Kit lenses - use or lose?

13 March 2017 | Category: Stills

Kit lenses - use or lose?


We’re often told as photographers to eschew the kit lens as soon as we possibly can. Sometimes we might choose to buy (or hire) a camera body only, and invest money in prime lenses or expensive zooms that help you to get the most from your camera’s sensor. 

While there’s nothing wrong with that advice, it’s still possible to get lovely shots using basic kit which is available at a fraction of the price of more expensive optics. 

Take the Fujifilm XC 16-50mm lens - it is designed to be a much more affordable version of the kit lenses that the company produces for some of its other cameras. Yet, it still has some great specifications that make it a good carry around lens that is versatile for different shots.

Because this is Fujifilm, we can perhaps expect a little more high quality from its kit lens, and this is borne out by sample shots - we’ve included some below for you to have a look at. This lens is equivalent to 24-76mm on a full-frame system when mounted on an APS-C Fujifilm camera - you’ll notice that these numbers are very similar to the classic 24-70mm focal length of choice.

It features 12 all-glass elements in 10 groups, including 3 aspherical elements and 1 ED element. 

One of the first things you’ll also notice about this lens is just how light it is - that’s great when portability is your highest concern, or if you’re planning a long day of walking around and don’t want to be weighed down by heavy glass.

But what kind of subjects is the 16-50mm lens good for?

Well, in short, any kind you like. Because you’ve got a diverse range of focal lengths, this lens is good for several different subjects. Use the wider end of the lens for landscape shots, while the longer end is useful for portraits, and still life subjects - anything that will benefit from a non-distorted angle of view.

There are of course some disadvantages to using a lens like this - but you can usually compensate for these. The biggest, when comparing this to a prime lens, is maximum aperture capability. The widest you’ll be able to go with this lens is f/3.5, making it less useful in low light situations, or, if you want to create very shallow depth of field effects. 

However, it’s still possible to produce attractive out of focus areas - especially if you zoom in, but stand far back from the subject. In lower light, consider upping the ISO sensitivity on your camera - perhaps it’s not ideal, but Fujifilm cameras generally cope well with high ISOs.

This lens is not a macro lens - so if you’re looking for something specialist to create 1:1 reproductions, you’re going to be disappointed - but - it’s again, it’s still possible to create nice shots of subjects which are classically thought of as macro - such as flowers.

Sample images: All pictures were taken with the lens mounted on a Fujifilm X-E2S using the “Standard” film simulation mode. They are JPEG images, directly from the camera with no colour correction.