Best Walk Around Lens for Canon

When looking for the best photography gadgets, you’ll often see that the professionals use massive lenses in tandem with mountings like tripods and other peripherals to enhance their captures.

Such products are great for hyper-focused, controlled photography, but what do you get when you just need a camera lens that you can walk around with?

Whether you’re sightseeing or taking part in some on-the-ground journalism, having a travel lens that can deliver professional results out on the field is often more important to the average photographer than the in-studio pros.

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If you’re one of these people, you’ll be glad to know that we’ve compiled our favorite travel lenses below, all of them either Canon-branded or compatible with Canon cameras, so you can better consider your options.

You’ll see we’ve listed their pros and cons, as well as a short buyers’ guide section breaking down the most important aspects of these lenses, and what you should shop for.

In a hurry? This is our winner!

Our rating:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM: Lens with Glass UV Filter, Front and Rear Lens Caps, and Deluxe Cleaning Pen, Lens Accessory Bundle 50 mm f1.8 - International Version
646 Reviews
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM: Lens with Glass UV Filter, Front and Rear Lens Caps, and Deluxe Cleaning Pen, Lens Accessory Bundle 50 mm f1.8 - International Version
  • The "Nifty Fifty" Has an 80mm Equivalent Focal Length (on APS-C Bodies @ x1.6 crop factor) 50mm Native on Full Frame Cameras
  • An excellent walk-around lens: Great for portraits, action, and nighttime photography
  • Minimum focusing distance of 1.15 ft. (0.35m) and a maximum magnification of 0.21x
  • Stepping motor (STM) delivers near silent, continuous Movie Servo AF for movies and smooths AF for stills
  • 80mm effective focal-length on APS-C cameras, 50mm on full-frame cameras

If you’re going somewhere soon, you’ll want to get your hands on the best camera lens as soon as possible.

We have our top product right here with the Nifty Fifty, Canon’s 50mm f/1.8 STM lens. See why we like it below:

  • It’s very fast f/1.8 aperture makes this an agile and immediate shot-taking lens, with the results being smoothed over by a 7-bladed diaphragm that adds bokeh to unfocused image sections.
  • Its angle of view resembles that of the human eye, making results seem natural and fit for professional use. The 50mm is capable of becoming 80mm thanks to crop factor if used on APS-C camera bodies.
  • Stepping motor is quiet and responsive, with Movie Servo AF focusing your images where it counts. The image quality is also safeguarded by Super Spectra lens coatings that work to eliminate light flares and ghosting before they ever become a problem

Best Walk Around Lens for Canon – Comparison Table

Best Walk Around Lens for Canon – Reviews

Our Pick
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM: Lens with Glass UV Filter, Front and Rear Lens Caps, and Deluxe Cleaning Pen, Lens Accessory Bundle 50 mm f1.8 - International Version
Our rating:

At number one is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens, also called the “Nifty Fifty” on account of its prime 50mm lens, a great set focal length for those who are doing walk-around photography.

Its focal length is set at 50mm for full-frame cameras but, if used with APS-C bodies, the crop factor takes this up to 80mm, too.

It’s the fastest on this list in terms of raw aperture F-stop rating. At just f/1.8, it’s great as a responsive still-capturing lens, and better suited to take the quick shot opportunities that arise when you’re walking around, either reporting on a story or acting as a tourist.

The reason it works so fast is in part due to its stepping motor, or STM, which also continuously and quietly works a Movie Servo Autofocusing in the background that smoothens the captures you take, ensuring that rushed shots won’t always be a lost cause.

Another contributing factor to the quality of these lenses is the fact that they work with a seven-bladed diaphragm that adds a smooth bokeh effect to most pictures, leaving un-focused subjects aesthetically blurred away so that the center of the shot can be more attention-grabbing.

The lenses themselves are coated in Super Spectra coating, which is designed to eliminate the lighting issues that faster lenses can suffer from, such as ghosting or flare blemishes that can ruin the final product of a photography session.

Those results will look professional too, because the angle of view of these lenses are very similar to that of our own eyes. This translates into full-frame shots that look natural and properly proportioned, as if they were from a documentary.

This makes it the perfect choice for those looking to report on local happenings.

All of the above is describing just the lens, but the particular linked product page is actually a small bundle kit which includes a glass UV filter, front and rear lens caps, and a lens cleaning pen.

The cleaning pen isn’t the most durable but is fortunately inexpensive to replace should it break.

Pros
  • Very fast f/1.8 aperture makes this an agile and immediate shot-taking lens.
  • 7-bladed diaphragm provides smooth bokeh on all your taken images.
  • 50mm becomes 80mm thanks to the crop factor on APS-C bodies.
  • STM means a quiet, continuous Movie Servo AF smooths your imaging results.
  • Super Spectra lens coating reduces ghosting and flares to clean up your shots.
  • Angle of view closely matches the human eye, making full-frame results natural and documentary-grade.
Cons
  • The lens cleaning pen that comes with it isn’t very durable.

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens
Our rating:

Our second product we’ve lined up for your consideration is the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens, which features a slower aperture that allows details to sink in, and all for an affordable price. 

That f/3.5 to f/5.6 aperture range gives you several speed levels to work with, each producing slightly different results, with all of them having exceptional image quality superior to that of our number one pick.

The tradeoff is that slower aperture F-stop ratings tend to have worse low-light performance, so this is best used when there’s ample lighting.

This lens is what we’d call a zoom lens since it has the ability to capture images at both an 18mm and 55mm zoom, which exponentially increases the subjects that you can shoot with it.

From landscape vistas to closer portraits, you can get as much use out of this affordable lens model as possible.

Being a Canon product, it benefits from Canon’s own image stabilization tech. It works in four steps to eliminate motion blur from your captures, something which is important when you’re holding the camera in your own two hands.

It also uses Canon’s UD-glass, or Ultra-low Dispersion glass, for its aspherical lens elements.

These have a lower refractive index, lowering light dispersion so that lens aberrations either don’t occur or, when they do, they’re heavily minimized so as to not spoil the entire shot.

You can see in the product title that these are EF-S lenses, so we think it’s important to outline the distinction between EF and EF-S. EF-S lenses are only usable with Canon DSLRs, and only those that make use of APS-C sensors.

Check the compatibility of your tech before buying, it’s just good practice and can save you from some costly misunderstandings.

Pros
  • Slower f/3.5 to f/5.6 variable aperture enables more focused, high-quality imaging.
  • Wide-to-medium focal range makes it great for most photography, from landscape to portraits.
  • Uses Canon’s 4-step image stabilization system to eliminate motion blur.
  • Aspherical, UD-glass lenses limit light refractions for better results.
  • The most affordable lens on this list. 
Cons
  • Being an EF-S lens, it’s only to be used on Canon DSLR cameras with APS-C sensors.
  • Slower apertures suffer in low-light conditions.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
Our rating:

At the third spot on this list is our last Canon-branded lens, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens. It’s an all-around lens option for photographers, hence why it landed squarely at the center of our list.

We say it’s an all-around lens because it’s a very versatile camera with a f/2.8 maximum aperture that remains consistent through all of this zoom lens’ focal length.

This fast aperture action is great for shooting in low-light conditions without having to deal with image noise, and so is ideal for those who plan to be out shooting for most of the day.

The autofocus mechanism of this lens is both quick and quiet, which is all you want from these kinds of systems.

What sets it above other autofocus systems is the fact that you can easily override it to manually focus the image on your viewfinder and do it without changing shooting modes and losing your shot.

Even though it’s a zoom lens that’s capable of capturing wide vistas, the bokeh of this lens model ensures an aesthetic blur on the out-of-focus parts of a shot.

This is perfect for close-up photography, like portraits, where capturing certain details over others is important.

There is such a thing as too much blur, however, so you should be aware that this lens lacks image stabilization, meaning it’s more susceptible to motion blur than other lenses may be.

As for the lens body, it’s a sturdy enough model that’s constructed with dust sealing and water-resistant technology, ensuring its functionality should it slip from your hands and land in dirt or shallow water.

It also has fluorine lens coating which reduces the inevitable smearing and fingerprinting that’ll occur when you carry this lens around. 

Pros
  • AF/2.8 aperture lens is consistent and guarantees low-light performance.
  • Quick and quiet ring-type autofocus mechanism is also easy to override.
  • This model’s bokeh creates a soft background blur to clean up close-up photographs.
  • Constructed with improved dust sealing and fluorine lens coatings.
Cons
  • The lens lacks image stabilization, so may need propping up to avoid motion blur.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Lens for Canon, Black (210101)
Our rating:

Next up is a third-party lens, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art DC HSM, an f/1.8 aperture lens that’s able to shoot wide vistas throughout the entirety of its zooming range.

This makes it able to tackle most portraits that you’ll want to take, and it’s constructed with aspherical and Special Low Dispersion elements that reduce distortions and aberrations.

This ensures that your images will be clean and sharp, and free of imperfections that’ll harm your results.

An ultrasonic ring AF motor guarantees that you’ll have full-time manual focusing no matter which zoom level you’re at, and you’ll be able to focus with little complication or incident.

The lens bodies are heavy to carry around all the time, so you’ll want to consider that, but this is in part due to the USB docks they have, which make them compatible with many of your household gadgets.

They’re also compatible with Sigma’s MC-11, a varied adapter that makes sure you can still use this lens even if you change your camera body to another brand.

Pros
  • Maximum aperture of f/1.8 aperture allows wide shooting through its zoom range.
  • Aspherical and Special Low Dispersion elements reduce distortion and aberration.
  • Ultrasonic ring AF motor enables full-time manual focusing.
  • USB and MC-11 compatible.
Cons
  • It’s a heavy camera to carry around all the time.

TAMRON SP24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 A032E for Canon(International Version - No Warranty)
Our rating:

Last on our list is another third-party lens with the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens. This is an improved version of the SP 24-70mm VC USD A007 model that readers familiar with this brand might recognize.

Its constant f/2.8 aperture makes for a versatile shooting camera, great for when you’re wandering, and the Tamron-specific eBAND (extended Bandwidth & ANgular-Dependency) and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti Reflection) lens coatings improve light transmission and suppress internal reflections.

In plain speak, it means this camera can be used with little thought put into the shot, since it’ll perform well in a lot of lighting scenarios and won’t suffer from poor lighting or ghosting.

The image stabilization of these lenses is quite impressive, featuring CIPA-certified stabilization that produces up to five stops of exposure so that this lens can perform even when conditions are unstable.

It’s a very customizable model, too, since you can also buy the Tamron Tap-in Console that’ll allow you to tinker with the settings and firmware of your lens.

That'll take an already versatile camera and allow you to customize it so it can perform on your planned journey.

Pros
  • An improved and innovatively designed camera with a constant f/2.8 aperture.
  • Brand-specific eBAND and BBAR coatings improve light transmission and limit reflections.
  • CIPA-certified image stabilization with 5-stops of exposure compensation.
  • Settings and firmware adaptations possible thanks to the Tamron Tap-in Console.
Cons
  • Autofocus can be inaccurate if not used with a dock.

Best Walk Around Lens for Canon – Buyers Guide

How to find the best walk around lens for Canon cameras

When you want to get a certain outcome from your photography, it’s best to know how lenses differ and how this makes some better than others.

That’s why we wrote this buyers’ guide, so you can identify the properties of these lenses for yourself and decide which one will be the best for you.

We’ve split these properties into the lens aperture, focal length, autofocusing, image stabilization, and finally the size and weight of the lens body itself.

Aperture

Aperture is one of the main considerations you should have when looking for camera lenses, since it’s the main part of the exposure triangle that’s controlled by the lens instead of the camera body.

Aperture refers to the lens speed and how much light gets through it, which is described by F-stops. Smaller F-stops are faster, meaning they let more light through and so perform better in lower-light conditions.

A f/2.8 aperture is good to aim for mobile photography and tends to retail inexpensively online. Even faster lenses are available, with some even being featured in the above list, and whilst a faster aperture usually means a more agile lens performance, the image quality can suffer if you’re not getting a reliable and trustworthy product.

That’s why, when exceptional image quality is needed, going for slower apertures like f/4.0 is also an option, though we would recommend faster apertures if carrying a handheld camera around.

Focal Length

Your focal lengths dictate the field of view your camera will be capable of capturing. This determines the size of your compositional frame, which can mean a wider field and more space to work with as a photographer.

The depths of your shots are also changed by the field of view, with the foregrounds and backgrounds appearing further apart when taken with wider lenses.

That makes more field of view perfect for those who want to capture wide landscape shots or wide family portraits, but otherwise you can sacrifice some focal length if you have close photography planned.

Longer lenses have a shallower depth of field and are better for isolating certain elements of a shot, making them better for portraits and close-up shots.

You’ll see that some lenses have a fixed focal length whereas others have a focal range, meaning they’re adjustable to shoot at multiple ranges. Fixed, or prime, lenses are usually more solidly constructed, meaning less optical abnormalities and a sharper image.

Focal range lenses, or zoom lenses, are capable of multiple focal lengths that add versatility to your photographing but are more prone to aberrations and distortion.

The focal length of your lens is up to you since it depends on where you’re walking around. If you’re shooting in an interior space or a tight, urban environment then you’ll want shorter focal lengths, whereas a longer and wider focal range should suffice if you’re shooting at vistas like canyons or skylines.

Autofocusing

If there’s one thing you should accept when looking at cameras, and that’s that autofocusing mechanisms aren’t equal across brands and models. Some autofocus functions are made with state-of-the-art tech so that they’re very fast, but these will always come with heftier price tags.

On otherwise respectable lenses, however, the autofocusing system can be slow, and loud, which can be distracting to certain photographers.

Most lenses should autofocus well enough, and if the autofocus does suffer in poor conditions then the product reviews on the lens’ page will certainly let you know.

Those planning to capture wildlife or sports activities will want a more capable autofocusing system to keep up with the subjects of their photographs.

Whilst autofocus is a popular feature in modern photography products, many lenses still offer manual focusing. This allows you to have control of your focusing, usually through a ring that you can rotate with your finger to intuitively focus your image.

Besides from a good focus, you should make sure the button or ring is sturdy and won’t break through heavy use, particularly if you’re a professional who’ll be using your lens a lot.

Image Stabilization

Optical stabilization tech is commonplace in most modern lenses, but that doesn’t mean you should assume the model you have your eyes on is fit for the job. Image stabilization compensates for camera shaking, something that’s unavoidable if you’re shooting from hand, which we’re assuming you’ll be doing if you’re looking for walk-around lenses.

Tripods and other mounting options can eliminate this shake, but sometimes it’s better to avoid image shakiness by getting a camera that’ll deliver quality results even when shot with free hands. 

Since image stabilization tech is so ubiquitous to the modern lens market, you can find quality options for more affordable prices, which is best demonstrated by our selection above.

Shaky images will be blurred, decreasing the quality of the entire photo capture and even distorting the shapes and proportions of objects in the viewfinder, rendering them unusable. Because of this, image stabilization is a must if you need to take highly accurate photographs with just your hands, making them perfect for tourists and travel photographers alike.

Size and Weight

You only need to load up the relevant categories on Amazon, or other online retailers of your choice, to see that camera lenses come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, which also has some bearing on how heavy those lenses are, too.

I’m sure we’ve all seen those lenses that, sometimes, are bigger than the camera they’re attached to.

With such a variety out there, it’s important to specify what you should look for. You’d be right in assuming that a smaller lens will be, generally, lighter to carry around, and so more suitable for walk-around photography.

The tradeoff comes in when the heavier and larger lenses are made that way to accommodate sophisticated tech, or just packed with more tech that still helps improve the outcome of captures made with them.

These larger lenses tend to be zoom ones, or at least oriented towards high-powered, precision-based action. See the above entry on focal length if you haven’t read that already to see the distinctions between zoom and prime lenses, it’ll help you make a decision over which size of lens you’ll want.

There’s also the simpler consideration of your packing space. A larger lens takes up more room, so if your camera bag is limited then you’ll want to err on the side of buying a smaller, more compact lens. That said, if you’re in need of a larger lens, there’s nothing stopping you from grabbing a larger bag to accommodate it.

Last Updated on 2020-10-20 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates

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