Ultra Wide Angle Advice Sought

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by tomas, May 21, 2014.

  1. tomas

    tomas Mu-43 Regular

    I'll be going on a tour of the American West, most notably several national parks, in September. I'll be taking my two EM5's, my Panasonic 12-35, 35-100, 100-300 and my Olympus 25. I also have a Panasonic 7-14. Should I take it? I've used it mostly in foreign travel for building shots, squares, etc. I've not had a lot of luck with UWA shots of landscapes; my knees won't let me get low enough to get those kind of landscape shots with an interesting item in the foreground. Without such an item in the foreground my UWA landscape shots don't seem to have much impact. If I don't take it, will I miss it?
  2. LowTEC

    LowTEC Mu-43 Regular

    I would definitely bring an UWA and 1235 to any trip,(25, 45, 75, 100300 all depends on the nature of the trip) . Although it is true that it doesn't get used very often, but for some shots, you will be so regretted u didn't bring one. I hope a few samples will motivate you to carry it along, photos wouldn't be the same without it :)

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lowtec/14182278315" title="EPL52257-LR5 by DENNIS CHAU | FOTOGRAPHY, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="576" alt="EPL52257-LR5"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lowtec/13981597060" title="DCF03173-LR5 by DENNIS CHAU | FOTOGRAPHY, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="683" alt="DCF03173-LR5"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lowtec/13311607863" title="The Sacred Place by DENNIS CHAU | FOTOGRAPHY, on Flickr">[​IMG]"767" height="1024" alt="The Sacred Place"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lowtec/13108951383" title="DCF00774-LR5 by DENNIS CHAU | FOTOGRAPHY, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="780" alt="DCF00774-LR5"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lowtec/13100531785" title="DCF00476-LR5 by DENNIS CHAU | FOTOGRAPHY, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="768" alt="DCF00476-LR5"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lowtec/11335047883" title="DCF04377-LR5 by DENNIS CHAU | FOTOGRAPHY, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="756" alt="DCF04377-LR5"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lowtec/11334984696" title="DCF04395-LR5 by DENNIS CHAU | FOTOGRAPHY, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="779" alt="DCF04395-LR5"></a>
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  3. Edmunds

    Edmunds Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 16, 2012
    I have traveled extensively through western USA, about 3 months total travel time. Mostly just national parks, hiking, camping, etc. I did have an ultra wide angle with me on one of the trips and I did not find it very useful. If I went again, I probably would not take it.

    Places where the wide angle was useful:

    Crater lake (the whole lake refuses to fit in one frame)
    Redwood (trees are way too tall even for a wide angle)
    The narrows in Zion

    Still, I would rather stitch panoramas for those couple of shots than carry another lens with me.

    Everywhere else the landscapes are really 'out there' and even 12mm is too wide.

    As for your other lenses, I do not find fast aperture prime lenses to be very useful either. Even if I do take say a portrait, I would usually want the background in focus to show where it was taken (its a holiday after all), f/2.8 would get me at least enough background blur. And unlike say, southeast Asia, there really isn't much else stuff to take pictures off that would require much background blur, like architectural details or foods at a market. The absolute overwhelming majority of my pictures are f/5.6 and over.
  4. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Real Name:
    Jan (John) Kusters
    I know what you mean with the need for an interesting foreground, but that does not always involve getting down... Sometimes the foreground can be a bit higher up the picture, or big enough to play its part without crawling... I would certainly take a wide angle, but of course you can always pano and stitch later on as a stop gap.


  5. orfeo

    orfeo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 27, 2013
    It's a shame to believe that UWA is not great for landscape. You get effects that will make your landscape stand out and look different from iphone's snaps.
  6. tomas

    tomas Mu-43 Regular

    Good advice, great shots. Thanks for your thoughts. Still undecided. I'll revisit the thread in a few days.
  7. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    I'm trying to buy the backordered 9mm Oly BCL for travel... my ZD 7-14mm is quite heavy.

  8. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ray, not Oz
    I love shooting with my 7-14mm when it comes to landscapes, but it won't usually work if trying to shoot an expansive scene. There really needs to be something in the foreground, top, bottom or sides, that provides a dramatic point of reference, or lead-in, to the remainder of the scene. I know that you said bending is difficult, but that doesn't stop you holding the camera as low as you can or tilting it towards the ground, getting up high and pointing it down etc. Shots always taken ay eye level start to look bland after a while. Personally, I'd leave the long lens and give the 7-14mm a go.
  9. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Real Name:
    You need contrasting subject with a UWA plus leading lines to guide the viewer between subject and foreground. Small to big, sharp to blur, and saturated colors to muted colors etc are elements you need to use to contrast to have a lot of impact.

    You definitely need to shoot high and really low and really close. If you're not a brave person to get up close or really really close with a UWA to an object or to a person, then exploit the lens BOKEH quality (the Harmonic distortion that we call blur) and find the aperture that will provide some lead from the subject to a vast foreground via sharp to blur contrasting. Or use colors to contrast. The key is to get the viewer's eye to move around the image and get him or her to stay on that image. Otherwise, 12mm is plenty wide enough for most shots. If you carry the 7-14; you'll probably find 7mm to be more useful, but I found to be heavy which defeats the purpose of a UWA and it's slow, well at least slower than my adapter Lumix 10.5mm @ f/2.5 (a 14mm with a Nikon WA converter)when you take consideration that a polarizing filter robs about 1.5 to 2 stops of light. I use a circular polarizer filter if you're shooting outdoors and that was inspired by Art Wolfe. It will help enrich the colors especially the blues and the foliage from reflection and I shoot with a CPL all the time especially with a UWA. Sadly, the 7-14 can not take a filter though you can adapt a filter holder. Hope this helps.
  10. lightmonkey

    lightmonkey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 22, 2013
    with good placement/rotation discipline you could always stitch in post... but you can only get so much magnification by cropping so far before losing resolution [maintaining a certain perspective]
  11. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Real Name:
    I have a 7-14, and have used it for travel, but the percentage from this will be in the 10% of my total shots. Depends on the destination, but most of the times the 12-35 is enough.
  12. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    I would say you absolutely have to take 7-14mm lens - tight canyon walls will be your buildings and little mountain valleys and lakes will be your squares.
  13. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    I definitely would take a UWA on such a trip.
  14. Edmunds

    Edmunds Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 16, 2012
    OK, reality check. You cannot bend down to get a landscape shot, yet you are going on a trip with two bodies and four lenses, including 3 zooms (one of which is the heaviest lens available for this system), and you're considering a fifth one?


    I can run down the Grand Canyon and up Half Dome and I would consider that amount of gear way too heavy for me.
  15. tomas

    tomas Mu-43 Regular

    Back home after a visit to some of the grandkids.

    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments and advice.

    At the moment I'm much influenced by Edmunds' reality check. Thus my normal walkabout kit will probably be the two bodies, the 12-35 and the 35-100, with the 25 included when needed. If I bring the 7-14 and/or the 100-300 with me at all, it would be only on a few days, like for the megafauna in Yellowstone, or the walls of Antelope Canyon, etc. Otherwise those two lenses can reside in my carry-on luggage. Since this will be a guided trip, I can get some good information ahead of each day from the program director.
  16. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    I would take only three lenses. One for ultra-wide like 7-14 or Samyang fisheye, 12-40mm/12-50mm range and then something at 150-300mm range.

    You get two special lens to separate yourself from typical snapshots and then the common snapshot lens for most cases.

    If you are not going to take portraits from local people or very low light scenery, forget primes.
    And you can even leave second body at home as trust the Olympus sensor cleaning and learn to do quick swap by holding lenses together from front so in single turn you can quickly swap lens in body.

    I was just on few day trip and again were forced to reconsider the daily bag content. What was single body, four lenses (fourth what I didn't use almost at all) few batteries, single memory card (it was calculates risk to take only a 32GB card for each day and required to consider when to shoot JPEG+RAW instead just JPEG) what left 7 shots spare in last day as there was no change to flush card on last day from 3k photos. And of course the bundled OM-D flash if required and water+wind resistant light jacket bottom of small back bag.

    More important would really be waist bag where to store two other lenses and easy swapping. And very small tripod with possibility to get it from 3cm to 30cm height and monopod.

    Cir-Pl filters are useful when going 20mm and up. Wider and you don't really get benefits if there is sky at all visible as it is ruined with gradient polarisation in part of the image.

    And one what is usually not liked is the possibility to geotag photos, check you camera and phone/tablet times are in sync and you like it years later.

    The few lenses actually with gaps between focal lengths gives better changes than trying to cover all ranges seamlessly, you have less possibilities and way easier decisions to make on the site and time to enjoy the view while there instead front of the computer at home. So less=more.

    So if I would be you, I would take 7-14, 12-35 and 100-300. Spending 80% of time with 12-35 and 10% for both those two others, or probably 5% for tele and 15% for UWA. And I would leave 25mm at home without thinking twice.