Japan Trip lens selection

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
3dwag Veteran Member • Posts: 4,216
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

Welcome to the wonderful world of photography, and to the μ4/3 forum!

You don't say which camera body you have, but judging from your lenses I would guess one of the Panasonics, so I'll keep that in mind when making my comments.  You can see by my gear list that I use both Olympus and Panasonic equipment, though at the moment my main camera body is the Olympus EM1ii.

Please bear in mind that I'm not sure of your interests, nor exactly what you will be shooting throughout your trip to Japan, but on the other hand Japan is my 2nd home, having first visited there in the early 1970s, so I'm guessing that you will be there as a tourist (though there are many different types of tourist), and that you will want to be enjoying the sites and sights, and photographing many of those to remember and treasure.

On that last note, I must say please make sure that your photography does not get in the way of your enjoying such a splendid nation and people!

StayReal wrote:

Hi guys,

First things first, I'm only a beginner in photography so sometimes don't take the most amazing photos. I'm planning a month long trip to Japan next year and wondering whether I should take all my lenses or invest in new one with greater range of focal length to take less. Will be going from Osaka up to Hokkaido, so will be shooting a bit of everything.

As you will see from my comments, you already have one outstanding zoom lens, and in order to keep your kit simple, perhaps you may consider one more lens of a higher caliber than your other two zooms to best complement it, and to minimize lens changes...

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

This is an outstanding lens.  Last year was my 8-18mm's first time with me to Japan, and it was my second most used lens.  You may often find the UWA end convenient in many close-quartered shrines and temples, and yet can zoom in to what I consider to be a "normal" field of view at up to 18mm.  Just be careful (as you are probably already finding out) to learn how to make the best framing to (usually) minimize the natural stretching of nearer subjects towards the edges at the wider angles of view.  As you use and learn this lens more and more, it can become a very powerful tool.

I might as well tell you now which my other main lens was on that trip...it was the Olympus 12-100mm f/4.

These two lenses are on my camera most of the time.  What I like most about them as a pair is how well they compliment each other, and the focal length overlap is ideal for me as my most-used focal length centers around 17-18mm.  I can often plan my days or half-days of shooting to mount only one or the other and leave it for most of the time.  I find myself far less frequently changing lenses then just two years earlier in Japan when I had my 7-14mm f/2.8, 12-40mm f/2.8, 14-150mm, and 17mm.

So, you might want to consider purchasing for example the Leica 12-60mm, or even the Olympus 12-100mm.  The 12-100mm would give you extra reach, but if you have a Panasonic body then you would be missing out on the dual IS as well as Panasonic DFD focusing (hope I got that acronym correct).  Oh, one warning about the 12-100mm, it zooms the opposite direction as the PL 8-18mm.  I personally adapt almost instantly when switching lenses, but it bothers some people.

20mm f1.7

This is optically an excellent lens.  It's very small and light so take it, just in case you need the extra light, or to lighten your load for an evening and leave your larger lenses at the hotel.  I sometimes bring my 17mm f/1.8 for this purpose.

12-32mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens

45-150mm f4-5.6

I don't know if I should take the whole lot, or should I invest in another lens with a greater range of focal length and only take 1 or 2 lenses.

My 12-100mm gives me the extra reach I sometimes need, and even cropping the 100mm (for example to give 150mm or even 200mm equivalent field of view) the IQ (image quality) is still better than any lower-cost lens, and to beat that I'd have to carry a costly and heavy 3rd lens.  You may find that the PL 12-60mm is long enough, and as well you can crop up to 2x and still get an excellent image for most purposes.  Both of these lenses also focus quite close up, whereas the 12-32mm doesn't, and I don't know about the 45-150mm.

Any suggestions appreciated.

We are going to Japan in late November for a month, and I'll once again have my EM1ii, PL 8-18mm f/2.8-4, 12-100mm f/4, and 8mm f/1.8 FE, but this time I will leave my 17mm f/1.8 at home (I did not use it the last time, and only once the time before that).

Whoops, I didn't mention the FE (fish-eye) before.  I don't use the FE a lot, but it is splendid to have when I need it now and then, and not too heavy to carry those 6,000 miles.  It defishes very nicely, something equivalent to less than a 6mm rectilinear lens' angle of view, which is quite a lot wider than 8mm.  But you don't "need" it.  You should just concentrate for now on the world of 8-150mm 😉.

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-Dennis W.
Austin, Texas

 3dwag's gear list:3dwag's gear list
Apple iPhone 6s Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Olympus E-M5 II +23 more
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