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Follow-Up on Your Kit Lens is an Excellent Lens

The Internet is truly amazing. Not even a day after writing an article on why your kit lens is an excellent lens, the article made the front page of Reddit photography and got over 10 000 views and counting overnight and nearly crashed my shared hosting server with that massive amount of bandwidth, haha. But […]

Seattle Skyline
Taken with a kit lens.

The Internet is truly amazing. Not even a day after writing an article on why your kit lens is an excellent lens, the article made the front page of Reddit photography and got over 10 000 views and counting overnight and nearly crashed my shared hosting server with that massive amount of bandwidth, haha. But apart from the views, I’ve also seen quite a few interesting comments and questions (both good and bad) over at Reddit and I thought I might give my take on a few of them. Here we go :

Comment 1

1) Okay, I maybe exaggerated here, but yes, kit lenses today ARE usually just as sharp in the center as about any other wide angle lens, or otherwise, the sharpness difference is insignificant, even at 100% magnifications. They might be worse in corner performance, but given the cheap prices of those lenses, it is decent and certainly a lot better than the early day kit lenses.

2) Kit lenses do make excellent wide-angle lenses. The 55mm end of the kit lens is acceptable in occasions, but given that a 100-200$ prime lens can do the same for much better, it is best to use the kit lens at its widest angle to achieve its full potential. Given the fact that the kit lens doesn’t have much bokeh power, another way to make an image compelling is by manipulating its feeling of ‘depth’ using its focal range, which generally means shooting at the widest focal length possible. See Understanding and Mastering Lens Compression for more details.

Comment 2

I should’ve clarified a bit more here. Just like raptor3x mentioned, many mirrorless kit lenses are of a better quality and higher price range than DSLR kit lenses, such as the Fuji 18-55mm. Yes, plastic mirrorless kit lenses do exist (such as the Olympus 14-42mm or Fuji 16-50mm), but the metal ones that have decent build quality shouldn’t be considered kit lenses. We shouldn’t judge a lens solely by its focal range, it is not because a lens goes from 18-55mm that is is necessarily a kit lens.

Comment 3

I’ve updated the article on kit lenses with bigger, full resolution pictures. And no, this article isn’t about pixel peeping and technical details of the kit lens. You are free to interpret the purpose of the article as you wish, but my original intention was to convince people that the kit lens is more than good enough for general photography and that it is limited only by the skills of the photographer. As Chase Jarvis said, the best camera is the one that you have with you!

Comment 4

Truer words were never spoken.

Comment 45

Both. A Nikon D800 might suffer from kit lens use, but for the APS-C sensors out there, your kit lens does have a quality and sharpness more than good enough for your sensor, especially given that Canikon has updated their lenses recently to match their newer sensors, too. The camera manufacturers wouldn’t stay in business long if their lenses didn’t match up to the quality of the sensors. And the Pareto (80/20) principle applies here. Most of the complaints of kit lens (or just about any other lens) are made by the 20% of its unhappy users, while the rest of the 80% are perfectly satisfied with it. And regarding the L lenses, everything is relative. Can a pro lens be better than a kit lens that can itself outresolve a 24mp sensor? Of course! Hope this clarifies a bit.

This instructor is a jerk, haha. Hopefully he will read this article and realize kit lens aren’t that bad after all!

Comment 6

Of course, luck IS a huge factor when it comes to all lens purchases. Sometimes you get a lemon, sometimes you get an amazing copy. But even if kit lenses don’t have manufacturing tolerances nearly as tight as pro lenses, most of them are still very well calibrated especially given that it’s easier since they have slow apertures. If there is any lens purchasing tip I should give you, it is to always test lenses for focusing defects as soon as you purchase it and hopefully get a refund if you get a really bad copy (which is quite rare).

Comment 7

Thanks a lot for the amazing compliments! I’m reaaally looking forward to seeing your pictures and Flickr stream!

Age 15 IIAge 15

These two comments really made me laugh and smile. Yes, I am really just 15 years old, soon to be 16. For the sake of privacy, I won’t give you any definitive proof, but my picture on the About page should convince you that I am indeed quite young. But here’s my question to you : Does age really matter? Do Silicon valley entrepreneurs really wonder everyday if they are too young to be a Founder/CEO at 20 years old? No, and it shouldn’t too. I think we should judge something by its content, not by the person behind it, whether for good or for bad.

If there are any other questions regarding my article on kit lenses, feel free to contact me or leave a comment and I’ll try my best to answer 😀


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4 replies on “Follow-Up on Your Kit Lens is an Excellent Lens”

my only issue with your article is the use of the word “excellent” which they are not. it’s harmful hyperbole for amateurs looking to improve their photography.

Yes, excellent is a hyperbole, but it really isn’t that much of a stretch. The reason I have used this term is not to get attention, but rather to make people have to realize that better lenses nowadays are more often upgrades on build quality and features quality rather than on image quality.

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