A nice little plug-in called data plot from Jeffrey Friedl confirmed what I suspected: My primes have a much larger percentage of keepers than my zooms.
All my pictures come out with the following distribution of focal length:
This graph mostly shows that while my SLR was new and I took pictures of everything that moved, I only had the 18-125 (28-200 equiv.). Thus the big clump at the bottom and the spike at 200 – I like tele shots. My two primes fall into the 71-89 and 90-108 mm range, hence extra many there. I hardly ever use my tele lenses at the outermost 1/4 except by having them “all racked out”. One could say that that means I need more tele, but I think there’d always be a spike at the end as I tend to go for the limits. There’s also a nice spike at the wide-angle side. 27% prime lens usage overall.
Let’s take a look at which focal lengths/lenses give the most keepers. I rate my images with stars in the following manner:
1 star – unfocused, random, could probably be deleted.
2 stars – technically OK, compositionally not horrible. Can be used externally in a pinch.
3 stars – a good photo, can reasonably be used externally.
4 stars – a really good photo, likely to be used if part of an assignment.
5 stars – my very best. Will be used in portfolios, exhibits, on-line galleries etc.
One confusing point here is that the 50 and 60 mms (incorrectly) got lumped into one group. A lot of the bulk in non-tele area has been removed, or possibly I just haven’t rated so many of the earlier ones. 30% primes – various experiments have put a lot of prime pictures in here.
More of the wide-to-middle range feature here, probably travel snapshots that turned out ok. 21% primes – they get dwarfed by the snapshotting.
A smaller part of the good ones are in the middle area, but the primes and far ends hold their ground. The spike at 200 (far end of my 18-125) is shrinking, seems like that’s pushing it too far. 25% primes, they’re starting to pull away from the pack.
Up in the really good pictures area, I have a whopping 40% primes. There’s still a spike at 200mm, but the medium range area and longest zoom have collapsed significantly.
Again, the primes hold a disproportionately large part (38%) of the “greatest hits”. Probably because I tend to use the primes for critical things (assignments) and be more careful when I use them (macro). But to a certain degree also just because they (especially the 60mm) are just better. The remainder are fairly randomly scattered, with a spike at 200mm still, but not a very pronounced amount at 18mm – that lens is pretty weak there, and not wide-angle enough to be really impressive. The spike at 131-148 is curious: It’s neither the near nor far end of any of my lenses, nor a prime. Maybe it’s a sign that I really do need to get the 85 f/1.2 when I have DKK 10000+ available (though if Ken Rockwell is right that “For most people, even if someone was giving these away for free, the 85mm f/1.8 is a better lens because it focuses faster, focuses more easily, focuses closer, has less flare, weighs a lot less and is just as sharp,” the 85mm f/1.8 at about DKK 2000 might be a good portrait lens for me. I just felt the lack of more light the last time I did portraits.