit of a prime lens is that you can have a larger aperture (lower f-stop).  If you want really blurry background photos then you will want to choose a lower f-stop. Just remember that the lower your f-stop the more light that is being allowed into the camera.  So on a bright sunny day, your shutter speed will then need to be really high.
  2. Frame your shot.  This is going to require you to move because a prime lens typically doesn’t have any zoom capability.  You are the zoom. If you want a tighter frame on your subject then move closer, if you want more background in your photo move farther away from your subject.  Once you practice with your lens you will get a feel for how close or far from your subject you will need to be.
  3. Take the shot.  It really is as easy as that.  You just need to set your aperture depending on the type of photo you want and then set the other settings depending on what camera mode you are in and your lighting conditions.  

What Type of Prime Lens Should I Buy

There are multiple options for a prime lens.  The most popular and the one I recommend starting with is a 50mm prime lens.  You can get them in 25mm or 85mm (and many others) but the 50mm is the easiest to get used to in terms of distance to subject to start out with.  Here are some popular 50mm lens for both Canon and Nikon.  You can click on the image to go to Amazon and read more about each lens.

Canon 50mm Prime Lens
Nikon 50mm Prime Lens

If you have read this and are confused about aperture or how to use your DSLR to its fullest potential you can check out my Beginner DSLR Photography Course.  

Other articles you may be interested in:

Free DSLR and Mirrorless Settings Cheat Sheets and more!


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