Traveling as a photographer can become complicated quickly. Do you pack everything and pay for all the extra baggage fees, or do take just a few lenses and hope you don’t miss out on some shots? What if I told you that you don’t have to make compromises and that all-in-one zooms are the answer to your travel prayers.
I know what you’re thinking. There’s simply no way that a single lens can do it all and still be a top-quality lens. This way of thinking would have been right a few years ago when all-in-one zooms forced you to make compromises. However, times have changed.
Today’s all-in-one zooms are incredibly well made. They feature wonderful optics, optical stabilization, gobs of weather sealing and more. They’re also compact, light and offer enough focal range to cover everything from street photography to landscapes and wildlife photography to portraits.
Sure, all-in-one zooms might not be as fast as your collection of primes. Still, with today’s cameras being high ISO monsters and with most cameras having IBIS, today’s slightly slower variable aperture all-in-one zooms are incredibly viable options for modern travel photographers. We’ve rounded up five of the best zooms for travel photography and have listed them below.
Fujifilm XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR — Sturdy, strong and sharp
With a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27-206mm, the Fujifilm XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is the perfect choice for photographers with wanderlust. Two extra-low dispersion elements and four aspherical elements help make this one sharp lens.
The lens boasts fast autofocus motors. There’s optical stabilization, and it weighs just 1.08lbs. You can capture landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, wildlife and more with this powerhouse of a lens. It’s also fully weather-sealed with 20 seals that protect against dust, moisture and the cold. As long as you use this lens with a weather-sealed Fujifilm camera, you can make memories of your trip no matter what the weather is doing.
Olympus 12-100mm f/4 PRO — Travel photography made easy
The Olympus 12-100mm f/4 PRO is one of the finest all-in-one-zooms on the planet. Not only does this lens feature build qualities that are second to none, but when you pair it up with a camera with Olympus’s 5-axis IBIS you can handhold this lens for god-like amounts of time. We’re talking tack sharp 10-second handheld shots, and no, we’re not kidding. In our review we said:
“The 12-100mm also has lens stabilization that works in conjunction with a stabilized OM-D body to give us a sublime 6.5 stops of image stabilization — that’s amazing! Additionally, Olympus has some of the best weather sealing in the business, and the 12-100mm is weather sealed for extreme environments.”Darren Miles
The stabilization of this lens is something you have to experience for yourself. The equivalent focal length of this lens on Micro Four Thirds cameras is 24-200mm. The optics will help you create super sharp images. Nature, street, wildlife, portraits, you name it, this lens can handle them all. The lens can also handle torrential rains, snow and dust thanks to the fantastic weather sealing. It’s one of the best Micro Four Thirds lenses ever made and it’s perfect for travel photography.
Tamron 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD — One of the best all-in-one APS-C zooms around
If you shoot with either Sony APS-C cameras or with any Fujifilm X mount camera and you want to travel smart, the Tamron 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III might be the lens for you. This compact all-in-one lens weighs just 1.3lbs and is just 4.9 inches long. The lens features stunning optics, an incredible focal spread (27-450mm equivalent on APS-C cameras) and it’s fully weather sealed. Here’s what we said in our full review:
“The lens is well-built, fast to focus and has so many things going for it. It’s well-balanced no matter what camera you put it on, and the picture quality is superb. Add in image stabilization and weather sealing. Tamron has made a winner here.”Bryan Esler, Managing Editor
This option from Tamron is one of the best APS-C all-in-one zooms you can get your hands on. It has everything a travel photographer could need. If you truly want to travel with one lens that can do it all, and that won’t break the bank, check out the Tamron 18-300mm.
Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM — The perfect lens for Canon jet-setters
The Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 is a lens that offers a ton of versatility is a lightweight package (1.65lbs). When paired up with an RF mount camera like the Canon EOS RP you’ll have a very light travel kit that will not make you compromise on quality or performance.
This all-in-one zoom from Canon has a control ring that you can use to manually focus the lens. You can also reassign the ring to control aperture, ISO and more. The lens also features five stops of optical image stabilization. This all-in-one zoom uses STM motors which are fast and silent which is great for both photography and videography. If you’re a Canon user and you want to do it all with one lens while traversing the globe, this is the lens for you.
Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD — A travel photography gem for full-frame Sony cameras
Tamron is no stranger to making all-in-one zooms. The Tamron lens listed above is for APS-C cameras, however, this bad boy here is for Sony full-frame cameras and it’s a stunner. In our review we said:
“Having the versatility of 28-200mm was fantastic on bushwalking hikes. I could take just one lens and camera and feel confident in having most situations covered.”Julie Powell
The bright aperture of f/2.8 on the wide end of this lens makes it ideal for interior shots. The wide end of the lens lends itself well to capturing wildlife and more. Thanks to the close focusing distance of 7.5 inches you can also get nice and close to your subjects. As you would imagine, this lens features plenty of weather sealing. The autofocus motors play nice with all of the advanced Sony AF features, and incredibly this lens weighs just 1.27lbs! You can travel light and be happy.