What lenses do I take for travel photography? My camera and lens choices: Canon R5 and RF lenses

January 5, 2022

I am often asked what lens or lenses I use for travel photography.   It’s not a simple answer.  It depends on where I am going, what I will be shooting, and what I will be doing.   

I am a landscape photographer and a wildlife photographer to some extent.  Most of my wildlife photography is bald eagles since they are near my house.  Of course I need a long lens for those pictures.  I will also take a long lens when going to places such as Alaska, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, etc., where I know there will be wildlife.   So before you read further, this is written from the perspective of a landscape travel photographer.  

Lots of gear to what I need

When I started getting serious about photography several years ago, I purchased many lenses because they were the “best”.   I loved new cameras and new lenses.  I tried several camera brand names.  A couple of years ago I took a serious look at my photography, and the equipment I had.  I narrowed down my equipment to what worked for me for the different types of photography I do.   I used to travel with a backpack full of heavy DSLR camera bodies and lenses.   It just wasn’t practical for travel.   First, you have to carry it.  Second, changing lenses in the field is a pain, and if you are hiking carrying a lot of equipment is a real pain to me.   I now take what I need with me.   

Prime vs. Zoom Lenses for Travel Photography

I LOVE fast prime lenses.   But unless I’m shooting indoors, I don’t often NEED fast prime lenses.   I used to own many fast primes.  Now I use one for taking indoor pictures and maybe low light landscapes.   Every trip I tend to take  a prime (or two) and every time I brought them back home unused.  I use zoom lenses now for the versatility.  They save weight over carrying several prime lenses and work great for landscape photography.   

Zoom lenses allow me to be versatile and adapt to what I’m shooting and different situations.   

Depending on where I am going, I might take one fast prime. 

My favorite zoom – Canon RF 24-105 F/4. 

My favorite zoom lens for travel photography is Canon RF 24-105 F4.   I prefer the reach of the 24-105 over the 24-70 and for landscape photography, this lens just does it all.  There has been many shots that I might have missed without this lens.   This is the lens I take hiking.  Unless I know there will be wildlife, it is usually the only lens I take with me on a hike. 

The advantages of this lens are: 

  • It is incredibly sharp
  • It is compact and lightweight
  • The control ring is a great addition.  I use this for exposure compensation. 

I have used this lens a LOT.  It has never failed me.  I truly love this lens for both the versatility as well as the sharpness.   

My second favorite zoom  Canon RF 15-35 F 2.8   

There is some overlap in focal range between the 24-105 and the 15-35,  but this lens has its purpose.  When the sun goes down, the last thing I want is  photo quality going down.  Since this lens is faster, it helps in the low light situations.  When shooting in low light a fast lens is a real advantage.  I use the 15mm wider angle for a lot of landscape photography.  

The KING of lenses:  Canon RF 28-70 F2

The lens is big, heavy and stunningly beautiful.  Stellar image quality is delivered from corner to corner.  I use this when I want the best quality picture or great bokeh.  It produces great detail and gorgeous blur and is a definitely one of my lenses for travel photography.

Camera bodies

I will often take two camera bodies.   I’ll put a longer lens on one and a wide lens on the other.  When traveling, you must be ready to take a shot when it occurs.   With two bodies, I’m ready for whatever comes up.  I use Canon R5.  Its 45 MP image sensor makes it ideal for landscape photography.  The detail provided in the higher resolution photos is stunning. 

Some notable features of the Canon R5 are: 

  • Image Stabilization:  The 5 axis image stabilization system is capable of 8-stops of stabilization with selected lenses. When the camera is teamed with an IS-equipped RF lens, more types of vibration can be corrected, for improved real world performance, which makes the camera a game-changer when it comes to shooting handheld and in low light.
  • Autofocus performance:  The Canon R5 is renowned for having the exceptionally fast AF, able to focus in 0.5ms (0.05secs).
  • Face Detection and Tracking:  AF tracking for people and animals, which works in all AF modes and can recognize all kinds of situations.

Debbi Marquette Photography is located in Upstate New York at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.  Debbi is  an award winning and published  travel, landscape and bald eagle photographer specializing in artistic, authentic, and memorable landscape and wildlife photography.   She travels frequently, lives near the mountains and constantly has a camera in her hand to capture photographs so others can see the beauty of our world.

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