I am travelling at the end of this year so I want to use this time to save for a lens. I have the Canon 5D MKIII and when I stopped photography for a while due to other commitments I sold my other lenses and kept my nifty fifty. I am now travelling to New york, Vegas and Vancouver for 4 nights in each location and I want to buy a lens that would suit travelling, I most likely won't be taking a tripod as I'm going to be on the go. Im looking at the L series lenses and obviously I want to get the best option as Im looking for sharpness as this is a one time trip for me so I want to get the best results I can both at night and day. If anyone can include examples, I have a while to save up so I'm willing to invest I just want the best option but from what I've read its been the 24-70 MKII or the 24-105 f4. Are these good lenses to consider?

Thank you so much.

  • Unfortunately, site rules do not allow us to do product recommendations. We can answer questions about a specific lens, but "is this a good lens?" won't be accepted since it is asking for opinions. – Mick Mar 1 '19 at 9:08
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    Have consider renting one (or many) ? It will help you testing them and will be cheaper on location too, especially on short stays. – jihems Mar 1 '19 at 9:27
  • I think the proposed duplicate is too 'architecture' specific. Most of the detailed & top-voted answers talk of lengths up to about 55mm. Personally, I think it's too narrow to close this one against. [Though I'm fully in agreement that we shouldn't be recommending specific lenses.] – Tetsujin Mar 1 '19 at 10:27

In general, the more you design a lens to be able to do, the less it will be able to do all of them well. That's why there is no such thing as a "best" lens. There are only lenses that are "better" or "worse" for a specific task. The more disparate tasks you expect a lens to be able to do, the less you can expect such a lens to do any of those tasks as well as a lens designed solely for that single task.

Most of the class of zoom lenses considered "travel lenses" are for APS-C or smaller sensors, where the compromises of designs with focal lengths that may range from as wide as 20mm to as long as 300mm will be less apparent. The market doesn't really seem to demand many lenses in the way of 10X or more zoom ranges for FF lenses. This question and its answers cover some of the reasons why there's not much demand for such lenses: 24-200MM lens for Nikon D850? There are a few 28-200mm "super zooms" out there for FF, but they may or may not allow you to take the kinds of images you want.

Both the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II and the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS are pretty good lenses. Both offer something the other does not.

  • The EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS obviously offers focal lengths in the range from 70-105mm that the other lens does not. It also has Image Stabilization. It's built like a tank and can take a lot of punishment and still go on working well. It only costs about 59% what the other lens costs.
  • The EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II obviously offers an extra stop of aperture. It's also as sharp or sharper at common focal lengths when open at f/2.8 than the 24-105/4 is at f/4. It costs almost twice (1.7X) as much.

In fact, the actual real brightness difference between the two lenses is almost two stops. The 24-70/2.8 II is T-2.8 at 24mm, T-2.9 at 35mm and 50mm, and only climbs to T-3.1 at 70mm. That is only slightly dimmer than it's f/2.8 minimum aperture. The 24-105/4, on the other hand, at T-5.1 over most of the zoom range, is closer to f/5.6 than it is to f/4.

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You need to ask yourself which is more important to you: a wider focal length range and IS or wider maximum aperture? The very robust construction for about 40% less or the slightly sharper performance?

In the end, what will be the "best" travel lens for you will not be the same lens as the "best" travel lens for many others. Similarly, what is the "best" lens for you to take some types of photos you wish to take might not be the same lens that is "best" for you to use to get other types of images you want.

Lens selection is a highly personal decision.Often different factors having to do with lens performance, focal length, maximum aperture, price, size and weight, etc. must be weighed against each other in order to select the one that works "best" for you.

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This is a hard situation to give advice on. A lot depends on the expertise/vision of the photographer, but let's leave that aside for now. Practically, for travel, a zoom is probably a good idea, and you can get good results with any Canon lens, though I would probably rule out anything costing less than $300 - it's my own personal cut-off point (for zoom lenses) where quality has been compromised for the sake of producing a cheap lens. Of course you need to ensure you are not buying an EF-S lens if you are using a full-frame camera.

But you need to consider yourself which focal lengths you want to cover. Ultimately, I would point you towards the question that Philip has already indicated may cover this ground already: Which lenses should be included in a travel photography kit?

Also, consider bringing some kind of camera support for low-light photography. You don't necessarily need a tripod, but maybe consider something like a "beanbag tripod" such as The Pod.

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