The lens that comes with your camera, often referred to as the 'kit lens', is a great way to get started with a new camera or when changing from one system to another.
When buying a new camera, these lenses are often bundled with it for not much more than the body-only price, so for this reason alone it makes buying a kit lens a worthwhile investment.
Normally covering a broad focal range, from moderate wide-angle to short telephoto (18-55mm on most entry-level DSLRs or 14-42mm on Micro Four Thirds), these lenses allow you to shoot a range of subjects if you're just starting out on your photographic journey and haven't started to look at other lenses.
However, the lens itself won't necessarily be the best optic available for specific types of photography, while the relatively slow variable maximum aperture (normally f/3.5-5.6) means they can make some photography a little restrictive at times. Don't let that put you off though. Armed with our expert tips and tricks, you'll be able to achieve stunning shots with your humble kit lens.
Shoot landscapes like a pro
Landscape photography is one of the most popular genres, and your kit lens is perfect for taking fantastic scenic shots. All you need to do to get started is to set the focal length to its widest setting. This will give you a wide field of view; perfect for taking in an entire scene. We'd also recommend using a tripod to avoid any risk of camera shake.
The next thing you'll need to do is set the camera to aperture-priority mode, which is done by turning the mode dial to A or Av. This allows you to control the aperture and depth-of-field, while the camera automatically sets an appropriate shutter speed. Then set the aperture to the 'sweet spot' setting of f/11.
The sweet spot of the lens is the aperture at which a lens produces the best possible image quality, and kit lenses perform very well at this setting or thereabouts.
To focus a landscape correctly set the lens to manual focus and turn on Live View - this means you can be much more precise with your focusing.
Zoom into the image on the LCD screen so you are looking at a position that's one third of the distance into the scene. Now, rotate the focusing ring or the front of the lens until the image looks sharp. Zoom back out of the image on screen and start shooting - you should find that you'll get your sharpest shots ever!