When you first purchase a DSLR camera, you don't know what type of lens you need. So you buy the camera with the kit lens. Major camera manufacturers offer multiple DSLR packages with a camera body and a kit lens. Brand new to DSLR photography, a kit lens is a great place to start.
Use the entire focal length range of the kit lens
The standard focal length range for a kit lens is 18-55mm. It may be tempting to purchase a lens with a much greater focal range, such as 18-200 or 70-300. Unless you're buying a high-end lens, you'll compromise image quality for greater focal range. 18-55 is an extremely versatile focal range, allowing you to explore landscape photography, street photography, portrait photography, and even macro photography with ease. If you want to shoot closer than 55mm, extension tubes are an affordable way to get a little more length and can be used with any other lenses you may purchase in the future.
Find the "sweet spot" of the lens
Typically, kit lenses perform best with an aperture in the range of f/5.6-f/8. Unless you're trying to create a shallow depth of field or you're shooting in very low light conditions, try stopping down your aperture to create sharper images. When you're shooting at 18mm, stop down from f/3.5 to f/5.6. When you're shooting at 55mm, stop down from f/5.6 to f/8.
Move to get your shots
When you're shooting with a zoom lens, it's tempting to do all the zooming with the lens. Of course, a zoom lens is a powerful tool to create images at a range of focal lengths. However, you should also move physically with your camera to produce great images. If you're not happy with your composition and can't fine tune it by zooming with the lens, move your feet. Adjusting 15 or sometimes even five feet can make a big difference.
Review your images
There are a lot of decent images out there that just aren't great because of an issue such as being slightly out of focus or having a person's feet getting partially cut out of the frame. Reviewing your images just after you've shot them allows you to make corrections on the spot, fixing minor issues and creating stronger, sharper compositions.
Get out of auto mode
It's easy to leave your camera in auto mode, believing that the camera will make better setting choices that you will. It doesn't take a lot of time experimenting with manual camera settings to appreciate how much more control you have over your images. Initially, learning to shoot in manual is often frustrating and even overwhelming. However, it's well worth the effort and will help you take your kit level photos to a whole new level.Related reading: Making the Transition from Auto Mode to Manual Mode
Embrace the low weight and versatility of the kit lens
A kit lens is lightweight and offers a versatile focal range you'll be hard pressed to find in many high-end lenses. The less weight you're carrying, the more time you'll enjoy exploring new sites with family and friends. While you won't have the capacity to shoot at a low aperture like you would with a kit lens, you also won't have to spend time changing lenses to shoot at different focal lengths.
Do you have any additional tips for maximizing the potential of the kit lens?
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