3 Reasons You Should Own A Fixed Lens Camera

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I believe most photographers reach a point in their experience where they want to cut down on their gear. Whether they are trying to reduce size/weight or the sheer number of bodies/lenses they own, the philosophy of less is more tends to take hold along the way.

For those who seek a minimalistic solution that covers issues of size and weight in particular, I’d argue that a fixed lens camera is a way to go.

Many of us start out with DSLRs and zoom lenses — excited to finally have a “pro” setup, we just accept that the setup might be a bit heavier than we’d like.

Mirrorless cameras eventually draw many of us in with their sleeker proportions and promise of being a lighter, more manageable setup. Sometimes this is the case. But often it’s not, as the weight advantages of various mirrorless camera and lens combinations aren’t significant in comparison to their DSLR counterparts.

So, this is where a fixed lens camera should enter the conversation, and here are three reasons why you should choose one.

Small, Light, And Portable

A fixed lens camera is one that quite literally lives up to its name — it’s a camera body with a lens fixed to it. You can’t take the lens off.

This fact means such a camera is smaller, lighter, and more portable (maybe even pocketable), and it’s among the reasons why street photographers have an affinity for fixed lens cameras.

A camera like the Ricoh GRIII or the Fujifilm X100V is leaps and bounds more portable than pretty much any interchange lens camera, even when using the smallest lens available for that camera.

grayscale photo of person holding fixed lens camera
Photo by Aziz Acharki

Less To Think About

When packing gear, how much time have you lost agonizing over which lenses to bring? 

Should you pack the 24mm and the 35mm? Or maybe just bring the 28mm and the 50mm? The 27-70mm would work but do you feel like carrying it?

Then you just throw your hands up and pack it all.

There’s too much going on here. 

Having a fixed lens camera keeps you from overpacking and it makes all the important lens choices for you. You’ll have one focal length and no option to swap lenses. 

Sure, you lose versatility, but….

fixed lens camera sale marketplace
Photo by KaiPilger

Creative Control

Being forced to deal with constraints tends to cause people to act more creatively — you know, necessity being the mother of invention.

Not that you’re really inventing anything new, but when you’re backed into a corner, so to speak, you’ll find a creative way out of that corner when you have to.

If you’re shooting with a fixed 28mm lens and you see something that you want to capture far away, you’re not going to be able to zoom by simply twisting your lens barrel. You’re going to have to go get the shot. Zoom with your feet.

Similarly, if you’re in a tight space with a fixed 35mm lens, you’re going to have to figure out a composition that will visually convey what you’re attempting to communicate.

It’s more work, but guess what? Shooting with a fixed lens camera has the potential to make you a more creative photographer.

black and silver dslr camera beside white ceramic mug
Photo by Le Khang

Final Thoughts On Fixed Lens Camera

Of course, a fixed lens camera isn’t right for every scenario and it’s not right for every photographer — thinking of you, wildlife, and macro photographers.

But even if it’s not your go-to camera, I think a fixed lens camera is something that most photographers will value having in their collection. So pick one up and spend some time with it. I’m willing to bet you’ll keep it around.

Further Reading:

About Author

Jason Little is a photographer, author and stock shooter. You can see Jason’s photography on his Website or his Instagram feed.

Can we please kill the “Zoom with your feet” lie? You cannot “zoom” with your feet. Whenever you move your camera closer to or further from the object you change the perspective. Changing focal length does not.

I like using primes but this saying needs to die as it does not promote the understanding of the concept of perspective.

I walked around Tokyo and Kyoto for two weeks with a D5300 and 35mm f1.8. Very light and pretty compact. Same sensor as the Ricoh? Anyway I do appreciate the advice to go simple and light, even with a basic dslr.

I agree with the convenience of a fixed lens camera. I have regretted not getting a Fujifilm X70 when I first discovered the camera. It has small size on outstanding features. When I did start to seriously look for one Fuji had discontinued the Z70 and used ones were going for as much, or more, than they sold for new. I just saw one on Amazon for almost $1000!

I have d3400 with f1.8 35mm lens, very light weight very good pictures. 1 can put a wide angle lens on if I want. Whey would I want a camera I can’t change.
Ps I usually don’t take extra lens with me.

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