Canon's Portrait and Travel Kit Is a Great Deal for Photographers

Canon's Portrait and Travel Kit Is a Great Deal for Photographers

Let’s face it: a lot of times, when you see a kit of anything, it’s not a good deal. Often, the cost of the kit isn’t worth it. Last week, I talked about Canon’s Advanced Two Lens Kit and how I thought it wasn’t the best deal for those looking to up their photography game. This week, I’m taking a look at Canon’s other kit, the Portrait and Travel Two-lens Kit. Spoiler alert: It’s actually a pretty good deal.

The Portrait and Travel Two-lens kit pairs the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens and the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens together in one box for $349. For those saddled with the 18-55mm kit lens that came with their camera, this kit hits the perfect sweet spot in at least two out of three areas: wide angle (for landscapes, hence the “travel” designation) and portraits (the f/1.8 lens will help get those shallow depth of field photos for nice pictures of people). There's no help on the telephoto side of things, but at $349, you can’t really argue with that. The two lenses combined are $404, so you’re looking at a savings of $55. So how do the lenses stack up?

The Travel Lens

It’s strange to merely label the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM a travel lens, as it’s great for landscapes and tight interior spaces as well. I suppose that’s what one encounters while traveling, but I digress. This lens is an EF-S lens, and so anybody thinking about getting into a full-frame system will want to think about this, as it won’t work on a camera such as a 6D or 5D series. But for everything else, it’s about as decent a wide-angle as you can get on a smaller sensor.

There’s a supposedly higher-end lens out there, the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, but that lens alone is $599. While you get an extra 4mm and a two-thirds of a stop extra light-gathering ability, the lens is ten years older than the one in the kit, which was released in 2014. Newer technology matters, as I said about last week’s collection of lenses, and that’s no exception here: the STM motor is quieter than the USM motor in the older lens, and the 10-18mm also has image stabilization.

Are there downsides? At this price point, sure, but none that are make or break. There’s wide-angle distortion, of course, and there’s a minor bit of purple and green fringing, but it’s really only noticeable at 100 percent, as you can see in this image here:

There's a little bit of distortion and purple fringing as you can see here, but the EF-S 10-18 is a great bang-for-the-buck lens.

There's a little bit of distortion and purple fringing as you can see here, but the EF-S 10-18mm is a great bang-for-the-buck lens.

The Portrait Lens

I’ve used every iteration of 50mm lens that Canon has for the EF mount, except for the EF 50mm f/1.0L USM, which is a unicorn of a lens. I’ve even used that weird 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro lens. Unequivocally, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is the best one of the bunch. I broke my old plastic fantastic, sold my f/1.4 and f/1.2 versions, and kept my STM version.

Is it blasphemous to say that the $125 lens beats the $1349 one? Probably. But that’s what it is. Once again, newer technology. Save your money, shoot the lens, and don’t worry about the red ring.

I even stacked this up against the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART lens. The Sigma was better, of course, but not for $825 and at more than a pound heavier. There's no question that any money off this lens in the form of this kit is worth it. If you’re looking for the best of the best, buy the Sigma. But for the price, you could almost buy three of these kits and have a couple of 50s to spare.

The EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens from Canon is an excellent start into the world of fast primes. It's capable of creating the "bokeh" you see in the background here.

The EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens from Canon is an excellent start into the world of fast primes. It's capable of creating the bokeh you see in the background here.

Conclusion

This is a solid pairing of lenses and more along the lines of what Canon should be doing. Pairing lenses that a customer would probably leave with a bad impression of (I’m looking at you, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM) isn’t the way to get more people to buy more lenses. But a kit like this, at a price that shaves a few dollars off some excellent lenses, is a great start into advanced lenses for many people.

What other lens kits would you like to see from Canon? Are there some other brands for these ranges that might be a better value? Leave your picks in the comments below.

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7 Comments

I have the 10-18 and if you use DPP and its Digital Lens Optimizer the lens is properly corrected and both clean and sharp.

I haven't tried DxO but Adobe does not do this lens justice.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I always forget about DPP but yes Canon lenses/bodies always look best when run through their own software. I should go back and hit the raw file again with it when I get the chance.

It is a shame that DPP is kind of a pain to use.

I use the 10-18 as a backup lens (came in handy twice when my camera was knocked over by a client) and believe that my specimen (acknowledging that they all vary) is even sharper than my more expensive 10-17. The only downside is the enormous distortion -- it's completely correctable, but in the process you lose some of the edges so the final output is probably more like a 11.2-18. Still, this package is a terrific deal for crop sensor users, particularly if they already have the kit lens to fill out the difference.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

10-17?

Senior moment! 10-22! Thanks for the catch.

Nate Kell's picture

Bought this combo right before a trip to Denmark and Sweden last summer! Best portable and versatile setup for a budget beginner! The nifty fifty is still my most used lens and it comes with a nice super wide bonus. The only thing I'd mention is that you'd likely use these lenses on a ASP-C sensor, so they'd be more like 16 - 28.8mm and an 80mm prime, so you're going to be a little more zoomed than the focal length would say.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Yeah, the 50 turns into a nice portrait-ish lens on an APS-C body like the Rebel or the 80D.