The low-cost kit lenses you get with digital SLRs or compact system cameras don’t have much of a reputation, but is that fair? They might be cheap, they might be light, they might not have earth-shattering specifications, but they do have some qualities and advantages that are all too easily overlooked.
Benefits of Cheap Kit Lenses: 01. Four classic focal lengths in one
Your camera’s kit lens might not seem particularly versatile or exciting compare to the more exotic lenses out there, but it covers the four ‘classic’ focal lengths most used by old-school photographers.
It can act as a classic 28mm wideangle lens, the 35mm moderate wide-angle favoured by documentary and street photographers and the 50mm ‘standard’ lens that used to be fitted to all 35mm film SLRs.
And at the long end of the zoom range you get the perfect ‘portrait’ focal length of 85mm.
Kit lenses don’t offer the same maximum aperture as individual prime lenses, but it’s still like getting four lenses in one!
Benefits of Cheap Kit Lenses: 02. Lighter and smaller
The regular 18-55mm kit lens supplied with most D-SLRs and compact system cameras might seem the low rent option, but it’s also low weight!
The Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is 70mm long and weighs just 200g. The pro-spec Canon 17-55mm f/2.8, however, is 110.6mm long and weighs a massive 645g.
That could be a real pain in then neck – literally – if you’re carrying the camera on you shoulder all day, and it’s enough to seriously mess with the balance of Canon’s smaller DSLR bodies.
It’s the same story with Nikon’s low-cost 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens versus its high-end 17-55mm f/2.8 lens.
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