As a long term traveller with a dSLR (a Canon 500D) it can be a difficult choice when it comes to camera lenses. Of course the biggest advantage of a SLR over a point and click is the ability to change the lens and adapt to circumstances to get the best possible image. Canon has this covered with the worlds most comprehensive range with their Canon EF Lenses. However they can be on the expensive side, but you do get the best possible quality for the money.
Most SLRs now come with a standard issue 18-55mm lens. They are OK but very average, you can of course get good shots with them but they are essentially the same as most point-and-clicks. Personally despite having a camera with interchangeable lenses, I stick with one. The reason being weight. Lenses being mostly glass, plastic and metal are very heavy and this is quite compromising for a backpacker.
I’d recommend you think about your own desires first. Do you love close macro photography? Then maybe a macro lens would be suitable, to capture those small things everyone else misses. Unless you are very experimental, I’d ignore things like tilt lenses and fish eye lenses as they aren’t flexible in the amount of images offered.
Tele-lenses are something I like to play around with, but they are very heavy and limit you to being quite far away from your subject. Great for safari, or wide open areas, but not so good around a city. What kind of travel do you do and is the place you will most likely use your camera?
My personal recommendation is a superzoom lens. I know you can get superzoom point and clicks. But SLRs do dominate in this area. I use a Tamron 18-270mm lens, which is the biggest zoom range on the market covering close shots are distance shots. A Canon equivalent would be EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS or the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM which will take higher quality shots although within a smaller zoom range.
If I had the money I would be walking around with this image stabilised lens though! Capturing peoples expressions within a city, animals in their natural habitats and weather changes over landscapes, I believe this lens is one of the best on the markets for this use. Because of the high aperture rating (f/4) this means less shots are missed due to darker circumstances too (an issue I get on my current Tamron lens often indoors).
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