4 Tips to Help You Love Your Camera’s Kit Lens

September 15, 2011

in Camera Tips, Photography Creative Team, Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

4 Tips for Using Your Kit Lens in Photography - via iHeartFaces.com

Most Canon or Nikon DSLR cameras come with a lens that is called the “kit lens.”  Enjoy these tips  that will help you fall in love with using it to it’s fullest potential!

How many of you feel like you want to hide your kit lens away and never use it? Have you heard that they are just not very good lenses and you shouldn’t even bother with them? Well, I sure did at one point. I had just bought my Canon Rebel XSi and was so excited! I was so darn new at the whole photography thing so I went searching the internet for as much information as I could find. And that was a huge chunk of the advice I came across. Burst my happy little oblivious bubble!

So I felt the need to buy a new lens and I did, the 50mm. Yes, I caved to peer pressure! But looking back, I shouldn’t have taken that advice so seriously. And you shouldn’t either! I am here to tell you that you can absolutely, positively get fantastic images from your kit lenses!

I do a lot of non-people photography and I find that some of my very favorite photos have been done with my kit lens: the Canon 18-55mm IS f/3.5-5.6 lens. I’ve used this lens a lot since I started in photography and I’ve discovered some techniques along the way that made me fall in love with it!

1.  Get Close!

One of the neat things about your kit lens is that it allows you to get pretty close to your subjects. The focusing distance is just a tad shorter than my other lenses and I love it! Being able to get closer to your subject allows you to throw more of the background out of focus, creating that yummy bokeh. It’s a fun little illusion.

I shot both of these flower photos zoomed in to 55mm, with an f/5.6 aperture. And you can see that I still was able to create really beautiful blurry backgrounds.

2.  Go Wide!

With both the zoom and the aperture! Something about using this combination just creates magic! Zoom all the way out to 18mm and set your aperture the widest it will go. On mine it is f/3.5. When you are shooting indoors or where there are light sources, these settings make the light glow without having the starburst effect. I really like doing this to my indoor shots!

3.  Get Wide and Narrow!

Landscape photography just begs for wide angles and narrow apertures! And it will usually sit still long enough for you to use a longer shutter speed, as you will need to have when you use a narrow aperture. I use my kit lens a lot when I do landscapes. It does a great job, and if you’re wanting the starburst effect, this lens is perfect for it! Simply add the sunshine, or some other light source, into your composition and voila!

4.  Take Advantage of that Zoom!

This little lens has some great focal lengths in it. When you’re out and about and need to get closer or farther away, you won’t need to change your lenses. In these examples, I was able to get the wide shot of the whole room at 18mm. Then I moved to one of the cells and zoomed in a little to 28mm to capture that shot. Quick and easy and they turned out great!

If you have a kit lens, don’t be afraid to pull it out and use it! Let it charm you and sweep you off your feet! Fall in love with it! You may just capture some of your favorite images with it, as I have!

Michelle Johnson is a professional photographer and stay-at-home mom to two sweet little strong-willed girls who keep her on her toes! She is the co-founder of  Love that Shot Blog.  You can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest!

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

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Michael B. March 14, 2013

Thanks. These are great tips. I wanted some speed so I got a “Nifty Fifty.” It’s really about 70mm and fights me every F-stop of the way. I use my kit lens about 80% of the time now and 20% it’s a variety of other lenses (the 50mm included). I like to work close and if the lighting isn’t right or I can’t use a strobe — I’m not afraid of using a high ISO. The combination of noise reduction features in my camera along with my editing software usually allows me to create very good pix. Don’t let the high and mighty give you a hard time about using your 18mm-55mm (3.5-5.6) kit lens — you’ll get your shot while they’re trying to figure out why they can’t get nice sharp images.


Avezou December 16, 2012

Very interesting!


texasphotochick December 12, 2012

The kit lens gets dogged on so much. I love seeing an article encouraging people to use it. They’re usually really great entry level lenses that are capable of producing wonderful images.


Aprille March 19, 2012

Thanks so much for posting this! I love to take photos and bought a canon rebel with the 18-55 mm lens and a lot of times I feel like my camera isn’t “good enough” because all of my friends have more high-tech stuff. I LOVE the outdoor pictures I take though! I can’t take decent photos in my house without flash but thanks for posting this because it reminded me that I CAN take great photos even with a barebones camera!!!


May December 27, 2011

It all depends on your subject while shooting and how close or far away from it you can be! Great tips though!


Chelsea December 19, 2011

I looove my kit lens. Rarely do I use one of my other lenses. Like your post has shown they are incredibly versatile.


Bernice Santiago December 10, 2011

thanks for the info. They’re making me all excited to start shooting with my kit lens again. Turns out, I liked the kit lens better!


Joe Sterne October 19, 2011

Tips to Help You Love Your Camera’s Kit Lens http://t.co/qIl9O2se


David October 19, 2011

I got a 50 mm with my AE1 years ago. It was the kit lens. I always felt a bit restricted by it here and there. My XSi came with 2 kit lenses, the one you have which I love and a longer zoom w/o IS which, well, not so much. I bought a slightly shorter zoom with IS and am happy with it too. I still need to do a head to head on the 2 zooms on a tripod to decide whether I need both or the one could be sold and the proceeds put towards a 35mm f1.4???


Celestine October 6, 2011

All of this are really great photos..I’m glad for a little while I can be happy with what I’ve got..Thanks for sharing this..


Dianne - Bunny Trails September 16, 2011

I still pull my kit lens out often (have the same one as you). I love that it’s such a lightweight lens, too. I’ve definitely gotten some terrific shots with it. I don’t think it should be knocked as often as it is, because it’s really not a bad lens.


Caroline (frogmum) September 16, 2011

I bought my Nikon D5000 back in March (2011) with a twin lens kit. I actually LOVE both lenses (although changing all the time is a little pain). I like the 55-200 for zooming and shooting close-ups of people unawares, but my 18-55 is great for those macros. I also bought a little macro/wide-angle adapter just to make life even more fun and I am more than happy for now with what I have. One day I would LOVE to have the Tamron that iheartfaces are giving away right now (sadly not to us non-US folks), and maybe a prime, but not as an instead. I’m sure I’d still use my kits from time to time (although the Tamron would be my workhorse I think).


nancy September 16, 2011

It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike additional blogs I have read which are really not that good. I also found your posts very interesting. In fact after reading, I had to go show it to my friend and he enjoyed it as well!


Puna September 16, 2011

Michelle this is a great essay! I’ve always loved my kit lens, and it’s not because it’s all I have. Thanks again!


Sally Thompson September 16, 2011

This is amazing.. Your ideas me me smile.. I love to experiment new things with my cam.. Great post! I really appreciate your tips!


gustosa giveaways September 15, 2011

thanks for the info. I learned a lot.
I still don’t know when to use the M, A, P settings.
Can you please tell me did you use M, A or all of the photo above done auto?


Kirstin September 15, 2011

Thank you for this post. I started reading that too (that kit lenses were terrible) and began to get discouraged, and yet I really liked the pictures I was taking. I’m not a professional photographer, I can’t afford those amazing lenses that are always recommended (my dream is to own a fast zoom for shooting soccer games). Why would Canon and Nikon sell a camera with a horrible lens? They wouldn’t. Are they professional level? No, but they’ll take beautiful pictures for the average or amateur user and 9 times out of 10 I bet the only people that can tell what type of lens was used maybe was a professional photographer…only sometimes can I tell.

So thank you for being so encouraging. I use a Nikon D7000 and really like the kit lens.


Sara September 15, 2011

Great post, I have exactly the same lens, 18-55mm and I put it away convinced I didn’t like it after I got my 50mm 1.8, then earlier this week I was doing some still life photography and got so frustrated I couldn’t focus any closer with my 50, got out my 18-55 and was amazed how close I could get in, loved the shots I got.


Mama Monkey September 15, 2011

My canon t2i came with the 18-135mm lens and I LOVE it! I use it every day! I also have the nifty 50 ($100 version) and am not a huge fan of it. I bought it to shoot wider apertures indoors since we don’t have great natural light in our house and didn’t want to use flash. I didn’t realize how far away you need to shoot the nifty 50 with—way too far away for our little house. I’m saving for the 17-55/2.8 lens 🙂


Life with Kaishon September 15, 2011

I used mine happily for a year and a half until someone told me it was bad : )
I will always be glad I learned with that lens. LOVED it! Great post Michelle!


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga September 15, 2011

Like you, I heard the kit lens was bad (my first dslr was a Rebel T2i and the kit lens was the 18-55mm) and so I bought the nifty fifty lens, 50 mm 1.8 right away. Turns out, I liked the kit lens better!

Ive since upgraded both camera bodies and lenses but this is a great set of tips!


jonathanfun September 15, 2011

4 Tips to Help You Love Your Camera’s Kit Lens :: #photography http://t.co/2GEbOE2M


Hanan September 15, 2011

4 Tips to Help You Love Your Camera's Kit Lens: http://t.co/aSntR29s


Veronica September 15, 2011

really great blog post on @iHeartFaces about kit lens http://t.co/1SLmzBDn – excellent tips. #photography


Borja De Diego September 15, 2011

4 Tips to Help You Love Your Camera's Kit Lens: http://t.co/cRhPmMZT


Katie C September 15, 2011

@jlobug I saw this and thought of you! http://t.co/6CBmJmtX


ili_fm September 15, 2011

Fall in Love with Your Kit Lens!: Written by: Michelle Johnson of Love that Shot Yes, I’m… http://t.co/XVe4Hl2c


Danie C. September 15, 2011

Thank you for an article that encourages people to embrace rather than shun the kit lens. So many people bash it when they’re normally really solid lenses if you take the time to learn to use them well.


Gina September 15, 2011

I love this post. I love my kit lens. I do have a 50mm & a super zoom as well- but I find myself always reaching for the kit for most things. Someday I may upgrade to one with a lower aperture range- but for now this one is rockin’ it for me- it does help that I take a lot of landscape shots- but it does a great job with just about everything I work it on. 🙂


Jess September 15, 2011

This post makes me want to go out shooting with my kit lens. Thanks!


Wendy September 15, 2011

These photos are great!
I’m selling my kit lens if anyone is interested…


Christy September 15, 2011

When I bought my first dslr, I purchaced just the body and the 50mm f/1.8. Loved and still love! However, I needed wide angle lens and since I could drop lots of mula on a super nice wide angle lens I bought the 18-55mm. I always shot it at 18mm and I have quite a few favorites from this lens, images I wouldn’t have been able to get with my 50:) http://www.flickr.com/photos/48928557@N06/5929622293/in/photostream/



Thanks for all the tips! This was a great read:)


Snekcip September 15, 2011

Okay this post had my name all over it!! I purchased a Canon Xti earlier in the year and was so elated!! While I have had some nice shots, I felt compelled and YES pressured to get the awesome 50mm lens! I have been scouring Ebay for a good deal with no luck! My nephew has one that he SWEARS by and his pictures are always so crisp! Mine….no so much! Photography is such an intimidating business to me. You always want to be “a cut above the rest”, but I like Becky B M and Gayle V said!! I’m gonna get to know the “kit lens better” and “be the artist” behind the camera!! Great Article!! Loved it!!


Rich G September 15, 2011

Just got back from SE Utah where I used my kit lens exclusively for landscape shots at Monument Valley, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Great results.


Tracy P. September 15, 2011

Fabulous post, Michelle! I couldn’t agree more!


grace September 15, 2011

I love this! I always hide my kit lens away because everybody says it doesn’t take as good pictures as the 50mm or the 18-135 or whatever.


Becky September 15, 2011

Thanks for this! I too have started out with a Rebel and have the “kit lens”. As soon as I purchased it, my brother informed me that I would need to get a 50mm because the kit lens isn’t any good. I haven’t had the money to purchase any lenses as of yet, so I have been working with what I have. I really like what I get out of it so I just didn’t get why there is such a bad opinion of this lens. Anyhoo, thanks for sharing this, beautiful images!


Jenn September 15, 2011

Love this post! I get so tired of hearing about “having to have” the latest and the greatest.


Becky B M September 15, 2011

I must be the weirdo who was just so content to have a DSLR that I didn’t even think of using anything other than the kit lens. 😉 Well that and the fact that I didn’t have the $$$ on a grad student budget to get one.

I think what most people need to see is that it’s not the lens that makes the photo but the artist behind it. Even prior to having the DSLR, a photographer friend of mine showed me that playing with the manual settings on my point and shoot Canon S200 could give me amazing photos. Right settings and framing = perfect work of art. =)


GayleV September 15, 2011

Nice post today! Great “hard evidence” that you can get nice images from ANY camera and lens! I usually tell those who ask about the “best” lens to purchase to get to know the one they have REALLY well first!


Jenn September 15, 2011

I just got my first DSLR before our family vacation and I was worried I would be able to do as much as I wanted with my kit lens but I had so much fun! I managed to get some awesome shots of my kids and nature. I’m glad for a little while I can be happy with what I’ve got 🙂


Katie September 15, 2011

These are absolutely stunning photos. They’re making me all excited to start shooting with my kit lens again. 🙂


Lindsay September 15, 2011

This is a timely post for me–I just started learning how to use my new DSLR and am considering shopping for a 50mm prime. I’ll give this one a little more attention!


Ellie A. September 15, 2011

I am gulity of putting my Kit lens to the side which is actually JUST this one too. I put on my Nifty Fifty a mth ago after getting it and haven’t even looked at it again. BUT today I will take it out and go snap. Thank you so much for this !


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