Travel Photography: 4 of Our Favorite APS-C Lenses to Capture the World With

October 9, 2018

Take your travel photography to the next level with these four lenses that are designed for APS-C cameras.

We all love to travel, and we all love taking pictures and preserving the memories we make in new lands, but which lenses are suited for travel photography on APS-C Cameras? In this article we will take a look the best lenses for travel photographers who use crop sensor cameras.

When it comes to travel photography, being able to keep your gear to a minimum can go a long way when it comes to how comfortable you are. We all know it is no fun to be carrying a massive bag full of glass when all you want to do is enjoy the scenery. Whether you shoot Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony or Fuji there are some truly great lenses that cover a wide range of focal lengths that are perfect for travel photography. Here’s a look at our favorite APS-C lenses for travel photography.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM

The Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 is one of the best APS-C based lenses ever made, and it may be the perfect travel photography lens for those who like to capture landscapes and candid street photography shots.  The overall build quality, exceptional image quality, and the constant maximum aperture of f1.8 though the entire focal range makes this one heck of a lens. On a APS-C based body this lens will have an equivalent focal range of 28-56mm.

In our review we said:

“We’ve got absolutely nothing but respect and love for the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 DC HSM. If you’re an APS-C DSLR user, this should be the lens that is a high priority item on your list to get. It’s sharp, contrasty, has beautiful color that is true to life, focuses quickly, and stays compact due to its internal zooming and focusing design.”

This Sigma 18-35mm will not disappoint you in any way, shape or form. Image quality is simply phenomenal, even when wide open, all thanks for this goes to the great optics in the lens (17 elements in 12 groups, with 9 rounded aperture blades). Colors rendered are nice and life like, focus speeds are incredibly fast, and color fringing is virtually non existent.

The lens weighs 1.78lbs, but it feels so good in the hand that you will not mind using it as a walk around lens. If you tend to shoot on the wider side of things, and you stay away from telephotos, this lens should be added to your travel photography kit as soon as possible.

Buy now Canon ($719): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($699): Amazon

Buy now Pentax ($749): Amazon

Buy now Sigma SA ($799): Amazon

Buy now Sony A Mount ($749): Amazon

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Sample Images

Pro Tip: Before you head off on your adventure make sure you have plenty of spare SD cards in your camera bag. The last thing you want to have happen is for a card to fail and you not have a replacement handy. This five pack of Sandisk 16GB memory cards for $26.85 will leave you with peace of mind, and you won’t miss out on stunning vacation shots.

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary

If you like the idea of traveling as light as possible on your adventures then the Sigma 18-300mm f3.5-6.3 Contemporary lens may be the travel photography lens you have been looking for. In one well built package you will be able to cover angles for landscapes, all the way through to super telephoto lengths to capture items of interest in the distance. When used on a APS-C based body this lens will have an equivalent focal range of roughly 28.8-480mm.

In our review we said:

“The Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary lens will make anyone purchasing it happy as long as they realize that they’re not reaching for higher fruit. It surely is a lens designed for the traveller or entry-mid enthusiast.”

The Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary weighs 1.2lbs so it’s easy to use for long periods, but it would be best to use with a shoulder sling on your camera rather than a neck strap. Inside the body there are 17 elements in thirteen groups, and 7 diaphragm blades. Image quality for a lens that covers such a large focal range is very good and should leave you with no complaints. Bokeh produced by the lens is just okay, but a lens like this is not designed for creamy bokeh, it’s designed to be an all in one package that will have your back no matter the situation.

Focus speeds are very good, and the optical image stabilization will go a long way in helping you shoot in low light conditions. Travel photographers who want a lightweight lens that can do it all, and do it well should consider this Sigma to be their travel photography companion.

Buy now Canon ($389): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($399): Amazon

Buy now Pentax ($399): Amazon

Buy now Sony A Mount ($399): Amazon

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Sample Images

Pro Tip: When doing a lot of traveling being comfortable is absolutely essential. When using a larger lens on your camera you should seriously consider using a camera sling instead of a regular neck strap. A camera sling will take all of the weight off of your neck and upper back, and it will make carrying your gear a lot easier over long periods of time.

Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS

Sony has a great option when it comes to travel lenses for their APS-C Alpha series of cameras in the Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS lens. When placed on Alpha crop bodies this lens will have the focal equivalent of 27-202mm which makes it perfect for travel photography.

In our review we said:

“Zoom the Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS all the way into 135mm and what you’ll see is that it doesn’t become that much larger. This is one of the best parts of the Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS. Most other lenses pretty much double in size otherwise.”

The great thing about this lens is that even when fully extended it is still nice and compact which makes it easy to use, and it weighs just 0.71lbs so you will be able to travel light as well. Despite its size in comparison to the small rangefinder Alpha cameras, it sits on the Sony bodies well and it feels nice and balanced.

The Sony 18-135mm produces images that are nice and sharp, and its color reproduction is good with nice vibrant colors produced. The lens focuses really well even in low light situations, so you should have no issues getting the shots you want, especially when you factor in the optical image stabilization. This lens is perfectly suited to travel photography thanks to its compact size, light weight and great overall image quality. If you use a Sony a6000, a6300, or the a6500 and plan on globetrotting with just one lens, take this one.

Buy now ($598): Amazon

Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS Image Samples

Pro Tip: While your camera body may be weather sealed, not all lenses are made to be out in the elements. Be ready for inclement weather by carrying some camera and lens rain covers in your bag. You just never know when you might need them.

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

Just like the Sony users mentioned above, Fujifilm camera users also have an outstanding lens choice when it comes to travel photography. The Fujifilm XF18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OIS WR not only has a great focal range (27-206mm on crop bodies), it’s also weather sealed which means you can travel and shoot regardless of what mother nature may be doing. Whether you want to shoot landscapes that show your surroundings, or if you want to get up close and personal with people, or with objects in the distance, with this lens you can do both within a matter of seconds.

In our review we said:

“The lens perfectly slots into a long vacant gap within Fujifilm’s X-series lens lineup as a jack-of-all-trades tool for tourists on vacation to journalists in need of a flexible lens for events.”

The Fujifilm 18-135mm weighs 1.08lbs so it is slightly heavier than some other lenses in this class, but it’s still very easy to hold and use. When set to its widest angle the lens has a length of 3.85 inches compared to the 6.22 inches on the telephoto end of things. As we have come to expect from Fujifilm lenses the build quality is great, and the lens produces pretty sharp images with colors that are pleasing to the eye.

The autofocus performance is excellent on the XF18-135mm and is consistently fast and accurate. The optical image stabilization is good enough for five stops, so low light shooting (especially with the excellent high ISO performance of Fujifilm cameras) will be no problem at all.  The Fujifilm XF18-135mm will make a perfect travel companion for Fujifilm shooters who just want to carry one lens while they are on their travels.

Buy now ($799): Amazon

Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Image Samples

Are you a travel photographer? What are your favorite APS-C lenses to use for travel photography? Let us know in the comment section below.


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