The many factors that go into determining a good travel lens include versatility, performance, size, and weight. Ideally we’d all have our full set of lenses, including our primes, our wides, our zooms, our macros, and even our fisheyes. However, in reality, if our camera equipment is too heavy or inconvenient, we’re likely to leave it packed up in the hotel. For these reasons, I decided to take the Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 lens on my recent trip to Peru. Here are five reasons that this lens is ideal for travel.

1) Macro
The macro magnification ratio of 1:3.9 (at 75mm) gives us the ability to get close to your subject, a very important factor that allows us to get shots like this:
inca-trail-photography-52It also allows you to capture your travel cuisine from unique, up-close perspectives, rather than the boring, point-and-shoot-esque top views.

2) Size & Weight
At 18 ounces 2.9 inches in diameter and 3.6 inches long, the Tamron is perfect for multi-day hikes, where every ounce of weight matters or even regular trips, where leaving room for clothing or souvenirs is important.

In comparison, the 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is much bigger and heavier at 3.3 inches in diameter, 4.9 inches long and 33 ounces; and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L Lens is 3.3 inches in diameter and 4.2 inches long. As mentined, a heavy setup can lead to missed moments, as your gear might be packed away.

3) Price
If you’re traveling to tourist destinations, you run the risk of theft; and if you’re going to adventurous locations, you risk damaging your equipment. Thankfully, at $369.95, losing it, damaging it, or having it stolen won’t be as big of a loss as the aforementioned Canon lenses that cost over $1,000.

4) f/2.8 and Image Quality
It’s not just wedding photography that requires fast lenses. At f/2.8, you’ll be able to capture great shots in low light and relatively low ISOs. And since you’re likely going to leave your heavy tripod and awkward flash units at home, and you’ll be thankful for these extra stops at dawn, dusk, or in the shadows.

While the image quality at every aperture is a bit better with the aforementioned Canon lenses, according to tests done by experts within the industry, the difference is quite marginal, as you can see from the sample images displayed in this article.

5) Zoom
With a crop frame sensor, the 75mm becomes 120mm, enough for close up portraits of your subjects. More zoom would be convenient at times to capture candids and wildlife, but with a bit of creative positioning and quick shooting, you should have enough for some great photography.inca-trail-photography-3
The biggest drawback of the lens on a crop frame sensor is that the 28mm becomes a 45mm, making any wide landscape shots difficult. This is a sacrifice that I’m willing to make for all of the other reasons presented in this article. Furthermore, with the ability to splice landscape shots together in post production, you should still be able to get the effect you want with a few extra clicks.