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12-29-2010, 04:26 PM   #1
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18-55mm kit lens. Nothing exciting.

Is it just me, or is the kit lens really as bad as I think it is? I'm really not getting a lot of detail. It's sharp, but not a lot of fine detail. I notice this primarily on shot at infinity. Trees seem to blur together. I sent the lens and k7 body on to Pentax, both has been calibrated. I have a mint super Takumar 1.4 lens. Do you think it would be worth buying the adapter for it? Would I see more detail with the new 18-135 lens?

12-29-2010, 05:19 PM   #2
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From comparing the girlfriends DA 18-55 (kit type I) to my 18-135... big difference. Better IQ, better AF.
12-29-2010, 05:22 PM   #3
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So.......which one has the better IQ and AF?
12-29-2010, 05:42 PM   #4
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The 18-135

12-29-2010, 06:32 PM   #5
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Its worth getting the M42 adaptor - I'm sure you will love what the 1.4 can do. Stopped down anywhere from 2.8 through to f8, you should realise a lot more detail than the kit zoom. And at 1.4 you can achieve a very shallow Depth of Field when you need it.
12-29-2010, 07:22 PM   #6
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Without a sample pic it is hard to make any comments -
other than pure assumptions. However it is interesting that you say:
QuoteOriginally posted by Tony3d Quote
It's sharp, but not a lot of fine detail.
Landscapes are notoriously demanding - especially subjects at "infinity" -
this is probably aggravated by our own expectations
of wanting to see everything in focus, clear and sharp.

It'd be very useful if you could please post
a reduced sized overall full-frame of your shot, no wider than 800px -
and some manageable sized 100% crops of the areas you are having difficulties with, and the full EXIF data please.

That way we may be able to comment on the quality, or lack of.
12-29-2010, 07:27 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony3d Quote
Is it just me, or is the kit lens really as bad as I think it is? I'm really not getting a lot of detail. It's sharp, but not a lot of fine detail. I notice this primarily on shot at infinity. Trees seem to blur together. I sent the lens and k7 body on to Pentax, both has been calibrated. I have a mint super Takumar 1.4 lens. Do you think it would be worth buying the adapter for it? Would I see more detail with the new 18-135 lens?
The kit lens costs (sometimes) about 50 extra with the body. So...?

Lot's of people love it (for the price, they say, which means not great but cheap) . I've never bought one other than in 1979.
12-29-2010, 10:37 PM   #8
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Tony3D: I had the exact same reaction to my short kit zoom that you did, and replaced it with a Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 and haven't looked back. I like how small and light the kit zoom is by comparison, but I had to work a lot more to get anything close to what I get out of the 18-50mm by just pointing and shooting.

12-30-2010, 12:46 AM   #9
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Amazing the chorus.....

The 18-55 kit zoom may not be a great lens -
but it is a good lens -
and does not deserve the almost automatic derision from some as soon as "kit zoom" is mentioned.

The 18-55 kit zoom was a good lens from Mk 1, and it has improved somewhat in the current Mk II form.

PopPhoto has done reviews of both the Mk.1 (as the Samsung clone) and the Mk II
(that's their "excellent" rating at all focal lengths)-


(I have a Mk2 which came with the K-x and it is just a bit sharper in my own tests than my original Mk 1 that came with the K100D -
but I continue to use the Mk 1 - because the difference was not that great, and I much prefer the stainless steel mount)

This is on the humble 18-55 (Mk 1) at wide-open aperture - 6Mp K100D

ISO400, f/3.5, 1/40sec; 18mm, 6Mp K100D (hopefully EXIF still attached - PhotoBucket can mysteriously drop metadata)

K-x:

ISO5000, f/4.5, 1/50sec, 35mm (low light about EV=4 @ ISO100)
the humble 18-55mm (Mk 1) kit zoom on K-x
note that it is ISO5000 - and wide-open for the focal length -
not exactly optimum conditions......
12-30-2010, 07:03 AM - 1 Like   #10
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If anyone has any doubts about what the 18-55 kit can do, just spend an hour here:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/45425-kit-lens-club.html

I think it gets such a bad rap because it's the first lens that new Pentaxian DSLRers use, and most are new to DSLRs in the first place and techniques aren't the best.

Maybe the site should have a new contest just for the 18-55, and you have to take pics within a certain time frame. I suggest this as opposed to being able to submit old shots because this would inspire many of us to stick the damn thing on there for a few days.

And finally put this argument to rest about how "crappy" the 18-55 is.

Also, why the heck is this in DSLR Discussion?
12-30-2010, 07:29 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
If anyone has any doubts about what the 18-55 kit can do, just spend an hour here:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/45425-kit-lens-club.html

I think it gets such a bad rap because it's the first lens that new Pentaxian DSLRers use, and most are new to DSLRs in the first place and techniques aren't the best.

Maybe the site should have a new contest just for the 18-55, and you have to take pics within a certain time frame. I suggest this as opposed to being able to submit old shots because this would inspire many of us to stick the damn thing on there for a few days.

And finally put this argument to rest about how "crappy" the 18-55 is.

Also, why the heck is this in DSLR Discussion?
Plus one on all the above,
And infinity being soft on landscapes is notorious even with better lenses than the kit lens, the environmental factors come into play. Also to achieve max in focus a lot of people will stop down to f16-f22
this guarantees less contrast (above f8 contrast falls off) and that means softer images
try shooting the landscapes at f8-11 and if the true focal point is the far distance then focus there, you're foreground will then have some OOF areas, but the contrast will improve dramatically
12-30-2010, 09:04 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony3d Quote
Is it just me, or is the kit lens really as bad as I think it is?
While I would not describe this lens as "bad" ("mediocre" might be a more accurate description), I am surprised at how many people seem to think it's a good lens. It's corner to corner sharpness, particularly at infinity focus, is shockingly bad, and it simply does not render detail as well as better lenses. In-focus objects just don't stand out and "pop" like they do with better glass. The len's chief merit is that it's the cheapest way to get a wide angle FOV on a Pentax DSLR. But it is outclassed by nearly every other DA lens that shares, in part or whole, it's focal length.
12-30-2010, 09:31 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
While I would not describe this lens as "bad" ("mediocre" might be a more accurate description), I am surprised at how many people seem to think it's a good lens. It's corner to corner sharpness, particularly at infinity focus, is shockingly bad, and it simply does not render detail as well as better lenses. In-focus objects just don't stand out and "pop" like they do with better glass. The len's chief merit is that it's the cheapest way to get a wide angle FOV on a Pentax DSLR. But it is outclassed by nearly every other DA lens that shares, in part or whole, it's focal length.
at 10 times the cost or more i would expect better performance from a lens, i think everyone is making a value statement. I've also shot with the canon kit lens and it's far worse, i've tried a friends nikon and same thing less than impressed.
I will say though that my Olympus Kit lens for my E300 is quite impressive for a kit lens and i think it probably has the edge on the Pentax one from a construction standpoint as well. mind you the e300 kit retailed for more than the *ist ds did at the time I just got a great deal on a demo so i took it (the major drawback to working in retail you buy a lot of stuff you don't need)
12-30-2010, 11:45 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
And finally put this argument to rest about how "crappy" the 18-55 is.
Also, why the heck is this in DSLR Discussion?
We haven't even seen a sample of the OP's concerns
and remember he actually said:
QuoteOriginally posted by Tony3d Quote
It's sharp, but not a lot of fine detail.
(my emphasis in Red)
and it seems to have degenerated to slagging off the 18-55

QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
And infinity being soft on landscapes is notorious even with better lenses than the kit lens, the environmental factors come into play.
Thank you, this is a very important point -
along with our own expectations of being able to see everything in focus, clear and sharp.

Let's take the standardized test shot from the K-7 from Imaging-Resource.com at ISO100,
in fact can we kind of agree that currently the top dogs in the APS-C world are the K-5 and the Nikon D7000?
So let's also take those test shots at the lowest ISO (ie: highest quality) settings -

Here's the overall shot resized for convenience and the area I cropped at 100% shown in the tiny red square....


Here are those 100% crops with NO adjustments (other to brighten the K-5 shot because it was originally dark.)

the test lenses according to the EXIF data which should be attached to the crops (caveat: PhotoBucket can drop metadata) -
for both Pentaxes: smc PENTAX-DA 17-70mm F4 AL [IF] SDM set at 30mm f/8
Nikon: AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G (this is a prime lens) set at f/8

Those are supposed to be pine needles - they look mushy to me and these are about as optimum and controlled as one can get from the current very top of the heap APS-C dSLRs.

The "fine details" at close to infinity are simply out of the range/resolving power of the sensors and lenses. This is one of the main reasons why classic landscape photographers shoot large format like 10"x8" plate camera which has nearly 60x the area of a full 36x24mm film frame.

I think it may well be overly high expectations.

Last edited by UnknownVT; 12-30-2010 at 01:09 PM.
12-30-2010, 07:15 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by UnknownVT Quote
We haven't even seen a sample of the OP's concerns
and remember he actually said:

(my emphasis in Red)
and it seems to have degenerated to slagging off the 18-55
The title of this thread is "18-55. Nothing Exciting."

So doesn't that mean that the OP was slagging it off from the very beginning?

And can you explain what "slagging off" means to those of us who don't speak the Queen's English?

Finally, 100% crops of pine needles never matter to me, especially since you pulled it from a teensy weensy portion of the image.

Last edited by Ira; 12-30-2010 at 07:22 PM.
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