Everyone gets so wrapped up in what camera they should buy (that is the question I get more than any other), but they often ignore the question of what lenses to buy. In reality, the lens on your camera is probably going to impact the quality of your image a whole lot more than the camera. For travel photographers, the lens is going to impact a lot more than just your image quality as well. The lens will determine how big and heavy your set up is and how convenient it will be during travel. Because lenses get expensive, you likely need to be smart about what lenses you buy. Hopefully, this quick guide will help you Micro 4/3 shooters pick out a travel set up.
What Micro 4/3 lens should you get for travel photography? I recommend the the Panasonic Leica 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0. This is my favorite all-in-one zoom for Micro 4/3, but there are some other great options that may fit you better that I will discuss below.
When it comes to camera lenses, most camera systems have what is called the trinity of lenses. This is going to be the top quality wide angle zoom, medium zoom and short telephoto zoom. Investing in the trinity of lenses is usually a safe bet because you get the best quality lenses to cover the range needed by all but wildlife and sports photographers.
For travel photographers or casual shooters, however, the trinity of lenses may not be the best option. When we are traveling, I love bringing an all-in-one zoom lens. These cover the focal ranges from wide angle to moderate zoom in one lens, which is much more convenient for traveling. The quality usually isn’t as good, but you can still get something that will produce very good images while you only have to carry one lens and not worry about changes lenses ever.
The other lens I love to use for travel photography is a pancake lens. a pancake lens is usually a prime lens (only has one focal length). It is called a pancake lens because it is really thin, like a pancake. I like taking a pancake lens for casual situations where I want my camera to be as compact as possible. With my pancake lens, I can actually fit my camera in most pockets so it is not a burden when we are just headed out of the hotel for dinner or something where photography is not the focus.
Recommended Lenses for Micro 4/3
I don’t have a ton of experience with Micro 4/3 systems, other than playing around a little with some Olympus gear, but I have reached out to several awesome photographers that use Micro 4/3 for their recommendations. The great thing about the Micro 4/3 systems is that all the lenses are interchangeable between systems.
At the wide angle range, we recommend the Olympus 9-18 mm f/4-5.6. This lens holds its own as far as image quality with the more expensive pro options, and comes in a more compact body, at only $600. At double the price, you can get Olympus’ higher end 7-14 mm f/2.8, which is an excellent lens that offers a wider angle of view and faster aperture. If you want to get something in the middle, the Panasonic 7-14 mm f/4 is going to be your best choice.
At the mid-range zoom level, we recommend the $900 Panasonic 12-35 mm f/2. This lens will get you great low-light performance, image stabilization and good image quality. The compact build is nice as well, but the build quality leaves a bit to be desired.
For short telephoto lenses, it is tough to beat the Panasonic 35-100 mm f/2.8. This lens gives you great image quality, outstanding stabilization, good build quality and weather sealing, all for under $1,000.
The All-in-One Zoom
With micro 4/3 lenses being so much smaller, the travel zoom just isn’t in as high demand so there aren’t as many options. The best recommendation I have is the Panasonic Leica 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0. This lens offers a decent aperture, good image stabilization and weather sealing.
The best option for a pancake lens in the Micro 4/3 system is the Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7. While I would prefer the lens was a little more wide angle, this lens has great low light performance, good image and build quality, and a tiny size.
What do you think? Do you have a Micro 4/3 lens you love for travel photography? Let us know in the comments or in our Facebook Group. Be sure to check out our Recommended Gear as well for more lens recommendations and much more.