Skipping the beginners lens?

NPatel18

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Hello, I'm still a noob when it comes to photography and I'm only shooting with my iPhone 5 so far. I'll be getting a camera in December since that gives me more than enough time to study up on it. Since I have never used a camera, such as the Canon 60D which I'm looking into getting, and I probably won't be using any of the beginner lenses since they're either not macro or 'nature' (wildlife, landscape, etc.) oriented from what I heard, would it be wise to just buy the body and then a macro lens for the same price of a kit lens?
 

slow231

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if you're sure about what you want to do, for sure skip the kit lenses. it's not like you need to start with a beginner lens to learn beginner techniques (in fact it's probably easier to learn on good equipment). the only thing is there is more $ at stake (incase you end up hating the hobby or picking the wrong lens or type of lens for the type of work you end up liking). but there's so much info out there so picking the right lens for the type of work you anticipate shouldn't be an issue. anticipating the type of work is the hard part.

I spent a lot of time with a manual point and shoot (even took a photo class using it), so when i decided to go dslr i figured there was no point in testing the waters with a half step. I dove in all the way and went with "pro" lenses off the bat. it was quite a substantial initial investment but it was definitely the right decision for me.
 
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Gavjenks

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Actually, my 18-55mm kit lens (Canon EF-S) I got with my first camera has the BEST inherent macro capabilities of any of the lenses I own (I don't have any dedicated macro lenses, which would obviously be better). It is amongst the most macro-capable lenses Canon sells that isn't specifically sold as a macro lens. The 18-55 kit lens has 0.34x magnification, which means you can fill the frame on a crop frame sensor with an object approximately 4.5 inches long. In other words, large enough to have a butterfly + a nice amount of background context fill up your entire viewfinder, in focus.

If you know for sure you want to do more extreme macro than that, then by all means go for a macro lens, though.



As for landscape or wildlife, these have very different requirements. The 18mm or so of most kit lenses on crop frame is perfectly sufficient actually for most landscape style shots, and if you stop down and use good technique, it should be plenty sharp at that focal length. For "wildlife" a 18-55 would be fairly terrible unless you can get within a few yards of the wildlife, but a kit lens going to 135 or 200 or so is probably totally usable.


I DON'T recommend skipping the kit lens, because you may be totally wrong about what kind of photography you actually enjoy doing. The kit lens is dirt cheap, and by using it for a couple months, you will get a very good idea of what things you like doing most and where you feel most limited, thus allowing you to make much more informed choices about which other lenses you want to shell out the big bucks for.

Additionally, kit lenses are not toys, and even after you have bought other specialty lenses, they will continue to serve you perfectly well on vacations, etc. where you want to travel very light and have a single lens that can do everything decently. Up until the point where you may eventually get a much nicer all around lens (but that's rarely an early lens purchase for most people who already have a kit)
 

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Kit lenses are not so much "beginner" lenses as they are typically just cheaper/more affordable lenses. Of course the higher up you go the higher in quality the kit lenses are - some cameras sell with lenses like the 24-70mm f2.8 L and 24-105mm f4 L which are top of their game zoom lenses.


Kit lenses do have a bonus in that they are not (comparatively speaking) very expensive thus you can play around and use them whilst learning how to use the camera and get some real world experience. What does 50mm mean - do you need more or less focal length - are you getting close enough etc... This gives context to the dry theory and helps people make choices on what equipment to invest in better quality gear since they have experience and thus can sift through the various options on the market.

The other side is your requirements, if you already have a very clear mind for what you want to do then state it alongside a budget. It might be that your requirements of the camera and equipment can result in you focusing on some higher end options now since they will directly suit what you need from them.


So give us a value of money that you have to work with and also your interests and requirements - macro, landscape and nature are what you've mentioned so far so expand upon those thoughts. What kind of macro subjects; what kind of nature etc...
 

Gavjenks

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Kit lenses are not so much "beginner" lenses as they are typically just cheaper/more affordable lenses. Of course the higher up you go the higher in quality the kit lenses are - some cameras sell with lenses like the 24-70mm f2.8 L and 24-105mm f4 L which are top of their game zoom lenses.
Yes. OP, realize that there's nothing "wrong" with kit lenses. They are not crippled lenses or incapable of producing decent images. Within their range of features, modern kit lenses will actually perform wonderfully, almost certainly better than you will for a long time or possibly ever (i.e. the kit lens will not be your limiting factor in quality of images, within its operational range).

The reason why they are cheap is not due to low quality. it is due to simply not having very extreme FEATURES. I.e., kit lenses don't usually have very wide maximum apertures, or weather proofing, or super fast autofocus, and they tend not to be compatible with full frame cameras (they use smaller glass to save money instead, which isn't a problem for crop frame cameras, but does make them not able to upgrade later), etc.

But for normal photographs at 35-50mm or whatever, at f/8, of a non-erratically moving subject, your kit lens will produce an image that is not any noticeably lower quality than you would have gotten from a $1500 top of the line lens at the same settings! What you are paying for with your $1500 is instead the ability to take less-than-typical photos in low light with ultra shallow depth of field or focusing on fast, strangely moving subjects, etc.
 
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NPatel18

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Kit lenses are not so much "beginner" lenses as they are typically just cheaper/more affordable lenses. Of course the higher up you go the higher in quality the kit lenses are - some cameras sell with lenses like the 24-70mm f2.8 L and 24-105mm f4 L which are top of their game zoom lenses.


Kit lenses do have a bonus in that they are not (comparatively speaking) very expensive thus you can play around and use them whilst learning how to use the camera and get some real world experience. What does 50mm mean - do you need more or less focal length - are you getting close enough etc... This gives context to the dry theory and helps people make choices on what equipment to invest in better quality gear since they have experience and thus can sift through the various options on the market.

The other side is your requirements, if you already have a very clear mind for what you want to do then state it alongside a budget. It might be that your requirements of the camera and equipment can result in you focusing on some higher end options now since they will directly suit what you need from them.


So give us a value of money that you have to work with and also your interests and requirements - macro, landscape and nature are what you've mentioned so far so expand upon those thoughts. What kind of macro subjects; what kind of nature etc...

I have about $1000-1200 max to use on a camera and lens for right now. I'm mainly interested in bugs, flowers, and other wildlife. By bugs and flowers I mean, up close to get detailed images of them. I was thinking about a lens along the lines of a Tokina 100mm, if I was to go with the D90. Nature as in trees, lakes, oceans, birds, as well as some mammals. Just animals in general really. I know that's a vague answer and I'll probably need a few lenses for doing all those things.

The only reason why I though about giving up the kit lenses on the 60D was because of the price. I've heard that Canon is better when it comes to 'nature' and macro shots, and some of the amazing pictures in the macro photography forum come from 60D users and other Canon users. The Nikon D90 is also a contender for me because some people prefer it to the 60D and it is much cheaper. However on the other hand, the college I'm going to has a photography club which Canon donates some of their used equipment to so if I was to buy a Canon camera I'd be able to use some of their equipment. And I don't mean to bring up the whole 'Canon vs. Nikon' debate and such.

Actually, my 18-55mm kit lens (Canon EF-S) I got with my first camera has the BEST inherent macro capabilities of any of the lenses I own (I don't have any dedicated macro lenses, which would obviously be better). It is amongst the most macro-capable lenses Canon sells that isn't specifically sold as a macro lens. The 18-55 kit lens has 0.34x magnification, which means you can fill the frame on a crop frame sensor with an object approximately 4.5 inches long. In other words, large enough to have a butterfly + a nice amount of background context fill up your entire viewfinder, in focus.

If you know for sure you want to do more extreme macro than that, then by all means go for a macro lens, though.



As for landscape or wildlife, these have very different requirements. The 18mm or so of most kit lenses on crop frame is perfectly sufficient actually for most landscape style shots, and if you stop down and use good technique, it should be plenty sharp at that focal length. For "wildlife" a 18-55 would be fairly terrible unless you can get within a few yards of the wildlife, but a kit lens going to 135 or 200 or so is probably totally usable.


I DON'T recommend skipping the kit lens, because you may be totally wrong about what kind of photography you actually enjoy doing. The kit lens is dirt cheap, and by using it for a couple months, you will get a very good idea of what things you like doing most and where you feel most limited, thus allowing you to make much more informed choices about which other lenses you want to shell out the big bucks for.

Additionally, kit lenses are not toys, and even after you have bought other specialty lenses, they will continue to serve you perfectly well on vacations, etc. where you want to travel very light and have a single lens that can do everything decently. Up until the point where you may eventually get a much nicer all around lens (but that's rarely an early lens purchase for most people who already have a kit)

Oh okay thanks, I'll take that into consideration!

if you're sure about what you want to do, for sure skip the kit lenses. it's not like you need to start with a beginner lens to learn beginner techniques (in fact it's probably easier to learn on good equipment). the only thing is there is more $ at stake (incase you end up hating the hobby or picking the wrong lens or type of lens for the type of work you end up liking). but there's so much info out there so picking the right lens for the type of work you anticipate shouldn't be an issue. anticipating the type of work is the hard part.

I spent a lot of time with a manual point and shoot (even took a photo class using it), so when i decided to go dslr i figured there was no point in testing the waters with a half step. I dove in all the way and went with "pro" lenses off the bat. it was quite a substantial initial investment but it was definitely the right decision for me.

I'm still wavering as I read and learn about new things tho aha.

Kit lenses are not so much "beginner" lenses as they are typically just cheaper/more affordable lenses. Of course the higher up you go the higher in quality the kit lenses are - some cameras sell with lenses like the 24-70mm f2.8 L and 24-105mm f4 L which are top of their game zoom lenses.
Yes. OP, realize that there's nothing "wrong" with kit lenses. They are not crippled lenses or incapable of producing decent images. Within their range of features, modern kit lenses will actually perform wonderfully, almost certainly better than you will for a long time or possibly ever (i.e. the kit lens will not be your limiting factor in quality of images, within its operational range).

The reason why they are cheap is not due to low quality. it is due to simply not having very extreme FEATURES. I.e., kit lenses don't usually have very wide maximum apertures, or weather proofing, or super fast autofocus, and they tend not to be compatible with full frame cameras (they use smaller glass to save money instead, which isn't a problem for crop frame cameras, but does make them not able to upgrade later), etc.

But for normal photographs at 35-50mm or whatever, at f/8, of a non-erratically moving subject, your kit lens will produce an image that is not any noticeably lower quality than you would have gotten from a $1500 top of the line lens at the same settings! What you are paying for with your $1500 is instead the ability to take less-than-typical photos in low light with ultra shallow depth of field or focusing on fast, strangely moving subjects, etc.

That makes sense and I didn't mean to make the kit lens sound crippling in any way and I do apologize if I did. Thanks!
 

Gavjenks

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I have about $1000-1200 max to use on a camera and lens for right now. I'm mainly interested in bugs, flowers, and other wildlife. By bugs and flowers I mean, up close to get detailed images of them. I was thinking about a lens along the lines of a Tokina 100mm, if I was to go with the D90. Nature as in trees, lakes, oceans, birds, as well as some mammals. Just animals in general really. I know that's a vague answer and I'll probably need a few lenses for doing all those things.

The D90 with 18-105 kit lens + the 100mm Tokina macro would be an excellent starting kit for your purposes, for only a hair over $1200

This would give you:
1) A reasonable range of focal lengths to familiarize with and learn what you like, especially that 18mm wide limit, which you need (or something close to it) for scenic natural vistas. Also, very wide angle shots are also quite good for close ups of flowers and things, which you may not have thought of at first. Taking an 18mm shot from 1 inch away makes a different sort of "macro" feeling shot that you wouldn't be able to achieve with a normal macro lens.
2) A good solid normal macro lens since you do seem very committed to being interested in macro (so thats justifiable)
3) The ability to experience the difference between a zoom and a prime lens (the tokina can also be used for 100mm non macro prime lens shots, of course)
4) A good option for creating fairly shallow depth of field, which is good to get experience with to see if you like that feature especially. Specifically for portraits, the 100mm 2.8 macro will be a great lens. Much better than the non-prime, 1 1/3 stop slower (at the tele end) kit lens, at least for head and shoulders shots or similar (to do full body with a 100mm on a crop frame would have you standing REALLY far away, though, so bring a kit lens or similar on a portrait shoot as well)
5) A good walking around all purpose lens that you will use for a long time and that you can easily make do with until you save up enough for more glass.
 

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The 18-55 is almost a freebie if you buy it as part of a bundle, so IMO it's crazy for a beginner to skip it, regardless of what type of photography you think you're going to do.

Not only that, but at least for me, I'd like to start by becoming acquainted with the "baseline" kit lens before investing serious scratch into a fancier lens, so I can see through firsthand experience what incremental benefit that expensive lens is providing.
 

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I bought two kit lenses with my Rebel T3i and only used them maybe 10-15 times in the 1.5 years I owned them. I say skip them and get a good quality lens.
 

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Kit lenses can be your friend if you're strapped for cash and looking into Macro photography. Just pick up a Nikon 50mm 1.8D for $75-100 and a reverse ring for $10-20 (or $100 on a reverse ring with apature adjustment) and use that to reverse mount it on your kit lens. You should be able to get that and a good body (I suggest a D5200 or D7000) for $1000 or less.
 

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I don't think I've ever bought a kit, but then the Canon I have are film FD mount that I bought used. I don't know that there's an advantage to buying a kit lens as much as that's how the manufacturers package and sell them. That could be an option for someone who would use it for general photography purposes.

Since you already know a couple of areas of interest that you have, and since your school has Canon lenses you could borrow and use, you might be able to try various lenses before you buy your own (or at least before you buy more than one).

I've bought used a lot and done well from KEH, they sometimes have Like New condition items and their ratings seem accurate; a reputable dealer like them might be worth considering.
 

bratkinson

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Hindsight is 20-20 they always say...

If I were to move from a point and shoot (as I did several years ago) to DSLR today, it'd be a 60D + EF-S 18-135 (kit) lens...PLUS a set of extension tubes to do close-in macro work (comparatively cheap as they usually pass-through the electronics and contain only air, no glass)...PLUS an external flash, such as a 430EX. In my opinion, the lens covers a good range of focal lengths, the flash provides good lighting for indoor work of all kinds, and, using the macro extension tubes, will do the macro work quite well for a fraction of the cost of a lens designated as 'macro'.

Also, don't be afraid of the used market, especially from reputable dealers such as B&H, Adorama, and others.
 

Juga

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I bought two kit lenses with my Rebel T3i and only used them maybe 10-15 times in the 1.5 years I owned them. I say skip them and get a good quality lens.

What did you use empty paper towel rolls?

The kit lens is very usable as others have stated...there is a reason why a 'kit' lens is made and bundled with most entry level DSLRs.
 

manaheim

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Kit lenses are not so much "beginner" lenses as they are typically just cheaper/more affordable lenses. Of course the higher up you go the higher in quality the kit lenses are - some cameras sell with lenses like the 24-70mm f2.8 L and 24-105mm f4 L which are top of their game zoom lenses.
Yes. OP, realize that there's nothing "wrong" with kit lenses. They are not crippled lenses or incapable of producing decent images. Within their range of features, modern kit lenses will actually perform wonderfully, almost certainly better than you will for a long time or possibly ever (i.e. the kit lens will not be your limiting factor in quality of images, within its operational range).

The reason why they are cheap is not due to low quality. it is due to simply not having very extreme FEATURES. I.e., kit lenses don't usually have very wide maximum apertures, or weather proofing, or super fast autofocus, and they tend not to be compatible with full frame cameras (they use smaller glass to save money instead, which isn't a problem for crop frame cameras, but does make them not able to upgrade later), etc.

But for normal photographs at 35-50mm or whatever, at f/8, of a non-erratically moving subject, your kit lens will produce an image that is not any noticeably lower quality than you would have gotten from a $1500 top of the line lens at the same settings! What you are paying for with your $1500 is instead the ability to take less-than-typical photos in low light with ultra shallow depth of field or focusing on fast, strangely moving subjects, etc.

That's not entirely true.

While kit lenses are "fine" and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, they tend to not compare in optical quality to the more expensive lenses. What you will find with most kit lenses is that they have a sweet spot where they will be ALMOST as good as one of the higher quality lenses, but the higher quality lenses will be better across a focal length than the kit lens will.

You are paying for more than a few stops of light and a constant aperture. There are higher quality parts, more optic elements, and a significant amount of engineering involved.

To be clear... I'm not arguing that kit lenses are bad... I'm simply saying you're getting more than just features and capabilities for your extra investment in dollars in a more expensive lens.
 

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I think a standard zoom lens comes in handy even though your main goal is macro related photos. A standard zoom lens could be a kit lens, which is kind of cheap in the used market. There are people who bought the camera kit and replace the kit lens with a more expensive lens may get rid of their kit lens at a lower cost.
 

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