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View Full Version : What's wrong with kit lenses?



Darey
11-10-2010, 10:28pm
I have noticed a trend for togs to say "but I only have kit lenses therefore the Image Quality I get is limited (or similar)" so I thought I would do a little test for myself.

I have been using my pro quality Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 for some time now and have had very good results with it so I decided to put in in storage and use my Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6 KIT LENS and see what Image Quality I can get with it.

Today I used the 55-200mm Kit Lens with a Kenko 1.4 x TC and see what Image Quality I could get. I also took the shots hand held as a challenge.
The shot of a friendly magpie, below, was taken, hand held, at a distance of about 6 meters with a Nikon D90 and 55-200mm f4-5.6 kit lens plus Kenko 1.4 X TC. The settings were 1/250 sec f 6.3 and ISO 800. The shot was only sharpened a little and had some contrast added in Elements 8.

I think the shot proves Kit Lenses can provide acceptable Image Quality. What are your thoughts?

60223

Dachimas
11-10-2010, 10:36pm
I think this shot shows that a kit lens can provide an "acceptable" quality of image but then it really depends what your definition of acceptable is. If it fits your budget, skill level and the type of photography you want to do, no problem...

wmphoto
11-10-2010, 10:58pm
Why drive a porsche when you can walk? IMO there is nothing wrong with kit lens but each to their own.

Kym
11-10-2010, 11:03pm
Kits lenses are fine within limits.
In fact ANY lens is fine within its limits.
A good fast lens will cost more and have less limits than a cheaper kit lens. It's not about the sweet spot but the extremes where good glass pays off.

ollie
11-10-2010, 11:04pm
f6.3 + 1.4x will kill your autofocus speed, that's if it works at all

OzzieTraveller
12-10-2010, 8:50am
G'day Darey

I agree with your asking the question - it is correct to do so
To take it into another direction - but not steal the thread- as I see it, it comes down to the result as seen, printed and displayed on the wall.

Looking at an image on a computer screen, a 1megapixel screen at that, will never show us the lens's true capabilities & performance
It seems to me [and I am guilty too] that far too many of us only view our images on-screen and as such, sharpness is a visual illusion ... it is not until we view the image as a 16x24" or 20x30" poster that we can truly see the qualities of a good lens

Then also, you get the vagaries of flare from back lighting/cross lighting, colour fringing at the long end, etc etc
Regards, Phil

Bercy
12-10-2010, 2:35pm
I used the kit lens with my Old Canon 300D to do food photography. The publisher had no problems with the images. But then I was using a Manfrotto tripod, ISO100, and twin flashes with umbrellas. I guess the weakest link was the lens, but in the end the other attention to detail made sure hte shots were sharp, allowing for shallow DOF, well at least as much as I could get from the 18-55. As I scan through lots of photos, I the resolution is not that great, but if I look at the EXIF data, I can recognise, in all practicality, it is not the lens but movement artefact. Invariably, when I get asked to do photos for others, the tripod comes out of the boot and so does the shutter release cable. I now have faster lenses, no IS though, but I still expect that good basic technique will be more important to the noviciates than thousands of dollars of dream glass.

maccaroneski
12-10-2010, 2:42pm
In answer to the original question: you can't shoot a kit lens at 2.8? :)

ricktas
12-10-2010, 2:47pm
The sigma 10-20 could be classed as a kit lens, and it is a brilliant wide-angle lens. Nothing wrong with a kit lens if you know how to use it push it to its limits.

Oh and Maccaroneski. I can shoot with my PLASTIC 50mm F1.8 at F2.8 and get great shots...so your post is now up in flames..HEHE

maccaroneski
12-10-2010, 2:52pm
Oh and Maccaroneski. I can shoot with my PLASTIC 50mm F1.8 at F2.8 and get great shots...so your post is now up in flames..HEHE

Ah but now we quibble over the definition of "kit lens"... I'm sure that you could buy a 70-200 2.8 in a kit from some vendor or other :-)

kiwi
12-10-2010, 2:53pm
I have a poverty kit - D3 and 400 2.8

Made me poor anyhow

I @ M
12-10-2010, 3:39pm
I think the shot proves Kit Lenses can provide acceptable Image Quality. What are your thoughts?



Darey, we have the 18-55 AF ( not AFS and not VR ) and it has produced images that have sold, it works, end of story.

The 55-200 VR that we have is a great it of gear for compact walk around images in good light, printed images from it are beaut at 12x18.

I don't dislike kit lenses at all, OK, the 70-300G is a bit how ya going but on a good day ( maybe the 30th of February in every second decade ) it will produce acceptable images.



To take it into another direction - but not steal the thread- as I see it, it comes down to the result as seen, printed and displayed on the wall.



Phil, AMEN to that, printed appropriately and viewed without excessive straining of the eyes, a properly composed and exposed photo will shine even when taken with "cheap" gear.

Bercy
12-10-2010, 3:41pm
Yeah Maccaroneski - its all a bit fuzzy as to what is a kit lens. DWI has the 7D with a 24-105 F4L lens, now that is some kit!

Berni

Darey
12-10-2010, 3:44pm
Dachimas,
Agree, if I was shooting for a customer this shot would not be "acceptable"
"Acceptable quality", now that's another good discussion starter.

Warren,
Yep, I drive a ford GTP and that sure beats walking.

Kym,
I agree.

Ollie,
yes mate, the AF is very slow at those settings.

Phil,
I agree with you, as Dachimas said it comes down to the definition of "Acceptable".

Bercy,
I agree but I'm a sucker for buying "good glass" as soon as I can afford it. I must admit good glass does help me get good quality images.

Tony,
Maybe, so put on your SB900 strobe, use TT-BL and shoot at f8. :)
P.S. I hope your enjoying your 70-200mm f2.8 VRII.

Ricktas
Ha, I agree.

Kiwi,
Ha,Ha, I will happily swap my D90 & 55-200mm f4-5.6 kit for yours anytime. :)

JimD
12-10-2010, 4:58pm
CANONs EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is a "kit" lens.

Bercy
12-10-2010, 11:06pm
JimD - I think you must be good judge of such things. Popping over the the Canon thread, someone there is very bitter about their 24-105 lens - ouch. Apparently there are some reliabililty issues - !!