Kit lens... Why???

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by deudeu, Mar 28, 2008.

  1. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    I am pretty much a beginner. I have just had a GX-10 for a few months, and no money to get glass.

    Actually, no money is not a good excuse. There is really no excuse for that, because with those K-mount on Samsung and Pentax DSLR you can pick up some oldies for not much.

    The thing is that i was a little doubtful on how much of a difference the lens could make. I have learned about optics (mostly here) and i know all about depth of field and Barrel distortion and CAs and such but I had little troubles believing that on a sunny day at f8 there would be much difference.

    Anyways, i picked up an old 50mm f1.7 prime which just arrived today and this thing is off the hook!! It is FAST! It is SHARP! The bokeh is BEAUTIFUL! it is everything i've ever dreamed off (well kinda in a way... you know what i mean)

    I have been playing around my basement all day because it is dark and there is lots of junk down there and i am loving it. A 50mm prime is not very versatil, but i don't think that the zoom lens is going to get back on my camera for a while.

    This raises the question of why getting the kit lens? If i had bought the body only and the lens i have now i would have saved money. Of course there is lots of things i can't do with this lens. But if i had bought the body only and, say the sigma 17-70mm, it would have added up to only $150 extra. I would have add extra reach and better IQ.

    If i ever get another normal zoom the kit lens will stay in a box somewhere forever because it is not even worth selling. And this is even true with the Pentax kit lens which is the best kit lens out there. It has to suck owning another of the kit lenses.

    Anyways, i just wanted to give a little advice to all the people out there who are about to buy their first DSLR. Buy the body only, and get some decent glass, the kit lens is just not worth it on the long term.
     
  2. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Hehe. You're in love with your 50mm vintage prime? Are you trying to be my friend? Cause you're saying all the right things!


    But anyway, despite my love for my 50mm, I kind of have to disagree with the comment about the kit lens being useless. 18mm is a very very useful length, and if your 50mm is like mine, you can't autofocus. I didn't think that would be a problem until I really started using my camera in practical situations (My city has a photo club and we go on frequent field trips all over the province) (I also do alot of portraiture). Autofocus is useful.(But if yours has it, then cool)

    Not to mention P-TTL metering goes wonkers with a lens that doesn't have an A setting. Many vintage lenses don't have this (Like mine) (Maybe yours does though - good for you if so)


    The 50mm primes have their uses - they are spectacularly sharp and fast - but the kit 18-55 is far FAR from useless. You might come to this realization soon enough too.
     
  3. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Personally, I have a lot of good fast glass and I still use the Nikon kit lens all the time... it is very sharp and very light.
     
  4. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Here's some photos I took with my $100 Nikon 18-55 kit lens mostly on my D80, and a few on the D40.

    Paris:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Virginia Beach sunrise:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    My old car, shot with the D40 and 18-55:
    [​IMG]

    ^ apparently I underestimated the collector value of that thing with the enthusiast sub-culture and had people literally tripping over themselves to buy it just by the pictures alone.

    [​IMG]

    company events:
    [​IMG]


    baby photos:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    The cheap crappy kit lenses are perfectly capable of giving you tens of thousands of great photos. They're the perfect lenses to start out with, along with a 50mm prime just because they're so cheap. There's no reason to spend more IMHO, especially while you're learning. The only reason I upgraded is because I could afford to. If I couldn't, I'd keep on taking a ton of great photos with kit lenses. You should see some of the night time city shots my buddy takes with his D50 and 18-55 kit lens on a tripod. They're simply amazing.

    Once you learn the ropes of DSLRs, know what you like to shoot and develop a shooting style and understand what you need in a lens a bit better, by all means spend money and upgrade. I've sold off both of the 18-55 kit lenses I've had but actually sorta regret selling the last one. They're so lightweight and small, and still take outstanding photos. Can't speak for Pentax (but this post was pretty generic) but the 18-55 kit lenses seem to all do close focusing at 1:3 macro which at least in the Nikon system is just about the closest focusing lens they have currently aside from their dedicated 1:1 macro lenses. So they're good starter macro lenses too. 1:3 is pretty darned close.


    So don't bust the kit lenses. :mrgreen: :greenpbl:
     
  5. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Holy 56k warning, Batman!

    Those shots are nice - but they don't really prove any point; push that kit lens to its limits and then show us those pictures. Any lens can take a photo in those tame conditions you're displaying.

    I wanna see the limits of chromatic aberrations, diffraction limiting, I wanna see if there's barrel distortion anywhere, the whole deal! THEN I'll be impressed. (Your photos really are nicely shot and exposed, though.)


    (I'm just being fair and arguing both sides here, hehe - I still like the kit 18-55, don't worry)
     
  6. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    Don't get me wrong here, i didn't say that the kit lenses were useless. If tomorow i take a trip in a new city i will go with my kit lens.
    What i meant was that if i had to start again i would probably go with the body only and then spend a little extra money on the sigma 17-70.
    I just think that the kit lens, though cheap and small and good for starters, is not that good of a deal.
    In the case of the Pentax one (or the D-Xenon for Samsung) it is way soft under 25mm, can't really be satisphying (not sure about the spelling here, non native speaker, i appologize) under f5.6, has major vignetting on the wide end of the zoom....


    PS: My prime is a Pentax M... No AF, Metering is a bit strange, but i don't feel like it is that much of an inconvenient. I am not planing on using it on a moving crowd or for sport shoots...
     
  7. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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  8. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    :confused:

    If you notice all of these flaws with your Pentax kit lens then how can you say that it's the best kit lens out there? I never had any real complaints with my Nikon 18-55 kit lens other than I just wanted something with more range. No it doesn't match the sharpness, color, and contrast of the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 prime, but then again most consumer level zooms aren't going to match the overall IQ of primes anyways. If you want prime level quality in a zoom you generally have to step all the way up to the professional level $1000+ zooms.
     
  9. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights TPF Noob!

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    For decades all SLR kits came with the 50 mm prime as the kit lens. Problem is, zoom sells and beginners don't seem to care about fast glass until they try to take pictures indoors in ambient light.

    It's really too bad because that is the single largest improvement that would come into the photographs of most amateur snapshooters.

    Still, in photography school, an SLR that can shoot in all manual and a 50mm prime lens is what is usually the required, or at least the recommended gear.

    Good on you for recognizing the benefits of prime lenses over zooms. Ansel Adams could probably get wall space at MoMA using a holga but the rest of us mere mortals can use all of the help we can get, and I've gotten some of my best shots in low light handheld.

    Here are two comparisons from my GF's very first roll of film, one with onboard flash and one without. She won't hardly use flash anymore and is always stealing my prime.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    P.S. Don't ask me what kind of lazy ass cat doesn't move after it gets a flash picture taken. Beleive it or not, that one was taken first.
     
  10. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    I haven't used the other kit lenses. I don't know for a fact that Pentax has the best kit lens out there. I just go along with what more knowledgeable people out there have said.
    I will name my sources: dpreview and photozone.
    This being said, it is possible to take very good pictures with the Kit lens. It is possible to take very good pictures with a P&S. I had a tiny lumix before and i felt like the glass was better on that than the kit lens.
    I also don't expect any of the zooms to match the IQ of any of the primes. Technically i understand that it is not possible.
    Like i said before, if i was to start over, i would save about $130 by buying the body only and then add $180 and score something like the sigma 17-70. And if i was broke (which i am) i would go with a wider prime on top of the 50 i have right now. I am sure i could even save a couple bucks that way.
    Of course, this is probably because of my style of photography.

    PS: didn't mean to offend any of the Canon Nikon people out there. I know it is a touchy subject... And i agree with you all the way guys, those people do make better cameras (the Full format ones)... They just ask way too much for it!
     
  11. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Tame? :mrgreen:

    The first Paris photo was taken from a moving bus on the fly at 1/60s, iso1600, with the lens wide open at f/3.5 and 18mm. The original showed very little vignetting and it was plenty sharp. In the 100% crop original version you're looking more at my D80's iso1600 performance than you are the ability of the lens.

    The second Paris photos was taken free standing in gusty wind with absolutely nothing to brace against at 1/8s and iso1600 and 18mm and f/3.5 wide open also. I've print this at 20x30" and it looks great. This is also my favorite photo to post when people say you "can't" take handheld shots at slower shutter speeds without VR/IS, and I'm always sure to mention the wind part too. I took 3 shots and this one was blur free.

    The third was taken on a tripod but at f/18 to get some tail light streaking. Didn't have a 2-stop ND filter on me at the time.


    Other photos I've taken with this lens at normal apertures are all reasonably sharp, even wide open. Barrel distortion? Yeah it has noticeable barrel at 18mm, but then again so does the $1200 professional 17-55DX f/2.8. There's very little CA on the lens. It's very simple and has so few elements. The little CA that you do see is nothing to write home about compared to the horrible CA I had on the 35mm f/2 when wide-open, which was actually one of the reasons I ended up selling it. It's also remarkably flare and ghost resistant. Again, the simplified design and few elements. It performs far better shooting into light sources than the pro 17-55/2.8 does. It also does the 1:3 macro which is pretty darned close.

    Yes, the pro 17-55DX is sharper off the camera, but the 18-55 sharpens right up to about the same after a pass through DxO's calibrated auto-sharpening modules. The biggest difference is the color and contrast of the 17-55DX which are incredible. The 18-55 just doesn't match it there. And of course the 17-55 is an f/2.8 so you can get away with shooting at the long end of the lens in marginal light. It also lets you get some subject isolation unlike the f/5.6 which you have to try really hard to do. Bokeh looks creamy smooth on the 17-55DX, unlike the 18-55 which honestly has pretty hideous bokeh.

    Here's a sharpness comparison of the 18-55 compared to the 18-200VR and some other lenses. It actually tested out sharper than an $1800 Nikon 28mm f/1.4D lens at f/4 and 28mm. Of course the 28/1.4 can shoot at 1.4, the 18-55 can't. It was also sharper than the Nikon 18-200VR and the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 as well. :greenpbl:

    Are you saying that the photographer makes a bigger difference than the lens does? If so I'll take that as a compliment and run. :mrgreen:
     
  12. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Actually I've been meaning to post a kit lens "myth busting" thread by posting some of my better kit lens photos in it and was just using your thread as an excuse to do so. You seem to have backed off a bit from your initial language too. :wink:

    Actually that reminds me, the reason I sold my other two kit lenses was because I was going to try to find a good deal on the 18-55VR used when D60 owners start putting them up for sale and upgrading. Also, before I was using my 35mm f/2 prime as a night time walkaround lens, but the CA was so bad on it at f/2 that it ruined too many photos. It was mostly gone by f/2.8, but by the time I do that there really isn't much difference between f/2.8 on that and f/3.5 on the kit lens. The 18-55VR will be a great night time walkaround lens. :)
     

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