Photographing with a kit lens – why you don’t (necessarily) always need the most expensive equipment

Yesterday I got to use the Sony Alpha a57 DSLT camera. It was supplied with the kit lens, which I have to admit that I have had my preconceptions about in the past (but it only goes down to f/3.5! but it surely won’t be sharp enough! surely the bokeh won’t be high quality!… etc).

For any of my less-geeky-than-me readers, a kit lens is the basic lens that (usually) comes provided with DSLR/Ts. Most often they will be 18-55mm, and are more often than not constructed from lower grade material than their most expensive counterparts. They’re intended to give new shooters something to, er, shoot with from the get go – but you’ll probably find many users will quickly move on to higher quality optics if budget allows.

I used a kit lens on my first DSLR (a Canon EOS 1000D, in case you’re interested), but since moving up to an enthusiast level model, I don’t use one at all for my personal photography – using them only when I’m testing a camera for work. [continues below]

However, having no other choice but to use this particular model, I was actually pretty pleasantly surprised by what can be achieved with it, by using a bit of imagination and creativity.

As you will hopefully see in the below slideshow (click any one of the images to start it) it was a beautifully sunny day here in Cardiff / Penarth yesterday, and I think I managed to get some cracking shots, despite being “limited” by the kit that I was using.

In a way, it was also freeing to be that restricted – not having to faff around changing lenses, or missing the moment because of doing just that – was quite the welcome relief.

Of course, I’m in no way advocating that everybody should ditch their expensive glass and go kit lens only, I just wanted to highlight what you can do with the simplest of lenses, which you probably already own.

I should also add a disclaimer here – some of these images have been processed and edited. None of them have had any major tweaks, and all edits were achieved via Image Data Converter, the raw conversion software supplied with the camera.

Let me know what you think of the pictures, and, if you like, what you think of kit lenses in the comments box below – and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!


  • Pretty much all of my DSLR pictures have been shot with the kit lens, barring a few with a borrowed 50mm (& a borrowed 30mm 😉 ) every now and again.

    I couldn’t afford to upgrade plus my boyfriend at the time had a good selection should I want something different, but I rarely did. Yes it only goes down to 3.5 but I still think I’ve taken some of my best photos with that thing 🙂

    • The problem is – and I should have probably said this in the above – is that yes, you can get awesome pictures when the light is perfect, there’s a million subjects in front of you and so on… it’s when the conditions are far from great that you’d miss having a better lens – for instance, in lower light.

      I also think portraits and macro work really do require specialist lenses, for really good results that is – and something like a 50mm f/1.8 lens can be picked up for £80 new (so probably £50-£60 second hand).

      I do also think it would be good if manufacturers did away with the kit zoom, and went with a kit fixed length, like they used to do in the old days. Nothing teaches you more about composition and framing than being restricted to one length and having to actually use your feet.

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