Years ago I upgraded my wife's 35mm P&S to a 35mm SLR. It was a cheap Canon Rebel XS w/ the kit EF 35 80 zoom lens, otherwise known as one of the worst lenses in photography. No kidding, people seemed to hate that thing. I figured it would work fine for my wife. It was small, the camera had auto focus...what could go wrong? A lot, apparently. She hated it. Said it was too big and heavy (my day rig was a Nikon F4 w/ an 80 200 2.8 lens hung on it, so I was mystified by this). It made it through one roll of film before I sold it to make her happy.
Every now and then I look at the photos from it and think "that lens wasn't so bad". True, bokeh was nonexistent due to the zoom's slowness, but I thought the IQ was pretty good. These are prints that I made from that one excursion, and you can probably tell who had the winning horse that day :]
Anyone else had crap gear that turned out to be pretty good?