Why Are Kit Lenses Bad?

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When you buy a DSLR camera, you often have the option of getting a kit lens with it. While they are fine for starters, down the road, it is recommended that you purchase a more premium lens. However, why are kit lenses bad, and why should you switch to a better lens?

Why Are Kit Lenses Bad?

Kit lenses are bad due to low quality of photos they produce (which happens because of less sharpness), lens distortion, and poor low-light performance due the narrow aperture. Still, kit lenses are one of the lowest priced lenses, so they can be a good lens for beginners.

A close-up image of 18-55mm lens

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you might want to avoid using kit lenses.

Picture Quality

Kit lenses are not sharp. This is due to the poor quality glass made to keep costs low. Most camera lenses allow your camera’s sensor to capture 50-100% of its capabilities, this lens allows less than 50%.

Furthermore, the optical quality is below par. In addition, this lens has a slow and loud autofocus. The pictures you capture using these lenses are not crisp and are not of a good quality. This also leads to motion blur that can ruin your photos.

The zoom that comes with the lens is insufficient. You cannot capture far away objects and it does not make a lot of difference while capturing pictures.

Lens Distortion

When you capture photos at the 55mm end, you might notice some lens distortion. This refers to slight darkness towards the end of the images.This can affect the quality of your images, even though the field of view at the 55mm focal length is great for portraits. The barrel lens distortion gets very strong at the 18mm end too.

Variable Aperture

The kit lense has a variable aperture range of f/3.5 to 5.6 which has several disadvantages. Firstly, for beginners, the changing aperture can be a bit confusing. The level of light that enters the camera changes as the apertures are changed, therefore other settings such as ISO levels have to be adjusted accordingly too.

Also, the narrow aperture does not give you a shallow depth of field. Due to the variable aperture, you will not be able to capture quality Bokeh especially at the 55mm end. This simply means that you will not be able to achieve a blurry background for your portraits.

Build Quality

Also, their build quality is very poor. They are made of plastic instead of metal like premium lenses. This reduces their durability. Moreover, it comes without weather sealing too, which means you cannot use it in harsh weather conditions.

Low Light Performance

This lens’s low light performance is very poor due to the build quality. This is made worse by the variable aperture. When zoomed in, the aperture gets narrower, further reducing the low light capabilities.

Upsides of Using Kit Lenses

Even though this lens has many downsides, it performs well in the following situations:

An image of Canon 18-55mm lens
  • Variable Focal Length: This lens has a variable focal length that ranges from 18-55mm. The 18mm has a wide field of view which is great for landscapes. The 55mm is good for capturing portraits.
  • Zoom: With this lens you have the ability to zoom in and out of the scene and capture photos from far away. This is very helpful in capturing candid moments.
  • Image Stabilization: This lens comes with an image stabilization feature which allows you to capture photos without camera shake even at slow shutter speed. This means there are low chances of motion blur ruining your photos.
  • Affordable: This lens is very low priced and is a great way to start photography for all the beginners out there.

Related Questions

How to Get the Most Out of a Starter Lens?

To get the most out of a starter lens, you should take full advantage of the various features it offers. This includes capturing photos at a narrower aperture (above f/5.6). Although this might not help in capturing photos in low light conditions, it would capture sharp images.

Another thing that can be done is using its image stabilization. This feature allows you to capture sharp images even at low shutter speeds. Moreover, you can use the zoom to capture photos without moving closer to the subject.

Why Is a 50mm Better Than a Starter Lens?

The 50mm is better than a starter  lens due to its ability to capture high quality images. Even though it has a fixed focal length, it is great for capturing portraits. This is due to minimum lens distortion unlike a starter lens. Moreover, it has a faster lens and better build quality compared to the latter.


Kit lenses are bad due to their poor build quality and the fact that they capture low quality images. Also, they allow camera sensors to operate below 50% of their capabilities. However, it offers variable focal length allowing you to capture both landscapes and portraits.