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Kit Lenses and 50mm F/1.8 lenses are some of the most common and popular camera lenses you can get.

It is important to be aware of what they are and the differences between them. This way you best know when to use each lens and how best to do so.

You will most likely have used these lenses before and you may have already taken some photos with them. If so, this article will be a great refresher on when to use each lens and how you can improve your photos when doing so.

Here is what you need to know about Kit Lens vs 50mm Lens!

What is a Kit Lens?

camera lens with body black background

A Kit Lens is a basic camera lens that covers a focal length range of 18-55mm.

They usually come with most budget DSLR cameras in the box, saving you money on having to buy separate lenses. This is why they are known as ‘Kit Lenses’ If you were to buy a Kit Lens separately, you would probably pay around £50 to £100 for one.

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Not only do they have a wide aperture range from around F/3.5 to F/5.6 but they are also versatile and, combined with the wide focal length range, give beginners a great way to start taking photos with their DSLR’s.

Kit Lenses are great for beginners

Kit Lenses are essentially designed as basic lenses for beginners to get used to and play around with.

As mentioned before, in most cases, when you open up the box in which your camera arrives in you will also see the kit lens there.

This is done so that beginner photographers who are getting their first proper camera do not have to shell out for a lens separately.

Once you attach a Kit Lens to the camera body it is relatively easy to use. There is a ring you can twist to zoom in and out and to adjust the focal length.

Speaking of the focal length, it is a wide range from 18-55mm and this gives beginner photographers a great opportunity to try out different shooting scenarios.

Kit Lenses are Versatile

Kit Lenses are versatile thanks to the wide 18-55mm focal length.

This means it can be used for a wide range of shooting scenarios such as portrait photography, food photography, night photography and street photography. Here is how you could use the different focal lengths on the lens to their advantage:

  • You could use the widest 18mm focal length to shoot a sweeping vista of an amazing landscape
  • You could use the 24mm focal length to capture tall buildings and beautiful architecture
  • You could use the 35mm focal length to capture zoomed-in street photography shots of people walking by and local markets selling products
  • You could use the narrowest 50mm focal length to capture stunning portrait shots that focus on the subject and remove all unnecessary background objects

As you can see there is a lot of potential for what you can capture with a Kit Lens and this is a great way to give beginner photographers the opportunity to play around with the settings on their lens and camera.

Kit Lenses do have some weaknesses, however

photographer with street background

It is true that Kit Lenses are versatile, cheap, simple to use and commonly come in the box with a budget DSLR. They are great to get started with and they help to settle a newbie into the big, bad world of DSLR cameras.

However, we do need to take into account some of the limitations of this lens and how we can overcome them.

One obvious limitation is that, due to the cheap cost of the Kit Lens, it is built out of plastic not metal, unlike some of its more expensive alternatives.

This means the lens is less durable and it may not last you as long. However, if you look after it and do all you can to reduce the number of drops and dents it should last you a decent amount of time.

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A Kit Lens is also considered to be not as sharp as other lenses. This means that photos with a lot of small details may not be as beautifully captured as if you were to use a more expensive lens. The best way to combat this is to try and find your lens’ ‘sweet spot’.

This is where your kit lens produces the sharpest results for you and this is where you should shoot your photos if you are looking to get the most detailed images possible.

In order to do this, you will need to play around with your focal length and aperture. Typically F/8 and F/11 are sharp apertures and they give you a good mix of a blurred background and sharp details.

While the Kit Lens does have a wide focal length zoom range, it’s aperture range is lacking compared to other lenses. The widest F/3.5 aperture is not ideal for fast-moving situations or for low-light situations.

This means it will give you less ‘bokeh’ and background blur for your portrait shots compared to another lens, such as a 50mm lens. It will still give you a decent amount of background blur but you will need to take this into consideration when shooting portrait photos.

Overall, Kit Lenses are a great tool to help settle beginners into DSLR photography and I would suggest you start out using one of these.

But, once you become more comfortable with how to handle this lens and a DSLR camera, I suggest you move on to using the 50mm F/1.8 Lens

What is a 50mm Lens?

zoom lens with white background

A 50mm lens is a fixed lens that takes photos at the 50mm focal point.

Just like the Kit Lens, this is a cheaper lens that is usually built out of plastic as well. It can be found for around £50 online. This lens does not come in the box with most cameras however it is so cheap compared to other lenses it is worth picking up alone after you get used to the basic controls on your camera.

A 50mm lens has a wider F/1.8 aperture than a kit lens and this will give you blurrier backgrounds for your portraits and higher-quality, better-lit nighttime shots.

However, as a kit lens is a prime lens, it is fixed at 50mm. This means you cannot zoom in or out, you are stuck at 50mm. This is why I suggest you keep a Kit Lens as a backup because it will give you the flexibility when you want to use a wider focal length to capture more in your shot.

A 50mm Lens is much sharper than a Kit Lens

If being able to capture fine details in the best way possible matters to you, get one of these bad boys.

A 50mm lens is far sharper than a Kit Lens. This is because the manufacturing quality is much higher and the lens produces sharper images due to the very strong 50mm focal point.

A 50mm focal length is roughly equivalent to what the human eye sees, making it a great choice for portraits and capturing the finer details in a subject.

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The good depth of field and sharper lens gives you a great opportunity to capture the details of your subject/object in full glory and leave others who view your photos speechless.

All-in-all, the 50mm lens is sharp and has a wide aperture, giving you a great product for capturing bright and detailed photographs.

You could use the 50mm lens as your only lens

A 50mm lens has a lot of things going for it:

  • Wide aperture, great for nighttime,
  • 50mm focal length is equivalent to what the human eye sees, great for portraits
  • It is a relatively cheap and cheerful lens, meaning beginners are able to buy it too

But, did you also know you can use it as your only lens?

Here is a great story of how one photographer used a 50mm lens as their only lens.

Yes, it will be limited but it will challenge you and force you to be meaningful with your photos.

For example, you will no longer be able to stay in one position and zoom in to get different compositions. You will now have to move around and get closer or farther away from your subject to get the desired shot.

This will encourage you to grow as a photographer and it will help you to progress on your photography journey.

If you do decide to stick to only the 50mm lens, let me know how you get on. I would love to hear about some of your shots and your experience with using a 50mm lens.

A 50mm lens does have some big limitations, however

coffee table with camera

Despite the positive points I have mentioned about the nifty-fifty, we need to take some issues into consideration.

Firstly it is fixed at a 50mm focal point. This means that it may be harder for you to properly photograph large buildings or landscapes.

This lens is also less versatile than a kit lens due to this fixed aperture. This is why I suggest you keep your kit lens as a backup because of the wider 18-55mm focal length range.

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It is also still made of cheap plastic material just like a kit lens therefore you will need to make extra sure you are looking after the lens well. Do your best to prevent any drops or dents.

It can also be costly for some, despite the price being lower overall compared to lenses that cost four figures.

Overall, it is a great lens and in my opinion, it is a logical step-up from the kit lens. My only suggestion is you also keep the kit lens as a backup for when you want to shoot wider scenes or landscapes where you need to fit more into the shot.

Thanks for reading and I hope this provided you with some useful information on how to kit lenses and 50mm lenses compare and differ from each other.

Feel free to comment your thoughts below and I’ll get back to you!

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Joel Oughton is the Creator of Photoaspire. He likes to write about anything photography related and is more than happy to help out others with any photography-related issues

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