Lightweight, versatile lenses are critical for travel photography. You want walk-around lenses that get the job done without weighing you down or requiring constant switching.
Choose a lens you know you’ll love, so you can keep it on your camera at all times. Getting a great travel lens for less than $500 is an added plus. As you shop for travel photography lenses, consider the following options.
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G
A zoom lens with a wide focal range is ideal for travel. You can leave the lens on your camera all the time and be confident that you’ll be able to get the shots you need quickly and easily. The NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 features one aspherical element to limit spherical aberrations and distortion for sharpness and accurate rendering and one extra-low dispersion (ED) element to significantly limit color fringing and chromatic aberrations for optimal clarity and color accuracy. The lens also boosts super integrated coating, Silent Wave Motor Autofocus (AF) system, and image stabilization.
For Canon shooters, the Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is a very comparable option.
Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6
Sony shooters with APC-S E-mount camera models also looking for a solid walk-around zoom lens under $500 will be very pleased with the Sony 18-135mm f/2.5-5.6. A similar model to the NIKKOR 18-105mm and Canon 18-135mm, the Sony lens offers two extra-low dispersion elements, one aspherical element, and Optical SteadyShot to limit camera shake and produce sharp handheld images at slow shutter speeds. Select Sony cameras feature sensor-shift image stabilization, which works in combination with Optical SteadyShot to further reduce blurring. The linear autofocus motor offers quick, accurate autofocus performance for precise, silent focus during video recording.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8
As a micro-four thirds shooter, you can’t go wrong with the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8. If you shoot a lot of video with your camera body, it’s worth springing for a lens like this Olympus M.Zuiko model that features a Movie & Still Compatible AF system. Both photo and video applications benefit from the smooth, quiet, and fast performance of this system. The f/1.8 maximum aperture makes it a breeze to achieve shallow depth of field and selective focusing efforts, even in extreme low light conditions.
PANASONIC LUMIX G II 20MM F1.7
PANASONIC’s LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 is another great option for micro-four thirds photographers. The PANASONIC LUMIX G II 20mm f/1.7 is a 40mm equivalent lens, which is a fantastic walk-around focal length for travel. With a f/1.7 aperture, you can shoot wide open at night or can create beautiful blur for close-up shots without compromising sharpness. The design features a pair of aspherical elements to limit aberrations and distortion for optimal sharpness and rendering. The individual elements are multi-coated to reduce surface reflections and flare for ideal contrast in strong lighting conditions.
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5
If you’ve been hesitant to pick up a wide-angle zoom lens for travel photography because of the price point, the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens is a great option for APS-C camera body shooters. While the narrower aperture range isn’t optimal for night time shooting, it’s perfect for daytime shots. You get the wide focal lengths you need to showcase large buildings and extensive landscapes beautifully without any distortion. The Canon 10-22mm features one Super-Ultra-Low Dispersion glass element, three aspherical elements, and Super Spectra coating applied to individual elements to limit ghosting and flare for superior contrast and color neutrality. The lens also boasts a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (SM) alongside an internal focusing system and full-time manual focus override.
When you’re shopping for camera lenses, be honest with yourself about your budget and shooting preferences. The best zoom lens in the world won’t be a good fit for you if you really prefer prime lenses. Spending more money also doesn’t necessarily equate to better pictures. If you’ll shoot more with a lens that’s half the cost of a high-end series lens and also half the weight, opt for the less expensive version.
Stefano Caioni is the founder of Pixinfocus. His passion for photography helps him discover new places and live new adventures.