Best Travel lens for digital SLR camera

by Enche Tjin on August 7, 2009

Basically, a good travel lens should be compact and have a big zoom range. In most of DSLR cameras, 18-200mm range or more is ideal. Using 18mm end you can capture entire building in fairly tight space, a tight group shots, and if you zoom all the way out, you can capture details of a building, landscape or buildings far away.


The most important benefit is you don’t have to change lens while you’re traveling. This will prevent dust going inside your camera. It will also make sure you don’t miss a shot at any time.

When buying a travel lens, I recommend to get a lens that has image stabilization (IS) built in. Image stabilization will help you to combat camera shake that happens in camera long exposure. You can also see the the image that you see is being stabilized in your viewfinder. Image stabilization is important because there are many places that does not have adequate lighting inside museum, church, restaurant etc. It also will help in evening and sunset shots.

Recommended travel / super zoom lens

canon-18-200mm-is-lens Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS

Compatible for all APS-C / crop factor camera except full frame cameras
It is a plain super zoom lens that works in all situation. Image Stabilization will help to combat shake in low light situation.

nikon-18-200mm-vr-lens Nikon AF-S 18-200mm DX VR

Compatible with all Nikon DSLR cameras except FX (full frame). Built quality and operation wise, Nikon super zoom lens is better than Canon. Canon is slightly shaper in telephoto ends. This lens is the most expensive, so for budget minded, I recommend to look at Sigma or Tamron lens below.

For Canon, Sony, Pentax and Nikon users

Sigma-18-250mm-os-hsm-lensSigma 18-250mm OS (Optical Stabilization) HSM

It is a new lens with extra 50mm zoom, built-in image stabilization and HSM. You might think for Sony and Pentax cameras why should I get the built-in IS / OS because the camera body has built-in stabilization already. It is because of two things. First, lens-based image stabilization is better than built-in body stabilization. Second, the price is approximately the same as the manufacturer brand. HSM (Hypersonic motor) will ensure smooth and quiet auto focus operation.

Tamron18-270-VC-lensTamron 18-270mm VC (Vibration Compensation)

This lens has the longest focal length range in the market right now. Like Sigma, it has built-in image stabilization, but the auto focus operation is not as quiet and smooth as the Sigma. The price is a higher too. Therefore, it depends if you really need the extra zoom length.


Sony and Pentax has their own 18-250mm lens, but I don’t recommend them because they are most likely are rebadged Tamron lenses. Because of the brand name, they charge more than it should be.

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