Mastering Your Kit Lens - Part 8

Using your kit lens pre-focused and fixed to one focal lenght means your ready for the unexpected, lift and shoot.

Today we have come to end of the kit lens series and I will sum up a few points as well as show a few more kit lens created pics for your inspiration.  All these shots like everything else in this series was taken with a Sony 18-55mm OSS E mount on a Sony NE 5n.

Parameter Settings Count

You will often read of how the Zeiss lenses have high contrast and punchy colour, or old Minolta glass has a warm tint and so forth, which is all true by the way,  but to a great degree for JPEGs you can punch up or tame any lens by adjusting the parameter settings on your camera. In other words you can go some way towards getting the look of some more expensive glass.

Vertical Stitching and close focus means shallow depth of field

The three main controls are saturation, contrast and sharpness and all three of these are useful to modify the rendering of your lens.

Of the three, sharpness will likely be the most useful for tailoring your lens rendering, followed by contrast and then saturation. 

Adjusting the sharpness up will increase the local contrast giving a punchier look, if you keep an eye on your exposure to ensure you don't clip your highlights it might be just the ticket.

Contrast will increase the overall punch of an image but going too hot on it will likely lead to clipping, probably of more use is to lower the contrast setting, which in combination with low sharpness and saturation but brighter exposure can give a kind of dreamy look.

Saturation will increase the colour intensity, as an example you can get a reasonable analogue for classic Minolta glass by increasing the saturation, lowering the contrast one notch and shifting your white balance just a tad to the warmer end of the spectrum.

Your kit lens will not be a Zeiss or Minolta clone, but you can certainly get it a little more "Zeiss like" via careful adjustment of the parameters, and conversely you can dial things back for a far more muted rendition such as was seen with old uncoated lenses.

All good creative fun!

Low light levels are hardly a challenge for kit lenses these days

Sure your kit lens does not have the widest apertures available but wide open it still gives enough separation for most needs.

This shot is a cropped frame from a 55mm shot taken with the Sony 18-55 OSS, it is equal to about 80mm, still looks plenty sharp right out to the edges and corners. You could of course crop far more if needed.

Why Get Another Lens

Ultimately a higher quality replacement for you kit lens will give you a higher grade tool with some benefits for specific purposes, for example shallow DOF portraits or closer macro ability, perhaps it will just feel nicer to use,  but it is highly unlikely to make you a radically better photographer.  You know this, we all know this, but somehow marketing places us in a state of suspended disbelief where all we need to do is click "buy" and offer up our credit card for some instant photographic gratification.

With a new lens you are not looking at massive improvements, rather an incremental change that might help in some select situations like shooting in marginal light, working with manual focus or extending your focal length range, so long as you accept that then go ahead get that lens.

With expressive shots like this, what gain would there be with a fast expensive lens, pretty much none!

But..........being honest.

If you want really good bang for your buck then perhaps sticking with your kit lens and learning how to use it better and experimenting via actual picture taking experience might be the superior approach.

There is of course nothing wrong with rewarding yourself a lovely new lens but good technique and creativity will easily win out in the end and others will judge you by your images not your lens. 

Yes you can shoot macro at the wide angle end with a macro filter...works a treat!

and finally.....

The Ultimate Kitty Lens Kit

So you want to travel light, you want to be a free creative dynamo, unencumbered by too much gear and too many decisions. There is a great truth in that old adage, “keep it simple”.

Well with no further ado here is my idea of the KISP kit. “Keep it simple photography kit”

Your camera and the kit Lens

1 Spare Battery and charger

A car charger

Collapsible rubber lens hood

Variable ND filter for shooting video

Circular polarizing filter

1 or 2 diopter close up filter

DIY’d softar made from a uv filter

Short auto extension tube

Good camera grip

Half a dozen memory cards so you don’t have to worry about running out of memory or deleting stuff

And of course a little case to put it all in.

The filters will stack together and the hood can remain on the camera, the memory cards can slip into a small holder.

I suspect that if you use the contents outlined in my kit lens series you might just end up taking some of your most creative shots yet for very little outlay and realistically you will be able to cover pretty much whatever comes your way.
Oh and by the way I will have some future posts on DIY filters and grips as well as hood mods so stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment