Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

Started Dec 3, 2012 | Discussions
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KimChu Forum Member • Posts: 74
Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

forgive me for making a general statement.

when i bought my very very very old but very very reliable nex3 several years ago, the review said that the images were superb & contrasty.

after i bought the nex3 with the kit 18-55 lens, the pictures that i got were more than ok. they were colorful (if taken outside), they were clear (if adjusted using DMF), they were not grainy (if set to ISO 200).

Point being, all of these characteristic could be achieved using a P&S camera.

Not satisfied with my pictures, I then followed the legacy lens + adapter route. It was only using these lenses that I got the image quality that I was looking for in a mirrorless camera.

Do you also feel this way with your kit lens?

Sony Alpha NEX-3
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martindesu
martindesu Senior Member • Posts: 1,245
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?
2

KimChu wrote:

Do you also feel this way with your kit lens?

Nope; I love my kit lens. It's all I had with me when I bought my NEX-C3, and I took some of my favourite photos with it.

Massively underrated, and gets a bad rep on here.

Each to their own, though.

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El Matadurr
El Matadurr Senior Member • Posts: 4,988
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?
1

KimChu wrote:

forgive me for making a general statement.

when i bought my very very very old but very very reliable nex3 several years ago, the review said that the images were superb & contrasty.

after i bought the nex3 with the kit 18-55 lens, the pictures that i got were more than ok. they were colorful (if taken outside), they were clear (if adjusted using DMF), they were not grainy (if set to ISO 200).

Point being, all of these characteristic could be achieved using a P&S camera.

Not satisfied with my pictures, I then followed the legacy lens + adapter route. It was only using these lenses that I got the image quality that I was looking for in a mirrorless camera.

I'm assuming you got a legacy lens with a large aperture, no? That could contribute to the "non-P&S" look when you start getting shallow depth of field that the kit lens cannot provide (save for close-focus).

Also, keep in mind that in good settings (sunny day, evenly lit subjects), most all cameras--from P&Ss to FF DSLRs--look pretty much the same, save for pixel-level detail.

http://matthewdurrphotography.com

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CosmoZooo Regular Member • Posts: 452
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

Besides the top of the line recent big sensor P&S like Sony RX-100 or Canon G1X,  which P&S do you actually feel can compete with the kit lenses on the NEX system.

I own several P&S like Canon Elph, Lumix DMC-ZS3 and none of those can even scratch the NEX-6 with the kit zoom at even ISO 100 even on the sunniest of the days. There is no comparison there.

So exactly which P&S do you have in mind? Want to post some photos taken with both cameras for comparison?

Bart Hickman Veteran Member • Posts: 7,256
It isn't the lens...
3

Crappy composition is the main hallmark of a "P&S" image IMO.  Another is overexposure which is exacerbated by the lower DR of a P&S, but a good photographer can partly compensate for this.  Another is not using a polarizer (mainly landscape stuff).  Yet another is a strong flash from the camera.

I would argue all of the above are really the photographers fault.

Obviously the lens is partly to blame because kit lenses tend to cover the same F/L range as a P&S. But, frankly, a lot of shots taken with primes between 18 and 55mm look like they might as well have come from a P&S IMO.

Bart

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photogazer Forum Member • Posts: 59
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?
1

KimChu wrote:

forgive me for making a general statement.

when i bought my very very very old but very very reliable nex3 several years ago, the review said that the images were superb & contrasty.

after i bought the nex3 with the kit 18-55 lens, the pictures that i got were more than ok. they were colorful (if taken outside), they were clear (if adjusted using DMF), they were not grainy (if set to ISO 200).

Point being, all of these characteristic could be achieved using a P&S camera.

Not satisfied with my pictures, I then followed the legacy lens + adapter route. It was only using these lenses that I got the image quality that I was looking for in a mirrorless camera.

Do you also feel this way with your kit lens?

I felt this way, up until I decided to upgrade my monitor last weekend. I went from my old 19-inch to a 23-inch IPS monitor. Now I can see a world of difference between the pictures from my Fuji F31fd and the ones from my Nex with kit lens. The ones from the Nex look 3D relatively speaking. The quality is still not at the legacy lens level, but the difference is certainly discernible.

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alpha604 Regular Member • Posts: 243
Apples to Oranges?

Which legacy lenses?

One thing is certain, a kit lens is rarely a stunner... but as far as basic 18-55/3.5-5.6 APS-C kit lenses go among various brands, the NEX version is actually very good.

That said, it really all depends on what you are comparing to...

You said legacy glass, but not what lenses you were using. This is a pretty important factor in understanding the two different results... especially if the max aperture or focal lengths vary...

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blue_skies
blue_skies Veteran Member • Posts: 9,745
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?
1

KimChu wrote:

forgive me for making a general statement.

when i bought my very very very old but very very reliable nex3 several years ago, the review said that the images were superb & contrasty.

after i bought the nex3 with the kit 18-55 lens, the pictures that i got were more than ok. they were colorful (if taken outside), they were clear (if adjusted using DMF), they were not grainy (if set to ISO 200).

Point being, all of these characteristic could be achieved using a P&S camera.

Not satisfied with my pictures, I then followed the legacy lens + adapter route. It was only using these lenses that I got the image quality that I was looking for in a mirrorless camera.

Do you also feel this way with your kit lens?

Really?



Canon S95

Nex-5

Nex-5N

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Cheers,
Henry

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adymitruk
adymitruk Contributing Member • Posts: 500
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

I've had a hard time getting comparable results with the kit lens 18-55 on my NEX-7. I don't have a macro for it yet either :/. I need some suggestions what manual legacy lens can get me these results on my NEX-7.

This is my Canon G11:

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GaryW Veteran Member • Posts: 8,226
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

Kit lens seems sharp enough. One of my first test photos.

Capturing bees needs a higher shutter speed.  Aside from that, I'm not sure that there are any special settings to share.  Macro shots require a smaller aperture (larger f-number).

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Gary W.

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KimChu OP Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

some somple shots.



From Nex 18-55 Kit Lens

From a 4mb still image using Sony Sr200 (actually this is a video camera!)

Not sure what lens this is but probably a MD Rokkor 58mm f1.4 (Nex 3)

Some additional shots from the SR200.





This one came from a Fuji Finepix P&S.

cxsparc
cxsparc Senior Member • Posts: 2,695
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

Crop with kit lens of a bee, seems sharp enough for me:

http://luxorphotoart.blogspot.de/2012/10/late-shift-spatschicht.html

P&S frequently have close to zero minimum focus distances. DOF gets smaller the close you get, simply put. THe kit lens allows close focus for a SLR system, but compared to a P&S or a dedicated macro lens it isn't the same. Legacy lenses have lower minimum aperture, but frequently even higher minimum focus distances compared to the kit zoom.

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KimChu OP Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

see my recent post with pictures from a P&S & Nex Kit & Nex Legacy

Jerry R Veteran Member • Posts: 9,220
Kim, there have been demonstrations of pros demonstrating what P&S cameras can do.

Kim, there have been demonstrations of pros demonstrating what P&S cameras can do and the images they produce are excellent. I would trade all my cameras (except for the R1) and lenses for a P&S if it came with he skill these pros demonstrated with P&S cameras.

The images you showed are nice, why would you expect them to be different if composed the same way.

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Joachim Gerstl
Joachim Gerstl Veteran Member • Posts: 6,561
No
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KimChu OP Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Kim, there have been demonstrations of pros demonstrating what P&S cameras can do.

my point is that most camera manufacturers are enticing new users (mostly from P&S) to switch to dslr or mirrorless with comeons like better image quality, high iso, shallow dof similar to pro phtographers, etc.

the problem is that most of the pros are not using kit lens to get those WOW shots.

for sports, to get an instant freeze in the action, you need a fast lens plus your body has to be fast in AF the moving subject. you know those sports shots that has the face super clear & the background blurry. those shots are not possible with kit lens.

the buyers from P&S background that thinks that his entry l;evel dslr with the kit lens can instantly give him those fantastic kinds of shots will soon feel a let down when he takes his new dslr on a photo walk.

in my opinion, the kit lens is a do it all kind of lens. it tries to do all types of shots - macro,sports,low light etc. in the process of trying to be all it comes out mediocre for all.

camera manufacturers should have a disclaimer with the kit lens - "

"You will not be able to takes pictures similar to what you see in Sports Illustrated or National Geographic magazines. If you want those shots then buy our xxmm f1.4 lens that costs $500-$1000"


that way people know what they are getting into. as of now, you see people wanting to constantly upgrade their camera to nex 5, nex 6, nex 7, rx1. in the hope that the new models will bring them closer to their dream shots.

nrcole Regular Member • Posts: 411
Re: Kim, there have been demonstrations of pros demonstrating what P&S cameras can do.

Huh?

It's the consumer/hobbyist's job to educate themselves about what they're buying. Seriously. Using a camera with an APS-C sensor WILL dramatically improve your results over a P&S so long as the customer takes the time to educate themselves on how to use it. There's not a camera in the world that isn't capable of taking crappy pictures in the wrong hands.

To suggest it's the manufacturer's job to inform people that their $500 camera + lens doesn't have the autofocus and/or low-light capabilities of a $3000 camera with a $1500 lens is silliness.

makeitso Regular Member • Posts: 150
Re: Kim, there have been demonstrations of pros demonstrating what P&S cameras can do.

KimChu wrote:


camera manufacturers should have a disclaimer with the kit lens - "

"You will not be able to takes pictures similar to what you see in Sports Illustrated or National Geographic magazines. If you want those shots then buy our xxmm f1.4 lens that costs $500-$1000"

What?  That's a ridiculous statement.  The only thing your xxmm f1.4 lens does is make a very shallow depth of field.  If that's all you're measuring a photo by, then you're right you need longer focal lengths and lower f/stops.  However, you can get EXCELLENT photos with the kit lens, same composition they'll be quite a bit better than any small sensored camera.  However, if you're just shotgunning your photos and are expecting them to be measurably better than a P&S, forget it.  Good photos still follow the 80/20 rule.  80% is the photographer being able to capture the moment and knowing how to best capture it.  20% of it is gear.

The 'sample shots' you posted from the NEX reflect poor composition on a dull lighting day.  So it lacks saturated colors and punch.  However, it does show just how much sharper the kit lens is vs any of the other P&S samples shown here.  Look at the detail you can see on the petals vs say the G11 or your S200 samples.  But if you're just looking for punchier colors, just turn up the saturation of the NEX a notch as I'm assuming you're only shooting JPG.

Bart Hickman Veteran Member • Posts: 7,256
Re: Kim, there have been demonstrations of pros demonstrating what P&S cameras can do.

KimChu wrote:

the buyers from P&S background that thinks that his entry l;evel dslr with the kit lens can instantly give him those fantastic kinds of shots will soon feel a let down when he takes his new dslr on a photo walk.

And I think everybody's point here is a buyer from a P&S background going on a photo walk will be disappointed with any camera/lens combo you give them because their problem isn't the camera.  They sure as heck aren't going to get Sports Illustrated material on a photo walk.

in my opinion, the kit lens is a do it all kind of lens. it tries to do all types of shots - macro,sports,low light etc. in the process of trying to be all it comes out mediocre for all.

I disagree.  A kit lens is in the sweet spot for most portraits, still lifes, abstracts, and landscapes which is what most photos in the world are.  It's not targeted at those three you specifically mentioned (macro, sports, low light).  It's also obviously not trying to shoot wildlife.

camera manufacturers should have a disclaimer with the kit lens - "

"You will not be able to takes pictures similar to what you see in Sports Illustrated or National Geographic magazines. If you want those shots then buy our xxmm f1.4 lens that costs $500-$1000"

..."and several hundred hours of practice and reading books on technique, design, and composition"...

FWIW, Sport Illustrated photogs probably don't mess around with measly $1000 lenses.  National Geographic is a different story--there are tons of shots in National Geographic that could have easily been shot with a kit lens.

Should Chevy have to put a warning on all Corvettes:  "You will not be able to go 200 mph similar to what you see on TV.  If you want to do that, you need to buy a formula racer and pit crew."

that way people know what they are getting into. as of now, you see people wanting to constantly upgrade their camera to nex 5, nex 6, nex 7, rx1. in the hope that the new models will bring them closer to their dream shots.

These people only have themselves to blame.

Bart

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forpetessake
forpetessake Senior Member • Posts: 4,892
Re: Why are kit lens' pictures like P&S?

What people usually associate with P&S look are several factors: blurry details, strong chromatic aberrations, blown out highlights and/or lost shadows, excessive amount of noise, lack of color depth, deep DOF, busy wide angle images with nowhere for an eye to stop -- the result of small sensors, mediocre lenses, and poor techniques.

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