Which of my lenses for Zion?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by tkbslc, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I normally don't like posting these kinds of threads, but all my gear is under 6 weeks old so I just don't have enough experience to make a confident decision.

    Here's my kit:

    O 9mm Fisheye BCL
    P 14-42 II
    PL 15mm f1.7
    O 25mm f1.8
    O 45mm f1.8
    O 60mm Macro
    P 45-150
    P FL-360L Flash

    I am mainly trying to decide whether to go with the 15mm or 14-42 for wide and the 60 vs the 45-150 for long. If I don't bring the 15 for wide, I'll probably want the 25mm for general and low light. I Picked up a polarizer today.

    I'll likely be carrying a toddler half the day so I want to keep the kit simple and use my smaller bag that has room for 3-4 lenses max depending on size.
  2. Vinpocetine

    Vinpocetine Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 25, 2014
    Oh I love Zion! I'm super jealous.

    It really depends on your shooting style, and I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. If you like zooms, your two zooms there will pretty well have you covered. I'm not sure that there's much in the way of low light moving subject you're going to be shooting at Zion, so I don't know that the faster apertures of the primes are a huge consideration (are you bringing a tripod)?

    Personally, I like prime lenses, and I would happily go to Zion with the 15, 25 and maybe take along the 45 because it's tiny although I don't know that I would use it much there. That's for taking pictures *of zion* though, if you're taking pictures of people, the 45 is always a nice option for a portrait lens.
  3. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    To be fair none of your lenses are matching the subject well. You will need wide and ultra wide: 12mm, 9-18mm, 7-14mm - I used 12-35 the most as 7-14 had issues with flares in Narrows.
    9-18mm would be the best single lens for Zion (imo).

    If you're going into Narrows or Subway (need permit for Subways): add dry pack, tripod and rent water boots and neoprene socks from Zion Adventures.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  4. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I don't like ultra wide, actually. I've owned 3 on various SLR over the years. Had less than 100 shots on each. Kept believing people that I needed them for landscapes and kept buying them, but they aren't my style.

    I've got a toddler, so I'm not really planning on narrows/subway type hikes.
  5. Zee

    Zee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I did it with a Canon EF10-22, and a 100m Macro on a 7D - I could have happily done it with the 100mm alone.

    The question is, which lenses are you most comfortable using? I find I get better shots with "the wrong lens" if I am better at using it, than "with the right lens" if I'm not comfortable with it.

    Hhhmm... Perhaps that's a good photo thread idea... "The Wrong Lens..."

  6. JBoot

    JBoot Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 4, 2012
    Scotch Plains, NJ
    Real Name:
    I went with the family to Zion and a number of the other parks a few years ago. At the time, I was carrying my Nikon gear .... a really big reason, I subsequently made the move to m43 for all my personal shooting btw.

    I would bring it all (except maybe the 45mm), since it's not heavy ... here's why:

    GX7 (Do you have access to a second body, just in case?)
    O 9mm Fisheye BCL ---- to round out your shots and show a few of the massive spaces; you'll just need this for a few shots locations but it's so small
    P 14-42 II ---- need this for convenience when out and about in the parks; too hard to keep switching and it can get dusty
    PL 15mm f1.7 ---- If you are staying outside the park; walking around towns, etc.... especially as most of this will usually be at night, going out to dinner, etc.
    O 25mm f1.8 ---- same as above prime
    O 45mm f1.8 ---- same as above prime, though maybe the one lens I would leave as it's not as much a street lens for me
    O 60mm Macro ---- If you do macro, you NEED this; the plant and animal life out in the desert is amazing in addition to the beautiful rock/water details you will see
    P 45-150 ---- same as for the shorter zoom; much easier to work with and you will use the longer zoom more than you realize
    P FL-360L Flash ---- absolutely needed to do people photography in bright light and avoid dark eyes/shadows as well as for evening/sunset travel photography with people (all in manual to balance the light)

    • Ensure you have extra batteries and enough memory cards
    • NEED a tripod -- Good excuse to maybe pick up a Tenba Switch, which can carry the tripod on the bottom? :biggrin:
    • NOTE: as mentioned by budeny, you can rent waterproof stuff at Zion Adventures ... INCLUDING waterproof camera bags ... needed if you hike the Virgin River (stunning and great for video clips!)
    • Consider Camelback hydration backpacks (can't tell you how much water we drank while hiking)
    One thing I realized is that the panning and/or zooming video clips I took to capture the scenes brought the stills to life afterwards. Don't forgot to shoot many small video segments to frame out your story.
  7. DMLarson

    DMLarson Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 19, 2014
    Real Name:
    That's a pretty small kit even with all the gear, but if you only want two lenses, my choice would be the 15mm and the 60mm. There are likely to be some flowers or vegetation that you could get some close shots of. Also, the 60 will give some compression when you want it.
  8. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    The kit really depends on the type of shooting you're planning. You mention carrying a toddler, so I'm assuming that this is a family trip not strictly centered around photography. If that's the case, then I'd generally lean toward using the zooms to minimize fiddling with lens changes (particularly since it's likely to be a dusty environment). Although your primes are optically superior, the zooms can produce great images as well, particularly during the day when light shouldn't be an issue.

    I'd throw in the 15 or 25 for low light (whichever lens/focal length you're more comfortable shooting) and obviously the BCL since it takes up literally no room in your bag.

    I haven't been to Zion in years, but it's a fantastic place. I really need to return. Also, if you have time for a side trip to Bryce you won't be disappointed. Have fun and most importantly enjoy time with your family. Post some pics when you return.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Real Name:
    Zion is awesome. I didn't do the narrows, because I didn't research ahead of time or expect much being there at the time (it was a long road trip). I hope to return. I used the 12-60 (E1) when I was there and it suited my needs 100 %. If you're hiking you won't want to be switching lenses much. Take your 12-42, 15mm for low light and specialty shots and maybe the 45 or 45-150...but you probably won't need the long end for anything so the 45 is fine and cropable. You'll prob use the kit zoom the most and on the wider end. I dislike fisheyes personally and never owned one.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Living in Utah, I kind of take it for granted that everybody isn't a less than a day's drive from a dozen major national parks. :biggrin:

    I'm getting some really good advice, but I can tell some people are a lot more serious than I am. This is more of a family trip where the family reluctantly waits 5-10 minutes at every major viewpoint for me to take some photos.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. JBoot

    JBoot Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 4, 2012
    Scotch Plains, NJ
    Real Name:
    I'm jealous you live so close to those locations! The region is some of the most photographic across the US. Enjoy it.

    Readers Digest version for one travelling with a toddler in tow.... just take your two zooms, a prime for low light (15 or 25) and the flash. Start with the 14-42, don't overthink it.... just go play... shoot with your emotions and adjust from there.

    IMO as far as stopping people and waiting, here's my take on family trips.... from a person who focuses almost exclusively on shooting people..... not trying to preach/critique you or anyone in any way, just my way over the years with kids in college now....
    1. Rarely pose the family in any real manner..... even encourage them to have fun and goof off in the pose if that's what it takes.... let personalities and moments come through by disturbing them as little as possible.... and why zooms are best for this type of photography.
    2. Walk ahead or lag behind and take more candid/action pics..... some close up/zoomed to catch specific action, some wider to frame out the scene. When I do stop anyone, usually it's more likely a 'hey look this way' kind of thing, so the posing is more loose and natural.
    3. Save really posed shots for the postcard type stuff to send to Grandma.... like at the entrance sign to a park or with the family together at Arches National Park, for example.
    4. Leverage video .... this is where video clips bring the story together for you. You can capture a quick spot of hiking in a beautiful location, for example; a short clip of the action with a few still snaps will be easier on your editing time and make for a better show at the end IMO.
    5. Mix up your composition..... for example.... offcenter, at interesting agles, etc..... people to one side with scenary in the background (rule of thirds, leading lines and near-far type composition). Shoot from above or below when people are climbing up/down trails during hikes.... get down low to winding trails and catch your family walking the meandering road, seated on a rock with your toddler with a beautiful background, etc....
    6. Perfection is not required .... in fact, some of the most famous pictures are not nearly perfect but capture an emotion/moment that tell the biggest of stories.
    To me, there is a certain zen to photographing my family trips. I get to know I'm capturing special moments that my family doesn't care about capturing at the moment. However, it never fails that down the line, everyone wants to see those pics!
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  12. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Great tips, Jerry! Thanks.
  13. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    Real Name:
    That's all you need. This is a family outing and photography comes last. Save your pesos for a 9-18 for next time.
  14. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I get where you are going with this, and I am mindful of that. But I get to do a little of what I want to do on the trip, too. It's only fair. I mean, I hang out with the kids at the hotel pool for an hour each night and make sure they hit fun kiddie spots and they can wait 10 minutes here and there for me to take some photos. Everybody compromises a little as part of a family trip, right?

    For places where "serious" photography gets in the way, like Disneyland, I normally just bring the compact and happy snap. But not at a national park!

  15. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    Real Name:
    OK, then throw in the 45-150...endure the glares while you change lenses.

    Different strokes...
    • Funny Funny x 1
  16. jin

    jin Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 27, 2014
    I agree. Bringing your entire kit seems excessive. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

    I'd say bring the 14-42 and another necessary lens (9 if you like wide and 15 if you like low light and telephoto if you will take photos of people). But in general, I found that the portrait range primes can be left at home. That didn't get much use from my style of shooting. Although, you may want to bring the 60 macro for macros... Whichever is your preferred subject of shooting.
  17. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 14, 2012
    I did Zion in a grand total of 3 hours (I also did Bryce Canyon and the drive up to Green River via the 12 and 24 on the same day) so my lens choices may not be representative, but: I had all of my lenses with me (didn't own the 12mm at the time) and took 31 photos with the 20mm, two with the 35-100 (both of a deer) and one with the 45mm (on the drive back out).

    So I'd agree with Jin, go wide :)
  18. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    I am mainly a prime shooter, and often go out hiking with just the 20 or 14, so I'm the opposite end of the spectrum. I travel light, so I would feel comfortable with the 15 as a main lens, and either the 60 or 45-150. Probably the 60.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Real Name:
    Zion is a spectacular place. There will be plenty of wide, sweeping vistas you'll want to capture. There will also be thing you want to focus on that will require plenty of FL to accomplish. There will also be many intimate things you'll want to macro.

    Fisheye would corrupt some of Zion's beauty. You'll want to widest lens you have that doesn't distort. You'll want your longest lens as there will always be things you can't frame the way you want due to distance.

    I'd bring the 15, 60 and 45-150. 15 and 45-150 if you insist on just two.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  20. zucchiniboy

    zucchiniboy Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 13, 2010
    San Francisco
    I'd second this recommendation. As a PL 15 owner, I think that could take care of the whole range from 14 through 45 for me. To switch lenses (especially in a more arid, dusty place like Zion), it'd have to be worth it. Going from 15 to 25 wouldn't be quite enough of a difference, so I'd bring the 60 next, and then the 45-150 for a little extra reach.