Just how crappy is the 16-50 kit lens? Test vs 17mm prime & 11-16 Tokina

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Mel Snyder
Mel Snyder Veteran Member • Posts: 4,088
Just how crappy is the 16-50 kit lens? Test vs 17mm prime & 11-16 Tokina

One of the great sports of the technogeeks here is dumping on the 16-50 kit lens. And many neophytes take those dumps to heart.

My impression without comparative tests was to judge from my own experience that it wasn't as bad as the detractors claim. So I decided to test it.

The real advantage of the kit lens, if there is one, is that at 16mm, it is wider than just about any zoom under $600, with a not-too-shabby f3.5 maximum aperture.

And so, my test comparator lenses were the 11-16mm f2.8 Tokina, and the 17mm f3.5 Tokina AT-X Pro. I know all three do really well in real-world photography - I've carried both over the years on trips to the Middle East and Europe, shooting on Nikon D70, Nikon D300, and Nikon D7000.

I have a pretty good test scene right outside my front door. So what follows are images from that test scene. All were shot raw, imported into Photoshop Elements 11 with no adjustment, and saved as jpegs with the same specs:

16-50mm lens, f3.5

17mm Tokina AT-X Pro prime, f3.5

11-16mm f2.8 Tokina, wide open @ 16mm

And just for comparison - and to show you what I think a wide angle lens needs to be to call itself a wide angle:

11mm wide open - light changed, as you can see, but in P mode, the shutter speed changed to accommodate it

I can't judge what they will look like when uploaded to the forum - so you come to your own conclusions. As you can see, the light changed as I was testing, so the shutter speed in the P mode adjusted accordingly

My conclusion from looking at the images on my Dell U2410 professional/calibrated monitor: The kit lens is a whole lot better than the technogeeks here love to bash.

 Mel Snyder's gear list:Mel Snyder's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a7 Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS +12 more
Nikon D300 Nikon D70 Nikon D7000
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