REAL WORLD Lens Test
EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II

These lens tests are designed to show you what a rank amateur can do with these lenses.
Very little adjustment has been done to these images and, in certain photos, actual straight-from-the-camera images are provided. In other words, if "I" can get these results, you should be able to, as well.

Here it is, the world-famous and highly underrated so-called "kit lens," so-called because it was usually packaged together with a camera in a photographic "kit." In my case, it came with my new Rebel XT in December, 2005. And while it's not really world-famous or even really under-rated, I found it to be a truly excellent learning lens, a fine walkabout lens, and one with predictable and consistent results.

First impression

Canon S1 ISDecember 2005 was the beginning of an addiction for me. I made the move from a point-and-shoot (albeit a wonderfully capable one) to a starter DSLR camera and an actual removable lens. The S1 IS (a 3 megapixel camera with multiple shooting modes - including manual - and a 10X optical zoom) was a great little camera, but I wanted "real" photography. I wanted something like my Pentax ZX-M film camera, with everything from fully automatic to fully manual settings. Eventually I settled on the Rebel XT, the second generation in the digital Rebel line.

The Rebel gave me 8 megapixels to play with, along with more settings than I ever knew existed. This camera became my constant companion, everywhere I went. And as a starter lens, it would be hard to do better than the 18-55mm. (I'm happy to see that it's still available at a list price of $199.)

Rebel XT with 18-55mm kit lens

My first "real" lens had the auto/manual focus switch and a ring for focus and another for focus range. That's about it. On the Rebel XT, the effective zoom range is approximately 28mm to 88mm. There are instances when the wide angle isn't wide enough and when the zoom isn't zoomy enough, but the first lesson we learn is that "we never have the right lens at the right time."

Rebel XT with 18-55mm kit lens

Since it's an all-purpose lens, since it's a starter lens, since it's a kit lens, I tended to take this one for granted, always looking ahead to my next new lens. But in hindsight, I'm impressed with what this very affordable lens managed to do.

Kit Lens 18-55mm

What a great lens for the casual tourist. (Yes, that's my Pentax film camera with a Tokina 75-300 lens.)

I always keep the Rebel/18-55 combo in the car, because...

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/9, 1/100 sec., ISO200, 43mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/9, 1/200 sec., ISO400, 39mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/11, 1/400 sec., ISO200, 45mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/9, 1/400 sec., ISO200, 50mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/9, 1/125 sec., ISO200, 48mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/7.1, 1/320 sec., ISO200, 34mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/7.1, 1/250 sec., ISO200, 29mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/7.1, 1/160 sec., ISO200, 21mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/7.1, 1/400 sec., ISO200, 32mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/6.3, 1/125 sec., ISO200, 49mm

Kit Lens 18-55mm

f/9, 1/250 sec, ISO200, 43mm

bottom line

If this lens came bundled with your new camera, exult and go play. This is a fine lens to start out with, so experiment. Go crazy. Try all different ranges and styles; it costs you nothing. Through the use of this lens, you'll get a better feel for what your next lens should be. Six months after I bought this kit, I had ordered the 50mm and the 70-300 telephoto zoom lenses. And the addiction continues.

Tourist photos from Seattle and Mt. Ranier with the Rebel XT and 18-55mm lens

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dwight munroe
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