I currently have a Canon 7D Mark II. I have a budget where I am looking at getting the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM or the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM. I am undecided on which one to get. I can see myself using both, so will probably get both at some point. I am currently traveling through Asia in May and then Greenland in August.

I currently have a 50mm and the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM.

Which lens would most likely bet a better fit for my current travel situation? Which one should I purchase first?

  • \$\begingroup\$ While he is asking about specific lenses, which is "off topic" he is ALSO asking about two quite different ranges 24-105 vs 70-200, both f/4. His current lenses have some impaqct on the decision. I wot that the question is acceptable with a little adjusting. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 1, 2016 at 9:48
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to Photo.SE! Can you be more specific about what you'd like to know about the lenses that's not already covered by Canon product specs, product review sites, and hundreds of user reviews? As a question and answer site, we try to focus on specific, answerable questions rather than creating discussions. We also avoid product recommendations that are likely to become outdated or help only the person asking the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Apr 1, 2016 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question is impossible to answer without knowing what kind of things you're planning on shooting (or if you don't know at all), and what your priorities are in terms of image quality and price. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 1, 2016 at 21:13

3 Answers 3


The one that can get the shot you want to take that the 50mm and the 16-35mm can't do. Until you understand what it is that you need your lens to do that your current lenses can't do you don't need a new lens.


I have owned both of those lenses, as well as the "nifty fifty" - which I would assume is the 50 mm lens you already have. The Canon 24-105, even being f4, is a superior lens to the 50mm in almost every way (check out the reviews here: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/). The 70-200 is also an excellent lens, but you're kind of comparing apples and watermelons.. they're both great, but they're very different.

For a general purpose travel lens, I would have to recommend the 24-105 - it will end up being similar in size, quality, and feel to the 16-35, and have some overlap in focal length (which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on your personal preferences). It also has enough reach for decent portrait photography, while still being wide enough to use without having to carry your second lens everywhere you go. It's often referred to as a great "walk around" lens and I tend to agree. The downside is that it will sort of "replace" your nifty fifty - which is a nice lens on it's own (very discreet in comparison to the others, while still having reasonable image quality).

Also, travelling, the 70-200 is a fair bit more conspicuous, the long, white lens makes itself a bit of a target - it definitely stands out in a crowd. The 70-200 is great if you want to take photos of people from, say, across the street, or if you want to make some portraits in a more controlled setting. Where you'll run into trouble though (or where I have in the past), is trying to get a shot of something and finding out you're too close to it, or there is something (usually people) in the way because you're so far back. I often end up switching lenses several times during the day when I have the 70-200 with me. When I don't have it, my portraits are not quite as nice, but I don't seem to notice that I have the "wrong" lens on a camera.

At the end of the day, it boils down to which one you're more likely to use. The 24-105 won't leave your camera often if you have it. The 16-35 and the 70-200 will be on and off all the time, but it will provide you with more options when deciding what look or feel you want from your images.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "...The Canon 24-105, even being f4, is a superior lens to the 50mm in almost every way." Maybe in almost every way except one: image quality. And I say that as one who has probably taken more shots with the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS than with any other single lens (with the possible exception of the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II because I use it for sports and that results in a lot of high speed bursts). I shoot a lot with only two lenses with me: The 24-105 and the 50mm f/1.4. If I know I'll be at around 50mm most of the time the prime is going to be the one I hang on the camera every time. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Apr 2, 2016 at 0:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is no significant difference in image quality between the 50mm f/1.8 II and the 50mm f/1.4 at any aperture they have in common. The difference is in built quality, focus speed, and manual focus usability. All these are things the new EF 50mm f/1.8 STM has addressed rather well. If I were looking for a budget 50mm prime today I would choose the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM over the older (and more expensive) EF 50mm f/1.4. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Apr 2, 2016 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ The image quality question is partially an opinion. There are a HUGE number of resources regarding sharpness, bokeh, and "quality". As the name suggests, quality is a <i>qualitative</i> value, not quantitative (therefore, more opinion based than evidence based). Sharpness is quantitatively higher, however, the 5-blade aperture (with relatively straight blades) vs the 8 circular blade aperture of the 24-105 results in relatively poor bokeh \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2016 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're looking for an unbiased review of lens qualities, my personal favourite resource is thedigitalpicture.com - the 24-105 review is here: the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/… \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2016 at 13:43

The question is more about 'appropriate ranges' than brand and model specifics.
The ranges look something like this (1st 2 existing, 2nd 2 one or other new) Presumably the 50mm is ~= F/1.8. All others = F/4.

............ 70------------------200          

IF quality is similar in the latter 2 lenses then which is "best" depends greatly on your desired usage areas. A 200mm gives about 1/2 the image width and 1/4 the image area of the 105mm max focal length. This can make a very substantial difference when getting closer is not an option. In "touring mode" this can be immensely useful.

However, the 70mm short end of the 70-200 is far too long for close quarters work. For those more used to APSC "1/2 frame" sensors, as the 7D is a full frame that's the approximate equivalent to an APSC 45-133mm.
Try taking some "walk around" photos with your 50mm lens then crop the resulting images area to 5/7 = 71% the width and height and imagine how hard it would be to use this in many closeup situations. For walk-around use in a wide range of situations the 24-105mm will be vastly more useful more often.
If you don't mind carrying it then the existing 16-35mm would be very useful on occasion. The 50mm is overlapped by the 24-105mm but is vastly more useful imn low light and probably of significantly better quality.

In your position, I'd take none of your choices and instead would buy a wide range zoom such as whatever Tamron offers currently in the eg 28-300mm range. What I like and what you like will differ. The Tamron or similar wide range will suffer in quality at the extreme ends BUT will have extreme ends that equal at the bottom end and exceed at the top end the combination of both 24-105 and 70-200 combined. When travelling I find that the ability to jump from relatively wide angle 17mm/28mm APSC/FF) to useful zoom (250-300mm) near instantly means that I am more likely to get photos I'd hate to miss than if I use solely a higher quality lens.

Slip the 50mm into a pocket for when low light and top quality is needed. Other people will give other answers, of course, but understanding why I say whjat I do will help you decide what you want to do.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed strongly. For travel, the wider the zoom range, the better. You don't want to have to change lenses constantly. Of the choices listed, I'd pick the 24–105L. When traveling, probably 80–90% of my shots are with that lens, and I go wide to the 16–35L more often than I go long to my 70-300L. I mostly go long when atop something tall (e.g. the Eiffel Tower, St. Peter's...) or when I'm taking a side trip to shoot wildlife (e.g. bald eagles with stacked teleconverters and manual focus at 1260mm). It isn't the sort of lens where I frequently say, "Ooh, I wish I had that with me". YMMV. \$\endgroup\$
    – dgatwood
    Jun 4, 2016 at 7:31

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