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Heading to Europe - what lenses to bring?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by dcg, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. dcg

    dcg Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2014
    Hoping to get some advice from those of you who travel extensively with photo gear - I'm heading to Europe in <2 weeks (Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna - first time in each city), and trying to decide what to bring along.

    I'll be bringing my E-M5 + Panasonic 7-14mm for certain. In addition, I just ordered/am planning to bring an Olympus XZ-2. Between these two, I'll have 14-112mm covered.

    I've also got the following lenses which I could bring, listed roughly in order of probability:
    Sigma 19mm f/2.8 - useful to have on the E-M5 at night
    Olympus 45mm f/1.8 - Not sure how much use I'd have for this focal length, and I'm not sure it's worth bringing now that I have the XZ-2
    Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens - Don't see much use for this since I'll have the XZ-2
    Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro - Don't really see any reason to bring this

    I'm leaning toward bringing the E-M5 along with the 7-14mm and 19mm Sigma, plus the XZ-2. My suspicion is that I'll likely be concentrating on the wide angle during the day, and can swap in the faster prime at night, with the XZ-2 as a backup for both.

    I'm also on the fence regarding whether to bring my Sirui T-005x tripod.

    Any suggestions or recommendations from experienced travelers would be appreciated!
  2. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I find that the best thing to do is to tailor your kit to the type of photography you like to do.

    For me, it is street and architecture, so I would lean toward the 7-14 and wither the Sigma 19 or Oly 45(just so you have that good night time prime.

    I wouldn't bring a ton of gear as it might just get you to the point where you are deciding which gear to use and not enjoying the sights/getting some great images.

    My 2 cents worth anyway.
  3. dcg

    dcg Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2014
    Thanks for the reply. The above reinforces my line of thinking - this is NOT primarily a photography-based trip and there will be a lot of walking, so I want to go as light as possible, without encountering too many of those "I really wish I'd brought" moments. A faster wide/normal prime would probably be ideal, but the Sigma may have to do.

    Still undecided on the tripod.
  4. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Leave the tripod at home if it's not mostly about photography.

    Also, define where/what you want to visit. Saying 'Heading to Europe' is about as helpful to me as saying 'going to visit North America'. I'm assuming you mean mostly cities/cultural sites, so I'd go along with the ultrawide + normal as a minimum requirement.
  5. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    You are missing a bright wide prime like 14 , 17, or 20. You need it for low light situations like evenings and inside buildings. They are also fun and unobtrusive to just walk around with. I think Sigma is too dim. I suggest picking up the very inexpensive 14mm.
    Tripod is great for night photography. If it's not too much of a burden I would bring one. One eve you may find yourself wanting to go back out to that fabulous square or bridge for that great photo and you will wish you had it. Even a small Gorillapod will do.
    I'd consider a telephoto for a change of pace too. I have some cool photos of workers on top of Vienna cathedral fixing the domes.
    Have a nice trip!
  6. jziegler

    jziegler Mu-43 Veteran

    Leave the tripod, but get a small tabletop tripod or a gorillapod so you have something for night landscapes/streetscapes/lights.

    I'd definately take the 45mm (but it's my favorite lens right now). If you're not traveling alone, it would be good for portraits of your traveling companion(s). I'm not as sure on the 19mm, it seems like it might overlap the xz-2 use enough that I'm not sure I'd bother. I agree on the 14-42, but I don't use kit lenses much anyway, so I'm baised here. The 60mm could go either way. It wouldn't be in my top 2 or 3 lenses for a trip to Europe (based on what I own), but would be number 4 or 5. And I'd be taking 4-5 lenses and 2 bodies for a Europe trip, and still have less weight and size than when I took SLRs (film or digital) to Europe or Hawaii.
  7. shaggy

    shaggy Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2014
    Bratislava, Slovakia
    I live in one of the cities you mentioned (Bratislava).
    For me, the best combination (for achitecture/street photography) would be Olympus 9-18mm with some 20/25mm prime. Because I like ZOOs (there are nice ZOO in all three cities, especially in Vienna), I would bring some tele-zoom.

    From your lens I would choose 7-14mm + 45mm and maybe 19mm Sigma. And forget about tripod, leave it at home.
  8. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    I just spent a month in Vietnam, Cambodia, and China traveling with the Sirui t-025x because I felt my normal RRS tripod was to large to travel with and the gorillapod not capable enough. After a month, my feelings are that I would have been better off with just taking my gorillapod, and I'll probably end up selling the Sirui. It's good for what it is, but it's just not stable enough for me to do consistent long exposure shots, and I don't believe there was a single placement that I couldn't have managed with the gorillapod instead.
  9. dcg

    dcg Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2014
    Walking around Budapest, Bratislava, and Vienna, so yes - cities and cultural sites.

    Well, the 19mm Sigma is 2.8, and the 14 is 2.5, so not much difference (in terms of aperture). And the 14mm only gains me a bit more than a stop vs. the 7-14 (though in a much smaller package). My thought was that if I were to make an additional purchase, either the Panasonic or Olympus 25mm would make the most sense.

    Good points, I'm now leaning toward replacing the 19mm with the 45mm. Also, I'm bringing a GorillaPod Micro 800, which folds up to almost nothing.

    I'm a big zoo fan myself, and we do plan on visiting. That said, I still use a DSLR for longer-range photography (Canon 1D mk III + 70-200f/4L IS), and I'm certainly not lugging that with me, but am hesitant to purchase a longer zoom just for this trip. I may have to make due as best I can with the XZ-2 and the 45mm.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I'll have the gorillapod with me during the day. Whether or not I bring the Sirui may come down to how much room is left in the bag once I've packed everything else.
  10. shaggy

    shaggy Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2014
    Bratislava, Slovakia
    Sigma 19mm may be a good choice, but brighter lens would be better. Here is example from my Panasonic 20mm f1.8:
    The only problem is it has really slow AF on Olympus bodies (that's why I am selling my copy of these lens).

    Take your UWA, take your 45mm Oly nad you will be satisfied.
    Some sample photos (all taken in Bratislava):
    9-18mm @ 9mm: http://fourthirds.camera/galleries/various/street_9-18.jpg
    45mm: http://fourthirds.camera/galleries/various/street_45a.jpg and http://fourthirds.camera/galleries/various/street_45b.jpg
  11. dcg

    dcg Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2014
    I was considering the 20mm Panny, but was put off by the slow focusing and reports of banding on the E-M5.

    Then thought about the 17mm Oly, but....it's $100 more than the 25 and the 45, and from what I've read, doesn't seem to match their performance. I'm sure it still takes fantastic pictures, and I believe it goes on sale from time to time, so I may opt for it in the future.

    I found a mint used copy of the Sigma for $100, and got the XZ-2 for $280 - so for about the price of the 20mm Panny (and $100 less than the 17mm Oly), I ended up with a similar focal length prime + the XZ-2 (at the cost of 1 stop and larger size on the prime). I'd love to own all of the Olympus primes, but budget does have to come into play (and the trip itself will not be cheap). If I do end up making another lens purchase prior to leaving, I'm leaning toward the Oly 50.

    Thanks for sharing your photos, can't wait to visit your city!
  12. dcg

    dcg Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2014
    Quick recap, as I wanted to share my thoughts after the trip. I ended up bringing the E-M5, 7-14mm, and the 45, plus the gorillapod micro 800.

    Decisions I was happy with:
    1. Huge thanks to all who convinced me to bring the 45/1.8 - some of my favorite shots came from it.
    2. Very happy with the decision to bring the gorillapod 800, and leave the Sirui at home. I used the gorillapod A LOT. A few shots would have been better with a full tripod, but would not have been worth the added hassle. The 800 is a great use of ~$20.
    3. The E-M5 is just a joy to use. Saw a bunch of people with big DSLR setups, and can't imagine lugging all that around with the amount of walking I did.

    What I would have done differently:
    1. I rarely used the XZ-2. Would have been better off putting that money toward a second m/43 body, so that I didn't have to switch lenses. About the same price, and wouldn't have taken up any more space in my bag.
    2. We got extremely lucky with the weather, but had things gone differently, a weather sealed lens would have been nice to compliment the E-M5. The 12-40 may be in my future at some point.

    A few shots:

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/23432676@N03/14119039104" title="P4231142.jpg by David George, on Flickr">
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    "640" height="480" alt="P4231142.jpg"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/23432676@N03/13932037779" title="P4231563.jpg by David George, on Flickr">
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    "640" height="480" alt="P4231563.jpg"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/23432676@N03/14118753515" title="P4240568.jpg by David George, on Flickr">
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    "640" height="480" alt="P4240568.jpg"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/23432676@N03/13932088897" title="P4251431.jpg by David George, on Flickr">
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