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9 Best Canon Lenses For Traveling in 2021

Best Canon Lenses For Traveling

Are you searching for the best canon lenses for traveling?

It can be difficult to pick the one lens that you’re going to take with you on your next trip. This guide will walk you through all of the best lenses and what types of photography they work best for. If you’re looking for the one overall choice that gives you the best of all worlds, the Canon EF 24–105mm is the lens for you.

Let’s dive into the top 9 Canon lenses for travel.

1. Canon EF 24–105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens: Best Overall

Five Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 24 to 105 mm
  • Size: 4.6 x 3.3 in
  • Weight: 1.75 lbs
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.24x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Aperture: f/4
  • Autofocus: Yes

With a focal length of 24 to 105 mm, the Canon EF 24–105mm is the all-star travel photography lens.

If you can only have one lens in your travel photography kit, this is it.

Not Your Standard Kit Lens

You can toss out the kit lens that came with your camera when you get the Canon EF 24–105mm. This lens offers a superior focal range as well as better performance. The built-in image stabilization is also a nice touch.

You want a lens that can do everything while you’re traveling. This lens can handle portraiture as well as some basic telephoto work. It’s a great all-around option when you’ve got limited space in your carry-on.

Pros

  • Great upgrade for that kit lens
  • Affordable
  • Versatile focal range
  • Autofocus and image stabilization

Cons

  • The f/4 aperture leaves a lot to be desired
  • Jack of all trades, master of none
  • You’re really going to feel these cons if you like sports, wildlife, or low light photography

2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens: Best Budget Choice

4 Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Size: 1.5 x 2.4 in
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.21x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Autofocus: Yes

The Canon EF 50mm is one of the most popular Canon lenses ever created. Everyone from wedding photographers to amateurs sing songs of praise about this lens.

The same can be said by travelers looking for a budget workhorse.

Meet the Nifty Fifty!

So, what makes this budget option so good? Well, just about everything.

The 50 mm focal length is incredibly versatile. It’s great for street photography while touring those tourist destinations. It also works for portraiture of the friends and family that come with you. The 50 mm also isn’t the worst for doing landscape photography using panorama settings.

This lens is also durable. If you hang around photographers long enough, you’ll hear stories about this lens being dropped from eye-height onto concrete and surviving to continue taking pictures.

It also fits in your pocket. What more could you want for this price?

Pros

  • A budget lens loved by pros
  • Small and lightweight
  • f/1.8 is incredibly useful while on vacation

Cons

  • 50mm prime means no zooming
  • Not weather-sealed

3. Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens: Best for Landscapes

4 Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 16 to 35 mm
  • Size: 5 x 3.5 in
  • Weight: 1.74 lbs
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.22x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Autofocus: Yes

Taking pictures of landscapes is one of the best parts about traveling. The Canon EF 16–35mm will help you capture stunning landscapes.

Pro-level Landscape Photography

The Canon EF 16–35mm is a pro level landscape photographer’s lens. This lens unlocks a whole new world of travel photography when you add it to your kit. You’ll be able to snap pictures of all the sites you see on your vacation with a quality right out of National Geographic.

The biggest drawback to this lens is its lack of zooming potential. You either have to be comfortable walking right up to a portraiture subject or settle for those distant, wide-angle shots.

Pros

  • Pro-level lens with weather sealing
  • Can’t be beat when it comes to landscapes
  • Relatively small frame

Cons

  • Not the best for portraits and street photography
  • High price tag

4. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens: Best for Nature & Sports

4 Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 70 to 200 mm
  • Size: 7.8 x 3.5 in
  • Weight: 3.18 lbs
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.24x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Autofocus: Yes

Not all travel lenses are designed to be small. The Canon EF 70-200mm is one of Canon’s biggest lenses and it comes packed with equally large features.

Get Outdoors and Shoot Some Action!

This is the premiere lens for people who are interested in doing sports and nature photography while traveling. The Canon EF 70-200mm will see you through sudden rains on the Savannah as well as when things get rowdy in the stands of your favorite football club.

There are some serious downsides when considering the Canon EF 70-200mm. First and foremost this lens is as big as it is heavy. Three pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but after 5 hours of hiking through the woods it really starts to weigh on you.

This lens also stands out like a sore thumb. If you’re at all worried about making the news as the most recent tourist robbed of their photography gear, you might want to choose a more subtle lens on his list.

Pros

  • Crystal sharp images at a distance
  • Ideal for sports, nature, or anything else that requires distance and speed
  • It’s the top choice for what it does

Cons

  • It’s huge
  • Unwieldy in intimate settings
  • Highly visible and expensive

5. Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens: Best for Astrophotography

4 Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 14 mm
  • Size: 3.7 x 3.15  in
  • Weight: 1.42 lbs
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.15x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Autofocus: Yes

Once you get away from all the light pollution of the city, you’re going to want to take some beautiful pictures of those stars. The Canon EF 14mm is the single best lens for astrophotography.

Are You Ready to Become a Pro Star Gazer?

This is a pro level lens that offers you all of the high-end glass and weather sealing you expect from Canon. It’s also their widest lens that doesn’t cross the line into fisheye lenses.  This is an extremely wide lens which limits its applications.

If astrophotography is your thing, you really can’t beat this lens. However, its capabilities quickly start to drop off after that. It does a good job with some landscape photography, but it really starts to struggle when you want to snap a quick portrait of your travel companions.

Another thing to consider is that this lens represents a serious cost for a very limited range of photography subjects. You could buy the Canon EF 14mm, or you could buy the Nifty Fifty and a basic zoom lens and give yourself some options.

Pros

  • The best choice for astrophotography
  • Solid option for landscape photography
  • The widest non-fisheye lens offered by Canon

Cons

  • Ultra wide isn’t for everyone
  • Very limited applications
  • Not ideal for portraiture, street, or action photography

6. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens: Best Ultra Portable Lens

3 Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 40 mm
  • Size: 2.69 x 0.9 in
  • Weight: 4.59 oz
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.18x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Autofocus: Yes

What if you want to take your full-frame Canon camera on your next trip, but you have literally zero room to pack a lens?

Here’s where the ultra-portable pancake lens comes in.

Consider the Humble Pancake Lens

The pancake lens has earned its nickname for being Canon’s most minimalist lens. This isn’t a pro lens with weather sealing, but it is an intriguing option for the traveling photographer.

This lens has such a small form factor that it can double as a body cap. The body of this lens barely extends beyond that of the camera itself. There’s plenty of photographers out there that use their 40 mm lens as a body cap that can also take pictures.

This leaves one important question about this lens: Outside of its budget and size, what does it offer?

The Canon 40 mm lens can do a good job with basic photography. However, you’ll find yourself often wishing you had just packed a 50 mm or made room for a compound lens instead. If you decide to fly solo with a 40 mm lens, you’re going to need to commit to it’s unique style.

Pros

  • So portable it doubles as a body cap
  • Ultra budget option
  • Surprisingly high quality glass

Cons

  • 40mm is a bit of a strange focal length
  • There’s a serious debate about just getting the Nifty Fifty instead
  • Might start to feel like an old gimmick after a while

7. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens: Best for that Film Feel

4 Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 35 mm
  • Size: 3.17 x 4.15 in
  • Weight: 1.67 lbs
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.21x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Aperture: f/1.4
  • Autofocus: Yes

The Canon EF 35mm calls back to the early days of film photography. This was the standard before digital became the new normal. With the Canon EF 35mm by your side, you can enjoy the classic side of photography.

Enjoy the Original Film Photography Focal Length!

There’s a lot of history behind the Canon EF 35mm. This will take you right back to the days of black and white film and the Golden Age of Hollywood. This particular focal length is ideal for a wide range of applications.

We are used to seeing things in 35 mm. This means that this lens is a great choice for everything from portraits to landscapes.

There are a few downsides to consider with this popular focal length. There’s no zoom feature here because this is a prime lens. This means you’re going to have to physically get closer to things you want to zoom in on. The lens is also a little expensive and surprisingly bulky compared to other prime lenses with similar focal lengths.

Pros

  • Enjoy a classic 35mm focal length
  • Great for videography
  • You really can’t miss with 35mm for nearly any style of photography

Cons

  • Outclassed by other focal lengths for modern photography standards
  • You’ll need to live by “zoom with your feet”
  • Expensive for a prime lens

8. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens: Best For Beginners

3 Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 24 to 75 mm
  • Size: 3.5 x 4.4 in
  • Weight: 1.77 lbs
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.14x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Autofocus: Yes

This is the pro level lens that you probably already own. The Canon EF 24-70mm is the lens that comes with Canon’s higher-end cameras. Why spend money when you’ve already got what you need?

The Pro Level Kit Lens is Back!

Here’s one of photography’s most underrated, but important, lessons. You can accomplish stunning photography on even the most basic lens. The standard kit lens that comes with Canon cameras is the best example of this.

This lens will allow you to take portraits, landscapes photography, and even holds its own in action photography. It definitely won’t be able to stack up to more dedicated or more expensive options, but it does great on its own.

There’s a good chance that you already own this lens meaning that you won’t need to spend any money to buy it. This is a great choice for photographers still mastering the fundamentals and developing their own personal style.

Pros

  • This probably came with your camera
  • Solid focal length options
  • Great way to get introduced to different types of photography

Cons

  • You’re going to grow out of it
  • Lacks the coverage of our #1 pick
  • If you’re spending money, you’re better off with another option on this list

9. Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens: Best for Travel Portraits

4 Stars

Specs

  • Focal Length: 85 mm
  • Size: 3.49 x 4.15 in
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs
  • Sensor Type: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.12x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Aperture: f/1.4
  • Autofocus: Yes

One of the reasons we travel is to meet new people on our journeys. The Canon EF 85mm is a lens that’s going to give you unmatched capability to take portraits of all your new acquaintances.

Try Out the King of Portrait Lenses!

The Canon EF 85mm is widely recognized as one of the leading lenses when it comes to portraiture. With that said, it also holds its own when dealing with street photography.

This lens does have a few drawbacks. It’s large and heavy for what you get. This means it’s going to take up a little bit of extra space in your bag. This lens also struggles in tight spaces and isn’t the best choice when it comes to landscape photography.

If your heart is set on doing some light street photography and a lot of stunning portraiture, you really can’t beat the Canon EF 85mm.

Pros

  • The best portrait lens on the market today
  • A great option for street photography
  • Outstanding bokeh

Cons

  • Heavy for its size
  • This focal length struggles in tight spaces

How to Decide Which Canon Lens is Best for Your Trip?

There’s more to choosing the best canon lenses for traveling than picking the highest price tag and best specs. You should think about why you’re getting this lens and what you hope to accomplish with it.

Think about these questions when picking your new lens.

How To Choose The Best Canon Travel Lens

Are you stuck trying to choose between a few of these lenses? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a few things that can help you pick between these gray lenses.

First stop is the budget. There’s no use buying a top-tier lens if you don’t have a top-tier budget. Worst of all, you don’t want to eat into your travel budget just to afford the best lenses. Keep reading through this guide and you’ll find some great advice for photographers who are using less-than-optimal lenses.

A good travel lens should also match your style. That gigantic Canon 70 to 200 mm lens is a bit out of place on the busy streets of a European city. The 40mm pancake lens is also going to look a little odd at a big sports event. Think about the style of photography you like and pick a lens that matches.

What Are The Advantages Of A Good Travel Lens?

A good travel lens should be able to see you through your next several trips. It’s going to unlock your potential as an artist and help you realize the photography you wish you had been taking all along.

Things To Look For In Your Ideal Lens

Here are a few things you are going to want to look for in your new camera lens.

  • The lens should fit your budget
  •  It should help you build the skills you already have
  •  The lens should match your desired style of photography
  •  If you already own a few lenses, this new lens should compliment what you already have
  • Pick a lens you know you can grow into

What’s The Best Way To Use A Travel Lens?

Need a few tips for using that brand new lens?

The biggest advice you can get for using your new travel lens is just to get out there and take more pictures. You can do this by actively planning for photography outings while traveling or just by keeping your camera with you at all times. When the moment strikes, just start taking pictures.

Since digital photography offers nearly limitless storage space, you don’t have to worry about a limited number of film exposures. You can sort out the good in the bad pictures later when you get home from your trip.

What Everyone Forgets About Camera Lenses

Here’s some advice that everyone forgets about camera lenses. The budget of your lens doesn’t matter. The skill of the photographer does.

You could put a $20,000 cinema lens into the hands of a total beginner and get worse images than you would get by putting a $20 toy lens into the hands of a master photographer. Those are extreme examples, but the same truth applies to picking a travel camera lens.

There’s another side to this coin. Buying a lens that’s one step up from your skill level can inspire you to push yourself further to make the most of the lens you just bought. They can also inspire you to get out there and take more photos which is the only way we improve as photographers.

There’s no quick answer here. You’re going to need to weigh these two options together to find the path that’s right for you.

The One Thing You Need To Keep In Mind When It Comes To Travel Lenses

Travel is inherently risky. Tourists are common targets for pickpockets and there’s always a risk that the airplane loses your bags. This is especially important when you purchase a brand new, $2,000 camera lens.

If this is your first trip out, don’t take a lens that costs more than you can lose. This might sound like hard advice, but it’s seen countless photographers through their first trips out in the field. Whether you’re trekking through the wilderness or you’re just heading on a family vacation, it’s good advice to play it a little safe with the budget on your first travel lens.

Wrapping Up the Best Canon Lenses for Traveling

So, which of these lenses is the best canon lens for traveling? It’s hands down the Canon EF 24–105mm.

There are other solid lenses on this list. The Nifty Fifty is one of photography’s most storied lenses. The Canon EF 16–35mm is a legend when it comes to landscape photography. However, the Canon EF 24–105mm gives you the most versatility for your money and helps you build up your skills behind the camera.

Let us know which one of these lenses is the one for you!

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