Why the Kit Lens is One of the Most Important Bits of Gear in the Industry

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The kit lens gets a lot of hate. With their noses up in the air, photographers see it as the poor person’s lens, only fit for throwing in the bin. “No serious photographer would make photos with a cheap lens. Only primes and expensive zooms are worthy of the serious photographer.” In my opinion it’s unjustified – total nonsense and elitism. And in this piece, I’ll explain why the kit lens should be held in high regard and viewed as one of the most important bits of gear a photographer can own.

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Try Something New. Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 Review

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this; there’s something odd about the Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 lens. Designed for their full-frame L mount cameras, this lens is a wide to normal zoom. And I get the intent of that. You’re making the lens smaller, wider, and keeping the same aperture range. But it’s still odd. A zoom lens that went from 28-70mm would be far more useful. Admittedly, it’s a good lens. You can explore with it and shoot vast, wide scenes. You can even shoot portraits that are good enough at 60mm. But you’re never going to experience true telephoto. And that’s one of the reasons why you buy real cameras. All of the high-end phones these days have “telephoto” lenses, which are normal focal lengths. And you might be asking why I’m sitting here even bothering with this lens. Well, that’s because it’s a kit lens option.

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The Thrifty Photographer:How to Shoot Concert Photography on the Cheap

Getting into Concert Photography seriously doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg.

We all know that there is gear out there considered the be the best options for concert photography, but what about the gear that works? And what if you’re on a really slim budget? Well thankfully, no one is really making terrible cameras–and they haven’t been for years. So we’re going to take a look at some of the most thrifty options on the market.

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After The Kit: 5 Killer Lens Upgrades for Canon

Canon is still the top dog in this industry and no doubt many of you received a new camera over the recent holiday season, quite possibly a Canon camera. Today, just as we have done with Fujifilm previously, we will be taking a look at some of our picks as the top lens upgrades to grow your Canon kit following whatever kit lens you got with your camera (likely the 18-55mm).

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Six Tips For Using A Kit Lens In Low Light Photography

This is an exclusively syndicated blog post from Alex Zhu. It and the images here are being used with permission.

The kit lens. Usually known as the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. Practically everyone either uses one, or did at some point. It’s the lens a lot of us got our start with, and it’s kind of hard not to own one when they’re bundled with entry-level DSLRs practically for free. For me, the 18-105mm kit lens Nikon bundled with the D90 was where it all started. It wasn’t until late my first semester of college that I picked up a used and beaten-up (but still astonishingly potent, to me) Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 on eBay.

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Letters to the Editor: A Sony a7 Kit lens Upgrade

Letters to the Editor is a recurring series where Chris answers specific emails/letters that could benefit more than one photographer, interesting questions or questions that come in often. Have a question? Send it to chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com with subject: Letter to the Editor: (Your name here).

Happy Friday everyone,

Letters to the Editor is continuing its Friday publishing schedule today with a letter asking about a specific lens upgrade for the Sony a7. Many of you are Sony users, so I’m sure that this question at one point or another will help you out too.

Just a quick note: I try to answer every email I can, but a lot of times I just can’t. I already pull 80 hour weeks and if my time was spent doing that all the time, then there would be no time to develop content for the site in a streamlined way. At six years in as a business though, I’m positive that most of you understand that. Some folks though, don’t. I’m not special, you’re not special, we’re all human beings.

If you’ve got a question, be sure to send it this way to be featured in a Letters to the Editor piece.

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The Idea of the Kit Lens Needs to Change

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens review product images (2 of 2)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 4.0

Throughout much of the history of digital cameras, kit lenses have often been looked down on by more advanced photographers. While they’ve improved greatly over the years, they still haven’t done enough. For a person buying a brand new camera and that wants some extra flexibility, they’re usually satisfactory.

Well, in some ways.

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How to Make the Most of Your Camera’s Kit Lens

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm XM1 review images (2 of 6)ISO 2501-40 sec at f - 5.6

Though many photographers will turn their noses away from the kit lens, they’ve continued to improve over the years and manufacturers haven’t ignored them. Sure, the build quality isn’t the best but they can deliver sharp images with beautiful bokeh, and also create images that will otherwise astound you.

The only thing you that need to do is figure out how to use them, and with that comes understanding of your kit lens.

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Your Kit Lens is an Excellent Lens


As the saying goes, quality lenses are a lot more important than good bodies when it comes to investing in camera gear. They last longer, retain their value more, and have more utility overall than, say, buying the latest DSLR that will become obsolete in 3 to 5 years. But if you are into photography for the first time, you’ll likely buy an entry level camera that comes bundled with an inferior, even crappy, kit lens. Or is it? Do you really need quality gear to take good pictures? Spend thousands of dollars on red/golden rings lenses?

It is no surprise that people often hold camera manufacturer’s kit lens in low regard. They used to be plagued with issues like sharpness, aberrations, chromatic fringing not to mention a gimmicky build quality with slow, noisy autofocus. However, these times have long gone and the kit lens has long evolved ever since then. Nowadays, modern kit lenses have mostly addressed these numerous issues and have made them strong choices for the beginner (but also advanced) photographer.

Editor’s Note: This is a syndicated blog post from Wei Xi Luo, the owner of Photographio. It was used with permission.

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Canon Launches White EOS Rebel SL1 + 18-55mm Kit Lens on European Markets

Canon Rebel SL1 white edition

After the recent sensor debacle–as a reminder, two Canon cameras in a row scored poorly in DxOMark’s sensor tests–it appears that the brilliant marketing geniuses over at Canon World Headquarters decided that it was time for a new approach at winning new customers. Looking into the history books, they must’ve found a reference on Leica somewhere, more precisely on how Leica effectively re-launched one and the same camera over and over again for decades by making one special edition after the other.

Something like this must’ve happened for sure, as we have no other explanation for what Canon has just done: they launched a white edition EOS Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D + 18-55mm kit lens. Yes, both camera and lens are clad in exclusive Canon Polar White, which is just a little bit whiter than the white Nikon uses in their 1-series cameras. We’re joking of course. About the white, that is. Not about the white camera. That one’s real. And the lens.

If we’ve got you all excited now, better calm down and put that credit card back where it belongs: it appears the super special white Rebel SL1 will only be available on European markets. That’s too bad, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t fancy a white Rebel! Owning one of these would surely make you stand out from the crowd of DSLR users. That is, until some Japanese bloke comes along with his multi-colored Pentax

Via Canon Watch

Moving Beyond Your Kit Lens

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 70D First Impressions product photos (8 of 8)ISO 2001-50 sec at f - 5.6

You’ve bought your first camera  and now you have some good shooting time beneath your belt. You’re waiting to move beyond that kit lens and there is some money burning your pocket, begging to be spent on new glass.

When I’m asked for advice on what a photographer’s next lens should be, my response is usually, “What do you like to shoot?” The answer to this is the best way to determine what the next lens should be. With that in mind, here are my recommendations for the lenses which should follow your kit lens.

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Canon Files Patents for 17-55mm and 70-400mm IS Lenses


In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen a whole bunch of Canon lens patents surface, many of which showed updates of older lens designs with image stabilization added. Now two more have been unearthed by Egami, and Canon Rumors reported on them. One is for a variable aperture 17-55mm IS lens (not the f2.8 constant zoom), presumably another kit lens option to either replace or accompany the regular 18-55mm kit lens. The other is for a 70-400mm telephoto zoom lens, which Canon Rumors suggests may replace the current 100-400mm.

According to the patent description over at Egami, the 17-55mm kit lens option is pretty similar to its 18-55mm counterpart in both optical design and performance. One reason for making the wide-angle end a bit wider might be that Canon’s APS-C sensors use a 1.6x crop vs. the more common 1.5x crop, so 18mm really translates to a 29mm-equivalent, whereas 17mm on a Canon APS-C sensor would be closer to the 27mm-equivalent that 18mm is on a 1.5x crop sensor.

As for the 70-400mm, this patent might just show the successor of the current 100-400mm lens, which was previously rumored to be on display at this year’s winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. However, Egami notes that the 70-400mm patent mentions a significantly higher number of lens elements compared to the current 100-400mm, which would make the lens much larger and heavier. Considering the size and weight of the current lens, it is unlikely that Canon will replace it with an even larger and heavier version.

Olympus Introduces the OM-D E-M10 Camera and Three New Lenses

NC_F10_SLV_right_M1442EZ_SLV_wideToday, Olympus announces the latest model in its OM-D line of Micro Four Thirds cameras, the E-M10. Together with the camera, a new 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens is announced, sporting a pancake-like profile as slim as that of the 17mm f2.8 lens. The second new Micro Four Thirds lens introduced today is the 25mm f1.8, which sports an angle-of-view comparable to that of a classic normal 50mm lens. The third new lens is a 9mm fisheye body-cap lens. All the details on the new OM-D camera and M.Zuiko lenses after the break.

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Review: Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS (Fujifilm X)

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm 18-55 image 01

We sang this lens’s praises before when we first got the X-E2 in for review because it was unlike any kit lens we’d worked with to date. With a fairly generous variable aperture and an aperture ring, this 18-55mm is a refreshing take on a form that has resided in the doldrums of f3.5-5.6. The lens offers full control in its three rings and two sliders, and it can produce some beautiful images to boot.

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New Firmware for the Canon 5D Mk III and There’s a new Kit Lens as Well

Canon EOS 5DmkIII

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III Firmware Version 1.2.3 has been released with the following improvements:

  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the flash may not fire depending on the timing of when the shutter button is pressed.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the AF microadjustment value may change.*
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the LCD monitor may show a line of false color along boundaries of high contrast.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the histogram of a LiveView image is incorrectly displayed when an HDMI cable is connected.
  • Enables the brightness of the camera’s LCD monitor to be adjusted even when an HDMI cable is connected.
  • * The phenomenon listed in 2 was addressed with Firmware Version 1.2.1, and has been further improved with Firmware Version 1.2.3.

Firmware Version 1.2.3 is for cameras with firmware up to Version 1.2.1. Download: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Firmware Version 1.2.3

There is also new kit lens for the Canon 5D III is the Canon Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L. The kit should available soon at B&H. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR Camera Kit with Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L is marked as a new item.

Via Planet5D

Panasonic’s Rumored GM1 Camera Is Supposed to Be the Smallest M43 Camera Ever

Panasonic Micro Four Thirds Products

Big things can some in small packages; or in this case itty bitty ones. A report on 43Rumors states that Panasonic will soon be releasing the GM1–which is supposed to be the smallest Micro Four Thirds Camera ever. But even more interesting is the also rumored 12-32mm pancake zoom lens that is said to come with it. Apparently, it will yield some of the best image quality that a kit lens can possibly offer.

While the rumor surely seems noteworthy, it’s a very tall claim to state that the lens will be one of the best kits made. Additionally, smaller isn’t always better when it comes to interchangeable lens cameras.

Even more interesting is the fact that Sony always seems to develop even smaller cameras than the Micro Four Thirds group can and they have a larger sensor.

Creating the Photograph: Chris Martin’s Shoot for, “Grenade Face”


Creating the Photograph is a series that we try to do weekly where we feature photos that took quite a bit of work and a creative eye to mold. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Chris Martin is a wedding, commercial and creative portraiture photographer hailing from Florida. Upon browsing his portfolio around a year ago, I immediately thought that it was quite killer and very inspirational. Then, Chris released film presets for Lightroom and Photoshop and recently updated them for Lightroom 5.

But besides Chris’s knowledge of lighting, one of the tools that makes him so noteworthy of a photographer is his creative vision and his concepts. The photo above was shot for the band, “Grenade Face.” Even crazier is that it was done with a kit lens.

And there’s quite the story behind it.

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Panasonic Announces an Updated 14-42mm Kit Lens for Micro Four Thirds


Panasonic just announced a new version of their 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens for Micro Four Thirds. The new ‘Lumix G Vario 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Mega OIS’ features the same outward appearance as Panasonic’s latest X series zooms, and is designated as a HD lens, meaning it has virtually silent AF optimized for video. The company also made some minor changes in the optical formula, adding two aspherical elements to make the lens smaller than its predecessor. The new 14-42mm lens will come as a kit option with both the DMC-GF5 and the DMC-G5 Micro Four Thirds camera. Continue reading…

Review: Nikon D5100

Not long ago, I gave in and purchased a Nikon D5100 for the reasons of wanting to expand coverage on this site a bit more. Why this over the D7000? Cost, for one (it’s refurbished); and similar results in terms of image quality were both very appealing to me. Additionally, I don’t own an entry level DSLR at all though I’ve used many of them. So this is also my experience with trying to upgrade and move up along the line with a new camera system.

Since purchasing the camera, I haven’t regretted it. But it hasn’t been such a joy either.

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