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05-20-2011, 01:13 PM   #1
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Why is a kit lens not as sharp as an expensive lens?

I know it's possible (and lots do) get good images with the kit lens but the higher priced lenses seem to get better pictures, even with the same stop and focal length. I do not have images to prove it, just from looking at many pictures over time.

05-20-2011, 01:21 PM   #2
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Better glass, better design, less distortion, less CA.

And it's reasonable to assume that more experienced photographers look for better performing glass... so the photographers themselves may have a bit better skill... of course that isn't always true.

05-20-2011, 01:21 PM   #3
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Couple of forces at play here I'm afraid.

1. Experience
2. Better handling in wider range of conditions(aperture, optical quality etc).

However, the good news is that most every lens will perform well in the sweet spot.
And by that I mean under ideal circumstances. In the case, of the kit lens, that could mean keeping your arperture between 5.6 and 11. Or keeping things within the ideal focal lengths(sharpest opticaly) and so on and so forth.

Then of course there is the handling aspect of things where one gets to know what works and doesn't in terms of getting the most out of their camera too. Min. shutter speeds, SR or not to SR, when to steady things out with a tripod etc etc.

So there's lots and lots of factors that will play a part in getting sharp photo's, even with a lowly kit lens

One good exercise, is to grab your camera and lens one fine day and run it through its paces. Which could be something along the lines of: setting it on a tripod, using mirror-up function with a remote and going through all of the zoom range and aperture to find the sweet spot. Such experiments can really help one get a grasp on what works and not with regards to getting the most out of a lens and camera.

Hope this helps.
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05-20-2011, 01:27 PM   #4
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With the kit lens, if you have enough light to park it at f8, it can perform at levels compatible to much more expensive glass. I think it's best set between 24mm and 40mm.

You can use it as a slow 35mm prime and get fantastic results.

05-20-2011, 01:33 PM   #5
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Keep in mind that buying that lens is the first step towards the 'dark side.' Or your first step in giving in to LBA. Lord have mercy on your soul and pocket book.
05-20-2011, 02:07 PM   #6
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because as u said yourself it is not as expensive as them...
05-20-2011, 02:20 PM   #7
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I've been using DxO software recently, and it has a setting which automatically corrects distortion on the kit lens. I 'park it on f8', and normally at either extreme - 18mm or 55mm. It's interesting seeing how much DxO has to do to correct the distortion at 18mm, and how little at 55mm. It's also interesting just how sharp it is through the range at f8, and I suspect you would have to do silly zooming to 200% or do huge prints to notice a difference between this and a more expensive lens. Especially after it has been accurately corrected on good software.
05-20-2011, 02:46 PM   #8
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No need to ask a question when the title of the thread answers it. In a word cost

05-20-2011, 03:31 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
Keep in mind that buying that lens is the first step towards the 'dark side.' Or your first step in giving in to LBA. Lord have mercy on your soul and pocket book.
Amen.. And now a moment of silence for those who've led us into this dark journey.
05-20-2011, 03:42 PM   #10
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The DA18-55 kit lens is a good place to start, and many never use anything else.
If you were shooting for a local newspaper, you might never need anything else.
How sharp a lens you want or need, depends on what you'll do with the pictures.
If you're pixel-peeping, or making huge prints for close inspection, get a sharp lens.
If you're shooting sports/action pictures for publications, get a sharp long fast lens.
If you're shooting for a blog, use a P&S. You will save tons of money on lenses.
05-20-2011, 03:55 PM   #11
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Different coatings, different pieces of glass, pretty much just different materials makes better lenses. The materials found in a FA31 ltd are nothing like whats in the kit lens.
05-20-2011, 04:10 PM   #12
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Part of the cost is in the inspection process - kit lenses certainly aren't subject to the scrutiny that DA* lenses receive. No doubt exceptional kit lenses exist, as do indifferent ones. You just won't know which you received until you try it. This also leads to many pointless arguments on forums as each of us gets one copy and then proclaims all its siblings to be excellent or awful.. they just vary too much for a small sample to cover its strengths and weaknesses. My 50-200 kit is a piece of junk compared to everyone's 55-300... except it isn't, I have several excellent images from it.
05-20-2011, 04:25 PM   #13
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an expensive lens is also a faster lens...bigger glass constant /aperture etc ...

kit lenses are often a give away item with a camera purchase...expensive lenses are bought as separate pieces of kit..thus if your a manufacturer and you want to shift your expensive line of lenses..then you'd better make sure they perform better than the cheapo kit lens...or you'd never sell them and go bust pretty quick .
05-20-2011, 04:38 PM   #14
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there are lots of nice sharp lenses that arent any more expensive than a kit lens, many much cheaper (maybe no AF though)
05-20-2011, 05:03 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Deimos Quote
there are lots of nice sharp lenses that arent any more expensive than a kit lens, many much cheaper (maybe no AF though)
you need to compare apples with apples.....Id assume we are talking about AF lenses here ...not old used manual lenses

I doubt there are any Af cheap lenses that perform better than a expensive lens
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