“If I buy one lens, which one should it be?” One of the most frequently asked questions when purchasing a new camera is this. There are hundreds of lenses on the market and it can be quite challenging to know which one to purchase.
After spending five years traveling with a very small camera bag, I’ve narrowed down the best and most versatile lens. What I photograph ranges from interior photos, travel, portrait, to landscape, and this lens has been great for ALL of it. The one thing I’ve avoided for the past years is lugging around heavy equipment. In being practical with my purchases, I did a lot of research and tested different lenses to see which one got the job done.
So here it is, the most versatile lens for all levels and types of photography. The one I never leave the house without and the one I always reach for.
The Most Versatile Lens for All Types of Photography
It’s the 24-70mm lens. The jack of all trades, every manufacturer has their own for their lineup. The versatility in this lens is endless (will show photos below). Why is it so versatile? Simply put, it’s wide enough to grab everything in a landscape photo but also can zoom in to do tight shots like portraits.
One key thing to know about this lens (especially when it comes to interior photography) is that the lens captures a photo almost identical to how your eye sees it. There is little to no distorting. So if you go to a wider lens, often the image will contort. It’s why the 24-70mm also does really well when you want to take a photo inside your home or at a cafe. The photo captured feels like you’re right there in the photo.
The next component is that most 24-70mm lenses are very sharp because of their low aperture (also makes the pricepoint higher). Often sold at f/4 or f/2.8, you can create an incredible depth of field and capture a really creamy bokeh. This single aspect makes it ideal even for food photography and portraits.
Simply put, the 24-70mm lens covers almost all types of photography.
A Few Tips For When You Purchase
Skip the kit lens.
One thing that may be appealing is purchasing a full-frame camera with a kit lens (often a 28-70mm). The price difference between the body without a lens and a body with the kit lens makes it feel like a deal. And though it is a cheap lens, I’d argue that it’s better to put the money towards this lens. We did this a few years ago when we upgraded our bodies and took the money and put it towards the 24-70mm lens. It was more expensive (no denying that!) but the results in imagery are worth it.
Buy the sharper lens if possible.
You’ll often see two options when it comes to a 24-70mm lens and the primary difference is in the max aperture. Either sold as an f/2.8 or f/4, the sharper of the two is the f/2.8. Our first 24-70mm was an f/4 and many times we wished we would have purchased the f/2.8. It is a steep upgrade in price but after photographing with the f/2.8 lens, I wish we would have done it from the beginning. That maximum aperture makes a world of difference for sharpness and the f/2.8 lenses are typically made with different features. For instance, the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 lens has a larger front filter size, higher max magnification, and more aperture blades. If you can spend the extra money, go with the f/2.8 option.
Where to Purchase
We’ve purchased our gear from B&H photo for years. We opted for their company as they’re a trusted resource for photography, have experts on hand, offer free shipping on qualifying orders, and more. Their customer service is incredible and you can even shop used lenses.
For the 24-70mm lens options: