Andrew Hunt's picture

Prime Lenses for Travel Photography

I typically carry my 24-70 and 70-200mm 2.8 Canon lenses with me when I travel. But I am slowly migrating to the Sony system (love the A7RII). I have the gmaster 85mm and was wondering what other prime lenses are must haves for travel photography?

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Mike Gillin's picture

Personally, I love a 35mm.

Max Leitner's picture

I always think that the question regarding "what lens" is a silly one. You should ask yourself instead: "how do I shoot". Just because you go "travel" doesn't mean that you change your style of shooting. Generally you want something wide for architecture and something narrow for portraits/details. I personally would say a 24/28 or 35 and a 65/85 or 105 would do plenty well.

Not sure what options there are for Sony, but if I had to choose a 3 piece set of gear I'd go with a 24mm f1.4 and a 105mm. (Shoot on the Nikon D810)

Now: I often travel far and want to make sure I am set for anything. My style of shooting is very wide, so I almost never leave the house without my 14-24mm and my 70-200mm, to cover all needs I toss a 50 1.4 and a 24-70 in the bag as well.

Another factor is street photography. It is a genre that we all generally enjoy practicing in our personal time, but it often is not what we engage with on a day to day. Then you should ask yourself what is my goal?! Personally I slap on that 24 1.4 and roll with it all day. I am quite aggressive when it comes to shooting and know how to defend myself, if shit turns bad. So getting into peoples business is no issue for me. Others might prefer a 50mm because it gives them an additional 5-10ft (2-3 meters) of distance and thus comfort and safety.

Gear recommendations can only go so far. Start by judging yourself and your level of expertise and comfort. Do you have your settings dialed 100% and are able to get in, get the shot, and move on, or are you a person that needs to fiddle with setting for a few minutes?

Important factors that should be in your kit: Wide / Narrow / Wide aperture.

Bryan Wright's picture

This is pretty much the way I go everywhere... 3 lenses. Wide zoom, 50 prime, and long zoom. I don't mind getting in people's bizness either lol The end. :-)

henry wu's picture

I think it really depends on your style of photography.

I tend to do lots of portrait photography when I travel, so my 35mm prime is great for that.

I also do some landscape and big travel shots, so then my 20mm prime is great for that.

Tradeoff would be leaving my 28-70 2.8 at home and not being able to zoom, but so far, it hasn't been a problem for me since my photography style doesn't need zoom.

Bryan Wright's picture

What you just said is pretty much what I rock on most shoots: a wide zoom, but with a 50 prime in the middle, and a 70-200mm. Street photography (for my taste) tends to require longer focal lengths... so if if it were me, and I were going to go with all primes, I'd take a 100 macro with image stabilization (which gives you the ability to shoot long or ultra tight), plus an ultrawide and a medium. So for me, that would be like 14mm-18mm and a 35 or 50mm. Which direction are you leaning?

Simon Benkert's picture

I also carry my 24-70mm, a fixed 35mm, a fixed 15mm and a fixed 90mm Macro. I am still missing a good zoom lens, however ;(

Currently I either take the chance to explore the city I am at when i go for a biz trip or when we make vacations, we tend to go somewhere out in the nature, where the 15mm nails it for me! However, I mix all of them at any time.

As stated earlier, it all depends on your photography style and where your are going. I do landscape, architecture and street scenes. I went for a light kit I can carry 10 hours a day: Small full frame body, 28mm f/3.5 PC, 35mm f/2D AF, 50mm f/1.4D AF+filters+small flash and reflector+travel tripod. The key for me is light because I walk a lot. I mostly leave my 60mm f/2.8 Micro and 85mm f/1.4D AF lenses in the room unless doing something specific with them as I seldom use them "on the fly". The lenses I use most are the 28 and 35. If I only had one lens it would be the 35. (I mainly use a Nikon D750)

Wendy Gunderson's picture

So what did you end up getting? I found myself in a rut with my 24-70 being used on 90% of my shots, so I took all prime lenses on my last trip. I rented a couple lenses, and found that I used the 35mm and the 85mm the most. Here's more detail: