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What are the best lenses for travel photography? Difficult to say, considering that the way we experience our adventures changes every time, depending on who we are and where we decide to go. When we talk of travel photography we include capturing landscapes, portraits, street scenes, and architecture — subjects that all require different gear to be framed properly. While multipurpose lenses help you reduce bulk (and save some money), knowing what you want to focus on will make your decision process much easier.

This article features a selection of ten lenses for travel photography suited for all subjects and environments. You will find everything from wide-angle lenses designed to shoot vast nature scenes to telephoto zoom lenses built for capturing distant wildlife. The selection below covers all the main camera brands and takes into account both budget and expertise. Whether you are just looking for a lens to enhance your Instagram feed or you aim to shoot the next cover shot for Lonely Planet, we have something here for you.

For more of our top travel photography gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

Fuji Lenses for Travel | Nikon Travel Lens

 

Quick Answer - The Best Lenses for Travel Photography

  1. Canon EF 8-15MM F/4L FISHEYE USM
  2. Nikon 10-24MM F/3.5-4.5G ED
  3. Sigma 18-35MM F/1.8 DG HSM ART
  4. Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM
  5. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
  6. Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM
  7. Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6
  8. Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E
  9. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm
  10. Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8

 

Comparison Table - Best Lens for Travel Photography

PictureNameTypeFocal LengthWeather SealedWeightPriceRating
Canon EF 8-15MM F/4L FISHEYE USMWide Angle8-15mmYes1.9 lbs$$4.3
Nikon 10-24MM F/3.5-4.5G EDWide Angle10-24mmNo1.01 lbs$$4.4
Sigma 18-35MM F/1.8 DG HSM ARTWide Angle18-35mmNo1.79 lbs$$4.8
Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USMStandard16-35mmYes1.74 lbs$$$4.5
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USMStandard24-70mmYes1.77 lbs$$$4.6
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSMStandard17-50mmNo1.25 lbs$4.4
Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6Multipurpose Zoom18-135mmYes1.1 lbs$$4.3
Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6ETelephoto70-300mmYes1.5 lbs$$4.5
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mmTelephoto70-200mmYes3.4 lbs$$$4.8
Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8Telephoto55-200mmYes1.28 lbs$$4.5
PictureNameTypeFocal LengthWeather SealedWeightPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Travel Photography Lenses

Canon EF 8-15MM F/4L FISHEYE USM

Specs
  • Aperture: f/4
  • Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches
  • Focal Length: 8-15mm
  • Weight: 1.9 lbs
  • Type: Wide Angle
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
Features
  • Extreme Wide-Angle Shooting
  • Lightweight And Compact
  • Lens Coating Reduces The Risk Of Glare

BEST FOR: THE IMAGINATIVE SOUL

If you specialize in ultra-wide-angle photography, the Canon EF 8-15mm F/4L Fisheye USM is sure to catch your attention. An ultrasonic motor drives fast and accurate autofocus that you can always override with manual settings for full control. It has a maximum angle of view of 180 degrees, letting you take panoramas of the sights. Additionally, the lens offers both circular and rectangular fisheye effects, so you can experiment with different effects. 

While the lens is specialized for distortion, it does not allow chromatic aberrations. Its ultra-low dispersion optical elements enhance the contrast and clarity of your images, making sure they stay true to real colors. A Sub-Wavelength coating guards against flare and ghosting, so artificial lighting won’t disturb your photos. As a bonus, the lens has a built-in filter holder at the back that is compatible even with cut gel filters, so you can further spice up your shot.

Nikon 10-24MM F/3.5-4.5G ED

Specs
  • Aperture: f/3.5-4.5
  • Dimensions: 3.43 x 3.27 x 3.27 inches
  • Focal Length: 10-24mm
  • Weight: 1.01 lbs
  • Type: Wide Angle
  • Weather Sealed: No
Features
  • Silent And Reliable Autofocus
  • Fairly Affordable Price
  • Great For Both Landscapes And Street Photography

BEST FOR: THE URBAN WANDERER

If you want more versatility, a lens that covers ultra-wide to wide-angle focal lengths is more suitable. This range is perfect to capture all the landscapes and cityscapes you travel to. The Nikon 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5G ED is one such lens. It has several aspherical and extra-low dispersion elements that eliminate fisheye distortions and color fringing. To enhance the work of optics, there is a Super Integrated coating that suppresses unwanted ghosting and flare, so you can take photos in museums and such. 

As for other features, the lens has a Silent Wave motor and a 7-blade aperture diaphragm. The motor uses an internal focusing design, so the moving of lens parts is not seen from the outside. This results in fast, quiet, and precise autofocus performance, which is a must for on-the-go travel photography. The aperture has a 7-blade diaphragm useful for background blurring and selective focus techniques. Shallow depth of field can be experimented with while shooting portraits and motion, letting you explore urban scenes.

Sigma 18-35MM F/1.8 DG HSM ART

Specs
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Dimensions: 4.8 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches
  • Focal Length: 18-35mm
  • Weight: 1.79 lbs
  • Type: Wide Angle
  • Weather Sealed: No
Features
  • Wide Aperture For Exceptional Low Light Performance
  • Solid Build
  • Works Even In Freezing Temperatures

BEST FOR: WORK IN DIFFICULT LIGHTING

With a zoom range of 18-35mm, the Sigma f/1.8 DG HSM ART seems like a standard lens. However, it is distinguished by its maximum aperture of f/1.8. It is especially useful in hand-held and poorly-lit scenes, producing noise-free images in lighting that corrupts many other lenses. This aperture, along with a 9-blade diaphragm, gives you an exceeding amount of control over the depth of field so you can take portraits and landscapes, isolating your subject or building complexity as much as you need. 

Naturally, this lens also features extra-low dispersion and aspherical elements that produce true colors and a distortion-free perspective. As for focusing, this lens features a Hyper-Sonic motor with an internal design, making autofocus fast and silent. And if you like traveling to cold environments, know that the Sigma 18-35mm is built with a thermally stable composite material that allows it to function well in a wide range of temperatures, tropics to tundra.

Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM

Specs
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Dimensions: 5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches
  • Focal Length: 16-35mm
  • Weight: 1.74 lbs
  • Type: Standard
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
Features
  • Fast Aperture For Optimal Low Light Performance
  • Lightweight And Portable
  • Dust- & Water-Resistant

BEST FOR: THE DETAIL-ORIENTED

Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM is another lens that seems ordinary with its focal length range and the maximum aperture. However, its beauty lies in its optical design. This lens uses a combination of large and small aspherical elements that minimize perspective distortions and correct illumination edge to edge. Thus, vignetting that often plagues lenses is reduced. Plus, extra-low dispersion elements also work to sharpen the colors in the corners of your image.

Besides this, the lens has other useful features. For example, its ultrasonic motor with internal design optimizes autofocus and offers accurate and near-silent action. The aperture diaphragm has 9 blades, allowing for the depth of field control. The body of the lens is sealed against dust and moisture, while the front element has a coating that protects against smudges. Thus, you don’t have to baby the lens, so you can take it with you anywhere.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Specs
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Dimensions: 4.45 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches
  • Focal Length: 24-70mm
  • Weight: 1.77 lbs
  • Type: Standard
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
Features
  • Large Aperture Creates Beautiful Background Blur
  • Fast And Accurate Autofocus
  • Produces Realistic Colors With No Aberrations

BEST FOR: THE JOURNALIST

The Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM has advanced optics, an ultrasonic motor, and some other features in common with its relative above. However, the range of focal lengths distinguishes the two. This lens shoots up to 24-70mm, which is perfect for wide-angle and portrait photography. So if you like photojournalism, this zoom range is the one. Additionally, it has a zoom lock that secures the lens at 24mm, keeping it compact. 

As for optics, this lens is oriented for color fidelity, so it has ultra-low dispersion elements that enhance the true colors of your image and add clarity to it. A Super Spectra coating stabilizes colors in strong light, preventing ghosting and flare, so you can seamlessly work indoors. If you are more inclined to work outside, the lens is sealed against dust and moisture, withstanding inclement conditions.

Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM

Specs
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Dimensions: 3.6 x 3.3 x 3.3 inches
  • Focal Length: 17-50mm
  • Weight: 1.25 lbs
  • Type: Standard
  • Weather Sealed: No
Features
  • Image Stabilization System For Blur Free Images
  • High-Speed, Silent Autofocus
  • Versatile Focal Range

BEST FOR: HANDHELD SHOTS

Yet another wide-angle to portrait lens, the Sigma 17-50mm is a great lens for walking around. It is designed to fit APS-C-format Canon EF-mount cameras, translating this range into 27.2-80mm. It boasts a Hypersonic motor for fast, accurate, and silent autofocus – perfect for any situation. Plus, an optical stabilizer deals with any camera shake that seeps into your image. Coupled with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, the lens has a great grasp of poorly lit and handheld scenes.  

And special low dispersion elements suppress color fringing for improved quality of your shots. If you plan on indoor photography, the lens further offers Super Multi-Layer coating that reduces flare and ghosting. For all those stylish street photographers, Sigma created this lens with a sleek profile. This is not only aesthetic, but compact as well, so you can easily pack your lens away and carry it effortlessly.

Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6

Specs
  • Aperture: f/3.5-5.6
  • Dimensions: 2.98 x 3.85 inches
  • Focal Length: 18-135mm
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs
  • Type: Multipurpose Zoom
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
Features
  • Smooth, Quiet Autofocus
  • Protected Against Rain, Dust, And Moisture
  • Great Focal Range To Shoot Everything From Landscapes To Portraits

BEST FOR: BASICS OF TRAVEL

The Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a lens with a versatile zoom range, starting from wide-angle for landscapes and portraits, and ending with telephoto for macro and long-distance shots. All this to give you lots of opportunities to experiment with photography in your travels. If you are especially keen on portraiture, the lens has a 7-blade aperture diaphragm, producing a bokeh effect. Besides the zoom, the lens offers a linear motor that delivers fast and silent  autofocus, so you don’t disturb any bypassers or animals.

The lens also takes care of any blurring with its image stabilization that reduces camera shake up to 5 shutter speed stops. However, motion blur is not the only aberration the XF 18-135mm deals with. It includes a complex optical design with extra-low dispersion elements and aspherical elements that correct perspective and colors. And, of course, the lens is protected with 20 different weather seals, so you can record your travels in any weather.

Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E

Specs
  • Aperture: f/4.5-5.6
  • Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.27 x 3.27 inches
  • Focal Length: 70-300mm
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Type: Telephoto
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
Features
  • Vibration Reduction Technology
  • High-Speed Autofocus With Quiet Operation
  • Produces Elegant Background Blur

BEST FOR: ALL-AROUND BALANCE

If you need a slightly more telephoto-oriented lens, the Nikon f/4.5-5.6 may sound interesting. It has a zoom range up to 300mm, which can be turned into 450mm on DX-format DSLRs. Because it is cumbersome to shoot with such focal lengths without stability, this lens offers a vibration reduction technology that lets you leave your tripod at home and travel lightly. Better yet, the autofocus of this lens is silent and precise, so you can take photos of moving subjects from afar, and not get distracted by noise. 

The Nikon f/4.5-5.6 also boasts a lightweight and ergonomically balanced build. It will fit nicely into your backpack, so you have less to worry about. Nikon’s special optical design with extra-low dispersion elements correct chromatic aberrations for more vivid and truthful shots. As for background effects, the 9-blade diaphragm of the lens’ aperture produces soft bokeh in shallow depth of field.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm

Specs
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 3.4 x 3.4 inches
  • Focal Length: 70-200mm
  • Weight: 3.4 lbs
  • Type: Telephoto
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
Features
  • Built With Durable Materials
  • Powerful Image Stabilization System
  • Anti-Smudge Coating On Glass

BEST FOR: ANY-WEATHER ADVENTURE

Shifting from wide-angle lenses, we have the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II that has a range from portrait to telephoto. Thus, you can take photos from afar or macro shots. This lens is built for FX image sensors, but it is also compatible with DX sensors, turning into a 105-300mm lens. The maximum aperture with such zoom ranges is quite remarkable, allowing for work in poorly lit and zoomed-in scenes, as well as selective focus techniques. 

Plus, a vibration reduction system reduces camera shake up to 4 shutter speed stops, even as you take hand-held shots, or pan the camera. During travel, the risk of smudging the lens may increase. However, the Nikon 70-200mm has a fluorine coating that protects from this. As well, the lens is made with a magnesium alloy, which means that it can survive dusty, humid, and inclement weather.

Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8

Specs
  • Aperture: f/3.5-4.8
  • Dimensions: 2.95 x 4.65 inches
  • Focal Length: 55-200mm
  • Weight: 1.28 lbs
  • Type: Telephoto
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
Features
  • Image Stabilization System
  • Silent And Fast Autofocus
  • Great For Close-Up Shots And Macro Photography

BEST FOR: INDOOR AND OUTDOOR

The Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS is a standard versatile lens that is compatible with mirrorless Fujifilm cameras. It also offers a 4.5-stop image stabilization and a silent autofocus system. The stabilization reduces camera shake to make it seem like you were shooting with a higher shutter speed. Meanwhile, the linear motor is great for fast-moving subjects like wildlife, cars, and people.

The lens’ optical design is devoted to reducing color fringing, such as cyan outlines and other color inaccuracies, especially those showing up in telephoto zooms. As a nice side effect, it promotes sharpness, vibrancy, and control over the depth of field. Moreover, the XF 55-200mm has a Super EBC coating. The coating ensures that your photos are not compromised by flare, so you can fearlessly shoot photos indoors with artificial lighting. Finally, – another plus for a traveler – the lens is fairly affordable.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A LENS FOR TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY

FOCAL LENGTH

Focal length is the first thing you look at when choosing a lens. Focal length is measured in millimeters and affects the framing perspective of the lens. If you are interested in shooting landscapes, architecture, or interiors it is a good idea to go for a wide angle lens that will allow you to include the whole scene. If you are more interested in wildlife or portraits, however, a telephoto lens might be a better idea. Standard lenses range around 50mm, a versatile focal length standing between wide-angle and telephoto that can be used for street photography, people, and spontaneous shots you may feel inspired to capture as you explore a new destination.

 

PRIME OR ZOOM

Lenses can have a fixed or adjustable focal length. In the first case, they are known as “prime,” while in the second case they are known as “zoom.” Prime lenses have the advantage of producing crisper images and performing better in low light photography, but they require switching more often as the framing angle cannot be changed. Because of this reason, zoom lenses tend to be preferred by travel photographers, as they offer more versatility and can be used in different situations.

 

WEATHER SEALING

Unless you own a magic wand to control the weather, buying gear that is resistant to rain, dust, and humidity is always a good idea. Weather sealed lenses are designed to keep working even when conditions are not ideal, allowing you to shoot when the elements are fighting against you.

 

WEIGHT AND SIZE

Professional lenses are usually heavy pieces of gear composed by a multitude of elements that all play a part in producing the best possible shot. When you travel, being able to pack the least possible weight is a big advantage, so take this factor into account when buying. Prime lenses are usually lighter than zoom lenses, but one single fixed lens might not be enough to shoot every subject you encounter. Wide angle and standard lenses do not normally take up too much space, but telephoto lenses can be bulky and require a tripod to be used, especially in low light.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

FOCAL LENGTH

The distance separating the sensor from the lens, measured in millimeters, that affects the framing perspective.

PRIME LENS

A lens with a fixed focal length.

ZOOM

A lens with an adjustable focal length.

APERTURE

The channel that lets the light reach the sensor through the lens. A wider aperture (measured in f-stops) means better performance in low light.

WIDE-ANGLE LENS

A lens with a low focal length, designed to capture landscapes and vast, open scenes.

TELEPHOTO LENS

A lens built for photographing distant subjects, often used in portraiture or wildlife photography.

READ MORE

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