“Over the Counter” DSLR Cameras

What kind of photos can you expect with the kit lens?

I did some experimenting today with my first DSLR camera, a Canon 400D (aka: Rebel XTi). I wanted to see if I could force some better quality indoor photos without using flash with the kit lens (came with the camera). That’s an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6.

Right off the bat, the first snag I ran into in manual mode was the camera’s refusal to give me anything wider than f/5.0. I don’t know why it wouldn’t shoot as wide as the lens claims. If you’re shooting in “P” mode, or any of the other auto modes with the fun icons, that info won’t mean much to you. However, if you want to have more control over how your images turn out, you might want to learn about shutter speed and aperture. 🙂

The second snag I ran into was with the white balance. Auto White Balance (AWB) was terrible. In fact, in many indoor situations, I prefer to set my own white balance anyway. Today, since I had amazing available light from a huge window, I used the Cloudy white balance setting. Even at that, you can see below that the kit lens left the images cooler, a little gray, and lifeless.

On the other hand, even the fairly inexpensive Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens gave a richer image that pops a bit. If you can save to buy some better glass, I highly recommend the budget friendly alternative to the Canon 24mm f/1.4L, and that is the Sigma 30mm f/1.4! The final picture below is my favorite – rich, clear, and full of life (as much as you can expect from a doll anyway)!

{click to enlarge}

For another look at details, I used yet another of my favorite test subjects. It may be old and dusty, but it’s an excellent model – never complains! These images were cropped in closer to show more detail.

The 400D was quickly replaced by the 450D and then the 500D. I don’t have access to those cameras for testing, though. I can say that the xxxD cameras will do fine with the right lens for portraits and every day “Uncle Bob” shooting. When it comes to crisp action shots, I can tell you that the 400D doesn’t do a very good job. I tested this on Cosmo, and the results weren’t even worth sharing here. Nothing compared to yesterday’s photos on my 50D!

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