I ordered a Canon 90D camera, body only. I am looking for suggestions on the best walk around lens for traveling. I like to take landscape and wildlife pictures. I assume I would need two lenses for this. Any suggestions are appreciated.

closed as too broad by Tetsujin, Hueco, mattdm, Michael C, Philip Kendall Sep 9 at 6:49

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    If this question had a straightforward answer, there would not be so many lenses on the market. I understand that the array of options makes it overwhelming, but, rather than asking for a specific recommendation, can you tell us what uncertainties are making it hard to make up your own mind? Then we can give answers likely to help others in similar situations. – mattdm Sep 8 at 19:06
  • The optimal way to select a body/lens combo for a specific task is to first select the lens you wish to use and then find a body that works well with it for that purpose. – Michael C Sep 9 at 5:06
  • You might also benefit from reading the Letter to George. – Michael C Sep 9 at 5:07

The best general-purpose lens to start with would cover a "normal" focal length. Your camera has a crop sensor, so normal is about 28-35mm.

Some recommendations:

  • Resist the temptation to sacrifice image quality or fast apertures for increased focal-length range in zooms.

  • If you don't want to try random lenses during the next several decades while searching for the "perfect" lens, consider 24-70/2.8 + 70-200/2.8. It would also be reasonable to consider 24-105/4.

  • If you're a bokeh junkie, you'll probably switch to primes eventually. Consider starting with 35/2 and 50/1.8.

  • For wildlife, the trend is usually to seek the longest focal lengths possible. Unless you have an urgent need, consider postponing selecting such a lens until after you are more familiar with your equipment. See also .

Options to consider:

  • Prime lenses. Consider starting with a "nifty fifty". It may be combined with a wider lens, such as 28mm or 35mm, along with a narrower one, such as 85mm or 135mm.

    • Pros: Good image quality. Fast apertures.
    • Cons: May have to carry multiple lenses and switch among them often.
  • Kit lens, usually 18-55/3.5-5.6 (crop sensor).

    • Pros: Covers basic focal lengths. Inexpensive. Reasonable image quality.
    • Cons: Slow aperture.
  • Walkabout zoom, includes 18-135/3.5-5.6, 24-105/4.

    • Pros: Covers fairly wide range of focal lengths. Not too expensive. Reasonably good image quality.
    • Cons: Slow aperture.
  • Portrait zoom, Tamron SP 35-150/2.8-4.

    • Pros: Normal to moderate telephoto range with fast variable aperture.
    • Cons: Missing 24-35mm range.
  • Superzoom, usually 18-200/3.5-6.3 and beyond. One of my favorites was a 28-300/3.5-6.3.

    • Pros: Covers every focal length you might ever need. Not too expensive.
    • Cons: Usually poor image quality compared with other options. Slow aperture.
  • Fast, constant-aperture zooms. Common options include 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8. Some APS-C-only lenses fall in this category, such as 17-55/2.8.

    • Pros: Covers basic focal lengths. Usually good image quality. Faster aperture than other zoom options.
    • Cons: Usually heavier and more expensive than other options.
  • Mix and match. Use different lenses to cover different focal lengths depending on your preferences.

    • Pros: You decide what works best for you.
    • Cons: Lots of trial and error. Risk being overcome with GAS. Trying lots of lenses can be expensive.
  • 24-something lenses for a crop-sensor camera? – xenoid Sep 8 at 19:22
  • I'm talking about zooms. A 24-70 on a crop camera is "normal->short tele" and has np wide-angle range. The 24-70/24-105 lenses are meant for full-frame, on an APS-C camera you would use a 17-50 lens instead. – xenoid Sep 9 at 7:06
  • How much a lens should zoom out is a matter of personal preference. 24mm is reasonable for the wide end on APS-C, which may be seen on many compact cameras (~38mm for full-frame). Though some disagree, 35mm on full frame is wide angle. For instance, Canon describes the EF 35/2 IS USM as a wide-angle lens. My intent in this answer is not to list every possible lens, but to describe general categories that cover "normal". The focal length range you describe is listed under several categories. – xiota Sep 9 at 7:29

Not sure you need two lenses at that point. You invested over $1000 in a body without even knowing the kind of lenses you want to use? Tamron has a decent 16-300mm that should cover most uses(*). This lets you travel with one single lens, which has lots of advantages.

One year from now, look at your picture collection, and see which focal lengths you used the most, and use that to start your collection (wide-angle, macro, short prime, long tele...).

(*) Except perhaps real wildlife. But then you don't shoot wildlife when travelling, unless you travel to shoot wildlife, and then bring a lot more gear (tripod, very specific lenses, clothes...). The 16-300 should be enough to shoot the incidental monkey.

  • Re footnote: it depends. For my next wildlife photography trip I'm planning to take body, 70-300, monopod, and battery charger. And even the monopod is subject to being left out. When you're planning to hike 20km+ a day, you start to trade off gear weight vs being too tired to take any shots. – Peter Taylor Sep 9 at 13:03

While you may need only two lenses given your use cases, you'll want a third lens too, the Nifty Fifty. So, read on:

Wildlife: Canon 55-250mm IS STM. It has to be the STM version as that's significantly better than the non-STM version. Avoid the cheap non-stabilized 75-300mm Canon lenses. I would also say that the 70-300mm lenses aren't worth the additional cost on a crop sensor camera, when compared to Canon 55-250mm. Avoid any cheap third-party 70-300mm zooms. Canon lenses are worth their cost.

Walk-around / travel / landscape: I would pick the Canon 24mm f/2.8 STM. It's very small (thus travel-friendly), has significantly faster aperture than the kit zoom lenses that are often supplied with cameras and very sharp indeed, even at maximum aperture opening. Additionally, the autofocus works perfectly. The drawback is that it won't zoom. However, it's sharp enough that some minor amount of digital zooming with cropping is possible without compromising the quality more than a kit zoom would, so in my opinion the largest problem of this lens is that it won't zoom out rather than it won't zoom in.

If you absolutely need zoom and/or image stabilization, you could consider Canon 15-85mm zoom lens as a travel lens. It's significantly more expensive than 24mm f/2.8 STM, and less sharp (DxOMark says 8 P-Mpix for 15-85mm as opposed to 12 P-Mpix of 24mm f/2.8 STM), yet zooms in and out. However, the aperture is much slower on this lens when compared to 24mm f/2.8 STM.

I won't recommend the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM due to its high weight, and the autofocus problems that plague this lens. Also, the 17-55mm is not sharp wide open when zoomed to the max. If you buy a fast zoom, you are going to use it wide open and zoom it occasionally in, so not being sharp wide open when fully zoomed in is a genuine problem.

You'll want this too: Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM "Nifty Fifty" / "Plastic Fantastic". It's definitely worth the cost, and allows you to take beautiful portrait pictures. Also, for low light photography, this lens is excellent even though it doesn't have image stabilization.

  • These are good recommendations. I use the EF-S 15-85 USM and EF-S 55-250 STM with my Canon 80D. – Mike Sowsun Sep 8 at 16:51
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    The Canon 15-85 is an antique lens, and was never very good. Likely not sharp enough for modern sensors. In about the same category (also IS, slightly less zoom range, but faster) there is the Sigma 17-70. I found the 55-250 a bit short for wildlife. – xenoid Sep 8 at 17:29
  • "Canon lenses are worth their cost." Does that include the "cheap non-stabilized 75-300mm Canon lenses" also? – Michael C Sep 9 at 4:51
  • The EF 15-85mm has a history of far more issues caused by ribbon cable wear than the EF 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. You recommend the 15-85 yet pan the 17-55? The 17-85mm, not the 17-55 was the worst in this regard. – Michael C Sep 9 at 5:00
  • The EF 17-55mm f/2.8 IS is sharper wide open at 50mm than any Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 when used wide open. It's no less sharp at 50mm f/2.8 than any of the 50mm f/1.8 lenses are at f/2.8. It's just not as sharp wide open at 50mm than it is wide open at shorter focal lengths. Yes, it does cost considerably more, but it also does considerably more things (like zoom out to 17mm). The EF 17-55mm f/2.8 IS also focuses better than any of the EF 50mm f/1.8 lenses prior to the STM version. The USM of the 17-55 vs. the STM of the latest 50/1.8 is a matter of taste. Both have advantages and disadvantages. – Michael C Sep 9 at 5:03

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