the ideal 3 lens kit (ONLY 3) for a bit of everything

Naptown Gaijin

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so let's pretend you can only have 3 lenses. and you're not overly budget conscious.

you aren't a BIF maniac, and you don't do macro. you value absolute IQ and rendering over super compact size.

think landscapes, motorsports, people, travel, pets, mostly just general use, don't really need any specialty lenses.


right now i have the 7-14, 12-40, and 40-150 lenses. but part of me aches for a prime (45 1.2 i think, maybe?)


for those who have a lot of time with this gear, would you sell the 7-14 and buy a 45 1.2? or sell the 12-40 and buy a 25 1.2?


i know this is a stupid thread and i'll get a bunch of sarcastic answers, but part of me thinks that the 7-14 for landscape is held back completely by the need for a ridiculous filter system. i bought it on a whim when one came up for a nice price. i suspect i can just use the 12-40 with a cpl or variable ND for most of my landscape work, 7 seems pretty outrageously wide honestly (plus the 7-14 is a lot larger than i was expecting)

the one thing i'm missing is something fast. i don't really want a 4 lens kit, so i'd rather trade one for a prime.
I have 3 Pany lenses 12-35 f2.8; 100-300 f3.5-5.6; and a 42.5 f1.2. They meet all my needs except macro, for which I have an Oly 60 f2.8. I have all I want or need with these 4 pieces of glass.
 

SystemAgnostic

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Apr 21, 2018
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For me:
All around use: Panasonic 12-35 2.8
Compact, low light indoors: Panasonic 20 1.7
Portraits: Sigma 56mm 1.4

I'd very seriously consider the 35-100 2.8 instead of the Sigma. But I mostly photograph people, so I think the wider aperture will result in better pictures than a zoom.
 

wern0122

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99% of the time for me is either on a 25mm prime or a 17mm prime. And then some kind of tele-zoom that covers the portrait to nature critter range, maybe? That third lens is one I don't have (yet) though.
 

bbarnett51

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Jan 23, 2015
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641
12-40pro
25 1.2pro
75-300ii

If I could only have 3 and I werent a working photog. These would be my 3.
The 12-40 is just crazy good and versatile. The 25 1.2 is your fast do it all
The 75-300ii is an amazing compact ultra zoom. It’s light for its focal length and performs well.
 

ac12

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The more I think about the OP and how I shoot, the more I think a 3-lens system is NOT possible, for me.
ANY three lenses I choose involves compromise in something that I shoot, sometimes significant compromise.
I will pack three lenses for a shoot, but those three lenses would be selected for the shoot. As in, the best/most appropriate lenses for the job.

While the pro lenses are great for IQ, and I have a couple, I do NOT want to carry them on a 3 week vacation, where I am constantly on the move. I'm too old for shlucking a lot of weight around. I switched to m4/3 to reduce the carry weight of my kit. So I carry the smaller/lighter consumer lenses on vacation. The heavy pro lenses stay at home. In fact I have an EM10, when I don't want to carry the EM1.

But the slower variable aperture consumer zooms are really day-time lenses, and don't work when I am shooting sports in low light.
  • Volleyball and basketball in a high school gym, which is NOT illuminated like a pro arena. Even the f/2.8 pro zooms are marginally too slow for me, I shoot f/1.8 prime lenses, wide open.
  • Night high school field games (football, soccer, lacrosse) under lights. I tried the 40-150R, once. And, just like shooting APS-C or FF, f/5.6 sucks in low light. Except for weight, I would like the 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I shoot a D7200 + 70-200/4.
And for primes, there is the classic PJ 35mm 2-lens kit, 35 + 85/105 = for m4/3, 17 + 45

If I was starting a kit from scratch with a budget, like a new shooter/parent, the picture is again different.
Budget = compromise. And budget means NO pro lens.
So I might use just 2 lenses: 14-42 + 40-150R, and call it "good enough."
 

Holoholo55

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The more I think about the OP and how I shoot, the more I think a 3-lens system is NOT possible, for me.
ANY three lenses I choose involves compromise in something that I shoot, sometimes significant compromise.
I will pack three lenses for a shoot, but those three lenses would be selected for the shoot. As in, the best/most appropriate lenses for the job.

While the pro lenses are great for IQ, and I have a couple, I do NOT want to carry them on a 3 week vacation, where I am constantly on the move. I'm too old for shlucking a lot of weight around. I switched to m4/3 to reduce the carry weight of my kit. So I carry the smaller/lighter consumer lenses on vacation. The heavy pro lenses stay at home. In fact I have an EM10, when I don't want to carry the EM1.

But the slower variable aperture consumer zooms are really day-time lenses, and don't work when I am shooting sports in low light.
  • Volleyball and basketball in a high school gym, which is NOT illuminated like a pro arena. Even the f/2.8 pro zooms are marginally too slow for me, I shoot f/1.8 prime lenses, wide open.
  • Night high school field games (football, soccer, lacrosse) under lights. I tried the 40-150R, once. And, just like shooting APS-C or FF, f/5.6 sucks in low light. Except for weight, I would like the 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I shoot a D7200 + 70-200/4.
And for primes, there is the classic PJ 35mm 2-lens kit, 35 + 85/105 = for m4/3, 17 + 45

If I was starting a kit from scratch with a budget, like a new shooter/parent, the picture is again different.
Budget = compromise. And budget means NO pro lens.
So I might use just 2 lenses: 14-42 + 40-150R, and call it "good enough."
Agreed. I generally take three lenses, but which three depends entirely on the situation and what I'm trying to shoot. (and willing to carry! :)
 

spdavies

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If the original Nicene Creed of 325 had not been modified in 381 (added the Holy Ghost) these eternal lens kits would only have two lenses.
Nicene = ancient spelling of Nikon.
The 381 modification was one of the first marketing successes of the nascent Nikon PR department - convincing early photographers they couldn't be righteous with just one or two lenses - they needed the Holy Trinity - The Nikon Creed.
 

Traceyjj

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For my Nikon, I have the trinity, the image quality is outstanding on all ... but boy oh boy are they heavy, so I tend to decide which ONE to take out on any given day...

For my Oly... I have the kit lens 14-42 and the 40-150 budget lens as this was only intended to be my holiday camera, BUT since I invested in the 12-100 my Nikon gets left home more and more often. I'm now toying with the idea of upgrading my Oly body to the EM5 when the new one comes out.
 

Mike Wingate

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What about the camera body? Some lenses will give photos that look good on 12 mpx bodies. But the same lens used on a body taking a hi resolution composite will not look good.
 

frank28

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China
PL 50-200 F/2.8-4 + TC1.4

+

Laowa 7.5 F/2 + Oly 12-40 F/2.8, as wide angle is nice to have, and since only one possible lens left, I think I should get at least a F/2.8 to use in low light situation.

or

PL 15 F/1.7 + PL 12-60 F/2.8-4, for a faster F/1.7 to use in low light, and I'd like to have a more versatile standard zoom then.
 
Last edited:

ToxicTabasco

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Rethinking the lens situation the holy trinity will be different for everyone based on their style and type of photogaphy/video they do.
Thus, for me the optimal 3 lenses I use the most:
12-35 f/2.8 II
35-100 f/2.8 II
15mm f/1.7
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
13
so let's pretend you can only have 3 lenses. and you're not overly budget conscious.

you aren't a BIF maniac, and you don't do macro. you value absolute IQ and rendering over super compact size.

think landscapes, motorsports, people, travel, pets, mostly just general use, don't really need any specialty lenses.


right now i have the 7-14, 12-40, and 40-150 lenses. but part of me aches for a prime (45 1.2 i think, maybe?)


for those who have a lot of time with this gear, would you sell the 7-14 and buy a 45 1.2? or sell the 12-40 and buy a 25 1.2?


i know this is a stupid thread and i'll get a bunch of sarcastic answers, but part of me thinks that the 7-14 for landscape is held back completely by the need for a ridiculous filter system. i bought it on a whim when one came up for a nice price. i suspect i can just use the 12-40 with a cpl or variable ND for most of my landscape work, 7 seems pretty outrageously wide honestly (plus the 7-14 is a lot larger than i was expecting)

the one thing i'm missing is something fast. i don't really want a 4 lens kit, so i'd rather trade one for a prime.
Currently building a 3-lens kit for similar needs, plus the occasional "serious" portrait (ie pro work when I don't want to lug my Canon rig).

1. PL 12-60 2.8-4.0. This lens has surpassed all hope or expectation and is an amazing all-in-one solution for most needs, even with F4 on the long end. Super happy with it.

2. P 35-100 2.8 mk 1. Just got it and so far so good. The AF is a little slow in poor light (especially compared to the 12-60), but it's a decent lens and incredibly light/small for what you can do with it. Will be keeping it. The focal length overlap means I'm more or less covered with 2.8 (or close) options throughout most 12-100.

3a I have an EZ Pancake for occasions when I need to travel extremely light.
3b Oly 45 1.8 for portraits or extreme low light.

I also tried a Sigma 60mm 2.8 (discovered I really do want a wider aperture and/or longer focal length for portraits on m43), and the 75 1.8 (gorgeous, gorgeous lens, but found I was missing the zoom more than I anticipated and thus swapped it out for the 2.8 tele zoom).
 

Ashenwelt

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Robert
Thoughts on the following kit?

O12-100/4
O17/1.8
O45/1.8

or

O12-200/4-6.3
O17/1.8
O45/1.8

The primary use would be for travel photography. My next big trip will be Cairo Egypt. I want something easy to carry. Camera is an E-M1 Mk1 (1.1 or whatever we wanna call it).

My previous was:

O14-54/2.8-3.5
O25/1.8 (traded 25 for 17)
O45/1.8

Thoughts?
 
Joined
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You only need one. Oly 12/100 f4 But since you get 3 I would get 12 -35 f2.8n Panny,since it is light and fast and a 60m Oly macro,as it is light and fast.
 

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