Canon 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 vs 18-55mm F/4-5.6 | What is the Difference?

I’ve used both the Canon 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 and the newer 18-55mm F/4-5.6. My 200D, the SL2 in America came with the F/4 version but I opted to trade it for the F/3.5 version.

Now, you may be wondering what the difference is and which one is better. To be honest, both these lenses have similar performance and one is not dramatically different than the other.

With an F stop of 3.5 the older version will perform a little better in low light which was important to me because I had ordered the 2 lens Kit from Amazon.

So I knew I was going to have the 10-18mm which is an amazing lens but horrible in low light and the 50mm which is designed for cinematic shots and close ups. You can’t vlog with a 50mm as it’s too tight on the face.

So I knew I would need a lens that could perform in low light when needed. Since I was getting the 18-55mm zoom lens anyways with the camera, I figured trading it for the version with a lower aperture made sense.

The main difference between these two zoom kit lens

There are only two main differences with these lenses:

  • Aperture
  • Size

The slight difference in aperture

As already noted, there is a small difference in the aperture. The old Canon kit lens is a 3.5-5.6 while the new model is a 4-5.6. For those of you who have no idea why aperture is important, it simply means the amount of light a lens let in.

The lower the aperture, the bigger the hole that allows light in. What this functionally does for video makers (since I make casual travel vlogs along with my YouTube channels for my websites) is that it allows you to have a cool blurry background while your subject is in focus.

It also indicates how well a lens will perform in low light. The 10-18mm lens for example has an F stop of 4.5-5.6. If it gets too dark your clips start to look grainy (also referred to as noise). For example:

Shot using a 10-18mm

Notice how the clip gets grainy around the the point when I start talking about the food and tea. That’s because this lens has a high F stop and simply performs poorly in low light (it was getting dark).

So the older kit lens with a 3.5 aperture at 18mm will perform better in low light than the newer kit lens at 18mm with an aperture of 4.

Size difference

The next important difference between these two 18-55mm Canon zoom lenses is the size. The new 18-55 F/4-5.6 is significantly smaller than the older version. But both these lenses weigh the same so in practice it makes no difference for me.

If the new lens was lighter (and thus easier to vlog with) then you would have a strong selling point for vloggers but both these lenses weigh the same.

So the difference in size for me is not much of a selling point because they are both lens of similar size. Just one is slightly smaller. You’re still going to have to put this lens in a backpack or whatever.

Unless we’re talking about a pancake lens like the 24mm which you can fit in your pocket, a slightly smaller lens with a worse aperture is simply not a compelling selling point.

Conclusion – Which Kit Lens is Best?

It’s a personal choice of course. If size is important then just get an SL2 or SL3 and keep the standard kit lens. It’s small, light and pairs well with these equally small DSLR’s.

If you want something that can perform a little better in low light and don’t care if it’s slightly longer (but same weight) then do what I did and get your hands on this helpful Canon 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 lens.

What do you think? The Canon 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 or the newer 18-55mm F/4-5.6?

Let me know in the comments below.


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