Victor Wiebe

Kit Lenses

I have a lot of photography equipment; honestly, I have more equipment than I thought I had. Recently I started to reorganise my work area and discovered/rediscovered items I forgot I had. Honestly, that’s a little embarrasing. I felt somewhat like a young child again exclaiming, “Oh yeah! I forgot I had that!”

Going through all this equipment I thought it would be a fun exercise to catalogue what I have, why, and what the equipment does. Welcome to My Camera Bag. This week I will introduce you to three basic lenses in my kit, which happen to be the three kit lenses that came with my cameras.

My first ever dSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera from a long time ago was a Sony Alpha a100. The a100 was Sony’s entry into the dSLR market. Sony had just bought the Minolta brand of cameras and had essentially re-branded the Konica Minolta Maxxum d7 as the Sony Alpha series of cameras, with the a100 being the first. It was a low-end, budget-friendly, ‘consumer’ camera. Aside from the price, what had intrigued me about it was that it was compatible with all of Minolta’s lenses, both digital and otherwise (of course, all that is needed to use a manual lens is an adapter). I happened to have some Minolta lenses already, so this seemed like a good fit.

The camera, of course, came with it’s own “kit” lens, an 18-70mm f/3.5 lens. At one point I sent the camera into Sony for repairs and it came back with another 18-70mm kit lens, so I had two.

Kit lenses do not come with any special or advanced features. They’re not even particularly “fast” lenses, meaning they struggle with lower light situations. What they are useful for, however, is learning the concepts of photography and how to actually take a picture. As long as there is enough light and with good composition, they will take good pictures!

(taken during my last trip to Banff in October, 2007)
(Summer, 2007, at North Carolina Nature Centre in Asheville, NC)
(December, 2007; my boys playing in a puppet theatre I built for them for Christmas)

At some point I sold the a100 to a college student and upgraded to a Sony a290. It wasn’t really much of an upgrade but it was a superior camera. This camera came with an 18-55mm kit lens. The nice thing about this lens is that it is much lighter than the 18-70.

This lens, coupled with the new camera and a lot of knowledge gained on my part, led to me being able to take some really nice photos.

(Sony a290 with 18-55mm kit lens)
(The Episcopal Church on the New Castle Green in New Castle, DE.)

I have learned a lot about photography between then and now and, honestly, I still have those kit lenses, and I still use them. I have a couple others that I use more often, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with theses lenses; they definitely serve a purpose, and for me that purpose was learning how to take a good picture. Good photography is much less about the equipment at hand and much more about the photographer and the light. (Incidentally, as a side-note and side project, I have since progressed, or regressed as the case may be, to two old, “crappy digital” cameras which were two of the first ever produced, just to show that the equipment is secondary; you can see some of those photos here:

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