Choose One: The Only Lenses You Need for a Road Trip

There are very few things as enjoyable and freeing as a nice road trip: use these lenses to get the most of it.

It’s pretty exciting to just get in a car and go on a road trip. The random experiences always create new memories. Documenting those memories and being creative tend to add to the fun of it all. On a road trip, packing minimally can be essential. So, we’re recommending five lenses that you’ll want to bring along. In truth, you’ll only really need one, but we’re letting you make that choice for yourself.

The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house by the staff. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear that we’ve thoroughly reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge.

Pro Tips for Road Trip Photography

Here are some great tips for passionate photographers going on a road trip:

  • Go compact. There’s nothing worse than carrying around a big camera and lens you don’t want to shoot with. This list was made with the best balance in mind.
  • Build quality is important. Imagine a camera failing on you in the middle of the forest. Luckily, the Leica SL2 and Leica SL2-s are built super rugged with IP ratings. They are the same durability your smartphone probably has. Not many camera manufacturers can make this claim.
  • Stop your lens down. There’s the famous line by Weegee that says, “F8 and be there!” Stop these lenses down so the sensor can soak in as many details as possible.
  • The Leica SL2 and Leica SL2-s have USB-C charging. The battery is also already very good, but this will make charging up on the road easier.
  • Pack a surge protector. When you find a power outlet, you can plug in all your devices to charge.
  • Rolltop backpacks are ideal travel bags. Many have straps around the sternum and the waist for extra comfort.
  • If you’re taking photos of people, ask for permission. Be upfront with your intentions. Have a business card or a website handy.

Leica 28mm f2 APO-Summicron SL ASPH: The Speedy One

Do You Need it?: The Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL ASPH is one of the fastest focusing lenses we’ve used to date. Leica enhanced the motors in this lens for quick capture. Once your cameras have the latest firmware, you’ll have no trouble documenting the road trip. This lens is versatile: documentary work, landscapes, environmental portraits, etc. Bring it with you if you want to capture the human condition in local towns.

In our review, we state:

“This is where I was most surprised. The Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL was claimed to have some incredibly fast focusing speeds in the press release. And luckily, Leica was true to their claims. Leica went as far as saying that it could travel the entire focusing range in 250 milliseconds. While we didn’t specifically clock that, it’s surely impressive.”

Buy Now

Leica 35mm f2 APO-Summicron SL: Purely Mystical Photos

Do You Need it?: The best thing about the Leica 35mm f2 APO-Summicron SL is the image quality. Of any lens on this list, it’s our favorite. This lens is great for everyday use. It doesn’t focus as quickly as the 28mm, but makes up for that in pure image quality. Subjects tend to pop out from the beautiful bokeh. With that said, we’re recommending this lens for the person who really slows down. The world doesn’t always need to move at a frenetic pace. So if you like to slow down, take your time, and carefully compose, grab this lens for your road trip. You’ll love it.

In our review, we state:

“One of the best things about this lens is the color it can produce. It’s truly stunning. In my tests, I felt I got better colors straight from the Leica SL2s’s RAW files in Capture One. That’s pretty much in line with what I find with every camera system, though.”

Buy Now

Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux SL ASPH: Document the People

Do You Need it?: The Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux SL ASPH is one of the system’s older lenses. It’s also one of the best when it comes to image quality. Essentially, this is a perfect portrait lens. Mind you, it’s on the bigger side. But it delivers a look and an image that we haven’t quite seen anywhere else. Certain things happen with the lens flare, the sharpness, and the highlights. It’s very much unlike many of the other 50mm f1.4 lenses we’ve touched. Overall, it’s very hard to get a shot you won’t like with this lens. We strongly recommend it for portrait photographers working on a documentary project during the road trip.

In our review, we state:

“The bokeh is gorgeous. Further, we couldn’t find a single problem with fringing or distortion. So in post-production, that means you can focus less on the flaws and more on the images. Then there are the gorgeous colors and the sharpness that is better realized on higher megapixel camera bodies. I have to say you’re better off just using this lens on the more top end bodies.”

Buy Now

Leica 24-90mm f2.8-4 SL ASPH: All You’ll Need for a Road Trip

Do You Need it?: The Leica 24-90mm f2.8-4 SL is a fascinating lens. It’s pretty large, but it boasts the most useful focal range we’ve used in a long time. The most standout feature is the color. On a road trip, that means your photographs of landscapes will look more lush. It feels very classic digital. And if you’re nostalgic for the looks of past decades, reach for this lens. Also, reach for it if you want multiple focal lengths in one lens.

In our review, we state:

“If you’re a Leica M user, then you can probably spot Leica colors. And you’ll get those here with the Leica SL 24-90mm f2.8-4.”

Buy Now

Leica 24-70mm f2.8 SL ASPH: The Most Versatile Lens for a Road Trip

Do You Need it?: The Leica 24-70mm f2.8 SL ASPH is a very impressive lens. First off, it boasts a rugged metal exterior. Because it’s got a constant aperture, it’s almost like shooting a bunch of prime lenses at once. On the Leica SL2-s, it focuses quickly even in low light. Reach for it if you tend to shoot on the wider to the normal side of things. It will totally cover you during a road trip.

In our review, we state:

You’re getting the best of many worlds. The autofocus is very reliable and useable for photojournalistic situations. The optics are great. And then there is the build quality. This is an incredibly well-balanced lens that isn’t front heavy. Plus, it’s exceptionally well weather-sealed. Build quality has become more and more of an issue for Gen Z and Millennials

Buy Now

Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored blog post from Leica. Please travel responsibly, safely, and invigorated with creative freedom.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.