The Best Budget Lenses For Documentary and Photojournalists

While photojournalists (at least those with full-time paid gigs) are a dying breed, the idea of documentary photography and photojournalism, in general, is stronger than ever. More and more people are taking to the streets to document protests and atrocities happening across the world on a daily basis.

In general, documentary photographers and photojournalists can be pretty hard on their gear. They are out in the elements, with gear getting snow, rain, and even blood on them. Gear hits the ground hard or bangs off walls as the photographer needs to get out of the way of danger. So what are some good budget lenses for photojournalists that are still versatile but can also take a decent beating? Have a look at our picks below for some recommendations.

Tokina 24-70mm F2.8

“The Tokina 24-70mm f2.8 is a really fantastic lens if you’re a professional that doesn’t need weather sealing or even if you’re a high end hobbyist/semi-pro. There is lots of love about it. The image quality it can deliver is something that other manufacturers should be looking at closely as I usually tend to be much more critical of zoom lenses since so much can possibly go wrong with their design.” Read our Full Review

Tokina lenses have a reputation for being built like tanks, and despite this lens not being weather sealed, you can be sure it can take a decent beating without batting an eye. It has also been rated well against OEM lenses from Canon and Nikon, so you don’t have to worry about losing image quality by going for this budget (relatively) lens.

Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2

“Overall we were very impressed with the new Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 G2. The updated lens style looks really good in person and we think it will pair well with just about any camera you put it on. The build quality is superb, and it looks to be a really complete package at this point.” Read our Initial Impressions

A 70-200mm F2.8 is key for versatility in the photojournalism world and the new G2 version of the Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 looks to be a great combination of ruggedness and pricing. It’s a great option for budget photojournalists looking to save a few bucks. We are still awaiting our full review unit, but what we saw and played with at WPPI last week gives us confidence in this recommendation. Buy it on Amazon

Tokina 70-200mm F4

“The Tokina 70-200mm F4 AT-X Pro FX VCMS is a beautiful lens with great image quality, fast focusing abilities, and can surely find a home in the bag of many a photographer. But for what it is, note that it isn’t particularly the best at anything.” Read our Full Review

Now if you are not set on needing an F2.8 lens, than Tokina’s 70-200mm f4 is also a good option. It is built well, offers excellent image quality, and comes with that classic Tokina look that won’t be attracting any thieves to your gear. It could be priced a little more competitively, but it is still a better deal than OEM options, so that is why we included it on this list. That said, we would still probably push the Tamron F2.8 lens over this one for most people if their budget allows. Buy it on Amazon

Sigma 24-105mm F4 Art

“If I could only have one lens with me, this would be it. This lens.The Sigma 24-105mm f4. I emerged from testing this lens thinking this just may be the most well-rounded, practical lens I have ever used. It’s not about glitz or glamour. The Sigma 24-105mm f4 is about getting the shot.  This lens is really good. It is civilized and can be put to work everywhere. Sigma put a lot of thought into this lens and it’s appreciated.” Read our Full Review

Another solid and versatile F4 zoom lens,  this lens always gets the back seat when people are talking about Sigma lenses. Popular options like the 35mm F1.4 and other Art series primes are really taking the show, but the 24-105mm is honestly an incredibly well-rounded lens with good image quality and a very convenient zoom range, making it ideal for subjects both close and at a distance during daylight hours. Buy it on Amazon Buy it on Amazon