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Are primes brighter and sharper than wide open zooms



 
 
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  #61  
Old September 30th 05, 04:06 PM
Nostrobino
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"Eugene" wrote in message
...
You make it sound like it's some kind of disease.


It is. And highly contagious, as we have seen.


In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?


Yes. Words mean things. The meanings should not change willy-nilly, and
certainly not because some ignorant misusage becomes commonplace.


Languages are dynamic, and the meanings of words are constantly changing.


That argument has been used for as long as I can remember to justify
misusages of language.


The original meaning of "prime" in the photographic sense is just an
invention anyway.


No, it is not. "Prime" is used in the sense of "primary," "main," "chief,"
"original," etc. All are dictionary definitions (though not every dictionary
carries every one of those) and plainly that is the way the word was and is
properly used.


Referring to the dictionary I find no mention of lenses as related to the
meaning of the word "prime".


Look under "blue" and you'll probably find no mention of shirts, either. Do
you take that to mean that "blue shirt" can be taken to mean a red shirt, or
any other meaning unrelated to the usual meaning of "blue"?

What do the terms "primary lens," "chief lens," or "original lens" have for
you? Fixed focal length? I don't think so.

There is NO dictionary definition for "prime" that means fixed focal length
or fixed anything else.


Who is therefore to decide which usage is correct? You apparently!


That "decision" was made before I got involved in photography, which was
over 50 years ago. Since zoom lenses then were unheard of for 35mm cameras
(at least I don't recall any then), obviously there was no need for a term
to distinguish non-zooms from zooms.



The first listing that I found at dictionary.com is...

"First in excellence, quality, or value"

I think therefore it's perfectly reasonable to refer to a high quality FFL
lens in this way.


That is one of several meanings for "prime," but it isn't how the term is
being misused. If it were, that would at least reduce the objection to it,
but would still leave a good deal of confusion. Who is to decide (as you put
it) which lenses are "high quality" and which are not? You?



Perhaps you should just "chill out" a little and stop preaching about who
or who isn't ignorant.


I've been saying the misusage is ignorant. It is. I haven't said that the
people misusing the term are ignorant. On the contrary, I presume that most
of them are folks of at least ordinary intelligence who have innocently
picked the misusage up from Usenet and elsewhere. To be ignorant of some
particular state of affairs before one has the facts is hardly a shameful
thing. To try to DEFEND that ignorance after being apprised of the facts,
however, is stupid. Please note that I am making a careful distinction
between ignorance and stupidity. The former is often only temporary; the
latter tends to be lasting.

N.


  #62  
Old September 30th 05, 04:21 PM
Nostrobino
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"Brion K. Lienhart" wrote in message
...
Eugene wrote:
You make it sound like it's some kind of disease. In the grand scheme of
things, does it really matter? Languages are dynamic, and the meanings of
words are constantly changing. The original meaning of "prime" in the
photographic sense is just an invention anyway. Referring to the
dictionary I find no mention of lenses as related to the meaning of the
word "prime". Who is therefore to decide which usage is correct? You
apparently!


It's pretty much established jargon in the photo industry. I've seen it
used in this sense since the mid-70s (when I started paying attention to
photo stuff).


I doubt that very much. I suspect that's a false memory, to which people are
very prone. I don't doubt that you saw "prime lens" used that long ago; I've
seen it used since the 1950s, when of course there was no need for a term to
distinguish FFL lenses from zooms. But I've been reading about photo stuff
extensively since I first got into it in 1951, and it wasn't until the early
1990s that I ever saw the term misused in this way. Obviously the misusage
started with someone's misunderstanding the term, and it's possible that you
did that long ago, though it seems somewhat unlikely.

People often "remember" things that never were. In another argument on this
same subject, a user claimed her father remembered using "prime lens" to
mean FFL lens back in the 1930s. Now why on earth would anyone use a term
meant to distinguish non-zoom lenses when there were no zooms?


I hardly think it can be blamed solely on the internet.


You're right there. I first saw it misused in this way on the old Fidonet,
some time before I had access to the Internet per se. That was back in my
386 days, so probably 1991 or so.

N.


  #63  
Old September 30th 05, 04:48 PM
Nostrobino
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"Eugene" wrote in message
...
I don't think it has anything to do with the internet really. They've been
called prime lenses for as long as I can remember, and yes I do pre-date
the Internet ;-)

I certainly don't think it's some kind of fad. I suspect it would have
originated about the same time as zoom lenses.


Much later than that, I think. I was fairly heavily into photography before
I saw my first zoom lens, the Voigtlander Zoomar. That was around 1960. I
bought my first zoom in the late 1960s, and I'm dead certain no one used
"prime" to mean FFL at that time or for many years after. FFL lenses were
still the common kind of lens to have, in any focal-length range, and so
there was no need for a special term to distinguish them. Zooms were just
not highly trusted. Throughout the 1970s and well into the 1980s, most of my
lenses were FFL. There simply wasn't any need to use a term for something
that was assumed anyway. It was the *zoom* that was the exception and needed
a special designation. Now it's the other way around.


People needed a handy term to distinguish their FFL lenses from the new
zooms. FFL may be easy and quick to write, but 'prime' is quicker to say.


So is "egg," and even quicker to write. If a term must be coined for FFL on
the basis of quickness and ease, I suggest "egg." It even has a vague
logical connection to the idea of single focal length, since the egg is sort
of a symbol for unity. But best of all, it has the overwhelming advantage of
not being incorrect. No one at present is using "egg lens" for anything
else, so the likelihood of confusion is practically nil.


Also if we're going to get pedantic about linguistics then why not take
offence to the term "zoom lens". Surely they should be called Variable
Focal Length Lenses, or VFL lenses. That's much better... Now we just have
to re-educate all the millions of poor ignorant fools using the incorrect
terminology ;-)


Well, you're partly right there, except that zoom lenses are not just
variable focal length lenses. A zoom lens, strictly speaking, is a variable
focal length lens that is parfocal (stays in focus throughout its
focal-length range).

Now it is certainly true that not all "zoom" lenses do this, and those that
don't are properly called varifocal lenses. For example, every "zoom" lens
I've ever seen on a projector has been a varifocal and not a true zoom. And
the "zoom" lenses on point-and-shoot cameras are for the most part really
varifocals.

So yes, sure, if you want to do that, then by all means let's get people
straightened out on that terminological inexactitude.

Right after we correct the "prime lens" snafu. First things first.

N.


  #64  
Old September 30th 05, 04:51 PM
Nostrobino
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"Tony Polson" wrote in message
...
Eugene wrote:

I don't think it has anything to do with the internet really. They've
been called prime lenses for as long as I can remember, and yes I do
pre-date the Internet ;-)



If only it was as simple as referring to all fixed focal length lenses
as "prime" lenses. Most subscribers to this newsgroup probably aren't
old enough to recall that some manufacturers used the term "prime" to
refer to a high quality subset of their fixed focal length lenses.

What made a particular fixed focal length lens design a "prime" lens
was not clear. Why other fixed focal length lenses were not described
as "prime" lenses was even less clear. But what is clear is that
assuming all fixed focal length lenses were referred to as "prime"
lenses is wrong. It was marketing, pure and simple.

Since there is no accepted definition of a "prime" lens we should just
drop the term, as it serves only to confuse.

I like the idea of FFL and VFL, especially as so many VFL optics are
not true zooms because they do not hold focus when zoomed. They are
often termed vari-focal lenses (also "VFL"), which term could be
extended to include the true zooms.


That is true. True zooms are essentially a subset of varifocals, I would
say.



FFL and VFL has my vote.

;-)


Mine too, but FFL first. To get rid of that pesky other thing. ;-)

N.


  #65  
Old September 30th 05, 05:03 PM
Nostrobino
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"Eugene" wrote in message
...
OK, I stand corrected. This does make sense. Actually now that I think
about it I don't tend to use the terms "prime" and "zoom" much anyway. I'd
nearly always just refer to the specific lens type. Like I'd just say 50mm
f1.4 rather than 50mm prime. Adding "prime" is kind of redundant. If only
one focal length lens is given then it's obvious I'm not talking about
variable focal length.


Exactly, and this is what makes my teeth hurt when I see someone mention
"28mm prime," for example. (As opposed to what, a 28mm zoom?)



Also I think there would be very few situations where lumping everything
into 2 distinct groups would make sense. For example "zoom" could equally
refer to an EF-S 18-55, as it could to an EF 70-200 f2.8 L. Aside from the
fact that both lenses can change focal lengths, they really have nothing
much else in common. They serve entirely different purposes and an
entirely different market. Likewise "prime" (meaning FFL) could equally
refer to a 7mm circular fisheye, or a 1200mm super-telephoto.

Grouping lenses by focal length ranges makes more sense, ultra-wide,
wide-angle, medium-telephoto, super-telephoto etc.


And in fact that is just how camera makers *do* group them, in my
experience. I have been for 25+ years mostly a Minolta man (until I got into
digital, anyway) and admittedly I'm less familiar with other manufacturers'
lens literature, but what I have seen has followed Minolta's practice of
grouping lenses as wide-angle, standard, telephoto, zoom, etc. I have never
seen any camera maker's literature use "prime" to mean FFL, and I sure hope
I never do. (It is almost unthinkable.)

N.


  #66  
Old September 30th 05, 05:12 PM
Peter
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Peter wrote:


I just looked it up and Canon does indeed make real macro lenses
with the inscription "Canon Macro Photo Lens." If those are
the lenses under "macro" in the catalogue then I apologize,
they are _real_ macro lenses.

Nikon is unusual in that they reserve the word "macro" for their
true macro lenses. Nikon uses "Micro-Nikkor" for their lenses
designed for normal close-up work.


Canon uses "macro" on both their real macro lenses and their
not-quite macro lenses. The words "macro photo lens" seem to
be reserved for their true macro lenses.

Peter.
--


  #67  
Old September 30th 05, 05:13 PM
Nostrobino
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"Chris Brown" wrote in message
...
In article ,
Tony Polson wrote:

Since there is no accepted definition of a "prime" lens we should just
drop the term, as it serves only to confuse.


Feel free to go ahead. The rest of the world will carry on using it.


"The rest of the world" is defined as the few dozen people who post in a
couple of newsgroups?

Camera manufacturers don't use "prime" to mean FFL. They never have. They're
not part of "the rest of the world," I guess?

Lens manufacturers do sometimes use "prime," and they use it to mean actual
prime lenses. Not FFL lenses, necessarily. Zeiss and Schneider, for example,
have catalogued variable prime lenses. Now can you guess what a variable
prime lens is? No? It's a prime lens of variable focal length. (Not a zoom,
because a true zoom has to be parfocal.)

I'll bet there are a lot more people (and a lot more knowledgeable) in Zeiss
and Schneider than there are in your "rest of the world" that thinks "prime"
means fixed focal length.

N.


  #68  
Old September 30th 05, 05:24 PM
Nostrobino
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"Paul J Gans" wrote in message
...
[ . . . ]

I dimly recall the term "prime lens" as being the
lens whose focal length was equal (at least roughly)
to the diagonal of the film frame. That made a 50mm
(or 45mm) lens "prime" for 35mm film.


I have never seen "prime" used in that way, but at least it's no more
incorrect than the way it's mostly being used in these newsgroups. ;-)

It used to be considered that the proper (or normal) focal length for a
camera was the diagonal of its negative. Similarly, the length + width of
the negative was considered a suitable focal length for portraits. I don't
think anyone has paid much attention to those rules of thumb since we've had
such a vast range of focal lengths available to us which were undreamt of a
few decades ago.

N.


  #69  
Old September 30th 05, 05:28 PM
Nostrobino
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"no_name" wrote in message
om...
Nostrobino wrote:

[ . . . ]

Just because "popular usage" may not appear in a particular dictionary
does not constitute "misuse".

If you speak of a prime lens to photographers, they know what you're
talking about.


The problem is, they may not. I do sometimes have occasion to mention "prime
lens" and I assure you I use it correctly. People who think it means fixed
focal length will, therefore, not understand what I am saying.

N.


  #70  
Old September 30th 05, 05:41 PM
Neil Ellwood
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On Fri, 30 Sep 2005 04:44:00 +0000, Paul J Gans wrote:


I dimly recall the term "prime lens" as being the
lens whose focal length was equal (at least roughly)
to the diagonal of the film frame. That made a 50mm
(or 45mm) lens "prime" for 35mm film.

In the UK in the sixties they were called normal lenses.

A 135mm lens was then a "telephoto" and a 35mm lens
was a "wideangle".

The 135mm was often called a long focus lens (which most at that time
were), the 35mm were often retro-focus lenses but I cannot ever remember
them being called that.
Zoom hadn't been invented yet.

Zooms were used on cine cameras quite a while before still.


--
Neil
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