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When you purchase your first camera, a kit lens will be provided as part of the package. The kit lens has a focal length of 18mm-55mm, and it is an ideal zoom range to practice your shots on.
However, many photographers wonder if kit lenses are worth keeping or if they can take great photos.
How Far Does an 18-55mm Lens Zoom?
If you use the minimum focal length of 18mm, it can reach subjects that are as far as 5 feet away.
If you use the maximum focal length of 55mm, it can reach subjects that are as far as 18 feet away from you.
What is a Kit Lens Good For?
The 18mm-55mm kit lens is a great tool for those who are new to photography. The traditional focal length of kit lenses which is 18mm-55mm, is ideal for beginners as it gives them an idea of how zooming works.
Kit lenses are also small and light, and they can be used to shoot wide-angle photos so they can be used in architecture and street photography.
You can use the 18mm focal length for taking pictures of crowds, landscapes and interiors, while the 55mm focal length can be used for headshots, portraits, and still photos. The lens creates a natural, beautiful background blur for aesthetics.
How to Get the Most Out of the Kit Lens
Since kit lenses come with the camera that you bought, it is better not to let it go to waste. If you use the lens to the best of its abilities, you will be surprised at how versatile and useful it is, especially as a practice tool.
- Use the 18mm Focal Length for Wide-Angle Pictures
Kit lenses are known to take decent wide-angle lenses, which is why it is used for architecture, landscape, environmental, and interior photography. If you wish to do any of these types of photography, the kit lens is enough to get you started.
You can use the lens to play around with angles and techniques. Even though it can’t give you the same quality as that of other wide-angle lenses, kit lenses can be an alternative for those who are still experimenting with different genres of photography.
- Use the Wide Aperture and the 55mm Focal Length for Portraits
Kit lenses can take great portraits. The maximum focal length of 55mm can be an alternative for medium telephoto lenses. It can create a shallow depth of field that can effectively distance the subject from the background.
However, if you use the lens for portraits, it will not have a blurry background because the widest aperture that you can use is only f/5.6. You can create a blurry effect by having the subject sit or stand far away from the background and shooting at the widest aperture possible.
- Use a Tripod for Night Scenes and Landscapes
Most kit lenses are not equipped with image stabilization, a feature that stabilizes the lens and prevents the effects of camera shakes from showing on the pictures.
- Use Bright Natural Lighting
Kit lenses have narrow apertures; it ranges only from f/3.5 to f/5.6. This means it is not ideal for low light conditions as distortions and unwanted blurs will appear on your images. You might need to attach an external flash for specific shoots.
However, narrow apertures are excellent with bright lighting. You can use kit lenses to take pictures during the day, or you can use them in a studio with bright artificial lighting.
Disadvantages of a Kit Lens
The 18mm-55mm kit lenses have a lot of advantages, and there are a lot of things that you can do to maximize your use of the lens. However, it also has shortcomings that may limit your skills.
- Poor Build Quality
Kit lenses are made out of plastic, and they are not weather sealed. This means that if it is exposed to harsh weather conditions or if you accidentally drop it, the lens may break and crack.
- Poor Optical Quality
The optics of kit lenses do not use the camera’s technical capabilities. Most lenses use your camera’s sensor to capture pictures between 50% to 100% of its capabilities.
However, 18mm-55mm kit lenses can only use 50% or less. This leads to chromatic aberration and distortion, especially if you are taking pictures in poorly lit places.
- Narrow Aperture
The 18mm-55mm kit lens has a wide aperture. The maximum aperture is f/5.6 which can’t be used in nighttime photoshoots or low light conditions.
If you use the kit lens to take pictures in the dark, it will result in pictures that are filled with distortion and shadows.
- Autofocus is Slow
The autofocus of an 18mm-55mm kit lens is slower than the autofocus of other lenses. This means it is not ideal for fast-paced photography like sports or concerts.
Also, the autofocus motor of a kit lens produces too much grinding noise, so you can’t take pictures of your subjects discreetly. If you are going to use it for wildlife photography, it is best to be a few feet away from the subject, or else you might startle them.
Is 18mm-55mm the Only Focal Length for Kit Lenses?
Kit lenses come in different focal lengths, and the focal lengths depend on the camera you will attach them to.
For example, Nikon APS-C cameras are paired up with 18mm-55mm lenses, while Nikon’s full-frame cameras are paired up with 24mm-120mm kit lenses.
For Canon, aside from the 18mm-55mm lens for its APS-C cameras, a 24mm-105mmm focal length range for full-frame cameras is also available.
What Lens Should You Get After Using the Kit Lens?
You can upgrade to the 50mm f/1.8 lens if you wish to pursue portrait photography.
Meanwhile, you can get the 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens if you want to focus on landscape, wildlife, and nature photography.
Although kit lenses do not have a good reputation within the community, they can still be an excellent lens for beginners.
Since the 18mm-5mm kit lens has a pretty reasonable focal length, it allows you to take pictures of subjects from far away until you are ready to upgrade to better lenses.