1. Reminder: Please use our affiliate links for holiday shopping!

one of the best places in China... what lens?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by mesmerized, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Howdy,

    So far I've felt pretty good with EPL-1 kit lens but I'm going to Guilin at the end of August and since the place is stunningly beautiful and the views there are out of this world... So, I need the best possible lens for this occasion. You advice is needed at this point.

    Thanks

    PS. A taste of Guilin

    https://www.sinohotel.com/images/travel/category/HK-L-361.jpg
     
  2. strang

    strang Mu-43 Veteran

    287
    May 7, 2012
    Wide wide wide.

    Olympus 12mm is the best IQ in m4/3 wides.
     
  3. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    I wouldn't go there without a 7-14... preferably frozen at the 7mm setting. :wink: The 12-35 would also be a for-sure lens on the trip.

    Traveling, I prefer high quality zooms so I can work quickly, with minimal gear, and have little to no need for doing lens swaps while I'm on the move. We're fortunate to have a few exceptionally high quality zooms for m4/3 and the two lenses I mentioned are at the top of the class. For me, choosing the best quality lenses among appropriate options makes a lot of sense, especially if you are going to a special place on what may be a once-in-a-lifetime event. This type of thing is much different than casual family or party snapshots you grab at a barbeque, in the backyard, on a Saturday afternoon.

    When traveling/touristing in a special/highly photogenic place, I usually carry two bodies, each slung across my chest in opposite directions with sling straps. One body with the 7-14 and the other with the 12-35. For the most part, I'd rarely need to ever swap lenses, but I would take the 14-140 in a waist bag for that occasional need to reach out. 280mm equivalent is plenty for me at the long end. And I'd probably also take the 25/1.4 along for low light and/or shallow DOF imaging. That's four great lenses. The 14-140 is the least of these four, but it too achieves a very respectable IQ and a wonderfully broad range of focal lengths. The OIS in the 14-140 is exceptionally good with this lens, as well.

    The 7-14, 12-35, and 25/1.4 are arguably among the finest lenses we have for this format. There are a number of excellent primes, as well, but for me, while traveling, juggling primes is no fun at all. Do your part well and these very high quality zoom lenses will return the goods in spades over a very useful range of focal lengths.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. dre_tech

    dre_tech Mu-43 Veteran

    314
    Jan 31, 2012
    Or if you want a smaller financial investment you could buy an Olympus m.ZD 12-50 from the forum Buy/Sell to replace your current kit lens.

    Otherwise the 7-14 or the 12-35 are amazing lenses!
     
  5. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    You're going to get ALOT of people saying UWA 7-14 or 9-18 because there are seemingly a disproportionate amount of wide angle fans here. I am not one of them.

    IMHO, if the scene serves, UWA can be great, but it's just too "risky". For example, in your link, without the boat, that would be a rather ho-hum picture of a gorgeous locale. On the other side, when you're at a more "touristy" area, my images always seem cluttered with people in the way.

    Also, you can always stitch to make up an UWA scene, its much more difficult to maintain image quality when cropping in. It is nice (for me) to be able to pick out details, frequently, I wish I had more reach than 200 (400 equiv)

    I x2 Don's opinions about zooms vs primes for travel.

    Out of my lenses, if I could only have 2, I would take the 12-35 and 45-200. If the 12-35 wasn't an option, I would take the 20/1.7 and 45-200. Now, if I was allowed one more lens, I would absolutely add the 8mm fisheye.
     
  6. alans

    alans Mu-43 Veteran

    340
    Feb 28, 2010
    I've been in Guilin, down the Li Jiang and Yang Shuo BD (before digital). I traveled solo and with friends. If you're in a tour you'll tend to see the main tourist sites and be moving a lot in a group. With an ultrawide you'll get some great overall scenics but a lot of the time you'll need something longer because you will not be that close. For example going down the Li Jiang everything is spread out and if you want a shot of the fisherman on their rafts (who can move very fast) a longer lens is needed as they can turn into a spec in your finder in no time. The karst hills are not that high and easy to shoot. As with any photo time/lighting is vital and in a tour it's not always selective.

    Most of my favorite shots were done with a 50mm on a Mamiya 6 which roughly works out to a 30mm in 35mm lens talk. I was shooting on a grant and kept myself mostly to this combination for specific shots. I also had two other 35 bodies, plus lenses and more gear. Not recommended for a fun time but I also had help with this stuff. You want to be enjoying yourself so I'm thinking the following might be a good suggestion.

    If I was shooting to travel easy in Guilin, I would a consider a 14-150mm (don't own one but the deals and reviews look promising) and a prime or two for low light shooting for a compact kit. You could cover a lot of ground using this with your Pen. A lot of places in China have this bright kind of exterior lighting which I haven't seen elsewhere which I think would make for good handheld night shots with a fast prime. If you can afford it, consider the 12-35 but I'm going to guess that you're looking for good bang for the buck.

    Have fun and enjoy! Many Chinese have told me that the Guilin cuisine is not as good as other parts of the country but I did find an excellent fish in a street cafe which I still remember after many years. I have always wanted to return to Guilin but even though I've been back to China five times, it hasn't happened yet;(
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    Ultra wide is nice when you're in big country but it really can suffer from leaving nothing for the viewer to focus on. I took this shot with the PL 20mm at Xili lake near Hangzhou. There's a rower lined up nicely with the bridge with lovely forest and the hills beyond, but there's really nothing in this image for you to look at. If I'd had my 9-18mm instead of the 20mm it would have been even worse. The suggestion to bring the 14-150mm is a good one so in cases like this you could zoom in on the rower and bridge.

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    Major Magee... Shooting over a wide expanse of water doesnt have to result in a boring image... Its all in how you do it! Heres an image i made over a wide expanse of the Yellowstone River gorge in Montana that owes its strrength to having been shot with the 7-14, at 7mm.

    P6070444.

    I've got dozens of similarly dramatic "travel" images made at 7mm. These types of images are why I never go anywhere important without my 7-14. :wink:

    Ultra wide is a lens that requires more skill to shoot well with than a standard or telephoto lens. But UW can return spectacular results with wide landscapes, close quarters, and close ups of small subjects.

    People who get unsatisfactory results with ultra wides (or with ANY lens for that matter!) do so because they haven't used the lens appropriately. This may be because they didn't compose well, they didn't crop the image well in PP, or they just used the wrong lens for the desired imaging objective. You can never fault a lens for poor images. The photographer is the one who makes all the decisions, not the tools.

    I always take an ultra wide, in addition to longer lenses, whenever I know there is going to be great subject matter of any kind before me. Doesn't need to be huge landscapes either, you can get awesome close quarter images and close up images as well with ultra wides.

    All lenses of all focal lengths are wonderful and useful, if they are used well and appropriately.

    Choose the right lens for the imaging objective you wish to achieve, use it well, and you'll always have satisfactory results!

    To the OP... If you are relatively inexperienced in photography, don't want to work and learn the maximum potential of using UWA, and simply want to capture typical looking travel photographs, don't worry about taking a UWA lens.
     
  9. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    :thiagree:

    But the point I was making was that there are situations where you just can't make a wide angle work, because there's nothing to work with. In that case having a long zoom can save the day.

    I have lots of other examples where there is something in the foreground to compliment the use of a UWA lens, but they would not have been an appropriate example to use in making this particular point.
     
  10. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    Of course! :smile: I think it goes without saying that there are situations where whatever lens you can name won't work. Going anywhere which may be photographically important with only wide or only long or only standard is quite limiting.

    Best bet, if maximizing imaging potential is important, is to cover your bases with a nice broad range of focal lengths. Fortunately three good zooms can do that well, e.g., 7-14, 12-35, 14-140, as but one example of lens selections. But just a 12-60 can suffice if the focal length range and resulting IQ from the lens is satisfactory for the shooter. Same can be said of taking just a 14-140 or 14-150. There are a many different solutions to what's best in a travel kit... depending on budget, size, weight, focal length, and IQ requirements.
     
  11. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    919
    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    When I was in Guilin in 2005, it was with a14-45 and a 40-150 on an Oly DLSR, all I had, and it was fine. Today, I'd add fast primes for the evenings and book an extra day or two on my own for touring.

    I ran out of (a) memory cards as my last CF card, which I had hoarded, turned out to be defective, and (b) time. We only had two nights there which were spent at the Night Market and a show. Another night to spend with a Commorant fishing guy might have been a lot of fun. After the Li boat ride, our guide rushed our little party of three out of Yanghuo to get to the cave tour. It would have been nice to get up into the hillside country and wait for some evening shots of the river and the farmland.
     
  12. tommydata

    tommydata Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Jul 12, 2012
    New Jersey
    Thomas Dattoli
    I am guessing that since your question is focusing on which "one" lens is best that you have an issue with either budget or space. Having 3 to 4 lenses when you travel is great but that can get very expensive (especially with UWA zooms or fast primes) and can really weigh you down. Depending upon which kit lens you have, you might consider Olympus's wide angle converter lens. I picked one up on Amazon for $80. Of course it's not going to be as great as a 7-14 but you can then have a lot a coin left over for a 14-150 or even a 75-300! Just be careful because the converter does not fit all of the Pen 14-42 kit lenses. From the website:

    Fits your M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II kit lens or M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R. Not compatible with previous versions of this lens.

    So if you have the older kit lens, this won't work but if you do have the right kit lens, this could be a great option.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    I think the best "one-lens" solution (quite the compromise that it represents in some ways, however) as of today, would have to be the 12-60, for two reasons: 12mm FOV on the wide end, combined with a just moderately long 60mm, all in one lens. CU capability is pretty good. Price is low. Only downside is IQ may not meet more demanding expectations. But for what it is, though... I think a lot of folks would be happy with it as a one-lens, versatile, low cost travel lens solution. What I'm really looking forward to is the rumored 12-50 with high IQ... But that's just vapor at present.
     
  14. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    Because of the length of my last trip to China and limited baggage space I went with my smallest possible kit, the E-PL1 and PL 20mm f1.7. It was definitely small and light weight, and worked great under a wide variety of circumstances (near, far, dim, bright, etc.). There were however a few circumstances where I really regretted not having even just a couple of additional lenses or a good zoom with me.
     
  15. strang

    strang Mu-43 Veteran

    287
    May 7, 2012
    It is indeed hard making ultra wides work when there are a lot of tourists :(.
     
  16. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    As incredible as the images can be from ultra wides, one cannot photograph well with ultra wides alone. :rofl: Every once in a while I try to sneak in something a bit longer, whether I have to or not. :wink:
     
  17. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Thank you all for your insights. Well, it looks like I do need a lens with a good zoom. I really want to take some shots of fishermen on the river... I don't know why but I'm terrible at taking pics of landscapes and I find people far more interesting to take pics of... Still, landscapes are an essential part of GuiLin. I can't really afford to get any top-shelf lens as my budget is limited. What would you recommend?
     
  18. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    45-200 is the best deal in m43 in my opinion.
     
  19. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Thanks.

    So... Which one would you take? Oly 40-150mm or Panasonic 45-200mm? The latter one offers a longer focal length... What about IQ?
     
  20. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Panny body - definitely 45-200 for the OIS.

    Oly body - close call. I would still go 45-200, because a slightly soft 200 mm is better than a cropped in 150 IMHO.