Everyone gets so wrapped up in what camera they should buy (that is the question I get more than any other), but they often ignore the question of what lenses to buy. In reality, the lens on your camera is probably going to impact the quality of your image a whole lot more than the camera. For travel photographers, the lens is going to impact a lot more than just your image quality as well. The lens will determine how big and heavy your set up is and how convenient it will be during travel. Because lenses get expensive, you likely need to be smart about what lenses you buy. Hopefully, this quick guide will help you Canon shooters pick out a travel set up.
What Canon lens should you get for travel photography? I recommend the the Canon 24-105 mm f/4. This is my favorite all-in-one zoom for Canon, but there are some other great options that may fit you better that I will discuss below.
When it comes to camera lenses, most camera systems have what is called the trinity of lenses. This is going to be the top quality wide angle zoom, medium zoom and short telephoto zoom. Investing in the trinity of lenses is usually a safe bet because you get the best quality lenses to cover the range needed by all but wildlife and sports photographers.
For travel photographers or casual shooters, however, the trinity of lenses may not be the best option. When we are traveling, I love bringing an all-in-one zoom lens. These cover the focal ranges from wide angle to moderate zoom in one lens, which is much more convenient for traveling. The quality usually isn’t as good, but you can still get something that will produce very good images while you only have to carry one lens and not worry about changes lenses ever.
The other lens I love to use for travel photography is a pancake lens. a pancake lens is usually a prime lens (only has one focal length). It is called a pancake lens because it is really thin, like a pancake. I like taking a pancake lens for casual situations where I want my camera to be as compact as possible. With my pancake lens, I can actually fit my camera in most pockets so it is not a burden when we are just headed out of the hotel for dinner or something where photography is not the focus.
Recommended Lenses for Canon
Canon is generally considered to have the biggest and best line up of lenses of all the systems. While that is great for options, it also makes it a whole lot harder to decide what lens is right for you.
Canon’s top wide-angle lens is the 16-35 f/4L. This lens will get you great image quality, weather sealing and image stabilization for under $1,000.
Probably Canon’s most popular lens is the excellent 24-70 mm f/2.8L. This lens has amazing image quality, good build quality, weather sealing and fast auto focusing, but it lacks image stabilization. This lens has come down a bit in price and is currently sitting around $1,600. For under $600, the Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 nearly matches the Canon’s image quality, but adds vibration control. The big drop off in the Tamron lens comes in the auto focus, so the saved money may not be worth it if you are shooting sports.
My top recommendation to finish out the Canon trinity is the Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 G2. The Tamron matches Canon’s 70-200 f/2.8 in almost every regard, and even surpasses it in some, like image stabilization and auto focus, all for $500 less. For a budget option, I turn to the Sigma
The All-in-One Zoom
My favorite option for your travel zoom lens from Canon is the 24-105 mm f/4. This lens is a little on the pricey side for a travel zoom, but it has great build quality, weather proofing, good auto focus and excellent image quality, so the $1,000ish price is understandable. The f/4 aperture is good enough for me for a travel lens, especially since it isn’t variable like most travel zooms. You can save a couple hundred dollars opting for the very similar Sigma 24-105 mm f/4.
Canon’s best option for a pancake lens is the Canon 40 mm f/2.8. This is a great lens, but the focal length is not quite wide enough for my preferences. A step down in quality, but a better focal range is the Canon 24 mm f/2.8.
What do you think? Do you have a Canon lens you love for travel photography? Let us know in the comments or in our Facebook Group. Be sure to check out our Recommended Gear as well for more lens recommendations and much more.