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01-18-2011, 10:26 PM   #1
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How to get the most out of my kit lens

Like many of you I have and use regularly the DA L 18-55mm kit lens that comes with most pentax cameras these days. I also have a SMC M 50mm 1.7 and 50-200mm DA L zoom.

With the 50mm and the zoom I am regularly able to get pretty nice pictures, but with the 18-55mm I have rarely been able to get decent pictures. Now I am pretty sure that in the right hands the kit lens will develop some solid photos, but I am a DSLR noob.

I am curious where the sweet spot of this camera is? Is there a f-stop or focal length that will allow me to get the most of this camera? Are there any tricks that really make the pictures with it pop?

I mostly shoot on a tripod and with an IR remote just in case any one was going to recommend that.

I have been devouring books on photography for the last few weeks, and I really want to make my 18-55mm work for me. How do I get the most out of this lens?

01-18-2011, 10:40 PM   #2
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Starting off with, your kit lenses should suffice for all your general photographic needs.
You've done some reading, you may need to do some more, so check out these articles:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photography-articles/39743-understanding-...-kit-lens.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photography-articles/23232-learning-basic...echniques.html

and try to avoid apertures larger than f/5.6 at 18mm and f/8 at 55mm for optimal results, and see how you go.
01-19-2011, 12:52 AM   #3
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I use kit lens as constant f8 lens on Av mode. For indoors snapshots I prefer to rise ISO and use external flash. Post-processing also helps .

A.
01-19-2011, 02:46 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Metalwizards Quote
How to get the most out of my kit lens
Like many of you I have and use regularly the DA L 18-55mm kit lens that comes with most pentax cameras these days. I also have a SMC M 50mm 1.7 and 50-200mm DA L zoom.

With the 50mm and the zoom I am regularly able to get pretty nice pictures, but with the 18-55mm I have rarely been able to get decent pictures. Now I am pretty sure that in the right hands the kit lens will develop some solid photos, but I am a DSLR noob.

I am curious where the sweet spot of this camera is? Is there a f-stop or focal length that will allow me to get the most of this camera? Are there any tricks that really make the pictures with it pop?
Can you post a few photos at say 18,35 and 55mm, f8, ISO100?
I get good results with my 50 f2 and DAL 50-200mm, but the 18-55mm is also a problem for me.
I don't carry it in my bag anymore, but every once in a while I dust it off and try a few more shots, thinking that maybe I missed something the first time around, but till now I can not get any nice sharp photo's with it.

01-19-2011, 03:17 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by altopiet Quote
Can you post a few photos at say 18,35 and 55mm, f8, ISO100?
I get good results with my 50 f2 and DAL 50-200mm, but the 18-55mm is also a problem for me.
I don't carry it in my bag anymore, but every once in a while I dust it off and try a few more shots, thinking that maybe I missed something the first time around, but till now I can not get any nice sharp photo's with it.

There is nice thread "kit lens club!" with many good examples.

A.
01-19-2011, 03:17 AM   #6
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I always used my kit lens at F8 too, and it's not bad sometimes. There's something about it though, the pictures seem kind of 'murky'. I got lot more keepers from my other glass. Overall I found myself avoiding it, so I stopped carrying it.

This is OK, this seems a bit sharper, this worked out but might have been better if I'd had a 50 prime then.
01-19-2011, 03:30 AM   #7
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The kit lens is a good introductory starter, but it's not going to offer the quality of a more expensive offering.

There's an interesting review on a famous site which we can't link to anymore of the kit lens. It posts various shots at different apertures and focal lengths. I'll dig out the results and post them here so you can see (in theory) the sharpest apertures at each focal length.
01-19-2011, 03:49 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by arv Quote
There is nice thread "kit lens club!" with many good examples.

A.
I don't doubt it, as I say my DAL 50-200mm kit lens is a good copy, but I've also heard of others who got it the other way around, good 18-55 and bad 50-200. Would have been nice to get 2 good copies!lol

01-19-2011, 03:53 AM   #9
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I don't really understand why you'd want to limit it to f8 only. Sure that might be the 'optimal' aperture in terms of image quality (can't say I've looked that closely!) but a good image isn't just about edges you could cut yourself on - it's about light, framing, timing, subject and so much more. Why limit your creative options be effectively robbing yourself of an aperture control?

I remember with my old Olympus Trip (not an original one, one of the later plastic fantastic 35mm compacts they slapped the name on) I was delighted when I discovered through messing about with it with no film in that changing from 'flash, subject is near' mode to 'flash, subject is far away' mode opened the aperture. I used to put in in 'flash, subject if far away' mode and cover the flash just to get the larger aperture.

Using the aperture control appropriately is, IMHO, going to get you better results than just sticking to a specific aperture and using the other two controls to get the exposure right.

I find the kit lens perfectly acceptable, whilst accepting that there is a very good reason it doesn't have a *. One day I'd like a better lens, but in the meantime the money I haven't spent on the lens buys me lots of days out taking pictures. If you're new to this you'll improve your results much more by just taking pictures and reviewing them (including the EXIF so you know what you did) than you will by buying a new lens. In fact that's probably true even if you're not new to it - when you stop learning it stops being fun I find. With photography as with life, I intend to stop learning when I'm dead :-)
01-19-2011, 04:12 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Northern Soul Quote
I don't really understand why you'd want to limit it to f8 only. Sure that might be the 'optimal' aperture in terms of image quality (can't say I've looked that closely!) but a good image isn't just about edges you could cut yourself on - it's about light, framing, timing, subject and so much more. Why limit your creative options be effectively robbing yourself of an aperture control?
Personally, because when I opened my kit lens wider than that the pictures were never ones I wanted to keep. It's a good beginner lens but there's no magic.
01-19-2011, 04:24 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by timh Quote
Personally, because when I opened my kit lens wider than that the pictures were never ones I wanted to keep. It's a good beginner lens but there's no magic.
Fair enough - there is no 'magic' with any lens though, and the f8 advice seemed a bit arbitrary. It makes me think of a conversation a bit like this:

Photographer 1 "Here's a picture I took"
Photographer 2 "Ah that's nice - what settings?"
P1 "ISO 200, F8, 1/125th on the kit lens, pretty nice eh?"
P2 "Yeah, it's a lovely picture - I wish I'd taken it!"
P1 "I took this 2 seconds later"
P2 "Ahhhhhhh my eyes! Wow! That hurts to look at. Put it away!"
P1 "Sorry, that was ISO 100, F5.6. 1/125th"
P2 "Don't ever show that picture to anyone again! I'm going to have to scrub my eyeballs in bleach now"

01-19-2011, 04:34 AM   #12
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Sure, that'd be silly - but I'm assuming Metalwizards already shoots at a range of apertures, and finds that he's not getting the images he wants. There are really only 2 things one can do differently - change shutter speed and change aperture - and a long exposure usually isn't practical unless one's doing landscapes with a tripod.
01-19-2011, 05:27 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by timh Quote
Sure, that'd be silly - but I'm assuming Metalwizards already shoots at a range of apertures, and finds that he's not getting the images he wants. There are really only 2 things one can do differently - change shutter speed and change aperture - and a long exposure usually isn't practical unless one's doing landscapes with a tripod.
Changing the shutter speed and aperture were all you could do with film to change the exposure, but now you can change ISO on a per shot basis too. A good picture isn't just about the shutter speed and aperture though - you might need to change and or all of the lighting, the composition, the subject and so on.

A more expensive lens isn't going to make a wholesale change. It might help make a picture marginally better - making a brilliant image in to a stunning image - but it won't transform a pigs ear into a silk purse any more than using the kit lens at f5.6 will turn a silk purse into a sows ear.

If I am in any way indicative of most people, giving your lens a proper clean would give more image quality improvement than an upgrade (not suggesting that is the OPs problem)

@Metalwizards - can you be any more specific as to what you feel is lacking in your pictures with the kit lens compared to with your other lenses?
01-19-2011, 05:32 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Northern Soul Quote
I don't really understand why you'd want to limit it to f8 only. Sure that might be the 'optimal' aperture in terms of image quality (can't say I've looked that closely!) but a good image isn't just about edges you could cut yourself on - it's about light, framing, timing, subject and so much more. Why limit your creative options be effectively robbing yourself of an aperture control?
Nothing sinister about it. I took photos with the 18-55 at said f stop and ISO, and want to see some shots to compare them with. I've taken other photo's at other settings and quite a few with my 3 manual lenses, and do have a little bit of an idea how it works, although I am definitely no expert. I am always busy learning new things, that is why I want to compare my experience with those of others
01-19-2011, 05:56 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Seaside Quote
The kit lens is a good introductory starter, but it's not going to offer the quality of a more expensive offering.

There's an interesting review on a famous site which we can't link to anymore of the kit lens. It posts various shots at different apertures and focal lengths. I'll dig out the results and post them here so you can see (in theory) the sharpest apertures at each focal length.
One well-know site had this to say:

Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent build quality for a kit lens
  • Proper manual focus ring, non-rotating front element, quick-shift manual focus
  • High quality petal-type lens hood included in box (they reviewed the DA version)
  • Generally consistent image quality
Conclusion - Cons

  • Falloff and distortion at 18mm wideangle
  • 'Soft focus' effect at 55mm F5.6 coupled with closer focus distances
BTW the 'sweet spot' is lens specific, nothing to do with the camera. And the site I've quote above suggests f8 is as good as it gets with this particular lens.
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