Super zoom vs. 2 lens kit.

ac12

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After reading a few threads about travel, I was thinking about the super/ultra zoom vs. two lens kit.

A super zoom like the consumer 14-150 or the 12-200 ultra zoom, and the pro 12-100/4
vs. two lenses like the consumer 14-42 + 40-150R, and the pro Olympus 12-40/2.8 and 40-150/2.8 or Panasonic 12-35/2.8 and 35-100/2.8.

The super zoom
  • Is just a single lens to carry.
  • There is no need to change lenses when going from short to long.
  • These two (single lens and no need to change lenses) makes it a very convenient lens for travel and other events.
  • While heavy, the weight/bulk is likely less than the combined weight/bulk of the two shorter lenses.
  • The old saying "jack of all trades is a master of none." To be a "jack of all trades" you have to compromise.
The two lenses,
  • The standard lens is smaller and lighter, so you are not carrying the heavier weight of the super zoom ALL THE TIME.
  • In general, the optical IQ of a shorter zoom is better than that of a super zoom. The Olympus 12-100 seems to be the exception to that rule.
  • Depending on what you are shooing, there might be a 50% chance that you will have the wrong lens on the camera, and have to change lens.
  • If you are shooting near the transition point, you may end up switching back and forth, between the short and long zooms.
There is a difference between the two approaches. In my experience, neither is better that the other. Except in specific situations, but change the situation, and it is the other that is better.
I have and use the pro 12-100, and I LIKE the lens. But there are many times when I will instead use the P-Lumix 12-60 or the Olympus 12-40/2.8, because I don't want to deal with the bulk and weight of the 12-100.
The consumer 14-150 is smaller and lighter, so much easier to carry it all the time, vs. the pro 12-100. Still, the 14-150 is more than 2x the weight of the 14-42.

I have been tempted to get the Olympus 14-150, as a longer alternative to my P-Lumix 12-60.
But I have also been looking at the 14-42, for a "small" lens. I have the tiny 14-42EZ, but my fingers have never gotten used to working the Electronic Zoom.
So I am on both sides of the fence.

On my Nikon D7200 APS-C camera I use the 18-140, which is similar to a 14-105 m4/3 lens, and I have been very pleased with it, though it is kinda heavy.
IQ is good, but NOT as good as a pro lens.​
And my high school yearbook has standardized on the similar Canon 18-135 on the T7i.

So what are your thoughts on super/ultra zooms vs shorter zooms?
 

Carbonman

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The 12-100 is an incredible lens, in part because of the dual stabilization. I took it with me to a symposium and found it to be quite good for everything from group shots to scenery to night shots. As you already know, it's very sharp. It's usually my everyday carry lens when I don't have anything specific to shoot.
I'm making a conscious effort to change things up. I've recently been carrying the 12-40, 40-150 f2.8 and MC-14 to change things up. It's a lot heavier package and I sometimes miss the instant wide angle flexibility of the 12-100.
The 14-42 and 40-150R are good lenses and very light/compact but noticeably slower and less sharp for my typical use cases.
 

2donggalbi

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Especially if you are traveling, I would suggest super zoom + your favorite prime.

No 2.8 zoom is going to be as good as a prime. 5.6 zooms (super zoom) are not too terrible at 5.6.

A prime is required in a focal length which the user is really comfortable with (for me, its in the normal perspective range) and also can be used in indoor/lowlight situations when 2.8 isn't bright enough.

My personal combination was the Olympus 14-150 + Panasonic 20/1.7

14-150 is a pretty good consumer/amateur level lense. I comfortably rolled in the snow with it attached to my beat up E-M1. It's biggest problem may be unacceptable ghosting when shooting nightscapes.

Add a prime. M43 has great small primes that can be shoved into a jeans pocket.
 

Bushboy

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The lowest I can get by with is a 4 lens kit.
I wouldn’t go on holiday with it though. I would get a compact super zoom, like a powershot canon or similar. I don’t think I would put a super zoom lens on our gear.
 

ac12

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The 12-100 is an incredible lens, in part because of the dual stabilization. I took it with me to a symposium and found it to be quite good for everything from group shots to scenery to night shots. As you already know, it's very sharp. It's usually my everyday carry lens when I don't have anything specific to shoot.
I'm making a conscious effort to change things up. I've recently been carrying the 12-40, 40-150 f2.8 and MC-14 to change things up. It's a lot heavier package and I sometimes miss the instant wide angle flexibility of the 12-100.
The 14-42 and 40-150R are good lenses and very light/compact but noticeably slower and less sharp for my typical use cases.
When I first used the 12-100, I was surprised at how far into the image that I could crop, and still see detail 😲
It was quite the kick in the pants.
But it is kinda heavy and bulky (for me), and it sucks battery power.
Still, it is a great lens, and I am glad I got it.

Especially if you are traveling, I would suggest super zoom + your favorite prime.

No 2.8 zoom is going to be as good as a prime. 5.6 zooms (super zoom) are not too terrible at 5.6.

A prime is required in a focal length which the user is really comfortable with (for me, its in the normal perspective range) and also can be used in indoor/lowlight situations when 2.8 isn't bright enough.

My personal combination was the Olympus 14-150 + Panasonic 20/1.7

14-150 is a pretty good consumer/amateur level lense. I comfortably rolled in the snow with it attached to my beat up E-M1. It's biggest problem may be unacceptable ghosting when shooting nightscapes.

Add a prime. M43 has great small primes that can be shoved into a jeans pocket.
For travel, I use the P-Lumix 12-60. It was a hard decision between that and the 14-150, and I still have second thoughts.
My travel (and only) prime is the 17/1.8. I considered the 20/1.7, but I figured that I would probably be indoors and want the wider coverage of the 17.

Pants with cargo pockets :biggrin:
 

ac12

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The 12-100 is an incredible lens, in part because of the dual stabilization. I took it with me to a symposium and found it to be quite good for everything from group shots to scenery to night shots. As you already know, it's very sharp. It's usually my everyday carry lens when I don't have anything specific to shoot.
I'm making a conscious effort to change things up. I've recently been carrying the 12-40, 40-150 f2.8 and MC-14 to change things up. It's a lot heavier package and I sometimes miss the instant wide angle flexibility of the 12-100.
The 14-42 and 40-150R are good lenses and very light/compact but noticeably slower and less sharp for my typical use cases.
The lens that I keep looking at, but can't get myself to press the buy button is the 40-150/2.8.
I don't get any significant advantage over the Nikon 70-200/4 on my D7200.
Operationally, the zoom ring on the 70-200/4 is butter smooth and very easy to work with my fingers. So I am not keen on giving up that lens.
 

Egregius V

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I liked the Oly. 14-150 II for all-weather travel, but found that its IQ could be problematic for landscapes, especially in the 14-20mm range. Plus, my copy is badly decentered. When I realized I needed to replace the lens, I went with the Lumix 12-60. A good copy is sharp across the frame in its entire zoom range - most especially at the wide end (where I most want such sharpness). Depth of field is far superior to the superzoom and very easy to manage by focusing toward the background. And I've found 60mm to be enough zoom for general use. If I want longer, I go with the cheap but very sharp Oly. 40-150 R or (more often) the very good, weather-sealed Pan. 100-300 II.

Looking at sample images, I was most impressed with the 12-100. Stellar lens at f/4 - but I didn't want its bulk and weight, find f/4 to be too middle-of-the-road to be very beneficial to me, and was happy to see how good the smaller and cheaper Lumix 12-60 is. I didn't think the Leica 12-60 was worth getting instead. Two-lens kits at constant f/2.8 are even more versatile as real jacks-of-all-trades. However, I prefer faster primes for low light or shallow depth of field and don't care if they aren't weather-sealed.

I don't miss the 14-150 II and, after much research, haven't found any reason to believe that competing (and more expensive) superzooms like the Pan. 14-140 II or Oly. 12-200 are any better overall. A really good copy of the 14-140 II would be nice - but still not better than the Lumix 12-60. The 12-60 tends to produce images that look flat straight out-of-camera but can easily be made to pop by adding a bit of contrast in post.
 

retiredfromlife

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When traveling I take the Panasonic 14-140 zoom as a single lens kit, on a Panasonic G80

Hopefully if the next EM1.3 comes out next year with a joy stick I will switch back to that as my main camera and the 12-100 with it. The Oly 12-200 zoom looks a little soft to me on the long end. I downloaded someone samples and they were softer than my Panasonic 100-300 so passed on that lens.

To me for travel the zooms win out every time.
 

ooheadsoo

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This is my primary struggle. I sold the 12-40 and the 35-100/2.8 to buy the 12-100 and the lumix 12-60, and have bought and sold the PL 12-60 twice. I'm not happy with any of these choices. If I could return to a previous point on my m43 journey, I'd probably stop at the 12-40 and 35-100/2.8, but what I truly would like (that actually exists) is a PL 12-60 that I am fully satisfied with. The 12-100, for all of its optical prowess, is definitely heavy for me, and f/4 for m43 is not fast enough for me to feel that it is worth its bulk. Furthermore, every time I asked about the G9+12-100 combo's IS performance, I'd get scoffers ridiculing the idea that it would be anything less than stellar, but my experience, so far, is that it's not entirely amazing. I seem to get better results with the lumix 12-60. However, though I am generally satisfied with the lumix 12-60's optical performance, it's too slow for use in low light. As a result, I'm constantly looking at other systems, because I'm struggling to find the right balance in m43 land.

As far as super zooms go, though, especially with smaller sensors, it's hard to not bring along one or more primes to supplement in low light, it's never a one lens solution, for me.
 

comment23

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This is my primary struggle. I sold the 12-40 and the 35-100/2.8 to buy the 12-100 and the lumix 12-60, and have bought and sold the PL 12-60 twice. I'm not happy with any of these choices. If I could return to a previous point on my m43 journey, I'd probably stop at the 12-40 and 35-100/2.8, but what I truly would like (that actually exists) is a PL 12-60 that I am fully satisfied with. The 12-100, for all of its optical prowess, is definitely heavy for me, and f/4 for m43 is not fast enough for me to feel that it is worth its bulk. Furthermore, every time I asked about the G9+12-100 combo's IS performance, I'd get scoffers ridiculing the idea that it would be anything less than stellar, but my experience, so far, is that it's not entirely amazing. I seem to get better results with the lumix 12-60. However, though I am generally satisfied with the lumix 12-60's optical performance, it's too slow for use in low light. As a result, I'm constantly looking at other systems, because I'm struggling to find the right balance in m43 land.

As far as super zooms go, though, especially with smaller sensors, it's hard to not bring along one or more primes to supplement in low light, it's never a one lens solution, for me.
Similar story for me. I love my 12-40 but find the 12-100 and 40-150 (PRO) larger then I’d like for general use. I haven’t tried the PL12-60 but on paper it doesn’t offer enough over my 12-40 and, like I said, I love that lens. I do love the 40-150 too but it’s a bit large for casual photography in a way that the P35-100/2.8 I used to have wasn’t. Perhaps should have kept the 35-100...
 

Holoholo55

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I went through several iterations of travel kits. The EM5 + 12-50 was first. Then the EM1 + 12-40. The 12-40 is a great lens, but it didn't go long enough. I had the 40-150 R to cover the telephoto range, but it was a pain to change lenses and the R wasn't weather sealed, which I found so often to be a necessity. I tried the ZD 12-60 SWD, and liked the range and the IQ, but it was big and heavy. When I realized that even it wasn't enough in a travel lens, and was in fact, bigger and heavier than the 12-100, I finally got the 12-100 and sold the other two lenses. I burned my bridges behind me. I think the 12-100 fulfills my major needs for a travel lens and with Sync-IS with the EM1.2, I hardly need a tripod. I supplement with the 15 f1.7 for a fast prime, and the tiny 9-18 for the extra wide end. The 12-100 gives me great IQ and versatility, enough to compensate for its weight and size. The grip on the EM1.2 makes carrying the 12-100 easy enough. It isn't really a superzoom, but does it have to be?
 

betamax

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If I was travelling today, and was taking 2 zooms, I'd go the Pany 12-35mm f2.8 and the 35-100mm f2.8. Probably the ideal trade-off for me between convenience, speed, reach, size, weight.
 

Saledolce

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The 12-100 is the game changer. It's probably the best lens for the system in terms of IQ, it covers an unbelievable range, dual IS allows to keep the ISO down in a very reasonable range in most situations.

Add one normal prime for low light and the kit is done.
 

Mike Wingate

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P14-140 replaced my 2 kit lenses with my GX80. No regrets. It is my chosen combo for todays outing in the rain to photograph Morris Dancers .
 

Saledolce

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Add a prime. M43 has great small primes that can be shoved into a jeans pocket.
Being able to go out with a prime in a jeans pocket is one of those things that brought me back from the FF dark side.

Yesterday I had the Laowa f2 in my pocket, more often is the O17f1.8 or the 25f1.8 but it could easily be the PL15 or the Oly45.....
 

AlexMachine

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I have 2 different travel kits. City and urban, I’ll take EM5mkll and Pana 14 f.2.5 and or Oly 12-40 pro - if I leave 12-40 home I might toss Oly 40-150mm f/4-5.6 R EDin my pocket. If I know I will encounter some wildlife, EM5mkll and Pana 14 and EM1.1 and Oly 40-150 pro with 1.4 teleconverter. Some what heavy but still okay.
 

comment23

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Similar story for me. I love my 12-40 but find the 12-100 and 40-150 (PRO) larger then I’d like for general use. I haven’t tried the PL12-60 but on paper it doesn’t offer enough over my 12-40 and, like I said, I love that lens. I do love the 40-150 too but it’s a bit large for casual photography in a way that the P35-100/2.8 I used to have wasn’t. Perhaps should have kept the 35-100...
My 12-100 is really great as an outdoor lens and handles fine on my E-M1 Mark II if I have my hands to myself. But when I’m looking after two young kids I find it just the wrong side of comfortable sized, whereas the 12-40 isn’t. Swapping lenses every now and again isn’t a problem, and if it’s not possible in a given moment I can accept that sometimes I’ll miss the shot. Am I talking myself into another purchase?
 

wjiang

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When I tried the 12-100 on an E-M1 it was just felt too heavy (front heavy at that) to carry around all the time. f/4 is also a bit slow for moving subjects in so-so lighting - I'm not talking poorly lit night shots, but merely indoors during day time and around dawn and dusk. The IBIS, though amazing, doesn't help much for moving subjects in those situations. Incidentally, the Olympus event where I tried the 12-100 was at an indoor location with big glass windows and a deck area that opened up to the outside, around sunset. The 12-100 reallly did not impress under those conditions when I tried to take any photos of people. I guess if people weren't a factor, I would probably be okay with something like a 12-100 if only it was a little lighter.
 

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