Hikers! 7-14 or 9-18?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by turtleboy133, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. turtleboy133

    turtleboy133 Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 13, 2011
    There are quite a few posts comparing the 7-14 and 9-18mm. In general, the consensus seems to be that the 7-14 may have slightly better optical quality, while the 9-18 is a great value and size. However, what it boils down to is what it's used for. All the threads seem to focus on which has better image quality versus the trade-offs (size and price); however, as a hiker/backpacker I am willing to sacrifice image quality for something that lets me get the shots I need while out in the mountains. As they say, the picture you take is (often) better than the one you don't.

    After getting tired of lugging my Sigma 15-30mm, 70-200mm and 10D all over the place, I have bought into the u4/3 system. I'm trying to decide whether the 7-14 or 9-18mm will be more appropriate for hiking. If you're a hiker or backpacker, do you have either and what has your experience been? If you have the 9-18mm, do you ever wish you had that extra 2mm for a landscape shot? If you have the 7-14mm, do you ever wish it was a little more compact?
  2. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Having compared the two side by side in person, the smallness of the 9-18, especially when collapsed, is striking. I mean it is TINY.

    The 7-14 autofocuses faster, but they were both super quick.

    I think it really comes down to whether the extra width at the "short" end is more important to you than the extra length at the "long" end. Personally, I can see a lot more use in the 14-18 range than I can in the 7-9 range (but then, I'm not really an UWA guy)
  3. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    My personal challenge with UWA is filling the frame with something interesting. At first I thought that landscapes where the right place for them, but I often ended up reducing dramatic mountains to small, distant hills. So now I will hike with the 14/2.5 and make it work. I can pack more peanut butter with the space and weight that I save...
    • Like Like x 1
  4. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    If you're going to be hiking I think the size/weight advantage and ability to put on filters to protect your expensive UWA lens swings it in favour of the 9-18mm. And it's cheaper should you drop it off a mountain or something. :p
  5. BigTom

    BigTom Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 23, 2011
    The deal breaker for me was the lack of filters on the 7-14. However, I am amazed by how small and light the 9-18 is. Very happy so far, and don't find myself missing the extra couple of mm yet (inevitably it'll happen at some point though). Coming from a 10-20 on APSC.
  6. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Real Name:
    i'll choose the 9-18, however the 7-14 is still relatively smaller and lighter when you are used to have an uwa for aps-c or full-frame.

  7. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Well I think it all depends on your shooting style really. I do a lot of hiking but find myself shooting at the longer focal ranges. Going through my photos I realize I hardly shoot wide angle. I mostly focus on details and wildlife(butterflies, birds, flowers, and such).

    If you shoot a lot of landscapes and vistas, then go wide!
  8. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    I find, for my taste, that UWA is not good for vista and landscapes. Like John Flores said, the details are lost as tiny bits in a larger picture. Last year in the rockies, I found my 14-140 much more useful -- at the longer end!

    Where I do like UWA is when I have a close subject and I want to fill the background with context. I was walking around an interesting city a few weeks back (Portsmouth NH) and used mainly the 14mm end of the kit lens plus a fisheye attachment to catch the city scenes (which are right there, at least compared to distant mount scenes). I bet the 9-18 would have rocked in that environment.

    To sum, for me at least, I don't find UWA useful for distant objects, but instead for close ones. Therefore, I'd recommend a longer lens for hiking, and a wider one for uptight, closer spaces.
  9. Tight quarters

    Have only used the 9-18mm. Cost, compact size & filter protection were the reasons I purchased the 9-18mm over the 7-14mm. Find it to be useful lens at the two extremes. Wide view vistas & when space limits me.
    Below is an a non-landscape image shot at 9mm. No room to back up. No other real angle to take the photo without being in the water (too deep & cold).

    For a trip where the hike is the primary reason vs. a photo backpacking trip I would pack the X 14-42mm as my one lens kit if it's equal to or better than the 14-45mm. For a minimalist trip the mu43 gear would stay home. Pack the LX2. Have spent too much $$s to drop the base weight just to gain it back in photo gear mass.

    Attached Files:

  10. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Real Name:
    I have the 7-14 and love it for those dramatic wide angle applications and tight spaces. But I think the 9-18 would be a better hiking lens as the 9mm end is likely to be more than wide enough for vistas and the lens is smaller, lighter, less costly, and most importantly, can take a polarizer filter, which may be very desireable for vistas. I find the 7-14 good for very tight quarters and as mentioned above, for getting close in to an object, while also including a dramatic sweep to a distant background. The 7-14 is a bit more of a specialized lens and the 9-18 is a bit better suited to general use.

    Funds permitting, I see plenty of utility in owning both lenses and will likely add a 9-18 to my kit at some point, even though I also have the 7-14. I do see the two lenses with somewhat separate and distinct missions. Having both would probably be a bit extravagant for the average user, but I can use the gear for work and it's a deductible expense, so perhaps not so extravagant from that standpoint.

    If I were you, I'd buy the 9-18.
  11. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Real Name:
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    If you're a hiker who is planning to use a wide angle lens as a landscape lens then filters should be important to you. It's one thing to like/dislike using a UV filter, but with landscapes you often need a polarizer or neutral density/gradient filter to help balance the exposure between the bright sky and the foreground.

    The 9-18mm takes filters but you have to do some workarounds to get filters in front of the 7-14mm.

    The 7-14mm is a great lens, but the simple fact that it can't easily be used with filters makes it far less useful to me. I went with the 9-18mm.
  12. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    I tried a CPL on my 9-18 on the wide end, and I found with such a wide FOV, it couldn't create even results across the frame. It would invariably be darker on one side than the other. I could see the use of a ND or a UV, but not sure I buy the usefulness of a CPL, unless I'm missing some trick???
  13. Lawrence

    Lawrence Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 8, 2011
    The decision to go for the 7-14mm or 9-18mm took me quite a long time, and at last I bought the 9-18mm, and I am happy with it.

    • Like Like x 3
  14. turtleboy133

    turtleboy133 Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 13, 2011
    Thanks for all the great suggestions. It seems the general consensus among hikers is to go with the 9-18mm. 7 is too wide for most landscapes (at least it won't be missed) and the size/weight are much more reasonable. I had originally discounted the size/weight factor because I am coming from a 10D with a Sigma 15-30mm (a huge beast) and figured that the 7-14mm is tiny compared to it.

    You guys now have me wondering whether my 14-150mm plus 20mm 1.7 is sufficient for hiking. A mountain should be able to fit in a 14mm shot ... well, at least the ones in the US :)
  15. turtleboy133

    turtleboy133 Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 13, 2011
    Yes, I've heard that the usefulness of the CPL is limited; however, a UV filter is probably a great idea for protecting the front glass when hiking. When I used a Sigma 15-30mm (full-frame lens), the front glass was very similar to the 7-14mm and I was always worried about it getting damaged.