A Year with Primes Only

I’ve just finished up an unintentional experiment: From June of 2016 to last Thursday, I used primes only in my photography. It was a winding journey and I didn’t set out a goal of using primes only for a year. It just happened that way.

I learned a lot, though, during my year with only the 35mm f2, the 56mm f1.2, the 16mm f1.4, and the 90mm f2. I learned that the native fastest-aperture lens I could get (in this case the Fuji 56mm f1.2) was my most un-favorite lens ever. It was hard to nail focus even manually and it was notorious for hunting with autofocus. I have some great shots from my time owning that lens, but I had zero qualms in saying goodbye to it. I also learned, likewise, that the 16mm f1.4 which I bought for architecture and landscape photography, never came off my desk for use. I don’t shoot landscapes often.

I learned to love, love, love my 35mm f2 lens. That lens is the best value photography purchase I have made to date and I will never willingly part with it. Ninety-nine percent of my personal photo projects over the past year were shot with that lens. I love its portability, too…I can just throw it on the X-Pro2 and throw the whole setup into my purse. It’s that little. I would never have thought to purchase that lens if I’d been working with a zoom that covered its range.

I learned to work within the limits of fixed focal length lenses. I got un-lazy in my photography. I learned to move around to get the compositions I wanted. In retrospect, I will always be glad I did this unintentional experiment.

Last Thursday, realizing that limits were difficult to accept in wedding photography situations, I made the plunge and traded the 16mm f1.4 and the 56mm f1.2 for a used like-new 16-55mm f2.8, an almost even trade dollar-wise. I’d worked with this zoom before and I knew what I was getting into and using it at this past weekend’s wedding was like a photographic breath of fresh air.  And so ended the primes-only year.

As usual, KEH camera was awesome to work with. I love that we live so close and I never have to ship things to or from them. But it would be worth doing so even if we weren’t so close to their operations.

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