OMD Lens Suggestions, £1000 for a trip to Asia (Taiwan, Hong Kong & Singapore)

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by RuffDraft, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. RuffDraft

    RuffDraft Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    Hi All,

    New here, really enjoying the board and have been lurking for a while! If you're not interested in me as a poster and just want to share your knowledge, scroll down to the What I have section at the bottom of this post; however, the 'A little Background' section helps in understanding my experiences, which would hopefully help in selecting lenses for me.

    A little background:

    I used to be a Canon 1000D shooter with a standard kit and 55-250mm lenses for four years. I enjoyed the 18-55mm focal length the most (I liked shooting in cities, particularly with a wide angle for architecture/landscape), but couldn't help but be impressed by the image quality of the zoom, particularly in zoos that I've visited. Now I would like to embark on a prime haul. Particularly with Oly lenses, but I'm fond of the Pany leica 25mm too.

    I currently have the 12-50mm Oly kit lens, with the 45mm 1.8.

    I became quietly confident with the 1000D entry level DSLR and having come back from an unbelievable summer in 2012, in which I stayed in Vancouver and was fortunate enough to take trips to Whistler and Banff during my stay; I realised that I wanted an even better camera, one that helped with my shooting, yet was small and capable of even greater IQ.

    After visiting a friend in Canada, I now want to visit a friend in Taiwan (making the most of my friends who have ventured since leaving Uni), as I'll never be able to do these dream holidays again (although I do hope otherwise!).

    That said, before I become a mortgage-led man, I want to enjoy what I have left of my twenties and I will be practising heavily with my new OMD before leaving for Asia in the summer - around a 3 and a half week tour.

    Now that that's out the way, I'm still very much an amateur photographer with a growing interest in photography. I'd like to become accustomed to a tripod (I haven't used one yet, although I have shot in manual mode successfully for some time (not a total noob)). In Taiwan, I'll mainly be shooting street and day's out - the usual travellers stuff, but I'll also be heading into the mountains, as well as the zoo. In Hong Kong, I hope to head to Yangshuo upon early references from a friend who's visited. Any other recommendations for places to visit would be welcomed.

    Having searched for months for my next camera, the 12mm 1.8 lens from Oly really swung me to the OMD, along with it's low-light capabilities and auto focusing system. The fact that it's a wide-angle with solid IQ and the snap to manual focusing feature really makes me scream 'I want!'

    Yet after perusing the 75mm 1.8 image thread; I've realised that this now tops my list.

    What I have:
    12-50mm Oly Kit Lens
    45mm 1.8 Oly lens

    What I'm thinking / looking for:

    Kit package one:

    Olympus 12mm 1.8
    Olympus 75mm 1.8

    Kit package two:

    Olympus 17mm 1.8
    Olympus 75mm 1.8

    Kit package three:
    Panasonic 25mm 1.4
    Olympus 75mm 1.8

    Kit package four:

    Olympus 12mm 1.8
    Panasonic 25mm 1.4
    Olympus 75mm

    Kit package five:



    The 75mm will let me down at the long end, having less-than-adequate zoom at a zoo…

    I could stretch to kit package four, but it'd be a rather large expense. I'm buying a Billingham and Hadley bag too; and then add to the lenses the filters and it's a truly expensive haul that I hope will last me 5 years. But in reality, I know that flashes and hoods, as well as a tripod are down the line, with expensive taste.

    Thank you for any suggestions and sorry for a rather large post.
  2. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2012
    My advice: Panasonic 14mm f/f2.5 (its less then half the price of Oly 12 mm and similar in IQ but half a stop slower and 2mm longer), Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 & Oly 75mm f/1.8. I think these three lenses will compliment your two current lenses nicely.

    But I think if your accustomed to have a long tele zoom maybe reconsider your priorities first. While primes are great and my personal way of shooting as well a 75mm just wont get you the same shot as a 150mm at the zoo or at the raceway, etc. The Oly 45mm you have already is a great lens and if your dead sure you have a use for a fast 75mm prime then get it otherwise I think the 45mm should be sufficient and instead consider getting one of the tele zooms instead of the 75mm as to cover your need for shots at the zoo, etc. There are some pretty good options for tele zooms for m43 actually.

    My 2 cents although I am new to m43 so take my advice with a grain of salt.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. wallyrulz

    wallyrulz Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 12, 2011
    I am a rank amateur, so take it for what it is worth.

    A piece of advice I continually saw here on the forums, was 14-150 for walking around outside, and the 20 in your pocket for inside. I personally think this is an awesome traveling kit. I recently added a 45 (among others) and am loving it. I think I will find room in another pocket.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Strick

    Strick Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 8, 2013
    Columbia, MD
    Real Name:
    First of all, safe travels. That sounds like an awesome trip!

    I take it you are keeping the 12-50 and the 45? So these kits are in addition to what you already own. Personally, I like package number 4. You have your 12, 25, 45, and 75. That covers a lot of bases. Of course it's very easy to spend other peoples money! :smile:

    Like you, I have a mortgage so I know how you feel! Kit one might be easier on the wallet and gives you a 12, 45 and 75 with the kit zoom. Again most bases covered for focal lengths. Also you are covered for low light and night shooting.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. RuffDraft

    RuffDraft Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    Thanks Jay, I appreciate the input. I've also wondered about the need for a tele zoom, it's been my fear, shall we say, given that I want a 75mm but think I need longer! :confused:

    I bought the OMD for the 12mm, so it's going to be extremely difficult to pass that up… but I may need to given the constraints on how much I can afford. I like your suggestions, thanks!

    The problem I have with a 'do-it-all' lens, is that it kinda takes away from the point of having an expensive camera that's capable of wonderful image quality… because it's like buying a mansion and sticking a 14" tele in your front room… probably a bad analogy, but you probably catch my drift… how much will IQ drop, is another matter that I'm not totally sure on…?

    The 20 lacks in auto focusing though… so I find it tough to warrant the money saved over the lost shots… when travelling, I want to capture quickly, as my friends aren't into photography. Don't want to be deemed a pain! But thanks for your considerations, I would consider a zoom, it's just :43: seem to be about the primes…

    Thanks! I hope it is… just needs to come to fruition now!

    Yes, I was planning on keeping those lenses… I want to garner a few extra ones, so that I have a truly great camera set up; and then make it last as long as possible.

    When I wrote package number 4, it did scream 'AMAZING!' to me… as you say, easier with someone else's money! But it's definitely something that I'd consider.

    Pricing it up, that would come to just over £1500… I think it's beyond my skill set and savings.

    I would therefore, perhaps, consider the 12mm, 25mm and a super zoom for now… if recommended by all… otherwise, it could be the 14mm with the 75mm… it's tough to find a balance…

    Also, I'm not a home owner yet! Haha that's why I can afford this trip… but once I'm back, I'm going to settle and save a downpayment, or money to emigrate… haven't decided yet. But no more illustrious technology or camera equipment following this splurge, as I've been back home for a little too long now, since living away at Uni.
  6. gotak

    gotak Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2012
    I think the 12mm is a f2.

    Generally your list of lenses seems a bit redundant in that they over lap from 1 package to the next.

    All things being equal I would say #4 is the way to go if you are only looking at primes. This is because it cover all your bases.

    That said did you consider how much you would need telephoto for? If you don't need 35mm equal of 150mm wouldn't the 12-35 panasonic zoom be something to consider? You might not want to swap lens all the time, and it's weather sealed so you can shoot even when it rains. And it's faster than the 12-50 so you can use it for moderate low light situations.

    As for places to visit in hk there are lots you can get a great idea of where to go just by watching all the Digitalrev videos.

    But off the top of my head:

    The Peak: Go near sun set so you get both the "day" time view and the night time view. If cost is an issue the peak tram is expensive but the bus that wind it's way up isn't as much.

    Victoria Harbour: There's of course 2 views of this place. You can get both and some shots you can't get otherwise by taking the ferry across from one side to the other. Again there's a night and day view so you might want to get both.

    Ngong Ping 360/shek o fishing village: You can do these 2 places one 1 outing. Take the bus to Shek O, then there's a bus from shek o to Ngong Ping. Ngong Ping is where the giant Buddha is. You also get a great view of the airport. But Ngong Ping has a big "tourist village" where it's just full of shops for tourists. Visit the monastery for a veggie meal if you want something more authentic.

    Nathan Road from Mong Kok to Tsim Sha Tsui: Can be a nice walk to try if you have time and stamina. TST is a more upscale area where as Mong Kok is lower class. TST is where the big cruise ship docks at ocean terminal. TST is also where you will find the iconic clock tower and the modern cultural center.

    Any street market/Wet market: This is how you'd get your shots of meats on a hook and still alive fish that's been cut into pieces with the beating heart shown(they do this so you know it's fresh). Unlike many western countries people like fresh food and for many people it is still a daily ritual for either the mother or grandmother to go to the market to get today's dinner. People don't tend to buy a week's worth and put into the freezer.

    Lan kwai fong: Club central in the central district where you'll see the most expats. A lot tamer than clubs anywhere else you don't even really see bouncers.

    Central: Shopping central (although one can argue that's the whole of HK). Lots of tall buildings. A few tourist traps.

    Dai pai dongs: Loosely translated as big license stall but in reality it used to be unlicensed street side restaurants. Today they are all regulated and harder and harder to find a real one on the side of a street or inside an alleyway. You'll need to google to find the good ones go to.

    Fishing on a Sampan: At various harbours in HK you can hire small sampans to take you out for a fishing trip. Some will even cook your catch for you on board. Certain time of year when squids are at the surface you can go out at night and fish under flood lights, again some boats they will cook the squid for you. Warning that safety is rather lax on these boats.

    Chungking mansion: This is basically little indian/Pakistan in a high rise building. Well more like the slums of those countries. It's much better now but used to be where even the cops don't go. So it used to be (still might be) full of illegal immigrants and brothels. It is also full of tiny curry restaurants and you will be bombarded with question of "Curry?" when you walk into the ground level. Even though it's a lot safer I would still suggest only going here if you are with a group of guys (which is how I used to go for curry with my high school buddies). We also used to leave via the more interesting random stair case to see where it ends up. One time we saw a giant crack in the wall and stairs and ended up in the pitch black alley in the back of the building. Fun time.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. RuffDraft

    RuffDraft Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    My mistake. Thanks. And a special thank you for that wonderful list of things to do too!!! I will likely be alone for some parts of my journey in Hong Kong; my friend is a teacher, so he'll only be with me for the weekend. I may stay longer though, as I'd like to see more!

    Yes, I guess they overlap because I really can't afford Package Number 4… I guess, if I was to opt for it; I'd have to buy one of them at a later date.

    I need a wide angle, 35 or 50mm equivalent, I have a 90mm equivalent prime in the 45 and I would like a telephoto for the zoo… a zoom telephoto for the zoo may suit better.

    12-35mm would be something to consider, but how would that fare against a 12mm f2 and a 25mm pany leica in terms of image quality? And how much better is that lens over the kit lens? The only thing that lets it down for me in a huge way, is its size… although the weather sealing is a huge boost. Along with the non-need of swapping lenses… but I was hoping to move around and position myself to counter-act this…

    DigitalRev's amazing; I'll try to focus less on Loc and more of his surroundings in the future… thanks again for your list of places to visit; I'll Google them!
  8. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    50mm isn't wideangle, just for the record. Not even on full frame.

    My ideal 'travel lens' is something like the 12-50, but I'd prefer it to be faster. Still, for stopped down shots it will perform admirably. If you don't normally shoot a lot of tele, I wouldn't spend most of the cash on that end of things - a zoo is a zoo is a zoo, not something I find worth buying lenses for. The 'nicest' combo listed is the 12/2.0, 25/1.4 and 75/1.8. That would likely be my choice, although the 14/2.5 will do in a pinch and have the advantage of being a really tiny pocket sized combo. The 28mm FoV is pretty good for street and landscape, too. Alternately consider either the Panny 7-14 or the Oly 9-18 instead of the 12, because ultrawide is a great tool to have in urban environments and indoors.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. RuffDraft

    RuffDraft Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    My mistake, I meant a wide angle, with a 35mm or 50mm and a tele.

    Some people really dislike the 12-50mm… I do quite like it and agree that I wish it was faster… but prime will wipe the floor with it, IQ wise, no?

    That's true… I know… it just seems that the 75mm is pin sharp and the pictures taken with it are unreal.

    Thanks, what's the size ratio between the 12 and the 7-14 and 9-18 though?

    Just seems to me that every one says, prime lenses are where it's at for :43: and then when people do recommendation threads, zooms get mentioned.

    But I am tempted with the zooms, they definitely have a massively favourable side to them… it's just size and weight matters when travelling abroad!
  10. gotak

    gotak Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2012
    The 12-35 really isn't that big no on the grand scale of zoom lenses. This link was posted before:


    You can see that length wise they are similar when the 12-35 is retracted. Diameter yes the 12-35 is bigger and it will be heavier but again it's not like night and day difference.

    In my experience traveling I find that the standard zoom range (equal to 35 mm 24-70) is the range to have. That range isn't going to be as wide as you'll ever need but most of the time it works well. When it's not wide enough take multiple photos and stitch. And on the long end well it's about all I need most of the time. I don't travel to snap photos of thing and people from telephoto distances.

    As for IQ of the 12-50 to primes. Yes the 12-50 is a compromised lens. As a result you are going to get better sharpness and color from almost any other lens in the m43 line up. But it will still work well enough for what you need for travel. It will just be not very usable on the long end once the sun set. But in those situations you can use it wide and most of us will do that in low light to reduce shutter speed requirements.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. wallyrulz

    wallyrulz Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 12, 2011
    Sorry, I was just going with what you wrote when you specifically mentioned city, landscape, and zoos all in the same paragraph. All of these are outdoors, and the 14-150 would easily fit the budget and be great in all those situations. You said you don't want to be deemed a pain, well just wait until the 20th time you say, "hang on, I need to switch lenses."

    The 20 may not be as fast as some, but it is no slouch. I have never missed a shot because of af speed. Plus it pretty much works in the dark, so when traveling, it works great inside.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    You can add a 75-300 if money is no object. These are great for zoos!
    • Like Like x 1
  13. lennyKravic

    lennyKravic Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 9, 2012
    I think you have all-round lens for daily shooting (12-50) then for portraits you have 45mm. So for this type of travel, my setup would be to add something bright for indoors (restaurants, shops...) that would be Pana 20 or 25mm depends on your FL preference. And then I would add some tele-zoom for other purposes (45-200, 75-175, 75-300 etc.), I think that the 75mm 1.8 is so special lens and when you're somewhere where you don't know it, you better appreciate to be able to zoom in. I enjoy shooting with primes mostly but on last vacation I was happy to have borrowed 40-150 43rd lens from my sister and fortunately I put it to use often - detail from landscape etc.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Real Name:
    I think you are good to go with the 12-50 and 45. Maybe I would add a 17 or 20, that's it!
    • Like Like x 1
  15. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    what do you plan on using the 75mm for? It's seems like a great sharp lens, but seems sorta niche to me. I'd imagine a telephoto zoom would be more versatile for travelling purposes... having said that I've seen some great travel photos taken with the 75mm (e.g.

    If I were on your shoes and trying to watch what I'd spend, I'd add a telephoto zoom and 'normal' focal length bright prime (either 17mm 1.8 or 25mm 1.4 - depending on what focal length you prefer)

    At the moment, I'm trying to figure out a travel setup for myself. Here's what I've got;
    panasonic 12-35mm
    olympus 40-150mm (cheap!)
    I'm thinking on adding either the 17mm 1.8 or 45mm 1.8, for a fast bright prime.

    Also just picked up a cheapish pana 14mm from ebay. Not sure if I'm gonna keep it, but it's cheap and small.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. RuffDraft

    RuffDraft Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    Thanks for the re-post of the link, they're very similar in size; which is fine considering the 12-50 just fits in the top of my backpack - I'm resizing to a different bag for my next trip anyways.

    The 12-35mm has been on my mind all day, really. I think it would be a pain for me to be constantly switching between primes; that said, surely one can shoot all day with a given lens and just re-position himself? That's what I though the 12mm f2 would be great for.

    That said, is the 12-35mm going to be better at the wide end that a 12mm f2 prime? Or a 25mm Pany Leica?

    Those are the lenses I'm considering again, I think that everyone here has put me off the 75mm to some extent, with the idea of a super zoom tele on my mind instead - again, to some extent!

    I can be confusing when I speak on a Friday, my apologies!

    Lol. I can definitely imagine my friend's face. I just really wanted to capture truly beautiful images of Asia, and I do think that a 14-150 would struggle to produce that. I could have stayed with my Canon 1000D and enjoyed IQ similar to what I would have with my current setup or if I shoot with a 14-150…

    I can imagine the 20 is an great prime; I just hear all the hordes of people marvelling at the 25mm pany and thinking that if the money is there, why not spring for the extra?

    Thanks for this tip; that'd definitely sort my problem! I'll definitely consider this lens.

    Thanks for this, I guess what I'd say in reference to this, is that although it's for Asia, it's also going to be my kit for the next 5 years… so although it's sole purpose to begin with, will be the trip. I'm hoping not to purchase any more lenses following this spree, as I'm opting for a 2 year saving plan that'll give me enough money to move out.

    That said, your super zooms are definitely going to be looked at that you posted and I'm definitely considering a 20 or a 25 (leaning towards the 25).

    It's whether I add the 12 f2 or the 12-35, with perhaps a cheaper super zoom than the 75-300.

    Thanks for this, this is definitely the most sensible advice that I'd receive here, for my money lol. But would you not consider the 12-35 because the differences are so small between them? Or is the gap quite large? I looked at the link posted and the images definitely lean towards the 12-35, but I'm unsure as to how much with the images posted. The shots with the 12-50 looked to be composed better.

    The 75mm may turn into a walk around zoo lens, I hear that you can crop it down no problem because of its sharpness. And like you say, the images that are popping out of it are unreal. Even for portrait, as well as distant landscape shots.

    How's the 12-35mm? Have you ever owned the 12-50? I'd really like to hear from someone about the two, and how much of a difference that they find. Particularly if they have the 25mm panasonic-leica and how much of a difference there is between them… I know the panasonic is a lot faster though, so I suppose it's a silly comparison.

    Do you not like the 50mm equivalent focal length?

    I didn't really see many people falling over the 17mm f1.8, although the Robin Wong review shows it to be a very competent lens.

    The Pana 14 is interesting, but I really want to splurge for the 12 Oly. It's what I wanted when purchasing the OM-D.

    Lens purchasing decisions are difficult because of the choices… and limitations in budgets.

    Image quality is really important to me, after purchasing the OM-D. It seems silly to slap on a cheap lens, when it's capable of so much. I bought the OM-D for the control dials as well though, so I'm not saying that I'd have sprung for a cheaper :43: had I known I'd have been buying cheaper glass.

    Thank you to everyone for your responses, it's great to get my thoughts out, so that people can guide them. If I'd have known what I know now, I'd have bought the OM-D body and the Panasonic 12-35.
  17. Sam0912

    Sam0912 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 1, 2012
    If you haven't decided yet consider this - you have a decent walk around lens in the 12-50, it's sealed, has a good range, shoots ok macro and can power zoom for video. Why not throw in a longer lens - 35-100 2.8 if you want a quality sealed 70-200 equiv, or if its just for snapshots an Oly 75-300 or pana 45-200. Then see which focal lengths you use most and buy a fast prime of that length. It may be the 45 1.8 does the job, or you may go with the 25 or 12. In tight spaces the 12 (or as said before, 14) are great, but 25mm is more or less the same as the old 'standard' nifty fifty film lenses, ie fast and very versatile, being neither wide or tele (I think actual standard is around 42mm, but 50 is very popular).

    If you have decided and this confuses you more, Sorry!!!!

    EDIT: Oh and didn't robin Wong review the 12-50, in a zoo too I think. Rated it pretty highly.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. RuffDraft

    RuffDraft Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    I've been hearing about the 35-100 when searching the reviews of the 12-35… I've decided that I'm going to go through the focal lengths of my Canada pictures and see which focal length I was using the most…

    The problem I guess with this is that Canada will be different to Asia…

    I'm sure that I used the 18-55 (28.8mm-88mm) Canon Kit Lens for most of Canada… my pictures have decent IQ but I want great IQ or else it was pointless migrating to M4/3, IMO. As I was originally going to get the Nikon D7000, but then I heard about the OM-D having equivalent IQ and considered m4/3 instead. Also, the size was an issue in Canada, as well as the weight, as I only have 5kgs allowance. When you consider my iPad and Panasonic X800 video camera will be coming with me… it's paramount that I take a small, light kit. Ditching the iPad would mean no browsing the net etc. during the day or evenings when my friend's not around, as well as not loading up my images. The X800s absence would mean poor focusing, a serious lack in IQ in comparison; as well as this, I have a pretty good set up for video: a 4TB G-Tech Thunderbolt drive, with the X800 and Final Cut Pro X. So given that rather large investment, I don't want to give up using the X800 that I purchased for Canada.

    I was set on a 'trinity' kit of 12, 25 and 45 before buying the OM-D. Now though, I'm confused haha.

    So… given that, the 12-35mm is seemingly a great compromise… it's just the size that bugs me… I was set on the 12 f2; but apparently the 12-35mm is as good at 12mm as the prime… I guess it's just a lot faster… I already have a fast 45mm (90), but I would buy the 25mm (panasonic) if I purchased the 12-35 for indoors and low light performance. But once you start covering different bases, you realise that you're spending over £1000 again. :mad: lol
  19. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2012
    ^^^ I really think your over-thinking this. And to think I thought I was confused, lol. Make it simple for yourself again.... determine your shooting needs and buy the lenses that will fulfil those needs. Dont get so caught up trying to "cover all your basis in-case", especially with primes. That just turns out to be a road that is very expensive and in my past experience one where a bunch of lenses just end up in the camera bag un-used.

    Go for a 3 - 4 lens kit that most covers your shooting needs. My general advice... a couple nice versatile zooms and a couple nice fast primes in the sweet spot focal lengths of your shooting style/needs.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. RuffDraft

    RuffDraft Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    Thanks! I need a good slap. I will now opt for the 12-35 f2.8 with a Panasonic 25mm 1.4 or the 12mm, 25mm and a super zoom at the telephoto end.

    I thought someone could come into the thread and give me a really convincing reason as to why 'such a kit' would surpass all other thoughts I may have had. But this thread has educated me on the lenses that are available and I'll do a little more research and make a final decision.

    My thoughts are that the 12mm f/2 would be my general walk around lens at 24mm equivalent focal length, with the 25mm stepping in as the alternative.

    Otherwise, the 12-35mm will cover both, although the IQ may not be as good and it's certainly not as fast.

    I just wish there was a super-IQ lens that covered 12-35mm at f2 or something. That would make the decision rather easy.