The adventure of travel is appealing to many, and among the things one can bring home with them from their journeys, photographs one of the most treasured. Whether you are hoping to grab some great shots of your family to document a vacation, create fine art photographs to hang in a gallery or record important moments to impart a sense of time and place as a photojournalist, you will likely wonder what is the best lens for travel photography?
The best lens for travel photography is going to depend on many factors, all guided by an individual’s preferences. Whether you like to shoot full-frame, APS-C, or micro four-thirds, how much gear you’re willing to carry, and how candid you prefer your subjects will play an important role in your decision.
Best Lens For Travel Photography | According to Award Winning Travel Photographer
Award-winning travel photographer and YouTube educator Mitchell Kanashkevich, better known simply as Mitchel K, offers his insights gleaned during his career as a professional travel photographer. Check out the video below to see more samples of Mitchell’s work and hear him tell the stories that shaped his equipment choices.
24-70mm f/2.8 And Equivalent Lenses
- Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
- Canon 17-55mm f/2.8
- Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art
- Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8
- Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8
- Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR
- Sony 24-70mm f/2.8
Photographers who prefer fly-on-the-wall candids and cameras that are practically pocketable would do well with a fast 30/35mm equivalent on a mirrorless body. The smallest and lightest options are APS-C like Sony’s a6500 and Fuji’s X series cameras or micro four-thirds like Panasonic and Olympus. Very small sensors, like micro four-thirds, are prone to noise at high ISO, so the fact that primes are capable of wider apertures than zooms is a boon. Plus, the smaller size of a fast prime matches a small camera body better.
Fast 30/35mm Lenses And Equivalents
- Canon 35mm f/1.4L
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
- Fuji XF 23mm f/2 R WR
- Sony E 20mm f/2.8 Lens
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO
- Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7
Conclusion (and our pick)
So what’s the right lens for your travel photography? Our vote would be the 24-70mm lens (or similar focal range for your specific camera. For those who like to take portraits where the subject is engaged with the camera and don’t mind schlepping gear, a full-frame with a 24-70mm f/2.8 is an excellent choice. While the size and highly visible nature of a large camera detract from candid photography, they’re excellent for straight-forward portraiture, and the large sensor offers impressive image quality and high ISO performance. The 24-70mm f/2.8 is generally going to be a large and heavy lens regardless of manufacturer, but it is highly versatile if you are only going to be carrying one lens.
Be sure to check out the Best Cameras for Travel Photography.