What you can expect from this article...
- 1 How to Choose a Lens
- 2 So I asked Travel Bloggers; Which is the best travel photography lens? Here are their responses!
- 3 The Canon 70-200mm F2.8
- 4 Nikkor 55-300mm lense
- 5 The 35mm Sigma Lens
How to Choose a Lens
Here are a few questions you need to ask when choosing a camera lens.
- How much does it weigh?
- If it’s heavy, does it have an additional grip to keep it steady?
- How much space will it take in your luggage?
- How much does it cost?
Things to look for in a travel lens
There are certain things you need to look for specifically when choosing the best travel photography lens for you. Here’s what you should consider!
- A LOW F-number. This is the maximum aperture. Lenses with bigger available apertures (or a very low F number) will be able to take sharper photos at night. They will also create lovely bokeh – that blurred effect in the background which subsequently makes your subject ‘pop.’ You can read more about Bokeh in my Travel Portrait Guide!
- The range of focal length – A large range from wide-angle to telephoto in one lens is super convenient, especially when you are travelling. BUT, you may lose a little clarity in the photos. Prime lenses have fixed focal lengths which means you’ll have to use your feet to zoom in! That said, they tend to produce lovely crisp photos and have larger maximum apertures giving you that lovely bokeh look at a fraction of the price.
Things to look for when reading camera lens reviews
Distortion – this means distortion of shapes which tends to be more relevant when using a wide angle lens. Super wide angle lens such as fisheye lenses will produce a lot of distortion.
Vignetting – this is the dark rim around the edge of a photo. This used to be prevalent in older cameras and these days people often add a vignette in editing. However, this will be detrimental to subjects such as landscapes.
Clarity – How sharp and clear the photo is. You tend to get what you pay for here so expensive lenses are usually the sharpest. However, you can often get very sharp photos with cheaper prime lenses.
Focus speed – important for fast moving scenes such as sport or wildlife photography. Less important perhaps for your landscape lens.
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So I asked Travel Bloggers; Which is the best travel photography lens? Here are their responses!
|Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens - Fixed||Prime||Click to buy here|
|Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens||Prime||Click to buy here|
|Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC Lens for Minolta and Sony Digital SLR Cameras - International Version (No Warranty)||Prime||Click to buy here|
|Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, White - 3044C002||Prime||Click to buy here|
|Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit,14 in 1 Universal 22x Zoom Telephoto,0.63Wide Angle+15X Macro+198°Fisheye+2X Telephoto+Kaleidoscope+CPL/Starlight/Eyemask/Tripod/Remote Shutter,For Iphone Smartphone (black)||Prime||Click to buy here|
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras||Prime||Click to buy here|
|Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras||Prime||Click to buy here|
|Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon||Prime||Click to buy here|
The Canon 40mm F2.8mm lens
I’m a professional photographer, travel lover, and mom of twin toddlers. When I travel, I need something that I can throw in a diaper bag and easily operate with one hand.
My go-to travel lens? The Canon 40mm F2.8mm STM (aka pancake lens). At $179 is also the cheapest lens I’ve ever bought.
What else makes it so great? The size, sharpness and ease of use.
Lightweight and as small as they come, it won’t weigh your bag down.
Since this is a prime lens, you’ll need to “zoom with your feet.” To get a wide image you might need to take your feet pretty far out – or carry a secondary wide lens around with you.
The unobtrusive size along with the nearly silent focus makes this lens uniquely suited to street photography. If you’re just starting out, or are looking for something smaller to add to your arsenal, this is the lens for you.
The Canon 16-35mm F4 IS lens
The Canon 16-35mm F/4L IS just might be the best all-around landscape lens you can buy.
Not only is it cheaper than it’s f/2.8 cousin, but it’s also sharper too! And to top it all off, it has built-in image stabilization to make up for the slower aperture. Unless you really need that extra stop, it’s almost a no-brainer to get this lens at the better price.
I take this lens everywhere I travel and it’s perfect for capturing cliffside vistas and incredible landscapes. It almost becomes addicting to find something fun to put in the foreground of your landscape for a beautiful, deep frame.
I couldn’t have done without it during my time in the Faroe Islands, as the narrow paths with steep dropoffs in every direction really limit where you can place yourself to get the perfect shot. Thanks to my Canon 16-30mm, I never had to worry one bit!
The Sigma 10-20mm F 4-5.6 lens
Suggested by Slavi of www.globalcastaway.com
If you own a DX-format Nikon (or cropped Canon) and you love landscape photos, the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 should be your go-to lens. With its fantastic super-wide angle of view (102.4 degrees at 10mm and 63.8 degrees at 20mm) this lens gives you all the freedom of expression you can ask for.
The first thing you will notice when unpacking the lens will be the excellent build quality. Metalic frame and smoothly operating focus and zoom controls give a professional vibe to this affordably-priced lens. Once you start post-processing your photos, you will be surprised by their quality.
Even though they get a bit blurry in the edges, the overall performance is the best I’ve seen from a wide angle lens under a $1000; it’s even better than a few of the expensive ones.
Getting a wide lens will change your photography style and view to the world forever. If you pick the Sigma 10-20, I can guarantee you; it will be a decision you won’t regret.
The Canon 70-200mm F2.8
Recommended by Shara Johnson of www.skjtravel.net
I had been coveting the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens for portraiture for a while. When I finally threw down the cash, it was a little scary spending so much money on a single piece of equipment, but I have not regretted one second of owning this lens.
It’s heavy, I won’t lie. But it provides an excellent, smooth bokeh effect for the background and beautifully crisp focus on the subject. I often like to take documentary-style photos where the background is relevant but secondary to the subject, and this lens delivers.
The zoom range is practical and versatile for photographing subjects in both intimate portrait settings and further away slice-of-life settings. I’ve found it just as appropriate for wildlife. On safari, I take this lens and a 150-600 zoom lens, and I invariably take twice as many photos with this one.
Smartphone Camera Lenses
Sue Davies of www.travelforlifenow.com
For many years, my partner and I have travelled with two DSLRs, lenses, tripods, the works. Carrying all of this gear was a burden. For our last trip to Asia, we decided to leave one DSLR at home and bring clip-on lenses for my smartphone instead.
There are many options for Smartphone camera lenses.
You can go all out and spend several hundred dollars for a series of lenses and a kit.
On the low end, you can purchase a single lens for $10.
For my experiment, I chose a moderately priced kit by Zeso ($50) which included telephoto (8X), wide-angle (0.45X) and macro (15X) lenses, remote control and a small tripod/selfie stick.
Using the macro lens was the easiest and I was able to take some wonderful macro photos. The wide angle lens was similarly easy to use. The telephoto lens had a narrower opening and made the camera top heavy. Keeping the lens from moving while adjusting the focus was challenging. The small opening of the telephoto also obscured part of the smartphone camera lens which left a black ring around the pictures. This is easily fixed by slightly zooming the phone or cropping afterwards.
It was fun trying out the lenses and I use them regularly now. When buying smartphone lenses, make sure the clip fits your phone securely. Using a remote with a tripod can make it easier to use the telephoto lens. You can also purchase an inexpensive attachment for your tripod to mount the phone. There is a learning curve, so best to practice before you’re on a trip. A nice alternative to bringing a bulky camera, smartphone lenses are easy to use and carry but they certainly don’t replace a DSLR for higher quality photography.
AFS DX NIKKOR 35mm/F1.8 G
Maria and Rui of www.twofindaway.com
After a couple of years photographing everything with our kit lens, we really wanted to improve the quality of our photos. After a lot of research and with our strict budget in mind we decided on the Nikkor 35mm F1.8 lens.
The focal length is fixed, but it is incredibly versatile and we rarely feel the need to change back to our zoom lens. Plus, because it is a prime lens with a high aperture, it means you can capture more light and get very sharp photos in almost every situation.
This is great for shooting indoors, but also when the light outside is low. It is also perfect for portraits with beautiful blurry backgrounds. Besides all these features, this lens is especially suited for travel, as it is very small and lightweight.
The fact that it is quite affordable means we take it with us everywhere we go and know that if something happens to it in the middle of our adventures we can replace it without declaring bankruptcy! The photo was taken in the very foggy island of São Miguel in Azores, Portugal.
Nikkor 55-300mm lense
This is one of my own personal favourite lenses. I bought this lens for wildlife photography on my trip to Kenya and Tanzania 5 years ago and it’s still one of my go-to lenses.
Despite its affordable price tag and a wide range of focal lengths, the quality of the Nikkor 55-300mm is superb. It is with this lens I receive most compliments for my photos!
Whilst its aperture only goes as wide as 4.5, it’s great telephoto capacity still allows for lovely blurry bokeh-style backgrounds. Even at 300mm, the subject is always incredibly sharp. I also find it focuses fairly quickly considering it’s a budget telephoto lens. This makes it a great lens for wildlife photography, however, I’ve also found it useful for portraiture and even some macro shots.
The 35mm Sigma Lens
Samah Khan of www.godandwanderlust.com
The 35mm Sigma Art lens is immensely versatile—I use it to capture landscapes, portraits and do street photography. The best feature of this lens is the wide 1.4 aperture, making it great for low light situations, such as street photography at night.
It also provides a fantastic bokeh effect. Despite the wide aperture, the images remain relatively sharp and detailed. Known for its film effect, the Sigma 35mm lens has been my go-to lens for quite a while, it provides varying perspectives, whether shooting wide landscapes or focused objects, it will put your photography skills to the test.
The lens includes manual mode and fast and quiet autofocus mode—both which have been helpful when shooting in different environments. The lens has also taken quite a beating—tumbling down a muddy hill, getting wet in the rain and yet functions as good as new.
So there we have 8 great suggestions for the best travel photography lens to start taking amazing photos on your Canon or Nikon DSLR or even on your smartphone! Do you have any suggestions? Which is your favourite lens for travel? Or are YOU looking to invest in a new one? Let us know below in the comments! And, if you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate a share on Pinterest or social media! Thank you!
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