Japan Trip lens selection

Started 2 months ago | Questions
StayReal New Member • Posts: 7
Japan Trip lens selection

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.

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

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.

Any suggestions appreciated.

ANSWER:
addlightness Senior Member • Posts: 3,081
Re: Japan Trip lens selection
1

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.

I was in Japan(Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara) a few years ago.  I had with me, EM10.i + GM1 + 15/1.7 + 9-18 + 40-150

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

Yes.  City and landscape

20mm f1.7

Yes.  Low-light/indoor

12-32mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens

Maybe.  Actually, it's so small, why not!

45-150mm f4-5.6

If you're visiting palaces, this lens might come in handy.  Usage: less than 10%

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.

Any suggestions appreciated.

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Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 32,985
Re: Japan Trip lens selection
5

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.

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

A must. I recently acquired one and ended up using it way more than expected.

The supplied petal hood annoyed me with its size and didn't fit my small snoot bag that easily so I ditched the petal hood and added a 68-62mm step-down ring and also a plain third party edge squeeze 62mm lens cap. That worked well. The lens is only liable to flare when at or near 8mm so added hand shading works.

In Japan there are plenty of space confined situations such as in some temples and narrow streets and very wide is the way to go then.

20mm f1.7

Personally I would not bother, but a small lens that helps in very low light may well be of use at times.

12-32mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens

So small and can be so useful, yes, take it. But there is an overlap with the better 8-18mm so maybe just maybe this tiny one could be left behind and think about another lens that covers the 18mm to 45mm gap better. The old 14-45mm would be the ideal there.

45-150mm f4-5.6

In my case not many shots in that range but it certainly is useful for picking off details, plus it is so small and light it also is a must have on a long trip.

Just organise a camera bag that makes it easy to swap lenses.

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.

Less lens juggling certainly makes life easier and does not annoy partners or travel groups so much. If travelling on your own then no problems.

I solved the "less lens juggling" by buying a Sony RX100M6 with its "24-200mm" range and then also took on the last trip the M4/3 with 8-18mm lens, where the 8-18mm did most of the work and the Sony seemed to be mostly used for picking off details or when I needed a quiet unobtrusive camera.

As usual you may get a heap of conflicting advice but in the end you should only take what you are comfortable with. A day outing or two pretending to be a tourist may help you decide.

Japan is a great place to see lots of interesting things, but the warning is that tourism is extreme there now and all the popular places are always crowded. I was there in 2009 (quiet, after GFC) then 2011 (also quiet after nuclear disaster) and last time in 2014 (getting very busy, and is way busier now). See the growth in tourist numbers..... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Japan also https://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/inbound/

From memory the Japan aim was 20 million tourists per year but it has climbed way over that now, the Wiki chart stops at 2017 with 28.7 million. So make sure all trains and accommodation are booked, winging it would be extremely difficult. Olympics of course will cause even more chaos for the July to August period.

My favourite time was Cherry Blossom (it is getting earlier and more random due to global warming), second was Autumn colours in November, early summer was OK but gets very hot and humid later on in summer.

Regards..... Guy

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Eric Nepean
Eric Nepean Veteran Member • Posts: 4,513
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

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.

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

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.

Any suggestions appreciated.

I'd say the 8-18 and the 20/1.7 for sure.

I don't see that you have good coverage in the 20-50ish range which is probably more important than the 45-150 range.

I'd leave the 12-32 and the 45-150 at home, and get one of the lenses below depending on your budget and the size and weight you are comfortable with.

There's a lot of walking when visiting Japan; size matters.

From the smallest and lightest:

  • 14-42 F3.5-5.6 PZ
  • 14-42 F3.5-5.6 (Panny, not the Oly EZ!!)
  • 14-45 F3.5-5.6
  • 12-60 F3.5-5.6
  • 12-60 F2.8-4
  • 12-100 F4
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Cheers
Eric

jeffharris
jeffharris Veteran Member • Posts: 9,597
Re: Japan Trip lens selection
1

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.

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

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.

Any suggestions appreciated.

Nice bunch of lenses. I’d skip the 12-32mm. The 20mm and 45-150mm will definitely see some use.

I bet you use the 8-18mm 80% of the time.

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nevada5
nevada5 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,075
A no-brainer
1

You'll be there for a month and you don't indicate that you have any limitations on weight or bulk.  Why wouldn't you take everything?

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garryr Regular Member • Posts: 322
Re: Japan Trip lens selection
1

Experience is the best teacher. As you are new to photography I would start with what you have and use them all. That way you’ll get to know what works best for YOU and what doesn’t. Above all have a great trip.

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3dwag
3dwag Veteran Member • Posts: 4,207
Re: Japan Trip lens selection
3

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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Austin, Texas
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selected answer This post was selected as the answer by the original poster.
OP StayReal New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

Thanks for all the advice guys. As most of you pointed out I do tend to have my PL 8-18 on most of the time.

I think at the moment I am inclined to take my PL 8-18mm and 20mm f1.7 and maybe pick up a PL 12-60mm.

Looking at what everyone has posted I feel I don't really take advantage of the far end of my 45-150mm with the photography I usually do so I'll leave that and the 12-32mm at home.

Thanks !

gnik1 Regular Member • Posts: 162
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

I took a PL 12-60, P 35-100 f2.8 & PL 15 1.7 to Japan in April.  We visited Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka and also did an 8 day hike along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.

The 12-60 rarely left the camera. The 15 was used in the evenings when heading out to dinner and at the Digital Art Museum.  The 35-100 didn't get used at all (though would have been had we attended a performance).

For me, a flexible general purpose zoom is essential for travel & I think the PL 12-60 offers the best balance of size, speed, range & IQ.

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windmillgolfer
windmillgolfer Forum Pro • Posts: 16,266
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

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.

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

yes, for sure

20mm f1.7

so tiny and useful when light is really challenging

12-32mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens

Likewise tiny but unlikely to be used given the superior 8-18mm, changing lenses won’t be worth the effort/interruption

45-150mm f4-5.6

There will be times that the extra range is useful but then you’ll be stuck with a minimum that may be too long. That’s why the 14-140mm is so popular.

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.

on a trip like yours I’d always have some form of second body or camera:. In my case a GM5 or, much easier to obtain a GF7 or later, but a high quality Compact would certainly be OK and there are so many to choose from: Panasonic TZ/ZS 100/200, Sony RX100s and Canon GXs.  If you take a Compact with at least 100mm range  you could leave the 45-150 at home and , maybe, just take the 8-18mm and 20mm.

Any suggestions appreciated.

Have a great trip and post some images.

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Orangorill
Orangorill Forum Member • Posts: 60
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

The only one that probably won't see all that much use is the 12-32mm, but it's so tiny you might as well bring it. I could imagine there might be situations where you'll only bring one lens, in which case it could make sense in bright daylight, seeing as the 8-18mm is relatively large.

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Kiwisnap Contributing Member • Posts: 931
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

Slightly varying your expected reply but if you can hire or borrow one, the Olympus 12-100 f4 is a superb lens for this kind of trip.

I really did not expect an 'all in one' to be this good - my various Nikon incarnations never were - but the Olympus is a superb one lens solution. Throw in a small fast prime for when f4 won't do and you're away laughing.

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peppermonkey Veteran Member • Posts: 5,009
Depending on when you go...

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.

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

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.

Any suggestions appreciated.

...forget what anyone else has said about how many tourists will be there. They aren't wrong of course, but if you are going anywhere near the time of the 2020 Olympics, consider the number of tourists to be billion times more. Still, accounting from friends who's been there during the last Olympics (and actually participated, albeit not as athletes), regardless of the number of tourists there, it should be outrageous fun

Otherwise, as to your lens collection, I think they are a superb list of lenses and I don't think you 'need' anything else. You may want another lens but what you have already should cover most situations pretty well.

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gustabod Senior Member • Posts: 1,473
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

Based on last 2 trips (2015, 2017) and about to visit again mid-November with our daughter.

Ultra-wide yes probably 30% of my shots

12-35 would be the majority

tele (I used a panny 35-100 F2.8) probably 5% of images

Fast prime (I used panny 14 f2.5 and 25 F1.7) - evening walks

I found the panny 12-60 a really useful lens, on a recent trip to Ireland this was 75% of my usage, so you could take one of these and leave the 12-35 and 40-150 behind.

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jeffharris
jeffharris Veteran Member • Posts: 9,597
Re: Japan Trip lens selection
3

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.

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

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.

Any suggestions appreciated.

Another thought.

Sell the 45-150mm and 12-32mm and get a 14-140mm. Although, you probably wouldn’t get much for those lenses.

The 14-140mm is a great lens, super flexible, fun to use, excellent image quality given it’s range, size, weight and price.

That would give you 8-18mm, 14-140mm (for daylight use) and 20mm. Simple, flexible kit.

My basic travel kit is similar. 7-14mm f4, 14-140mm and a fast prime or two.

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larsbc Forum Pro • Posts: 16,051
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

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.

We're going in March for 2 weeks (Tokyo -> Kyoto -> Hiroshima -> Osaka).  I'm bringing my standard travel kit:

G85, GX9 bodies.  I like having two cameras in case one fails plus it lets me have any two of my lenses ready to use at a moment's notice.  Also, I like having two different styles of bodies.  I enjoy street photography which is why I use the GX body for (single axis flip-up screen plus tilting EVF).

8-18/2.8-4: I expect lots of tight quarters where 8mm will be very useful plus it lets me place a subject in a wide context of its background.

12-35/2.8: A very versatile lens that covers a photojournalist's most-used focal lengths while also being fairly fast for lowish light and shallowish DoF (something I can see myself wanting in order to dampen some of the busy background details).  This lens is my most-used.

35-100/2.8: Probably the least-used lens of my standard travel kit but it's small enough that I never have to wonder if I should bring it or not.  Great for blurring backgrounds and compressing elements in a scene.  Great for making a background element look large relative to a foreground element.  I can see myself using this to make some streets look very crowded.  The reach is also long enough for most non-wildlife stuff I'd want to photograph.

15/1.7: My default low light / indoors lens.

25/1.4: Because we'll be in Japanese cities and I enjoy street photography, I might bring my 25 as well.  It's my preferred street focal length these days.  It's not a big lens so it's not a big deal if I bring it.

Additionally, I'll be bringing a Gopro Hero 8 to record video while walking or might buy a DJI Osmo Pocket instead (this will provide better stabilization in low light than the Hero).

These are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

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.

On a recent trip to the Caribbean, we stayed a few nights in the old city of San Juan.  It was quite crowded with narrow streets, kind of like what Japan might be like.  On that trip, just as an experiment, I brought just 3 lenses: 8-18/2.8-4, 12-60/3.5-5.6, and 15/1.7.  So no telephoto zoom.  I found the 12-60 to be long enough and thought its image quality was quite good.  Also, the lens can be found used for very reasonable prices.  I could see myself using this kit in Japan:

8-18/2.8-4, 20/1.7 and 12-60/3.5-5.6

It's good that the 8-18 and 12-60 has some overlap which, if you're using a single camera body, reduces the need to change lenses.

cameron2 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,564
Re: Japan Trip lens selection
1

StayReal wrote:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

12-32mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens

45-150mm f4-5.6

Looks like a fine kit for a Japan trip.

The 20 and 12-32 weight nothing and use no space, so consider them "free" to carry.

You do want wide for some inside and architecture shots, so the 8-18 is great.

You will almost certainly want some reach, so the 45-150 will be good.

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Barry Twycross Senior Member • Posts: 1,697
Re: Japan Trip lens selection

StayReal wrote:

hese are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

12-32mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens

45-150mm f4-5.6

Personally I'd take the lot, with the possible exception of the 8-18 (the only one of those I don't have).

I use the 12-32 for about half the photos I take, so I wouldn't miss out on that (it's also small enough not to notice). It seems you favor the 8-18, I don't have anything in that range yet, but it's the heaviest of the lot. Currently I have a fisheye body cap lens for the extreme wide, but I'm really tempted by a wide zoom, but they are big and heavy.

I just like the 20/1.7, I wouldn't want to be without it, it's small enough not to notice.

Another 25% of my photos are at the longer end, so I'm not leaving the long zoom behind. The 45-150 is amazingly small for what it does. I currently favor a 35-100 and 100-300, but if I did get a wide zoom, I might use the 45-150 instead.

Basically, all those lenses are small enough you won't notice you're carrying all of them in a small gadget bag (with the possible exception of the 8-18).

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Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 32,985
Re: Japan Trip lens selection
2

Barry Twycross wrote:

StayReal wrote:

hese are my current lenses:

Panasonic 8-18mm 2.8-4

20mm f1.7

12-32mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens

45-150mm f4-5.6

Personally I'd take the lot, with the possible exception of the 8-18 (the only one of those I don't have).

Oh no, the 8-18mm is a must for just about any travel, especially for Japan.

It's chunky but so useful. In fact I could do a trip with just the 8-18mm and not feel too under-privileged.

The old standard fixed lens for small cameras in film days was the very useful 35mm focal length, so the 8-18mm covers that plus the extremely useful area wider than "35mm".

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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