Is This the Greatest Kit Lens of All Time?

Most photographers with some experience behind them wouldn't buy a new camera body and include a kit lens in their deal. Maybe that philosophy needs rethinking.

Kit lenses get a bad rap, historically speaking, and for good reason: they're often poorly made, slow, and of limited application. They're good for beginners to get to grips with their new camera, and a good photographer can coax some strong imagery out of them, but few of us are reaching for them for any assignment or shoot we're undertaking. 

It felt like only a matter of time before kit lenses started becoming respectable in their own right. I always thought that a good walk-around lens — by which I mean a telephoto with a decent range — would be most fitting and it seems that one of Nikon's newest kit lenses has done just that. Evan Ranft has dubbed Nikon's 24-120mm f/4 ED VR as the "king of kit lenses" and it's easy to see why.

What do you think? Are kit lenses ever something you lean on? Is this the best kit lens out there? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Michael Aubrey's picture

If you're comfortable buying used lenses, you can save an other $200 by going that route. This lens goes for ~300 on the used market.

Kawika Lopez's picture

And it’s not evening the biggest or the heaviest. Dam good lens. Wish I had one for my Sony. :(

You can get the 24-105 f/4 from Sony. It is almost the same. It is a great lens (but unfortunately not cheap).

Kawika Lopez's picture

I have it and it’s great. That extra 15mm would be cool to have though. I guess I can crop in. Heh.

18-55 Fuji is the best kit lens

The 24-120mm f/4 is definitely a great lens. Of course it doesn't stand up in IQ to the newer stuff that's hit the market, but in terms of versatility and size, it's really difficult to beat with the constant f/4 and that zoom range.

Stuart Carver's picture

The 24-70 f4 Z lens surely has to be now, ridiculous image quality from what I’ve seen.

The 18-55 fujifilm lens is a bit of a cult classic with its faster aperture and build quality over normal APS-C kits.. I have the 16-55 now and I must admit I miss the 18-55 and I’m considering sticking it back in my bag.

Edward Blake's picture

"What do you think?"

I think you should not hold yourself out as a subject matter expert whilst saying things like a fixed aperture lens has fewer moving parts.

I bought and returned the 24-120, twice, for a D600 and then a D810. It's fine but nothing special, which I suppose is okay for a kit lens. The 16-80, that came with my D500, is better in my opinion.

Mark Guinn's picture

Loved mine up to the day that I dropped it and chipped it. :-/


Does the RF 24-105mm classify as a kit lens?

Sky Emerson's picture

A kit lens with a constant f4 is going to be pretty decent most of the time. I've always been pretty happy with my canon 24-105 F4 kit lens. You may as well own a lens like this. Once you go to upgrade your body though, you may as well get just the camera bodies and prime lenses (separately).

Same here, the only kit-lens I ever used extensively was the 24-104 when it shipped with my good old 5DII over 10 years ago, I loved it, it was nearly par focal and therefore great for video, great range, a little soft on the wide end and some distortion, but great lens overall

It is an awesome lens. Tack sharp, and very versatile. At 120mm and f/4, it has some nice bokeh too.

that photo is pretty blurry

The Sony 18-135 mm lens for their APS-C cameras is a fantastic performer.

I was thinking too if its classify as an kit Lens? Maybe yes, but taking in consider for 1000 dollar it better gonna be good. But of course, it derivers, the money worth.

About the Sony Guy who whiches Sony has one like this too, maybe he has A Mount, in E Mount there is the 24-105 f 4.0 which is great too

Wolfgang Post's picture

I think a differentiation between kit lenses for entry level bodies and professional / high end bodies is required here. There is a difference between an 18-55 and a 24-105, although both are offered as kit lenses. Secondly, the more recent kit lenses are of decent quality and do a better job than the dated opinions suggest.

Sky Emerson's picture

Totally agree. spot on!

Samsung 16-50 f/2-2.8 says, "hi".

Nikon Z 24-70 F4 has insane sharpness edge to edge wide open on the Z7. It gets my vote in a big way. For the past 15 months from Havana to Patagonia to the Tetons it's earned a go to slot alongside my 14-24, 70-200 FL ED, 104 1.4, 300PF and 500 PF. It's that good. The 50 1.8 S glass is off the hook too.

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 is the best, second the 12-40 f/2.8.

The Sony 'a' mount sal1650 that came with the a77 is very good and was a constant f2.8.

The Z-mount 24-70 f/4 S lens is the best kit lens out there along with the the Fuji XF 18-55. I don't know if Evan Ranft has been living under a rock or if you are completely out of touch, or both.

giorgos karampotakis's picture

This lens is excellent in what it does .Excellent at f8 till 85mm and very good till 120mm.Its size is very good if you travel a lot and think the other .You dont need to change your lens every time and get dust in the sensor .I bought mine and since then is on my camera .

I think a few of the commentators misunderstand what is meant by a kit lens. A few of the nominees never came bundled with any bodies. Just because you add a lens at the time of purchase doesn't make it a kit lens. I'd say the Fuji 18-55 or the new Nikon Z 24-70 f4 are probably the best bang for the buck.

Kit Lenses are the most used by the non Pro's and are really great because now you have great superb Post Processing programs that go for pennies not $1K just a few ago. ALL cameras today are great compared to just five years ago, not slamming Nikon but I use Sony that issues a 24-70mm as a kit BUT why stop at 70mm. For a Sony I keep the SEL24240 on my carry around if I hit the APS-C button I get 360mm, I can do landscape/astro panos to say bird shots in the swamp coming back from the beach. What most forget is daytime f/8-f/11-f/16 for lens sharpness and for night f/4 to f/8 (for stars on lights). As far as a walkabout a kit lens is the best to keep on, just save your money and learn it and play with PP software - sharpness and bokeh can be had anyway!! Oh! as far as not having that sweet 1.4 or 2.8 increase ISO even high software will now handle the noise problem AND shadows can be gotten like Topaz Denoise AI AND Lightroom, a lot of great software today. This captured back using the SEL1018 f/4 at 14mm in full frame mode (before there was wide for Sony full frame), works from 12-18mm (removing the lightshield) or 15-27mm in APS-C a small walkabout lens IS and screw on filters. It is the software today that makes old captures great.

Jerome Brill's picture

I think the question is, how much do you want to work for just one image? I think AI is great for filling it small spots and fixing some images. It's still a better practise to get your image exposed right in the first place. That means having the right tools. There is always a balance of how much your willing to spend.

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