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Expanding lens selection: long or wide?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by hopium, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. hopium

    hopium New to Mu-43

    Dec 8, 2010
    Anchorage, Alaska

    I recently got an E-PL1 with kit lens and the 20mm and will be traveling to Varanasi, India for three months. (Well, the camera hasn't come in the mail yet...) I'm budgeting for one more lens, but am stuck deciding between the 9-18mm and the new Olympus 40-150mm. They're entirely different lenses (in price as well as use!) and I'm not sure what would suit me better despite extensive reading and viewing of sample images. I'm an all-around kind of photographer so it's not easy to pick. My previous camera had an effective range of 28-88mm (Canon Rebel kit lens.) I never found myself missing anything on either end because I was a novice and never knew anything different, but I want to get some really great pictures from my trip so would like to extend my range. A sample of my past photography can be seen here. (Note: Facebook crops the thumbnails, annoyingly.)

    So, my questions are:
    1. For those with just a kit lens, do you find yourself missing more the wide or the long end?
    2. I will be hiking for two weeks in the mountains (although most of my time will be spent in the city.) Is 28mm wide enough for landscape uses/is stitching shots a pain? I've never done it before.
    3. For travel photography, do you find wide or long more useful? (I realize this is highly subjective!)

    Thanks for your responses. Sorry for noobiness.
  2. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    How about the 14-150??? Or buy both the other lenses, and plan to sell one when you return. When I went up into the Rockies in August of this year, I bought the 14-150 specifically for that reason, though I also had the 20mm and a fast legacy 50mm for portraits of my companions.

    Barring the two above, Id get the tele first, because the kit goes wider than either of your current lenses go long and, contrary to popular notion, a lot of landscape and travel photography can benefit quite a bit from teles, which give you some great framing options on areas of interest in a landscape. Also, you can stitch photos together into panos. Major cropping is not nearly as wonderful.
  3. A 9-18mm would be perfect along the ghats of Varanasi and in the mountains of India/Nepal, but I tend to prefer wide angle lenses.

    On my last holiday to the Middle East I took four lenses (on a Canon DSLR), a 10-20mm, 24-105mm, 55-250mm, 60mm macro. My usage rate was approx

    24-105mm 65%
    10-20mm 33%
    55-250mm 1.5%
    60mm 0.5%
    • Like Like x 1
  4. hopium

    hopium New to Mu-43

    Dec 8, 2010
    Anchorage, Alaska
    I've definitely considered the 14-150--it seems to make sense to combine two lenses into one. However, my qualms about this are optical quality and size. Is it true that the optical quality throughout the range is compromised because of the longer zoom, compared to the two lenses separately? I also considered that keeping the 14-150 on a lot of the time makes it a much different camera size-wise than just having the 14-42 on most of the time, and switching to the 40-150 when I need it. Although maybe that size difference is worth the hassle of changing lenses. It's hard to weigh.

    My budget would be a little uncomfortable if I bought both! And I don't want to get too cluttered with lenses, I'll only be traveling with a (large) backpack.

    What you say about stitching being preferable to cropping definitely makes sense. And a telephoto lens would give me more opportunities to get some unobtrusive people shots...
  5. hopium

    hopium New to Mu-43

    Dec 8, 2010
    Anchorage, Alaska
    That's a great statistical breakdown! Must be useful to realize you use two of the lenses only 2% of the time. Although if those 2% were great, maybe it's worth carrying the things. :) 

    I definitely see the appeal of wide angle lenses--nice sweeping views, lots of photographic context in an city environment. I like a lot of the pictures I've seen with them, but then I worry that once I got one in my hands, I'd turn into one of the "bad" wide angle lens users...no foreground interest! Converging lines! Ahh! :tongue:

    I think I'm one of those people who are too middle of the road and will end up owning every kind of lens! I wish I hated a certain kind of picture, that would limit my options nicely.
  6. I wouldn't like to not have had a telephoto lens, but I was certainly justified in taking the lightweight 55-250mm instead of any L-series telephoto lenses, which I think I have now conclusively proved to myself with those stats that I could quite easily sell them and not miss them one bit.
  7. That's right, just because a 9-18mm lens can zoom out to 9mm doesn't mean it has to stay there the whole time.:smile:
  8. walt_tbay

    walt_tbay Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 24, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    This is a tough choice, but I would probably opt for the telephoto if you are planning to mainly take landscape photos. Stitching two or three shots together taken using the 20mm or the wide end of the zoom would give you great results on the wide angle side of things. Also, if you want to take a lot of wildlife shots, the 40-150mm zoom is definitely the way to go.

    Here's a photo I stitched together from two shots taken with my Panasonic 14-140mm zoom at 14mm. It's a panorama of the interior of the Metrodome in Minneapolis. I think it works because the was minimal movement discernible in the crowd and on the field.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    On the other hand, if you are spending most of your time in the city and plan to try some street photography or indoor shooting I'd opt for the 9-18mm. I find that the 20mm, although great for low light situations, doesn't quite give me enough of a wide angle to capture everything that I want in the frame.

    Here's one of the first shots I took using the Olympus 9-18mm zoom at 9mm. It was taken at the corner of Yonge and Dundas the evening I bought the lens in Toronto. Stitching wouldn't have worked because of the amount of movement going on.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  9. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    they are all the same....just zoom with your feet. I'm only half joking. If I had to travel with only 2 lenses, I'd go with the 20mm for walkabout and the 45-200mm for everything else.
  10. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I personally would do this...

    Get the 9-18mm since I generally like to shoot wide to normal focal lengths for the type of shots I like. It is also important to remember that wide angles from adapted lenses have had it's reported issues. That and those short focal lengths are difficult to find on older manual focus lenses make it necessary to own wide angle native lenses.

    For telephoto, use an adapted prime lens. A decent kmount or M42 lens plus adapter should be obtainable and cheap. Epl1 will provide IS on these older lenses and they perform fairly well.

    That's exactly what I did for my Maine trip this past summer.

    9-18, 14-42, takumar 135, takumar 200 on an epl1. still easy to carry as both takumars are fairly small.
  11. akulya

    akulya Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 21, 2010
    You might get some ideas from this thread

    He uses the kit lens and manual lenses, but if you have never used a manual focus lens before, give serious thought to buying and relying on one - try one out first.

    The image quality might well be very good, but they require a certain state of mind to enjoy using; I have a Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 which I consider almost flawless, but I only use it when I know I want that particular lens because using a manaul focus prime lens is nontrivial. If you want or need operational speed, I would consider an autofocus.
  12. deirdre

    deirdre Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 9, 2010
    You can't add width, but you can crop.

    For that reason, I'd say go with a wider angle.

    For my trip to Hawaii, I took three cameras and six lenses. One of each was a specialized combo.

    On my Leica M8, I didn't use the 50mm at all (partly because I didn't have an IR filter for it); I used the 15mm and 28mm (20mm and 37mm effective).

    On my Panasonic, I found that I rarely use my much-loved 20mm as it largely overlapped the 28mm on the M8, so I pretty much had the 45mm Panaleica macro on most of the time.
  13. JCD

    JCD Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 10, 2010
    Palermo, Italy
    when I bought my GF1 (with pana 20mm), I decided to take also the m.zuiko 9-18 for one, simple, reason: a legacy-wide angle lens for :43: (such as a 18/20mm equivalent in full frame) is almost non-existent, so or you buy a 9-18 (or 7-17 pana) or you'll never be covered on the widest side
  14. Kosta

    Kosta Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 29, 2010
    I felt for the most part 14mm was wide enough on my trip, and i felt like i needed longer focal length to isolate and get the details of things further away - i didn't want to spend my whole time zooming with my feet (especially with a large backpack - feet get tired, you know what i mean?)
    i think the 14-150 and the pana 20 would've been great as a minimalist combo....the 9-18 is a beaut lens, but personally, i found more need for longer focal lengths (which i didn't have at the time).
    that said, having only one lens with me made the most of it and utilising it. i think if i had too much to carry it would've made the trip more hassle and less enjoyable.
  15. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Yes, an all-in-one zoom is compromised. But that's the trade-off. If you were shooting with a Canon 5D and you were considering, say, a 70-200 F4 IS vs. an 18-200 all in one -- there's no question. Night and day. But I find in m43 with the native zooms, the differences aren't huge (though they are there).

    Having said that, I find the quality of the 14-150 BETTER than the kit 14-42 (though likely not as good as the more telephoto zoom).

    In terms of size/weight, I had no issues with the 14-150. The lens is pretty darn compact.

    Still, for best IQ, separate lenses are always best, but I wouldn't put the kit 14-42 in that statement.

  16. Jimboh

    Jimboh Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 17, 2010
    Ren t?

    I really like my Oly 9-18, but my style also requires I take along a telephoto on most any trip. I'm not sure it's wise spending a whole bunch of money going to an exotic place without bringing a proper compliment of lenses.

    Therefore, I'd recommend you rent to cover the gaps and perhaps use the utilization outcome to help you determine which you would want to eventually own.
  17. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I hear chicks prefer girth, so go wide :) 
  18. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2010
    I think the OP is female.
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