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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.
Quick Answer Our Best Lenses
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G
- It includes LC-67 67mm snap-on front lens cap , LF-1 rear lens cap , HB-32 Bayonet lens hood, CL-1018 Flexible lens pouch and maximum reproduction ratio is 1/5
- Vibration Reduction is engineered specifically for each VR NIKKOR lens and enables handheld shooting at up to 3 shutter speeds slower than normal.
- Aspherical lens element virtually eliminates coma and other types of lens aberration, further improving image integrity.
- Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
- Close focusing to 1.48 feet - Creative close-up photography is possible throughout the entire zoom range.
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
- 7.5x high magnification zoom/ 27-202.5mm (35mm equiv.) focal length. Lens Groups / Elements : 12-16
- Outstanding sharpness from 1x aspherical and 2x ED glass elements
- 7-blade circular aperture contributes to beautiful bokeh. Hood Type:Petal shape, bayonet type. Minimum focus distance- 0.45 m (1.48 feet)
- Optical SteadyShot image stabilization for sharper stills and video
- Fast, precise, quiet AF for high-speed stills and impressive video
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
- Yields 50mm (35mm equivalent) equivalent field of view
- Macro focus range: 0; 24 m, focal length: 25 mm
- Seven blade circular diaphragm
- Aperture range: f/1; 8 22
- Micro 4 Thirds mount; Close up shooting performance Up to 25 cm away
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
- 20mm focal length, equivalent to 40mm on a 35mm film camera
- Closest Focusing Distance : 0.2m / 0.66ft, Maximum magnification Approx. 0.13x / 0.25x (35mm camera equivalent)
- F1.7 brightness for beautiful, soft focus, Comprised of seven lenses in five groups
- Used with Lumix G Micro System Cameras, allows for use of the advanced contrast Auto Focus (AF) system
- Lens not Zoomable
PANASONIC’s LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 is another great option for Micro Four Thirds cameras. 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
- 10-22mm wide-angle zoom lens with f/3.5-4.5 maximum aperture for EOS digital SLR cameras
- Superior AF performance and speed, with full-time manual focus with the turn of a ring
- Close focusing to 9.5 inches; fills the frame with subjects as small as 3.6 x 5.4 inches
- Circular aperture design produces natural highlights
- 1-year warranty
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.