The Three DSLR Lenses To Travel With • RI Family Photographer

When you travel, you get to experience lots of new things.  And, of course, you want to remember them.  What's the way most of us immortalize anything?  Photos!  

You can take vacation photos with any camera you want, from a phone (I've got soooo many travel photos on my phone!) to a super high end pro camera and everything in between, so no matter what, the best camera is the one that you have with you.

That said, as a RI family photographer, I have a lot of clients who have entry level or mid level DSLRs.  They love taking photos of their families and want to take great photos on their next trip. Travel photography is a different kind of photography than portrait photography or everyday documentation, and I often get asked what lenses are best to travel with in order to get the best photos (and also possibly not weigh down the camera bag TOO much!)

While you can certainly bring whatever equipment you want with you, you can cover most any travel photography situation with just three lenses.  Want to know what lenses to put in your camera bag for your next trip?  Keep reading!

Canon L lenses


A standard is one of the most versatile lenses you can have with you for travel.  Standard zoom lenses are lenses that cover a zoom range from a semi-wide focal length to a medium telephoto focal length.  A 24-70 2.8 lens is just one example, but you do not need to break the bank...if you have a DSLR that came with an 18-55 kit lens, that will also fit the bill quite nicely.  These lenses are great for a number of things:  landscapes, architectural shots, documentary, and candid and posed portraits.  A lens like this will likely be the workhorse in your camera bag the next time you take a trip!


Your telephoto zoom lens is the lens that is going to help you get in close to those faraway things:  birds, sports, wildlife, faraway scenery, and more.  The 70-200 2.8 that I have pictured is a good choice; however, there are lots of different choices here.  The 55-200/250 or 75-300 kit lenses that you may have gotten with your DSLR will both work well and again are budget friendly options.  One consideration when deciding what telephoto zoom to bring is also how far away the things are that you will be photographing.  Will you be on a cruise ship taking photos of wildlife on or near shore?  Or maybe you're taking photos of surfers fairly far out in the ocean?  If so, you might want to consider a longer zoom lens...something like a 100-400 or 150-600.  


Prime lenses have a fixed focal length rather than a variable one like zoom lenses.  They also generally have a wider aperture than zoom lenses, so they let much more light in.  A prime lens is great for a lot of things when you travel.  The wide aperture will help if you need low light shots.  The fixed focal length makes you think and get creative with shots, since you have to zoom with your feet.  I LOVE using my prime for detail shots with background blur, and love using one for all kinds of documentary shots.  They're also good if you want to take portraits of any human (or animal!) travel companions.  My favorite prime lens to travel with is my 50mm; I travel with a full frame camera body.  If you have a body with a crop sensor, (such as a Canon Rebel or a Nikon d3xxx/5xxx/7xxx series), I'd suggest a 35mm prime lens, as 50mm can be just a little tight in smaller spaces. However, if you have a crop sensor and already have a "nifty fifty" lens and aren't in a position to get another one at this point, take it with you and rock it!  You can definitely make it work!

Do you have any other favorite or must have lenses to take with you on vacation and document your travels?  Let me know in the comments!  Happy travels!

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