Wide or Std zoom? Need help balancing needs, wants, & budget for upcoming trip

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by emorgan451, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. emorgan451

    emorgan451 Mu-43 Veteran


    My situation is that I am going to Europe (Rome, Florence, Barcelona) in 2 months and I know I need at least a std zoom to add to my collection for the trip as well as general photography after the trip. I currently have the E-M5 which I bought used with the 17mm 2.8. I recently bought the 45mm 1.8 and the oly 40-150mm. I absolutely love the 45 for the colors, sharpness and speed, and it has spoiled me (best glass I have owned but this is a recent hobby ~4 yrs) so that I hate the thought of buying lenses that are inferior in image quality. But as I said it's a hobby for me so it's hard to justify spending lots of money for stellar lenses. I find the 17 2.8 serviceable, but i really dread putting it on the camera after the 45, so I would be inclined to sell it to fund the replacement. I have taken trips where I just used the 45 and the 17 so I'm not against switching primes alot, but I'm afraid in Europe on tours that I won't have the time to switch as much as I feel like, so I think I need a zoom.

    Obviously I think the ultimate answer would be to buy a refurb/secondhand Oly 12-40, but I would have to do some amazing convincing of my wife and myself to drop $700-$800 for a non-lucrative hobby when I bought the E-M5 last October.

    Other options I have considered were:
    Oly 12-50
    Oly or panasonic 14-42(45) and a wide angle converter
    Oly 9-18
    Panasonic 12-32

    With all of those I think I would have to add the Oly 25 1.8 very soon. (I want it really badly but am waiting on used/refurb later this year)

    I know that some similar threads must have existed in the past but my search didn't turn up what I was looking for.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 4, 2014
    It really depends on what kind of pictures you prefer to take. Personally, I would not leave for a trip to European cities without a really wide lens, so I would recommend the 9-18. You already have the 45 for indoor shooting (though a bit limited due to fairly long focal length), and your tele zoom covers a good range outdoors.

    If you could squeeze in budget to get a oly 25 as well, I think you would be well covered! I am sure you can find ways to justify it to yourself!;)
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    I would want a fast, wide angle lens for both city and indoor shots (cathedrals, castles, museums, etc.). I think even f/2.8 is too slow for indoor work, and most places won't allow a tripod or flash, so that leaves you with few choices. My pick would be the Oly 12, followed by the 17, and then the Panny 14 f/2.5. Although I have and like the 9-18, and is ideal for day-light shooting, it would be useless for most indoor photography. Same with the other slow zooms.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. emorgan451

    emorgan451 Mu-43 Veteran

    Thanks for the feedback tosvus. I have been to Europe once before with a Samsung NX10 and the kit 18-55 (28-85mm 35 eq) and found a lot of my shots were at 18 and I wanted to go wider. I also see most things in a 50mm eq, so I miss having that focal length available.

    I haven't had any experience for wide angle beyond 28mm in 35eq so I guess I don't know how wide I need to go. I would like to be able to capture a cathedral exterior without being miles away :) I also would like to capture the ceilings of cathedrals. Would one of the 12-xx do this or do I need all the way to 9 for that?

    I meant to put in my post that if available I would be buying used/refurb lenses, but even at that the 9-18 pushes the budget.
  5. slmoore

    slmoore Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 15, 2014
    Check out this post by yehuda, who used the 12-32 pancake. If you get an exif browser plug-in it makes it easy to see the various focal lengths and shutter speeds. Lots of shots @ 12mm. If what you really want is the 12-40, maybe consider renting it for the trip to try it out?

    • Like Like x 1
  6. Ramirez

    Ramirez Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2011
    Another cheap alternative for you 50eq lens is the Sigma 30mm f2.8 (it's 60 in 35mm language, close to 50, a bit narrower). I have the Sigma 30 (and 60); they are good lenses.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Jacquesass

    Jacquesass Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 17, 2014
    The big decision is "how fast does my 12mm need to be?"

    1) Olympus 12-40/2.8 = $860
    2) Panasonic 12-32/3.5-5.6 = $330
    3) Panasonic 12-32/3.5-5.6 + Olympus 25/1.8 = $680

    I think you should go with #3. You are going to end up getting the 25mm anyway; don't miss having that lens on your trip because you are going to try and save $50 later this year...
    • Like Like x 1
  8. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    We did Rome over 12 yrs ago with film, and it's a great city to shoot in. A fast ultra wide would be nice, but that doesn't exist in m43 land, so the 9-18 is a decent compromise.

    Learn to shoot at lower shutter speeds, use church pews, walls, your mate's shoulder etc as a brace/ support.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    I like wiiiide for travelling.

    My current travel kit (multiple times in Europe, all over Asia, North America, etc) consists of
    Samyang 7.5 FE
    Oly 9-18
    Oly 45

    Honestly, I'd happily travel with just the Oly stuff to be super light/compact...but the 7.5 FE is just too much fun to monkey around with now and again. :)
    • Like Like x 1
  10. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Real Name:
    David Dornblaser
    O12, O17/25 & O45 for primes with either the P12-32 or P12-35 would be my choice. I added the O12 for museum or interior shots but . The 12-50 is too dark for evenings or interiors, the 14-42 is not wide enough. Consider renting lens(es) for your trip.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. lightmonkey

    lightmonkey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 22, 2013
    if you need wide in a pinch, could always take multiple shots and stitch it back. just remember to shoot it in manual! and rotate but dont shift!

    get olympus 12-50 because its sealed and has more useful range. or panasonic 12-32.

    as long as theyre both used... if theyre new, might as well splash for 12-40
    • Like Like x 1
  12. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 30, 2011
    I used the Oly 17mm F2.8 and the 45mm F1.8 for several years as my main kit. I have just stepped up the the E-M1 with the 12-40mm. The zoom out performs the 17mm F2.8 in every aspect except size and except for specific portrait work where low light or narrow DOFF is needed. The 45mm also stays in the bag a lot more now.

    The 12-40mm is that good, sharp, contrasting and enough DOF for this category of camera. It is the ideal travel lens and the 12mm end makes a lot of difference when compared with other kit zooms starting at 14mm. I own a tele zoom, but would be reluctant to even carry it on a trip nowadays as this is not my preferred focal length/s.

    My ideal travel kit would be adding a UWA zoom to the standard 12-40, preferably on 2 separate bodies. After 3 years of primes, I have changed and juggled enough lenses whilst being bumped and shoulder in crowded places. If you are after one lens to do 90% of your travel work, then the Oly 12-40 is a great choice. Sharp wide open, and sharp across the frame when stopped down.

    I read another post here about a member assessing what lenses he used whilst travelling on a holiday. He carried a number of primes and one zoom. The zoom was used more than 90% of the time. My use is similar to this assessment. After using the zoom I am seriously considering selling the 45mm as I do not use it enough. The money can go towards a descent UWA zoom.

    Like yourself, I am only an amateur and therefore need to keep a check on how much gear and the overall cost.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    +1 on zooms...I used to travel with just a UWA zoom and a medium telephoto...with the UWA zoom doing the bulk of the work.

    After I bought my 12-50, I was considering making it my travel zoom (instead of the 9-18), since it has more range and is weathersealed, but decided that 24mm equivalent just wasn't wide enough for me. But, really, it's up to your personal preferences...if you have the money and you're not a UWA addict, a 12-40 or 12-50 may be the perfect lens for you.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Real Name:
    call me Arg
    Well these two are very little different as a 12mm lens.... f/2.8 or f/3.5
    • Like Like x 1
  15. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Zooms are great! But not as useful if they are slow. I've had a bunch of them but nothing compares so far with the overall usability of the PL12-35 f2.8 and the PL35-100 f2.8
    I realize they are pricey, but they are really nice to have. Also the FE Rokinon 7.5 would be great for landscapes and candid shots of people. You can round it off with any fast prime you like and you'd be set. :biggrin:
    • Like Like x 2
  16. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    No travel demands 2 bodies. That turns a trip into work than play. If you follow some of the previous advices and use two bodies, leave one in the hotel safe as a backup.

    I recently did Italy: Rome, Vatican, Venice, Pisa, Capri, Messina. I used a kit consisting of 9-18, 14-150, and 17/1.8.

    In hindsight I would have done fine with a 45/1.8 as opposed to the 14-150. Would have had the same shots but sharper and carried less weight.

    The UWA zoom is a quintessential requirement for European cities. But in Italy it is the hardest lens to use. There are simply too many tourists around, all-year round. When you have the opportunity to use it, you'll get fantastic shots. But it's difficult finding the right moment.

    I think if you're doing mostly tourist stuff, get a consumer midrange zoom. Any of the Olympus or Panasonic variable aperture zooms would be fine. I would try to get one with 12 mm, it is indeed wider and more useful than 14 mm.
    • Like Like x 2
  17. emorgan451

    emorgan451 Mu-43 Veteran

    Wow, this site amazes me! I didn't expect so many responses that quickly.

    slmoore - Thank you for the link to that thread. That really shows me what a 12 FOV will capture at some of the places I will be touring. I also like the exif extension, I didn't know you could do that! I also looked at renting the 12-40 for the trip a month or so ago, but with having to have it rented for almost 2 weeks I could buy a used 12-50. I hate the thought of throwing paying that much and only using it for 2 weeks.

    Jacquesass - Thanks for the breakdown on cost and pointing out that waiting on the refurb or used 25 1.8 later this year likely won't bring the cost down like the new vs used PL25.

    sokar - you brought up a point I hadn't considered yet about changing lenses in the crowd. I am used to changing out primes hiking or walking around sparsely populated areas. I'm assuming it's going to be very crowded in Italy at the tourist spots so a more normal zoom compared to the 9-18 may fit me better.

    dav1dz- Thanks for the comment about UWA zooms in most of Europe vs Italy. I would have never known that. I will be keeping to mostly tourist spots as it's my first trip there.

    So after all the responses I'm leaning towards a 12-xx zoom over the 9-18. With my current kit I'm lacking in the std range, so between that, my inexperience with UWA, and the fairly high cost for the unknown (for me) I think i'm safer looking elsewhere. I kind of expected to hear some votes for a very cheap 14-42 and a wide converter (to use mostly for the wide end and buy quality with a 25 1.8). Is that a step back in quality over the 12-50 or 12-32?

    For me it's looking like if I can get the refurb price from olympus of $640 like they had a few weeks ago that is the one I would go with. If I can only find it new or used $750+ I don't think I can swallow it. The consensus seems to be that the next best image quality wise is the 12-32 which is $350 new and seems backordered everywhere in the states and I can't find used yet. Then it would be a used 12-50 which runs $180 - $250 used. Is that a fair assessment?

    Has anyone done a comparison between the P12-32, oly 12-40, and oly 12-50 @ 12mm? The 12-50 and 12-32 would probably be used mostly at 12-14mm for me after the trip and normal would be taken care of with the 25 1.8.

    Thanks to all
  18. Jacquesass

    Jacquesass Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 17, 2014
    This forum does have a surprising number of informed, helpful people.

    Borrowlenses.com rents the O12-40/2.8 for $92 for 14 days, $9 more for the damage waiver, $25 for shipping. That's not bad - less than $10/day to use a great lens that you may or may not want to own.


    This also may be an option for a wide-angle - it's $18 more to rent the P7-14/4.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    It depends on your style of course but I found , on similar trips, that I do just fine with 14-42 zoom supplemented with the inexpensive Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye whose images can be straightened later , for some places. 1 bright prime for low light and youare good to go . I am also tempted to recommend 14mm/2.5 for low light outside/ architecture scenes.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. emorgan451

    emorgan451 Mu-43 Veteran

    Thanks for pointing that out. I had looked at lens rentals a few weeks ago and they had the P12-35 and the O12-40 at the same rental rate ~$160 before tax. Now they even have the price down to what the borrowlenses price is on the 12-40. The P12-35 is still higher though for some reason. At the time I was thinking $160 before tax is awfully close to the $180 some of the 12-50s have been going for used.

    $10 a day isn't too bad, so that's definitely an option for the trip.