Travel photography often involves cutting the photography equipment right back to the bare essentials, and that also includes lenses. In an ideal world you would have your entire collection of lenses to hand, but in reality this simply doesn’t happen and more often than not you’re restricted to a single lens.
There was a time when only having one lens would be a massive disadvantage resulting in several missed opportunities. Well, things have changed and having only one lens (the “right” single lens of course) is no longer a handicap and it is possible to capture stunning shots of your adventures.
As you have probably already guessed an all in one travel photography lens is a zoom lens covering a range of focal lengths. There are a few “all in one lens” contenders that are worth taking for travel photography, and the most suitable one will depend on the subjects you want to shoot and your particular style of shooting as well.
The “all in one” lenses I recommend for travel photography are as follows:-
CANON 28MM – 300MM F3.5 – 5.6 l IS
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 28mm – 300mm/44.8mm – 480mm/ Aperture:- 3.5 – 32/4.5 - 40/ Min focus:- 27.6”/ Dimensions:- 3.62” x 7.59”/ Weight:- 60oz / Image stabilization:- Yes/ Price (approx.) $USD/£GBP:- $2,500/£1,750
If you want the most versatile travel photography lens, i.e. the one that is suitable for the widest range of subjects this is the lens to get. This lens is ideal and you can use it for:-
Landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes – 28mm is still considered wide, and is perfectly suitable for wide angle photography. 28mm on an APS-C camera is an effective 44.8mm, and whilst this isn’t really wide the field of view is still sufficient to get some decent landscape/seascape and cityscape shots.
Portraits – Focal lengths of 28mm – 70mm are ideal for taking portraits. The shorter focal lengths are well suited to environmental portraits (where a wider field of view is needed) and the longer focal lengths are well suited to head and shoulder shots. The maximum widest aperture may not be ideal but 3.5 – 5.6 is normally sufficient enough to nicely blur the background. There are, of course other ways of getting around the depth of field such as increasing the subject to background distance. It is worth noting you don’t want to use very wide apertures for environmental portraits as a bit of in-focus background is needed to put everything in to context.
Insects – It is not possible to capture extreme close up and macro photos of insects using this lens, but standing back a little and using the extensive zoom range to get in nice and close will result in some pretty close up shots. I have had good success shooting dragonflies and butterflies with my Canon 28 – 300 lens, and can confirm it is a great lens for insect photography.
Wildlife – with 300mm (480mm on an APS-C camera) at the long end this lens is ideal for wildlife and birds. Getting frame filling shots of far off birds and animals requires a supper long zoom lens however 300mm will get you some good results too.
The above are just a few of the subjects you can use this lens for, and there are plenty of others too. Using this lens for travel photography you won’t miss too many opportunities.
Considering the large range of focal lengths the image quality of this lens is exceptional. Photos are sharp, crisp, bright and vivid. This lens does sometimes suffer from fringing, distortions and artefacts but when you have such a wide focal range this is to be expected. These issues aren’t too much of a problem because they are easily dealt with and rectified using editing software. I have read many negative comments about the image quality of this lens and I have to say I struggle to see what the problem is and wonder if the photographers whinging about the image quality are expecting too much? I can honestly say I have always been happy with the image quality and I don’t think you would be disappointed with it either.
The build quality of this lens is exceptional, but given this is an L series lens this is to be expected. This lens is tough, durable and weather sealed, all of which makes it well suited to travel photography.
Other than the widest maximum aperture the biggest weakness of this lens is its weight. Compared to other lenses it is big and heavy, however it is not too big for travel. If you don’t have a suitable camera bag or strap you will find this lens gets heavy after a few hours and you will suffer fatigue. If you do use a suitable camera bag (I use the Lowerpro Toploader 75AW – see a review here) you will be able to carry this lens around all day totally pain free.
This lens has 4 stop image stabilisation which is useful to ensure sharp hand held shots as the light levels start to decrease, providing the subject isn’t moving of course.
This lens is pretty expensive however it is well worth the high price tag and when you consider the range of focal lengths it is easy to see you get a lot of bang for your buck with this lens.
If you want to capture a wide range of travel photos on your adventures this lens should be top of your list. Buy the Canon 28mm – 300mm f3.5 – 5.6L IS lens from Amazon.com or buy from Amazon.co.uk.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.