Wide, Ultra-wide or zoom for trip

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by HazyOmega, May 29, 2014.

  1. HazyOmega

    HazyOmega Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 25, 2013
    Montreal, Canada

    in a couple of month I'm going to Las Vegas for a trip. The plan is 2 day in the city and 2 day around (grand canyon, ...). I do not think that my current kit contains a wide enough lens. There is also a possibility to go in Italy and China over the next months.

    My equipement: E-M10 (with grip), Olympus 25mm f1.8, Olympus 45mm f1.8 and 40-150 f4-5.6

    So I'm looking to buy a new lens for wider outdoor shot and maybe indoor. The 25mm is not wide enough for interior shoot.

    Here's my tought about a couple of lens:

    Rokinson 7.5mm: ++ Cheap & wide , -- manual focus, fishy, never used manual focus
    12mm f2: +IQ, "fast" -- Expensive, another prime
    12-40 f2.8: +IQ, zoom --Expensive
    9-18 f4.0-5.6: +? zoom & wide ---Expensive

    I fear that the rokinson will be too wide, the 12mm to restrictive (for the price), 12-40 too similar to 25mm & 45mm ... and I don't know the 9-18.

    Any suggestion?

  2. dccase

    dccase Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2014
    Massachusetts, USA
    There is no lens wide enough for the Grand Canyon.
    Experience it with your eyes.
    Feel your place in the universe.

    Use the 25mm to get a picture of you and your friends smiling in front of it.
  3. Ellsass

    Ellsass Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2014
    12mm is plenty wide for Europe. Even 14mm is sufficient for taking photos of most buildings from the street.
  4. BAPHA

    BAPHA Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 11, 2012
    Not sure what you mean by "12-40 too similar to 25mm & 45mm..."? While you can substitute half of its range with the 25/45 prime combo, you said the 25mm wasn't wide enough, and the 12-40 is twice as wide. Also, especially for outdoor photography like the one you're planning to do at the Grand Canyon, you will find the difference in perspective stunning, with the ability to pull in huge skies and rock formations. The 9-18 would be even more stunning in this respect, and will give you many ways to compose some great outdoor shots. Personally, I just spent a week shooting with the 12-40 and for a trip like yours, or general travel, it's qualities are hard to beat, especially at the wide end (except probably compared to the 12mm prime, which I haven't used). I have also shot the 9-18 briefly and it will be great for the Grand Canyon and many other places, as the difference between 9mm and 12mm is very noticeable, so if you crave every mm of wide, that's your lens. However, if you must chose only one, the range of the 12-40 is hard to beat, and possibly the best compromise.
    As a last piece of advise, may I suggest renting? Much smaller initial cash outlay, especially for a shorter trip like yours, and you will get a chance to test the lens(es) in real-world scenarios, before deciding which one to buy for your future trips.
  5. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Real Name:
    HazyOmega... rather than try to give a direct answer to your question, I will offer a more general view regarding gear and "trips". Hopefully, there may be something here of use to you.

    When traveling as a tourist, I very much dislike carrying numerous prime lenses, juggling them, swapping them on and off bodies. That is cumbersome, time consuming, requires carrying more lenses, and has greater potential to introduce dust and dirt inside the camera body. I find it too "fiddly" when I'm enjoying being a tourist (rather than a professional on assignment.)

    I also find very wide lenses of much greater value than long lenses in cities and most places, really.

    Lenses like the 12-35 and 12-40 offer fantastic image quality (as good as some primes and better than other primes), great versatility, reasonably wide FOV, and at f/2.8 combined with OIS or IBIS, are plenty fast for most applications. All I would need beyond that, as a tourist, is something wide: 7-14 or 9-18 are my picks for that and I have them both.

    My ideal set up for being a "day tourist" is two bodies (two GX7's, for example) with a 7-14 or 9-18 mounted on one of them and a 12-35 mounted on the other. This setup allows quick and easy capture of nearly everything I would want to capture, without juggling any lenses at all. I would probably have available a lens such as the 20/1.7, 25/1.4 or 60/2.8 for special purposes, but wouldn't carry them around with me wherever I go. If I planned to do a lot of portraits, I might take the 45 along on the trip (not necessarily out for the day, however), though such a lens is certainly not necessary as one can most certainly create wonderfully fantastic portraits with the 12-35 or 12-40.

    If limited to using one camera only, I would mount the 12-35, drop the 9-18 in my pocket or bag, and go. The 12-35 would cover nearly all needs and can be used to stitch images for dramatically wide images. I could mount the small 9-18 if I really needed the wonderful (and much wider) FOV offered at 9mm.

    Primes are all well and good for specific applications, when you can conveniently carry a variety of lenses and don't mind the time and effort required to do a lot of lens swapping. That's more how I would shoot when on assignment. But that is not at all what I like to do when being a tourist.

    For what it's worth... I've got a case full of nearly all the great m4/3 prime lenses and have used them all (typically for specific applications) from time to time since I started shooting m4/3 in Oct 2009, yet most of them are rarely used these days, aside from very specific needs. With the availability of the 12-35 and 12-40 zooms, primes are less needed for most applications. My 12-35 gets the most use, dramatically so. It's got great range, excellent image quality, good speed, reasonable compactness, great OIS, wonderful convenience... definitely a top choice for keeping your gear simple, minimizing gear fiddling, and focusing your attention more on creating great images!

    Your needs/views may vary, but that's my preference after doing a lot of shooting on professional assignment (life long career), as well as a tourist enjoying travel.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. HazyOmega

    HazyOmega Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 25, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    What I was trying to say is that the 12-40 covers (almost) the 25mm and the 45mm.

    Honestly, I start photography less than a year ago and decided that I would go prime. I tought that prime was WAY better than zoom. Now with the 12-40 pro, m43 zoom are getting good.

    I might try to find a place to rent the lens before buying to try it (or both of them)

    Thanks for the feeback, it's really appreciated.
  7. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Real Name:

    based on a couple threads here, including

    I decided my 14-42 wasn't wide enough and have purchased the 12-40mm Pro and a 9mm BCL, which I will be taking to Europe this year, probably along with the 17mm f1.8 for indoor & nighttime shooting.
    Not taking the 7-14mm or any other lenses due to weight/size; trying to keep as minimal as possible as we won't have a car and will be walking or on trains or subways almost constantly.

    I've been to China many times but didn't do a whole lot of photography there... took a P&S a couple times... last time was a Panasonic DMC-FH20 aka DMC-FS30 which has a 28-224mm lens (35mm equivalent), so about 14mm in 4/3.
    I went to a couple of the old palaces, and it was wide enough for those.
    However, I could see that you might want wider for some of the old gardens, etc.

    If the 12-40mm is too expensive, look at the 12-50mm; it's a 'kit' lens but it's weather-sealed and has a decent macro fn (as does the 12-40mm).

    9mm BCL is a nice cheap option for outdoors in daylight, 17mm isn't terribly expensive...

    To me, the 12mm F2 is way too expensive; 12-40mm will be much more useful for me.

  8. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    Madison, WI
    It depends on what kind of pictures (focal length, really) you like to shoot, I recently spent a couple of weeks as a tourist in Japan and Korea and mainly shot with the 25mm, but that's me. My second-most used lens was the 9-18mm.

    I'd agree with Don that when you're in tourist mode it can be too much of a hassle to be swapping lenses. I would suggest you consider adding the 9-18mm to your existing set, or one of the 12-XX zooms.
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    it entirely depends on your taste in photographs. I travel quite a bit, though I don't take 'tourist' photos.... I tend to carry 17, 25 and 75 and could probably travel with just the 17 and 75.

    I might for certain trips take something like the 50-200, but not to carry around all day.

    I dont like wide or ultra wide lenses, but thats my personal taste. I do have the 14mm panasonic which being so tiny often gets thrown in the bag for those rare occasions when I need a little more width

  10. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    That's a great post Don. You've crystalised my own thoughts!
    • Like Like x 1
  11. HazyOmega

    HazyOmega Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 25, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    Thanks for the great reply. What you said influenced my choice and went for the convinience that is the 12-40 f2.8. The lens went on discount last week so I jump on it and sold my prime lens.

    Now, I think I might need a polarizing filter for the lens. Shooting in the desert may be too sunny for for the lens alone ... that and I like the effect of polarizer.

    • Like Like x 1
  12. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Real Name:
    Zooms are convenient.

    The 12-40 is sharper at the wide end than the 12-35. The 9-18 is a great little lens and 9 is much much wider than 12.

    Another and much cheaper suggestion would be to get the 9mm fisheye BCL. This would give you a wide lens for those occasions when it would be really nice to have one without much weight or bulk. The Panny 14 would be another decent choice if you want a single wide lens.

    Edit - Oops! congratulations on the 12-40 it is very sharp at 12, I am sure you will like it!
  13. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    I'd be taking my 7.5, 12-40 and 75 if I were coming along.
  14. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Real Name:
    +1. Excellent post Don.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. TetonTom

    TetonTom Mu-43 Regular

    If you even think that you might need a wider lens, skip 12-?? and go straight to the 9-18mm. This is, IMHO, the most versatile lens made for m43. 9mm, at the wide end, is wide without being goofy, and at the long end is what most people would consider a pretty normal perspective.
    I shot for nearly a year with the 12-50mm that came with my EM5 (also a great travel lens BTW, if you can live with 12mm) and when I looked at my collective EXIF statistics I realized that 75% of my shots were at 12mm, and most of the rest at 50mm. So now my entire lens kit is a 9-18mm, and a 45mm. And honestly, the 9-18mm is on 90% of the time.
    And the tiny size and weight of the 9-18 is one of the greatest benefits of m43. I used to carry around a Nikon D7000 w/ 12-24mm which was easily 3x the bulk and weight of my sweet little Oly kit (with the 45 as a bonus!)
    If you've never had one before, you won't know until you get one.
    Have fun, whatever you do!
  16. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    I got the 9mm fisheye BCL recently; found it 'de-fishes' fairly well in RawTherapee simply by sliding the distortion correction slider to the far left.

    I'm not sure if it'd be perfect for straight-line architecture, but it worked well for some car snapshots I tried.

    I'll be taking it and the 12-40 to a car show this weekend, and will take both + the 17mm 1.8 to Europe this summer.