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12-16-2008, 01:01 PM   #1
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Sweet spot/s on the kit lens?

So, haha! My K20d and new kit lens have arrived... Time to buckle down to manuals and the like... Since my 50 won't be arriving for oh, maybe a week, I'm going to be getting to know this kit lens.

I'm just wondering, do they commonly need to be dialed in for focus in any way, and what's the best apertures and zoom settings for them. (I haven't looked over any of my little snaps walking around the yard yet, on computer, , but I'm not sure sharpness is all that impressive just in general, looking on the rear screen. Don't know what to expect, really. AF seems good in the finder, though. )

12-16-2008, 01:12 PM   #2
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Congrats! I think the kit lens does great all around at f/8, although I concur with those who complain about softness at the 55mm end when focusing relatively closely. I'm sure, as most reviews point out, it does vignette a bit (darkened corners) at the wide end too, but I can't say that I really notice this in practice enough to bother me.

Wide open, I think you'll find performance rather disappointing, although I think it's probably better at maximum aperture at the wide end than the long end. And luckily, it's at the wide end where I'm most inclined to want to use it wide open, as I have much better alternatives for large aperture shooting at 28mm, 40mm, and 50mm, but have nothing else at all at the wide end.
12-16-2008, 01:42 PM   #3
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35mm at f/8 is what most seem to like the kit lens set to...
12-16-2008, 01:57 PM   #4
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Here's the kit lens (version 1) at 55mm/f11 on the k20d. I think the iq is pretty good for such a lens. Just stop it down to around f8 and it'll be fine.

Flickr Photo Download: I can see you

12-16-2008, 06:34 PM   #5
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Ratmagic,
I use this lens (1st version) as allround-lens of course and especially as an APS-C wide angle, trying to stay above 21mm and f/7.1. (see photozone as a reference). The photozone test confirms many peoples' opinion that this is a real good lens if you use it in the right envelope. I think the AF on my K100D has it always right with the 18-55 mounted, but that is the original kit anyway.

Click on pics to view larger (all manual focus and AV-mode)


SMC Pentax-DA 1:3.5-5.6 18-55mm AL on K100D, 21mm f/8 30sec.



21mm f/13 1/90 ISO200 + polarizer on K100D (hazy midday conditions)



21mm f/9.5 1/90 ISO200 on K100D
(more of this here, click on 'mehr Info' on upper right to see FL and aperture)


Trust this lens :-)
Georg (the other)

Last edited by georgweb; 12-16-2008 at 06:52 PM.
12-16-2008, 06:50 PM   #6
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OK! It's hard to be disappointed when expectations aren't huge, anyway. Much of the softness I was seeing seems to be that the out-of-the-box setting for in-camera sharpness seems very low. I just kind of randomly cranked the sharpness settings for now: due to limited computer power and other concerns, I'll probably work out a good compromise for my Jpegs and let RAW be the thing for doing a lot of post with.

I'd forgotten, too, but there's this handy MTF program line that 'knows' at least some of this stuff about the elecronic lenses, so I've been looking over that's shoulder as I play around.

Still not entirely sure I'm getting just the right AF on here though, seems to want to be a bit closer, but that's somethign to be checked more carefully.

Aha. Some nice photos, btw. Kid by the bus is a real nice one.

All in all, I wouldn't say 'disappointing,' anyway, I didn't exactly come in with any particular expectations.
12-16-2008, 07:05 PM   #7
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Updated my post with more linked pics from the kid with the bus day. Reviewing those, you might be right, some have good depth (the 55mm one).

The wide angle shots look like nice shots from a decent point and shoot camera. These have come a long way and you have a similar depth of field as here, cause you have to stop down to f/8 or more on the 18-55 to get the softness away.

I can live with that,
Georg (reluctant to buy the big bucks APS-C wide angle :-)
12-17-2008, 09:38 AM   #8
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I have a series somewhere of a fireworks display .. all using bulb mode .. and f/8.
I used 18mm to get as much in a possible ... and the images were damn sharp ... I was actually impressed when I used it for fireworks.

The kit lens can produces some really nice images when you are careful taking shots. It has taken average shots as well ... but that's probably more me than anything else.

This was taken pretty much wide open at 55mm end (55mm ... f/5.6 ... ISO400 ... 1/60sec ... handheld .. no flash) ... on a K10D



12-17-2008, 11:40 AM   #9
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I have gotten best results at f8, from about 20mm all the way to 55mm. 18-20mm is decent, but not as good at the edges as the rest of the range, and there is some light-falloff too. I have shot portraits at 55mm wide open, and was suprised at how good they came out, with not-too-shabby bokeh too. A very underated lens IMO, probably because of the cost and slow max aperture.
12-17-2008, 03:25 PM   #10
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I was going to make a thread on kit lens myself, I'm glad that the general consensus is that it IS in fact, quite a good lens (especially for the price!)
12-17-2008, 03:59 PM   #11
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One other thing I should mention - despite the fact that it might be at it's best at f/8 at almost any aperture, and like any zoom is better toward the middle of the zoom range than toward the ends, it is still perfectly usable at the extremes if you don't have any better alternatives, or don't feel like dragging them all along. And while it's not particularly hard to beat the kit lens at 55mm (and it's slow f/5.6 max) with even the cheapest old used prime, or with the DA50-200 or practically any other consumer zoom, that's not something you can say about the 18mm end.

In fact, in another thread I only half-jokingly referred to this as my DA18/3.5. It might not be *great* at 18mm and f/3.5, but I don't have anything else at that focal length, and it's almost as *fast* as any other lens (including primes) one might be able to find at that focal length. Often I'll take the kit lens with me specifically because it's perfectly fine way to get a wide angle lens that is reasonably fast, while still using my primes as 28, 40, and/or 50.
12-18-2008, 05:45 AM   #12
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Hee, well, it's handy. Definitely is nice among kit lenses, for not feeling like junk in your hand, if nothing else.

I've been doing a little playing around, ... and I'm a lot happier with it with a little sharpening in camera (and usually a bit more in computer... still working on my post-processing skills here.

Nice little surprise is how close in the macro gets: I'm rather used to zooms having a token effort at best and calling it 'macro,' this gets in pretty usefully-close. (Could be I'm just behind the times, here)


Anyway, Marc, I did some playing around the middle range, today, it does seem pretty nice: I think tomorrow I'll see what I can really get out of the wide end. I've got similar thoughts about holding out with the kit lens for the wide angle, for a while: if I can get away without stuff down in the 18-20 range, I think I'd rather work with something like a 28-75 when I go for a 2.8 zoom. First thing I did was get a 50 1.4 for what I like to do best, so if the kit is a bit soft at 55, it's pretty OK.

All in all, seems prety good for a kit lens.
12-18-2008, 06:06 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
It might not be *great* at 18mm and f/3.5, but I don't have anything else at that focal length, and it's almost as *fast* as any other lens (including primes) one might be able to find at that focal length. Often I'll take the kit lens with me specifically because it's perfectly fine way to get a wide angle lens that is reasonably fast, while still using my primes as 28, 40, and/or 50.
I have nothing else in that focal lenght either. I have several lenses from 28mm or longer, but only the kit from 18 to 27mm. I guess the only option for getting a cheap wide would be the zenitar-k 16/2.8
12-18-2008, 07:05 AM   #14
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I think my ideal kit might end up being something involving like a DA limited, what is it, a 21? Those are pretty small, which is what I usually do with my Canon film work: carry the smallest 28 I can get and really focus my efforts elsewhere. (I rarely use my zoom for those these days at all, as it turns out.) Of course, for the same reason, I'll tend to want to put my 'expensive primes' budget in other places, first. Like a few of those lovely FA's.

In the meantime, not sure what I'll do, really. Keep the really wide work to film, I suppose. Playing with this kit lens ought to help me decide if I'd rather replace it with something faster in a similar range or go that little bit longer. There's a few factors involved, there.
12-18-2008, 10:19 AM   #15
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I havent done any systematic testing or anything.. But I was looking through my library to see which kit lens photos I like best, and it fits exactly with whats been said. Stopped up to f/8 (a lot of good photos at f/16 too) seems best. I noticed photos at 18mm seem to render better than those at 55mm despite the distortion.

Its a great lens, especially considering how light it is. I've since sold mine but in many ways wished I'd kept it - great camping lens.

Examples of some photos taken at 18mm (click for larger sizes)...





Last edited by avian; 12-18-2008 at 10:26 AM.
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