Help Me Choose a Travel Lens

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Thenoelan, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Thenoelan

    Thenoelan Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 9, 2013
    So I made the jump to MFT last week. I'm used to shooting with a D7000 w/ tokina 11-16 f/2.8 + 35 f/1.8. I sold it all and got myself a OMD EM5 w/ kit 12-50, simply because I'm going to be backpacking around SE Asia and refuse to carry a bunch of bulky heavy gear. Yet the purpose of this 3 month long trip IS photography, so I really need to have some good equipment.

    The 12-50 is growing on me, but I can't help but keep comparing it to the Nikon 18-55 kit lens, which is rather disappointing. I like the zoom range for a walk around and the weather sealing, but really like having more depth of field than the 3.5-6.3

    I'm leaving in just 11 days and have some serious decisions to make very quickly, so I would love to have the help of this community. Money is not unlimited, but I can spare some of my travel fund to make the right equipment decisions. Here's what I'm thinking:

    -Keep or sell the 12-50, depending on if it's use can be replaced

    -Acquire a good street lens with low light capability, I'm thinking between the oly's 12 f/2 or 17 f/1.8

    -I LOVE having a wide angle available, and my former Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 was amazing. It's fast enough that I could still sorta play at night, and wide enough to get some otherwise impossible shots. Obviously nothing like this lens is available for the MFT system. The 9-18 is a bit out of price range, but could be justified if remediated with a fast lens that doesn't conflict in FOV, which everything that I like really does.

    -I like the idea of the 7.5mm fisheye, especially seeing how well is can be defished (as I'm not into the fisheye thing) and the price point is wonderful

    I guess I just really need help talking this one out with others who understand the dilemma. I also really don't want to be hauling around much equipment at all. I'm traveling with just 20-25lbs on my back, which to those who don't know, is really light for a backpack weight. The majority of my weight is tied up in electronics.

    So how do ya'll feel about the situation? Would say, the 7.5 + 17 be a good combo? Under what conditions should I keep the 12-50? Is there a good reason to get the 9-18? or the 12?

    Thanks for the help :confused::biggrin:
  2. stargate

    stargate Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 14, 2013
    according to your (implied) photography style I think that a 7.5 which defishes splendidly and the diminutive collapsible P14-42is a very compact and satisfying kit. I do not know the P14-42 IQ level but it can not be bad and is so small and light!
  3. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    The 12-50 is weather sealed and has some macro capabilities, therefor I would keep it for east Asia rainy parts. Another lens to consider is the P20 it is very sharp and the focusing speed is adequate for most scenarios and it is cheaper then the Oly choices. The 7.5 is great and you do not need to defish it just keep the horizon in the middle and tou got a great landscape UWA. When I bought it, I have thought the same that I will use it as UWA and defish but after a couple of shots I have stopped defishing.
  4. ntblowz

    ntblowz Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 13, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Get 17mm 1.8 for street and Panasonic 14mm + Sony VCL-ECU1 UW add on (equal to 10.5mm) for budget UW need.
  5. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    The Panasonic 14mm really is a great little lens, it's not as sharp as the 20mm but it's going for very reasonable prices right now. Very good value compared to the Olympus 12mm.

    Then there's always the Leica 25mm...
  6. Thenoelan

    Thenoelan Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 9, 2013
    I'm starting to like the idea of the 7.5mm fisheye, and I want to like the 14mm, but I'm worried that the f/2.5 isn't wide enough for low light. Seeing as somehow I cannot search this forum, could someone point me in the right direction with how the 14 preforms in low light? I hear the AF is great, but I'm looking for brightness achieved.
  7. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I bought a Panasonic 7-14/4 lens before going to the UK last summer and was amazed at how well it worked in many situations, both on my EM-5 and on the GX-1 I also owned at the time.
  8. aidanw

    aidanw Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 19, 2012
    Wellington, NZ
    The 14mm works okay in low-light, but isn't amazing. Anything with the OM-D sensor will be good up to ISO 3200 and acceptable in the right conditions with 6400. Focus speed is excellent.

    The 20mm is much better IQ and for lowlight. However banding is definitely an issue, and for some reason I find the perspective kind of flat, like it doesn't really pull you into the photo - and it's not really isolating enough at distance to give a sense of depth.
    Focus speed is variable and is generally bad indoors.
  9. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    you say budget is limited... whats your actual budget?

    It sounds like you like UWA, so I'd consider the 7-14mm if you can afford it (watch out for purple flare on the OMD). Otherwise 9-18mm is cheaper and smaller.

    I've never tried fisheye's but the defished samples I've seen aren't always that great... so I assume it can be a bit technique sensitive making a fisheye image look 'normal'. It's probably going to be more difficult getting your composition right, as well.

    You could also try take two shots and making a panorama. Using the rectilinear project can give you a look similar to UWA.

    The panasonic 25mm will give you a roughly equivalent focal length to the 35mm on your nikon crop. It's a very fast lens, though a little larger than some others available. Otherwise theres the panasonic 20mm or oly 17mm. Comes down to depending on what focal length you prefer, budget, size.
  10. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 5, 2013
    mark evans
    I've only had the P14 for a couple of days, but - despite the aperture loss - I do prefer it to the P20 (the 40 focal length just doesn't seem to work for me), and it is stupidly small.

    The only other thought I had was that it might be worth buying a few common adapters and seeing what quirky old lenses you can pick up while you're out there.
  11. Thenoelan

    Thenoelan Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Well, I'd really love to keep it under $600, but since the whole point of this trip is to fulfill a photography grant I received, I really do have to have the proper gear. I could get the 7-14 if it is truly a game changer, but the f/4 is somewhat scary to me.

    Seeing as both adorama and b&h have great return policies, I am considering buying more than I need and then returning the rest.

    So how's this, lets pretend budget is big. Who wants to help me assemble a few different kits from the following options?

    Capabilities I need to have are ultra wide, low light, portrait, street. Ideal features for the lenses to have are small, light weight, high IQ. The less lenses used the better.

    7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye
    7-14 f/4
    9-18 f/4-5.6
    12mm f/2
    12-50 f/3.5-6.3
    14mm f/2.5
    17mm f/1.8
    20mm f/1.7

    One possible kit would be 7.5mm fisheye + 17mm 1.8
    another would be 7-14 + 20 1.7
  12. bredman

    bredman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 30, 2013
    Sherwood Forest
    Don't give up on your 12-50. It's a good all-rounder with good macro and weather sealed. And lightweight for all that performance. Looks like you like to shoot wide but you will miss the option of a more standard range at times. I'd take that and the 12/2.
  13. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    which features are you able to compromise more on? Its going to be hard to choose a setup that does everything.

    $600 probably won't get you far. Have you considered buying a lense and then reselling it after you come back? Consider the loss in value a 'rental fee'.

    A few things things to consider...
    -the 7-14 doesn't fit filters easily. As mentioned earlier the 7-14 can result in purple flare on the OMD EM5.
    -Apparently the autofocus on the 20mm can be a little slow in low light (though there are people who argue against the case).
    -Apparently the 9-18mm is not the most sharpest lens, though it is small, lightweight and handles filters. Proponents of this lens will say it is sharp enough

    Given you budget, I'd probably go with the fisheye and 17mm 1.8/20mm 1.7.

    btw, I'd suggest getting a cheap telephoto lens like the oly 40-150, if you budget can stretch. I found the extra reach useful on occasions, during my own travels. Don't rule out the use of telephoto for landscapes.
  14. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Why is nobody mentioning the 12-35/2.8? It fits ALL the required criteria: wide angle to short tele range? Check. Weather sealed? Check. Faster aperture? Check. Reasonable close focusing (flowers)? Check. Small/light/versatile? Check.

    Ok, no check mark for the budget, but if this trip is really about photography, I don't know why you wouldn't splurge a little on the right lens to take.
  15. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    The feeling I get from the OP, is he prefers shooting focal lengths wider than 12mm. Otherwise, yes the 12-35 is a good option. My own travel kit was 12-35mm, 17mm 1.8, oly 40-150.
  16. Thenoelan

    Thenoelan Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Previous poster has a point that I do prefer angles wider than 12, yet thank you for pointing this lens out. it does, indeed, fit most of the required criteria. I have done no looking into this, but I assume at such a high price point it is a brilliant lens. I will defiantly consider this.

    and yes, as another poster suggested, I will (unfortunately :frown:) be selling any too expensive lenses when I get home. The "rental fee" will be more than worth it for the pictures that will be created.

    perhaps the 12-35 f/2.8 + the 7.5?
  17. nardoleo

    nardoleo Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 2, 2013
    If photography is a priority for your trip, i would recommend the 7-14mm, Oly Pana 25mm, Oly 45mm and Oly 75mm. Those are the lens i would bring for a Photography Outing.

    If just for convenience, I would say just the Pana 12-35mm would be a lovely one lens solution.
  18. Thenoelan

    Thenoelan Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 9, 2013
    i suppose the question is then, how does the 12-35 f/2.8 handle low light? I feel it is questionable that the f/2.8 can match up to the wideness of the 1.8... also I would love to get some creamy bokeh as a real bonus.

    while something like the 12-35 + 7.5 + 17 sounds great, I can't really justify almost $2K in glass when a poor man could accomplish almost any of this with just the 17.

    Thank you for the open conversation and the help, it's really making me think, which is what I need, so thanks, and keep the opinions coming :biggrin:

    can anyone with personal experience comment on how the IQ on the 12-35 matches up with the 17?
  19. RoadTraveler

    RoadTraveler Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 23, 2012
    Pretty strong argument, and I agree.

    Of course the money is a killer for many, sometimes spending more is simply not possible. :frown:
  20. monk3y

    monk3y Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 14, 2013
    in The Cloud...
    I used the 17mm f/1.8 as my primary lens for a while and only used the 12-35mm very briefly but it is regarded as one of the best lens around for m43. I doubt you would notice significant difference in IQ of both lenses. You need to be splitting hairs before any IQ difference becomes apparent. Although of course at the same FL and bigger apertures, the 17mm will render a more dramatic effect due to shallower dof.:)

    Sent from my GT-N7100 using Mu-43 mobile app
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