Zoom Lenses For Travel Photography

All-in-one lenses that cover wide-angle to telephoto in a compact, affordable package

Zoom lenses for travel photography

When packing for a photo adventure in a new destination, you might be inclined to take every lens in your collection to be prepared for anything. Once you’re on the ground, though, you’ll likely want to carry as little as possible. When you’re exploring new places and cultures, you want to be focused outward, immersing yourself in the experience—not heavily laden and distracted by your camera system.

Bringing fewer lenses will not only reduce the weight of your day pack and make room for extras like sunblock and a windbreaker, but it also will help free your attention from your gear so that you can focus on what’s happening in front of you. A single camera-and-lens combo is undeniably appealing.

Big-range, or “all-in-one,” zooms give you the flexibility to go from wide angle to telephoto instantly, rather than fumbling through your pack for a different lens while the moment passes.

Big-Range Zoom Basics

When we talk about big-range zooms, we’re referring to those with focal length ranges of roughly 24mm on the wide end to 200mm or more on the telephoto end for full-frame sensors, or the equivalent for smaller-sensor cameras. The exact focal lengths vary from system to system, but you get the idea: a single zoom that will allow you to capture expansive scenic views as well as tighter perspectives on more distant subjects.

In addition to being incredibly convenient, these lenses tend to be budget-friendly. One reason for this is that they’re typically slower than zooms with smaller ranges, with variable maximum apertures (ƒ/3.5-5.6 or slower is common). If you want a larger maximum aperture for very shallow depth of field or extra light in dim situations, this is something to consider. A standard zoom like a 24-70mm gives you less compositional flexibility, but zooms of this range are usually available in models with a fixed maximum aperture of ƒ/4 or faster. A faster zoom will be pricier and heavier, though—something else to keep in mind.

Extreme zoom ranges also compromise image quality compared to primes and shorter-range zooms. The reason for this is the technical difficultly of correcting a lens for multiple focal lengths; the greater the range of the lens, the more complex a challenge this becomes. Despite these tradeoffs, the versatility of all-in-one-zooms translates to the simplicity of never needing to change lenses for most photo situations and keeping your gear to a minimum, both of which are decidedly advantageous for travel photography.

If your camera doesn’t include in-body image stabilization, this is an important feature to look for in your lens choice. Carrying a tripod as you explore your destination is an encumbrance you’d probably like to avoid, especially around town, and depending where you are, you may not be allowed to use one at all. You might want to pack a tripod if you plan to do night photography or other long-exposure work like time-lapse, but with image stabilization, you can leave the tripod at your hotel most of the time.

All-In-One Lens Options

No matter which camera system you use, there’s likely a big-range zoom for you. Here’s a selection of top options for full-frame, APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras.

Canon

Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

For Canon full-frame DSLRs, the EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM offers all-in-one range, but it’s a big lens compared to the rest of the field. If you want to keep your gear light, Canon also makes several 24-105mm lenses. That’s a more limited range but may be the better choice, all things considered. The EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM is the most affordable of the Canon 24-105mm options. Also consider the Tamron 28-300mm and 35-150mm zooms (see below), which are offered in a Canon mount.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 15.7 in. • Length: 4.1 in. • Diameter: 3.3 in. • Weight: 1.2 lb. • Estimated Price: $599

Shop the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM at B&H Photo


Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

The EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS is a good option for Canon APS-C DSLRs. It provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of about 29-320mm, and its built-in image stabilization system will allow you to shoot at about four stops slower handheld.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 17.8 in. • Length: 6.4 in.  • Diameter: 3.1 in. • Weight: 1.3 lb. • Estimated Price: $699

Shop the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS at B&H Photo


Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM

If you have one of Canon’s EOS R full-frame mirrorless cameras, the RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM is the most versatile zoom currently available for the system, with a 10x range and up to five stops of image stabilization.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 19.7 in. (wide) to 30.7 in. (tele) • Length: 4.8 in. • Diameter: 3.2 in. • Weight: 1.7 lb. • Estimated Price: $899

Shop the Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM at B&H Photo


Fujifilm

FUJINON XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Fujifilm’s X Series cameras are popular for travel and street photography thanks to their compact size. The FUJINON XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR features five stops of image stabilization and covers a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 27-206mm.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 17.7 in. • Length: 3.9 in. • Diameter: 3 in. • Weight: 1.1 lb. • Estimated Price: $899

Shop the FUJINON XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR at B&H Photo


Nikon

AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Several big-range zooms are available for Nikon’s DSLR lines. For FX format (full-frame) DSLRs the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR is a 10.7x zoom with 3.5 stops of image stabilization.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 19.2 in. • Length: 4.5 in. • Diameter: 3.3 in. • Weight: 1.8 lb. • Estimated Price: $849

Shop the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR at B&H Photo


AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR

Nikon DX format (APS-C) DSLR shooters have the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR, a 16.7x zoom with a 35mm-equivalent range of 27-450mm. This lens provides four stops of image stabilization.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 19.2 in. • Length: 3.8 in. • Diameter: 3 in. • Weight: 1.2 lb. • Estimated Price: $629

Shop the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR at B&H Photo


NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR

The NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR can be used with both Nikon Z mirrorless full-frame and APS-C sensor models, providing a 35mm-equivalent range of 36-300mm with the latter. The lens has built-in image stabilization for up to five stops of correction.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 19.7 in. (wide) to 27.6 in. (tele) • Length: 4.5 in. • Diameter: 3.1 in. • Weight: 1.3 lb. • Estimated Price: $899

Shop the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR at B&H Photo


Olympus

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-200mm F3.5-6.3

Micro Four Thirds system cameras are a great option for travel photography thanks to the compact size of the bodies and lenses. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-200mm F3.5-6.3 covers a 35mm-equivalent range of 24-400mm. Though it doesn’t have image stabilization built-in, it’s not needed as Olympus OM-D series cameras have excellent in-body systems—the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, for example, provides up to seven stops of correction.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 8.7 in. (wide) to 27.6 in. (tele) • Length: 3.9 in. • Diameter: 3.1 in. • Weight: 1 lb. • Estimated Price: $849

Shop the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-200mm F3.5-6.3 at B&H Photo


Panasonic

Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Power O.I.S.

For Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds system cameras, the LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Power O.I.S. is equivalent to a 28-280mm zoom. The lens has image stabilization, but Panasonic doesn’t specify the number of stops of correction.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 11.8 in. • Length: 3 in. • Diameter: 2.6 in. • Weight: 0.6 lb. • Estimated Price: $599

Shop the LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Power O.I.S. at B&H Photo


Sigma

Sigma 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM | C

Offered in Canon and Nikon mounts for APS-C DSLRs, the Sigma 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM | C is a great value and covers a focal length range equivalent to about 27-450mm. The lens has image stabilization, but the number of stops of correction isn’t stated.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 15.4 in. • Length: 4 in. • Diameter: 3.1 in. • Weight: 1.3 lb. • Estimated Price: $399

Shop the Sigma 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM | C at B&H Photo


Sony

Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS

Sony full-frame shooters have the 10x FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS. This lens can also be used with Sony APS-C sensor cameras, with an equivalent range of 36-360mm. The lens has image stabilization, but Sony doesn’t state the number of stops of compensation that the system provides.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 19.7 in. (wide) to 31.6 in. (tele) • Length: 4.8 in. • Diameter: 3.3 in. • Weight: 1.7 lb. • Estimated Price: $1,049

Shop the Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS at B&H Photo


Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

For Sony APS-C sensor cameras, the E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS is a 7.5x zoom with a 35mm-equivalent range of 27-202.5mm. Like the FE 24-240mm, Sony doesn’t specify the stops of compensation of the built-in image stabilization system.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 17.8 in. • Length: 3.5 in. • Diameter: 2.7 in. • Weight: 0.7 lb. • Estimated Price: $649

Shop the Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS at B&H Photo


Tamron

The latest all-in-one zoom from Tamron, introduced in June 2020, is the 28-200mm F/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD (Model A071). Though is has slightly less range than many of Tamron’s all-in-one offerings, it offers a fast maximum aperture of ƒ/2.8 at the wide end, and compares favorably to Sony’s own all-in-one zoom when you take the speed and price into consideration.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 7.5 in. (wide) to 31.5 in. (tele). • Length: 4.6 in. • Diameter: 2.9 in. • Weight: 1.3 lb. • Estimated Price: $729

Shop the Tamron 28-200mm F/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD at B&H Photo

Tamron 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD

For full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLRs and Sony mirrorless, the Tamron 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD is a 10.7x zoom with built-in image stabilization. It’s the most generous zoom range available for Canon full-frame DSLRs and a good value compared to similar offerings from Nikon and Sony.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 19.3 in. • Length: 3.8 in. • Diameter: 2.9 in. • Weight:  1.2 lb. • Estimated Price: $699

Shop the Tamron 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD at B&H Photo


Tamron 35-150mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD

Though it doesn’t have the range of the 28-300mm, the Tamron 35-150mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD for Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLRs is a much newer lens, introduced in 2019 versus 2014 for the 28-300mm. Accordingly, it offers more up-to-date technology, such as the Vibration Compensation system that’s capable of five stops of image stabilization. It also has a faster maximum aperture.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 17.7 in. • Length: 5 in. • Diameter: 3.3 in. • Weight:  1.8 lb. • Estimated Price: $799

Shop the Tamron 35-150mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD at B&H Photo


Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD

Canon and Nikon APS-C DSLR users have the option of the most extreme zoom range available in an interchangeable lens, the 22.2x Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD, with a 35mm-equivalent range of approximately 27-600mm. The image stabilization system offers up to 2.5 stops of correction.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 17.7 in. • Length: 4.9 in. • Diameter: 3.1 in. • Weight: 1.6 lb. • Estimated Price: $599

Shop the Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD at B&H Photo


Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC

For Canon EOS M and Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras, the Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC is equivalent to a 28-310mm. The lens’ Vibration Compensation system enables image stabilization of up to four stops.

Minimum Focusing Distance: 19.7 in. • Length: 3.8 in. • Diameter: 2.7 in. • Weight:  1 lb. • Estimated Price: $599

Shop the Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC at B&H Photo


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