Photo Gear,  Travel

My Micro Four Thirds Photography Kit for Traveling to Hawaii

On a trip to Hawaii, I planned on doing a lot of hiking and a various types of photography, so I wanted to travel light.  I was able to use my Olympus OM-D E-M1 and four lenses for my entire trip to Hawaii.

Helicopter Shot of Koko Head Crater - Olympus 12-50mm f/2.8 Pro lens

Helicopter Shot of Koko Head Crater – Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens

The Micro Four Thirds lenses that I brought on my trip to Hawaii were:

In this blog I’ll talk about the different types of photography and the lenses that I used for each type. I’ll also tell you the other accessories I brought along on the trip.

Helicopter Photography

I took a no doors helicopter flight which meant that I couldn’t change lenses in the windy cabin.  I used my Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens.  I brought along my Olympus 9-18mm ultra wide lens but it stayed in my pocket.  Overall, the Olympus 12-40mm got the shots I wanted. There were times where a wider lens would have been nice but it wasn’t worth the risk of dropping a lens or getting particles on the sensor.

Beach Photography

Photos of waves pounding the beach, huge cliffs, and black sand beaches.  I used both the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens and the Olympus 9-18mm ultra wide lens.  The ultra wide 9-18mm lens was great for close ups of the waves breaking on the rocks from a low perspective.

Surf Breaking on the Rocks at Hale Halawai Park

Surf Breaking on the Rocks at Hale Halawai Park – Olympus 9-18mm

Landscape Photography

The Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens is my go to lens for landscape photography.  The lens is sharp, waterproof, and relatively light for an f/2.8 lens.  Most of my landscape photographs of Hawaii were taken with this lens. 

I also bring along the Olympus 9-18mm on my landscape photography hikes. I used the 9-18mm to take this picture of the Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples.  The ulta wide angle lens let me get close to the lake as a foreground and still get the entire temple in the composition.

I’ll also use the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens for close ups or intimate photographs of subjects that are farther away.

Byodo-In Temple - Olympus 9-18mm lens

Byodo-In Temple – Olympus 9-18mm lens

Bird Photography

There are some beautiful birds in Hawaii.  The birds are much different than the birds I photograph in the continental United States.  My Canon 5d with either the 500mm f/4 prime lens or the Canon 100-400mm Mark II lens are my go to lenses for bird photography.  I didn’t have either of these lenses with me on the trip.  The 500mm f/4 may have looked a little out of place on Waikiki Beach.

For bird photography in Hawaii, I used the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens with the 1.4X Teleconverter.  Is it as good as my Canon set up?  Well no, but I could easily carry it in my backpack while walking around Waikiki Beach which is where I photographed this Red-crested Cardinal.

Red-crested Cardinal + 1.4X Teleconverter

Red-crested Cardinal + 1.4X Teleconverter

Macro Photography

Tropical Hawaii is full of plants, flowers, and insects for close up photography.  For macro and close-up photography, I used the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens.  This lens is small enough to throw in your pocket just in case you see a good close up composition.

Street Photography

Waikiki Beach if full of interesting characters for you to photograph. There are also surf boards, statues, and fountains to photograph.  In my opinion, I didn’t have the perfect street photography lens with me.  I mainly used the Olympus 12-40mm lens, but a less conspicuous lens would have been a better match for street photography.  A lens like the smaller Olympus 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 would have been less conspicuous to carry around for street photography.

Komodo Dragon at the Honolulu Zoo

Komodo Dragon at the Honolulu Zoo – Olympus 40-150mm + 1.4X Teleconverter

Zoo Photography

The Honolulu Zoo is right on Waikiki Beach.  In the zoo, I used the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens both with and without the 1.4x Teleconverter.  The Honolulu Zoo had quite a few open areas to photography African animals, Tortoises, and a Komodo Dragon.  However, many of the birds were in wire cages making it very difficult to photograph them.

Accessories

Tripod.

A Tripod was very useful for low light landscape photography and long exposure photography of the waves.  It is not very useful on crowded Waikiki Beach.

Romote Shutter Release

Useful for long exposure photography of the ocean and waves.

Circular Polarizer Filter

Useful just about everywhere, walking around and on a tripod.  Useful for taking the glare and reflections out of water, leaves and other reflective surfaces.  It also makes the skies bluer and darkens the scene so you don’t blow out the highlights.

Neutral Density Filters

Useful for long exposure photographs of the waves and oceans.  Allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds to give the water a milky look.

Clik Elite Compact Sport Backpack

This is small backpack that is perfect for micro four thirds cameras.  I was able to carry my camera and all my gear in this one back pack.  The tripod also straps on to the pack and there is even a pouch for a water bottle.  The built in rain cover was useful when I got caught in a downpour at Pololu Valley.

I used this backpack on several hikes and wore it around Waikiki Beach.

Written by Martin Belan

Related Blog Posts
Photographing Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park
What to photograph at Waikiki Beach?
Photographing the Pololu Valley Lookout on the Big Island of Hawaii

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