If you’re looking for the best Canon lens to take on your next travel adventure, this buyer’s guide is for you!
Camera gear is expensive, which is why it’s so important to buy smartly. I’ve been shooting with Canon cameras for over fifteen years and have tried a wide array of different lenses. I wasted a lot of money on the wrong equipment and would like to help you avoid the mistakes I made early in my career. This buyer’s guide on the Best Travel Lens for Canon will help you choose the perfect lens for your travel photography needs.
Please keep in mind that this article isn’t meant to weigh Canon RF vs. EF lenses. It’s my understanding that Canon will be retiring EF lenses over time as they develop their mirrorless cameras. I’ve decided to include both RF and EF options since many photographers are still using DSLR systems.
This post contains affiliate links and I may receive commissions for purchases made through these links. However, please know that I only provide links to products that I love and truly recommend.
Budget over Broke
First and foremost, I would like to state that the best lens is the one you can afford. If this means using the kit lens included with your camera body, so be it. Will it perfect amazingly in low light situations or offer the focal length range you’re looking for? Not necessarily. But starting with what you can swing financially is always a good idea.
For example, I took the image below with a Canon EF-S 18-55mm. This lens is generally included with the Canon Rebel and while it doesn’t offer a wide aperture, it is versatile lens all the same. Shooting at 18mm is wide enough capture a landscape and 35-55mm is great for portraits or street photography.
Keeping to the “budget over broke” mentality, this article includes alternative lenses for those using crop sensor cameras. When I first started shooting digital photography (yes, I am indeed old enough to have started my career as a film photographer), the first camera I purchased was the Canon 60D. This crop-sensor was my working horse for many years and I found several work-arounds when it came to lenses. If you’re wondering how I got started in travel photography, check out my post on Life Revamp With Passport Stamps.
So if you’re on a tight budget, use what you have on hand. I firmly believe that learning to troubleshoot certain lens limitations can make you a better photographer over time. Again: the best lenses are those you can afford. However, if you do have some money set aside or plan to save cash for new gear, keep reading!
Best for Small Budget
In the spirit of showcasing affordable camera lenses for travel photographers, here are the best budget Canon lenses.
- Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 STM. This 50mm lens is a great value, coming in at under $150. It’s small size also makes it light and easy to travel with. It’s ideal for portraits while on the road.
- Canon RF 35mm F/1.8 IS STM. While most of the RF line comes at a high price tag, the 35mm is available for under $600. It’s also light and compact, which is nice when lugging around gear during trips.
- Canon RF 24-105mm F/4-7.1 IS STM. A great general-purpose zoom lens for people on a budget using a mirrorless system, available for under $600. If you’re shooting with a DSLR, try the Sigma 24-105mm f4 DG OS HSM Art lens for Canon EF. It comes at a slightly higher price tag, however is still economical in comparison to others in this zoom range.
Best for Landscape Photography
Wide-angle lenses are best when it comes to capturing panoramic views. In other words, the smaller the focus length your lens offers, the more you’ll be able to fit into your frame.
Best wide-angle Canon lenses for full-frame cameras:
- Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS. Fantastic for ultra wide shots and still maintains sharp images on the sides and corners. Keep in mind that at its widest, this wide angle lens will create distortion (fisheye effect). Stylistically, this can be super cool if used correctly. If using a DSLR system, try the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L.
- Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L. Wide enough to capture sweeping landscapes or architecture. This is also an incredibly versatile lens, which I will highlight more later in this article. If using a DSLR system, try the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM.
- Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. While this lens doesn’t offer the wider aperture seen in its 24-70mm counterpart, it’s still a fantastic lens for landscapes. As seen in all wide angle lenses, some distortion and physical vignetting can be seen at its widest. If using a DSLR system, try the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L II USM.
Best wide-angle Canon lenses for APS-C sensor cameras:
- Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. If you’re shooting with a crop sensor camera and looking for a wide angle lens, I recommend the Canon 10-22mm. When shooting with a crop sensor, this lens will replicate the range offered by the Canon 16-35mm.
- Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM. Faster than the 18-55mm and with an aperture of f2.8 for certain SLR cameras, this lens will emulate what a 24-70mm can do on a full-frame camera.
Best for Portrait Photography
While traveling, it’s likely that you’ll want to capture people in addition to the places. I’d like to state for the record there is no single “right lens” when it comes to portraits. So many of Canon’s lenses would be considered a great option when it comes to capturing people. This being said, I do have my personal favourites, especially when it comes to choosing the best Canon travel lens.
I’ve chosen to share prime lenses only for this category. Prime lenses are generally a more compact size, lighter and significantly sharper than their zoom lens siblings. Also, they tend to have wider apertures, which means they’re perform better in low light conditions.
Best prime lenses for full-frame cameras:
- Canon RF 35mm f1.8 Macro IS STM. When it comes to prime lenses, the 35mm is stylistically my favourite. It captures a wider field of view than our natural eye, without being wide enough to cause distortion. A maximum aperture of f1.8 also creates a nice amount of bokeh. If using a DSLR system, try the Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II USM.
- Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM. Not only is the price way lower than the RF 50mm F1.2L (a whopping $2700 difference between the two), it is also way lighter. It’s for this reason that I recommend the cheaper version of the RF 50mm. Traveling with gear can get heavy, especially on trip that involve a lot of walking. If shooting with a DSLR system, try the Canon EF 50mm F1.2L AF USM.
- Canon RF 85mm F2 IS STM Macro. Again, the recommendation comes down to weight. The RF 85mm F1.2 weighs over twice as much, and while it definitely outperforms the 85mm F2, it kills my back to walk around with a backpack full of heavy lenses. If shooting with a DSLR system, try the Canon EF 85mm F1.4L IS USM.
Best prime lens for APS-C sensor cameras:
- Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II USM. Due to the crop sensor, the 35mm will shoot close to what a 50mm would with a full-frame.
Best for Wildlife Photography
If your travel adventures are focused primarily on wildlife photography, a high quality telephoto lens is an important factor when choosing what gear to buy.
Best telephoto lens for full-frame cameras:
- Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM. Incredibly sharp, fast, light and affordable, this lens is a great starter telephoto lens for those using a mirrorless system. It even offers an optical image stabilization switch, which some higher end lenses lack. If you’re using a DSLR system, try the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens.
- Canon RF 70-100mm f4L IS USM. While this lens doesn’t have as much reach as the 100-400mm, it’s wide range of focal lengths makes it a versatile lens for travel and wildlife.
- Canon RF 600mm f4L IS USM. If you’re very serious about wildlife photography and price is not an issue, the investment of this lens may be worth it. I’ll be the first to admit that this lens is way out of my budget, coming in at a whopping $13000, but it’s an absolute beast of a lens.
Best prime lens for APS-C sensor cameras:
- Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS STM. This camera lens is a great alternative for those shooting with a crop sensor. It’s also very affordable, priced under $300.
As you can see, there are tons of good options when it comes to travel photography lenses. Often, it comes down to what you plan on photographing most during your trip and selecting the best lens for that particular subject. Capturing landscapes? Wide-angle lenses are best. People and portraits? A great, lightweight, prime lens is the way to go. Wildlife? A telephoto lens will allow you to be far from the scene. For this reason, it would be next to impossible to pick one single best travel lens for Canon.
However, one lens in particular offers a little bit of everything – making it the most versatile for travel photography.
Best Travel Lens for Canon Overall:
- Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM. While I feel the most popular choice is the 24-70mm, I like the additional 35mm focal range that the 24-105mm offers for travel. It’s a lens that I can use in almost every situation.
If you like this blog post, subscribe to this blog, follow me on Instagram and use the hashtag #wreninflightco so I can give your post some love. Also, Subscribe to my YouTube channel and never miss out on adventure!