Last updated on May 30, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, travelling and making photos for 20 years. Read more Gear Review

Best lens for travel photography in 2020

I have been asked many times what is the top travel camera “at the moment”. I was never asked however what are the best lenses for travel photography.

We spend lots of energy searching for a new travel camera, we go through websites, comparisons, features and obviously best prices.

And the lenses?

Whatever comes with the camera is fine.

You can read also

I personally think it is a bit of a mistake and let me explain why.

The same camera with different lenses, at the same focal length, can perform really differently.

Prof. Marc Levoy published an interesting lecture on lenses with examples of photos. By the way, this is part of an 18-lectures workshop from his original Stanford course, highly suggested to anyone.

Saving on lenses may under perform your camera.

It’s a bit like buying a Ferrari and saving on the engine, maybe even downgrading to a Fiat 500 engine.

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This is, of course, a bit of a drastic example but I wanted to just give an idea.

As a rule of thumb, I usually suggest spending as much money for your camera as well as for your first lens, in case this is an all-round.

There is another good point about investing more in lenses.

Usually, when we upgrade to an upper-level camera we tend to carry with us the lenses we already have. That is why it is a good idea to be more selective in what we buy.

Bang Bao, Koh Chang
Bang Bao, Koh Chang. One of the fantastic photo locations of Koh Chang

If you are after travel photography tips, compositions, tutorials and much more then why not reading and downloading for FREE (no need to pass your email, no worries) this ultimate guide for travel photography. Over 70 pages that may change your way to make (not just take) photos when travelling.

FREE (no email required) Reference Guide to Travel Photography

Best travel lenses for Canon, Nikon and the mirrorless: the quick answer

This post (should I call it guide?) goes through a detailed explanation of the best travel lenses you may need for your trip, in which occasion and why.

It covers also another important point that is what you can avoid buying (just to stop accumulating gear and spending money)

If however you have just a spare minute and you want to know only one lens for each manufacturer then here is a quick list:

  • Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS II USM: this is an awesome all-round that you can use in 95% of the cases. It’s a lens designed for full sensor cameras (5D, 7D etc) however it can and should be used also on an APS-C camera (equivalent 36-157mm). I say should because this is a tremendous Canon lens that will last for the life, doesn’t matter if you will upgrade your camera in future
  • Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED: I used this lens for 2 years and it was absolutely amazing. It never let me down and sometimes I was pretty tough with it. I used this lens with a Nikon D610 in most, if not all, of my travel photography opportunities. In my opinion, this is still the best travel lens for Nikon
  • Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR: I had this lens for some time and I took it with me on a trip with the X-T series. You may read the full review here. It is an equivalent 24-82.5mm focal length which again covers most of the travel scenarios. The very wide aperture at F2.8 is a great bonus when shooting indoor (markets, etc)
  • Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens: Can I say finally? In my opinion, this is the best all-round travel lens for Sony A7 &A9 camera. It was announced in late 2017 and I bought it straight away. Sony was really missing this focal range (24-70 can be too small sometimes). Definitely my go-to lens
  • E 16-70mm F/4 Vario-Tessar: In my opinion, this is the best travel lens for Sony a6300 or any camera with E-mount. Very similar to the previous lens in quality and construction.
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO: great equivalent focal range (24-80mm) and amazingly wide (F/2.8). It’s a 2013 lens but, I believe, still one of the best in the Olympus MFT range for travelling. You can find some bargains on the net.
  • Panasonic Leica DG 12-60mm F2.8-4.0: this is the most exciting and all you need Panasonic lens in the market. True, it’s variable aperture but it’s a small drawback. I used it a lot on a trip with a GH5 and a GX85 and I loved it. Super sharp and very light as well, all I needed for my trekking.

Lenses for travel photography

First thing first, this post is not really about wildlife photography.

In that case, you would need zoom lenses, either for a safari or birds photography, or maybe a macro lens, in case you are interested in the “micro” world.

I own a few lenses that range from 12mm to 200mm focal length.

I occasionally also review a few zoom lenses on some trips, like the Panasonic Leica 100-400mm I had on a zoo safari trip.

What I have been noticing, along my last years of travelling, is that I probably just need 2 lenses in my trips, maybe 3 of them. Sometimes even 1 is enough.

  • All-round zoom lens
  • Prime 5omm or 35mm
  • Super wide-angle
Sunset at Pulau Padar
Sunset at Pulau Padar

All-round zoom lens for travel photography

My favourite is the range of 24-120mm or 24-105mm or even 24-70mm.

In this post I always talk about 35 mm equivalent focal length; you can read this Wiki post for more info in case you are not familiar with it

You will see later some lens suggestions based on the manufacturer, however, as a rule of thumb, the quicker is the lens the more photo opportunities you will have.

Possibly go for an aperture of f/2.8, or even lower. Unfortunately, these are the most expensive lenses too.

Why do you want to do that?

Because with a smaller aperture value (bigger hole) you will :

  1. have a smaller depth of field, in case you like to make photos of travel details, and a nicer bokeh, which is the area out of focus in the background (in doing that you give more importance to your subject, think a portrait)
  2. allow more light into your camera (bigger hole), with the possibility to make photos even in low light environments without a tripod.

Why having a zoom lens starting as wide as 24mm?

Because it is a nice wide-angle to have for most of the travel photos, think panoramas or just even walking in the lanes of a city.

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Why 80 to 120mm as the upper value of the zoom lens?

Because you will rarely use over that when travelling.

It may happen of course and you may regret you do not have 200 or 400mm however sometimes we need to make decisions and optimise on costs, and weight too.

I prefer to invest in a better 24-120mm than an even wider 18-300mm which does not perform as well.

It’s more of a quality over quantity. Besides, that kind of zooms tends to be quite heavy as well, something you would rather like to avoid when walking the all day with it.

I like to remind that we do have another natural zoom, our legs. Sometimes we forget about that, we are a bit lazy.

Last important thing.

I always talk about equivalent focal length.

What does it mean? Well if you have a 50mm lens

  • on a full sensor camera, then the equivalent focal length is exactly the same, 50mm
  • on an APS-C sensor, multiply roughly by 1.5, and your lens is actually a 75mm (it’s in the range 1.5-1.6, based on manufacturer)
  • on an MFT sensor, multiply by 2, your lens is now a 100mm

As an example, if you have a Panasonic G85 (great camera by the way) with an MFT sensor, then I would probably suggest a 12-60mm lens, which is, in equivalent focal length, a 24-120mm.

Sunset on Mont Choisy Beach, Mauritius
Sunset on Mont Choisy Beach, Mauritius. Nikon D610, Nikkor 24-120mm 1:4G (24mm, 8 sec at f/10, ISO 100)

Prime lenses for travel photography

Prime lenses are the ones without any zoom, just one fixed focal length.

There are few benefits with the prime lenses:

  • cheaper
  • greater quality
  • light
  • small

They do only one thing however they do it extremely well.

When I travel with my Sony a7R, I always have with me the Sony 35mm.

The quality is just outstanding. It’s super light and so small that I tend to forget it in my jacket.

When I visit markets or small lanes in a city for some street photography, I remove my 24-105mm and install this 35mm instead.

Suddenly people do not notice me, I become a tourist like many others.

With the general-purpose lens, people look at me as a super pro and they become shy, they don’t want to be photographed, or even ask money for it.

When travelling, the smaller camera you have the easier will be to walk unnoticed.

And being seen with a big, supposedly expensive camera+lens, can be a problem in some countries.

The alternative solution to a general-purpose lens would be to have 3 primes that cover possibly the 24mm, 50mm and 100mm focal length

Quality-wise may be probably the best solution, however, when travelling, I do not think it is very practical to keep changing lenses.

Although very small, you always add a possibility that the camera, or the lens, may fall during the change.

Dust may be introduced on the sensor as well.

I usually travel with the 24-105mm on and change it with the 35mm only when I know it works better (markets, lanes, street photography)

The meat market in Port Louis, Mauritius
The meat market in Port Louis, Mauritius. Nikon D610, Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8G (50mm, 1/640 at f/1.8, ISO 1600)

Super wide lenses for interiors, and not only

I have also a 12-24mm lens. It is considered to be super wide. Keep in mind that the human eye has a comparable focal length of around 43mm.

This is a lens I typically use for interior and architectural photography.

On a generic trip I usually leave it at home, however, if I know I am going to visit some capital cities, I usually take it with me.

I like to use the 12mm in churches, galleries or tall building when photographing from the ground level.

I use this wide-angle also for some landscape photography, but only when my subject is actually in the foreground.

As an example, think a photo of a pier and you stand at the beginning of it. The pier will appear much bigger.

Historical Collins 333, the CBA Bank
Historical Collins 333, the CBA Bank. Nikon D610, Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8 (15mm, 1/30sec at f/2.8, ISO 1000, no tripod allowed)

Superzoom lenses

In most of the trips, you will not need a super zoom lens (say over 120mm).

Personally, I would suggest to buy it only if you will be in a safari or you plan to attend a sport event for which the superzoom is essential.

I always say to use our legs as the first form of zoom. They usually work pretty well.

The bigger is the zoom focal length, the heavier is the lens. If you are travelling and carrying your bag, it will become a real pain, especially for your back.

Superzoom lenses are usually not allowed in stadiums or important sports events.

I have a 70-200mm which I take with me only if I am sure I will attend some local interesting events, this could be a polo game in Mongolia, as an example.

However, if you are attending a polo game in UK you will be most likely asked to not use your camera as they will believe you are a professional photographer and you would need special agreements etc.

A close-up of an elephant eye with an equivalent 200-800mm telephoto lens (Panasonic Leica 100-400mm)
A close-up of an elephant eye with an equivalent 200-800mm telephoto lens (Panasonic Leica 100-400mm)

Here below I have listed some of the best lenses for travel photography, or at least the ones I would not hesitate to buy, based on the available budget of course.

Best Canon lenses for travel

It was a very hard call selecting the best Canon lenses for travel. For each lens, I explain why you need it and if compatible with your Canon camera.

When you look for a Canon lens you notice that, in the name, there is either an EF or EF-S.

Without going too much into the details, the EF-S lenses were created to work uniquely with Canon APS-C DSLR meanwhile the EF were designed for both, full sensor and APS-C.

If you have an APS-C DSLR and you are thinking to upgrade to a full sensor, sooner or later, it pays off to buy EF lenses.

They are usually more expensive but you will be able to use them with your future DSLR.

In the last years, Canon has also introduced the RF lenses. These lenses can be used uniquely with the Canon Mirrorless EOS-R and EOS-RP.

It seems to me that lately, Canon is concentrating the most of the efforts into the mirrorless world (RF lenses)

These are the Canon lenses that I would not hesitate to buy for my travel photography

All-round lens: Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS II USM

This lens has been designed for the full-frame sensor, however, as we said, it can be used also on APS-C (remember that the focal length should be multiplied by 1.5-1.6, if this is the case)

Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS II USM

It has image stabilisation, for which Canon claims 4 stops of shake reduction. The EF 24-105mm is both dust-proof and moisture-proof

It is not a cheap lens however the quality is really outstanding.

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All-round lens: Canon EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM

The previous lens can be an expensive option if you have a Canon APS-C DSLR and you are not really sure you are going to upgrade your camera in future.

Also, remember that because you are using an APS-C DSLR the equivalent focal length becomes approx 38-168mm, therefore you are going to miss out on the nice 24mm wide-angle

The alternative is the Canon EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM which works uniquely on APS-C DSLR. The equivalent focal length is approx 28-216mm that is really more than usually needed for travel.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM

It’s also a cheaper option than the previous lens however it is not a sealed lens, which for travel photography is quite handy to have, especially for the dust.

The image stabilisation is also not as great.

The 24-105mm has better quality in the glass elements, according to Canon description, and it has a constant maximum aperture at f/4.

The maximum aperture of the 18-135mm changes is a variable f/3.5 to f/5.6, based on the focal length you use.

This lens is cheaper than the previous one, however, it offers less quality overall.

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Prime: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

It is small, it is super light, it is an amazing quality lens….it is basically a no-brain Canon lens for travel to buy

This is a #1 Bestseller on Amazon, and for a good reason. It’s rare to find a 5 stars rated lens, with over 1100 comments.

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM

At just over $100 this is a lens to buy and carry with you every time you are in a city or town.

Are you planning to visit the market? Use this lens.

Are you planning some street photography? Use this lens….and I could keep going.

It’s absolutely the best value for money lens you can have.

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Super wide-angle: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM for Canon

This is what I used with my old camera (although with a Nikon adaptor).

As I previously said, it is not a lens I would always carry with me. It is more for special occasions.

Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM

There are other quicker Canon and Sigma lenses, however, they are more expensive, besides being quite heavy to carry around on a trip.

I cannot justify the much higher price for the limited usage of this focal range I do.

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Kids walking to school (one of my first photos ever ). Canon EOS 40D, 18-200mm (18mm, 1/25sec at f/13, ISO 100)
Kids walking to school (one of my first photos ever). Canon EOS 40D, 18-200mm.

Best Nikon lenses for travel

I have used Nikon for a long time and choosing my best Nikon lenses for travel was not that simple.

My workhorse was the 24-120mm. I would never travel without it.

When you look into the Nikon list of lenses you will notice both AF-P and AF-S lenses. Sometimes even the same lens is available in both types.

What is the difference?

The AF-P lenses have a pulse motor, so silent you will not even notice it, fantastic for video also because the autofocus is very smooth.

The AF-S lenses have a wave motor, still very quiet however just enough noisy you can hear it during videos. The autofocus is quicker, perfect for still photography.

You can read more details about the differences in this Nikon article.

The AF-S lenses have two practical switches on the lens itself. The AF/MF and the VR O/OFF.

I used them quite a bit. I find them very easy to use, instead of going through configuration, as you need, instead, with the AF-P.

Not all the Nikon cameras support AF-P as they do not have a firmware to control VR and AF/MF. You may need a new camera firmware, if available.

Moreover, there are FX lenses and DX lenses.

The DX lenses are usually cheaper and dedicated to the APS-C sensor cameras meanwhile the FX lenses are more for the full sensor.

In saying that you could use :

  • a FX on a APS-C camera (remember the crop factor of approx 1.6x due to the APS-C sensor size)
  • a DX on a Full Sensor Nikon (the photo is automatically cropped by the camera)

And lastly, also Nikon is taking the same direction into the mirrorless world.

In fact, since 2018 Nikon has mostly announced lenses of Z series dedicated to Nikon’s new mirrorless cameras

All-round lens: Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR

The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm is one of the best entry-level Nikon lenses for travel photography dedicated to the APS-C sensor cameras.

It has an equivalent focal length of 28-88mm which is great for most the photography when you are travelling.

It is provided as a kit lens in the new models, which is really good value.

There is only one issue. Be sure before you buy it, that your camera firmware does support it (it’s an AF-P lens) otherwise you will not be able to use autofocus.

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All-round lens: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED

This was my workhorse. I sold it 2 years ago at a similar price that I bough it.

It’s one of the best value lenses for travelling in the market I believe.

It has a fantastic wide focal range, from 24 to 120mm. I always experienced a nice contrast in my photos as well as sharpness and colours. And it’s tough, perfect for travelling

It may be not the quickest lens in the Nikon market and if you want one I would probably suggest the NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, although over 50% more expensive, which I could not justify for my travel photography.

The maximum aperture of 2.8 would help especially in the market and dark environment however in that cases I used a 50mm prime (more on this later) which has a great advantage: it’s very small, especially if compared to these all-around lenses.

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Prime: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

This was my second workhorse when visiting interiors like churches, galleries etc. and, generally speaking, in low light environments like markets

This is also an amazing lens for portraits.

My only suggestion with this lens is to practice with it before you start your trip.

When used at f/1.8 the depth of field is extremely narrow and it is easy to have some photos when the focus point is not exactly where you want.

We are talking of a DoF of centimetres. It took me some practice before I felt fully confident.

This lens is super sharp with amazing contrast and great colours. On Amazon, it has a 5 stars rating out of almost 1500 comments.

I take it as a good indication of a great lens ๐Ÿ™‚ and not just my feeling.

It’s so light I usually forgot it in my bag or jacket

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Super wide-angle: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM for Nikon

This is a lens I already highlighted in the Canon section.

It’s a good compromise of quality, price and weight. There are Nikkor alternatives, however, they are much more expensive and, most important, heavier.

In saying that, if your travel photography has a predominance of interior and architectural photography, then the Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G may be a more optimal solution.

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Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM

Best Fuji lenses for travel

My favourite is the 15-55mm F2.8. This is one of the best Fuji lenses for travel and I will explain why.

There are however others that I would definitely include in my list.

Also in the Fujifilm list, there are two families of lenses: XF and XC

The XF lenses are built in metal and offer a larger aperture. They have an aperture ring (except the tiny XF 27mm f/2.8 pancake) and a switch for OIS. They are manufactured in Japan.

The XC lenses are dedicated to the entry-level market, built in plastic material, offering smaller aperture and without aperture ring and OIS switch.

Due to its construction (less “glass” inside) they are usually smaller and lighter. They are not built in Japan.

All-round lens: Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

This is a lens I reviewed some time ago and I absolutely loved it.

With an equivalent focal length of 24-84mm covers most of the travel photography needs.

It is a tough lens, weather-resistant and dustproof, just perfect for any trip you have in mind.

The maximum aperture, f/2.8, makes this lens great also in a low light condition

I can only suggest it. Read more details on my review

If you do not feel that the maximum focal length of 84mm is not enough for your travel photos, you may have a look at the Fujifilm XF 18-135mm  which, with an equivalent focal length of 24-200mm covers really all you need.

It’s cheaper, however, you have to compromise with the maximum variable aperture of f/3.5-5.6 (less performing lens overall)

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Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

Prime: Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 R WR

This is a lens I tested only for a couple of hours and I did not want to give it back to the Fujifilm guys.

I still remember the great speed and the sharpness in the produced photos. Best of all is the size and weight. Another lens you can forget in your jacket, so tiny

It is a 50mm equivalent focal range that you can use in low light environments as churches or markets.

Together with a Fujifilm camera, it makes such a tiny package that you will not feel noticed. Amazing for portraits.

This lens is a must-have for your travel photography, full stop.

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Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 R WR

Super wide-angle: Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS

This is the only super wide-angle lens that Fujifilm offers.

There is actually a prime XF 14mm F2.8, however, I do not think there is much gain if you already own a 16-55mm, otherwise, it could be another option.

It is not a cheap or light lens being a premium gear with lots of “glass”.

Again, if you love super-wide, this is the solution.

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Best Sony lenses for travel

I have organised for Sony in two distinct sections.

  • A7 section with lenses built for the full-frame sensor
  • a6000 with lenses built for the APS-C sensor.

In my opinion, nowadays Sony has some of the best cameras, both with the APS-C and the full-frame sensor.

The dynamic range of luminosity and colours is just magnificent. Probably a notch over the competition.

Best travel lenses for a7

This full-frame sensor camera is one of my favourites.

So small.

I actually sold my Nikon stuff two years ago and moved to Sony with the Sony a7R

Selecting the best travel lenses for a7 was however not that easy. 

The a7 camera itself is very light, especially when compared with other full-frame cameras, perfect for travelling.

I have road-tested a few Sony a7 and finally, I have bought an a7R, together with the best general-purpose lens on the market and a 35mm prime which I like more for street photography

I have noticed that the lenses tend to be slightly bigger and heavier than my Nikon ones

My favourite all-around is the Sony Full Frame 24-105mm f/4. I use it on a daily basis. Once announced in December 2017 it took me minutes to place the order. It’s perfect for any trip

This is a table of the suggested lenses for travelling and city exploration.

Type Brand Lens Name Amazon Australia Notes
All-Round Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 Vario-Tessar $$$ 25%OFF A good compromise all-round
All-Round Sony Sony Full Frame 24-105mm f/4 $$$ $$$ The best general-purpose in the Sony line-up
Prime Sony Sony Sonnar T FE 35mm F/2.8 ZA $$ $$ At $200 this is a real bargain, small and good quality lens
Wide Sony FE 16-35mm F/4 Vario-Tessar $$$ $$$ A beautiful Zeiss lens that won’t disappoint. Not that wide


FE 24-70mm f/4 Vario-Tessar
FE 24-70mm f/4 Carlo Zeiss, one of the best all-around travel lenses for Sony a7

Best travel lenses for Sony a6000

The a6500 and the a6400 are the last models in this happy family. The selection of the best travel lenses for Sony a6000 was based on quality and price.

The result? A great gear package to use in any trip, long or just weekend.

This is a table of the best travel lenses for Sony a6000.

Type Brand Lens Name Amazon Australia Notes
All-Round Sony a6000 E 16-70mm F/4 Vario-Tessar $$$ $$$ Best for a6000 with eq.focal length of 24-120mm
All-Round Sony a6000 E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS $$ $$ Wide eq.focal range at 27-157mm
Prime Sony a6000 FE 50mm F/1.8 $ $ At $200 this is a real bargain, small and good quality lens
Wide Sony a6000 E 10-18mm f/4 OSS $$ $$ Good quality and sharp


E 18-105mm F4
Sony E 18-105mm F4, a super versatile travel lens for Sony a6000

Best micro four-thirds lenses for travel

I have organised the best Micro Four Thirds lenses for travel in two sections dedicated to Olympus and Panasonic.

Keep however in mind that these lenses are interchangeable on both brands cameras, either companyโ€™s lenses will work on the otherโ€™s cameras.

There are still a few issues however that make more convenient to stay with the same brand.

Without going into the details I may mention Image Stabilisation as one of them.

What I like the most about the MFT cameras is their size, small, light and still delivering great quality photos.

Best Olympus lenses for travel

In the Olympus world, you can usually find two types of lenses, the M.Zuiko and the M.Zuiko Pro.

The Zuiko lenses were born in 1936, however, the first field of usage was science and healthcare with precision microscopes and endoscopes.

It has been a long way since, and Zuiko is still delivering great quality lenses.

The Pro version is water-resistant and it is made of sturdy and lightweight aluminium alloy, which make it great for travelling.

This is a table of the best Olympus lenses for travel

Type Brand Lens Name Amazon Australia Notes
All-Round Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO $$$ %50OFF It is a 2013 lens, however still my favourite for travel photography
All-Round Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS Pro $$$$ $$$$ With an eq.focal length of 24-200mm, it is an all-you-need lens
Prime Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 $ n/a Small and inexpensive prime at a great max aperture
Wide Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO $$$ $$$ The perfect focal range for a wide-angle lens

Best Panasonic lenses for travel

Panasonic has delivered an incredible line up of cameras and lenses in the last few years.

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH Power OIS, announced baclin January 2017 is probably the general purpose that excites me the most of the MFT world. And this offer with tripod, filters etc should not be missed ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

I also reviewed the 8-18mm wide-angle and I was really surprised by how distortion is so well controlled. Read more here, there are other interesting and surprising findings and limits on this lens

This is a table of the best Panasonic lenses for travel.

Type Brand Lens Name Price Special in


All-Round Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 $$$ $$$ My travel lens for Panasonic cameras, not new however the best
All-Round Panasonic Leica DG 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 $$$ $$$ Most exciting Panasonic travel lens
Prime Panasonic Lumix G 25mm F1.7 ASPH $ $ Great max aperture for an equivalent 50mm
Wide Panasonic Leica G Vario 8-18mm F4 ASPH $$$ $$$ Limited list of super wide angles from Panasonic

Verdict on the best lens for travel photography

The great thing about technology is that it keeps updating and upgrading.

The surprising thing is that the gear cost does not increase that much, instead, it tends to decrease.

I still remember the first digital compact I bought in London, the best in the market at 4MP. I paid it 1,700 British Pounds.

With that money today I can buy a full sensor mirrorless or DSLR, or a used camera + lens gear kit and save money for a short trip.

Today we have such a great choice, so wide that it took me days and days to put together this guide.

My favourite lens?

It varies based on the camera however as a rule of thumb I usually invest for a general-purpose travel lens as much as for a camera. It’s always good to start with the right foot.

I would also personally never buy a camera gear kit as the lenses tend to be not as performing as the camera. .

I would buy, instead, the body and just one all-round lens. In a later stage, I would add a fast 40-50mm prime (f/1.4 to f/2.8)

If you think that this post has helped and you want to know much more about travel photography then you should read and download the FREE Ultimate Guide to Travel Photography (no emails required), a 70 pages PDF file.

Download the FREE Travel Photography guide

I do not like “pushing marketing” and that is why I do not ask email, name, phones, grandpa names etc in exchange.

However, if you want to be updated on new similar tutorials, free guides and spreadsheets and much more then you can always subscribe to the mailing list.

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Enjoy your travel photography!!

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Stefano Ferro - Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

20 thoughts on “Best travel lenses for Canon, Nikon and Mirrorless”

  1. Hi Stefano, I use the Canon Efs 15-85mm IS USM with my Canon 77D and Canon M5. This lens is a super “workhorse lens on an APSC camera, and I find it very sharp, and it gives beautiful colour rendition throughout the frame. This lens is often “missed” for the more expensive L Lenses from Canon. Trust me this is an L quality lens and at least on par as the 24-105mm L lens used by FF’ers.

    I also carry the Canon 10-18mm STM, another superb variable focal length, wide angle lens. Again good sharpness and colour rendition in output.

    And finally, i carry the Canon 24mm 2.8 STM Pancake lens. Another super sharp offering at any f stop with the 77D and newer mirrorless cameras.

    These will be in my bag for my upcoming trip to Bali 2023, and have been the mainstay of many trips around SEA , Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam etc.

    I cannot recommend this set highly enough.

    Thank you for an interesting and informative look at travel lenses. Although I feel Canon is not your usual marque, there are good/better lenses outside of those you suggested, both in quality and affordability.

  2. Stefano
    I lashed out and upgraded my lense on the 6D mk11 to a Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS II USM as my travel lense (love it), though it is heavier. Now I’m concerned it could be a prime target whilst overseas. Any hints?

    • Hi Paul,
      beautiful lens, great decision. I have a similar one, for Sony though, but same features. I personally never felt any pressure or too many eyes. I usually use a B-grip hand strap and/or a camera wrist strap. And in the markets, I replace it with a tiny 35mm prime (which works much better in poor light).
      The 6D is quite a big camera. A friend of mine, with an even bigger 5D IV added a black sticky tape to cover brand and model. I must say that the camera is now much less eye-catching. I am doing it too.
      I hope I was able to help.
      Thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Stef,
    Appreciate your comments and perspective!
    I took the plunge to mirrorless and never looked back, starting with an A6000 and last year added the A6500. Most of my lenses are primes but they are not the best for backpacking or cruises. What do you think of the newer and lighter Sony 18-135mm zoom? Any other options for a travel zoom?

    • Hey Jimbo, the 18-135mm is a great all-round lens. One lens for all.
      In saying that, you may get disappointed with the quality of the images when you compare it with your set of primes, which are usually the best, although, as you said, not the best when you travel.
      You should ask yourself if you really need the 135mm (200mm equivalent) during your trips. You can check out what focal lenses you used in most of your photos through Lightroom.
      The E 16-70mm F/4 Vario-Tessar is still my favourite and if you do need a bigger zoom then probably you can buy a prime for the 200m focal length
      I hope I was able to help

  4. Hi Stefano.
    I am a traveler photographer not a pro although I would like to but that is another story…
    So last month I travel through Europe I did 4 countries and loved it. The problem is I got back home with a severe lesion in my wrist due to the heavy weight of the lens (I was travelling with a Panasonic Lumix GX8 and 35100 lens. From now on I decide to travel only with light lenses. I am thorn between Lumix G 25mm F1.7 ASPH and Lumix G 20mm F1.7 II ASPH. What do you think? Love street photography and architecture. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Paula, so sorry to hear about your lesion. Travelling with lots of lenses or just an heavy one has the own drawback unfortunately, especially when you travel for such a long trip. Hopefully it’s all fine now.

      First of all, let me say they are both great lenses. My personal preference would be the 20mm (which is equivalent to 40mm on full sensor). That is a focal length that I would enjoy on both street and architectural photography. The 25mm (or 50mm equivalent) it’s great for portrait however not as fantastic for architecture.
      Moreover the 20mm is so tiny and light. The camera+lens will be unnoticed when walking in the street, which is great. Plus it will be like almost transporting a compact camera.
      The only drawback of the 20mm is the autofocus that may be a little bit slow, compared to the 25mm, but again the size pays back this drawback in my opinion.

      Enjoy your travelling ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Great work Stefano,
    love your style. Checked other posts as well and I will be back for sure.

    I am buying the Fujifilm X-T2 and I was wondering what lenses would you buy with a $1000 budget. Better if you can go under badget LOL

    Talk you soon

    • Hi Lenny,
      as I wrote in my post I still think that the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm is the must lens for travel photography. It goes a bit over budget at $1200 however it is really well worth the price.

      The alternative is the Fujifilm XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6. It’s a real all round lens however you will suffer a bit with the variable max aperture. Less creativity with wide aperture compared to the 16-55. It’s also quite an heavy lens but it comes at $900

      If you are ok with just primes, you could also go for a Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 R WR and a Fujifilm XF 50mm F2 R WR. They are both great lenses and you will keep them for a long while, even if in future you will update to a X-T3 ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Enjoy the X-T2, great camera ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hi Stef, awesome content here.
    I have a question that I do not see answered here.
    I am going on a safari trip. I need to buy a camera anyway so I thought that I have a good excuse now. I checked few zoom lenses and wow, they are very expensive.
    Do you have any favourite?

    • Good day Jorge,
      indeed I have not covered any zoom lens. The main reason is that they are not usually needed in any “normal” trip. In this respect I would not suggest to buy and take one with you when you travel.

      However you are right, travel photography should include gear also for safari photography. I may write a post just for that, considering how long this article already is LOL

      On a safari you need a big zoom, very high focal length. Theoretically, the longer the better. There is just a small drawback with big zoom lenses, they are very heavy and expensive.

      If you are into a professional job, where you will likely sell your images to magazines and newspapers than I would suggest a full sensor camera (the likes of Canon 5D or Nikon D810) with at least a 600mm lens. Awesome combination, however super expensive and heavy to carry around.

      Based on your comment I guess you are not after a pro kit. I would never buy it myself just because too heavy to carry around.

      I personally think that one of the best solution is the Panasonic GX8 in combination with a Leica 100-400mm. Let me explain why.

      The Panasonic, as well as the Olympus, are cameras with a MFT sensor. This means that you need to multiply by two the zoom value to have the equivalent focal length you would have on a full sensor.

      Basically it means that the Leica 100-400mm works as a 200-800mm on a Canonn 5D, or any other full sensor camera. I used it on a zoo safari here in Australia and I was quite impressed by the quality of the photos. I could see some softness after 700mm but that’s pretty common with any lens in this price range.

      This would be my safari kit, also considering that the GX8 has in camera stabilisation, which comes very handy on such a wide focal length. You can shoot at 800m with a shutter speed of 1/200 sec and have sharp images.

      The other solution would be to use a Fujifilm X-T2 in combination with the Fujifilm XF 100-400mm.

      Keep in mind that the X-T2 uses and APS-C sensor and you need to multiply by 1.5 the focal length in this case.

      This means that the 100-400mm on the X-T2 has an equivalent focal length of about 150-600mm

      The X-T2 is an amazing camera, however it also comes at an higher price range

      I hope I was able to help.

  7. Hi Stef, I have a Nikon D5200 and I was thinking about buying a wide angle lens for more landscape photography and street too.
    On paper I like the SAMYANG AE 14 mm f/2.8 ED IF UMC . WHat is your opinion?
    Can I mount filters on it?

    • Hi Cami,
      thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

      I may start saying that a wide angle for street photography is quite unusual. I personally like to use a 50mm or 85mm equivalent focal length for street photography and usually this is the market standard.

      In saying that, photography is a form of art and there should be no limit to the own personal choice…..and like. You may actually get some interesting results. It will be an unusual choice that may give some innovative results.

      For landscape photography the wide angle is indeed a great choice especially when your subject is in the foreground, I am thinking, for example, about a photo of a shed with a great background as the red Aussie outback ๐Ÿ™‚

      About the SAMYANG AE 14 mm f/2.8 ED IF UMC, this lens has no AF. This is not a huge issue for landscape photography. It is however for street photography. You really want a quick AF lens for that, otherwise it may be a painful exercise.

      Unfortunately there are no available filters on the market for this lens. This usually happens with wide angles. You can probably build one yourself but it won’t be the same.

      I personally do not like to use filters unless really super premium ones. Adding any glass on top of my lens is, at the end of the day, like adding another possible source of noise. I prefer to work on post and push highlights and exposure compensation on the sky.

      If you want to buy a lens for street I probably suggest you the Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM Art. It is a great value for money and on your camera will have an equivalent focal length of around 45mm, which is perfect. This lens as really a wide aperture and autofocus too. Great for street photography.

      You can use this lens also when you go in low light environments as markets etc. Great to take with you when travelling, very light.

      As an alternative I would try to go for a variable focal length like the Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM. With an equivalent focal length at 30mm street photography will look much better in my opinion.

      The just announced Tamron 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD could be another option (max equivalent focal length is 36mm)

      I hope I was able to help ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. Hi Stef,
    thanks for the tons of info here. Still digesting them ๐Ÿ™‚

    Contrary to what of the people do I was thinking to buy just 3 prime lenses (no zoom). They are lighter and better quality I think.
    I was thinking about a 24mm, 50mm and 100mm (or any other suggestion?)
    I’m planning to buy a Panasonic GX8

    Great work again.

    • No worries Leo,
      indeed lots of information, hopefully I am able to help out..

      The GX8 is one of my favourite mirrorless camera in the market. tiny and light, amazing for travelling. Great choice!!

      prime vs. zoom lenses? what are better?

      This is another million dollar question, isn’t it?

      Quality wise I agree with you. Usually the prime lenses deliver better quality. They have only one focal length, that’s the drawback obviously, however they deliver big time.

      When travelling, though, having only prime lenses can be an issue. Let me explain.

      When in the city usually the prime lenses work just perfect. I usually have on the camera the 50mm and, when needed, I change it on the fly with the 24mm. I rarely need a 100mm in the city.

      When travelling, especially in dusty areas, this could be in the Aussie outback, in the American desert or in the dusty Angkor Wat, prime lenses are a bit of a pain. There is more need of different focal length along the day and keep changing lenses is not ideal. Beside taking time and possibly missing the moment you may run in the problem to introduce dust on the sensor.

      I also like to remind that changing lenses should be done in a comfortable position and make sure that the lenses are left in a stable place. If you start changing lenses quickly and, literally, on the fly you will end up, sooner or later, with a smashed lens.

      If possible, change the lens with the sensor facing the floor. You will be less likely to have dust deposit.

      I personally still prefer to have an all round (24-70 or 24-105 or 24-120mm) and a quick prime (50mm) for the markets etc (low light environments)

      Keep in mind that I always talk about equivalent focal length. The GX8 has a MFT sensor and you should multiply by two the focal length of your lens to have the equivalent value. As an example the 24mm works as a 48mm equivalent focal length (it’s not actually a wide angle)

      This lens, Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm F2.8-4.0, has just been announced and it does look awesome on paper. I am going to investigate with Panasonic if I can have it for few days. This is, in my opinion, the missing quick all round that Panasonic really needed. It works as a 24-120mm on a full frame camera which is really all you need.

      As an alternative I would go for these two prime lenses, to start with:
      > the Lumix G 25mm F1.7 ASPH, which works as a 50mm on the GX8
      > the Lumix G 14mm F2.5 II ASPH, this is a super tiny lens that you can literally forget in our pocket. It works as a 28mm.
      If you are not on the budget there is also the Lumix G Leica DG Summilux 12mm F1.4 ASPH. I tested it last year and I was really impressed, however it comes at a high price.

      Good luck with your choice. The most important thing is to get out and start doing some photos ๐Ÿ™‚


  9. Hi Stef,
    am buying a Nikon D5600 however I am still undecided on the lens. I found a deal with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lens and another one with a NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G that gives me more zoom but it costs around 200euros more. At the same price as the 18-140 there is another offer for a 18-55mm & 70-300mm NIKKOR.
    Should I go for the 18-55mm or should I pay 200euros more and go for the 2 lenses package (or the 18-140)
    I am so confused ……please send me a feedback

    • Hi Daan,
      it looks like you have a big dilemma at the moment….and I fully understand it.

      Before I start with my suggestion let me introduce just a simple concept, the equivalent focal length.

      Your camera, Nikon D5600 has an APS-C (also called cropped) sensor. Because of that, the focal length of any lens you use, when compared with a full sensor or a film camera, should be multiplied by roughly 1.5.

      As an example, my camera is a full sensor D610. The same 50mm lens that I use on my camera would work as a 75mm on your camera.

      Why do I tell you that?

      Because in all my tutorials and workshop I usually suggest for travel photography one, maybe two, lenses. Add a third to carry around and your back will start feeling the pain LOL

      I usually suggest to have a good lens to cover the 24-70 or 24-105 range (I am talking equivalent). This is really all we need for travel photography, unless you go on a safari or you love bird photography.

      Now about your lenses.

      The 18-55mm on the D5200 has an equivalent focal length of 27-82mm which, in my opinion, covers 90% of any travel photography need.

      The 18-140mm on the D5200 has an equivalent focal length of 27-210mm which is great, even more zoom, however you end up with a bigger and heavier lens. Ask yourself if you really need 150-200mm zoom. I have personally rarely used it.

      The 70-300mm on the D5200 has an equivalent focal length of 105-450mm. It’s great for safari and bird photography, otherwise you will end up leaving it always at home or at the hotel room.

      In say all that I would personally buy only the 18-55mm if on the budget. That’s more than enough. I would use the $200 left (if you still want to use it for your photography gear) for one of the best lenses (and amazing value) built by Nikon, the 50mm f/1.8G. It’s a small lens with a wide aperture at f/1.8 that you can use in markets, street photography, low light environments and even night photography.

      I hope I was able to help

      Enjoy your photography

  10. I would like to buy a wide angle lens for my Nikon DSLR and I am still unsure if the Sigma 12-24 should be the one or …..I should spare some more money and buy the Nikkor 12-24mm
    What do you think Stef?
    All the best
    PS Great work with both this guide and the travel cameras ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • When I bought the Sigma 12-24 I was not sure myself if I was doing the right thing.

      Should I have bought the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G? In true honesty I had the Nikkor lens for 3 weeks and I tested through. It was a fantastic lens, however an expensive one as well.

      I went back to my photos and 90% of my shoots were landscape, with an aperture in the range of f/9-f/11. Why? Because this is what I usually shoot with such a wide angle lens.

      I also do some architectural photography, especially in the city, however in that case I use a tripod most of the time and again f/9-f/11.

      I did use f/2.8, on interiors where there was not enough light however I could still shoot at f/4.5 and an higher ISO.

      This is to say that for my travel photography I do not really need the f/2.8 for a wide angle lens and that is why I decided to buy the Sigma lens.

      Beside the Aperture difference, what else?

      I found the Sigma to have an excellent sharpness at the center at all focal lengths and apertures. The photo becomes a bit soft on the borders if used at large aperture or at 24mm, which is probably the weaker point of this lens.

      I usually use it at f/9 to f/16 range, just focus manually around 2 m and everything is clear and sharp in my landscape photo (hyperfocal point)

      The build quality is excellent, with most of the lens components in metal.

      Is the Nikkor a better lens? Someone would love to say “you get what you pay for”. I am more inclined to say that it depends on what you are looking for.

      For travel photography, with the lens used at f/9-f/16 and 12-20mm focal range, they both work in a very similar way and Sigma is my choice, especially considering the difference in price.

      If the 12-24mm is you main, or only, focal range that you use in your work than the Nikkor is a lens I would most definitely consider

      That is at least my 2c ๐Ÿ™‚
      Happy photography ๐Ÿ˜‰


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