How to Increase the Performance of Your Canon Kit Lens

This is your standard kit lens that comes with most entry-level DSLRs from Canon. It does an okay job for most things, but here’s how to make it better.

Here’s a list of things you’ll need:

Step 1: Use masking tape to cover up the lens around the silver ring:

Step 2: Paint the silver ring with red paint

You’re done! Enjoy your new high-def L lens. You can also add a lens hood for added effect:

Here’s a before and after comparison of how your photos will look:

You can also view, download, and share this amazing tutorial as a single image.

About the author: Nicolaj Ma is an artist based in Denmark. You can view his work over on DeviantArt.

  • Mantra

    you are cool ,man 
    really !!

  • TheLostVertex
  • Den_mar

    Only dumb people will believe this crappiest crap!!!

  • trimsome

    All this and more, in less than 24 hours.
    Man, my butt hurts.
    This was a ginormous waste of time.
    I obviously do not get laid enough, have no sense of humor, take crappy photos, and a horrible DIY’er, have no friends, am condescending (to EVERYONE), have brown racing stripes in my undies (most daily), ohhhhh, never mind all that.
    Sorry, it won’t happen again.
    This was all a joke, right?

  • Yh Digitalartist

    One of the rare instances that I read a thread right to the end  …. just to see how much of a bigger fool some  people make of themselves. Its a joke, for  goodness sake. And its a bloody good joke by Nikolaj Ma.

  • Decker_5479

    You’re f**cking Chris Rock?

  • Denis Kirin

    Where I can buy this….paint

  • Not

    No this is not a joke. IT WORKS. I’ve just tried it and my pictures became so much better. You schould try it to man.
    It’s placebo but it works.

    (If it doesn’t work for you, I hope that at least I’ve made your day better by offering another posting to argue about.)

  • Not

    An for all you out there, who i actually interested in improving your pictures:
    If you don’t happen to have any red paint, you should at least buy at lens hood. It will do “almost” do the same job on its own :-)

  • Nicolaj Ma

    I used a Ricoh f2.8 28mm on a 1.6x cropfactor 600D. Used all cameras ‘creative filter’ simultaneously on first image to mess it up, and some extra blur on second to enhance DoF. 

  • Black Huey

    Seems legit

  • Greg

    I used blue paint and it increased my depth of field.

  • Anonymous

    haha! Massive ROFFLES!

  • Schwer

    i can confirm this. But be careful to write “Lubitel” on your lens

  • Schwer

    everything is true! You can even improove it if you mix a little bit green in the red for more natural coulors!

  • Chris

    I wonder if I use gold paint will the optical performance look Nikon-like? I always liked the superior quality of Nikon lenses. I have already tried to label my 400D as a D90, but I still did not get the video option. Can anyone help me with that?

  • Jan Muller

    What brand of red paint are you using? I think it can’t be some kind of cheap third party paint, you must use Proffesional Paint.
    Also please supply spectral analysis of the red color.

  • Anonymous

    So you come here “to get tips and learn how to use a camera” but you are experienced with L-Lenses? Dude, do you ever think about or listen to what you’re saying?

  • Erik

    Ah, finally a light weight L lens ;)

  • Speedy

    This is not funny….it’s fuckin hilarious!!!:-D Some people should start looking 4 sense of humor right now!!!

  • Dave

  • Dave

  • jackdempseygav

    If its not too much trouble would you mind writing another tutorial for the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens. Also a friend of mine has a Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II which he would like to look like a real L lens…he has already bought the tube of red paint but we are unsure on how to proceed.

    thank you…

  • Father Changstein El Gamahl

    I don’t find this funny at all. It’s a poor attempt at humour. And it took some effort to produce this.

    However… it doesn’t upset me at all. I can’t imagine why it would anyone. It’s just a bad joke. Who cares? Get a life.

    The good thing is that it provoked discussion. So, in the end, the effort was apparently worth it.

  • Valjean24601

    WHO ON EARTH SAYS THAT the KIT LENS of ANY KIND CANNOT PERFORM? It’s all in the judgment of the photographer’s side!

  • Imagecredit

    put some fire vinyl on each side, your VW might go as fast as the rocket!! 

  • Rick

    Ha! I have to say though, that I actually like the first image better. :-)

  • Alan

    also, =/= != !=.

  • Dave Wilson

    Once again, us Nikon shooters get stiffed! We have to buy the expensive gold paint to get the same performance improvement! :-)

  • and001

    Guys, it works!! Its amazing! I took all my lenses and painted the red stripe and WOW! The images are tack sharp, amazing bokeh, and I can shoot in super low light now.. Seeing the amazing results, I took my Canon XSi and scraped off the Xsi logo and replaced it with 5D and holy shit!! I don’t know how, but my images file sized are massive! I can turn up the ISO with no grain, amazing!! Guys, this has changed my life, I was out shooting the other day and due to the awesomeness of my gears new look I was approached by an editor for Conde Nast Traveler Magazine and am off to my first gig in Figi!! Thank you petapixel!!!

  • Michael Chastain

    It’ll definitely go faster than a Porch. 

  • guest

    but you take the time to post on twitter once an hour?

  • Elchido

    Culeros ya arruine mi puto lente a la mierda con Petapixel y nicolaj ma.

  • roger boerdijk

    It like this kind of humor, well done ^^ (i might just try the painting to show off *grin*

  • Robg

    YOU ARE AMAZING! I have 5 canon L lenses and this is flipping hilarious! 

  • Kendall Weaver

    If I ever buy into a Canon system I’ll be putting silver rings on all the L glass and red rings on everything else. The article and many of the comments had me rolling. Thank you Petapixel.

  • M

    Funny but sort of true… I bet at f8 from 30-40mm you’r going to have heck of a time telling the kit lens apart from the L

  • Robert

    This can’t possibly work.  It’s not the red stripe that makes the pictures good, it’s the amount of money you paid for the lens.  Duh.  Maybe if you use a special red paint that costs a few thousand dollars it might work.

  • Juan DLC

    Get a Chill Pill Chris Rock!

  • Skinnerphotographs

    this is turning out to be one of the best Peta Posts ever.

  • Live Refocused

    I dunno. Lame comes in a close, close second…

  • Live Refocused

    That was profound, when you think about it.

  • Live Refocused

    HI Nocolachma,

    I’m wondering if you can help. I read your article last night when I was tired, so I think I  misunderstood the instructions. I was extremely excited at the prospect of “rolling my own” L, so i immediately grabbed some tape, Testors ruby red, and a spatula (although when I reread the article this morning I didn’t see where the spatula was needed, but I used it anyway. Like I said, I was tired.).

    Anyway, for some reason I thought the instructions were to press tape on the actual lens itself and then paint that smaller little hole (you know, the one that goes in the camera itself), let it dry, then remove the tape. I had trouble getting the red paint to actually adhere to the hole, but after a couple of hours I got it to work.

    Anyway, when I took the tape off, I  noticed the lens was really sticky. Maybe I used the wrong tape (or it could be that it’s really humid here), but I was able to get it off finally with help from vinegar and a scouring pad.

    The red paint dried nicely, and everything fits back into my camera as expected. I can’t wait to try it out!!!

    Here’s my dilemma: Do you wear a hat when you photograph in the cold? I get cold, but I don’t own a hat, and I’m bald so it gets really frosty.

    Thanks so much. I asked Lame and 2by4 (or maybe his name is Mr. Rock, not sure) but  they won’t return my messages.

    Thanks so much for any help. 

  • Gee

    I really like to use the tips on here, but this time I’m a bit stuck. Someone has already painted all my lenses with a red band and TBH I’m worried that I can’t improve my images.

    Just one thing though, I am also bald so I tried a red ring around my head. It didn’t improve on the warming effect of my beanie, but I can say with some certainty it’s better than any glue…. 

  • Reinaldo Steffen

    I knew it from the beginning that red ring  would make me a powerfull photographer. 
    When I saw Lord of the rings I suspected of a Canon´s  secret society:
    The Fellowship of the Red Ring. As you can see  in the pictures I was right!

  • omadds

    Any canon lens that has a red line (or at least most canon lenses) means that it is  an L series lens which is canon’s top range professional lenses, and they are mostly heaps better than consumer grade lenses in terms of image quality and build quality.  Apparently, L stands for luxury model, but I think there is debate about the origin of how the L came into being.

  • Piglet

    This is so stupid!  Everyone knows you’re supposed to use yellow highlighter.  Duh!

  • omadds

    Nice photos buddy! so what kit lens do you have? I have the canon 18-135mm but the the IQ is not that great sometimes, I prefer to use older cheap manual focus lenses with adapters to fit my 40D, until I can afford L lenses.

  • Usenet Joh

     This is exactly what I had in mind:

  • Photo trail

    This really does work! If you don’t see immediate improvement, use a lot more paint, or try painting over the focus ring too. Or try dipping the front end of your lens in the paint. The results are guaranteed to be “artisitc”.