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Old Oct 28, 2007, 12:32 PM   #1
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I'm sure this is a common question, but I'll see if anyone has a take on it for me. I've had a rebel xt and have really enjoyed using it (approaching photo # 10000). I have a zoom lens I really like (EF 70-300 IS), but I still have the EF-S kit lens at the lower end. I am starting to notice that my shots with the kit lens aren't as sharp as I'd like them to be--especially noticable as I take leaf photos this fall. I think I'd like to upgrade the kit lens to something sharper and my question is two fold:

1) will a better lens improve my shots, or is the lack of sharpness primarily "user error"

2a) if the fault is primarily that of the lens, does anyone have suggestions.


2b) if it's more likely that my inexperience as a photography the problem, what are good resources for improving my shooting ability. I've mostly just tried to learn by doing.

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old Oct 28, 2007, 9:05 PM   #2
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Have you tried stopping down the 18-55mm EF-S kit lens to at least f8?
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Old Oct 28, 2007, 9:43 PM   #3
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Stopping down definitely helps. If there is enough light I try to get to around f/11 if possible. It certainly helps. Perhaps there is a limit to what a camera can record.
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Old Oct 29, 2007, 3:48 AM   #4
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If you don't crop, 18-55 kit is sharp enough even for A3 prints - trust me. On all apertures. It is crappy lens, every other kit replacement is way better (Tamron 17-50, Sigma 17-70, Sigma 18-50, Canon 17-55 IS), but they won't make you better photographer.

Nevertheless some of them can give you f2.8 aperture throught the range, which is quite nice, but that will not make you better photographer either.
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Old Oct 29, 2007, 5:49 AM   #5
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If it produces pictures that are sharp enough, then why is it such a crappy lens? For reasons other than sharpness?
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Old Oct 29, 2007, 7:30 AM   #6
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jayrandom wrote:
...then why is it such a crappy lens? For reasons other than sharpness?
Guess, it's a tradition :-). For the money it's a very good lens (especially when you get it as part of a kit almost free). Optically it's quite good, when stopped down to f/5.6-f/8. The colours, sharpness and contrast aren't what you get from L lenses, but you can't expect miracles when you pay 1/10 of the price of a really good lens.

The build quality isn't great and the inner barrel wobbles. Manual focus is hard to use, but any other better lens of the same focal range will cost you at least $300.

IMHO the Nikon's equivalent of this lens isn't that much better optically (OK, it's sharper), but has about the same build quality, vignetting and amount of CA, and you don't hear much that it's a 'crappy' lens for some reason :?

Bottom line, for the price you pay you just can't get a better lens and when used correctly it can surprise you with very good results (with a bit of PP).
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Old Oct 30, 2007, 6:40 AM   #7
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Hi Jayrandom and welcome to the forums!

While it IS possible you have a faulty kit lens, it is also possible that you aren't knowing and using the lens at certain settings to get the best shots. As previously mentioned, stopping down DOES make a difference (some lenses suffer more wide open at the wide end, others suffer more wide open at the tele end... this is a proven quality control / lens to lens variation issue).

Also, maybe even the fact that your 70-300IS lens requires less post processing to bring out its best might make the kit lens shots appear less sharp.

I have the kit lens, and after quite a while of learning it, can get some great and very sharp photos with it... but yes, it's not ideal or super sharp in all situations.

There are other lenses which will be better (and in a sense more forgiving)... some of these have been listed in other answers. I would also recommend the 17-85mm IS Canon (a good / all round lens... and matches your 70-300mm IS well).

Maybe you can post a few samples of photos you believe aren't sharp / could be sharper from the kit lens?

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Old Nov 1, 2007, 10:11 PM   #8
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The next level IQ upgrade would be the Canon 24-85mm EF which sells for about $175 on fleabay...I just took some first shots with it on my XT and am very happy with the results....I'll keep my 18-55 kit for when I'll need a wider angle than 24.
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Old Nov 2, 2007, 2:24 AM   #9
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Sounds to me like you are probably ready for an upgrade.

That you are now used to your camera and getting pretty decent shots with the kit lens, but are now looking for more. Go for it.

Choose one from:
Canon EF-S 17-55 IS f2.8
Canon EF-S 17-85 IS
Tamron 17-50 f2.8
Sigma 18-50 f2.8
Sigma 17-70
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