Photojournalists have to be ready to handle any situation, and their work has always tracked technology closely. In the 1940s and ’50s, they may have carried Speed Graphics with big dish-shaped flash units. In the ’60s and ’70s, they may have used Nikon 35mm cameras. But today most photojournalists shoot digitally. In this article, we will look at what are the best lenses for photojournalism
Every photojournalist may have different tools and needs, but there is one common photographic model: carrying three robust fast zoom lenses that cover a full range of popular focal lengths. These lenses are typically a super-wide-angle zoom, a standard zoom, and a telephoto zoom. Journalists require highly rugged and reliable lenses and often shoot under very low-light conditions. They need very fast focusing and image stabilizing. Major lens makers such as Canon and Nikon cater to this professional market by selling weather-sealed zoom lenses with maximum apertures of f/2.8 across the focal length range.
What the Best Canon Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism?
For Canon EOS, a typical trio would be the 16–35 2.8L, 24–70 2.8L, and 70–200 2.8L.
What the Best Nikon Lenses for Photojournalism?
For Nikon, the trio would be the AF-S 17–35 2.8D IF-ED, the AF-S 24–70 2.8G ED, and the AF-S 70–200 2.8 VR II.
Super-Wide-angle Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Wide-angle lenses are great when you need to take in a lot of a scene. This could be a dramatic shot of a landscape or a picture showing the interior of a room. Wide-angle lenses vary wildly in price, with the focal length the primary
factor in determining cost. The wider you go, the more the light has to be bent and the more complex the optics have to be.
Best Canon Super-Wide-angle Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM is an L-series lens. These lenses have better optics, build quality, and autofocus control, and a few more premium features. The lens is weather-resistant and sealed shut in order to prevent dust from entering the highly sensitive lens optics. It also has a USM (Ultra Sonic Motor) which means that the lens will autofocus much faster than standard models. The lens is ridiculously sharp at all apertures, and saturation and contrast of the lens are superb. Canon lenses were known to have some chromatic aberration problems, but on this lens, the problem has finally been fixed as the aberrations are barely noticeable.
- High performance L-series ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with constant f/2.8 maximum aperture.
- All-new optical design for significant improvements in outer and corner sharpness.
- Sub wave length Coating (SWC) and Air Sphere Coating (ASC) help to significantly reduce flare and ghosting.
- Highly resistant to dust and water intrusion, enabling shooting even in harsh conditions.
- Circular aperture (9 blades) helps deliver beautiful, soft backgrounds. Not an Extender Compatiblity. Magnification with Extension Tube EF12 II- 0.65 at Tele (Not compatible at Wide). Magnification with Extension Tube EF25 II- 1.14 at Tele (Not compatible at Wide).Lens Construction:16 elements in 12 groups.Filter Size: 82 millimeter, P=0.75 millimeter: 1 filter
Best Nikon Super-Wide-angle Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED is almost identical in terms of specifications to Canon mentioned above. This 17-35mm f/2.8D lens is regarded as Nikon’s most successful and top-reviewed ultra-wide-angle FX lens in the recent 10 years. The lens is tack sharp in almost every stop of apertures and built like a tank. It’s a Japanese-built lens that carries all the quality associated with Nikon. The coverage is phenomenal, and it’s still widely rated as one of the very best lenses Nikon has ever made. Sometimes you just have to accept that you get what you pay for.
- Designed for the most precise optical applications used by professional photographers
- Designed to fit Nikon SLR cameras only
- Uses 77mm size filters (filters are optional)
- 17-35mm wide-angle zoom lens with f/2.8 maximum aperture for Nikon digital SLR cameras
- 2 types of aspherical lenses (2 molded glass and 1 hybrid) and 2 ED glass elements
Standard Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Standard lenses are best used for interviews or shooting documentary footage. This will be your main camera lens as it covers the most commonly used focal ranges.
Best Canon Standard Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II is another high-quality L-series lens. IT covers the most important focal length ranges that are typically used by photographers. This makes it a very versatile lens, that can be used in just about any situation. At 24mm the lens is great for architecture or landscape photography, at 35mm we can use it for travel and street photography, and further up from 50-70mm it is really nice for portrait photography, giving you a nice depth of field with amazing bokeh. Due to an aperture of f/2.8, the lens is very fast allowing the lens to get a lot of light and therefore makes super sharp photos. The lowlight performance is superb, therefore making it a good choice for photojournalism. The lens also works great for video! It also has a USM (Ultra Sonic Motor), giving it the ability to autofocus very fast – another important feature needed for photojournalism.
- 24 70 millimetre focal length, 38.4 112 millimetre equivalent focal length on Canon APS C cameras
- F2.8 constant maximum aperture; F22 minimum, ring type ultrasonic type AF motor with full time manual focusing
- 82 millimetre filters, closest focusing distance: 0.38 meter/1.25 feet
- Image Stabilization : No. Focus adjustment: Inner focusing with USM. Diagonal angle of view: 84° - 34°. Weight 1.7 pound
- Purchase this product between May 1, 2016 and July 30, 2016 and get 13 months of free damage protection from Canon. The product must be registered within 30 days of the purchase date to be eligible
Best Nikon Standard Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E is basically identical Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II we just mentioned. Build quality feels great and the photos are fantastic. Autofocus is very quick. The lens can maintain f2.8 across all of the focal lengths, making it a very sharp and fast lens. The build quality is exactly what you would expect from Nikon, solid and robust.
- Fast f/2.8 constant aperture with an electromagnetic diaphragm
- Sensational image quality and sharpness with virtually no distortion, Focal Length Range : 24 to 70 millimeter
- Minimum Focus Distance : 35 to 50 millimeter focal length : 1.2 feet (0.38 meter) from focal plane; 24, 28, 70 millimeter focal lengths : 1.3 feet (0.41 meter) from focal plane; Dimensions : Approx; 88.0 millimeter maximum diameter x 154.5 millimeter (distance from camera lens mount flange)
- 4 stops of Vibration Reduction for handheld and low light shooting, Nonstick glass makes it easier to wipe off water, dirt and smudges
- Evolution of Nikon's legendary 24 to 70 millimeter workhorse.Type:Fmount, Type E AF S lens with built in CPU and F mount.Lens Elements:20
Telephoto Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Telephoto lenses are basically telescopes for your camera. The focal lengths are ranging from 70 to 200mm. Long focal length lenses have an obvious practical application in that they make photography of distant things possible. They also have the effect of seeming to compress the distance between faraway objects. And of course, the price and size of the lenses generally skyrocket as the focal length increases.
Best Canon Telephoto Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L is truly one of the best telephoto lenses on the market now. It is an L-series lens. It comes with image stabilization, which is very important on a telephoto lens, especially for a photojournalist, since you will be shooting mostly hand-held. The focusing speed is tremendously fast. This lens is highly recommended if you are getting serious with your photography. It also works great for portraits. The long focal length allows you to take photos of events very far away, and with an aperture of f/2.8 you will be able to use a higher shutter speed and therefore be able to shoot moving subjects far away without any blur. The lens is also very good for Sports Photography.
- Constant f 2.8 Maximum Aperture throughout Entire Zoom Range.
- Canon’s Air Sphere Coating (ASC) Minimizes Ghosting and Flare.
- Optical Image Stabilization at up to 3.5 Stops of Shake Correction.
- Fluorine Coating on Front and Rear Elements to Help Reduce Smears and Fingerprints.
- Highly Resistant to Dust and Water, and Improved Durability Even in Harsh Conditions. Inner Focusing System with Ring Ultrasonic Motor. Full-time Manual Focus. One Fluorite Element and Five UD Elements for High Image Quality. Minimum Focusing Distance of 3.9 feet, 1.2 meter. Diagonal Angle of View: 34° - 12°
Best Nikon Telephoto Zoom Lenses for Photojournalism
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8Sharpness is the sharpest lens I own. It is sharper than my tamron 24-70 2.8 VC, my nikon 50 1.8, my tamron 15-30 2.8(with vc), and my tamron 90 mm macro lens(no vr). This lens is sharper by an order of magnitude, this lens is outstanding. Autofocus speed – this lens focuses virtually immediately. The autofocus is ultra-fast and ultra-quiet. Colors generated by this lens are pleasing, realistic, and brilliant, without having to adjust vibrance or saturation in post-processing. The contrast is profound. Bokeh – the background blur is dreamy. I shot mainly at f 3.5, but at wide open the background blue is phenomenal. A superb lens for photojournalism.
- Type of lens: G-type AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR lens with built-in CPU and Nikon bayonet mount
- Focal Length Range : 70 -200 mm, Minimum Focus Distance- 4.6 ft.(1.4 m)
- Dimensions: Approx. 87 mm dia. x 205.5 mm extension from the camera’s lens-mount flange
- Weight: Approx. 1,540 g (3.4 lb)
- Compatible Format(s) - FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode 35mm Film
As a professional photojournalist, you will need all 3 types of zoom lenses – wide-angle, standard & telephoto lenses. The lenses are a bit pricy, but unfortunately, this is what it takes to take professional photos in the business of photojournalism, due to its unpredictable situations and environmental challenges.
I hope you found my guide useful and I wish you tons of professional portrait photos and happy photo models.