OMD + one lens for mountaineering

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Questions
Thin_Ice
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OMD + one lens for mountaineering
Mar 27, 2013

Hello,

I bought an OMD to replace my e 420 on mountaineering trips.  The E420 stayed in the car most of the time because to bulky. For the same reason, i skipped the kit the 12-50 and only bought the 45 mm for portraits of the kids.

Later on i am planning to buy a quality zoom for travel ( the pana 12-35 or the expected oly).

What lens should i buy for mountaineering?  I am undecided between tHe 12/2 and  the 9-18!  Limited weight and bulk are important.  I also want to limit my lens purchases to lenses that give results wit the " Wow" factor and stand out compared to the P&S and phone cams.

Thanks for your thoughts.

steven

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Acrill
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 27, 2013

I think the 9-18mm is the lens you want.

Just be aware that the E-M5 is not weather-sealed without a weather-sealed lens.

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Bob Tullis
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Acrill, Mar 27, 2013

Acrill wrote:

I think the 9-18mm is the lens you want.

Just be aware that the E-M5 is not weather-sealed without a weather-sealed lens.

Agreed.   The 12/2 is the better lens, but for these daylight objectives unless a 24mm FOV is known to be desired, the 9-18 sounds like the better choice for varied scenics.   Though the 12-35/2.8 would be my preferred general purpose scenic lens.

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BingoCharlie
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Bob Tullis, Mar 27, 2013

The 12-35 isn't much bigger and will give you more flexibility.  It would be challenging to be limited to 18mm on the long end.  Plus the 12-35 is weathersealed like your E-M5 body.

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Ron Outdoors
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 27, 2013

All good suggestions so far. I use the Panasonic 14-45 for hiking. If the 14mm is not wide enough, I can take more then one picture and stitch them together on the computer. That also provides higher resolution then a single shot.

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texinwien
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 27, 2013

How about a 7.5mm Rokinon fisheye, which you can easily defish if you want?

The fisheye gets great reviews, would give you a very wide FOV (which you could crop if necessary for tighter shots, if you defish, first).

At ~ $300, it's a reasonably-priced option. Add the 12-35mm to your collection later and consider using it instead or in addition, if you want more flexibility. Just thinking a little outside of the box.

tex

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texinwien
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Ron Outdoors, Mar 27, 2013

Ron Outdoors wrote:

All good suggestions so far. I use the Panasonic 14-45 for hiking. If the 14mm is not wide enough, I can take more then one picture and stitch them together on the computer. That also provides higher resolution then a single shot.

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Something like this may also be a good option. I use the Panasonic 20mm like this on my E-M5 pretty regularly. Here's a stitch of 17 images taken with the 20mm - the stitched and cropped file is 104 real megapixels - big enough for a poster-sized print (2X3 with the long side slightly longer than 3 feet / one meter) at 300 dpi.

Autopano Giga ftw!

tex

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wine540
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 27, 2013

After shooting misting waterfalls on a drizzling day in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, I was happy I had the combo of an OM-D body and the 12-50 even though the lens is almost universally reviled. (I like it for what I shoot) The pany lens tens to be a lot bulkier than the Olympus lenses: I am holding out for the an Olympus fast 12-35(?) that I am certain will be more svelte.  For now I am taking my OM-D and 12mm f2 to Ireland for scenics.

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Dan W

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pieder
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to texinwien, Mar 27, 2013

where does that lead to?

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Mark B UK
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to BingoCharlie, Mar 27, 2013

BingoCharlie wrote:

The 12-35 isn't much bigger and will give you more flexibility.  It would be challenging to be limited to 18mm on the long end.  Plus the 12-35 is weathersealed like your E-M5 body.

I agree with this suggestion. As well as being weather-sealed, the 12-35 is a surprisingly light lens, and will be more versatile than the 12mm and higher quality (both optical and build) than the 9-18.

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kenw
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9-18 or RX100
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 27, 2013

I'd actually recommend a RX100 if you want compact, good IQ and full featured.  That's the practical solution for lowest weight and good IQ.  However, there is nothing particularly "wow" about a lens that stops at 28mm on the wide end.  Still, I use an RX100 rather than a m43 kit zoom on lightweight hikes.  Very small and lightweight with IQ very close to m43+kit zoom in decent light.  I can stitch a few images to go wider than 28mm for vistas.

The 12/2 is a nice lens, but for mountaineering I'm not sure it gets you that much.  You won't ever need the wide aperture.  Sure, it is a very sharp lens edge to edge for landscape but really I suspect you'll rarely be printing a mountaineering shot large enough for that to matter.

As to the 12-35 if you are going to get it eventually anyway then that is a cost bonus.  But it is nearly double the weight of any of the other options.  Again the wide aperture is useless for mountaineering.  Compared to a lighter and cheaper kit zoom you are paying nearly $1000 to get something heavier that goes to 12 instead of 14.  (To be clear, I'm speaking about your mountaineering use here, the 12-35 is obviously a very useful lens for many other situations).

And so that comes down to the 9-18.  To me, from my extremely limited mountaineering experience, this is the "wow" lens you are looking for.  Such shots are often very close quarters so UWA is excellent for close in portrait and group shots.  You can't stitch in these situations, you need a true WA.  The 9-18 gets you that and extends into the 35mm EFL which is about where you'd want to be on a tighter vista.  Cropping to a 50mm EFL very plausible for 8x10 prints or any web images.  Obviously it is the lens for a 360 summit panorama as well.  And as already stated, you don't need a fast prime for this kind of shooting.  Is it the sharpest lens in the world?  No, but it is darn good for a UWA and again I really doubt you are going to blow up a mountaineering shot to wall size.  The subject matter and the UWA perspective is going to give you the "wow" at any size, not someone trying to stare at the individual fibers in your harness.

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Ken W
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texinwien
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to pieder, Mar 27, 2013

Up top is the U4 U-Bahn or Subway line in Vienna, Austria at the Schottenring station.

Down below is the U2 Subway line, same station and city, of course

The U2 gets deep here, as it prepares to go underneath the various arms of the Danube than run through Vienna.

tex

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Keith Lommel
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Re: 9-18 or RX100
In reply to kenw, Mar 27, 2013

This is some great advice from kenw.

I often end up carrying both cameras (RX100 and E-M5 with 9-18) when hiking. The RX100 covers the standard focal lengths as well as any kit lens would, and the 9-18 is for wide-angle wow factor. Because the RX100 is so tiny, I actually find it more convenient and easier to carry the two cameras rather than an extra lens for the Oly. And not having to bother with lens changes is an added bonus.

kenw wrote:

I'd actually recommend a RX100 if you want compact, good IQ and full featured.  That's the practical solution for lowest weight and good IQ.  However, there is nothing particularly "wow" about a lens that stops at 28mm on the wide end.  Still, I use an RX100 rather than a m43 kit zoom on lightweight hikes.  Very small and lightweight with IQ very close to m43+kit zoom in decent light.  I can stitch a few images to go wider than 28mm for vistas.

The 12/2 is a nice lens, but for mountaineering I'm not sure it gets you that much.  You won't ever need the wide aperture.  Sure, it is a very sharp lens edge to edge for landscape but really I suspect you'll rarely be printing a mountaineering shot large enough for that to matter.

As to the 12-35 if you are going to get it eventually anyway then that is a cost bonus.  But it is nearly double the weight of any of the other options.  Again the wide aperture is useless for mountaineering.  Compared to a lighter and cheaper kit zoom you are paying nearly $1000 to get something heavier that goes to 12 instead of 14.  (To be clear, I'm speaking about your mountaineering use here, the 12-35 is obviously a very useful lens for many other situations).

And so that comes down to the 9-18.  To me, from my extremely limited mountaineering experience, this is the "wow" lens you are looking for.  Such shots are often very close quarters so UWA is excellent for close in portrait and group shots.  You can't stitch in these situations, you need a true WA.  The 9-18 gets you that and extends into the 35mm EFL which is about where you'd want to be on a tighter vista.  Cropping to a 50mm EFL very plausible for 8x10 prints or any web images.  Obviously it is the lens for a 360 summit panorama as well.  And as already stated, you don't need a fast prime for this kind of shooting.  Is it the sharpest lens in the world?  No, but it is darn good for a UWA and again I really doubt you are going to blow up a mountaineering shot to wall size.  The subject matter and the UWA perspective is going to give you the "wow" at any size, not someone trying to stare at the individual fibers in your harness.

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Ken W
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Thin_Ice
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Re: 9-18 or RX100
In reply to kenw, Mar 27, 2013

Thanks for the good advice here.

Most of the time i am guiding or instructing groups.  As a consequence, there are plenty of camara's around, and there is no need to carry another compact.

I am also not looking for "postcard shots", but want to bring back pictures of people/groups in this special setting. The guide is also responsible for the foto souvenirs...

My first idea was the 17 mm 1.8, but i think this one gives not the right posibilities in perspectives.  Then i was thinking of the 9-18, but overall i am a bit underwelmed by the pictures in the flickr pool.  I dont like to much distortion, especially in pictures with people on them.

The 12 mm is pricy, only one focal length and falls within the zoom range of the expected quality zoom.  On the other hand, the 12 mm is small and the pictures I have seen, really stand out.  F 2 could be usefull in the morning before sunrise and at the dinner table in the mountain cabin.  12 mm shoul be fine for summit portraits.

The 45 mm seems an excellent option to shoot stitched panoramas, but i am affraid that i don't have the time to switch lenses during the day.

any other thoughts / am i underestimating the 9-18 / should I go for the 12 mm?

Steven

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pavinder
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Re: 9-18 or RX100
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 28, 2013

Thanks for the good advice here.

Most of the time i am guiding or instructing groups.  As a consequence, there are plenty of camara's around, and there is no need to carry another compact.

I am also not looking for "postcard shots", but want to bring back pictures of people/groups in this special setting. The guide is also responsible for the foto souvenirs...

My first idea was the 17 mm 1.8, but i think this one gives not the right posibilities in perspectives.  Then i was thinking of the 9-18, but overall i am a bit underwelmed by the pictures in the flickr pool.  I dont like to much distortion, especially in pictures with people on them.

The 12 mm is pricy, only one focal length and falls within the zoom range of the expected quality zoom.  On the other hand, the 12 mm is small and the pictures I have seen, really stand out.  F 2 could be usefull in the morning before sunrise and at the dinner table in the mountain cabin.  12 mm shoul be fine for summit portraits.

The 45 mm seems an excellent option to shoot stitched panoramas, but i am affraid that i don't have the time to switch lenses during the day.

any other thoughts / am i underestimating the 9-18 / should I go for the 12 mm?

Steven

Just wondering why people are recommending the 9-18mm but not the 7-14mm?
Wouldn't the 7-14mm be better given the slightly wider option it allows?

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photodog25
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 28, 2013

Thin_Ice wrote:

Hello,

I bought an OMD to replace my e 420 on mountaineering trips.  The E420 stayed in the car most of the time because to bulky. For the same reason, i skipped the kit the 12-50 and only bought the 45 mm for portraits of the kids.

Later on i am planning to buy a quality zoom for travel ( the pana 12-35 or the expected oly).

What lens should i buy for mountaineering?  I am undecided between tHe 12/2 and  the 9-18!  Limited weight and bulk are important.  I also want to limit my lens purchases to lenses that give results wit the " Wow" factor and stand out compared to the P&S and phone cams.

Thanks for your thoughts.

steven

I'd go for the 12-35mm f2.8 as it is weather-sealed and would be a great one lens solution. If you need to go wider, you can stitch. The only other weather-sealed lens is the kit 12-50mm lens that may not be sharp sharp enough to give you the wow factor!

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CharlesTokyo
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Re: 9-18 or RX100
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 28, 2013

Thin_Ice wrote:

Thanks for the good advice here.

I am also not looking for "postcard shots", but want to bring back pictures of people/groups in this special setting. The guide is also responsible for the foto souvenirs...

My first idea was the 17 mm 1.8, but i think this one gives not the right posibilities in perspectives.  Then i was thinking of the 9-18, but overall i am a bit underwelmed by the pictures in the flickr pool.  I dont like to much distortion, especially in pictures with people on them.

It's a nice lens and it's what I use most now, but as you are thinking, it might be be wide enough in some cases. For group photos in tight places you might want something wider, although it could add the distortion you don't like.

The 12 mm is pricy, only one focal length and falls within the zoom range of the expected quality zoom.  On the other hand, the 12 mm is small and the pictures I have seen, really stand out.  F 2 could be usefull in the morning before sunrise and at the dinner table in the mountain cabin.  12 mm shoul be fine for summit portraits.

F2 might be useful, but the OM-D also has such good IBIS I don't think you'll need it. Pumping the ISO a bit isn't really a problem with it either. At 12mm you can get a lot of distortion when shooting people. You need to be careful how to compose.

The 45 mm seems an excellent option to shoot stitched panoramas, but i am affraid that i don't have the time to switch lenses during the day.

It might be an issue. You might look at the Peak Design capture clip. It can mount the camera stably on your bag straps or belt while you can change lenses so you have less to juggle/drop. Just need a pouch in easy reach with another lens. I love mine when hiking. Switching lenses is a pain though.

any other thoughts / am i underestimating the 9-18 / should I go for the 12 mm?

The shots you see with the 9-18 that have a lot of distortion are probably on the 9mm end. On the 18mm end it can make a nice portrait lens. You shouldn't end up with much distortion unless you frame it oddly. It's my second most used lens. The photos come out beautifully. It's so small and light. On the downside if you always retract it extending can be a two handed operation in most cases. (basically zooming). The capture clip I mentioned earlier can help.

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mchnz
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Re: 9-18
In reply to kenw, Mar 28, 2013

I would favour the 9-18.  I do find the old 4/3/ Olympus 9-18 very good for such places.  Because I have this old lens and the 12-50, I have not bothered with the m4/3 9-18.

I only go up mountains that can be hiked up or scrambled up, so my needs probably vary from yours.  I know you have rejected the 12-50 but I must confess I'm growing rather fond of it.  Its weather/dust sealing is very useful - rock flour or rain is not an issue.  It covers the normal perspective, but 12mm is quite wide as well.  The macro capability is useful.   And then there's the power zoom for movies.  Plus it's cheap enough to be breakable (but I do use a UV filter - rock dust is sharp stuff).

If you are into tripodless panorama's the the level indications in the E-M5 are really very useful, and the 9-18 would be great for the job.

I find I can stow the 12-50+E-M5 in a D-RES 30 padded case attached to my pack hip-belt by mini-carabiners, so I don't find the pair too bulky to carry.  I have also used an Aarn pack with front balance pockets.  But I guess a climber's stowage requirements would be quite different from a hikers.

Various recent samples in my gallery here and at flickr.

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Skeeterbytes
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Re: 9-18 or RX100
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 28, 2013

Thin_Ice wrote:

Thanks for the good advice here.

Most of the time i am guiding or instructing groups.  As a consequence, there are plenty of camara's around, and there is no need to carry another compact.

I am also not looking for "postcard shots", but want to bring back pictures of people/groups in this special setting. The guide is also responsible for the foto souvenirs...

My first idea was the 17 mm 1.8, but i think this one gives not the right posibilities in perspectives.  Then i was thinking of the 9-18, but overall i am a bit underwelmed by the pictures in the flickr pool.  I dont like to much distortion, especially in pictures with people on them.

The 12 mm is pricy, only one focal length and falls within the zoom range of the expected quality zoom.  On the other hand, the 12 mm is small and the pictures I have seen, really stand out.  F 2 could be usefull in the morning before sunrise and at the dinner table in the mountain cabin.  12 mm shoul be fine for summit portraits.

The 45 mm seems an excellent option to shoot stitched panoramas, but i am affraid that i don't have the time to switch lenses during the day.

any other thoughts / am i underestimating the 9-18 / should I go for the 12 mm?

Steven

Hi, Steven,

First, the e-M5 is a great choice and will serve you well. As to a one-lens solution, I agree the 12-35 is probably hard to beat from the current choices. I don't own one, but do have the 12-50, the 20/1.7 and the 45/1.8. The primes are pretty brilliant but not weatherproof. The zoom is quite decent and weatherproof, but quite slow, meaning less ability to achieve shallow DOFs. Nevertheless, it's the lens I use most for my backpacking trips in the mountains, because it's a good range and I don't worry about using it in bad weather.

Cheers,

Rick

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Jim Marshall4057
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Re: OMD + one lens for mountaineering
In reply to Thin_Ice, Mar 28, 2013

Unfortunately, no lens will give you the "wow" factor, unless you combine it with a degree of imagination ,compositional skill and aesthetic sensibility, particularly in relation to quality of light.

Its very easy  to get boring, cliched shots with any lens, but that is especially true with UWAs. They can give you exaggerated perspective which may be attractive initially IF you have interesting foreground interest, but can be deadly dull without.

The fact that you are interested in people in the landscape also suggests that a medium tele would be useful for capturing client reactions to their environment, especially during the golden hour, close ups of individuals or couples "being there", especially against the light, etc., with "there" in the background.

If you are selling the pics, these are the sort of photos people are likely to pay for, not the "I'm the tiny pinprick in the extreme corner of the wide angle shot" pic, or the " this is the group shot, shame about the extreme distortion of the three people on the end of the row" pic.

The slightly compressed perspective of a medium tele can also be invaluable in picking out ridges and peaks in different levels of lighting , and selectively highlighting areas of sky at dawn or sunset.

My 2c:  take along something that gives you at least 45mm FL. Whatever.

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