Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1

Started 7 months ago | Questions
LightCatcherLT
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Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
7 months ago

Hello,

I am buying Oly OMD M1 and have reservations regarding Oly 12-40/2.8 lens size, weight and usefulness as travel all-round carry everywhere lens. I know this is pro-grade constant aperture lens that ranks high, however is it really optimal for traveling judging simply on it's weight and size? It looks to me it makes M1 setup heavy and almost similar to DSLR in terms of weight and size, or I am mistaken? Those of you who have it - are you disturbed by it's weight? Do you think it's worth having it nevertheless simply because it comes cheaper as a kit lens?

My situation is that shortly I am leaving for couple months trip to Asia and want lighter portable gear that is easy to carry, does quick AF, and makes decent photos. I am "enthusiast", shoot street, people, dances, like to catch emotions, those "hey look at me honey" moments, majority of my shots are done on 28-40mm region, plan to do little video interviews to publish on youtube. I am rather slim, 6.2ft guy. I can afford M1 and Oly 12-40 only, no additional lenses, or choose something instead of 12-40.

So far I was contemplating these options:

1. take M1 and Oly 12-40/2.8 lens despite it's heavy, big, but picture quality is perfect, it provides zoom range for travel. Trade quality for weight. Lens is cheaper as a kit lens.

2. take M1 and second hand Pana 12-35/2.8. Lighter, shorter, still on the heavy side. Won't be cheaper...

3. take M1 and Pana 14-42/3.5-5.6 + sharp wide prime like Pana 20/1.7 (or Oly 17/1.8 ?)

Does this 3rd option make sense at all?

Your advice will be appreciated.

Thank you very much.

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ryan2007
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

LightCatcherLT wrote:

Hello,

I am buying Oly OMD M1 and have reservations regarding Oly 12-40/2.8 lens size, weight and usefulness as travel all-round carry everywhere lens. I know this is pro-grade constant aperture lens that ranks high, however is it really optimal for traveling judging simply on it's weight and size? It looks to me it makes M1 setup heavy and almost similar to DSLR in terms of weight and size, or I am mistaken? Those of you who have it - are you disturbed by it's weight? Do you think it's worth having it nevertheless simply because it comes cheaper as a kit lens?

My situation is that shortly I am leaving for couple months trip to Asia and want lighter portable gear that is easy to carry, does quick AF, and makes decent photos. I am "enthusiast", shoot street, people, dances, like to catch emotions, those "hey look at me honey" moments, majority of my shots are done on 28-40mm region, plan to do little video interviews to publish on youtube. I am rather slim, 6.2ft guy. I can afford M1 and Oly 12-40 only, no additional lenses, or choose something instead of 12-40.

So far I was contemplating these options:

1. take M1 and Oly 12-40/2.8 lens despite it's heavy, big, but picture quality is perfect, it provides zoom range for travel. Trade quality for weight. Lens is cheaper as a kit lens.

2. take M1 and second hand Pana 12-35/2.8. Lighter, shorter, still on the heavy side. Won't be cheaper...

3. take M1 and Pana 14-42/3.5-5.6 + sharp wide prime like Pana 20/1.7 (or Oly 17/1.8 ?)

Does this 3rd option make sense at all?

Your advice will be appreciated.

Thank you very much.

One question is will you use flash for anything or do you have to depend on the lens to make up the difference. If you have to depend on the lens then slower variable aperture lenses are out of the race when you have lower light or need to use a ND filter in really bright light to control DOF then you need the lens (fast). If you can use flash to help then a variable aperture lens with a fast Prime is a good combination.

Next, I know your decided on the M1, but a smaller body rangefinder style with a fast lens could be good, unless you already ruled that out 100%. Not sure if that was a thought.

Olympus and Panasonic brand aside and just to talk focal lengths.

The 14-42 or 14-45 type lens with a 25 1.4, a fast 50 or 35 mm equivalent is useful.

Back to the M1, you could do the M1 with a fast Prime lens or two and look for a good compact with zoom like the Canon G16.

In the past I have done a DSLR with a telephoto type lens only and a p&s that covered 24 mm up to get the wide angle.

You could do the 14-42 lens and the 35-100 2.8 that has you covered nice for many things.

In the end get the camera in your hands if this is a sight unseen purchase, many times photos online don't really give you the feel of a camera.

Past all the size issues fast glass is always a good thing.

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Bill Lott
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

I bought the Om-5 before going to Alaska this summer for 2 weeks.  I bought the Panny 25mm, 12-35, 100-300 and the Olympus 75mm.  I have to say that none of the lenses disappointed.  i haven't tried the new Olympus zoom, but I'd buy the same kit again.

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JeanPierre Martel
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

LightCatcherLT wrote:

I am buying Oly OMD M1 and have reservations regarding Oly 12-40/2.8 lens size, weight and usefulness as travel all-round carry everywhere lens.

During a recent three-week vacation, I did 99% of my shots with an OM-D e-m5 and the Lumix 12-35mm F/2,8 : together they're about the weight of an OM-D e-m1 and the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2,8

Hanging from my neck, they are too heavy for me. I know that the strap on the e-m1 is wider: it's perhaps more comfortable. Across the shoulder, no problem. Wrapped around my wrist, the kit held by the lens (like a hammer) rather than held by the camera body, I can carry that all day long with no fatigue at all. The M.Zuiko 12-40mm being a little longer than the Lumix 12-35mm, that's even easier.

I don't feel right to do street photography with lenses as huge as any of these F/2,8 lenses, so I did very little street photography during that trip.

It looks to me it makes M1 setup heavy and almost similar to DSLR in terms of weight and size, or I am mistaken?

You probably think so because you fell that a m4/3 lens at F/2,8 is equivalent to a FF lens at 5,6. Frankly, I disagree but I don't want to enter again in that discussion. Just try it. You will understand why professional photographs are moving en masse to the m4/3 format.

Those of you who have it - are you disturbed by it's weight?

Yes, absolutely. But only at first. It took me two week to finally accept my new M.Zuiko 12-40mm and put my Lumix 12-35mm on sale. But I had the same reaction when the Lumix 12-35mm was new: it was so much heavier than my Lumix 14-45mm. But after two weeks, I couldn't turn back on my old one.

Do you think it's worth having it nevertheless simply because it comes cheaper as a kit lens?

What is the importance for you to have the topmost quality lens? If you will regret for the rest of your life that you've settled for something else, buy the M.Zuiko 12-40mm. On a camera that has IBIS, it's by a very slim margin, the best normal zoom for now.

But the Lumix 14-45mm and the Lumix 12-35mm lens are both extraordinary lenses. The new Lumix 12-35mm seems to be surprisingly good for a pancake. And the 14-42mm (from Olympus or Panasonic) are also good. None is mediocre.

Whatever will be your choice, have a nice trip.

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LightCatcherLT
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to ryan2007, 7 months ago

Thanks Ryan,

yes, I rely on lens only, no flash. Before deciding on M1 I spent way too much time reading about Oly M1, Pana GX7 and Fuji E-2. Short test on shop proved E-2 to be too slow for my shooting style and needs, although it produces charming pictures, maybe I will get it some day too. GX7 is better for video I am planning to do, but M1 feels just right in hands, should be enough for "talking head" video stuff, AF is perfect plus weather/dust sealing seems logical for travel in Asia. So M1.

Now considering zoom and primes - what's worth to look at wider than Pana 20/1.7?

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DLBlack
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

The E-M1 and the 12-40 /f2.8 is a very nice combo. It is a well balanced combo. The close focusing ability is really nice. The extra 5 mm on the long end is nice. The extra 2 mm on the short end is really nice.

The Panasonic 12-35 is not as long and don't focus as close.

The 14-4? Lenses are slow and not wide enough. You will need to carry a faster lens and lose the total package size.

Dave

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CharlesTokyo
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

LightCatcherLT wrote:

I am buying Oly OMD M1 and have reservations regarding Oly 12-40/2.8 lens size, weight and usefulness as travel all-round carry everywhere lens. I know this is pro-grade constant aperture lens that ranks high, however is it really optimal for traveling judging simply on it's weight and size? It looks to me it makes M1 setup heavy and almost similar to DSLR in terms of weight and size, or I am mistaken? Those of you who have it - are you disturbed by it's weight? Do you think it's worth having it nevertheless simply because it comes cheaper as a kit lens?

I'm leaving tomorrow for Thailand and Laos for a month and I had to consider the same thing. I also thought it was fairly large when I got it. The biggest reason is that I mainly shoot with primes, the 20mm and 17mm, but any of the zoom lenses are pretty big in comparison. As of this post I'm planning on bringing the 12-40 and 17mm f1.8. I don't think the 12-40 or 12-35 is that much larger or heavier than many DLSR kit lenses and both are significantly faster and better quality.

My situation is that shortly I am leaving for couple months trip to Asia and want lighter portable gear that is easy to carry, does quick AF, and makes decent photos. I am "enthusiast", shoot street, people, dances, like to catch emotions, those "hey look at me honey" moments, majority of my shots are done on 28-40mm region, plan to do little video interviews to publish on youtube.

Is that 28-40 in full frame format or m43s? I normally shoot between 14-20mm in m43s so I think we may use similar focal lengths. I am also an enthusiast, but also shooting for my photography class. I do more static subjects.

So far I was contemplating these options:

1. take M1 and Oly 12-40/2.8 lens despite it's heavy, big, but picture quality is perfect, it provides zoom range for travel. Trade quality for weight. Lens is cheaper as a kit lens.

It is larger and heavier and the quality is better (especially good for landscapes). It has another big advantage though, f2.8. It's less than twice the weight of the 12-50 or 14-45 for better quality and much faster at the longer end. Better for photos inside buildings or dark temples.

2. take M1 and second hand Pana 12-35/2.8. Lighter, shorter, still on the heavy side. Won't be cheaper...

Another excellent choice. I'd like both if I could, but got the 12-40 as part of the kit. Saves you 80 grams, but considering the expense I'd buy the one you want.

3. take M1 and Pana 14-42/3.5-5.6 + sharp wide prime like Pana 20/1.7 (or Oly 17/1.8 ?)

200 grams vs 380. Definitely lighter. Granted it's not that much slower on the wide end, but you are missing 12mm. It's a lot slower on the telephoto size. You have to swap lenses in darker area. The 20mm is slower to focus. Does that impact your street photography at all? (That's one reason I switched to the 17mm f1.8 for faster AF)

Does this 3rd option make sense at all?

Your advice will be appreciated.

Weight matters a lot when hauling it on your back all day. I'm not bringing a separate camera bag so lens swapping would be more difficult for me this trip which played into my decision for a zoom. Swapping lenses while hiking or on boats doesn't really appeal me, especially when I need to remove my backpack. You might have a different setup than me. The faster aperture means I should be able to use it in more situations at lower ISOs or to catch movement more easily. I compared it to adding two primes, the 12 (or 9-18) and 45mm, but at 240+ grams it wasn't that much lighter and a lot less flexible than the 12-40. The 12-35 is barely heavier.

My second lens, 17mm f1.8, I'm bringing because it's small, light, bright and a focal length I'm comfortable with. This is what I shoot with most of the time in Tokyo. It will work well when in more crowded situations, or just around town. I end up with two nice lenses, both fairly fast and usage depending on the situation I'm in.

If size is a concern I'd look at the Panasonic 14-42X or the new 12-32mm. I have the former and both would make an excellent small package on the E-M1. Both are under 100 grams so if you really wanted to compact zoom option you could almost throw it in too. If you decided to go with primes they'd make a nice convenient zoom option. (say the 12-32, 20mm and 45mm).

I'd say go with the 12-40 or 12-35 and one prime of your choice. I think the weight would be minimal and flexibility well worth it. Range, speed, quality, weather resistance and lack of lens changes in a variety of conditions are all in it's favor.

Good luck with your choices. I'm sure you'll have a great time down there for two months.

I should of asked, where in Asia are you going? I assumed SE Asia in a backpack mostly. I'm fine carrying the E-M1 and 12-40 around Tokyo all day, but adding extra lenses or bodies gets heavy very quickly.

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watcher1
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

I have been using the E-M1 and 12-40 For about a month. It isn't quite as small/light-weight as I would like, but it is not bothersome. BUT it records fine images and the focal range is perfect for my purposes. So I "vote" for that combination.

Another important consideration would be to bring a small, pocketable point-and-shoot as a back-up in case of theft, accident or malfunction of your primary camera/lens. It could also be useful when carrying or using the big rig is not practical.  Think of it as an insurance policy...you may never get back to that part of the world again.

Good luck and happy trails!

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Chas2
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

I have not read the other replies, but I might consider some 2 lens combinations

Panasonic 14-140 Mk II f3.5-5.6  (all around travel lens) could also substitute the Oly 14-150

Olympus 17 f1.8 or Panasonic 20 f 1.7 for general purpose low light shots

If you need wider, add an Oly 12 mm or 9-18 zoom or Panasonic 7-14 or a Samyang 7.5 mm fisheye, which you could defish in post.

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David28
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

To start, I have to say that this is such a subjective and personal thing you are seeking opinions on. For what it's worth, I got the EM1 when it came out, with the 12-40 kit but it was my intention to shoot mainly with the existing primes of the Oly 12, 17, 45 and 75.

Yeah sure, I did.

The kit lens has remained stuck to the EM1 on account of the superb IQ I am getting from it and I have forgotten how versatile a zoom lens can be (but then again I have not been enamoured with the slow zooms available for M4/3 systems - till now). If you are planning on street shooting in low light and evenings, the fixed f2.8 will more than compensate for whatever discomfort the weight brings with it. The system's ability even at ISO6400 has been a revelation for the M4/3 system (I also have the EM5 but did not think much of the high ISO ability of the sensor)

All the other lenses you mentioned are good lenses and I don't think you can do too much wrong whichever you go with. The weather sealing on the Oly 12-40 is a distinct advantage though I wonder how many people really test that attribute when using their cameras.

I was going to suggest getting a 75 prime but it really is a little heavy for travel photography. I shot with it when travelling through Laos last year and it served its purpose but not sure I would do so again on account of the bulk and weight.

The 12 and 17 primes are absolutely superb with the 12/f2 especially wonderful for walkabout street stuff in low light and coupled with the capable sensor in the EM1, one shouldn't have too much to complain about really; but being photographers, I guess complaining is a God given privilege. LOL

Enjoy your trip. And by the way, someone else mentioned a small p&s camera as back up - good idea.

David

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Art_P
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more options?
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

The 12-40 is a great starting point- weather sealed, fairly fast, optically very good and close focusing... and it's smaller and lighter than the 12-60   you might add one small prime for when you want to shoot light and a longer zoom for more reach.

Another possibility- a 14-140/150 superzoom, plus a couple small primes for low light.  But this leaves you w/o a weather sealed lens.

budget option: 12-50, 40-150 and one small fast prime (of your most used focal length)

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Sulis2
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Re: more options?
In reply to Art_P, 7 months ago

For the same price as the Oly 12-40, get the GM1 with the 12-32 plus the Oly 45mm - this gives you a lot of flexibility when travelling.

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Paulmorgan
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

LightCatcherLT wrote:

Hello,

I am buying Oly OMD M1 and have reservations regarding Oly 12-40/2.8 lens size, weight and usefulness as travel all-round carry everywhere lens. I know this is pro-grade constant aperture lens that ranks high, however is it really optimal for traveling judging simply on it's weight and size? It looks to me it makes M1 setup heavy and almost similar to DSLR in terms of weight and size, or I am mistaken? Those of you who have it - are you disturbed by it's weight? Do you think it's worth having it nevertheless simply because it comes cheaper as a kit lens?

My situation is that shortly I am leaving for couple months trip to Asia and want lighter portable gear that is easy to carry, does quick AF, and makes decent photos. I am "enthusiast", shoot street, people, dances, like to catch emotions, those "hey look at me honey" moments, majority of my shots are done on 28-40mm region, plan to do little video interviews to publish on youtube. I am rather slim, 6.2ft guy. I can afford M1 and Oly 12-40 only, no additional lenses, or choose something instead of 12-40.

So far I was contemplating these options:

1. take M1 and Oly 12-40/2.8 lens despite it's heavy, big, but picture quality is perfect, it provides zoom range for travel. Trade quality for weight. Lens is cheaper as a kit lens.

2. take M1 and second hand Pana 12-35/2.8. Lighter, shorter, still on the heavy side. Won't be cheaper...

3. take M1 and Pana 14-42/3.5-5.6 + sharp wide prime like Pana 20/1.7 (or Oly 17/1.8 ?)

Does this 3rd option make sense at all?

Your advice will be appreciated.

Thank you very much.

When looking at the weight of the body and lens, its worth taking into account the total weight of a complete system.

A body and lens may not save a lot in weight, but once you start adding other bits and pieces the weight saving can be quite considerable compared to a DSLR system.

Since your on a budget I would just go with the EM1 and 12-40mm, make sure its fully covered by your insurance before you leave.

And get yourself a fairly compact but rugged bag to carry it around in, packed in a small well padded bag it will not feel quite so heavy.

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Jay Siegel
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

Here would be (and was) my travel kit with the M1 (if I had one as I have an M5)

* 12-40mm f2.8 great all around lens

* 40-150mm Oly zoom - very light weight and reduces the overall kit weight significantly

* 9-18mm Oly zoom, a very nice compact and relatively light lens

Plus, a circular polarizer, lens hoods, SD cards, small flash, extra batteries and a convenient portable charger, and other odds-n-ends.

As the 12mm end is pretty wide angle, I would skip the 9-18mm zoom if I really wanted to travel light.

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Ulric
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Re: more options?
In reply to Sulis2, 7 months ago

Sulis2 wrote:

For the same price as the Oly 12-40, get the GM1 with the 12-32 plus the Oly 45mm - this gives you a lot of flexibility when travelling.

Seconded. An excellent combination.

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Mike Raub
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Re: more options?
In reply to Ulric, 7 months ago

I also visited Thailand and Laos this fall and you're going to get some great photos. The political situation in Thailand seems to have settled down for the moment. I took a Panasonic GX7 and Panasonic 7-14, 12-35 and 35-100 and really did not think I missed any shots for lack of a longer lens.

I'd highly recommed you look at the BlackRapid Metro camera strap. It's a sling type strap and was extremely comfortable, even for long jaunts with the camera.

If you are going to be in Bangkok, don't miss the Grand Palace and Wat Pho--very colorful and ornate buildings. Wat Pho stays open to 6PM ( if I recall correctly), so you can get some shots in evening light. Get to the Grand Palace as soon as it opens; huge bus tours show an hour or so after opening, making it hard to get photos minus wandering tourists.

Have fun!

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awb1000
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to Jay Siegel, 7 months ago

Jay Siegel wrote:

Here would be (and was) my travel kit with the M1 (if I had one as I have an M5)

* 12-40mm f2.8 great all around lens

* 40-150mm Oly zoom - very light weight and reduces the overall kit weight significantly

* 9-18mm Oly zoom, a very nice compact and relatively light lens

Plus, a circular polarizer, lens hoods, SD cards, small flash, extra batteries and a convenient portable charger, and other odds-n-ends.

As the 12mm end is pretty wide angle, I would skip the 9-18mm zoom if I really wanted to travel light.

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Jay S.

On my last vacation I took the EPL5 with a 9-18mm and 40-150mm. The 9-18mm was pretty much glued to the camera during the trip.  I just got the EM1 with the 12-40mm and am thinking that will be it for lenses for this year's travel photos, instead carrying my Canon G15 for the occasional telephoto shot and for backup/convenience.  We typically do a lot of mountain hikes on these trips so size and weight is a factor.  I have the Olympus primes, but I think the 12-40mm replaces them with the bonus of weather sealing and no lens changes.

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australopithecus
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

For extended travel, I'd leave anything bulky at home and take a good compact.

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Neurad1
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to LightCatcherLT, 7 months ago

LightCatcherLT wrote:

Hello,

I am buying Oly OMD M1 and have reservations regarding Oly 12-40/2.8 lens size, weight and usefulness as travel all-round carry everywhere lens. I know this is pro-grade constant aperture lens that ranks high, however is it really optimal for traveling judging simply on it's weight and size? It looks to me it makes M1 setup heavy and almost similar to DSLR in terms of weight and size, or I am mistaken? Those of you who have it - are you disturbed by it's weight? Do you think it's worth having it nevertheless simply because it comes cheaper as a kit lens?

My situation is that shortly I am leaving for couple months trip to Asia and want lighter portable gear that is easy to carry, does quick AF, and makes decent photos. I am "enthusiast", shoot street, people, dances, like to catch emotions, those "hey look at me honey" moments, majority of my shots are done on 28-40mm region, plan to do little video interviews to publish on youtube. I am rather slim, 6.2ft guy. I can afford M1 and Oly 12-40 only, no additional lenses, or choose something instead of 12-40.

So far I was contemplating these options:

1. take M1 and Oly 12-40/2.8 lens despite it's heavy, big, but picture quality is perfect, it provides zoom range for travel. Trade quality for weight. Lens is cheaper as a kit lens.

2. take M1 and second hand Pana 12-35/2.8. Lighter, shorter, still on the heavy side. Won't be cheaper...

3. take M1 and Pana 14-42/3.5-5.6 + sharp wide prime like Pana 20/1.7 (or Oly 17/1.8 ?)

Does this 3rd option make sense at all?

Your advice will be appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Planning a trip to Scotland next summer. Planned kit = E-M5 with 9-18 attached. E-M1 with 12-40 attached. Trying to resist, but I may slip the 12 2 or 17 1.8 in for grins, for landscapes. From what I've read, though, they probably would not best the 12-40 enough to make the weight worth it. I've debate about taking the 35-100 Panny, but I don't think I'd use it enough to make it worthwhile. Also, a tripod and my Lee Seven5 filter set as I want to try to do some smooth water shots.

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Canon PowerShot S95 Sony RX1 RX100 III Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN E-PL5 +30 more
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Neurad1
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Re: Need advice on travel lenses for OMD M1
In reply to Bill Lott, 7 months ago

Bill Lott wrote:

I bought the Om-5 before going to Alaska this summer for 2 weeks. I bought the Panny 25mm, 12-35, 100-300 and the Olympus 75mm. I have to say that none of the lenses disappointed. i haven't tried the new Olympus zoom, but I'd buy the same kit again.

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Bill Lott

Bill, how much did you use the 75? I own it and never use it and I'm seeking vindication 

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Canon PowerShot S95 Sony RX1 RX100 III Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN E-PL5 +30 more
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