Best Travel Lenses for Canon Mirrorless Cameras

The best travel lenses for Canon cameras

Whether you are an experienced photographer or a novice, choosing the right lens setup for travel is always a challenge. Should you bring single all-round lens, two lenses or perhaps even more?

If you are an owner of a Canon mirrorless camera (APS-C or full-frame), this article will help you pick the best lenses for travel photography.

We separated lenses designed for full-frame cameras from the APS-C ones, however, full-frame lenses are still compatible with APS-C cameras.

Table of Contents

P.S. If you don’t have a time to go through the whole article, below you will find quick overview of our favorite lenses for Canon mirrorless cameras:

All-Round Lenses

For APS-C Cameras (EF-M Mount)

Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM

Image source: Canon

Overview

It’s one of the most versatile lenses for Canon mirrorless cameras with an EF-M mount. The focal length is excellent because it covers from 18 mm to 150 mm which means that on APS-C cameras is 28.8 mm to 240 mm. This lens is compact and relatively lightweight

The length is 3.43 in (8.7 cm) and the weight is 0.66 lb (300 g). The filter diameter is 55 mm and the minimum focus distance is 9.84 in (25 cm). The building is solid but it’s mainly plastic and not weather sealed.

Autofocus is fast and quiet because of the STM system. Image stabilization is also very good and it compensates for 4 f-stops. Also, stabilization will detect when you are in video mode, so it will catch out panning. Performance in low light is good in the wide end considering the maximum aperture is f/3.5 but when you go to a telephoto lens it will become slower so it will quickly drop to f/6.3, so low light performance is also lower in higher focal lengths.

Bokeh is solid after 100-120 mm. This lens has 7 diaphragm blades so the quality of background blurring is nice. However, you need to be aware of limitations and background blur will be solid if you take photos of closer subjects while the background is far. 

The overall sharpness of this lens is fine, especially central sharpness. At wide end edges of the image are softer, but you can increase sharpness if you close the aperture to f/8-f/11. At telephoto, sharpness is pretty good on almost the whole frame.

Barrel distortion is visible at the wide end but from mid to telephoto end you can see some pincushion distortion. Vignetting is also visible particularly at the wide end when the aperture is maximum open. Chromatic aberration is visible in high-contrast scenes. Flare is noticeable when the light is in front of you, but you can prevent it with a lens hood.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • The almost ideal focal range for travel photography;
  • Good sharpening in almost all focal lengths;
  • Useful image stabilization in both photo and video modes;
  • Compact and relatively lightweight.

Cons for travel photography

  • Not so good for low light in longer lengths because the maximum aperture becomes narrow;
  • Not weather sealed.

For Full-Frame Cameras (RF Mount)

Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM

Image source: Canon

Overview

If you have a Canon mirrorless camera with RF mount and want to have a single lens setup this lens has an almost perfect focal length range for travelers. On the wide end, you can take photos at 24 mm, but on the telephoto end, you will reach 240 mm, which means you get a very useful 10x zoom

However, this lens is a bit bigger and heavier than some other travel lenses, so the length is 4.84 in (12.3 cm), the weight is 1.65 lb (750 g). The filter size is 72 mm and the minimum focus distance is 19.7 in (50 cm). Unfortunately, this lens is not weather sealed.

Autofocus relies on the USM system so it means that it is pretty quiet and a good fit for both photo and video shooting. The image stabilization system is very good and is capable of compensating up to 5 f-stops. In low light, this lens is not brilliant because it’s not fast enough. On the wide end, the maximum aperture is f/4 which is not so bad (but far from good) but on telephoto lengths, it will drop till f/6.3 which is pretty slow.

Bokeh is solid because of 7 rounded diaphragm blades but if the subject is close to you and the background is far away, blurring will be nicer. Sharpness is good at the wide end even if the aperture is fully open. However, if you close the aperture till f/8 the image will be the sharpest. The same is on mid focal ranges (80-120 mm) but on telephoto end (200-240 mm) images will be softer significantly. 

Barrel distortion is visible between 24 mm and 50 mm. After 50 mm you will notice a bit of pincushion distortion. Vignetting is noticeable but fixable with some photo editing tools. Chromatic aberration and lens flare are well-controlled but you can notice them.

Samples

Sample videos on Photography Blog
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Excellent zoom range (10x);
  • Fast and quiet autofocus system;
  • Very good image stabilization.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Slow for low light conditions especially in telephoto;
  • Big and heavy;
  • Not weather sealed.
Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Image source: Canon

Overview

If you prioritize top optical performance over extensive focal range length, you should consider this lens. The focal range is still very useful because it starts at 24 mm and you also get a useful telephoto length at 105 mm. The lens is well-built which is standard for L series Canon lenses and it’s weather sealed, but it also means that it’s not lightweight. 

The length is 4.21 in (10.7 cm), the weight is 1.54 lb (700 g). The filter size is 77 mm and the minimum focus distance is 45 cm. Autofocus is excellent and it relies on a nano USM system. It’s fast, quiet, and very smooth in operation. If you worry about dust you need to know that there is no external movement so dust won’t get inside. 

Image stabilization is very good and you can rely on 5 f-stops of compensation. The good thing is that the maximum aperture is constant through all focal lengths. But maximum aperture is f/4 so it means that the lens is not so fast. It means that you shouldn’t expect fantastic low light performance, but we don’t want to say that f/4 is not enough for some indoors and low light circumstances, but you will probably rely on higher ISOs and good stabilization.

Bokeh is very good due to 9 rounded diaphragm blades and the quality of blur is smooth. The optical performance is excellent. It means that images are sharp on the whole frame, and the sharpness performance you will get between f/8 and f/11. 

Barrel distortion appears on the wide end, but if you want to get straight lines if you take photos at 35 mm. Pincushion distortion is noticeable on telephoto lengths (between 100 and 105 mm). Vignetting is visible when the aperture is open, but you can avoid it easily either with post-processing or if you close the aperture. Chromatic aberrations are well-controlled. Lens flare is also well-controlled, especially if you use a lens hood.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Excellent image quality;
  • Fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus;
  • Very good image stabilization;
  • Constant max. aperture through the whole range (f/4);
  • Weather sealed.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Pretty heavy;
  • Not brilliant in low light.

Wide Zoom Lenses

For APS-C Cameras (EF-M Mount)

Image source: Canon

Overview

This is a very good wide zoom lens for a 2-lenses setup. The focal length range is 15-45 mm which means that on APS-C cameras you will get 24-72 mm. The good thing is that this lens is pretty compact and lightweight. 

The length is 1.77 in (4.5 cm) and the weight is 0.29 lb (130 g). The filter size is 49 mm and the minimum focus distance is 9.84 in (25 cm). However, the lens is made of plastic and it’s not weather sealed, and this is the reason why this lens is so lightweight, but you need to be aware of the trade-off.

Autofocus is precise but it’s a bit slower. Of course, you can override it manually even if you don’t switch to manual focus. Image stabilization is also solid and able to compensate for 3.5 f-stops. Also, the stabilizer is good in video mode as well.

The quality of the bokeh is ok due to the 7 diaphragm blades, however, background blur is the best at 45 mm with close subjects. 

Sharpness is pretty good throughout the whole focal range. Barrel distortion is a bit more noticeable at the wide end, and also pincushion distortion can be seen at the telephoto end. Vignetting and chromatic aberrations are well-controlled. On the other hand, lens flare is noticeable and you can minimize it if you use a lens hood.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Video stabilization test

Pros for travel photography:

  • Compact and very lightweight;
  • Wider end than on most other wide-zoom lenses;
  • Pretty good sharpness;
  • Very good image stabilization in both photo and video modes.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Made of plastic;
  • Not weather sealed.

For Full-Frame Cameras (RF Mount)

Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM

Image source: Canon

Overview

If you have a mirrorless camera with a RF mount this lens could be a very good choice as your main wide-zoom lens and a good lens to be in your 2-lenses setup. The focal length is almost ideal for any travel photographer. At 24 mm it’s wide enough for landscapes & cityscapes, and also at 70 mm is solid as a medium range. However, 70 mm is not enough to be a telephoto lens, so this is the reason why we add this lens as a choice for a 2-lenses setup.

The lens is not compact nor lightweight. The length is 4.96 in (12.6 cm) and the weight is 1.98 lb (900 g). The filter size is 82 mm and the minimum focus distance is 8.27 in (21 cm). The build is excellent, mainly of magnesium, so when it’s in your hands you will have a premium feel. Of course, the lens is weather sealed. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that the lens is very heavy.

Autofocus is very fast and uses a USM system. Also, image stabilization is great and it’s rated by 5 f-stops by CIPA. The lens is relatively fast on the whole range so the maximum aperture is f/2.8, and the indoor and low light performance is very good. There are also 9 diaphragm blades so the quality of background blur is very good.

Optical performance is excellent. The overall sharpness is superb. In corners, the image is a bit soft when you shoot at f/2.8 at the wide end. Of course, when you close the aperture for a bit the image will be super-sharp from end to end. You can see some barrel distortion at the wide end, but you will avoid it somewhere around 30 mm. Vignetting is visible at 24 mm, especially if you use the widest aperture. Chromatic aberration is almost invisible. Lens flare can be seen sometimes.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog

Pros for travel photography:

  • Superb optical performance;
  • Fantastic image stabilization;
  • Fast on all focal lengths;
  • Premium materials & weather sealed body.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not compact nor lightweight;
  • A bit more barrel distortion on the wide end.

Telephoto zoom

For APS-C Cameras (EF-M Mount)

Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM

Image source: Canon

Overview

It’s an entry-level telephoto lens for Canon mirrorless cameras. The focal length is very good and you will get effectively 88-320 mm. The good side is that this lens is pretty lightweight

The length is 3.41 in (8.7 cm), and the weight is 0.57 lb (260 g). The filter size is 52 mm and the minimum focus distance is 39.37 in (100 cm). Unfortunately, the lens is not weather sealed.

Autofocus is relying on the STM system and it’s fast, precise, and quiet if you want to use it for taking videos. The image stabilization system is useful and you will get 3.5 f-stops of compensation. Also, the lens can detect panning, so if you want to use the lens in video production you won’t have a problem getting unwanted artifacts when you pan the camera.

Aperture is not fast enough so it means that performance is not so good in low light. Of course, you can compensate it with higher ISOs or by using a tripod. Background blur is very good especially if you use telephoto lengths. Of course, the closer the subject, the better the bokeh. 

The sharpness is very good from 60 to 180 mm. At the wide end (55 mm) and on the telephoto end (200 mm) you can notice some softness in the corners. However, for best results keep the aperture somewhere between f/8 and f/11. 

Barrel distortion is visible at 55 mm and some pincushion can be seen at the telephoto end. Vignetting is visible but you can easily correct it in post-processing. Also in contrast scenes, you can notice some chromatic aberration. Lens flare also can be seen when a light source is in front of you.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Very good zoom range;
  • Compact & lightweight;
  • Very good image stabilization in both photo and video modes.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not weather sealed;
  • Slow in low light, especially at longer focal lengths.

For Full-Frame Cameras (RF Mount)

Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Image source: Canon

Overview

This is one of the newest telephoto lenses in the Canon L series, also the EF version of this lens is very popular among DSLR photographers. On the wide end, this lens starts at 70 mm and can reach 200 mm on the long end. For an L series telephoto lens this lens is not big, but if you compare it with RF 55-200 this lens is way bigger and heavier. 

The length is 4.69 in (11.9 cm), and the weight is 1.53 lb (695 g). The filter diameter is 77 mm and the minimum focus distance is 23.62 in (60 cm). The lens is built with very good magnesium alloy and feels pretty rugged which is good. Another good thing is that it’s a weather sealed lens, so if you have a weather sealed camera, this lens will be a very good partner in all weather conditions.

Autofocus has a Dual Nano USM motor, so it focuses fast while at the same time the focus is quiet and “friendly” for video creators who want to avoid sounds of autofocus motor. Another advantage is a very good image stabilization system (CIPA rated it of 5 f-stops of compensation). If you use EOS R5 or R6 cameras, you will get even better stabilization (up to 7.5 f-stops in dual IS mode).

Low light performance is very good because of the constant maximum aperture of f/4. 9 diaphragm blades ensure that the quality of the bokeh is fantastic, especially if you take photos on longer focal lengths. Optical performance is also superb with this lens. 

The lens is very sharp practically from end to end of the frame. Barrel and pincushion distortion are almost invisible. Vignetting is almost not noticeable, so you can add filters without the need to worry about dark corners. Also, the lens is built with ultra-low dispersion elements to reduce chromatic aberration on the minimum possible level. Air sphere coating should help avoid lens flare as much as possible.

Samples

Bokeh
Autofocus in movie mode
4K cinematic video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Not so bulky if you compare it with other L series telephoto lenses;
  • Fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus;
  • Fantastic image stabilization especially if you attach the lens on EOS R5/R6;
  • Almost without distortions;
  • Weather sealed body.

Cons for travel photography:

  • If you have a compact mirrorless camera or haven’t used L series lenses maybe it’s too big to walk around with it.

Prime Lenses

For Full-Frame Cameras (RF Mount)

Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Image source: Canon

Overview

In our opinion it’s a perfect nifty fifty lens for RF mount mirrorless cameras. It’s a 50 mm lens which enables you to get perfect portraits and excellent low light performance when the aperture is open, considering it can see a lot of light when it is at f/1.8. 

It’s a very compact and pretty lightweight lens. The length is just 1.61 in (4.1 cm) so it’s a pancake lens. The weight is also light – just 0.35 lb (160 g). In other words, you won’t feel that your camera is heavier than just the body when you attach the lens. Filter diameter is 43 mm and minimum focus distance is 11.81 in (30 cm) so it’s capable of creating nice-looking close-ups. The whole body of the lens is made of plastic and the lens is not weather sealed.

Autofocus uses an STM motor which is fast and quiet. Anytime you can manually adjust the focus, even if you don’t switch to manual focus mode. In very low light conditions focus can be slower, but it’s something you can live with because essentially it won’t influence the quality of your photos. There is no image stabilization, but in-body stabilization in your camera will help in that case. To be honest, we like to see this, because if the lens had an image stabilization system it would become heavier.

The overall performance of this lens is fantastic. No matter if portraits or low light photography is a priority for you, this lens will excel in both cases. There are 7 diaphragm blades and when you use it with an open aperture you will get a nice blurred background while the (close) subject will become prettiest. 

Sharpness is also excellent and you should close the aperture till f/8 to maximize it. However, no matter the softness images at f/1.8, if you open the aperture to the max. you probably prioritize background blur more than everything, so the sharpness, in that case, is the second priority. There is no distortion and all lines are straight. Vignetting and chromatic aberration are also almost unnoticeable. On the other hand, lens flare is noticeable because of the short length of the lens, hence there are fewer elements in the lens.

Samples

Portraits
Autofocus in video mode

Pros for travel photography:

  • Very fast and excel in low light;
  • Compact in size and extremely lightweight;
  • Without distortion;
  • Excellent bokeh.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Flare is visible when bright light is in front of you;
  • No image stabilization, nor weather sealing;
  • Plastic build and mount, so it’s very vulnerable to drops.

Ultra-Wide Zoom Lenses

For APS-C Cameras (EF-M Mount)

Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Image source: Canon

Overview

If you want to take a lot of landscape, cityscape, architectural, or even indoor photos, this lens is made for you. The focal length range is 11-22 mm which is 18-35 mm when you attach it to an APS-C mirrorless camera. The lens is compact and pretty lightweight. The length is only 2.29 in (5.8 cm) and it’s also pretty light with a weight of 0.49 lb (220 g). Filter diameter is 55 mm while the minimum focus distance is 5.91 in (15 cm). Unfortunately, this lens is not weather sealed.

Autofocus is fast and quiet, and it relies on the STM motor. It also means that it’s a pretty good choice for video recording as well. Of course, in autofocus mode, you can adjust the focus manually without worry that the autofocus motor can be broken. Image stabilization can compensate up to 3 f-stops which are lower than on some other Canon lenses which offer 4 f-stops. The good thing is that there is also dynamic IS mode when you use the lens for video shooting so it will detect panning and walking.

Low light performance is so-so if you take into account that the lens can not be faster than f/4 at 11 mm, and f/5.6 at 22 mm. If you want to shoot close-ups you can expect some background blur, but you don’t want to buy this lens to get soft background blur, because this is not its purpose. 

The overall sharpness throughout the whole range is pretty satisfactory. The image is very sharp in the center while the edges are less sharp, but it is still very good for an ultra-wide lens. However, if you close the aperture to f/8-f/11 you will have edges as sharp as the center of the image.

Barrel distortion is pretty visible at 11 mm and if you want to avoid it try taking photos somewhere between 15 and 17 mm. Vignetting is also visible and you can reduce it with a narrow aperture. We like that chromatic aberration is barely visible in contrast scenes, and also lens flare is not a huge problem with this lens.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Sample 4K video
Sample vlogging video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Compact and lightweight;
  • Very good sharpness;
  • Quiet autofocus;
  • Very good dynamic IS in video shooting.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not weather sealed;
  • Not so good in low light.

For Full-Frame Cameras (RF Mount)

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM

Image source: Canon

Overview

If you have a RF mount mirrorless camera and want an ultra-wide lens, this is your ultimate solution. It has a very useful focal length from 15 mm at the wide end to 35 mm at the long end. This range is like a dream for most landscape/cityscape and architecture travel photographers. 

If we can name a disadvantage it will be the size and weight because this lens is not compact nor lightweight. The length is 5 in (12.7 cm) and the weight is 1.85 lb (840 g). The filter size is 82 mm and the minimum focus distance is 11.02 in (28 cm). 

Considering that this is an L series lens it means that there are no compromises in materials and build (it’s the reason why this lens is bulky and heavy). It’s built mostly of magnesium alloy and is weather sealed.

Autofocus is very fast and quiet due to the USM system. Image stabilization is rated to 5 f-stops. Another good thing is the usability of this lens in low light considering the maximum aperture size is constant at f/2.8 (throughout the whole range).

When you combine very good IS with a fast lens, you get a very good companion for handheld indoor/low light photos. This lens has 9 diaphragm blades and you can get solid background blur with it. At a wide end with a fully opened aperture sharpness is not superb, but if you close it for 1 or 2 stops, sharpness will increase significantly. 

Barrel distortion is visible on the wide end as on other ultra-wide lenses, but pincushion distortion is visible only on longer ends. Vignetting is visible, but you can easily avoid it in post-processing. The same is with chromatic aberration and lens flares.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Fast & quiet autofocus;
  • Very good image stabilization;
  • Superb sharpness;
  • Good low light performance on the whole range;
  • Weather sealed.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Pretty heavy;
  • Vignetting is visible.

Conclusion

If you were in doubt about an ideal travel-friendly lens setup for your Canon mirrorless camera, we are pretty sure that now things are clear.

The first thing is setting out the priorities. So, if you prioritize having a lightweight set you should choose a single lens that is a jack of all trades but not excel in anything particular except to make your travel camera set compact and lightweight while at the same time cover long-range and virtually replace 2 or 3 lenses.

If you want the balance between the size of your set and the quality, you should think about packing 2 lenses. With this setup, you might cover pretty much the same range but also get fantastic quality in wide to mid-range in the first lens and combine it with a second lens for telephoto, great portraits, and background blurring options.

In the end, if you are looking for a travel lens setup without any compromises, you will probably pack more than 2 lenses in your bag. In this case, it all depends on your personal choice.

What’s your choice for the best travel lenses? Do you travel with a single lens, 2 lenses, or even more? Is there anything else we haven’t covered? Let us know!

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