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1 Lens for Family Vacation - What Would you pack?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by HaViet, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. HaViet

    HaViet Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2014
    Hartford, CT
    Hi all,

    I am an amateur that enjoy good photos, and love to take some nice shots of family and friends. I am still shooting with an Oly EM10 and its stock 12-42mm lens. I like to purchase 1 good lens for our next family vacation this summer.

    I like to ask all the experts here; if you can take only 1 lens with you on your family vacation to take shots of your family, friends, and some landscapes. What would you choose?

    Prime lens, zoom lens? Oly, Pana, Sigma? Which one and why?

    Thanks much for your responses.
  2. twigboy

    twigboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 10, 2016
    I'd take my Panasonic 12-35mm because that is one I have. I know, that is just like stating why the chicken crossed the road, but do you find anything missing with the 14-42 now for these purposes? I like my Olympus 14-42 (not EZ).
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Sep 3, 2011
    Southern California
    Family vacation means maintaining a reasonable balance between keeping the family happy and trying to enjoy your hobby. For me, that means a zoom, with perhaps a fast prime (17 or 20mm) for indoor and evening shots. What is your budget? Last year I bought the Olympus 12-100 f/4, and that lens has been glued to my G9. A less expensive option may be the Olympus 12-200, or a 14-150. The Panasonic 14-140 is also said to be a very good all around lens.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  4. Ranger Rick

    Ranger Rick Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Apr 11, 2009
    Tempe, AZ

    I am sure you get plenty of opinions on this one :)  For one lens, I think something like the Panasonic 12-60 would be a great all-around lens. The Panasonic 3.5-5.6 version ("kit") is quite good, the Panasonic-Leica 2.8-4 is even better. It is relatively light and compact (compared to Olympus 12-40 2.8), covers a good range. I also have the Oly 12-40 (which is excellent as well), find I like the extra 20mm reach on the Panasonic's long end quite useful. Especially if you want just one lens. Depending on your budget, either of the 12-60s should suit your needs.

    The Olympus 12-100 is also great, but significantly larger and more expensive. I wouldn't care to cary it around for extended periods, but that's me. Good luck!
    • Agree Agree x 4
  5. So many variables... so many options.
    Having said that, you seem to have prioritized nicely what you hope to take photos of... “family, friends and some landscapes”.

    Quite frankly, and notwithstanding my love of the 12-100/4 when I’m travelling, I may not use any of my Pro lens while on a family vacation with my kids (besides, they’re all older now!).

    Our daughter has the em10.3 with the stock 14-42 (I think that’s the lens) and does quite nicely with that one lens, especially with family photos around our grandchild! Our middle son started into m4/3 with an em1.1 and a very stock panny 20mm prime and used that combo for the first time at a friends wedding weekend, only 3 or so days after he got the camera and lens. Both are unobtrusive ‘kits’ and well suited to family and friend events... and from the results our son was getting in the BC Rockies, well suited for landscape too.

    Bottom line... you may be ok with what you have right now.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
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  6. Michael Meissner

    Michael Meissner Mu-43 Veteran

    There is no one answer.

    Note, your kit lens is a 14-42mm lens, not 12-42mm. That 12-13mm can often be useful.

    I always recommend taking a note pad (or put notes on your smartphone) every time you feel you might have missed a shot with your current setup and could be improved by new hardware.

    Are you always shooting at 14mm and wishing you could go wider? Then getting a wider lens might be useful. The 12mm - xx lenses often times are wide enough, but there are wider lenses if you feel drawn to wider angles.

    Similarly are you always shooting at 42mm and wish you could go longer? Then getting a longer lens might help. Note, Olympus has a 2x electronic zoom option that you can set to a function button. I only shoot JPG, and I find in practice, the 2x zoom gives fairly decent pictures, and I now often use it. Obviously if you pixel peep at 100% resolution, you will see the problems, but if you are looking at the picture reduced to web sizes or printing up to 8x10, you generally won't notice. Unfortunately for the Panasonic users, while my Panasonic cameras have a similar option, it does show visible degradation at 2x zoom.

    Are you trying to shoot indoors without a flash? Then getting a faster lens will be useful. You have a choice of a faster zoom lens (i.e. Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8) or even faster prime lenses (Olympus 17mm f/1.8, Panasonic-Leica 15mm f/1.7, Panasonic 20mm f/1.8). If you've never shot with primes before, spend some time shooting at the focal length you want to buy. See whether learning to zoom with your feet (i.e. move to get the right spot) works for you or not. Note, the faster zooms will be more expensive and heavy, so you might want to practice with the heavier lens.

    Do you want to shoot both near and far (i.e. not just pictures of the family). Then perhaps a super zoom like the Olympus 14-150mm mark II, Panasonic 14-140mm, or even Olympus 12-100mm or Olympus 12-200mm.

    Are you trying to capture your kids stage shows? There the Olympus 45mm is better suited to the task, but the lens isn't as good for normal indoor shots (it would generally be the 3rd or 4th lens, unless you do that a lot).

    Your body isn't splash proof, so the consideration of whether the lens is sealed is not an issue.

    Consider an external flash instead of another lens, if you do a lot of indoor stuff.

    I would say don't sell your kit lens, keep it to use with the flash (the bigger lenses will likely cause a shadow with the pop-up flash).
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  7. Keeth101

    Keeth101 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 5, 2018
    12-100 ...... and in all fairness, it isn't that heavy to carry round, I do it all the time and I'm getting on a bit with health problems. It's the only true all rounder IMHO and you can even do macro with it its that sharp.
  8. Highlander

    Highlander Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    USA, Northeast Coast
    Richard Correale
    Oly 12-40 f/2.8 PRO. Carries easy, covers a nice range of focal lengths, fast enough for most situations, produces great images and it's weather sealed.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. Mike Wingate

    Mike Wingate Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 21, 2017
    Mike Wingate
    Just the one lens? That will be my P14-140mm f3.5-5.6. Maybe sneak in the Raynox DCR 250 for close ups.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  10. BrightonRay

    BrightonRay Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 27, 2019
    Brighton, UK
    I just migrated from 12-40 pro to 12-100 pro and would recommend either with a nod to the latter if “trip of a lifetime” type shots are on the cards. If it’s just general family holiday shots I’d stick with any compact kit zoom
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. Christop82

    Christop82 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 10, 2016
    12-40 2.8 or 20mm 1.7 . The 20 with the sigma 60 would make an excellent pair.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    If I were to take only one lens on a vacation, it would be the Olympus 12-100mm f4 zoom. If your budget doesn't extend to that admittedly pricey level, go for the 12-40mm f2.8 zoom. The 12-40 is a lot faster than your 14-42mm f3.5-f5.6, but the big selling point is the sharpness. You can not only shoot in lower light with usable shutter speeds, you can also crop the images from ORF. files and get similar quality images at 40mm to what the 40-150 R zoom will give you at 100mm. It also focuses to quasi-macro magnification.
    The 12-40 is still relatively compact and should store easily in your existing gadget bag. There are lots of used copies for sale as more users are lured away to the 12-100 (they are already immunized against sticker shock :eek-31:).
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  13. algold

    algold Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    You’ve got your priorities. What is your budget? And what do you usually use - the wider or the longer end of your zoom?
  14. wonglp

    wonglp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 28, 2011
    12-100mm F4.
  15. HaViet

    HaViet Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2014
    Hartford, CT
    Thank you all, for the inputs so far. This is great. So many choices, my head is starting to hurts :) 

    A little more details of why I am looking beyond the kit lens, and what I am hoping to find.

    With the kit lens, a few things that I sometimes wish I had. Faster, so I can take better shots in door and low light environments. DOV so that I can take those nice portraits of our kids with the blurry background. Sharpness from front to back when we take some landscapes and scenic areas.

    What I hope to find. Something that meet the above needs, while it doesn't cost me $1k or more, and is light and easy to carry around all day long on my neck while chasing kids around.

    I guess I am drawn to those 12-40 compact lenses, or some of those fast prime lens in the 20, 30, or 40mm range?

    My primary focus is taking nice photos/portraits of our kids/family, and group photos with some landscapes thrown in the mix. I love taking photos of our kids while they're out and about and engaged in activities, rather than pose and staged photos. I like to take photos that are 'in the moment' if that makes any sense.
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  16. LilSebastian

    LilSebastian Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 28, 2017
    Pasadena, CA
    Many good choices, I understand why you ask. I’ll add my vote for the 12-40 PRO but also encourage you to consider the Olympus ECG-3 grip (check model number please) and a second lens, a large aperture prime. Prime is perfect for table top storage at dinner with family, from 15mm and 20mm f1.7 from Panasonic to 17mm and 25mm from Olympus. Whichever fits your family in the view and meets your budget.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  17. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I will Vote for the P12-35 / 2.8 if weight is an issue. It is noticeably smaller than the 12-40. IQ at 35mm (70mm equiv) for portraits is great. You give up very little from 35-40. (take your current lens and change view from 35-40 a couple of times to see what I mean).

    12mm will be a big change from your kit lens
    f2.8 will add some speed.
    The P12-35 is lighter on the neck than the Oly12-40
    These 2.8 zooms will provide better Image quality.
    You can setup to get nice background blur at 35/2.8.

    For a second option, the PL12-60 is a nice option. A little heavier. Closer to the Oly12-40 in size. The 60mm does make a noticeable difference in reach. A little slower away from 12mm / f2.8, however. Almost f4.0 through a large portion of the range.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
    • Informative Informative x 1
  18. Matt Drown

    Matt Drown Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 9, 2015
    California, USA
    Where are you going on vacation? What do you like to take pictures of while on vacation? (you mentioned kids, anything else)
    Basic answer
    12-40 2.8 oly pro
    bonus you can get the oly 17 or 25 1.8

    All of those are easy to find and well priced on the used market.

    I haven't used the oly 12-100, nor the panasonic 12-35. Regarding the 12-100, you could that instead and I'm sure it would be good, but zoom with your feet on vacations. Regarding the 12-35, i'm pretty sure it has great reviews also, and you can just compare pricing to the 12-40.

    If you really think you want a bigger zoom, then the kit 50-200 lenses can be had for as cheap as $50 sometimes (and easily <$100) and weigh next to nothing. Though once you start using the pro lenses you will notice a difference in the non-pro zooms.

    So my real answer, the 12-40 pro. Nothing else needed. Save the money for a food or photography tour wherever you are going on vacation :) 
  19. For a single lens solution, I would take the 12-40mm f/2.8 or Panasonic 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6. The 12-100mm f/4 is too front heavy for the E-M10 without a grip IMO.
    • Agree Agree x 6
  20. HaViet

    HaViet Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2014
    Hartford, CT
    Our vacations take us to various places. We could be at National Parks, Museums, Zoos, Amusement Parks, Ocean, Beaches, Lakes, cities, etc.

    We could be up at the harbor in Northern Maine visiting Acadia. We could be in DC watching cherry blossoms, taking the kids to Disney World in Orlando, enjoying the cities in NYC, spending a week in Ocean City Maryland, etc.

    Our vacation spots often varied and changes every year, we like to go to new places when we can. At least, that's the goal.

    I would say 70-80% of our the photos are of our family. The remaining 20-30% are scenic/landscape photos.

    And where would you buy good quality used lens? Ebay?
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