Advice on OM-D travel lens setup for upcoming trip to Europe

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by bobby_t1, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. bobby_t1

    bobby_t1 Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 22, 2012
    I leave for a 2 week trip in Turkey in 2 weeks and am trying to assemble my travel kit based on my Olympus OM-D and would love some advice.

    My challenge is two fold:
    1. I've been a DSLR shooter for a long time and just switched over from a Nikon D7000. I have zero experience with m4/3 prior to the Olympus (which I received 3 days ago)
    2. Normally I'd rent a bunch of lenses, use them over the course of a few weeks, then make a decision. However, since I leave in a couple of weeks (and I work a fulltime job ;)), I don't have time to do this.

    I already own the following lenses, but not necessarily committed to bringing either of them:

    • Panasonic 20 1.7 pancake
    • Panasonic 14 2.5 pancake

    During our travel, we'll being doing a mix of nature, as well as urban environments. Typically I shoot a mix of 50% landscapes (about 1/3 are HDR), 40% architecture, and 10% people. I like to shoot lowlight as well, with maybe 1/3 my architecture shots being at night.

    Given I'm new to the platform, I'd like to get advice from those that have shot with the OM-D for longer than 3 days (;)) and have experience with the variety of lenses.

    I like to travel relatively light, which I'm already going to be doing by ditching my D7000 in favor of the OM-D. So that's definitely a big win there. I don't mind switching lenses, but prefer fewer lenses over more.

    • Ideally, I'd like to try to keep it as 2 lens combo, but will do 3 or 4 lenses if htat makes sense. I don't mind leaving lenses behind in the hotel room if they aren't needed for the outing I"m going on (e.g. I'm likely bringing the Panny 20 1.7 for night shooting exclusively due to speed and size).
    • In terms of cost, assume money is no object (not that I'm rich, I'm just selling a whack of Nikon lenses so I feel rich at the moment).
    • In my last trips to Europe (France, Switzerland), I had my D7000 and brought a Tokina 11-16 and a NIkon 17-55 2.8. These have effective focal lenghts of 16-24mm and 25-82mm respectively. About 5% of the time, I wish I had something a bit longer. I barely ever shot at right at 11mm with the Tokina (16mm effective) since I felt it was a bit too wide.
    • While I'm asking about travel setup, ideally I'd love to not buy or rent anything just for traveling. I'd want to end up with a setup that I'd equally find useful at home. This however, is the lowest priority requirement I have.

    One initial question I have:
    1. The debate between the Pansonic 7-14 and Olympus 9-18 is immense. I know the IQ on the 7-14 is vastly superior which draws me to it, but it's larger than the 9-18 and has no ability to attach ND or polarizers easily. What are people's thoughts on this?

    Other than this, I'd love to get people's recommended setups based on the info I've provided above. Just give me thoughts on which lenses would be good, and what your justification is.

    If I can provide more information, let me know.
  2. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Real Name:
    ive been in your exact same position for a while but lets see if my comment can help you out.

    landscape and some architecture during the day it could be the p7-14 ideally, and/or maybe the p14/o12 for low light wides.

    then you have two ways;

    get the p12-35 as an all around zoom lens or for

    general photography places, food, environmental portraits, i would take either the P20 or P25

    then for portraits, details, snaps, and some distant subjects could be the O45 or the new o75 which is more of a mid tele (150mm equiv)

    hope that helps you out!.
  3. tam

    tam Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 12, 2010
    I like having a pancake (17/2.8) with me when travelling, as it can live on the camera, and the camera goes in a easily accessible jacket pocket for snapshots, then I have the bigger lenses in the bag which I can fish out if required.

    If I take two lenses, I tend to take my 17 and my 45-200, but I'm a fan of tele shots of details of things, rather than wide shots. If I want a wide snapshot, I can use my phone.
  4. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 7, 2011
    Welcome to mu-43. I am also going there this weekend for 3 weeks trip.

    I don't know where you are going, but a wide angle helps for small streets & interior shots. I used to have Canon 10-22, then switch to Sigma 24-60mm on full frame before omd as walk around lens to carry on my European trips. However I hardly brought my dslr kits when I went for vacation to Turkey. Here is my photos from Turkey:

    Turkey - Turkiye Photo Gallery by Serhan at

    Ankara and Sile photos was with only ep1 kit. Altinoluk shots had 9-18, 14-42, 45-200mm, and 20mm for low light. The rest are with P&S (38-380mm UZ) and DP2 (40mm fixed lens) cameras. I think a zoom will help esp if you are on the a boat or on the other side of the coast. I had a friend who just came from Turkey and said he shot 95% with 14-150mm lens which is currently my main lens also.

    One thing using polarizers with 9-18mm shifts the colors so it might not be the best to use on wide angle. I have cokin nd filters from dslrs so I switch to use those eg with VC 12mm so it should work with 7-14mm if you buy that lens. 9-18mm is smaller to carry so preferable for travel, but 7-14mm will give you the extra wide side esp inside the Yerebatan cistern, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque & St Sophia in Istanbul. As you said the distortion makes it harder to use wide angle lenses. For wide landscapes, it is easier to use a normal lens and then use a program like autopano to merge images.
  5. LEOR

    LEOR Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 19, 2010
    Pickering, Ont Canada
    I am in a similar dilemma. MY wife and I are taking a 10 day tour of Germany starting Sept 16th. I have been debating which lenses to take with the OMD. I decide on the 20/1.7 for low light shots of the interior of buildings and the Panasonic 14-45 and a general walk around lens. I recently bought the m9-18 and will take that as well and experiment to see how it handle interiors of cathedrals etc. I note that you said the 11-16 was a little too wide ( effective focal length on your Nikon of 16 1/2) so you might like the wide end 9-18 since it has an effective focal length of 18 on the OMD.

    Cheers, enjoy your trip

    Leo Reinhard
  6. dannat

    dannat Mu-43 Regular

    May 2, 2010
    Melbourne Australia
    If you didn't have the 14/2.5 I suggest the OLY 12/2, will do most scapes & a far bit of architecture (except when real wide) is required.
    Th 75mm would be a nice long complement, but I'm real happy with my 45-175mm, the size for the mount of reach is excellent (it's the size of a 18-55mm with a smaller diamter)
  7. TDP

    TDP Guest

    I just got back from a 2 week trip to France (Paris and Saint-Raphael). I took with me:

    O 12-50
    P 7-14
    CV 25
    CV 17
    NDs for the 2 CV lenses
    Extra battery
    Tiny EM5 flash
    iPad, SD card reader and Snapseed App
    A bunch of SDs

    I shoot landscapes and walk around city type shots, as well as your typical vacation shots. I shot most of my photos with the P 7-14 and the CV 17. I took the spare battery with me everyday and the camera with one lens attached, the others stayed behind in the hotel room safe.

    The 7-14 is almost good enough to be a single lens solution. Almost because it doesn't zoom in enough and the MFD is highly lacking. Also that large globe of a front element is screaming "scratch me" when you are busy juggling this and that and not paying attention. That being said, I would guess the 9-18 could be a one lens solution for you. I realize it isn't a super fast lens, but you can always bump up the ISO when you need more low light performance. The 12-35 is super-awesome with cheese, but it might not be wide enough for your landscape needs.
  8. djonesii

    djonesii Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 18, 2011
    My solution ( and I OWN the lenses .... spoke with my wallet!)

    9-18 .... favored size/cost over better IQ 0f 7-14, I just don't shoot that much wide angle, but when needed, you need it. Chosen over the 14mm as when I shoot street, sometimes I like a 28 sometimes I like a 35, so the 9-18 is perfect. No practical difference between the Pancakes size wise.

    25mm 1.4, Super lens, very fast focus, very good micro contrast. It shoots like a real Leica! I used a few on my M6 back in the day. The 20mm was sold off to help fund it.

    45mm 1.8, every bit as good as the Nikon 1.8, and tiny, a bit plastic feeling, but focus way fast and sharp.

    14-140, Makes the kit a bit big, but some days, a super zoom is just the right thing. Got it when I had Panny bodies, and could gain something size wise with the 14-150, but just cant be bothered for the marginal size difference.

    100-300, got it because I wanted a long zoom. Sat almost unused for a year. Threw it in the camera bag because I could ..... Turned out to be my most used lens on last trip to France, Never would have thought that on the way out. Grandparents gave kids surfing lessons!

    To me this shows the power of micro 4/3rd, put the whole kit, every lens I own, + charger, ( but not spare batteries ) in a Domke messenger bag, buy my Nikion kit size, 1/3 or so, effective 18-600mm range .... Carried the whole kit around Paris for 3 days, and it never bothered me.

    Hope that helps.

  9. UncleVito

    UncleVito Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 2, 2012
    Wow! Nice trip in front of you, so I wish you a good holiday here in Europe.

    I've also ditched my dslr in favor of the OM-D a few months ago for the reason of weight (well about 80% the weight, for 20% the looks of the OM-D :))

    Now, since you're comming from dslr, you maybe realized you don't need to picky anymore about the gear you take along on a trip? Just take everything! I guarantee you'll still have a fair amount of free space left over in your lowepro backpack.

    I'd settle for (and I own) the following:

    - a standard zoom (12-50 or 14-42) Personally I prefer the oly 12-50 because of the extra wide and tele mm's but also because less distorted photos and a (limited) macro function. I have the 14-42 from the kit with the EPL2 which I have as backup.

    - panasonic 20mm 1.7 for lowlight purposes or discretion for e.g. visiting musea/streetshots etc...

    - an oly 40-150 telezoom (or pana equivalent). Quite good lens if you stay away from the tele-end. If you take a step back and zoom in a bit more, I wouldn't hesitate to use it for that occasional portrait.

    What's missing in my setup is something wider than the 12mm. For now, I don't really need it, but if I did, I'd go for the 9-18 which Dave mentioned too. At this time, if I need a really wide shot, I turn the camera 90° and take 2 or 3 shots which I stitch together afterwards in postprocessing.

    Depending on the budget you have (the nikon gear you sold) you can always replace some of the above , like a pana leica 25mm 1.4 instead of the 20mm1.7 or simply sticking to those excellent prime lenses up to 75mm, using a 12mm, 20/25mm, 30mm, 45mm and 75mm. However, in that case I would regret not having that extra tele over 75mm and you'll need to change lenses frequently, so you might a shot or two while doing so.

    In each case, whatever setup you choose, given the size and weight of those m43 lenses, I don't see any reason to leave any of them in the hotel room.

    just my 2cents,
    kindest regards,
    Uncle Vito
  10. justin4192

    justin4192 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    Fairfax, VA, USA
    I'm definitely going to keep an eye on this thread. I'm going to London and Tuscany, Italy next month and am trying to decide on my lenses.
    I'm planning to take my E-M5 along with:
    14-42 kit lens or buy a 12-50
    20mm f1.7 - My most used m4/3 lens
    Rokinon 7.5mm - Just bought it and plan to use it for landscapes, inside cathedrals, and other instances
    40-150mm - for moderate telephoto use

    Debating bringing my ZD 12-60mm and ZD 50mm. I want to travel light, but I love the 12-60, just not the larger size.

    I'm thinking about buying the Domke F-803 bag for my new everyday bag and use it on the trip.
    Dave, which Domke messenger bag do you use?
  11. MikeB

    MikeB Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    People don't seem to like the superzooms around here, but there's a massive convenience factor to consider.

    I'd suggest the Olympus 14-150 zoom for walking around all day, and the Panasonic 20mm for evenings and indoors. That keeps weight and bulk down, you only have to keep track of 2 lenses at any time, and you don't need to stop and change lenses very often. Image quality on the 14-150 may not be spectacular, but it is very good, and you won't miss many shots due to having the wrong lens in place. If you wanted a 3rd lens, I'd add in the Olympus 45mm to complement the Pany 20. (I have all 3 of these, and all work well in their given role.)

    On the other hand, if you want to be weather sealed, the Olympus 12-50 is pretty much your only choice. And since it's hard to dodge the weather when traveling and sticking to a schedule, this can be a big deal.
  12. Reactions

    Reactions Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    Real Name:
    Informative thread - I don't particularly care for zooming but it seems to be a part of everyone's kit.

    I'll to reconsider
  13. UncleVito

    UncleVito Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 2, 2012
    Indeed Mike, you have a point there! That's one advantage I forgot to mention!

    I'd like to add that, regarding the superzoom 14-150 (which IS excellent - I owned it on my first PEN), the 2mm extra wide angle compared with the 12-50 (well, 4mm in 35mm) makes a hell of a difference as allround lens. I would say that the benefit of the 12mm instead of 14mm wide angle is more important to me than having 150mm instead of 50mm on the tele end. I'd prefer to carry an additional lens, which in fact I do.

    In case you already own a 14-42 like lens and are ok with the 14mm wide, then an 'upgrade' to the 14-150 is indeed something to consider.

    Uncle Vito
  14. riverr02

    riverr02 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2011
    New York
    Real Name:
    Here are my two cents:

    The lightest and smallest kit you could travel with would be with the small primes, of which you already own 2. If you were to round out the group with one or two more, I'd recommend the Oly 45 or the Oly 75 for greater reach if you can get your hands on it. The latter will give you slightly more reach than with the longest zoom you described. If you're not averse to changing lenses, this small prime setup will give you the best IQ in the smallest package.

    Other options? You could replace the 20 with the Panny 25, and that would get you a bit more of a normal lens, about a half stop faster, and faster focusing but at the expense of a bigger lens- still small though. I've got the 7-14, and absolutely love it. One of my favorite lenses, and I found a significant difference in FOV when going from 7 to the lower limit of 9 for the Oly. That said, the inability to add filters can be a concern for some, just not for me. It isn't as small as the Oly though. One last option for the wide end is the Rokinon 7.5- it's a fisheye, but it can be de-fished quite easily as demonstrated in at least two other posts here. It's very small, cheap but with good IQ, and would add little to the size of your kit.

  15. MexicoMik

    MexicoMik Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 19, 2012
    I travel a lot and sold the same Nikon a few months ago and assorted lenses, going with the EP3 (just recently bought an OMD). The lens kit for me on 4/3 is the Oly 12, Oly 45, Oly 14-150. But it depends so much on what you shoot. I have no real use for a prime in the 20-25mm range (40-50 equivalent) and the zoom is a great "universal" lens to stay on the camera much of the time. I love wides and although I'd prefer a wider prime than the 12, it's a great little lens. The 45 is good for doing some isolation though I have to admit that I don't use it very much. I could get by quite well with just two lenses, the 14-150 and the 12.

    I heard a panny 25 rattlesnaking on an EP3 recently when a guy was shooting pics out the plane window. I could hear it above the noise of the 737! As I said, I don't need a lens in that range but if I did, I couldn't deal with that at all. However, from reading, the noise level seems to vary considerably so I guess if you ended up with a "happy" lens and camera combo, it would be OK.
  16. strang

    strang Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2012
    Check out the kit in my signature.

    I swap the 12-50 and 14-150 around depending on weather. Otherwise the 14-150, 14, 25 is the kit that I carry.

    The zoom is what I have when I'm walking around town outdoors. It is just too versatile to pass up. 12-50 and 14-150 are very similar in size too, so you wouldn't even know the difference when you have either on. IQ suffers with any zoom lens, unless you have money to spend on a constant f/2.8. It may be unreasonable for a lot of people to spend that kind of money on the Panasonic 12-35.

    I have found with experience that often times when I need a wide prime, I'm also in a tight space, thus a smaller lens is often desirable. The 14 is a great lens for that purpose. It is also a really fast lens at 2.5. Compared to the 20, it is only about a stop slower. But I have found its auto focus lock is faster and more accurate and it is much wider.

    The 25 is basically on the camera as soon as I step in-doors. I don't use it nearly enough for how much I have paid for it. I'm hoping a new 20 II is in the works, or a new pancake from Olympus. I would probably sell the14 and 25 for a new pancake that can replace both of these.
  17. ppdd

    ppdd Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 13, 2012
    I wouldn't be too worried about the weight if you're used to a DLSR and a couple lenses. You'll come out ahead, even if you load up.

    As a point of reference, I've got a small camera bag (crumpler mild enthusiast, medium). I do not have large hands. It really is this tiny: [​IMG]

    In it are: OM-D, Nikon SB-20 and wireless triggers, Rokinon 7.5mm, 9-18mm, 20mm, two manual primes (50 1.7 and 135 f2.8), and a 14-42 (rarely used). It weighs MUCH less than my old walking around kit (40D, flash, triggers, 30mm f1.4, 100mm 2.8 and a 10-20mm). There's still room for another lens, and I usually bungee a gorillapod to the outside. You can kind of pick and choose what goes in the bag when you leave the hotel any given, but it's so small that it's never going to be a burden carrying it around an airport or on a train.

    I may upgrade to the 7-14mm at some point. I debated it for a while, but given the lack of filters and it's size, I figured I'd see how the fisheye and 9-18 pair did. I'm pretty happy with it. I'll also probably replace the old Minolta 50mm with the Oly 45mm 1.8, but for now I'm happy. Coverage with decent glass from 7.5-135mm, the whole thing cost under $3K.
  18. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Re; 9-18 vs 7-14 I would gladly recommend the 9-18mm for a travel lens. It's amazingly small and light, throw a UV filter on it and you can carry it around in a pocket and slap it on as needed. Far more versatile focal length range for a walk around lens at the expense of 2mm on the wide end. If you are a strong enthusiast for that extreme wide angle there's no substitute, but for 50-60% of the price of the 7-14mm, I would say it's a great value. An the IQ difference isn't that significant imo.

    I own the 9-18mm..I would be very tempted if I could find a 7-14mm for like 650-700$ but at the current retail price I find it a bit hard to justify when I'm quite happy with my Oly.
  19. jar

    jar Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    I'm quite happy so far with the O14-150 + PL25. The wide range of the 14-150 can't be beat for walking around when you don't know what you might see that you want to shoot. The PL25 is great for low light / indoors and when you're specifically taking photos and have time to move around for the best shot.

    If I were going somewhere for the express purpose of taking photos, I'd want a set of primes for the IQ. If I'm taking photos as opportunities arise while enjoying my vacation, especially if traveling with non-photographers, I want the superzoom.

    I'm currently going through the same debate between the P7-14 and the O9-18 on the wide end. The P is wider and faster, the O is smaller/lighter, cheaper, and the little bit of extra reach on the long end might be better for walkaround.

    The next addition to my kit will either be one of the wide zooms or the O45.
  20. bobby_t1

    bobby_t1 Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 22, 2012
    I do love all the suggestions and comments. Keep 'em coming!

    I do like the idea of 14-150, 20 1.7 and 45 1.8. Nice and light. and really versatile. However, I'm surprised I don't see more people traveling with UWA like the 7-14 or 9-18. When I travel, I tend to take more WA shots.

    With a 14-150, 20 and 45 kit, I'd be afraid the 14-150 (a) wouldn't be wide enough and (b) IQ not high enough for the landscapes.