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Canon DSLR Kit Lens

Updated on May 27, 2013

Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS Kit Lens

The question addressed in this article is this: "Should I buy the Canon DSLR Kit lens with my first camera?"

This is a question that many first time buyers struggle with before that initial purchase. I have to admit that this issue took me several weeks to resolve. I wanted to do the wisest thing with the money in my budget.

Most Canon DSLR sales of new "beginner" cameras include a kit lens. Historically, that lens is the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens.

Note: There are now two versions of the Canon EFS 18-55mm lens. The newest has the STM suffix. It came out with the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (100D) and T5i.

Canon Rebel Kit Lens
Canon Rebel Kit Lens

Do You Have a Choice For Your First "Kit Lens"?

There are pros and cons that come with this kit lens, but the biggest reason that most sales include this lens is that the manufacturers bundle it with the camera. This is true for Canon, Nikon, and other manufacturers.

Truth is, many buyers do not even realize they have a choice.

And, for most of us, that is OK. Getting started with a new high-end camera (when compared to the point and shoot model we are abandoning) is a challenge all by itself. The Canon DSLR kit lens will serve the purpose to get us some excellent photos immediately. Other lenses can be considered when the kit lens is no longer serving our needs.

Actually, the kit lens has gotten a bad rap. It is capable of some pretty amazing photos. And, in the case where the buyer does not know which lens would be best to buy to suit their individual needs, the kit lens is a good choice.

A couple of years ago, Canon replaced the original kit lens with a much better version. Same lens, but better everything.

What Is Good About The Canon DSLR Kit Lens?

Think in terms of focal length. At the lowest end, 18mm, you get a capable wide angle lens. It is handy for landscape photography, family pictures, and even street scenes.

At the longer end, 55mm, you get a medium telephoto lens that works well for portraits and filling the frame from a distance. It is also able to take decent close-ups.

The newer Canon kit lens also has something called Image Stabilization built into the lens. This feature allows the photographer to shoot at slower shutter speeds than otherwise possible. Depending on the individual, it is possible to shoot at speeds of about 1/4 second - this would not be possible without IS (Image Stabilization).

And then there is price. The addition of the Canon kit lens to your purchase will only add about $100 to the purchase price. This is done by Canon to make the choice easy for the buyer. As you look at "better" lens choices, you will notice that prices are usually much higher.

All Purpose Lenses Are Great For Family Snapshots - This one was taken with my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens

Grandkids with Canon EOS Rebel 300d
Grandkids with Canon EOS Rebel 300d

All Purpose Lenses Instead Of The Canon DSLR Kit Lens

One option you can choose if you plan ahead is to get just the body of the camera and add your own lens choice. Here are a few excellent options, but it all depends on your personal needs and the type of images you plan to take.

Canon Beginner's DSLR Camera - Body Only - Get the camera WITHOUT the lens

What Is No-So-Good About The Canon DSLR Kit Lens?

First of all, I mentioned my own concern about buying the kit lens with my first Canon DSLR. I must point out that it was the predecessor to the current kit lens. Since that time, the kit lens has been improved drastically. However, there are a few things that keep this kit lens from being a great choice rather than just a good choice.

Build quality: The Canon DSLR kit lens is made of plastic. This makes it very susceptible to breakage. Of course, your intent is not to abuse your equipment, but a moderate bump in the wrong place could cause the lens to crack or break. The lens is also not weather proof. The top lenses have metal bodies and weather proof housing.

Focal length: There are other lens choices that give a much wider range of focal lengths. If you find that you shoot a diverse selection of images, you may want to think about getting a lens with more focal length choices. The Canon EF-S 18-200mm lens will give you much more range.

You can also choose to buy additional lenses of better quality if your type of photography lends itself to that. For instance, a 300mm lens is excellent for sports or some nature photography. Or a Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens is a really good portrait lens.

Aperture: A kit lens is considered a "slow lens" because it does not have a very wide aperture. In fact, at its longest focal length, 55mm, the best you can do is f/5.6. Other lenses are capable of f/2.8 throughout the focal length range.

Why is this important? Wide apertures allow the photographer much more flexibility in image results. In particular, wider apertures are much better for shooting in lower light settings.

My own personal choice at the beginning of my DSLR adventure was the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. Aside from the disadvantage of having only 28mm on the wide angle end of the focal length range, this lens has served me well, and I have never wished I had made a different decision.

Bottom line:

The Canon DSLR kit lens is a "good" choice to start your DSLR experience. In the absence of personal preference (meaning you don't know yet what your needs will be) this is the most economical way to go.

If budget constraints are not an issue, get the camera without a kit lens and buy a better lens, even if the focal length is the same or close to the same. There are some other suggestions for "all around" lenses at www.canoneoslenses.org

Just Getting Started?

My website, WayneRasku.com, has a lot of valuable information for beginning DSLR photographers including a free e-book about how to improve your photography without any extra investment.

Tell us about your experience.. or just let us know you were here :-)

How About You? - Do you own a DSLR with a kit lens?

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    • Wayne Rasku profile image
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      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      @WriterJanis2: Thanks Janis, I appreciate your encouragement. I try to make reading worth while.

    • profile image

      MimayManalo 4 years ago

      interesting lens! like the idea of it :)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Love the way you did your review.

    • Wayne Rasku profile image
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      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      @Rosetta Slone: You are very welcome Pitaya.

    • Wayne Rasku profile image
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      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      @TolovajWordsmith: So true, the lens can make or break a photograph

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      Very useful, thanks!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      I don't know much about photography but can say everything starts with a right lens. All the rest is just here to make the best of the lens. It's good to know we have so much power with this kit!