Good cheap zoom for travel?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Timur, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. Timur

    Timur Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 10, 2015
    New to this forum, thought maybe can ask forum gurus for an advice. Basically, looking to get a good zoom for travel. I have the EM1 and a selection of primes, but I want to bring a minimal kit with me to my next trip, maybe will only take Pana Leica 25mm. I did a bit of reading, if dxomark is correct, it seems panasonic 14-42 v2 is pretty good (in fact it's the sharpest one apart from the pro zoom) , and prices seem fair new and used. Is there any other lenses worth looking at? Pro zooms are out if my current range.

    Thank you!
  2. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    While it might seem odd on the E-M1 my favorite little zoom is the Panasonic 12-32. I find the extra 2mm in the wide end me useful than the 10mm on the long end.
  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I've often considered the 12-50, even though it doesn't review extremely well. It's a little long physically, but it is light and does wide angle, short telephoto and macro. Add the fast 25mm, and what's left to cover for travel? It's also weather sealed on your E-M1, so you can take it out if it gets a little too wet for the 25mm

    It isn't cheap new, but it often is $200 or less when bought used.
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  4. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I think that when you're traveling, and encounter inconvenient weather as I did on a trip to Japan a couple of years ago, a weather sealed lens and camera can be a lifesaver. When the weather was bad, I could still take the EM5 and the 12-50 out and get some shots. Now I have an EM1 and the 12-40 Pro, so I would use that, and did. :)

    The O 14-150 II lens is weather sealed, but costs as much or more than the 12-50 new. I thought the O 14-42 II R lens was pretty decent and is quite reasonable, albeit not weather sealed.
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  5. Ray Tracer

    Ray Tracer New to Mu-43 Subscribing Member

    Aug 9, 2015
    Basically, you have to decide what you want to trade off against what- image quality, zoom range, price, or portability. The kind of travel you are doing and the style of images you want will influence this choice. Lugging too-heavy gear around with you can turn your travel enjoyment into a chore.

    When you are traveling, your picture-taking opportunities are often unplanned and unexpected. You can plan to get to (say) a temple at dawn for that golden hour light, but the image that speaks most strongly is the elderly woman across the street, sweeping outside a weathered doorway. By the time you change to an appropriate longer lens, she's gone, and so has your image. Zooms rule. Besides, the less frequently you have to change lenses in dusty environments, the cleaner your sensor will stay.

    I've used the 12-50 Olympus with my E-M5 for travel in Morocco, and it performed well. Other factors, like haze, or the need to use short exposures because you're taking images from a moving vehicle, usually compromise the image more than the lens does. The 12-50 is relatively affordable, weatherproof, and has a better-than-average macro capability.

    More recently however, I upgraded to the Olympus 14-150, mainly because I felt I was missing longer shots of distant scenery, and because in many parts of the world, there is still cultural resistance to some foreigner snapping away from close range at the locals. After a recent tour in Iran, I felt comfortable with the new lens- not overly bulky, and enough range to meet all 'normal' needs. The new version is also splashproof, unlike the original, so if you are buying second hand, check carefully which version you are being offered.
  6. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Given an E-M1, a 12-50 might be wise due to weather sealing. I certainly kept my old 12-50 and take it on trips because of it. The 12-50 is also good for closeups (which the PL25 is not great for due to lesser magnification). I also have the 12-32 which is better optically at the wide end, but gets taken less often nowadays since I also have a 9-18.
  7. Robstar1963

    Robstar1963 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 10, 2011
    Isle of Wight England UK
    Robert (Rob)
    I'd go with the 14 - 150 Mk2 if you can afford it
    It is weather Sealed and obviously has a much bigger range for all eventualities (the Mk1 version was not weather sealed but may be a cheaper option if weather sealing is not a requirement)
    It is also very compact for what it is - the length is probably similar to or perhaps shorter than the 12 - 50 ( when at minimum FL) ??? and Image Quality is very respectable
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  8. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    On paper the 12-50 is the ideal option. It's not so slow as it may seem: up to 42mm it is actually just a little faster then the other kit zooms.
    It's not the punchiest lens around, but the real question for me is: is IQ better of worst then others kit zooms?
    No doubts the 12-32 on the wide end is going to be better but at 25 and over I do not know.
  9. The other obvious companion to the 14-42 v2 would be the Pan 45-150, which is affordable and actually an excellent lens. The two make a good travel package that gives very good results.
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  10. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
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  11. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I don't think it is any better and probably a little worse than the newer kit lenses. That's why I said I keep considering it and not that I own it. I get cold feet everytime I get close to buying it.

    I am still hoping for an m4/3 equivalent to the 15-85mm I had on Canon. Man that was a great lens for travel and landscapes. Sharp as a tack across the range with great stabilization and AF. 24-135mm equivalent, too, which meant I almost never needed to swap to a telephoto. So I guess that would be something like 12-70 on m4/3? I'll be first in line to buy it. :)

    Canon has a very nice affordable 18-135mm STM that is almost as good, too. We have a lot of 10-11x superzooms, but there seems to be a nice sweet spot in the 5-7x range that m4/3 isn't trying to fill.
  12. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Yes, a weather-sealed 12-70 f3.5-4.5 (or constant f4?) in the ~$600 range would probably attract a lot of attention. That's only a teensy bit faster than the 14-140mm is at that part of the zoom range, so it doesn't seem unreasonable.
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  13. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I want it to be excellent optically, reasonably compact, and reasonably priced. I'd be just as happy with f3.5-5.6, honestly. F3.5-4.5 really isn't significantly faster anyway. 0 stops faster at wide end, 2/3 a stop at the long end, and maybe 1/3 stop in the middle. Hardly worth worrying about, especially if it makes the lens more expensive and large.

    TBH for what I'd use it for, I wouldn't care if it was straight f5.6.
  14. ex machina

    ex machina Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Northern Virgnia
    The Panasonic 14-42 v2 is an awesome, under-rated lens available at great prices. If you think most of your shooting range is going to be reasonable close it would be great choice.

    Mine hasn't gotten much play of late as I picked up a p14-140II and a bunch of large adapted lenses I've been playing with, but I've appreciated recently how small and compact that kit lens is, and with the recent sale of a 18x24 print I shot with it, how good a performer.

    Edit: Just went back to my gallery and realized I've actually sold four 18x24 prints shot using that lens at the same show I referenced earlier (thought the other three were from my o9-18). Makes me appreciate that little performer even more.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
  15. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    I had the 12-50 and 40-150 on our last long trip. Total image split was 95% in favor of the 12-50. 12mm is minimum on the wide end for me. Now I would consider the 14-150 and 9-18 however the range I used the most was 12-50 which argues for guessed it...the 12-50
  16. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    I've travelled with the 12-50mm and 40-150mm along with a prime or two and they both perform well. I've recently printed some of the images from both kit zooms and I'm very impressed. The 12-50 needs a little PP at the long end mainly to get the best results. It's much better than the 14-42 v2 I had and sold after one trip. You can use the PL25 for low light, as this isn't the kit lens strong suit. FWIW I had the 12-40mm pro and left it at home on my trip to the Caribbean for caution of theft. I think I would have been fine as it turned out, but for most photos the 12-50 does well. The 40-150 always surprises on the plus side.

    I've heard the panny 12-32 is good, but never had one myself.

    If IQ is more important than size/weight a fourthirds 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 MKii (MK1 is functional on the EM1 $100, but slower focus than the MKii) + MMF adapter can be had for under $300 combined and is better than all the other kits in that price range. I've owned a handful of them and just recently started using it again.
  17. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    Yes, that is another consideration. "Can I afford to lose it?". For me it's more a question of, "If I fall in the creek can I afford to lose it?". :)
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  18. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Hey Tkbslc, I had a Canon 7D with a 15-85 too. Always felt that it was an ideal walk around lens. Very sharp and just the right range for general walk around. But, while it was a great combo, it was also heavy and bulky. It was when struggling to carry that around during a very hot, humid day at the Okinawan Festival in Honolulu, I encountered my friend carrying around an EM5 with a 12-50. He looked so cool and comfortable, and the camera was so tiny and lightweight, I started having second thoughts. Within a few months, I'd bought the EM5 and sold my Canon gear. :)

    M43 sure has made photography more of a pleasure than a pain. One indication. Within a few months, I'd shot more photos with the EM5 than I had with the 7D in a year.
  19. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    Yes. I also left home the EM1, took the EM5.
  20. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    The reconditioned Olympus 12-50 is available now on for $199, the 14-42 II is available for $99. The 14-150 Mk. 1 is available for $399. While supplies last. :)

    I've bought a bunch of reconditioned stuff from getolympus and have been very happy with them. Bought my original EM5 and 12-50, 60 macro, 9-18, and recently, 45 f1.8. All were in like new condition and work great.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
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