Your 18-55mm is Still a Great Choice!
My very first ‘serious’ camera (I say serious because it was the first camera that I owned with interchangeable focal length kit lenses) came with all the starter essentials that I could hope for when I was starting out.
I remember the smile from ear to ear when I opened the box to my brand new Canon 1100D DSLR and set it up with the focal length kit lens that came with it. My camera came with a standard EFS 18-55mm f3. 5-5 6 IS II Lens. The 5-5 6 IS II Lens is more commonly recognized as the ‘Kit Lens’ with image stabilization. As with many of us, off I went and began practicing, learning and photographing everything in sight.
Of course, after some time had passed and I got hired more frequently, it became necessary to add to my arsenal than just my kit lens, but my 18-55mm lens was always within reach in my kit lens for different situations. Yes, you read that right, I held on to it, and have on occasion used it.
To clarify, this is in no way encouraging you to rely solely on your 18-55mm. That wouldn’t be grabbing on to available resources in your kit lens to create stunning images with your photography.
Your kit lens however, is still a good lens and versatile if you use it right. Before you pass over this lens as a choice, here are some reasons you should consider keeping your kit lens on hand.
Gives You an Affordable Option to Start With
One of the things that’s great about the 18-55mm kit lens, is that it is an inexpensive way to get started in photography without costing you too much. You can typically find the kit lens sitting in at around the $200 price point at a local retailer, or take a look at Amazon with secure shipping.
That being said, remember that a lot of DSLR choices come with a kit lens in the box which typically is the 18-55mm, or as in the case of the Canon 80D, the 18-135mm, which is also a great lens. So, check on what you have, before you hit that ‘buy now’ button on that kit lens with the 18-55 focal length.
The ef-s 18-55mm is a great lens to get acquainted with how these kit lenses work, understanding maximum aperture and challenging your knowledge and skill when it comes to taking photos.
Understanding maximum aperture is just an example. Especially when you are starting out with these kit lenses. It’s a fabulous way to spend the time learning more about photography so you can hone your skills not based on equipment, but exactly that: Your skills, and experience. Read this handy 6 step guide on how to take sharper photos.
Provides a Wider View
Something else about this worthy to consider is the versatility in the focal length in this kit lens. The 18mm end of the kit lens can serve as a wide angle option when you need it.
So if you are drawn to things like, architecture, landscapes, or shoot live events or music this is a great lens if you are limited in your wide angle kit lens 18-55mm roster.
Here are a couple examples from when I needed a wider option to catch the moment and went with the ef-s 18-55mm kit lens as the choice.
Above photo settings: 18mm lens f/4.5 ISO 1250 SS: 1/125
The photo from above is from one of my very first weddings that I shadowed. The bride was to make an entrance from the upstairs to meet with her dad, before she walked down the aisle.
I had a prime lens mounted, but I wanted to get the whole staircase with her coming down to add a bit more of a dramatic look for this shot. I opted for the 18-55mm kit lens, which was the widest I carried at the time before the ceremony started.
Above photo settings: 18mm lens f/4.5 ISO 1250 SS: 1/125
This moment, was just before the ceremony started and the brides brother, was assigned to play some music just prior to the entrance of the bridal party. It was really special for them that he was doing this, and so again, I wanted to have a wider shot to catch him, and some attendees.
Again, this isn’t meant to tell you that this lens is the only option for a wide angle shot. This focal range is still only a moderate level of wide angle for your photos. There are other options out there if you need to catch more of the scene through the kit lens such as, 16-35mm, 10-18mm to name a couple.
However, when the option that you have on hand is your 18-55mm kit lens, don’t panic. She’s still a great choice and you can still capture some pretty nice photos.
Helps With Zooming In
As with wide angle kit lenses, there are several choices on the market for a good zoom lens. A lot of wildlife/nature photographers keep a handy zoom kit lens on hand among their kit lenses to capture some truly stunning image quality.
This lens however, can still provide you with some good lens on hands training when utilizing the entire zoom range.
Sometimes, you will find yourself in a situation that you can’t quite get as close to your subject as you’d like for that epic shot, or for that moment you just don’t want to miss. That’s where the longer end of your kit lens will come in handy.
Above photo settings: 55mm lens f/5.6 ISO 200 SS 1/800
This guy was hanging out on the black sand beaches of Punalu’u Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii. If you ever make it out to this amazing part of the world, you should know that touching Sea Turtles is a major no-no. Even getting right up close, isn’t really encouraged.
There are signs everywhere that warn you. So out came the zoom kit lens to help me out with this one. I had always wanted to see one of these guys up close and personal, and I just had to get a photo.
Cautions With this Lens
We’ve talked about what you can do with your 18-55, and perhaps a couple reasons to keep it on hand, but there are some cautions to be had with this particular kit lens.
Probably the biggest drawback is the limited maximum aperture ability.
18-55mm kit lenses, at their maximum aperture, sit at f/3.5. If you are trying to achieve that smooth blurred out background or foreground to give your subject that pop, this lens maybe isn’t the best focal length kit lens for that.
You will have a good portion of your image in focus depending on your focal length, and it will fall short of that desired bokeh and low light. Because of the limited aperture, your will need to compensate with lowering your shutter speed in certain situations to have the right exposure.
The other thing to keep in mind with kit lenses about your maximum aperture is that as you zoom in on your subject, your maximum aperture number will go up. In other words, you will be stopping down your aperture, which in turn, will give you a deeper depth of field.
This shortcoming will also hinder the ability of the 18-55mm focal length kit lens to allow low light or enough light through the opening, potentially underexposing your image quality. This low light could also result in having to raise your ISO, creating a grainier, or noisier image than often preferred.
- This lens is still a great choice and can serve to create some timeless moments and images.
- The kit lens is easy on the budget, adaptable, and a light lens.
- It’s a good alternative to a zoom lens, or wide angle of view kit lens without the premium price tag. That is especially helpful when you are starting out.
- It’s a fabulous kit lens to really hone your skills as a photographer so that you are ready when the time comes to upgrade your kit lens.
And if you are already thinking about upgrading your kit lenses to get different focal lengths, check out this article on why you need a prime kit lens!
Until next time classmates.