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Thread: Is My EF Lens Producing Sharper Images Than Kit Lens?

  1. #1

    Is My EF Lens Producing Sharper Images Than Kit Lens?

    I recently bought a second-hand Canon EF 28 to 80mm metal-mount USM lens, it's the older version, that I was informed is fairly decent in terms of build and optics, although as a newbie not having IS is a touch limiting. Anyway I thought, given the various posts about its optical quality, it would be a marked improvement on my previous 18 to 55 mm kit lens, having used it a few times I am wondering if it really is, or not? Comparing various photos I have taken there just seems to be a different quality and I am unsure if it's a lack of contrast or sharpness with the EF lens. I would be most grateful for your advice and or experience in this regard and wonder if you may kindly visit my FlickR page Photos after August 19 are taken with the EF lens, prior images were taken with the kit lens. I would be most appreciative for any insights or feedback on this. Thanks

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    South Devon, UK

    Re: Is My EF Lens Producing Sharper Images Than Kit Lens?

    You really need controlled side by side tests.

    What is often recommended for lens testing is to mount the camera on a tripod and shoot a page of text, with cable release or use the shutter timer. I like to have part printed photo and part text. Try different focus lengths, apertures, etc in varied lighting.

    Make sure that different lenses are recording exactly the same thing.

    When I replaced my Canon 28-135 with the more expensive 24-105 L I found that the cheaper lens was actually a fraction sharper at the centre. But when also comparing quality at the photo edges, particularly under more difficult light conditions, I could see a marked difference.

    And the more expensive lens produced better contrast results under tricky lighting.

  3. #3
    Moderator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Ottawa, Canada
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Is My EF Lens Producing Sharper Images Than Kit Lens?

    I'm not quite sure why people view kit lenses so negatively; they are quite good for the money you are spending, certainly from an optical standpoint. Just to make you feel better, the pro EF24-70/2.8L II USM is not stabilized either. It's not just Canon. Nikons f.2,8 24-70mm lens is not stabilized either.

    The downsides of some of the kit lenses? Generally they tend to be a bit slower and less mechanically robust than some of the other lenses.

    You would have to take Geoff's advice and do a controlled test of the two lenses to see if there is a substantial quality difference, but frankly the shooter user almost always has more of an impact on quality than the lens does. Looking at your images on Flickr is not going to enable anyone to give you an answer one way or the other.

  4. #4
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Glenfarg, Scotland
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    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Is My EF Lens Producing Sharper Images Than Kit Lens?

    I'd agree that no-one is going to tell the difference based on images posted on a website. I'd also agree with Manfred's point about kit lenses being given a bad press.

    I did indeed trade my Canon 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM kit lens and got my long-desired 24-70 f2.8 L. But in terms of the quality coming out of that kit lens, it was more than adequate. I have images printed up at 16" from that lens and they are just fine.

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Southern California, USA
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    Re: Is My EF Lens Producing Sharper Images Than Kit Lens?

    The Canon 18-55mm IS 'kit' lenses are surprisingly good for the price. In fact if you shoot around f/8 or f/11, you can consider them excellent. Early in digital photography, there was a photographer on another forum who consistantly shot with the Digi Rebel 300D and the original non-IS kit lens. Her images were very, very good. Her secret was that she always used a tripod and never shot wider than f/8 or smaller than f/11.

    This of course, limited her versatility. More expensive lenses are better than the less expensive lenses when you shoot at the edges of the envelope, wide open...

    BTW... the older 28-80mm lens was a very decent lens but was never considered one of Canon's top lens offerings.

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