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Are all kit lenses poor? (And if so, why?)

I am interested about getting a t4i. I hear everybody saying that kit lenses are very bad. However, the 18-135mm EF IS lens included in the kit seems to have got pretty good reviews.
Could someone recommend whether I should get it or not? I can afford to spend more money, if needed.

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    The Nikon kits lenses I've had were pretty good. You say the 18-135 has good reviews. So why is your question "why are kit lenses so bad"? Anyway, the answer depends on your experience and what you want to do with the gear, and how much the kit cost vs body only. – MikeW Jan 5 '13 at 8:05

Why are lenses included in kits so bad?

Kit lenses aren't bad -- they're just optimized for different parameters. A kit lens is meant to be a decent general purpose lens that'll get you started with your camera and at the same time keep the price of the total package down to a point where you'll still buy it. If you compare the EF-S 18-135 IS to lenses that cost as much as the whole t4i kit, then yes, it should be no surprise that the more expensive lens will win on points like sharpness, speed, etc.

I can afford to spend more money, if needed.

The EF-S 18-135 IS costs around $350-450 when you buy it by itself, but in a kit it only adds about $200 to the price of the camera. That's a pretty good deal. If you don't already have a specific idea about what you want, I'd say it's a good idea to get the kit -- it'll be a good lens to start out with, and by the time you're ready to add more lenses to your collection you'll already have gotten your money's worth out of the 18-135.


Lets go back a couple of years. In the film SLR days, you could get an SLR and as a KIT lens you had a 50mm f2 Lens. They created amazing images. They were cheap and produced wonderful quality for the price given. Just like today we have the 50mm f1.8.

With the introduction of Digital SLR cameras, the companies had to appeal to the beginners, which is most companies bread and butter (Except Leica).

The 18-55 is

  • Remember it is an EF-S lens. So only to be coupled with crop bodies.
  • Cheap (Because it is mass produced to go with the Body), they can pack this lens and a Body within $500 !!
  • a Zoom Lens (People want to zoom, few beginners have idea about prime and zooms), this appeals to a lot of users, people such as my DAD and my cousin and my teachers.

Given used properly 18-55mm can produce nice images. If the person is interested, he can always get a better lens. You will notice that higher end bodies doesn't usually come with a kit (if it does, its usually an expensive kit, such 5D mark II has the 24-105 F4L), because people who buy a 5D mark III or a Nikon D800, usually has a pretty good lens or can afford a good lens, giving them a kit option is nearly impossible.

If you are buying T4i, get it and get the 50mm f1.8 . Check out my gallery gearspec.deviantart.com and even 50mm f.18 Flickr galleries, you will not be disappointed. Anyone good at photography has a 50mm in their bag (Although on a T4i it will work like a 80mm), still a thousand times better than 18-55 and you get to use your feet to zoom.

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