Let's say you are going on a trip and want to balance covering different types of shots (landscapes, portraits) and are limited to 2-3 lenses. What would you take?

For example, it seems like Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is a popular choice for a telephoto lens, likewise something like the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM would cover wide angle, but have you then lost too much in the middle?

I am assuming something like the Tarmon 18-270mm would distort images too much, any other suggestions for combos?

  • When people say 'no budget' to me they are usually telling me they'll give me 'full credit' and 'it'll look good in my portfolio' but they're not going to pay me :)
    – user456
    Jan 30, 2013 at 8:09
  • Trip to where? Manhattan, Kauai, and Montana might each get different answers.
    – Caleb
    Jan 30, 2013 at 10:19
  • Any weight limitation?
    – BobT
    Jan 30, 2013 at 11:48
  • 3
    possible duplicate of What lenses would best comprise a travel photography kit?
    – mattdm
    Jan 30, 2013 at 13:11
  • For my purposes I'm making a "wish list" of lenses, and places will vary, assume cities, hiking in more remote areas, so really all over. Feb 1, 2013 at 0:43

3 Answers 3


Since you said 2 or 3 lenses and "no budget" I'm going to go for:

  • Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L Perhaps the finest lens ever produced by Canon, sadly discontinued due to the use of lead in it's manufacture. Short enough to be usable in a city/town but still long enough to to provide a comfortable distance to your subject. Entrance pupil the size of a dinnerplate to amazingly blurred backgrounds (where required).

  • Canon TS-E 17mm f4.0L the ultimate landscape/architectural lens. Tilt allows you to maximise depth of field for sweeping vistas, or minimise it for creative cityscapes. Shift allows architectural photos in confined spaces without converging vertical lines. Can be used to generate "camera shift" medium format size panoramas with no parallax for easy stitching.

  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II An all rounder, one of the finest zooms available for 35mm. Will provide flexibility and handle anything in the mid range whilst still being good in low light and provided shallow depth of field toward the long end.

With the rest of the unlimited budget I would get a pair of 1DXs, video grade tripod and a Sherpa to carry everything.

  • 2
    Good answer! Just to clarify to the asker, these are probably based on a full-frame camera. He did not mention which one he uses but was looking at an 18-270mm... so maybe I'd suggest a 17-55mm F/2.8 if he had to use an APS-C camera.
    – Itai
    Jan 30, 2013 at 14:41

As you sugggest, the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM is an excellent choice and in addition, the new Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II would cover the rest of the range nicely.

This is assuming you are using a full frame lens.

If you were super nice i'd also get the Sigma 12-24mm and happily have all of 12-200 covered. However anything under 24mm and over 200mm is heading towards 'specific' types of photography (sports, nature, etc etc)

Hope that helps.


For a trip I would bring:

They are both zooms with a reasonable length, with image stabilisation, and they are reasonably small. The diffraction lenses in the 70-300 makes it small compared to regular lenses with that range. Besides just the weight/volume to carry around, a reasonably small lens attracts less attention.

When considering the focal lengths of the lenses, the camera that you use is of course a factor. I have a EOS 5D mk II with a full-size sensor, so 28mm is often wide enough. For a camera with a smaller sensor you might want a wider angle.

A super-tele is less practical for travel. Either it's large and expensive (even if you have the budget for it, you might not want to lose it), or it's a big compromise optically.

  • Why would one choose the 28-135mm IS USM over the 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens if price were not a factor? I see you have a 70-300mm as part of the kit as well, so what besides the additional 30mm that isn't necessary makes the 28-135 better?
    – dpollitt
    Jan 30, 2013 at 17:20
  • @dpollitt: I mentioned it as an example simply because I happen to have one, so I know that I could bring it on a trip, because I have.
    – Guffa
    Jan 30, 2013 at 17:35

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