Tuesday, May 29, 2007

05/29/07: R.I.P., Kit Lens...

At a wedding this past weekend, I had a guest ask me what lens she should get to replace the cruddy kit lens that came with her consumer DSLR. I asked her two questions...

"What do you photograph the most?"
"Where is that kit lens failing you the most?"

Let me back and define the "kit lens." A kit lens is essentially a starter lens that comes with most entry level digital SLR cameras. Most often it's a variable aperature zoom lens (i.e. the aperature value gets smaller as the lens is zoomed from wide to telephoto) and typically the aperature values are not very fast -- f3.5 to f5.6 or something along those lines (fast being a lens with aperature values of f2.8 or greater...i.e. f2.0, f1.8, etc.). A kit lens typically has a retail price of around $99 to $150 depending on where you shop -- and often the price difference between the entry level DSLR body only and kit price is around a hundred bucks.

The woman told me that most often she photographs her children...and the problem she encounters with the kit lens is camera shake or fuzzy pictures when photographing inside. She said she doesn't like the look of using flash (either on camera pop-up flash or a supplemental hot-shoe mounted flash). She didn't want to have to spend a ton of money to buy a pro calibre lens.

I queried her a little further -- does she have a lot of window light in the house -- could she take more photos of her kids near windows (you're almost always gonna get better light near windows vs. turning on a bunch of incandescent lights indoors). Her answer was that there was not a lot of window light in her house...and most often when she wants to grab a cute expression of one of her children...it wouldn't be feasible for her to always expect those priceless cute kid moments to happen near great directional window light (such is the law of photographing cute kids...).

I suggested that she consider the Sigma 18-50 mm f2.8 DC macro lens -- retail price around $420 depending on where you shop. I don't currently own any Sigma lenses (nor do I own an entry level DSLR!), but I have a number of friends who own and love their Sigma lenses. This lens would be a significant upgrade in quality from her kit lens (with the variable aperature zoom...boo!), while also being about half as expensive as similarly featured camera body manufacturer lenses (that is to say the Nikon or Canon equivalents!).

I found the SIGMA LENS 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC Digital Camera SLR Lens for Canon available on Amazon.com for $409.99 and the the Nikon mount for $391.83.

If you own this lens and you have comments -- feel free to post them here.




Anonymous Mike Lao said...

Hey Dan,

A friend of mine was actually looking at this but he decided to get the Tamron 18-55 f2.8 lens instead. He's pretty happy about it!


12:49 AM, May 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

I have several ideas about r.i.p. kit lens.

First I would suggest that your friend try shooting at a higher iso. Since most Dslrs are very good at isos up to 800 and beyond this simple adjustment might be all she needs.

Second she should learn how to get more pleasing results with her flash. If she would try bouncing the flash or using a diffuser, she might get better pictures.

If another lens is the only satisfactory way to go, then there are better choices. Just about any 50mm. lens would be faster, sharper and less expensive than the zoom lens you recommended.


12:54 PM, June 06, 2007  
Blogger Bufftbone said...

Canon has a cheap 50mm lens that is 2.8. It would be better in terms of quality but she would have to deal wih the low light or getting a flash.

10:15 AM, June 16, 2007  

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