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What set of lenses for travelling?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by hazwing, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    I'm planning on going travelling for 3-4months sometime next year. I haven't locked in our destinations, but trip will probably include nepal, south east asia, eastern or central europe. I plan on doing some trekking in nepal.

    I plan on selling my canon 600d and lenses, switching over to m4/3rds with the OMD. Mainly for the savings in weight and size. I'm also hoping the OMD with a smallish lens will be less obtrusive and tempting for thieves.

    What set of lenses set up would you recommend I get for travelling? Any additional gear? Assuming a budget around $1500 for lenses.

    Here is what I am thinking;

    -panasonic 12-35mm; walk around lens, f2.8 suitable for lowish light. Weather sealed to go with the OMD. Will probably sit on my camera most the time. Some cons; seems like relatively large lens. Also a little shorter in focal length than what I would prefer for a walkaround lens.

    -olympus 40-150mm; I don't expect to be using the telephoto range that much, but I figure it might be good to have. they seem to go pretty cheap second hand (I recently saw one sold on ebay for $100). Probably use it for wild life, maybe candids of strangers from further away, landscape when I want to get closer views of mountains/peaks.

    -olympus 45mm; to be used for low light and portraits. (I find f2.8 probably won't cut it in true low light situations.) Doesn't look too large, hopefully attracts less attention than the other larger lenses.

    Ideally I'd like something like the panasonic 20mm; the pancake size is great, I like the focal length, wide aperture. I can live with the slower autofocus, however the reported banding at high iso isn't going to make it suitable as my small low light prime, hence the 45mm.

    I've also given thought to the panasonic 25mm, but it seems larger than most other primes, and I'd like at least one of my lens to be small and unobtrusive.

    I've never shot with an UWA lens, but I like other people's photos taken with them. Unless I forgoe the 12-35mm, I don't think my budget is going to stretch for an UWA, and I don't know if my own skills are going to be able to make the most of it.

    I already have an ultrapod II which I plan on bringing. I'm also planning on buying a polarising filter for the 12-35mm. Not sure about GND or ND filters. I've never used them before and I'm not sure if I'm going have the time and patience to set them up properly. Also without a proper tripod, my composition is going to be affected by what I can do with the ultrapod.
  2. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    You can add the P14 to your shopping list.
    It is a pancake with 2.5 aperture that costs 160$ on Ebay.
    If you get the P12-35 it will consume most of your budget.
    A set that includes O9-18, P14, P25 and P40-150 will give you more options at your budget.
    The UWA is really important if you plan going for tracks in Nepal.
  3. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 6, 2012
    Depending on the type of photography you do and your travel means and itinerary, frequent lens change can be a hinderance (and risk to the sensor). If you stick with p12-35mm, maybe add a samyang/rokinon fisheye and the 40-150mm to cover the ranges?
  4. atom

    atom Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 20, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    For simplicity sake, I'd probably go 14-140, 14mm and one other prime if you really want to spend the money. Call it a day.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    What do you like shooting most on your Canon, in terms of focal length?

    Given your destinations (lots of landscape interest, people, not huge wildlife destinations which would require telephotos) I would probably go for the 12-35, something telephoto-ish, the 45/1.8 as a medium telephoto portrait lens plus a longer zoom of some sort - I have a 100-300, which is relatively large, but still small and light compared to my Canon gear. A 40-150 sounds like a good compromise, or a Panny 45-200 for a little more range.

    I'm going to disagree on the UWA being 'really important' for treks in the mountains. We're talking huge vistas. Huge vistas really do not require ultrawides. Stitching non-ultrawide often yields more interesting composition (because you don't need to/can't get 'up close'). However, where the UWA shines is in cities, close quarters, churches, that sort of thing.

    If your budget can stretch there, I'd add an UWA for sure, but it's easy to overuse, and more difficult to use well than a 'regular' wide-angle lens. I'm slowly warming to them, but most of my favorite landscape shots to date were taken with either my 24-105 or one of the 35mm primes (Contax/Zeiss or 35L). The 'normal zoom' range is much more important to me, certainly while traveling.

    Oh, and I can strongly recommend the 14/2.5 as a high quality, low budget, fast focussing, tiny little lens. I wish it was 17mm and as sharp and small, but that's my only real 'gripe'.
  6. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    12-35, 45, 40-150 is a great combo. Seems like you've thought this through. I would probably switch the 45 for the 25/1.4 if budget allows. It's more versatile for a low light lens.
  7. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 6, 2012
    The p14 f2.5 will be redundant if you already have p12-35 f2.8 in your arsenal.
  8. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    You are correct except for size the P12-35 is quite big and heavy. The P20 is needed for unobserved street photography and lite walk around. There are also places were you can not get in with serious camera, with the P20 the OMD looks like a P&S to some doorman. The cost is very low when purchased on Ebay.
  9. tomas

    tomas Mu-43 Regular

    The Panasonic 12-35/35-100 combo if you can afford it. They also have weather resistance.

    The Oly 40-150 and 14-150 are quite soft on the long end and not very fast. I sold my copies of those lenses.

    If you can't swing combo #1, go with the Panasonic 45-175 which is sharper than the Oly 40-150. I'd also suggest the Panasonic 7-14 for tight location shots and low landscape shots.

    As a distant third combo, consider the Olympus 12-50, which also has weather resistance. With that and the Panasonic 45-175, and 25, you've got quite a range for outside shots along with low light capacity,.

    Just returned from European trip. Of the primes I owned, the only one I used much was the Panasonic 25. I like the other Olympus primes, but not for trips.

    Primes are great when one has the time to change lenses and the ability to walk back or forward. Unfortunately, when I travel, I usually don't have that luxury.
  10. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 6, 2012
    Yes, i agree in general sense (i have both and i do use both in different occassions). My comment was more in context of OP's inquiry (budgeting $1500 for lenses).
  11. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I would suggest something different . I flew to Mauritius with Oly 45 mm , PL2 25, Panny 20 mm and Oly 12 mm but the lens which I used most of the time was Oly 4/3 14-54mm II . Just get that , add telephoto like OLy 40-150 and live happily. Just keep Panny 20 mm 1.7 for low light and light work. Believe me , I was much more happier to carry single lens 14-54mm II and shoot most of the time without having to bother about rain , changing lenses and worry about caps and bags . You can have a look at my pics and this lens rocks.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    The lenses I have on my canon are sigma 18-200 (28-320 equivalent for FF) and sigma 30 (48 equivalent for FF). Looking over my photos from my last trip, majority of my non wildlife photos were taken at 18-60 range (on the 1.6x crop). Wildlife photos were taken around 100-200 range, with majority of them being at 200.

    I use the sigma 30mm for low light indoor shots, and I've tried using it for walk around. To be honest I find the 30mm not quite wide enough at times. If I'm getting a walkaround prime, I think I'd prefer the 35-40mm FF focal length. Thats why I think I'd really like the panasonic 20mm f1.7... only draw back (major) is the reported banding at high ISO on the newer olympus cameras.

    The panasonic 12-35mm is wider than what I'm already used to on my canon (24mm vs 28mm). thats another reason I'm holding off the UWA at this stage. An yes one of the major reasons for getting the 12-35mm is to avoid having to change lens often. I feel when travelling, things can be quite dynamic. By the time I change lenses, the moment can be gone.

    I plan on shooting just the usual holiday stuff. Landscapes, buildings, locals, food, typical happy snaps. At home I usually shoot family and friends. I enjoy shooting landscapes and nightscapes, but sometimes just get too lazy to make a special trip for it.

    This is my flickr page to get an idea of some of my previous photos:
    Flickr: hazwing's Photostream

    The thing I'm not sure about bringing and buying for this trip is the 45mm. While it would be nice to have in general for portraits, it's probably a little long to use as a lowlight walkaround. Maybe I should forget the fast prime for now and just go with a pancake. Or maybe the new oly 17mm f1.8, it seems relatively small.

    Also did I mention, if I buy the OMD, I should get the 15mm f8 lens cap for free.
  13. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Firstly, you'll do fine with f/2.8 in low light situations. The IBIS on the OM-D is wonderful and it handles elevated ISO's like a champ. ISO 3200 is a walk in the park.

    I suggest you blow out your budget:


    You are covered with day/night, wide/long, inside/outside. That is the minimum lenses to cover how I shoot. I don't know how you shoot and if this is a family vacation or a photo expedition.

    Photography and family vacations just don't mix. So you can go light and grab a few snaps as you vacation.

    An expedition, where the primary goal is exploration, (as opposed to entertainment with the family), you need to cover a broader spectrum of focal lengths.

    I like to shoot people, working/environmental portraits stuff, hence the P35-70. If you don't shoot what I shoot toss the P35-100 for the P12-35.

    How many times will you be traveling to Nepal in your lifetime? So scrap the budget, (easily said), and pack the lenses that will best provide you with a lifetime of memories.

  14. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I've had the Sigma 18-200 OS in the Nikon mount.

    If you were fine with that lens, and is going to be using an Olympus body, to be honest the O14-150 is better.

    I found that the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm F4-5.6 is just as good as the Nikon 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 VR II, which is a tad better than the Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS.

    People here would tell you that the O14-150 is soft on the extreme ends. There isn't a super zoom out there that isn't. But even so it is quite sharp and is much better at achieving auto focus lock than the Sigma 18-200 once you go past 150mm.

    If you're comfortable with a super zoom, why not get one in this system? It'd be cheaper than the 12-35 and you can invest more money in the upcoming Olympus 17mm F1.8 or the current Panasonic Leica 25mm F1.4 for low light. If you're looking for a wider low light prime, the 17 is it. Is weather seal important on this trip?
  15. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    With 12-35 being your core lens, I would suggest adding a 45-200 and either the 20/1.7 or 25/1.4 to complete your travel set. That would make a pretty versatile set without having to worry about constantly swapping lenses.
  16. absolutic

    absolutic Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 21, 2011
    What about the following combo which I have

    Panasonic 7-14 and Olympus 14-150. Both lenses are surprisinly small and u have the full spectrum covering for traveling. 14-150 is very good and actually shorter than 40-150

    I paid about $700+ for my 7-14
    I paid about $200+ for my 14-150
    And with the extra $300 u buy a used 20mm 1.7 which u mount on at night
    Problem solved and u know u have entire range of 14 to 300mm covered

  17. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    For my recent honeymoon, I took the Oly 14-150, Pany Leica 25/1.4 and Pany 14/2.5 with the OMD.

    The 14-150 is a fairly small (for a superzoom) and extremely flexible walkaround lens for the daytime. Fast and silent AF. It might be a little soft in the long end, but there are no miracles with super zoom lenses. I bought mine as a refurb from Cameta for $386. During the daytime, if lighting permits and sharpness is a must at 150mm, dial to f8.

    I used the other two lenses in poor lighting situations. I also used the PL25 if DOF control was important such as portraits. The 14/2.5 was for primarily used in indoor tight settings. The PL25 is about $450-500 new nowadays. The 14/2.5 can be found for $200 on EBay or FredMiranda. Both are excellent performers, particularly the PL25. The 14/2.5 can also be a discrete up and close street shooter. Deep DOF and fast AF.

    I carried a Zipshot tripod with me. Not very stable for big cameras. But plenty good for the OMD plus the aforementioned three lenses. Bad thing about the Zipshot is that it's not too tall and can't be used for panning. Good thing is that it's the most portable and lightest tripod that still works decently (that I know of). Used the Zipshot a lot for self portraits with the wife along with a wireless shutter release.

    Have safe travels!!
  18. brianb032

    brianb032 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 10, 2011
    To be honest, I think the banding issues are overstated. I've used the 20 on several OM-Ds and I can't seem to replicate the problem that others are having. YMMV.

    After reading some of your posts, I think you may be best served with a 14-140 and a 20. You can find a 14-140 off the forums around the tune of $400 or so; while the 20 can be bought around $280. Recently my brother tagged along on a trip with me through Southeast Asia and China while using the 14-140, mainly in treacherously humid conditions and in the occasional downpour, and he never had an issue with the lens due to the lack of weather-sealing. The latter kit mirrors (no pun) your Canon gear quite well too.

    Just throwing some ideas out there, but if the weather is a concern, then I don't see why you can't have a cheapo 12-50 in the bag as a safety measure. The left over cash could even be spent on a spare body to mount one of the aforementioned lenses in your arsenal. (Ex. G3/GH1+14-140 and OM-D/20, etc.)
  19. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I don't see the point of having the 14-140 on an Olympus body. It's almost twice the weight.

    Both it and the 14-150 are compromised super zooms in terms of image quality. If OP chooses to make that compromise, might as well go for the lighter option.
  20. Kiwi Paul

    Kiwi Paul Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 15, 2011
    Aberdeen Scotland
    I take that combo on trips with me too, gives a very versatile setup although I must admit the 14-150 does get a bit soft at the long end.

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