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Travel to Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by newcomer15, Apr 18, 2015.

  1. newcomer15

    newcomer15 New to Mu-43

    Apr 18, 2015
    Currently have 20mm, 45mm (f1.8), 14-42mm, 40-150mm (f4-5.6)
    Considering 9-18mm, 7-14mm, 12mm or 14-140 (or 14-150mm), which one to buy? or maybe just 14-42, 20, 40-150 are OK enough? Thanks a lot.
  2. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut Subscribing Member

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    I was there last summer and used my 7–14 mm a lot!
  3. Phlash46

    Phlash46 Nikon Refugee

    Jul 1, 2014
    Montrose, NY
    Bruce Gordon
    I'd get the 9-18. Wonderfully sharp, small, light lens. If you can get something in the near foreground it'd be great in Monument Valley and Zions.
  4. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    I'm going to Utah next month. I have your four lenses, plus the 9-18 and the 7.5mm fisheye. Wider is always better, but I expect there's going to be enough light for the little loved, but always trusty 14-42, unless it's after sunset. I hope to get out in the evenings to make some night shots of the stars and rocks, if I don't wreck the car or step in a hole.

    Star trails can be done with the 14-42 or 9-18. Wonder if the 14mm pancake or the 7.5mm fisheye are fast enough to freeze stars.

    I expect to use the 40-150 a lot too.
  5. davdenic

    davdenic Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 14, 2014
    David D.
    9-18 is something you will never regret. It's cheap, lightweight and flare resistant. Your set it's lightweight too so it fits perfectly.
    I went there with 9-18, 12-50, 40-150 I'm quite sure I've used rarely but the 9-18 is always in my bag in all my trips. Without him I could not shot the great horseshoe bend http://flic.kr/p/p87aQb
    And again in ultra wide I prefer zoom.
    7-14 is too expensive and flare afflicted, 12 is awesome but expensive and lack of ultrawide. I suggest you to buy the 9-18 also because now you start from just 14.
    If you check my flickr you will find that I really like it in my cities trips while I use it rarely on landscape https://flickr.com/photos/8142655@N07/sets/72157647617993058
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  6. Edmunds

    Edmunds Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 16, 2012
    Neither Grand Canyon, nor Monument Valley really require wide angles. Most of the classic shots there are actually closer to 16-25mm. The expanses are so large, that the background will appear too small with ultra wide angles, and you need to work hard to get good foregrounds.

    Even this the classic Monument Valley picture, with the two stones in front and the valley at the back, it looks like an ultra wide angle, but its actually 14mm.


    You need a wide angle for horseshoe bend (but remember horseshoe bend has good light after sunrise). If you hike to Angel's Landing in Zion (and you should, because it is absolutely fantastic), you will need an ultra wide angle to take a picture of the Angel's Landing cliff.


    Same thing with The Narrows (the star attraction of Zion), in fact I would say 9mm isn't enough for the narrows. However, the narrows has another problem - the canyon is extremely dark, and the light shining in extremely bright.


    One reason I really like wide angles is that they give you a different field of view than what you would usually see in pictures. I am glad I had one with me, but would I take it if I went again? I really don't know. I think I would go for a higher quality regular zoom instead (Olympus 12-40) as this is the range where most pictures are taken. But if you've never shot a wide angle in the southwest, it is good fun and I do recommend it.

    One thing I definitely wouldn't take is a telephoto zoom. The desert areas have practically no accessible wildlife to speak of (especially in the summer), other than maybe a deer wandering through the Grand Canyon campground. And there isn't really anything to zoom in to.

    Another thing I probably wouldn't take is primes. Out of my trip I have a whoopin' 3 pictures at f/3.5 and the rest is f/4 to f/7.1, so there is no need for faster apertures, and you cannot easily step back or forward to reframe anywhere in this area.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Unless you see a need for these lenses outside this one trip, I'd skip them and stick with what you have.

    We are talking landscapes here so doing a 2 to 3 image stitched pano is more than doable and much easier on the wallet.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. jeffryscott

    jeffryscott Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 2, 2010
    I would definitely want something wider than 28mm-equivalent. The Panasonic 7-14 is an amazing lens, but can have issues with Oly bodies (likely overemphasized and likely not an issue in most scenarios). I've not used the 9-18, but lots of people speak highly of it.

    A telephoto certainly has its place in landscape, at least for me, and since you already own one, take it. Not all landscape is grand sweeping vistas, compressing the view can be a lovely technique.

    Most importantly, enjoy!
    • Like Like x 1
  9. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    If you have the money, a 9-18mm would be the only thing I'd add to your kit. Honestly a 14-42 is a pretty fine lens for these places, but if you have an UWA you can certainly find places to use it. If you don't, you'll still come back with amazing photos. I shot mostly my 15mm prime and 14-42 at Zion last week.
  10. davdenic

    davdenic Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 14, 2014
    David D.
    This is because of in camera processing. Shot in raw and you will see the same flares and CA. Obviously 7mm is much more wider than 9mm and the pana is sharper but maybe there are few places where it makes the difference.
  11. ggibson

    ggibson Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 9, 2011
    I had both the Pana 7-14 and Oly 9-18 and ended up preferring the Olympus. Smaller, lighter, less expensive, takes filters and has a longer reach. Great UWA for hiking and national parks. The 7-14 has slightly better optical performance, but the 9-18 holds its own.
  12. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Was in Zion yesterday. I used my 9-18 a lot, but the the 14-42, 40-150, and 20mm would have sufficed.

    When slogging along in the rain, and pulling out your gear from under a poncho, the gear doesn't seem to matter that much. :) 
    Last edited: May 15, 2015
  13. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    I just got back a couple weeks ago from spending four days backpacking in the Grand Canyon and this represents my experience as well. I had a 12-32 and it was plenty wide most of the time. Your 14 would be fine 98% of the time. In reviewing my pictures after I got home, the weakness of many of them is that I couldn't find a good foreground. I think it's probably easier if you're high on the rim, but something to keep in mind.
  14. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    We have not been back since we dumped our mountains of Canon bodies and L glass. When we head back next year it will be with 7-14, 12-40, 40-150, and the TC. We have an extra incentive now...my brother and his wife are moving to Las Vegas.

    For those that don't know about it, check out the 3 volume book series "Photographing the Southwest". it about a photo trip starting in Las Vegas that heads to a large number of the national parts and monuments in souther Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  15. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I like the "Photographing the Southwest" series too. There is a brand new 3rd edition of volume 1 (Southern Utah), which I just got from Amazon. I haven't bought volume 3 yet, and am now waiting for the 3rd edition of it to come out before I do.
  16. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland MA
    I may be a little late to the OP's parade but was in Utah (Zion & Bryce) in April with 12mm as the widest. I used 12 quite a bit (much more than is usual for me) and would have liked to be able to widen to at least 9mm on a few occasions in both parks. So, as the next best thing, I shot several panoramas with the 12-40 and was delighted to find the new Lightroom sports a really good native panorama stitch feature that yields a dng file. The major takeaway from the experience is that when shooting panoramas you can't be stingy with the 12-40 – you need to provide healthy margins around your subject or you will come a-cropper.

    I was also renting a Panny 100-300 and used that a lot for landscape details anywhere as well as the various small critters that one does encounter in Zion. However, long is my comfort zone so you can disregard that bit of info as you wish. Nice lens, though.
  17. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Interesting feedback, Hendrik. I am going to Zion in early Fall. My plan is to use my NEW! E-M10 with 14-42 as my main camera, but supplement it with a Canon SL1 with 10-18 (16-29 equiv) for potential super-wide usage. I have been wondering whether I really should bother with the 2nd camera but your findings (and others) are telling me that I definitely should bring it.

    I am probably also going to take the WCON-P01 wide-angle adapter too, for times where I just need a quick wide shot without dragging out the Canon. I know the adapter doesn't give excellent results, but reading online reviews and my own testing seem to show that it is pretty good as such things go. Seems to add some chromatic aberration and a slight loss of sharpness, but landscape photography is fairly forgiving, I think (as opposed to say macro or wildlife).
  18. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland MA
    Rich, I did have the luxury of two cameras (E-M5 and E-M5II). It was the first time I have travelled with two bodies and would do it again. m4/3 makes that easy – no more difficult than my previous light, all-purpose traveling kit of one DSLR, two zooms and a fast prime but far more flexible. I have a bit of trouble regarding landscape photography as easier than some others mostly for the reason that big landscapes pretty much demand large prints. That's where the panos shine.
  19. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I have been experimenting a lot with panos lately, trying to get ready for the trip. I understand all about using the same focus and exposure for every shot (i.e. manual everything after the inital setting), shoot vertical for a simple hoirizontal pan, don't use a wide-angle focal length (avoid distortion), etc.

    But what about the actual focal length? Instead of using 50mm equiv (25mm on m43), what about using say 70mm equiv (35), especially if you are far away from the main subject, like with a giant mesa off in the distance. I tried it and found that it made essentially no difference - once I cropped the results after stitching, the 25mm and 35mm results looked almost identical. And comparing them to a real wide-angle image taken at say 18mm and then cropped to mimic the width of the pano, it looked very similar too.

    I was not expecting that. I thought that a pano would look really different, but it now seems that the main value of a pano is, as you say, the MUCH larger pixel number (resolution), to make large prints or zoom in on the screen and have your mind blown.

    Speaking of stitching, I am finding that Microsoft ICE is amazing. It does a really nice job with the stitching, at least with tripod shots. I haven't tried any handheld panos yet...
  20. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland MA
    Bingo! I did a presentation (directly from Lightroom) in which one image was a pano of a mile-long feature (think giant mesa off in the distance - shot at the long end of the 12-40) that measured over 18k pixels across. It took a lot of scrolling to get across the image at 100% but one clearly saw features and activity that would have been almost imperceptible if it had been shot as a single E-M5 frame. It would have been pointless to show the down-sampled whole and I knew it was a bit of a stunt but I think it blew some minds. Will I ever get around to printing that one? Who can say - at an aspect ratio of 6:1, I currently don't have a wall that would take it. Time will tell.
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