All in One Travel Zoom

We recently purchased some additional lenses for our Olympus kit to specifically address our needs for all-in-one travel zoom capability. This article provides an overview of our rationale for the lenses we selected.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Previously unpublished images from Bird Kingdom have been added to serve as visual breaks. Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, I haven’t been to Bird Kingdom for over six months. It looks like my next visit may not be until sometime in 2021.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/4.5, 1/500, ISO-2000

Typically when my wife and I travel we both take cameras with us. My kit is often a bit more extensive than the gear that she brings, which is usually limited to one body with a zoom lens affixed to it.

Over the past while we have been discussing the most logical way to expand our Olympus kit to allow for lightweight travel capability. Our most important ‘must have’ criterion was that any lens that we considered had to be weatherproof. That narrowed our selection to one of three M.Zuiko zoom lenses.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/3.5, 1/125, ISO-6400

M.Zuiko 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3

This lens was not of much interest to either one of us. Weighing in at 455 grams and measuring 77.5 x 99.7 mm (3.05 x 3.93 inches) the M.Zuiko 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 was larger and heavier than what my wife wanted to carry around. It provides an equivalent field-of-view of 24 to 400 mm which was a positive, but not sufficiently so to offset my wife’s size/weight concerns.

Since I had already ordered the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS super zoom, the M.Zuiko 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 had too much focal length overlap to make sense for me.  In Canada the M.Zuiko 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 costs $1,150.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-6400

M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6 II

This lens immediately jumped to the top of our list as an ‘all-in-one’ travel lens for my wife. It fit the bill in terms of being small, lightweight, and easy to handle.

The M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6 II weighs 284 grams and measures 63.5 x 83.8 mm (2.5 x 3.3 inches). It provides an equivalent field-of-view of 28 to 300 mm. In Canada this lens costs $800.

It only took a couple of minutes for us both to agree that the M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6 was the best fit for my wife’s travel needs as well as for every day use.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/4, 1/125, ISO-5000

M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS

This lens was one of the original lenses that I tested when Olympus Americas provided me with some loaner gear in early 2019. I really liked the lens and enjoyed using it. My only concern at the time was the f/4 constant aperture.

Last year I ended up choosing the M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 instead as I needed the faster constant aperture zoom for my client video business. I regularly shoot video segments at f/2.8.

The M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS weighs 561 grams and measures 77.5 x 116.5 mm (3.05 x 4.59 inches). It provides an equivalent field-of-view of 24-200 mm. In Canada this lens costs $1,750.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/3.5, 1/160, ISO-1000

Even though the M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS costs about $600 more than the M.Zuiko 12-200 mm, it was a much more logical fit for me. I could marry it up with my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm for a very practical outdoor/birding/nature kit with no focal length overlap.

If I was relegated to bringing only one lens for travel it would give me sufficient equivalent field-of-view range, with the added benefits of a constant f/4 aperture and Sync-IS. These two features would be ideal when photographing inside museums and other buildings, as well as for landscape photography in dimmer light. In travel situations where we may need a bit more reach, my wife would have the M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6 II with her.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/4, 1/500, ISO-2000, Handheld Hi Res mode

If I wanted to bring a more ‘extensive’ travel kit, I could marry it up with the M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 and the M.Zuiko 100-400 f/5-6.3 IS. This would allow me to very efficiently cover from 7 mm to 400 mm (efov 14-800 mm) with only three lenses and almost no focal length overlap. With an OM-D E-M1X body, my ‘extensive’ travel kit would weigh about 3.2 KG (~7 lbs.), making it light enough for aircraft carry-on and for hiking.

If I wanted even more reach I could pop the MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters in my bag for use with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm. These would increase my equivalent field-of-view to 1120 mm and 1600 mm respectively.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/3.5, 1/160, ISO-10000

So, in terms of all-in-one travel capability the M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6 II and M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS zoom lenses made sense for my wife and I… but for different reasons.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

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5 thoughts on “All in One Travel Zoom”

  1. I got a screaming deal on a used 14-150 II a while back. Being somewhat of a “lens snob,” I wouldn’t have sought it out otherwise.

    Even though it is a bit soft at the long end, I still find that I use it quite often. It is small and light, and so it ends up in my camera bag when I just don’t want to lug big glass around.

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