Don’t like carrying around too many lenses?
If you plan on traveling, then you should definitely check out our list below and see what lenses are perfect travel and casual/everyday photography.
What can you shoot with them? From landscape, sports, portraits, to food, buildings, indoors, you name it.
We looked for lenses that offer plenty of zoom, good aperture even when shooting in low light, and great image quality. For prime lenses, we made sure their focal length is considered normal and that they don’t weigh a ton.
This guide is for E-mount cameras; A6, A7 and A9 series.
Best Sony Zoom Travel Lenses:
Best Sony Prime Travel Lenses:
First, we’ll go through all the lenses. After that, you can read through our buying guide and tips on what matters in a travel lens.
The 4 Best Sony Travel Lenses – Zoom
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The Sony 10-18mm f/4 G OSS is the widest zoom lens available for APS-C Sony cameras.
Aperture stays fixed at f/4 regardless of your length, which seems to be a standard for almost all Sony’s zooms and it’s something we like. While f/4 is not the best aperture for low light, it’s still better than f/5.6 or f/6.3, something that’s common when zooms under $1000.
If you like photographing landscape, cities, architecture and wide places when traveling, you’ll love the field of view. Auto focus is also quick and usable for shots on the go even though this isn’t aimed at sports shooters.
Distortion is very well controlled for a lens this wide, but vignetting at f/4 and 10mm will have to be corrected either in the camera or in post process, as you’ll most likely find it too strong.
The lens is also really light, yet feels solid and is mostly made of metal. It’s far from heavy at 0.50 lb (225g). The minimum focus distance is 0.82 ft (0.25m) and it takes 62mm filters.
It’s a perfect lens for landscape, streets, buildings, nature and even for traveling. It’ll be fine indoors too, but you will probably have to raise the ISO when in dim light.
A really useful feature is the OSS (stabilization) so if your camera doesn’t have it built-in, you can rely on getting around 4 stops of extra stabilization if you’re not stable enough.
The Sony 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS is a versatile, sharp lens for all sorts of landscape and wide angle situations.
It’s sort of like the 10-18mm above, but for full frame models (due to the difference in field of view).
If you prefer wide zooms over primes, there’s no better lens, especially at this price. The colors, contrast and sharpness are all great. While it’s usable at f/4, the corners might be a little too soft for some, at least when above 28mm.
Specification wise, the 16-35mm f/4 features AA (advanced apsherical) and 3 ED elements that help control the chromatic aberration and show less distortion. There’s also T* coating to reduce the flare and ghosting. It displays normal signs of vignetting and distortion for when under 20mm, but both can be corrected if needed.
It weighs 18.3 oz (518g) and it balances nicely on all A7 bodies. It’s not heavy either, but if you’re looking for something even lighter we recommend buying 2 primes. Its minimum focus distance is 0.92 ft (0.28m) but it’s nothing to use as a lens for close up shots with 0.19x magnification. The lens is aimed at indoor, street, landscape and group shots scenarios and it excels at that.
Aperture stays fixed at f/4 at all lengths which seems to be a standard with the majority of Sony’s lenses. An f/2.8 16-35mm would probably be too big and heavy for most, but we’re sure that slowly more and more f/2.8 zooms will arrive.
The Sony 18-105mm f/4 G OSS is our favorite all-around zoom lens. It may be a little bit heavy for some of you, but the quality at this price is absolutely worth it.
Focal length is great for pretty much everything; landscape, streets, indoors, portraits, animals, closer sports and much more. At 15.1 (around 500g) oz it’s not the lightest lens when compared to other Sony zooms, but it’s still pretty light to be honest. In return, you get a fixed f/4 aperture at all lengths and really sharp images.
Colors, contrast, sharpness are great, and it feels solid in hand as well. If you’re looking for that one zoom to do it all, this is it.
It’s usable at f/4 but in certain the situations at 18mm, the vignetting is fairly visible. One stop smaller and it gets all better.
We also considered the Sony 16-70mm f/4, but for $300 more, all you get is less reach and a lighter lens. If weight is absolutely the most important factor to you then it will be a good all-around lens, but simply looking for the best value for your money, nothing beats the 18-105mm.
4. Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
As if big the lens above wasn’t bulky enough, we present the Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS. It’s a tad lighter and smaller, but on an A7 body, both will make the camera look tiny.
The lens is ideal if you’re looking for 1 single lens that can do it all with good image quality and 10x zoom. The image quality obviously can not match that of prime lenses, but it’s not competing with them. The 24-240mm is something you take with you when switching between different lenses and carrying a ton of equipment sounds like it’s going to stop you from taking pictures. We’ve all been there and it’s something we often forget before purchasing gear. Image quality is one thing, carrying all that stuff is another.
It weighs 27.6 oz / 780g and costs less than $900. Surprisingly, the lens is very good at controlling vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion, which for such a big zoom is really awesome. Colors and sharpness are also quite good, but again not on the level of primes. Another downside is also f/6.3 at 240mm. Outdoors you’ll probably fine in most situations, but as soon as it gets darker you’ll have the raise the ISO speed or use a tripod. OSS helps, but at 240mm it’s easier to get a blurred shot than at 24mm.
With a big zoom you always have to make some compromises, but it’s good knowing that the actual quality of the shots is far from bad.
The 4 Best Sony Travel Lenses – Prime
1. Sony 35mm f/2.8 OSS
The 35mm length is brilliant for portraits, landscape, streets, indoor, nature etc. The Sony 35mm f/2.8 OSS is probably your best lens if you’re looking for a small, affordable but sharp prime.
It was tough choosing between the 35mm f/2.8 and Sony 35mm f/1.4, but the latter costs more than twice as much and weighs 4.5x as much. Unless you shoot in low light and absolutely need the big f/1.4 aperture, you’ll be more than fine with f/2.8 even when shooting indoors.
The 35mm f/2.8 has 7 diaphragm blades, while the f/1.4 has 9. Bokeh looks good on both, but the f/1.4 is the winner here. If that’s worth the extra money depends on how much bokeh is important to you.
Besides streets, you can use it as an all-around compact prime for just about anything; travel, indoors, nature, events and casual photography. There’s no OSS, but if your cameras has it built-in there’s no need to worry.
If you have the budget for both versions, you’ll need to ask yourself whether a bigger, heavier, more expensive and slightly sharper lens is better than an extremely light, compact, sharp with 2 stops smaller aperture.
2. Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS
While the lens above is suitable for full frame cameras, the Sony 35mm f/1.8G OSS was built for APS-C cameras (A6500 and lower).
For low light photography, an aperture f/1.8 is always good to have. Compared to f/2.8, it lets in almost twice as much light and you’ll appreciate it when shooting in low light and trying to use a fast shutter speed, or keep the ISO low.
For achieving a shallow depth of field (blurred background), a big aperture is also a must, anything bigger or equal to f/2.8. This makes it great for portraits, weddings, pets and whenever you want your subject to pop out.
The lens is really light (5.5 oz/155g) and accepts 49mm filters. For shooting on to go, or traveling light, the focal length + weight make it an excellent companion. Its auto focus is quick and accurate although you can expect it to hunt a little bit in low light. It was a no-brainer to include it here.
3. Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS
If you’re more into portraits and isolating your subjects, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS is great.
The 50mm length on APS-C is equivalent to a 75mm lens on full frame. It sits between the ‘standard’ and ‘telephoto’ range so it it’s good for both casual (but not wide) photography and weddings, concerts, any situation where you can’t always be too close to your subject.
It’s more or less like the 35mm above; same aperture, similar weight and size. The 50mm is around $150 cheaper though! Quality wise, it’s similar to 50mm f/1.8’s from other brands; usable and sharp at f/1.8, but by f/4 everything gets even better (including corners). If you’re shooting in low light and want good results, you can expect them at f/1.8 so no worries.
4. Sony 55mm f/1.8 OSS
For a few more hundred dollars, but still less than $1000, we have the famous Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA.
If we had to pick one prime lens that would be good for a whole lot of different things (portraits, low light, casual, travel etc.), this is what we would pick.
At f/1.8 it’s already really sharp, especially in the center. Stopping down to f/2.8 or f/4 delivers impressive results, but it’s good to know that you can actually use an f/1.8 at f/1.8. Vignetting and chromatic aberration at f/1.8 will be visible, but it’s still fairly well considering better 50mm’s cost a lot more.
It’s quite light and small, so it’s perfect for hours of photographing (hiking, traveling, weddings). Fits very well with the A7 bodies and won’t make your back hurt. Thanks to 9 diaphragm blades, bokeh looks really good too.
Simply put, for both outdoor and indoor work, unless you shoot wildlife, you’ll love the 55mm f/1.8. The length, sharpness and size make it one of the most versatile primes for any Sony body.
Travel Lenses – What’s Important?
1. Focal Length
This is what makes a lens all-around; the more zoom, the more versatile it is. Traveling is such a broad term and you want a lens that allows you to capture every moment regardless of where you’re at.
Full Frame: 24mm to 120mm range.
APS-C: 18mm to 100mm
The reason why APS-C users should get wider lenses is because an APS-C sensor has 1.6x crop factor, which means that any lens you use will actually look as if it’s 1.6x longer. Read more about the crop factor at B&H here.
2. Aperture Size
Zooms that are perfect for traveling have aperture sizes from f/4 to f/5.6. Sometimes you’ll see a third stop smaller or bigger values, but generally speaking this results in best combination of price, quality and reach.
You can not expect a super zoom to cost less than $1000 and have an aperture f/2.8. Not only would it be expensive, it would also be big and heavy so that would be pointless for most people.
More expensive lenses have fixed apertures so even if you zoom all the way, the opening doesn’t get smaller. Cheaper ones usually stop down by 1 f-stop. When shooting indoors, you’ll definitely have to raise the ISO if the light is bad, but if you have a newer Sony then you can confidently shoot at values around ISO 3,200 – 6,400.
- In short, f/4 to f/5.6 are perfectly good for zooms, while f/1.8 to f/2.8 is the standard for prime lenses.
3. Image Stabilization
This is a must in our opinion!
For traveling or hiking, Optical Steady Shot is extremely handy. If you’re tired after walking for a long time, you won’t be as stable as you normally would. Lenses with OSS in this age can help up to 4 stops!
You also won’t always have the time to setup a tripod, if you’ll decide to take one with you anyways. At 105mm length, you can shoot with a shutter speed of 1/8 instead of 1/125 and still get a usable shot. One thing to note though, OSS does not stabilize moving subjects, only a fast shutter speed does that. OSS only compensates for your movement in all directions, and it’s useful to have it turned on even if you don’t feel like you need to.
If your cameras has this feature built-in then you’re already covered, although in some cases the camera + lens stabilization can work together!
4. Size & Weight
Perhaps the most important question you should ask is how light and small does the lens need to be.
If you don’t find your current setup heavy at all (that includes the camera, backpack etc.) then every lens on our list will be good. However, if you already feel tired or that owning a zoom would only reduce the amount of time you take your camera with you, then by all means get a compact prime lens.
Since Sony’s cameras are considered pretty small and lightweight compared to standard DSLR systems, you have to be more specific when choosing a lens. A small body with an enormous lens might make it hard to balance.