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This video answers a question that I get asked, perhaps more than any other. "What is the best lens for travel photography? For documentary photography?"
I’ll give you a very comprehensive answer. I’ll talk about the best lenses for the full frame sensor system as well as the Micro 43 system that I currently use.
Of course I want you to have an idea of what kinds of images these recommended best travel photography lenses produce. There will be plenty of photo examples.
What about the lens’ usability, weight, discreetness and stuff like that? I’ll mention all that in the video too!
📷 LINKS TO ALL THE GEAR I TALK ABOUT IN THE VIDEO BELOW
24-70mm type lenses and equivalents
BHPhoto and Amazon links
Recommended for full frame sensor cameras
Latest Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens: https://bhpho.to/2HE5Np7 | http://amzn.to/2plbzoZ
Recommended Sony 24-70mm f/2.8: https://bhpho.to/2FIcJFe | http://amzn.to/2HJ93Qn
Recommended Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8: https://bhpho.to/2FFDLx2 | http://amzn.to/2DBinmS
Sigma for Canon mount 24-70mm f/2.8 lens: https://bhpho.to/2HHkl7D | http://amzn.to/2phJPld
Sigma for Nikon mount 24-70mm f/2.8 24-70mm f/2.8: https://bhpho.to/2FGCGFf | http://amzn.to/2DBBg8Y
Recommended for cropped frame sensors
Canon 17-55 f/2.8 (for the cropped sensor Canons) https://bhpho.to/2pnspn2 | http://amzn.to/2pkQiMe
Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 lens (Micro 43): https://bhpho.to/2HGxA8i | http://amzn.to/2DCsMys
Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR Lens (APSC): https://bhpho.to/2HEsqd1 | http://amzn.to/2FSiqwg
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Lens (Micro 43) Not quite 24-80 equivalent, but close enough: https://bhpho.to/2pj6w8J | http://amzn.to/2HJ9ev1
30 and 35mm type lenses and equivalents
Recommended for cropped sensor cameras
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH. Lens (Micro 43): https://bhpho.to/2pnq383 | http://amzn.to/2FSj3WE
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 Lens (Micro 43): https://bhpho.to/2HHS9l5 | http://amzn.to/2HF1pWQ
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO Lens (Micro 43): https://bhpho.to/2FI6Gkc | http://amzn.to/2HHkvvx
Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 R WR Lens (APSC): https://bhpho.to/2HFDjvd | http://amzn.to/2pkByfo
Sony E 20mm f/2.8 Lens (APSC): https://bhpho.to/2HEJ4tc | http://amzn.to/2FMejpu
Camera bodies that I talk about in the video:
Canon 5D MKIV The new version of what I used to use in my digital SLR days https://bhpho.to/2FV0DF0 | http://amzn.to/2tWqXNh
Panasonic GX80 - My favorite Micro 43 camera https://bhpho.to/2FVpwAm | http://amzn.to/2HIasGG
Panasonic GX9 new version of the GX80 https://bhpho.to/2FMnWEZ | http://amzn.to/2HFCPW8
Fuji X100F - https://bhpho.to/2IDQ36T | http://amzn.to/2GAHIAd
Sony a6500 -https://bhpho.to/2FX6zgF | http://amzn.to/2FI1AnT
Hey all! Of course this video is purely my opinion formed through my experiences. These are the lenses which I think are best. If you have a different idea, if there’s a lens you can’t live without - please do share!
On a separate note: Do you like this new format? What do you think of the video being filmed on the road in different locations?
I love that you're filming in Colombia and I do hope you come visit Medellín or many other places you'll definitely enjoy. I am a Nikon photographer (D5500) trying to make more professional photos with a tight budget and this is a great video for future reference. The $600 price range is more adequate for me at the moment, but I am saving up! Please do share your best choice of one single lens if you were in my position and had a Nikon 5500. Cheers from Colombia...
+mitchellkphotos ok right on thats cool :)
But hey man i just really wanna say that you really opened up my mind too a grander view of photography.........After looking into the lumix gear and its lens.......I really wish i did more home work before jumping into a camera system......
But aside from all that , Mitch , the way you explain yourself , your thoughts & your outlook on photography as a hole?
It really shows the passion you have for the art and the understanding you have for capturing that moment in time :)
Please keep the videos and photos coming as well as that awesome pawsome mind of your's open to us viewer's :)
thanks again :)
For lack of a more technical term, your full frame Canon with 24-70 lens had a richness to the photos that I saw in few other shots with other systems. I shoot an Olympus OM-D E-M1 but I would never say that it has the richness and detail that made my full frame Canon 6D had, though it is far more portable. What's more important? Taking thousands of photos with a 4/3rds because you can take it more places, or taking fewer high quality photos with a larger system. No one can answer that for another, but for me, I appreciate the quality of a full frame...I just can't tote one around anymore.
Hi Mitchel, what scenarios do you think a 24-70mm lense will be suited for on an apec body. The effective focal range would be 36-105 mm, a bit more intimate on portraits as well as the eyesight perspective of 35mm with a fast 2.8f aperture. Want to know your views
I don't know if it's because I'm a smaller guy, but I've never seemed to have the problem of standing out with a 24-70 2.8 on my FF DSLR. And having the newer Nikon version, I DO have in-lens vibration reduction! :-)
Interesting video though I really don't feel that your later shots have the same magical look of your earlier work wit the DSLR. You just can't get the same levels of OOF area transition with the smaller sensors and this is the beauty of the Sony A7r series that I use
+mitchellkphotos Of course and all I was trying to say was what for me is a limitation of the format (I'm a Sony Pro user) and that from this video I prefer the look of the earlier work. It is not only about DOF but about the overall 'look' (again an overused and hard to define word) that I find I can achieve with a FF sensor. Like you having been with Nikon and Leica (first film and then digital) for much of my working life I tried out the Fuji X series and as much as I liked the ergonomics of these cameras as opposed tot he Sony's in the end I decided to fully commit to the Sony system. By the way I really like your work
Well, sure, you can't have the same shallow DOF, but, shallow DOF is overused. Also, I'm not showing the images I can make with my f1.2 lens. I'm simply showing my favourite lens. The magical part is subjective, but you can't expect shallow DOF with a 30mm equivalent on any camera. Thanks for watching.
Thanks for a great review! I use PENTAX cameras with in-camera stabilization, with a 17-70 Sigma 2.8 lens. Very useful. And being lighter, I use a Pentax Q-s1 with 3 lenses, one prime. Very small and very sharp results.
This video is so informative and packed with content, and I love the fact that you remain unbiased despite your ambassador position! As a beginner, I'd like to know how you think about an optical viewfinder and an electronic LCD one as on the Panasonic camera you're using. Which do you prefer and why? Also, I plan to switch from iPhone to a real camera and really like the Canon 200D because it's compact and accepts all canon lenses, but your take on mirror-less cameras is making me reconsider Panasonic and Fujifilm, though I fear they have a more limited lens selection (or am I wrong?) I'm a total beginner and would really appreciate your comment :)
Now that you've had it for a while wht do you think about the Sony 20mm? I love that it's a pancake but from what I've seen it doesn't exactly wow in the sharpness department. Also the f2.8 bit is disappointing but the only other option I've seen is a sharper and unfortunately larger sigma 19mm f2.8. Sony seems weirdly lacking in this particular department.
You are right that Sony is lacking in this department. It was a decent lens, but I've since sold the camera and the lens because I got an a7III. I have way too many cameras, so I sold some, gifted some. For the full frame Sony, I feel that the 28mm f2 is very decent.
Thx for sharing. I agree with your op-ed from my own experiences.
Very true -- human subjects are sensitive to the size of the camera you carry. Point-and-shoot size cameras are very discreet while "Big Bazooka" DSLRs really turn off some people. Big DSLRs are best used in big events where you want to look like a photojournalist so you can jockey you way to the front. In many travel situations, it's a deficit to use a DSLR.
mitchellkphotos thanks for answer. Which camera do you use for video ? I would also like GX9 but hear it Video limitation are no mic in, not good video AF, 1.25x crop in 4K. All this should be better on G9 which pushes me in this direction even though I would prefer the smaller size of GX9. Though choice.
Multiplying aperture by crop factor will let you know what your background blur will be like in relation to a larger sensor if shooting a similar field of view, but the light gathering ability of the lens is still the same for an f2.8 on a full frame or crop sensor. The better low light capability is a function of the larger less dense pixels on a larger sensor.
I thought I mentioned that somewhere, but after reading your comment I realise I didn't. Yes. It's the same as far as light gathering abilities and you are right about the large sensor. Hard to keep all this in mind at the time of the shoot. Good call.
I have to say that you hit the nail on the head regarding MFT cameras and the size of the camera system (not just the lens). I use both a Nikon D750 and a Oly EM10 Mk II. For travel and street photography I exclusively use the Oly simply because my D750+24-120 zoom is SO HEAVY! MFT will live on despite what some other famous blogger duo is trying to do to kill it.
Hi , If I have crop camera like the Nikon D80 , I know it is quite old , so the lens can be like 18-55 ? I have several lenses like 50,18-135 , 18-55,55-300 . what would you choose based on that arsenal for travel photography with kids ?
First time seen your videos and I love the Honest review.you have a new sub here. Those lenses are way out of my league as I'm a biguiner but is always good to know for the future..thanks for sharing those amazing pics...
+mitchellkphotos sure. The gear itself is rather outdated - the original 6d. But the thing is , 40mm pancake turns any full frame canon into a portable and rather lightweight travelling companion. Cheers!
So glad I came across this video. A m43 camera was my first foray into photography. Recently I bought a FF Sony, and I'm loving it. I still can't justify giving up the oly epl5, it's just so small and convenient. I like to use older manual film lenses to keep the size down too. Your shots are fantastic, no matter the system or lens. Photography is always 90% the person behind the lens!
Thanks very much for your comment. Yes, Micro 43 cameras are awesome because they are so small. There are some drawbacks and you can't do some things with them that you can with a FF, but, I'd say for most cases they don't matter.
Excellent insights here and well made videos. I often wonder what that magic lens is, but it really doesn’t exist. Looks like you made peace with the compromises you have to make to achieve relative inconspicuousness.
Totally agree! I have the Sony A7R2 and my favorite walk around lens is the 35mm 2.8. It's like a little pancake lens. I can throw camera w lens in my purse and off I go. If I need a close up, I can always switch to the 85mm, 1.8. I love the freedom even though I might not get the reach for a few shots. Love your photography and have been following your for several years. Enjoy the ride.
Hi, I love this video, it actually convinced me to get a mirrorless camera instead of an APS-C 800D! But which one? Do you recommend the Panasonic GX80/GX85 with the 15mm 1.7 or the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III with the 17mm 1.8? I will mainly use this as a travel camera for street photography/portraits and some landscapes probably. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Sorry. Disagree. I'm sure that if I had not written which photos were taken with which cameras – you'd not have known. There are also a few other factors. Stay tuned for another video where I'll have some images from the Sony full frame.
For Sony, I would think the new Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 is worth considering, very light, and lower price, meaning more room in your kit for something else. Closer minimum focusing distance the Sony lenses. Though I might lean towards the Sony 24-105mm for the extra reach and versatility, probably would not care about the 1 stop difference with how well today's cameras perform in low light + stabilisation.
For me I cant live without the Sony FE 85mm 1.8, its just ridiculously light weight. Ill just add in something else for versatility.
With mirrorless you can also use silent shutter (electronic shutter) and turn off camera/AF sounds for silent shooting, which is a major advantage for being discreet.
Thanks Michael! I am starting with my EF 24-70 but I am really thankful about Crops x Aperture trick tip. I have a Cannon T7i and my travel kit has a EF-S 10-18, EF 24-70 and a EF 70-300. You channel is amazing! Congratulations!
Hi Mitchell, thanks for such a quick and easy video showing multiple systems. I like to shoot portrait, street and food. Hope you can provide some guidance. I am more versed in Fuji but recently am exploring Panasonic since the system is lighter and have other benefits. For Fuji system, I have an xt-20 with 16 1.4, 56 1.2 and am thinking of getting a 23 or 35 f2 to fill the middle gap.
For Panasonic, I got a used GX8 body for cheap and have the 25 1.7 and 42.5 1.7 but think they overlap with my Fuji focal lengths. What lens would you recommend if it's just a two lens setup for travel/portraits/street? I feel like I'm being redundant.. although GX8 is weatherproof and has ibis for video too thanks so much
Did compare few of the cameras size wise & concluded that nikon d750 is not that much bigger than rest & at ridiculously low price fully loaded becomes best for me.. Hehehe add to it tech specs... Nothing better around...but if we talking weight it's another story. Thx love the videos & pics great work thx
Being a newbie in photography, I ended up getting a Tamron 16-300mm VC Macro for my APS-C camera, mostly because I didn't know any better and wanted one lens to give me tons of options. It turned out to be an amazing purchase for a 1st lens. Has Image Stabilization, I find it very sharp in comparison with the Canon kit lens, it's extremely versatile, the 26mm-480mm range offered by the APS-C sensor makes it a godsend shooting both wildlife and landscapes. Only problem is shooting indoors and low-light, but at the same time it forced me to be creative and study the location to understand where the sources of light are and how to use them more effectively. It was (and still is) an education in one single lens. And I also got several photos I'm really proud of.
Also, I must say, really happy to find your channel. Really useful advice and amazing work. Keep doing it, plz!
Now we have MIrroless the body weight between smaller sensor cameras being small not applicable. Let's say a MFT with 17mm f/1.4 and FF body with 35mm f/2.8 would be same in size and weight. The only reason smaller sensor cameras can survive in the future by competing with their prices. Still for those who use multiple bodies has good price advantage when using smaller sensors. That's one more reason I stick to Fuji. Now the digital photography fully replaced film again 35mm is becoming the standard. May be professionals may even go for these portable Medium format cameras
First of all thank you for sharing very useful knowladge about photography and gears to use. I have one issue, problem that I face very often and I want to know your vision how to solve it. The problem is that skies are always blown out im my photoes. Is this problem of low dynamic range of my camera, or should I use some equipment/filters? How did you overcome this problem in your photoes?
You can avoid it with any camera by exposing properly for the situation that you have. There are a few nuances here that I don't know, but in general, even with the crappiest camera you can expose the sky well, unless you're in high contrast situations. High contrast - that's another matter that would require some post-processing.
I was able to afford the Canon 24-105mm f/4.0 L, and I'm very happy with it. I've been shooting Canon since 1978 (I'm an old man). I would REALLY like to be able to switch to Sony, hopefully some day before I die. What Sony has done for photography is phenomenal!
wow.. I also shoot with the lumix GX80 and a similar lens (the 20mm 1.7) and you have really proven to me, that it's not the camera but the photographer who creates a great image! I'm really feeling the lust for new gear lately, but your breathtaking images are really motivating to save that money and keep my current setup!
Did you have any issues while travelling with the fact that the GX80 is not weather sealed ?
I’m travelling often carrying my Ricoh grii the but only concern all the time is about the weather sealed
Love the body of the GX80 but the lack of weather sealed body is what stop me to buying it
Any advice will be helpful
Love what you doing and love your pictures
Thanks Mitchell for this video , another example of it's not always about the gear but your skill in taking photos and wow do you take amazing photos !! I have a canon 5dsr with 16-35 and 100mm macro for landscapes and macros , I love the resolution for cropping and big enlargements but was tinkering with the idea of a 24-70 2.8 lense for travel but this set up will be close to 2kgs !!!! My other idea was to go a fuji setup xt20 / xt2 and 18-55 and some primes for travel , do you have any thoughts on a set up like this for a travel kit or should i go the 24-70 , i guess 50mp is not needed for travel most of the time except for the occasional landscape, thanks so much for your videos !!
I have watched several videos about beginner photography and photography in general. This is the first time I have heard anyone say that the crop factor of APSC affects aperture, thank you for helping me see why I can’t get the super shallow depth of field in portraits.
I bought a nikon d3400 with both the 18-55 and 70-300 lenses...... I'm going on an Alaskan cruise and also booked a private whale watching tour once i get there....... are my lenses sufficient,, or should i buy a wide angle lense with good distance shooting capability?? Please help
Man, I love your photography, and really appreciate the video. I really want to encourage you to try to go back to the full frame camera. I think we've gotten swept away with the idea of having a discreet camera system and want to believe that that's all we need, but I'm of the mind that the quality just isn't there. Everything from apsc and below just full short. Even the best of them are great to look at for the moment but never leave you with that sense of wonder and emotion. There really is something about the larger sensor and the quality that (particularly Canon) put into it. It's not about the numbers, it's the results. There's just so much more there. Take care, man, and thank you for the insightful video.
Disagreed totally, but appreciate your comment. And... who says I am not sometimes shooting full frame now? 😜 DEFINITELY not a Canon though! 😳I mean I don't care what camera it is, but they have nothing exciting now.
Superb inspirational photography. After over 50 years of photography using nearly all formats up to 5x7. I now use a small Fuji body with the 16mm f1.4 for 90% of my pics. However I will buy the new 16mm f2.8 when it comes out for size and reducing weight. Superbly easy to crop with a 24 mp sensor so it can be used for internal wide shots to Astro photography and portraiture it is as good as a 24-70 in one package. Love your site and have just subscribed
very well explained - thank you. I recentlt purchased the Sony A6500 with SIgma 30mm lens and think its great. the sigma is super sharp also. I still want a zoom lens but seems there isnt much under £1k and nothing under f4 so not ideal
Hi. Would you like to release the video " What is the best lens for travel photography? " I'm Alice from Geekoto, which specialize in the camera tripod and other photographic equipment? If possible, may I invite you to try them out ?
I have to tell you that i in love with your work, your lifestyle and your way of be (humble,smart and warm guy) What do you think about sony a7 brand? Are not reliable cameras for profesional travel work? They are the lightest full-frames in the market (lighter than the panasonic ones!). ¡Un saludo, te deseo lo mejor! ^.^
I've only used it on a few shoots and mostly been experimenting photographing my daughter. She's a challenging subject. Always moving, running. Generally if the camera can deal with her... it can deal with almost anything. 🙂
Great video. Thank you!
I've been a prime lens user for a while as well. Using a Canon 7D and 600D user I use my beloved 28mm f1.8 which is my fav lens although I use my 70-200mm f2.8 which is great for capturing things from afar.
Mitchell, Iike so many others I am in love with your photography and appreciate your insights. I'm an amateur newbie and recently purchased a used Panasonic G85 from a friend to take with me on a trek and medical service trip in Nepal. I recently learned that we have a pretty strict weight restriction due to a flight into a small airport. I just purchased a Panasonic point and shoot ZS100 so that I wouldn't have to carry an extra lens due to its bulkiness and weight. After seeing your you tube I'm wondering if I would have been better off just buying F1.7 15mm lens? I"m wondering what the overall weight is with the camera and lens?
Maybe I should have watched this video more sooner, as I came to the same conclusion. I have a whole stack of M43 lenses and I'm in to a project to document my village. 12mm is just too wide as the end of the street is too far away. The 20mm is a bit narrow, and I don't like the rendering. So I too settled on the 15mm and will shoot them all at F1.7 to have little depth of field.
Guy! Your presentation is fantastic. Pictures are excellent. I enjoyed your video. If I carry two lenses for street photography my first choice will be 30mm (below f2.8) prime and second choice will be small zoom lens. Your 24-70 is a good lens, indeed. Thanx
I currently shoot mostly wildlife and nature with a Nikon D500, but I've been thinking about getting a Panasonic G9 to save some weight. In particular, i rented the Nikon 200-500mm F/5.6 for a trip to the mountains, and LOVE the shots I got. The downside is that it's HUGE. With the D500, the total kit is over 3kg, while the G9 with a 100-400mm(which gives a little better zoom range) is about 1.5kg.
Any thoughts on the G9?
It's a great stills camera, as long as you don't shoot over about ISO 2500. I've got the lens you're talking about. I'd actually probably recommend the 45-200 (90-400) equivalent. The lens you mention has not been working as good in regards to autofocus. Tried photographing eagles with it and never really managed, whether as I did with the 95-200.
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