/ Help me choosing telephoto for landscapes/hills

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PPP - on 09 Mar 2018

To start with, I am more of a mountain-walker than a photographer. If conditions are good, I will be up the hill rather than staying the valley taking photos on the tripod. I like taking photos though, so compromises need to be made price and weight wise. 

I am on MFT system (GX80 with in-body stabilisation) with Panasonic Leica 8-18mm F/2.8-4.0 (still in post) and Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 lenses. I am after getting some reach, but I am torn between the choices. 

I am thinking either Panasonic 35-100mm F/2.8, Panasonic 100-300mm F/4-5.6 or Sigma 60mm F/2.8 prime. I remember having Sigma 60mm F/2.8 few years back and I liked how small/cheap it was, but I found the reach lacking in some cases. I always wanted to be able to take photos of deer and hare, but I imagine that's trickier than it sounds. 


Is 35-100mm (70-200mm eq.) the best choice for all round telephoto? I am just afraid I will want more reach sooner than later... 

balmybaldwin - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

What size sensor is it? are you sure the focal lengths aren't already equivalent?


The 60mm prime will be great if you just want to get a 2x (ish) zoom without the flexibility (or weight) of a telephoto, but won't get you particularly close, but if landscape is your bag then you don't want too close

I would probably go longer especially if budget is limited as you may not want to spend more later. 70-200mm is a decent zoom, and can be handled easily in good light, but not good enough for wildlife (unless you are very close/lucky)

PPP - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to balmybaldwin:

Sorry, it's for Micro Four Thirds (so crop factor 2x). All lenses listed as their native focal lengths, i.e. NOT 35mm equivalent. 

Yeah, I liked 60mm (120mm on Full Frame) as it was a stunning lens for the price (£100-150). It worked well for mountain environments as well, though it felt like it was certainly lacking in wildlife! 

Paul Evans - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

Another vote for longer. I have a cropped sensor camera and when I want "more tele" I find myself increasingly using my 300mm prime (so 450mm in full frame terms). Camera has in body stabilisation which helps. Gives great sunset shots, and really helps with the whole "simplify / pick out details for landscapes" thing, particularly with the shallow depth of field. Great for birds and wildlife. I actually have a 1.4 matched teleconverter for it which helps with small / distant birds. If I didn't have an interest in birds and astronomical objects I'd probably be ok with a 300mm in full frame terms (so 200mm crop sensor or 150mm mft)

The Lemming - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

I have a panasonic MFT camera and I also have the 100-400MM lens.  Unfortunately it's not cheap but since I bought it I have found it a very versatile bit of kit for general photography  and filming. Its excellent for portraits giving buttery bokeh, sports events, outdoor gigs, bird reserves, nature reserves.

I could go on but I hope you get the point. This lightweight lens is equivalent to a 800MM full frame lens. Check out those specs and prices to see how much of a bargain the lens actually is in comparison.

I have been giving some thought to the 35-100MM lens. After trying one in the shop and then reviewing the images that I have taken with my only two lenses, which are 12-35 and 100-400, I discovered that I either went wide or zoomed all the way in on a subject.

You could get the 100-300 lens which is cheaper and get good results as well. Personally I'd say that the 35-100 is more a close range zoom for portraits and street photography rather than wildlife stuff.

Here is a video taken outside Blackpool Tower on the Comedy Carpet at night with my 100-400 lens. I am at the far end of the Comedy Carpet to the stage.

The wide shots were with my 12-35 lens showing how far back from the stage, I was.


And here is a shot of some small birds on the beach where I walk the dog. They move incredibly fast. Taken at 400MM.

And a portrait at 100MM.

Personally, I'd say that the 35-100 lens would just sit on the shelf if I bought it, and it costs almost the same as the 100-400 lens.

malk - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

olympus do a great little zoom at bargain price 40-150 4/5.6

a wide aperture isn't so important for outdoor shots? (and considerably heavier)

Post edited at 11:03
Climbing Pieman on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to malk:

Nice little lens, though if OP is looking for longer, Olympus also do a 75 - 300mm which is compact and lightweight (and can be picked up cheaply). It is slower at the long end of course, and slightly softer above 200, though I gather the Pany equivalent is similar in soft focus at that end of the range(?).

Climbing Pieman on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

For wildlife like deer/hares on hills I would have thought a much longer lens than a 35 - 100 is needed. The Olly 75 - 300 (up to 600mm equivalent), would be worth a look, albeit a compromise esp at the longer end. The Olly does not have in lens IS which I think Pany lenses do. With your camera IS in body it maybe ok.

Mammut 2 - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

You have a 8-18mm and a 20mm?

If so:

I'd say you need a wide to mid-zoom - 24-70 is the standard, although if you can get 24-135 or similar that will give you more flexibility.

I'd avoid a 100-400 - as you will soon get frustrated without the 50-100mm focal length, especially for landscapes - you won't be able to go wide enough with a 100-400. And the 300-400 is better for wildlife.

You aren't a pixel peeper are you? Beware that breed.

The Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8 looks the ticket.

malk - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to Mammut 2:

i see olympus have just released a 40-150 2.8, at a price..

HeMa on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

I have the 35-100 (cheapo Pany one) and while it's quite Ok for shooing pics of climbers and scenery, I do find it lackin' for wildlife...

So if wildlife is your thing, look for minimum 200mm...

stp - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

I've got the Panasonic 35-100mm F/2.8 and would certainly recommend it. I found a brand new one on eBay for about £500 (half the going rate at the time). The lens was clearly for the Asian market rather than European but aside from the box it's exactly the same.

I wouldn't get a prime for landscapes in the hills. The reason is much of the time you can't simply walk forwards or backwards to change the field of view. If you do you're either going up or down hill so completely changing your perspective. And you won't gain much if anything in terms of picture quality these days either by choosing a prime.

In terms of focal length 35-100 is fine for most things. It also means the lens is pretty compact. I was recently comparing it to a friend's equivalent full frame Canon lens which was a massive chunk of metal and glass by comparison.

For landscapes if using a tripod you could get away with a slower lens which would be much cheaper. However for wildlife I think the faster lens would be better and possibly a longer is worth considering too.

The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 would be another lens worth considering. I think it's a similar price to the Panasonic. The main downside is that it's a fair bit bigger and heavier I believe. But the extra reach would be good for wildlife photography.

PPP - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to stp:

Thanks! I am really struggling to understand what focal length I should be getting. Realistically, 100-300mm sounds awesome, but might be a bit useless. 35-100mm F/4.0-5.6 sounds like a better bet than F/2.8 as the quality doesn't look too worse and it's half the size (and 4x-ish the price?). 

I got Sigma 60mm F/2.8 as a stop-gap for now. It's cheap, so I can keep it around for odd portraits as well if needed. I forgot how light & small it is! It really fits into a pocket, so works quite well on the move as well. 

Alpenglow - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

I shoot with the Lumix G 35-100 f4-5.6 and find the focal length fine for landscape detail shots.

If you shoot birds or wildlife you'll probably want more reach though.

Climbing Pieman on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to PPP:

Notwithstanding you specifically mentioned Pany zooms were your interest, but (assuming your actually near Ratho Edinburgh), you can have a hands on try of my lightweight M4/3 Olly 40-150 and 75-300 lenses on your camera if it’s of help. They should be fully compatible if only to experience longer zooms.

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