This must-read buyer’s guide with the best camera lenses for travel photography will help you pick the perfect lens for your travel photos (Sony, Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Pentax — we have each brand covered)!
Choosing the best lens for travel photography can be a daunting task considering the number of factors that can inform your decision, from weight, to size — not to mention the situation the lens is best suited for. That’s the thing about travel: you’ll find yourself in so many different places and spaces that the right lens could make all the difference when it comes to getting that perfect shot!
Best Camera Lenses for Travel Photography in 2023 (Buying Guide)
How To Choose The Right Camera Lens
For action photography like bustling streets or for low-lit, nighttime cityscapes, your best friend is a lens with a large maximum aperture or f-stop. Also known as fast lenses, they allow the maximum amount of light into the sensor so you can capture each moment clearly as it happens.
If you’re looking to snap some street photography of beautiful buildings or portraits where a 1:1 perspective is needed, then a prime lens is the way to go. These lenses function at a fixed focal length — meaning they don’t zoom and this absence of more moving parts allows for a beautifully clear image when taking photos.
If you do want to use a zoom lens for street photography and portraits, then choose one with a larger maximum aperture.
There’s nothing quite as frustrating as trying to fit a beautiful panoramic view into your shot and not having the right lens! When it comes to landscape photography, you want to have a focal length significantly smaller than other lenses so you can fit more of the scene into your frame. Simply put — the smaller the focal length, the wider the angle.
Last but not least, if you’re looking to get some nature photos, whether you’re on a safari or spot some wildlife on a hike — you’ll want to be equipped with a telephoto lens. These are lenses with a large zoom range and are characterized by long focal lengths.
Below, you’ll find a list of the best camera lenses for each of the popular camera brands.
Best Canon Lenses For Travel Photography
Perfect for just about any type of photography — from landscapes to portraits — the Canon 16-35mm can be used in most travel situations. It’s sharp, focuses quickly and the f4 aperture won’t break the bank when comparing it to some of the larger maximum apertures available with this focal length.
Known as the nifty-fifty, this handy lens is one of the most popular on the market because of its space-saving dimensions — making it the perfect travel lens! It’s lightweight and has the ability to take beautiful photos. Ideal for portraits, action shots and especially night photography, the f1.4 aperture allows for maximum light and a complex depth of field.
A versatile lens for travelers who want to be prepared for anything! This is a wide-angle to short telephoto lens ideal for landscapes and a fair amount of zoom. Great for hiking around mountains or coasts where you’ll want the freedom to play with the size of your frame.
For capturing moments from a distance, the Canon 70-200mm is a telephoto zoom lens that will give you the freedom to snap shots of wildlife from afar while having a short enough focal length to still take portrait photographs.
Read more: How to Choose the Best Travel Camera
Best Sony Lenses For Travel Photography
Ideal for your landscape photo needs, this wide angle lens from Sony is compact and weather resistant, making it perfect for travelers who find themselves in rugged terrain. It even features a dust and moisture sealed design for photographers who really want to get their hands dirty!
This full frame option can be carried around all day thanks to its compact design and it can be used for a huge range of shooting styles. It covers everything from wide-angle to short telephoto or zoom so it’s perfect for a combination of city and rural trips.
Perfect for shooting from afar while keeping a relatively light camera bag, the Sony 70-200mm is known for its fast focusing which means that even without a tripod, you’ve got the chance to capture moving subjects from a distance.
Best Fuji Lenses For Travel Photography
This lens provides an ultra-wide focal length which makes it astonishingly good for taking photos of super dynamic and highly impactful landscapes. All this while giving you a high level of detail from the furthest distance in the scene right up to the foreground!
A big deciding factor when choosing the perfect lens will be price. All larger aperture lenses will result in a higher price tag, so ask yourself what kind of light conditions you’ll be shooting in on your travels. If you’re going to be taking low-light photos, then you should go for the 2.8, but just remember it will be heavier than f4 lenses.
An affordable telephoto zoom lens, the Fujifilm 55-200mm is also capable of taking portrait shots with an aperture of f3.5. This lens is ideal for wildlife photography in well-lit conditions as the maximum aperture does also reduce with zoom.
Best Nikon Lenses For Travel Photography
16-80mm f 2.8-4
A fully professional and incredibly versatile lens, the Nikon 16-80mm covers everything from wide-angle to portrait and short zoom. With truly remarkable image quality and an impressive maximum aperture, there’s little this lens can’t do.
One of the best prime lenses for travel photography (and it’s also super affordable!), the Nikon 50mm f1.8 is a tempting alternative to the more expensive f1.4 with hardly any reduction in quality. Ideal for low-lit scenes, street photography and portraits, the handy lens is also beautifully compact and user friendly.
Another astonishingly versatile lens from Nikon, the 18-140mm is kinder on travelers wallets due to the lower maximum aperture which makes it perfect for well-lit shots and a little tricky in low-lit ones.
One of the most compact telephoto lenses on the market, this Nikon 55-200mm lens is a super affordable way to capture everything from people, to action to wildlife. The lower maximum aperture means you’ll need to be in a well-lit situation, though as an all-round traveling lens, you’ll be hard pressed to find one at a better value.
Best Pentax Lens For Travel Photography
Pentax doesn’t have the number of lens options that other popular brands do, but they have a few popular and affordable options that will work well for travel.
50-200mm f 4-5.6
If you’re looking for a budget telephoto option for Pentax, then the Pentax 50-200mm is a great option. It’s weather resistant and extremely lightweight (especially for a zoom lens) weighing only 9.2 ounces. It’s a perfect lens for wildlife — and an affordable all-around lens for travel.