Olympus versus Panasonic f/2.8 standard zoom observations

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 33,332
OT - Japan travel

larsbc wrote:

Guy Parsons wrote:

Yikes, a waist pack. That sort of load demands a shoulder bag strung cross body.

Unfortunately that doesn't work for me. Shoulder and sling bags (worn cross body) aggravate my lower back quite quickly. So for me, it's either a backpack with waist support or a waist pack. I chose the waist pack for its accessibility. I'm using a Think Tank ChangeUp which has an excellent waist belt and one or two shoulder straps. I can bias the weight between my shoulders and hips as needed. I also use two Capture Clips. One on the shoulder strap (I typically use a single shoulder strap) for a camera w/lens and another on the belt for my action cam.

OK understood. For me it's simply a weight issue, so far my 78 year old back is staying OK. The cross-body strap with about max 3kg can be carried by me all day with no pain or strain.

I'm already thinking about my next Japan trip booked for 2020, 3 weeks in my case to match the 3 weeks train pass.

This will be our first trip to Japan and I really should've paid more attention to the JR Pass window first, rather than booking accommodations first.

We make bookings to fit the train window. Such as flying into Narita around 5pm then waddle off to a hotel near Narita airport for one night, then kick off the 3 week train pass the next morning - so far not sure where to at first. Back at the end of the train pass we book the express back from Tokyo to Narita on the last day of the pass and fly out that evening.

The train pass gets you through the side gate where the attendant is and not through any normal ticket gate.

We use Hyperdia.com to sort out the train travel. Seats need to be booked on each long distance train leg (for free with the pass), do that early, best sort all train bookings out on the first day, particularly the high speed trains as they get busy. From then on it's an easy cruise with just getting on the train at the correct door (can be fun to find the right door at times) and get to your booked seat. Large luggage stays in racks at end of carriage, but if using carry-on size or not much bigger then that can fit near your knees in the high speed trains.

My wife just called out, they are clamping down on big suitcases on trains, they may be starting charging for bigger cases. Not sure what the limits are, we will explore and advise.


This seems to be old information but will change to be more restricted on certain Shinkansen lines from May 2020, more modern info here....

https://www.seat61.com/Japan.htm for general information and in particular.....

https://www.seat61.com/Japan.htm#New_rules_for_very_large_suitcases_from_May_2020 which may affect us when we go next year. The new limit being 160 linear cm, the sum of length+width+depth. The old limit was 250 linear cm and 30kg per item limit 2 items per passenger.

Buy cheaper and better travel food at the station and not on the train. Local trains no eating and drinking, but intercity trains then it's anything goes. No phone use while in a carriage, must go to end of carriage to talk on the phone.

If you need to change trains on any trip, make sure that you have something like 10 or 15 minutes to do that as it is easy to get confused at some stations. We did a high speed train swap at Shin-Osaka in 6 minutes and it was a very close call. Make things easy to carry as Japan is known for lots of stairs. Trains run strictly on time, be there with a safety margin of time.

There's a lot to figure out! Everything's pretty much booked now, though; got our hotels & AirBnBs sorted out. Will try to learn some basic phrases

We never learned anything in three trips so far, except "origato gazaimus" (probably spelt wrong but it sounds that way). English announcements and signs nearly everywhere and there's always somebody who will risk using English if you need help. Learn how to bow correctly but don't do it, just a polite nod of the head seems to be acceptable for ignorant tourists. Never get angry about anything, terrible loss of face to do that, stay calm and cool and be very polite to everyone works nicely even if things are going seriously wrong.

Be prepared for very small rooms, if you need to swing a cat around by the tail, make sure that it is a very small cat with a very short tail. Be aware of shoes off situations so having easy slip on - slip off shoes makes life easy if wandering in and out of endless temples and shrines and at Japanese style accommodation.

A definite hazard with the shoes off policy is in some older wooden castles as they kept the original very steep staircases, like steep ships ladders, and having a pair of socks that have a grippy sole would be smarter for those situations.

and make sure we know how to use the buses in one or two of the small towns.

They are easy. Have lots of the local coins and sort out how to use them. When you get on most buses there is a ticket machine at the door and you grab one. It shows where you started the journey. An indicator panel up front updates as you travel and shows the price to pay at the next stop correlated to all the stops that you could have started from.

Some bus runs have a fixed price, so no ticket, just fumble with the needed coins as you get off.

Drop the appropriate small change plus the ticket into the receiver near the driver. The buses do have change machines but then you still have to fumble with the coins to get the right amount needed. The buses we went on all had superbly patient drivers and if a tourist fumbles around all confused, they will politely help or show you what to do. Even the locals have problems at times and the drivers seem to be infinitely polite and understanding with them as well.

Often day passes are available for buses or trams in some cities, they make it easier.

It is polite to give up seats on buses or local trains for the very young and the very old. I was occasionally being offered a seat, so I must look old, dammit.

The basics will be one E-P5 plus 8-18/2.8-4.0, 12-40/2.8, 35-100/2.8 (or maybe swap that for the lighter 45-150mm?) and Samyang 7.5mm. Maybe also 12-32mm lurking for when I want a small M4/3 camera. The backup will be a Sony RX100M6 always there in a belt pouch, it can nicely cover the "24-200mm" range anyway. The M4/3 in a small shoulder bag and should weigh no more than 3kg and be no bother to carry all day. Testing starts soon for what will be a useful kit.

I'm going to leave my Samyang at home, with the expectation than the 8-18 will be wide enough. I will have to be careful using it at 8mm to photograph people, though. I seem to never notice the elongation at the edges until I'm at home, looking at the photos on my monitor! I need to force myself to keep people away from the edges.

Hard to do that most times as people are everywhere, mostly darn nuisance tourists of course being everywhere.

I will probably carry just the zooms during the day at the 15 and 25 primes in the evening.

Everything is so bright that zooms are fine at night, I used my 12-40/2.8 no problems at all.

Heck I did Japan in 2009 with only a Panasonic LX3 with its "24-60mm" lens and didn't miss much then. But now I do miss wider than "24mm" hence the 8-18mm and the fisheye and am prepared to carry more weight than just a compact in a belt pouch.

I keep telling myself that thousands of photographers better than myself have photographed Japan with less but it's still hard to pare down.

It all depends on if you are chasing "perfect photography" or simply getting well composed memories of the trip.

Sometimes I temp myself with bringing the lightweight 12-60/3.5-5.6 and leaving the 12-35 and 35-100 at home. Maybe I'll do some shallow DOF comparisons between 100@2.8 and 60@5.6.

The 12-60mm makes sense, better sense would be a 12-100/4 plus the 8-18mm and nothing else. I may yet get the 12-100/4 for just that upcoming Japan trip.

Regards.... Guy

 Guy Parsons's gear list:Guy Parsons's gear list
Sony RX100 VI Olympus PEN E-PL1 Olympus PEN E-PL5 Olympus PEN E-P5 Olympus OM-D E-M10 II +5 more
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