As much as you’d like to take all your lenses with you when you go travelling (I know I would) to make sure you have access to everything you need when you need it, in reality it’s not possible. When travelling it is necessary to scale right back, which often means taking just one lens (or two, if at all possible).
There is no single “best” travel photography lens, and the ideal travel lens will vary from person to person, and the type of photos they are after when travelling. Ultimately, the best travel lens depends on what you want to achieve:-
If you are only interested in capturing landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes you need a wide angle lens, and I would recommend a 16mm – 35mm zoom lens. With a range of focal lengths zoom lenses are versatile and provide more framing and composition options.
If you are interested in environmental portraits (i.e. photos of the locals going about their daily lives, photos of tourists enjoying their vacation etc.) you need a standard focal length lens with a wide maximum aperture, and I would recommend a 24mm – 70mm zoom lens.
If you are interested in capturing frame filling shots of birds and animals you need a long reach tele lens, and I would recommend a 100mm – 400mm lens. Whilst these lenses are pretty big and heavy, the huge range of focal lengths makes them the best choice.
If you are interested in taking photos of the local insect population (yes – I have a camera buddy who goes travelling specifically to find and photograph different species of insects, mini beasts and creepy crawlies) you need a macro lens, and I would recommend a 100mm macro lens. The 100mm macro lens is the perfect compromise between working distance and ease of use.
If you have no specific interests and want a lens for all subjects you need a lens with a huge range of focal lengths, and I would recommend the 18mm – 250mm zoom lens (for crop sensor cameras) or a 28mm – 300mm zoom lens (for full frame cameras) .
So what is the best travel photography lens? Only you can answer that, and in doing so you need to ask yourself a couple of questions, including “What am I most interested in?”, “What type of photos do I want to take?” Once you answer these only then will you be able to make the best choice.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.