So whats wrong with kit lenses?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Stamp, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. Stamp

    Stamp TPF Noob!

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    Been lurking around here and there, and the overwhelming consensus is that kit lenses are junk. What makes them junk? I mean, I've seen the kit lenses selling for around $250, while you can pick a Sigma or Tamron zoom lens up for half that. Does that mean the Sigs and Tamrons in that price range are junk as well?

    I ask because I don't really understand what makes the kit lenses junk, as I can get some decent shots with it, however, I need to get a zoom lens, and I had my eye on one of the Sigmas or a Tamron, but they cost about $140... Should I be saving my money to get something else?
     
  2. Goontz

    Goontz TPF Noob!

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    They're not necessarily junk, and great images can certainly be made with them. There's just much better glass available. Pro-level lenses provide better build quality, image quality, they're faster (meaning larger aperture, pro zooms will usually be f/2.8 through the entire zoom range), etc.
     
  3. Gaerek

    Gaerek TPF Noob!

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    You will probably get a lot of people saying that kit lenses are bad, or that such and such a brand isn't good quality, or things like that. However, the fact remains that not everyone can afford Canon 'L' glass. The best thing to do is figure out what you need, decide how much you have to spend on it, and then look for something in your price range. It's really as simple as that. If you have the ability to save for something better for a few months, it might be worth it, but sometimes, it might not.

    I've taken absolutely stunning photos with my kit lens. Actually, it's my main landscape lens because it's the widest I currently own. Would those photos have been better with higher grade glass? Probably, but very few people would be able to look at those photos and think, "I bet that was taken with a cheap lens!" Actually, most photographers I show them to were surprised to learn they were shot with my kit 18-55.

    To sum up:

    1. Figure out what you need in a lens (fast, zoom range, wide, tele, etc.)
    2. Decide how much you have to spend, and whether you can save to get more money.
    3. Research to find out which lenses meet the above two criteria.
    4. If more than one lens meets the criteria, generally (not always), the more expensive one is going to be better, but I would do research and look at reviews and figure out which is better for you.

    I hope this was a good help.
     
  4. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Most of them are unless you get the F2.8 ones and some F4
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Most 'kit' lenses were designed & built to be sold with the entry level SLR cameras. And in that market segment, price is very important since most people looking to buy an entry level DSLR won't already have compatible lenses etc. They are just as likely to go for a Canon as they would a Nikon. So when they walk into a store and see that one is $50 less than another, that's a good enough reason.

    So they obviously need a lens to go with these cameras. But they want to keep the costs down so they can keep the price down. Also, they want to keep the weight down, since most people tend to think that smaller & lighter is better when it comes to electronic devices etc.
    So that is why they designed these 'kit' lenses to be light and fairly cheap.
    That doesn't mean that they are necessarily bad lenses...just that compromises have been made in the design...and image quality wasn't at the top of the list.
    Now, keep in mind that they are still going to be better than the lenses on most 'P&S' digital cameras....they are just not on the same level as more expensive lenses....and people on the internet like to make comparisons to the most expensive stuff ;).

    Also, I think that kit lenses get a bad rep. because of the way they feel. For example, my Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens is very light and is made with a lot of plastic. Compared to a more expensive lens, it just feels like a toy. It's this feeling, more than anything, that gives it the bad rep. It's actually a pretty decent lens when used at F8.

    As with most things, you get what you pay for. The average price of lens is probably $500-$600. The cheapest ones being around $150 and the most expensive ones can get up to $10,000.
    So when you are looking to spend around $200...you are pretty close to the bottom of the barrel.
     
  6. GFreg

    GFreg TPF Noob!

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    This^^^

    You definitely have to weigh the cost of pro series lenses to your needs. I just recently bought a Nikkor 55-200mm to compliment my 18-55mm. It would be considered a kit lens but because I am not a professional photographer I am not going to scrutinize every single detail. Look at reviews of certain lenses that you are considering. fredmiranda.com: Specialized in Canon - Nikon SLR Cameras, Forum, Photoshop Plugins, Actions, Reviews, Hosting and Digital Darkroom has a good review section.
     
  7. Gaerek

    Gaerek TPF Noob!

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    Like I said...some people just think you need expensive glass to take good photos. It's a shame really.

    This is a MUCH better representation of what a kit lens really is.
     
  8. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Kit lenses are not junk. They just have limitations. If you are able to work around the limitations, you should have a decent result.

    However, if at anytime, you really feel like you are limited by the kit lens, it maybe time for a upgrade.

    Limitation such as Aperture not wide enough, focal length not long enough or wide enough, optical quality not good enough for what you want to do etc ...
     
  9. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I buy F2.8 because i need them for what i shoot, and most of the long Canon lenese i have i have bought secondhand, the Sigma F2.8 are not expensive
     
  10. Stamp

    Stamp TPF Noob!

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    BigMike, very good and well thought out information. Much easier to understand the rational between manufacturers and professional photographers. I read everywhere that glass is as important or more than the camera, however, I've never had the opportunity (thankfully) to verify this, and I sure as hell don't want to start now by buying a crappy lens, but I also don't have the money as some others do to dump into my gear. So I'm open to suggestions on a good zoom lens up to 300mm under $225.

    Good resource.. I'll be checking that out very closely.

    For kicks, I'd like to get your guys' suggestions on these three lenses
    AF276M700 Tamron 75-300mm f/4-5.6 LD AF Macro Auto Focus Zoom Lens with Hood for the Maxxum & Sony Alpha Mount, with 6 Year USA Warranty
    AF017M700 Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di 1:2 Auto Focus Macro Zoom Lens with Hood for Maxxum & Sony Alpha Mount, 6 Year USA Warranty
    509205 Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro Tele Zoom Lens for the Maxxum & Sony Alpha Mount.
     
  11. Rosshole

    Rosshole TPF Noob!

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    I have the middle of the three for my telephoto. This is my first additional lens after my kit lens and for learning purposes has been great to me!
     
  12. Gaerek

    Gaerek TPF Noob!

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    Your original post insinuated that you thought that kit lenses and sigma/tamron/tokinas, etc, are junk (unless they're f/2.8's or f/4's. This is completely not the case. If you need 2.8, that's fine, but you aren't everybody. The third party 2.8s might be cheap to you, but they're out of the range that the OP mentioned. For a lot of things, and most amateurs, as long as you have a good idea of what you're doing and you're willing to work around, kit lenses and 3.5-5.6's (or other aperture range lenses) are just fine and can take amazing shots.
     

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