Are Kit lenses good for photography?

  • Yes, All you need are skills and techniques.

    Votes: 7 100.0%
  • No, just get a new lens.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    7

Skiiandme

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Hey guys! I'm new to this forum, and most definitely new in Photography. I did not go to a photography class or any training schools. I have very small knowledge on photography nothing more than adjusting Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed and using Nikon D60. I have a little background on using Photoshop and art so I let the editing enhance the photo to look good like adjusting contrast, saturation, and etc. as well as using dodge and burn. I just do photography as a hobby or just a way to enjoy myself, Photography is my way of doing ART.

But as a Broke College Student, I can't use anything else other than the Pre-owned Nikon D60 with its Kit lens AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens that I bought. I have been using this for a week and a half now and I enjoy taking interesting photos with it. But, I just want to ask, "Are kit lenses good for photography? (your opinion)". I have taken mostly photos with studio lighting (a lamp shade) and close up with the subjects and it was good. But, what are the good sides of the kit lens? What are its limitations? like what types of photos can a kit lens take, What type of photos a kit lens can't take (for sure kit lenses can't take wide photos).

P.S. I'm not familiar with photography technical terms.

Below are sample photos I took and edited of course; though not the best, I am proud of these. hahaha
Resistance.jpg
A little Light.JPG
 

Designer

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"Are kit lenses good for photography? (your opinion)". what are the good sides of the kit lens? What are its limitations?
Surprise! "kit" lenses are good for photography. They are good for learning and general photography. While the low-priced zoom is not expected to perform at the same level as a more expensive lens, they're not exactly terrible. Nikon has invested time and money into producing a lens that they can have confidence in that it will perform as advertised for years.

good - affordable

limitations - ?
 
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Skiiandme

Skiiandme

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Surprise! "kit" lenses are good for photography. They are good for learning and general photography.

I see, as a beginner I should be learning the basics first using my kit lens to learn the gist and get the hang of photography. Hmm...getting a new lens is not a terrible idea but not good at this time (as a beginner).
 

snowbear

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Yes, kit lenses are fine when you start out - I still use one after a number of years. And when you are able to consider an additional lens, there is a decent used market for Nikon.
 

jcdeboever

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The best glass I have ever used is the one I have on my camera. Kit lens may have an issue with low light, so use the flash. If you want to take a pic of bird far away and the focal length is not adequate, you have to get closer.

Sent from my XT1254 using ThePhotoForum.com mobile app
 

SuzukiGS750EZ

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I guess it's like "The best knife is the one in your pocket". I've used a kit lens on and off for 10+ years. Do i use it all the time? No. But when I do, it's fine. It's not the best, it's not the worst. Learn the limits of your camera and then go from there. You'll know when you're ready to buy more lenses or a better body when the time is right. When you fall into your groove with the type of photography you enjoy, that's when you'll go "I need a 50mm" or "I need a 55-250" etc.
 

Derrel

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You need to keep its limits in mind: f/4 very quickly, then f/5.3 then f/5.6 until the top end of the zoom. So that means some "types" of pictures just can not be done. Super out of focus backdrops of full-length model at 25 feet distance? Not possible with 18-55 kit lens.
Keep at it. Learn. Buy used lenses that function on the older D60; 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 for people work..
 

SoulfulRecover

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Kits lenses are good but they are designed to be a general use lens.

Once you figure out what you want to constantly photograph, you'll learn what specific lenses fit that niche.

Keep shooting, have fun, stick around the forum and ask questions. You'll learn a lot and grow fast
 

Overread

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In my view a kit lens is only bad if you find that you don't like or want to use those focal lengths for what you want to photograph - in that regard they are the same as any other lens on the market

A kit lens typically has a good generalist set of focal ranges and will do landscapes to portraits to even creative stuff like you've already done (like the close up shot of the resistors). Heck if you want you can shoot wildlife with your kit lens if you can get close enough or if you want a landscape shot of the wildlife.

So it can do a lot, though it has limits like any lens.

My advice is to learn all you can and play around. Find out what you like to photograph and how you like to photograph it and focus on what your kit can do and upon what you can find it can do for you. Keep mind of what it can't do and use that to
1) Ask for advice here - might be that what you think it can't do it actually CAN do if you make a few adjustments to settings or change your approach to photographing the subject.

2) Keep it in mind and use that info in the future to help it guide your future purchase choices.


If you keep at it and find its just not fun then have a talk here about it; about what the problems are that you're finding. Myself I learned a lot on my kit lens but I didn't really get inspired to really learn till I got a 70-300mm lens - a lens that could do more of what I wanted (and it wasn't a super expensive lens either) and let me shoot how I wanted to.
That might be the case for you and it might not; you can only find out by learning; by broadening your horizons; by chatting and sharing photos and interacting with other photographers and by taking lots of photos
 

Solarflare

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Your poll is invalid. You are offering two extremes as answer, but the truth is in the middle.

In general, photography is an art form. There are no absolute rules, so I cant give them to you. You can break any rule I give below, especially when you know what you're doing, i.e. you know why that rule exists.


- Are kit lenses good for photography ?

Any lens, even the worst in the world, is better than not having any lens. You need a camera and a lens, otherwise you cannot do photography. Your gear also dictates the conditions you work under.

(However you could do a camera obscura quite easily so the worst lens of the world is not THAT hard to get. If the worst lens is even the camera obscura. After all, in many respects, the camera obscura is actually quite fantastic, even ideal. Its just hella dark and hella blurry).


- What are the advantages of kit lenses ?

Depends upon the lens; the advantage of the Nikon 18-55 is its cheap, lightweight, offers some limited macro ability, and if you avoid the extremes of the focal lengths and stop it down a bit, the image quality is quite decent.


- What are the disadvantages / limitations of kit lenses

Depends upon the lens; the disadvantages of the Nikon 18-55 is that its dark, plastic build, and the image quality drops at the extremes of the zoom range, and while the bang for the buck is quite decent its not really good yet. Most importantly its very likely not a lens you will keep using once you have better lenses. In this respect, its a waste of money. As they say - poor men buy twice.


- What type of photos can a kit lens not take.

You can take any photo with any lens ... but the results might not be satisfactory to your demands in quality, desired framing etc. Thus the 18-55 doesnt offer:

1. Real macro. Real macro lenses will allow you more magnification than the 18-55, thus allow more resolution of small subjects.
2. Shallow depth of field. You are limited to 55mm f5.6 - lots of stuff will still be in focus.
3. Autofocus speed. Compared to better lenses, you will miss a lot of shots if you would try sports with this, because the autofocus performance isnt that great.
4. Ultra Wide angle, though you can help yourself by making a series of photos and combine them in the computer. Wont work with non-static subjects (well, it would be possible, but the results will be ... interesting)
5. Telephoto beyond 55mm (82.5mm full frame equiv), though you can "digital zoom", i.e. crop, even if that loses resolution quickly.
6. Lowlight. With 18mm (27mm full frame equiv) f3.5 you cannot collect much light with this; other focal lengths are even darker. Thus with little light and moving subjects you will need quite high ISOs and get a lot of noise in the picture.
7. Image quality. Even if with proper useage this lens can produce quite good results, there are definitely lenses which offer more.


- All you need are skills and techniques.

No. If you dont have a camera and a lens, you cannot photograph. End of story. And the best photographers will have the best gear. Because even if skill is more important than gear - combining best skill with best gear will give best results. However, what cameras and lenses will help you best to get results changes wildly with what you actually want to photograph, and your personal style and preferences. For example if your field is social photography (aka street photography), all you might ever need is a Ricoh GR compact camera with a fixed 28mm equivalent lens, available for $400 used. The camera is very stealthy and nonthreatening, its operation is almost completely silent, and the image quality - especially of the lens - is excellent. On the other hand, if your field is sports, or wildlife, your gear might be worth tens of thousands of dollars, and your performance will drop drastically with lesser gear than that, because then you often cant get the shot, since your gear is unable to get it. Another example, a landscape photographer might only have quite dark lenses, but they will want a tripod and various filters. Another example, a studio photographer might also only use quite dark lenses, but they'll have a ***load of lighting gear and a special place aka studio for their photography. Both landscape and studio photographers might use medium format, though, and with digital that means extremely expensive.

See the first sentence ... what "best gear" really is is completely subjective.


- No, just get a new lens.

Absolutely not. You already have it now; milk that lens for all you can. Dont get a new lens until you actually know what you need.

I would like to do a story about that: when I started photography, I kept buying more expensive compact cameras, and finally my first DSLR, a Nikon DX. Then I computed how much money I had spent on photography in total until this point. Turns out I could have comfortably afforded a full frame camera and a prime lens trinity from what I had wasted on a couple low quality compact cameras and an entry level DSLR plus some lenses.

Thus my advice is: do NOT buy the next camera just because it has some minor upgrade. Save the money.

Do NOT buy the next higher lens, like a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 VC, even if its better. Save the money.

Instead milk your current gear until you know what you really want, then check out whats the best gear for your needs, then save for that gear. In short, absolutely avoid the "the poor man buys twice" rule. It will cost you a LOT of money.
 
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Skiiandme

Skiiandme

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Thank You for all your replies! I'm so grateful to have come to this forum. I've learned a lot and now I appreciate my kit lens more.

Your poll is invalid. You are offering two extremes as answer, but the truth is in the middle.

Wow! Thanks. I have read your reply, and I did learn a lot. To sum up what you have said, there is no such thing as bad lens and good lens. What matters is a good photo. And to get the photo that I like, there are lens that can satisfy for that need and I have to accept the fact that every lens have their limitations.

If I were to take a photo of something, 2 lenses may give the same result but the inferior one would require me better skills. Basically, gear and skills are a pair, if the other one is limited, the other will cover for it.
 
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Skiiandme

Skiiandme

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In my view a kit lens is only bad if you find that you don't like or want to use those focal lengths for what you want to photograph - in that regard they are the same as any other lens on the market

I see, Thank You! I need to accept that my lens has its limitations and that best thing I could do is to use it and explore possibilities by playing around with it. Though I can't shoot a very Sharp image of moving subjects with a kit lens, the important part is that I enjoy using and appreciate the photos it can take.
 
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Skiiandme

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The best glass I have ever used is the one I have on my camera. Kit lens may have an issue with low light, so use the flash. If you want to take a pic of bird far away and the focal length is not adequate, you have to get closer.

Sent from my XT1254 using ThePhotoForum.com mobile app

Yes, kit lenses have issues with low light, I have learn to do compensations. For low light, I use external lighting to improve the photo. I enjoy playing around with possibilities.
 

Tallgrass1

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In my experience kit lens are adequate quality glass, not great, but still capable of producing great photos (go to Flickr or wherever and find some groups for your lens- see what can be done). As has been stated, they're just very limited- focal length, apeture, etc.

When you find yourself needing to expand beyond the limitations of your lens, don't overlook accessories like a Raynox macro adapter. It can extend the 'life' of your lens without breaking the bank. Even hold their value so it can be sold later on for a fair price.
 

Peeb

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Personally, I find that it is somewhat more difficult to produce fantastic images with a 'kit' lens, but it has NOTHING to do the quality of the lens. Let me elaborate:

the typical "kit" lens has focal length just below and above what the human eye perceives. As a result, if you capture a relatively mundane scene or object, it will SEEM mundane, as it is what it is- right?

OTOH, if you have a 'specialty' lens with a unique or odd perspective (say a super wide angle or a really long telephoto), you're going to get a unique perspective, or access to a sight rarely seen with the human eye. Hence, the chance to get an interesting shot (for me) is better.

HOWEVER, the great photographers will make great images given the tools available to them. You need to hone your skills and capture compelling images in that 'difficult' range of vision comfortable to the human eye- otherwise, you and your specialty lens will be a one-trick pony without a truly developed sense of art, color, composition, balance, etc.

So..... I voted that kit lenses ARE good for photography, because if you need to avoid kit lenses in order to produce compelling images, you need to work more on your skillz- you should be able to do that.

PS- I need to work more on my skillz. Not speaking as a master- I'm speaking as a struggling student. :D
 

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