It has been a while since I’ve covered the photography subject on my blog and as such, I’m finding myself inundated lately with photography questions! Particularly on the photo-sharing app Instagram, I am asked on a daily basis about what camera I use, lenses, photo editing tips and all sorts of photography-related questions you guys are itching to know!
So today I’m going to cover what lenses I use, as these are the best lenses for travel photography that I have found. All my recommendations will by for my two cameras (that I strongly recommend as an affordable and most importantly reliable option!): my Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II and my Olympus PEN EPL7.
For those who don’t already know, I used to use a heavy Digital SLR camera as I was led to believe that it was one of the best cameras in the business. Sure, it took great photos and sure… but it was also much more expensive, heavy, and difficult to use. Having no training in photography, I was in the market for something more simplified, a whole lot lighter and more compact. Thus I opted for the mirrorless cameras I use today and I have never looked back since.
The Best Lenses for Travel Photography: What I Use
Over the past few years I have slowly but surely self-taught myself how to take better travel photos. Using lots of information found on online and more importantly with a lot of practice, I have found myself much more comfortable behind the camera in the last 12 months, armed with my tools of the trade (cameras, lenses, tripods, etc.) To help with your own travel photography aspirations, I’ve compiled a list of my current gear and what I use it for, when and why.
Olympus OMD EM5 MARK II with 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens
This photo was taken in Positano by my boyfriend, who gladly takes my instruction to “stand here, feet firm, up a notch” extremely well! Each time I get him to take a photo I adjust the camera settings to suit the lighting situation, set him up like a tripod, run in the frame and yell “I’m ready!” with great enthusiasm.
This photo (and most of my photos) was taken with my 12-40mm PRO lens. This is the lens that I use most frequently and only ever change if I’m going in to a unique situation requiring a long-range lens, wide-angle lens or playing around with my fisheye lens (all below!) If I could recommend just one lens above all others as the best place to start, this one is it.
Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II with M.ZUIKO 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Lens (Wide Angle Lens)
Some situations call for a little more scope, especially when trying to get a lot in the frame without being able to stand back far enough (there was a river behind me in these photos – probably wouldn’t have worked out so well!)
I mostly use my wide angle lens in tight situations, such as shooting hotel rooms, church interiors, or in narrow streets like this one in Strasbourg. This lens is great for capturing more in the frame when you can’t manipulate the situation as much and I almost always have this lens on hand for trickier situations.
Wide angle lenses are also great for distorting close-up subjects, providing depth of field, and of course are great for capturing landscapes (which I also use it for on occasion!)
Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II with M.ZUIKO 8mm f/1.8 (Fisheye Lens)
A lens I’d like to use more of is my fisheye lens, which I often use to take photos of buildings up close (it creates a really dramatic effect that you don’t get with the wide angle). I really love experimenting with this lens and find it works best when focusing on a subject close-up, as otherwise you lose the fisheye effect and it doesn’t appear nearly as impressive. Although this lens is more of an investment piece, I find it worth it as it makes otherwise plain objects much more interesting and unique to other traveller’s photos of the same object in question.
Olympus PEN EPL7 with 14-42mm lens
This camera + lens combo is the most affordable option starting out and as you can see, still takes a really clear, clean shot. I mostly use my Olympus PEN for vlogging my travels (the flip down screen is such a boss), however I also use it for on-the-spot photos when I don’t have my other camera with me or the situation doesn’t call for it (like the snap below!)
Olympus PEN EPL7 with 14-42mm lens
As you can see this versatile little lens is great for quick photos on the spot, especially as both the camera and lens are really small and lightweight. I usually take this camera on the plane with me in case I feel the urge to take a photo (usually out the plane window or of my passport – ha!) This has been the closest lens I found to my beloved 50mm lens (on my previous DSLR) and I’m really happy with the Olympus equivalent as it provides a crisp, clear shot in seconds!
Olympus PEN EPL7 with 40-150mm lens
It might surprise you that I have taken all my safari photos with my tiny little Olympus PEN! As I couldn’t afford one of the huuuuuuuge pro lenses, I opted for the much cheaper telephoto option. From memory this lens is only a couple hundred dollars, which is really reasonable for the performance. I use this lens to capture sporting events and moving objects (like lions and leopards!)
A few other supplies I would highly recommend are extra memory cards, extra batteries, and if you travel solo you’ll need a tripod! I use a gorilla pod and this little Manfrotto tripod. Both work a treat!
World of Wanderlust is a proud Olympus Australia ambassador! I can’t tell you how fond I am of these products and know you will be too.