Can Modern Supertelephoto Zoom Lenses Replace Expensive Primes?

There used to be no contest in image quality between supertelephoto prime and zoom lenses. Zooms simply could not keep pace with primes, and if you wanted to create professional-level photos or work in demanding conditions, you had no choice but to shell out for a top-shelf prime. Supertelephoto zoom lenses have made tremendous progress in the last few years, however. So, do you still need to buy those ultra-expensive primes? This great video discusses the topic. 

Coming to you from Jan Wegener, this interesting video discusses if supertelephoto prime lenses are still a necessary piece of equipment or if we can replace them with zoom lenses. It used to be that supertelephoto primes were the only option for serious work for several reasons, mainly that you needed as wide an aperture as possible to maintain a fast shutter speed, as cameras couldn't handle higher ISOs well, and older zoom lenses simply could not compete with the image quality of prices. Both those things have changed in the last five years or so, and zoom lenses are remarkably capable nowadays, meaning you might appreciate both the convenience and reduced cost of one over a prime. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Wegener. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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For those of us that don't have the budget, Sigma and Tamron made it possible to get some pretty good shots with the creation of their 150-600s. No, they don't match the primes in those ranges, but I can afford a Sigma 150-600. I can't afford a 600 F4 L.