There is a pervasive debate in the field of photography over the issue of lenses, the question often asking if Kit Lenses are inferior to more expensive “upgrade” lenses. The simple answer? Yes, they are. If they weren’t, there would be no reason or market for high end lenses, and people would not be paying thousands of dollars for something they could get for a couple hundred. Higher end lenses are better built, have higher shooting capabilities, and will make a noticeable difference in your professional image and photographs produced. Here are some reasons as to why shooting with a kit lens will be a problem with your future in photography.
The simple fact is if you are serious about photography, the upgrade to better lenses is a must. This is a sink or swim moment; if you are happy shooting family memories and weekend hiking excursions, then stick to what you have. If you want to be a professional, have your work and methods respected, and grow with the industry, then this should be the last bit of convincing you need to take that next step.
We all start somewhere, and the kit lens has played an important role in helping you learn the basics. It was “good enough,” is the argument you will hear regularly from those who see high end lenses as unnecessary. This is the difference between professional and amateur photographers; amateurs are happy with “good enough.” Believe it or not, peers and potential clients in the industry know this, and use it as a means to weed out those who won’t meet their expectations. Chances are, your first regular paying gigs as a photographer will be working as a second camera. You will work side by side with someone who has been in the industry for years. This is not only a chance to make some money, but also an opportunity to learn from someone who has achieved what you are hoping to become. The potential problem for you?—most photographers will not hire you if you only use a kit lens. Like it or not, this is a determining factor for many regarding who is serious and experienced over who isn’t.
If you treat your gear right, it will treat you right. Many new photographers will boast about the asset of a cheap lens being easily replaced. They can run around, drop it, bump it, and not have to worry. You might not notice it right away, but just because there is no noticeable external damage, you are still causing harm to the lens; not to mention your mentality with your shooting will be that none of it matters. Expensive gear will slow you down—and in a good way. You will not let it fall or get bumped. Instead of running around shooting frantically, you will take your time and set up your shots the proper way; thinking through everything before you click the shutter. The simple fact that you are paying closer attention you your gear and how you are using it will result in better photos—guaranteed. You will also get to know your gear better; spending this time with your equipment will make you more familiar with the capabilities of it.
In reality, the images produced from higher end lenses are superior to those of a kit, and while you might not be able to see this yet, after shooting with one for a while and training your eye, you will find this to be true. This is partly due to the overall photographic capabilities of a better lens, such as faster f-stop and better focal length. The quality and amount of glass will also impact image quality, as light will always change as it passes through any medium. Your glass will impact the color, sharpness, and light and shadows elements of you image. The age of Photoshop has made it possible to fix some of these issues and Photoshop is a great tool and necessary sometimes to get a client exactly what they are looking for; but, if your goal with the service is damage control, then you are in for the wrong reason.
What everything really comes down to is your end goal with photography. If you are in the game just as a casual hobbyist, or are happy shooting the occasional senior portrait gig for your friend’s kids, then a basic set-up with a kit lens will work for you. However, if you have hopes of making a career out of the art, or want to seek publication for your photos, or reach a point in the photo industry where you can compete with your peers, then purchasing and shooting with professional level gear is a must. Photography is a highly competitive and challenging industry, but if it is one you are particularly passionate about, then you owe it to yourself to do what it takes to get you where you want to go.