What is a whale lens: advantages and why it is bad

What is a whale lens? Which whale lens is better?

Almost all SLR and mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses can be bought in two versions – only a camera or complete with a starting lens. The people also called this lens “whale” – from the English word kit (kit). More experienced photographers are likely to advise you to take the camera right away with a “normal” lens, because it is believed that a whale lens is not worth your attention. However, they could already forget that they were also beginners at one time, and the whale lens helped them deal with many parameters in order to choose a lens that was more suitable for creative tasks. We will tell you everything you need to know about this unpretentious “whale” optics so that you can draw independent conclusions and decide for yourself in what configuration to buy a camera.

What is a whale lens?

As a rule, this is the cheapest lens in the lineup from the manufacturer. Its price should aim at the minimum, in order to only slightly affect the total cost with the camera. A camera with such a lens is the most affordable entry ticket to the world of photography. In the recent film past, the role of the cetacean was played by a lens with a fixed focal length, usually about 50 mm. Now, lenses with a variable focal length of a small magnification are most widespread: from a moderate body to a wide angle.

What whale lenses are there?

Lenses 18-55 have the most popular focal lengths and are most often found on digital system cameras of the initial and middle price segment. Their range of focal lengths allows you to cover the main range of subjects in amateur photography. So, 18 mm is already wide enough to accommodate a beautiful landscape with a complex foreground, 35 mm is ideal for event or genre shooting, and 55 mm will help you make a beautiful waist portrait. However, in some cases, this zoom ratio may not be enough, and then a larger zoom lens may be suitable for you. Such lenses are also sold complete with cameras, and are also whale.

Which whale lenses are the best?

This family of lenses is more likely to be related to hyperzoom (zooms with a magnification of more than 3x). At its core, this is also a whale lens, but due to the more complex optical design, its total cost is slightly higher and not all budget models of the manufacturer’s cameras are used as whale optics. With this lens, the camera becomes more versatile, and this greatly expands your capabilities. Quite often, they prefer to take them on a trip, because there is no need to buy and carry a special telephoto lens. Additional focal lengths of 75 and 135 mm will not only allow you to zoom in on distant objects, but also help you reach the center of events if you cannot get closer to the subject. With a focal length of about 80-135 mm, it is convenient to shoot large-scale portraits.

If you are just starting your steps in photography, then you will buy your first serious camera with an 18-55 or 18-135 type lens. But do not rush to immediately put it on a shelf and run rather to the store for top glass worth tens of thousands of rubles, as some “more experienced” photographers may advise you. Such inexpensive whale zooms are the best solution to try your hand at photography.

Advantages of whale optics

The first and main advantage of a whale lens is that it will cost you almost nothing. No matter what the next lens you buy, you will never be able to get a better price-quality ratio. Modern whale lenses do not lose in sharpness to their noticeably more expensive counterparts in genres such as landscape or macro, as well as in travel, since they use a closed aperture to shoot such scenes (f / 5.6 – f / 8). Of course, in terms of sharpness, they will nevertheless yield to their many times more expensive counterparts in those cases when you shoot in low light conditions (for example, in the evening or indoors) with an open iris. However, one should not believe that multiple price differences will also affect the quality of photographs many times. Even at open aperture (f / 3,

Most whales have a built-in optical stabilizer. This will allow you to take clear pictures in poor light conditions with your hands, without resorting to a tripod. Another of the advantages of whales is the minimum focusing distance of about 25 centimeters. You may not be able to remove the antennae of any small bug from such a distance, but you will be able to try yourself in macro photography. Not all lenses can boast of such a focusing distance. Even if this doesn’t seem enough to you, then there are numerous extension rings and corrective filters for macro photography.

Many forget that the whale lens weighs just some 200-250 grams. The weight of a kit from a camera with such optics turns out to be a little more than half a kilogram, while more professional equipment with professional optics can weigh at least twice, or even three times. Few people take this fact into account, but when it comes to long walks with the camera, weight begins to play an important role. The lower the weight, the less tired you are and the more you focus on photography.

The disadvantages of whale optics

So, what are the disadvantages of whale lenses? Yes, over the past ten years, they have made a big step forward: from plastic “plugs for a bayonet mount” to quite high-quality universal lenses. The difference between current and first generations of whale lenses is significant, but still they have a number of drawbacks that make them what they are.

The first drawback is the build quality and materials. The lens may creak and have small backlash. Autofocus is unlikely to be silent, and its speed will be less than that of more expensive models. The cheap plastic from which the whale optics cases are made is not the most pleasant material to the touch. They also lack dust and moisture protection, so it’s quite dangerous to operate them in harsh conditions for both the lens and the camera.

The second and main disadvantage is the relatively low aperture. In almost all whales, aperture values ​​vary in the range from f / 3.5 by 18 mm and to f / 5.6 by 55 or 135 mm. This is significantly lower compared to fast prime lenses and still not enough compared to good full-time zooms. Modern matrices are capable of producing high-quality results at high ISO values, and if you are fond of landscape or street shooting, for you a low aperture will not be decisive. However, with a whale lens, you will not be able to “tear” the object from the background, and you should forget about the beautiful blurring of the background. The aperture value is too small; the optical design is too imperfect.

Double Kit (Dual Lens Kit)

A separate point I want to talk about another class of lenses. They are often sold separately, but the manufacturer can also put them in a so-called “double kit” or double kit. These are telephoto lenses.

Lenses 75-300 are paired with a regular lens 18-55. A set of two of these lenses covers 99% of all the necessary focal lengths that you may need. This is also a very convenient solution for starting in the world of photography.

To summarize

You should not neglect the whale lens. If you do not understand terms such as “aperture” and “focal lengths”, then all the more it is worth starting with a whale lens. With it, you can try as many genres as possible, get acquainted with the basic parameters of optics and decide what you need and what your soul lies for. Even when you begin to expand your fleet of optics, a whale lens can serve you as an excellent wide-angle. Or cannon fodder if you have to shoot in severe weather conditions or there is a high risk of damage to the optics. In a word, it is your key to the world of photography, and everything necessary for obtaining high-quality images and for your creative growth is already built into it.


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