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18-55mm vs 35mm lens

edited June 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
I have a 18-55mm lens. Is there a point in buying a 35mm prime lens, or should I buy 35mm lens?


  • edited July 2015
    Just to be sure the terminology is understood, a "prime" lens is simply one that has a set focal length. All fixed length lenses that do not zoom are prime. The 35mm f/1.8 lens is, of course, faster than the zoom, and as such it is capable of shooting in lower light and of rendering out of focus areas better when it's wide open. The wider aperture makes it likely to focus faster and probably more accurately. A prime lens will usually give you slightly more contrast and more resistance to flare, and may also be a little sharper. It's more robustly built, and because the front element does not rotate it can be easily used with a polarizing filter.

    All these advantages are real, but whether you need them will depend a little on whether you are finding your current lens limiting. The kit zoom is capable of very good images. On the other hand, many people who have a good normal perspective prime lens such as the 35mm find that this is the one they use most often, because it is so free of vices.

    I should probably include the disclaimer that I do not have one of these. I have other manual prime lenses that I use instead left over from many years of Nikon film camera use, but if buying new, the 35mm f/1.8 DX is the way to go.
  • edited June 2015
    Thank you.
    I'm buying the 35mm.
  • edited July 2015
    This might be a rookie question, but what is the VR on/off slide on the 18-55 mm lens used for? My pictures yesterday (July 4th dang it!) were blurry. The lens would not focus. Apparently the M was slid on (-) on the lens. I slid it back to A (-) and the pictures were still blurry. This morning I noticed the VR was on OFF so slid to ON (-) and the pictures look good. I'm very much the novice so any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
  • edited July 2015
    VR is vibration reduction. Not generally a big deal at short focal lengths. It can give you a good bit of advantage as you get longer, allowing a slower shutter speed without visible camera shake.

    The lens will still not always auto focus accurately when light is very low and may choose the wrong subject when you use auto area focusing, which is best for crowds of people and complex scenes where the camera can figure things out pretty well. Practice in brighter light to figure out how to get your auto focus to hit the right subjects at the right times.
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