8 reasons why cheap kit lenses are the perfect lens

8 reasons why cheap kit lenses are the perfect lens

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.

In their latest guest blog post the photo management experts at Photoventure  counted eight reasons why cheap kit lenses are the perfect lens.

8 reasons why cheap kit lenses are the perfect lens

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!

DON’T MISS: Discover how Canon’s free Project1709 platform can simplify your photo management

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.


10 camera settings you don’t use (but probably should)
55 reasons your photos aren’t working (and what you can do about it)
8 bad photography habits (and how to fix them)
77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of everything
6 ways professional photographers use their cameras


8 reasons why cheap kit lenses are the perfect lens

Benefits of Cheap Kit Lenses: 03. Cheaper filters

Lens filters are still really useful, even in the digital age, but the bigger the size, the more they cost.

Basic kit lenses have smaller filter rings than super-zooms or pro-quality fixed-aperture zooms, so you could save money in ways you never expected.

A Hoya Pro1 circular polariser costs £60/$58 in the smaller kit lens size but £110/$100 in the 77mm fitting needed for the f/2.8 Canon and Nikon pro lenses above.

SEE MORE: 11 tricks to speed up your digital workflow

Be aware that there is one drawback to kit lenses with filters, however – many kit lenses have front elements which rotate as the lens focuses.

It saves money but it makes it harder to use filters which need to be rotated to specific angles.

Benefits of Cheap Kit Lenses: 04. Close focus capability

Kit lenses are designed to be as versatile as possible and may be better than you think in areas you hadn’t expected – namely close-focusing capability.

Both the Canon and Nikon kit lenses mentioned above focus considerably closer than their professional equivalents.

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 has a minimum focus distance of 0.28m and the Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 can focus right down to 0.25m.

The minimum focus distance doesn’t change as you zoom, so the trick is to use the maximum zoom setting for close-ups to make objects as big as possible.

Neither kit lens will give you true macro capability, but both are capable of filling the frame with surprisingly small objects.


How to take good photos: 10 simple ways to boost your hit rate
99 common photography problems (and how to avoid them)
32 things photographers say… and what they really mean
Beginner photography tips: the most common mistakes and how to avoid them
Breaking bad photo habits: 10 classic blunders and ways to improve

  • QueenPinky

    I dig this article. Just ordered my Canon SL1 and I’ve been thinking a lot about the kit lens that its coming with. This article kinda rounded out my personal ideas about the lens. I especially like the idea that using the kit lens will help you understand what lens you need, if you need another one. There is no way I know, at this present moment which prime lens I need for my style of shooting, but I can observe my focal lengths and f stops with a kit lens and make a prime decision when I’m ready!

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Kirk Billingsley

    I am a lens junkie but I always find a time and place for my kit lenses.