When you bought your first DSLR, you probably got it with a kit lens. These lenses are cheap, and not really top-notch quality. If you bought a prime or a high-end zoom later, you know a kit lens can’t beat it. However, there are still some reasons to use a kit lens. They may not always be the best choice, but they certainly have their purpose. In this video, cinematographer Darious Britt gives you some of the reasons why he loves cheap kit lenses, despite their drawbacks.
When I got my first DSLR, I got it with an 18-55mm kit lens. Of course, I was overjoyed, and the quality was so much better than with my old point-and shoot camera. Until I discovered prime lenses, which was when I realized how my kit lens was actually poor. Still, I use it occasionally, for some travel shots or snapshots family and friends. I’ve definitely had a great time with that lens, and I probably won’t ever ditch it.
Darious points out some reasons to keep (or buy) a cheap kit lens, and I must say I agree with most of them.
Reasons to love a kit lens
1.Good price-quality ratio
Although a kit lens is not the best type of lens you can get, I suppose cheap lens is better than no lens. It’s useful if you’re buying your first DSLR or mirrorless. If you’re on a tight budget, you can get the camera and the lens at an affordable price. In my opinion, it’s a better option than buying a body alone and then saving up for a lens. It’s better to use it with a kit lens than leave it sit in the box until you get an expensive one. And considering their low price, they come with a pretty decent quality.
2. A range of useful focal lengths
Well, just like any zoom lens, a kit lens also has several useful focal lengths wrapped up in one. However, kit lenses feature the most common and most “usual” range of focal lengths.
3. It can teach you how to use a camera
Well, if you’re buying an entry-level DSLR or a mirrorless camera, you certainly can’t use it without a lens. I don’t think kit lens can teach you much on itself, but it’s certainly a part of the tool that helps you take photos and practice.
4. Helps you figure out your favorite focal length
Since a kit lens features many different focal lengths, using it for a while helps you discover which one suits you best. You can track your progress and analyze your images to see which focal length you tend to use most. I can relate to this because using my kit lens pushed me toward buying my first and still my favorite prime: 50mm. In Darious’ case, it’s different, as a kit lens helped him discover wide angles suit him best.
5. They give you wide coverage as you discover other lenses
When you have a kit lens, you are sort of always covered. You can try out other lenses to check which one suits you best and which one you like. You can borrow or rent them, and return them if you don’t like them before you find the one you’d like to own. And for all this time, you’ll have a kit lens to back you up.
Kit lenses definitely have drawbacks, too. Some of them apply to photographers, whereas the others make more problems to videographers.
1.Quality of the lens
Most kit lenses are made from plastic. They are cheap, and some of them look like that. For example, mine has a slightly loose focusing ring. Some of them even have a plastic mount.
2. Variable aperture
This problem is probably more annoying to videographers, but it drives me crazy as a photographer as well. I either have to set everything up based on f/5.6, or change settings whenever I zoom out.
3. Lens breathing when racking focus
This is one of the problems that will particularly be annoying to filmmakers, as you definitely don’t want lens breathing when you’re filming.
4. Kit lenses don’t perform well in poor lighting conditions
Kit lenses are usually designed as slower lenses. Considering that the largest aperture is f/5.6 at maximum zoom, they don’t really give a stellar performance in poor light conditions.
5. Poor image quality
Kit lenses tend to have poor image quality. The photos you take with them tend to be less sharp, and in some cases have very visible chromatic aberration (I have this problem with my lens). However, even some primes are not necessarily better when it comes to image quality and sharpness. So, for a beginner, you can still easily go with a kit lens and upgrade as you grow your skills and save more money.
After all, not everything is about expensive and high-end gear. When your skills improve, it’s because of you, not because of your gear. As much as I love my photos tack sharp, I still try to get the best out of my really poor and old kit lens. After all, it’s better to use what you’ve got than feel down because you don’t have something better. Maybe it’s the poor photographer talking out of me, but I believe that you should get the best from what you’ve got, even if it’s just a cheap kit lens.
Now I’m curious in hearing your thoughts on this. Do you still use a kit lens or you’ve switched entirely to high-end zooms or primes? Why do you love your kit lens, or why do you hate it? Share your thoughts in the comments.