Backpacking/world travel 45mm or 75mm?

Started Mar 10, 2014 | Questions thread
Michael Meissner
Michael Meissner Forum Pro • Posts: 25,106
Re: Backpacking/world travel 45mm or 75mm?

wilsc wrote:

In 7 months time I'll be leaving for an 18 month world packing packing trip and can't decide what lenses to take. The trip is going to be a mix of everything (hiking in the Himalayas, European cities, snowboarding in Japan, SE Asia....) as will my photos.

At the moment I'm taking my EM5 with the 12-40mm and the 9mm fish eye body cap (takes up no space and is cheap).

I want to take one more prime with me, the 45mm or the 75mm? I don't want to take both because I'm backpacking and weight/space will be an issue. If you could choose one of these for my situation which one would it be?

Bear in mind that a variant of Murphy's law suggests that if you specifically choose to leave a lens behind, that the perfect photo op that lens would be appropriate for will present itself.

Now, in terms of specs, I think the 45mm is redundant with the 12-40mm, unless you specifically shoot only at f/1.8 or f/2 (since the 12-40mm is f/2.8), or need the most pixels shooting at 45mm when 40mm with cropping won't do.  The 45 makes more sense when paired with consumer lenses in the f/3.5-5.6 range, as it gives you more flexibility.

Now, the 75mm is presumably a fine lens.  And it would give you the ability to shoot at a longer focal length, though it is less flexible since it isn't a zoom lens.  Are you comfortable composing for a specific focal length?  I tend to think the 75mm would be a great lens for somebody specifically shooting portraits, where you can move back or forward (zoom with your feet) to get the ideal shot.  However, your shots would seem to be more natural, organic shots, and not specifically portraiture.

If you haven't bought either lens yet, I would say is spend an extra $375 over the 75mm's price (currently $900 US at B&H) and go for the Panasonic 35-100mm ($1,275).  This lens is a zoom lens, so you are not restricted to a single focal length.  It is f/2.8 like you 12-40mm, and only 1 1/3 f/stop slower than the 75mm.  It isn't that much heavier than the 75mm.  It is weather sealed like your E-M5 and 12-40mm, so you don't have to worry about the weather as much.

On the other hand, Henry does have a point that people can miss photo opportunities when fiddling with lenses (particularly if you carry several primes).  Perhaps a pocketable super-zoom, like the SH-50 that he favors.  Or perhaps as he said one of the Tough cameras (either the TG-2 or the new TG-850.  The TG-2 has a faster lens, while the new TG-850 has an LCD that flips up so you can take self-ies more easily.

I do find the pocket cameras tend to be more invisible, while a big hulking DSLR tends to draw people's attention.  The E-M5 is probably closer to the DSLR than the pocket camera in terms of screaming 'I am a photographer taking pictures'.

 Michael Meissner's gear list:Michael Meissner's gear list
Olympus Stylus 1 Olympus TG-860 Olympus E-5 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm 1:2.8-3.5 +19 more
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