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08-15-2013, 09:43 PM   #1
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In defense of the lowly 18-55mm... Cinderella in disguise?

We all have one. Somewhere, out there in the garage, unloved, forlorn, passed over for a date with its newer, better, more desirable and glamorous siblings.

Cinderella. But is the 18-55mm a princess in disguise? With image quality that fits your glass slipper?

Is it a true fact that, like any modern lens, you're getting more optical performance than you'll ever need ... or use?

And if that's true, should we take another look at this beauty... maybe the best-ever for general walk-around photography, with its fast and accurate focus, at least at f/8 or so?

Could less be (gasp) ... more?

08-15-2013, 10:09 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by jon404 Quote
We all have one. Somewhere, out there in the garage, unloved, forlorn, passed over for a date with its newer, better, more desirable and glamorous siblings.

Cinderella. But is the 18-55mm a princess in disguise? With image quality that fits your glass slipper?

Is it a true fact that, like any modern lens, you're getting more optical performance than you'll ever need ... or use?

And if that's true, should we take another look at this beauty... maybe the best-ever for general walk-around photography, with its fast and accurate focus, at least at f/8 or so?

Could less be (gasp) ... more?
Yep. Those things are so full of pixie dust that you need to call a hazmat team before you open the box. And the bokeh is perfect. It must be because I say it is, and will keep on saying so until nobody can find any dissenting opinions on Google.

Other than that it works just fine through most of its range when closed down a couple of stops (like, sharp 24x36 prints fine), is cheap but not totally nasty, and available with WR. Very handy for people like me who shoot with a tripod in a temperate rain forest in the pouring rain and are too cheap to replace the rest of our excellent lenses with WR ones.
08-15-2013, 10:26 PM   #3
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I've tried to hate the 18-55 because general wisdom says all kit lenses are junk. The reality is, the 18-55 continues to surprise me. It's not very fast but that's hardly a defect. However, since the majority of my shots with it are outdoors, in fairly strong light and stopped down to f/8 or more, it's a fine walk around lens IMO. You can get some pretty good close focus shots with it also. My biggest problem issue with it is that it is very prone to flare so I have to be a little more thoughtful about that while using it. If I was buying a new camera/kit lens combo today, I would go with the 18-135 because of the greater range. Another favorite lens of mine is the kit lens of the film days, the F 35-70 Macro.
08-15-2013, 10:36 PM   #4
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I got one of my best pictures ever of my wife with the earlier 18-55 on a K100D (which she now has). That F35-70 is a lovely walk-around lens for film, but I find 35mm a bit long on digital.

08-15-2013, 10:45 PM   #5
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I for one really like my 18-55 WR lens. I took it, and my old 135 M on vacation and I found it adequate in most cases. On the "ferry 'cross the Mersey" it was blowing a gale and snowing hard, but I kept shooting.
08-15-2013, 11:08 PM   #6
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IMHO, this lens is a sort "super sub": There are some champions which are faster, sharper, have a better construction thus they are preferred. However, the kit lens is useful in some situations and when called from the bench it makes its job honestly. In my case, I don't own a wide angle and the 18-55 helped me in several situations. When I go out, I always take the super sub .
08-15-2013, 11:42 PM   #7
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So let me up the ante for this discussion.

For general and street photography, isn't our humble 18-55mm a much better lens than those used by icons like Eugene Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Edward Weston ... and, lest we forget, Weegee (Arthur Felig)?

08-16-2013, 02:01 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jon404 Quote
So let me up the ante for this discussion.

For general and street photography, isn't our humble 18-55mm a much better lens than those used by icons like Eugene Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Edward Weston ... and, lest we forget, Weegee (Arthur Felig)?


08-16-2013, 02:41 AM   #9
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Well, the Pentax kitlens is a special kind of kitlens in the sense that it is actually very usable. That does not go for the other brands though!
08-16-2013, 04:57 AM   #10
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The kit lens will get no complaints from me. I shot a wedding reception with it (my sister-in-law). It produced some fantastic shots! I was thoroughly impressed. I still want the Tamron 17-50. It will have to wait though because I just bought the DA*55 and thoroughly love it!
08-16-2013, 08:44 AM   #11
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My walk around kit for my K 5 is the Sigma 10-20 f4, the Pentax 18-55 WR kit lens, and the Pentax 50-200 WR. My Tokina 80 200 f2.8 is better than the Pentax 50 200, but it is sooooooo heavy....

The kit lens is just fine, used within its limits.
08-16-2013, 02:11 PM   #12
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Cheap, light, nice colors, good contrast, sharp across the frame at f8: great lens for travel/ daylight. I've used mine a lot.

Pics taken with the DA 18-55mm AL, the plastic mount version, @f8-9 and passed though DxO:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/233542-landscape-madrid-...te-around.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/225076-landscape-el-morro.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/219137-landscape-fortress-montju-c.html
08-16-2013, 02:47 PM   #13
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@geomez -- O ye of little faith! Because, having once been the owner of a Speed Graphic, its Kodak Ektar 127mm lens was -- truly -- NOWHERE near as good as our little !8-55mm kit zoom.

And, to be fair, it didn't have to be. Because when you have a 4 x 5" negative, who cares? I'm math-challenged, but it was probably 5 zillion times the area of our APS-C sensors. But that Ektar lens... lets just leave it with a quote from 1 Corinthians 13:12... 'Through a glass, darkly.'
08-16-2013, 05:10 PM   #14
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Within it's design range, I would be interested to see any pictures which show it's limitations due to being a kit lens. If the picture itself is good, this lens is going to do it justice.
08-16-2013, 06:02 PM   #15
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I have the 18-55 DA that came with my istDS or did it come with the K10? I still use it today with my new K30. What I find funny is that the DA came with a hood plus a metal mount where the DAL I got with the K30 is plastic and no hood. I did not shoot with the DAL just gave it to my son with the ist DS. He is having a lot of fun with it and image quality is good.

The FA 28-80 that came with the PZ-1 was a workhorses for me also.
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