Does a good zoom under $500 exist?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by dissembled, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. dissembled

    dissembled Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2013
    A. Alabanza
    I plan to purchase the PL 25 as soon as I can...I need a zoom to compliment it however for architectural photographs taken while travelling. I also like zooms due to their versatility. What is the 'best' choice in your eyes, that's priced at $500 or below?

    Or maybe I should just spend my money on a zoom first instead of the PL 25 prime? Or perhaps I should buy a wide prime instead...What highly rated wide primes are available that also falls within my budget?

    I plan to use my future setup for street photography, spontaneous portraiture as well as for travel. I own a GX7 but am lensless at the moment. I do have $400 already saved up, however.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    If you're okay with the aperture limitations, all of the standard range zooms are basically fine, though they have various trade offs. Then there's the pro zooms, which are going to push you up into the 700+ range used. Unfortunately we have nothing in between, really. I guess I'd point you to the 14-140 II (the f/3.5 version) as the closest thing, although it's a little bit more than what you asked.
  3. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    Before i give my recommendation, May I ask what camera are you planing to use ?
  4. profgregorio

    profgregorio Mu-43 Regular

    May 21, 2013
    Manila, Philippines
    The zoom which probably provides the best value-for-money at the moment is the Lumix 14-45 f3.5-5.6. I suggest that you try to google it on the various forums to know about how well it performs.
  5. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    I'm a huuuuge fan of my 12-50. I'll try to find my thread on it for you. It's a very versatile lens and produces excellent results. If it was a little wider on the wide end, it would be my travel it is, it's my bad weather/walkaround/macro/etc lens. :D


    Here's my thread:
    • Like Like x 1
  6. The Panasonic 12-32 is very good and will give you a really compact package along with the GX7. It doesn't have a focus ring though and you'd need to use the electronic controls on the GX7 screen if you did want to manually focus.
  7. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I agree with Levster about the 12-32. Seems like a great choice given the OPs stated need:
  8. Al.

    Al. Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
    I don't think you can go too far wrong with the Panasonic 14-45, should get one secondhand about £150 , here are 2 shots from mine, 1st shot about mid zoom and 2nd shot at 45mm end.


    • Like Like x 3
  9. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    I would only say that there are some examples of some of the many zooms which weren't as good as the rest, which sounds like a total fudge.
    For achitecture you'll probably want to get WIDE so look to the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50 and hope you get a sharp copy, or the dinky little Lumix 12-32 pancake.
    Of the vast horde of cheap but decent 14-42-ish zooms I recommend both the Lumix 14-45 original, and the metal-skinned Lumix 14-42 MkII which are both usually very sharp indeed.
    Of course buy the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150 which is awesome value for money.
  10. LucDeSchepper

    LucDeSchepper Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 8, 2014
    Luc de Schepper
    • Like Like x 8
  11. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    The easy question first: There are many wonderful zooms priced at $500 or below; just head for the Buy & Sell forum here. Second best choice is eBay. To try winning the lottery, monitor your local CraigsList.

    "Traveling" is a big place. Most of my photography is tourist photography. My wife and I are fortunate to be able to travel internationally pretty much as often as we want, which turns out to be about twice a year. On January 6th we are headed to Ethiopia. So I have been in a lot of tourist photography situations. Suggestions:

    As you say, a zoom is the right tool. As a tourist, even not traveling in a group, you do not completely control your movements nor do you completely control your vantage points. You also do not control blowing sand, light rain, high winds, etc. As a result, you need the zoom for flexibility. Using primes and constantly changing lenses is A Bad Idea.

    For Panny bodies, the 14-140mm is my choice if carrying only one lens. On a budget, look for the original 14-140mm. It is very slightly larger than the Mk II but heavier. You'll pay maybe an extra $150-200 for the Mk. II and you won't be able to tell the difference in your photographs.

    An alternative, depending on your photographic tastes, would be the Oly 9-18. This is a fantastic little lens, equally useful for landscapes and street photography. For me, this is my second travel lens.

    Another alternative, again depending on your tastes and destinations, is the 100-300, This is somewhat of a specialist lens. We did a photo safari in southern Africa a couple of years ago and, for that, I bought a second G1 body and a 100-300mm. It was indispensable. But when I got home, I sold them as I had no further need for them. My net cost buy-to-sell was about $30. Two years later I have just bought another (used) 100-300mm for the Ethiopian trip and will probably sell it when we return. I'll be shooting a pair of GX8s. My 14-140mm Mk II will be on one of them and, depending on the situation, the other one will either carry the 9-18mm or the 100-300mm.

    Primes? Not so much. My 12mm/2 is a useful tool in dark churches, caves, and palaces. If you're on a budget, though, a monopod will adequately stretch the 9-18mm into the low light realm for most situations and will cost a lot less than the 12/2. Get one that collapses to well under 20" and it won't be much of a burden.

    I also have the P20 and the O45. I may not even take them on this trip. Re the P25, I have never found much use for "normal" perspective so I have never tried it. But if I had one, it is entirely possible that it would stay home as well.

    • Like Like x 1

    CPTKILLER Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 8, 2014
    Austin, Texas USA
    Jim Phipps
    Honestly, with camera lens in most cases you pay for a sharp image and better apertures.

    The key now with your budget is determine what type of lens you need.

    Personally I would love to see a better walking around lens out there in the 14-150 or more lens available.
  13. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    The original Panny 14-140 is quite good and within budget.
  14. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Panny 14-140 II is excellent and quite competitive with primes. It easily produces better results than both Panny 14-45 and Panny 14-42 II in the same range. It works best with Oly 3- or 5- axis IBIS and 0sec anti-shock. I also tried Oly 14-150 in the past. I would skip that lens entirely, not even close in performance.
  15. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    For $700-ish you can pick up a used 12-40mm or 12-35mm on eBay, If you want a really good standard zoom lens, these are your best choices. Perhaps taking some time and saving a little more than $500 for the purchase is worth considering.

    The 12-32mm is an excellent little lens, especially considering the size, if you can pick one up around $200 or so but the $430 retail price is absurd (you can get a GM1+12-32mm kit for $500), again for that much you may be better off saving a bit more and getting one of the 2.8 zooms, which are better optically and allow you to shoot in more situations, with slightly longer tele reach, faster aperture for low light and narrow DOF shooting, and in the case of the 12-40 excellent macro capabilities.
  16. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    I really like my Oly 14-150 and reckon that it is very much underrated.

    In my experience it's much sharper than the standard Oly kit zooms and obviously much longer zoom. On the downside it's quite a slow lens, so a fast prime might also be a good investment when you have the funds.
  17. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Just to clarify from my post, since I didn't mention the 12-35 or similar lenses: While I would love to have 12mm on the short end, my personal shooting style when traveling demands significantly more on the long end. I often like to pick out details of buildings or situations and, of course, there are always critters to photograph. When someone comes out with a 12-140mm or maybe even a 12-120mm, I'm on it. But a shorter telephoto end would not work for me. YMMV of course.

    I also didn't mention the 40ish to 200mm lenses. Having traveled in the Galapagos with one of these (maiden voyage with M43) I found that the short end wasn't nearly short enough for many outdoor photographs. Traveling at that time with one body and the 14-45, I found that I needed way too much outdoor lens changing. This mostly led to missed shots since the subjects were mostly critters and/or the group was moving too fast to get a lens change done and still get the shot.
  18. ttomino1980

    ttomino1980 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 19, 2014
    PL25 is great due to its f/1.4 favourite lens ...but ...BUT ...if I have 500$ buddget and would go for street photo (daylight) ...I would go either O9-18 or P12-32 ...cause I prefer sharp & wide before the zoom/details...details are boring ..but good compo, decisive momen, wide perspective is something which can make interesting photo ....bokeh & detail can be made by "anybody" ...but good moment catch is pretty tough to do!
  19. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I think both scenarios make for good photos, and it's silly and arbitrary to pick one or the other. So why not take both? It's for that reason that the 14-140mm will always have a place for me, even if my old f4 version is not an optical masterpiece, its versatility means that you can get photos that would be impossible otherwise.

    Especially with more and more camera-users entirely foregoing zoom lenses and sticking with the 28-35mm eq. focal length on their phones, you can get some truly unique and interesting perspectives with a 280mm eq. telephoto walk-around lens...
  20. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
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