Getting the most from a crummy 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by launchcodemexico, May 26, 2009.

  1. launchcodemexico

    launchcodemexico TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm looking to seriously develop my skills in photography, but I'm just a poor student at the moment who can only afford one set of lenses at a time. Right now, it's the $150 18-55mm zoom lens that I purchased along with my D90. I understand this is a very limited lens, but I don't believe I can't take good pictures with it, or learn alot from using it. I just need to know what types of "good pictures" are possible with the limitations I'm dealing with, so I know when to blame myself and not the lens.

    I have read in some other places that the best way to start learning is with a Normal Lens. So I've been considering selling my zoom for Nikon's new 35mm f/1.8G lens. I've been hesitant though because it seems like all I'm getting out of buying this is:

    - no zoom
    - more convenience in low light situations (this can increase the opportunities for me to shoot, which can be helpful in learning)
    - less zoom-distortion (I can easily set my zoom to 35mm. I'll just be paying for this quality here which shouldn't really concern me as a novice... I'm only assuming)
    - are there any other crucial lessons I'd be learning that would justify this purchase?

    The following flickr link shows some pictures I took at the snowboard park. There's a few pictures I really like in there (notably the guy in the blue shirt, and the frontal shot of the guy in the gray hoodie) which makes me feel I can do reasonably well on my cheap zoom, with a little bit of struggling: Flickr: herecomestherooster's Photostream

    Comments/advice appreciated.
     
  2. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    I say stick with the current lens. You can learn just as well with it than a fixed focal length lens. If you want a better low light lens on a budget. Pick up a 50mm f/1.8 AF for $100 or so. I would not give up the versitility of the kit zoom, especially if in the near future you will be limited in funds to replace it with something better.

    It may be a kit lens, but its not that bad. And its definately something you can practice photography with.
     
  3. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The 18-55 is not crummy. It's very good if you know how to use it. Stop it down till f/8 to f/11 and it's very sharp with good overall performance.

    To get an idea of what sort of photos you can get with that lens: all of the wide angle shots and most of the still-life photos on my website were taken with the kit zoom.

    Oddly enough, the 35/1.8 actually has more distortion than the 18-55 lens does at 55mm, but it's easily correctable.

    For starters, it's a phenomenal lens for the money.
     
  4. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Limitations of the kit lens are mainly due to the lack of wide aperture, which will often affect fast moving objects, sports and such in less than ideal light and indoor / low light shooting. Other than that, if you have good light, the lens is decent enough to learn with.

    I would also suggest a 50mm over the 35mm prime lens. I would think 35mm to be a bit wide to do some headshots and portraits, even on a crop camera
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Hang onto the 18-55mm. I agree it's a pretty good lens and quite sharp if used, as epp b mention, in the middle apertures. It's an inexpensive lens and won't bring much on the used market.

    The 35mm f/1.8G is on backorder everywhere and the waiting list is long so it's not likely you'd be getting one of those soon.

    Like the others I'd recommend the AF 50mm f/1.8D prime for the speed and to suppliment what you already have and then save for the AF-S 55-200mm f/4-5.6G to increase your reach a bit.
     
  6. itznfb

    itznfb TPF Noob!

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    i love my 18-55mm kit lens. it's sharp enough and performs well along the entire focal length. as others have said, stick with the kit lens for now. i'm surprised so many recommend the 50mm 1.8. i find it's a strange focal length to be locked in at on a DX. although, i still own one... mainly because it's so cheap and it is damn sharp.

    if i were you my next lens would be 55-200mm. i used only the 18-55mm and 55-200mm for several years.
     
  7. hadoq

    hadoq TPF Noob!

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    well, I'm in the same situation, got a D80 (previously a D40) with that 18/55 lens

    but even with these I got decently paid and very serious photo jobs and decent photos:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    best thing is to do with whatever you have, what makes a good photo is not the gear you're using, but the time and dedication, the talent you put in.

    Every difficulty, you can see it as a challenge, believe in what you can do.

    I've been to places, with my small D40 and crappy lenses, where there were people with $2k cameras and I still managed to take better pictures than theirs.

    that 18/55 is not that bad, really, and you don't *need* a 2k lens to take good pictures.

    actually, if you can't take pictures with that 18/55, you probably won't be able to take good pictures with a better lens

    on the other hand, if you practice and get the most out of this lens, you'll probably get ALOT of experience wich will allow you to use better lenses at their fullest once you get the money together to buy one.
     
  8. OregonAmy

    OregonAmy TPF Noob!

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    QFT. As with anything, having a piece of operable equipment that forces you to pay extra attention to what you're doing tends to make you better at the task, because you're not relying on the tool to compensate for your inexperience. You learn how to deal with things that perhaps the fancier lens will take care of for you. Think driving a crappy old car vs. a brand new well-engineered car.

    Even still, a LOT of people take some great pictures with that very lens.
     
  9. launchcodemexico

    launchcodemexico TPF Noob!

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    I want to thank everyone for their responses. What you've all said has pretty much echoed my sentiments as well.

    If anyone here's from Vancouver, BC, Multiple Electronics on Victoria (Multiple Electronics Audio & Video) has 1 or 2 of the new 35/1.8's in their warehouse when I checked with them a few days ago.
     
  10. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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    i know you got plenty of positive responses to the 18-55, and im just here to add another one.

    there's nothing 'wrong' with the lens, and it's my primary walkaround.
    ive gotten great pics with it, and i'll never get rid of it. :D
     

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