Best Travel Lenses for Sony Mirrorless Cameras

Best travel lenses for Sony cameras

Whether you are an experienced photographer or a novice, choosing the right lens setup for travel is always a challenge. Should you bring single all-round lens, two lenses or perhaps even more?

If you are an owner of a Sony mirrorless camera (APS-C or full-frame), this article will help you pick the best lenses for travel photography.

We separated lenses designed for full-frame cameras from the APS-C ones, however, full-frame lenses are still compatible with APS-C cameras.

Table of Contents

P.S. If you don’t have a time to go through the whole article, below you will find quick overview of our favorite lenses for Sony mirrorless cameras:

All-Round Lenses

All-Round Lenses

For APS-C Mirrorless Cameras

Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

One of the best all-round lenses for Sony’s mirrorless cameras with an APS-C sensor for both photographers and video creators. The latter will especially like the Power Zoom feature, which is easy to operate while shooting.

The lenses cover the 18-105 mm range, which corresponds to the 27-157 mm range of an APS-C camera. The lens is not compact but it’s still travel-friendly with a length of 4.33 in (11 cm) and a weight of 1.06 lb (482 g). The focus diameter is 72 mm while the minimum focus distance is 17.72 in (45 cm). Unfortunately, the lens is not weather sealed.

Autofocus is great in both photo and video mode. It’s pretty fast and accurate, and the electronic mechanisms make it quiet with smooth transitions in video mode. You can easily override the autofocus when you need it. Another great feature is that the lens uses internal focusing and zoom systems, so it won’t extend nor rotate.

Image stabilization works pretty well. We didn’t find official data on the f-stops compensation, but it works well for both photo and video modes.

This lens is not made primarily for low light environments because the maximum aperture of f/4 is not spectacular. However, the good thing is that the maximum aperture is constant through the whole range. With a help of higher ISOs and image stabilization, you can produce solid results. Alternatively, you could use a tripod if you need lower ISOs.

Bokeh quality is solid at 105 mm when you keep the aperture at f/4, so you could get nice close-ups and portraits. On other lengths, you shouldn’t expect to get similar results. So just keep it at the long-end and try to position your subject closer, and you will get a nice smooth background.

The optical performance of this lens is good in almost all aspects–but nothing excels, which is fairly normal for all-round lenses. At 18 mm, sharpness is excellent in the central parts of the image, but corners are softer, especially if you open the aperture at the widest value (f/4). Of course, if you set the aperture to f/6.3-f/8 you will get the best results in terms of sharpness, but still, center sharpness gives the most optimal results. The same goes for mid-ranges and the long-end.

Barrel distortion and pincushion distortion are visible. We can’t say that they are too strong, but we recommend you turn auto distortion correction on. Barrel distortion is not so visible at wide end, but strong pincushion distortion appears on almost all ranges. Vignetting is strong at wide-end while the aperture is at f/4. If you stop the aperture down to f/6.3 to f/8, corner shading will be reduced significantly.

The lens is not ideal for handling chromatic aberration, especially at telephoto ranges at small apertures. Lens flare is well-controlled, so you can pretty easily avoid it (especially with the lens hood), but there are some ghosting effects visible when the spotlighting source is in front of you.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another sample video
Low light video test

Pros for travel photography:

  • Pretty versatile zoom range for travel photography;
  • Image stabilization is effective in both photo and video modes;
  • Power Zoom is an excellent addition for video shooters;
  • Constant maximum aperture (f/4) through the whole range;
  • Central sharpness is very good;
  • Good resistance on the flare;
  • Premium/professional feel in hands due to excellent building materials.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not weather sealed;
  • Pincushion distortion is visible and strong if you don’t use auto-correction;
  • Chromatic aberrations are not well-controlled and are visible if you don’t enable auto-correction;
  • Corners are softer at telephoto ranges.
Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

If 105 mm at telephoto is not enough for you, we recommend you take this lens into consideration–it reaches 135 mm in the long-end. So, the range of this lens is even better considering it covers 18-135 mm. So, with an APS-C camera you will get 27-202 mm.

This lens is more compact than Sony PZ 18-105 but few features are missed like Power Zoom and internal zooming system. With a length of 3.46 in (8.8 cm) and a weight of 0.72 lb (325 g), this lens is very travel-friendly. Filter diameter is 55 mm while the minimum focus distance is 17.72 in (45 cm).

Unlike Sony 18-105 PZ, this lens is made of plastic, so it might feel cheaper. It’s also not weather sealed but neither are most of Sony’s mirrorless cameras, so it shouldn’t bother you too much.

Autofocus relies on a linear motor which is very quick and accurate. Video creators will like that the autofocus motor is silent. There is also optical image stabilization and it works well in both photo and video modes. Considering that the lens has an auto/manual focus selector, we’d like to see the same for image stabilization (with a physical switcher) but Sony decided not to integrate it on this lens. Instead, you are forced to enable/disable image stabilization through the camera menu.

As we mentioned earlier, the lack of the Power Zoom feature and this is one of the reasons why Sony 18-105 PZ is a better option for video creators. In any case, we recommend you try both lenses if your priority is video shooting.

The lens performs solidly in low light at wide-end (especially with a help of image stabilization) considering that the maximum aperture is f/3.5. On longer lenses things will be worse, considering that the aperture becomes too narrow and quickly drops to f/5.6.

Good bokeh quality is supported by 7 circular blades diaphragm. However, since maximum aperture is relatively narrow, you should use longer focal lengths for close subjects to boost bokeh quality to the maximum level.

The sharpness is very good throughout the whole range. In fact, it positively surprised us, given that the lens is one of Sony’s KITs. At wide-end, center sharpness is very good even if the aperture is open to f/3.5, but corners are a bit soft. However, you can make them sharper if you close the aperture to f/5.6-f/8 which are the best apertures according to whole frame sharpness. On mid-lengths and at the long-end center and corners sharpening is pretty much the same on all apertures, and you will get the best results between f/5.6 and f/10.

Barrel distortion is strong on the wide-end but if you enable distortion correction in your camera you will get rid of them in JPEGs. Vignetting is also visible mostly at wide-end and long-end especially if you open aperture widely. But if you enable auto-correction of geometric distortion, it will correct a lot of vignetting as well (because these corrections essentially slightly crop the image). Chromatic aberration is well-controlled and you won’t notice it in normal scenes. The same goes for lens flare and ghosting effects which are also very well-controlled and you wouldn’t notice them with normal usage.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Pretty versatile range;
    Travel-friendly size and weight;
  • Good optical image stabilization;
  • Pretty sharp in almost the whole range, especially center sharpness;
  • Good lens flare resistance.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not weather sealed;
    Made of plastic;
  • Vignetting and barrel distortion are highly visible if you turn off in-camera distortion correction or in RAW images.
Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

This lens is the ultimate solution for travelers who want to replace 2 or 3 lenses with a single lens.

The focal length is fantastic and this lens covers 18-200 mm which is 27-300 mm effectively on an APS-C camera. It’s a bit bigger and heavier than Sony 18-135 with a length of 3.9 in (9.9 cm) and a weight of 1.16 lb (524 g), but you won’t notice it too much, especially if you put into the equation the range you will get with this single lens. Just think about the size and weight of 2-3 lenses and compare it to this one.

The filter diameter is 67 mm and the minimum focus distance is 11.81” (30 cm). Like the previous 2 lenses, this one also doesn’t have a weather sealed case.

There are also 2 other versions of this lens:

  • A bit smaller & lighter version with LE in the name (Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS LE);
  • Another one dedicated to videographers with integrated Power Zoom (Sony E PZ 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS).

However, let’s focus purely on non-LE and non-PZ versions.

With this lens, you will also get excellent autofocus capabilities. Autofocus is extremely fast and also pretty silent to make sure you can use it for video shooting as well. The lens has an internal focus system so there is no external rotation which is fairly important to avoid additional filter adjustments. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about dust getting inside the lens.

Image stabilization works very well in both photo and video modes. There is also active stabilization mode which is dedicated to video shooting. In low light, this lens won’t perform well because the maximum aperture is too narrow, and for best results, you should use a wide-end to open the aperture to f/3.5. When you zoom in it will quickly drop to f/5.6-f/6.3 which is not enough for good low light photography (especially if you want to shoot non-static subjects).

You would think that considering the ability to zoom till 200 mm and 7 rounded bladed diaphragm, this lens should be capable of providing great bokeh, but it isn’t the case – it’s not especially great. We can say it’s just average in terms of quality. The reason for this is a too narrow maximum aperture in telephoto–with f/6.3 you can expect just an average bokeh.

On the other hand, the lens is capable of producing very sharp images especially at wide-end and mid-ranges, but also on telephoto lengths sharpness is much better than on some other all-round lenses with such a long-range lens. The wide-end image is pretty sharp even when you keep the aperture at f/3.5. At mid-ranges, the image is still sharp at a wide-open aperture but corners are soft. So for the best results, you should keep the aperture somewhere between f/8 and f/10. At the long-end level sharpness drops, especially in corners, so the overall sharpness is lower than on other parts of the range.

We highly recommend you enable auto distortion correction on your camera to avoid the final image with a high amount of barrel distortion at wide-end and also a lot of pincushion distortion at telephoto lengths. However, if you shoot mainly in RAW mode considering that auto distortion correction is not available, you can fix them easily in Adobe Lightroom.

Vignetting is not so visible except on the wide-end in combination with the widest aperture. So, shooting at 18 mm with f/3.5 is not recommended in situations where vignetting could be a problem. Chromatic aberration is very well-controlled through (almost) the whole range–you will notice them only at wide-end and long-end on high-contrast scenes. Also, we were pleasantly surprised with resistance to lens flare and ghosting effects.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Extremely useful zoom range;
  • Reasonable size and weight for such a huge range (it’s still a travel-friendly lens in terms of size and weight);
  • Excellent autofocus;
  • Very good sharpness in most of the ranges;
  • Internal focusing;
  • Good image stabilization in both photo and video modes;
  • Very well-controlled lens flare.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not weather sealed;
  • Not particularly good in low light;
  • Average bokeh quality.
Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III VC

Image source: Tamron

Overview

It’s one of the best 3rd party alternatives for Sony’s 18-200 OSS lens. The focal length you will get is the same–18-200 mm (effectively 27-300 mm on an APS-C camera). This lens is very travel-friendly in terms of size with a length of 3.82 in (9.7 cm) and a weight of 1.01 lb (460 g). The filter diameter is 62 mm and the minimum focus distance is 19.69 in (50 cm). Besides very good materials this lens also offers a weather sealed body.

Autofocus uses a stepping motor which works very well. It also offers Direct Manual Focus which is used to override autofocus and adjust it manually. Of course, it’s fast and silent as well. Image stabilization offers 4 f-stops of compensation. Low light capabilities are the same as on Sony 18-200 OSS, so this lens is not intended to be purely used in low light conditions. However, if you use it on low light try taking more wide photos instead of using telephoto capabilities to get solid low light shots.

The lens has similar capabilities as Sony 18-200 OSS for bokeh and background blurring. It’s capable of producing some background blurring at longer lengths but considering that the maximum aperture is f/6.3 you shouldn’t expect a good quality of blur.

Sharpness is very good at wider lengths. At the wide-end, you can expect very good center sharpness (with some softness in the corner) even when the aperture is open at f/3.5. When you stop it down to f/6.3-f/8 things will become even better, especially in corners. At mid-ranges sharpness is solid when the aperture is wide open, but for best results, you should stop it down to f/8. At long-end level sharpness drops even in the center of the frame, so for best results, you should keep the aperture around f/10-11, but corners will still be softer than the center of the frame.

For the lens with such a long range, geometrical distortions are not a surprise. So, if you don’t enable automatic distortion correction, you will see strong barrel distortion at 18 mm.

On the other hand, pincushion distortion is not so strong, but it’s also visible at telephoto lengths. Vignetting is controlled very well, but chromatic aberration can be seen on longer lengths while other parts of the range are controlled. Lens flare is visible the most at the wide end when you shoot toward direct light. You can also notice a slight drop in contrast.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Extremely useful zoom range;
  • Travel-friendly in terms of size and weight;
  • Good image stabilization in both photo and video modes;
  • Weather sealed build.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not particularly good in low light;
  • Average bokeh quality.

For Full-Frame & APS-C Cameras

Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

If you use a full-frame Sony’s mirrorless camera this lens is a very good all-round option for a single-lens setup. First of all, it covers a pretty useful range of 24-105 mm when you attach it to a full-frame camera or 36-157 mm if you attach it on an APS-C camera which is not as wide to be an ideal all-round combination. We have focused this overview on full-frame cameras.

This lens is bigger and heavier than all-round lenses for APS-C cameras, but it’s still travel-friendly with a length of 4.45 in (11.3 cm) and weight of 1.46 lb (663 g). Filter diameter is 77 mm and the minimum focus distance is 14.96 in (38 cm) which makes it useful for close-ups as well. The lens is weather sealed, built with very good materials.

Autofocus capabilities are excellent considering it uses a Direct Drive SSM motor, so it’s fast, accurate, and quiet. There is an option for full-time manual focus in autofocus mode, along with an internal focus mechanism to be more resistant to dust.

Image stabilization works very well especially if you have in-body image stabilization in your camera. In that case, the lens stabilization will work in conjunction with in-body image stabilization. The good thing is that this lens provides a constant maximum aperture of f/4 through the whole range. However, for low light conditions, f/4 is not the level you might need, but with help of effective image stabilization you will be able to use it for static subjects (of course, for action photography you will need a faster lens).

This lens is equipped with a 9 bladed diaphragm so bokeh quality is excellent.

Another strong benefit of this lens is its sharpness even with the fully open aperture. There will be a slight drop in sharpness in corners at the long-end but it’s not significant, so we can say that sharpness is excellent throughout the range. If you take shots with disabled in-camera distortion correction you will see strong barrel distortion at wide-end and some pincushion distortion on the rest of the range. However, we recommend you always keep on automatic distortion correction, or correct distortions later in Adobe Lightroom or another editing app if you take photos in RAW.

Vignetting is very well-controlled and you can use even wider filters without visible vignetting if you don’t open the aperture at the widest level. You won’t have issues with Chromatic aberration either. Sony did excellent work with the prevention of lens flare and ghosting artifacts.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • A very useful range for travel photography;
  • Constant maximum aperture (f/4) throughout the range;
  • Premium building quality;
  • Weather sealed build;
  • Very good image stabilization;
  • No flare or other ghosting artifacts.

Cons for travel photography:

  • If you turn off automatic distortion correction you will see a strong barrel distortion on wider lengths and pincushion distortion on other parts of the range.
Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

It’s another versatile lens with which you will get an extremely useful zoom range. On a full-frame camera, it starts on 24 mm and reaches 240 mm at the long end (it’s not particularly useful as an all-round lens for APS-C cameras because 36 mm isn’t wide enough, but it reaches 360 mm at the long-end).

It’s a bit bigger and heavier than Sony FE 24-105, but you get 135 mm more in the telephoto range. The length is 4.67 in (11.9 cm) while the weight is 1.72 lb (780 g). The filter diameter is 72 mm and the minimum focus distance is 19.69 in (50 cm). It’s not fully weather sealed but there is resistance to dust and moisture. Unlike Sony FE 24-105, this lens doesn’t have a constant maximum aperture throughout the range.

Autofocus uses a linear motor that is quick and silent. There is an internal focusing system so there will be no external rotation while focusing. Also, the lens is capable of manual focus override while it’s in AF mode.

Optical image stabilization has very good performance and can work in conjunction with an in-camera stabilization system to provide even better results. Low light capabilities are mediocre. At wide-end with f/3.5 you will get solid results using optical image stabilization (for static objects). However, for any kind of action photography in low light conditions this lens is not a good choice, considering that the aperture quickly becomes too narrow while you zoom in and especially at telephoto ranges when the maximum aperture is simply too narrow (with f/6.3 you can not expect good results in low light).

With 7 rounded diaphragm blades, you will get solid bokeh on lengths between 200 and 240 mm. Sharpness varies through the range. We believe you will get the best sharpness at wider parts of the range (from 24 mm till 50-60 mm), but on mid-ranges, you will notice some softness especially in corners while on telephoto lengths. After 200 mm the softness is even stronger. For the best possible results try to keep aperture somewhere between f/8 and f/11 through the range.

For lenses with such a huge range you can expect to see at least medium barrel distortion at wide-end and some pincushion distortion at longer lengths of the range when you take photos in RAW without applied automatic distortion correction. However, if you take photos in JPEGs, automatic distortion correction will be applied automatically to correct it.

Vignetting is visible at wide-end when you shoot at the widest aperture (f/3.5), but if you shoot in JPEG the chances are that automatic distortion correction will make it lower or stretch the final image a bit.

Chromatic aberration is visible mainly at wider lengths. Considering that this lens is built with a lot of elements (to be more precise–17 in 12 groups) it can produce some flare especially at the wide-end when you stop down the aperture. However, we recommend you attach a lens hood to prevent them whenever possible.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Extremely useful range (10x zoom);
  • Fast and quiet autofocus, resistant to breathing even in low light conditions;
  • Very good image stabilization;
  • Solid bokeh on the telephoto ranges.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Softer image (especially corners) at the telephoto ranges;
  • Not particularly good in low light, particularly at longer lengths;
  • Not fully weather sealed (but resistant to dust and moisture).
Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD

Image source: Tamron

Overview

It’s another pretty versatile lens that covers long-range. It’s 4 mm shorter on wide-end and 40 mm shorter on long-end than Sony FE 24-240mm, so on full-frame, you will have 28-200 mm. On APS-C you will get 42-300 mm which is good only for the telephoto end, but on the wide, it’s too narrow for an all-round travel lens, and this is the reason why we will just focus on performance on full-frame cameras. It’s also quite lighter than Sony FE 24-240mm with the weight of 1.27 lb (576 g), but the length is pretty similar at 4.61 in (11.7 cm). The filter diameter is 67 mm and the minimum focus distance is 7.48 in (19 cm). The lens is built with good materials and it’s weather sealed.

The lens is equipped with RXD (Rapid eXtra-Silent Drive) autofocus system which uses a stepping motor and ensures you will get fast and really quiet performance. In video mode, it is also capable of smooth focusing so we can say you will be satisfied with the performance in both photo and video modes.

On the other hand, this lens doesn’t have an integrated optical image stabilization so you should make sure your camera is equipped with an in-camera stabilization system if you want to leverage low light photography on stabilized videos.

The greatest advantage over native Sony’s all-round ultra-zoom lenses is a wider aperture, so you will get f/2.8 at 24 mm which is 1 step more than the usual maximum aperture on other all-round lenses. It means that on wide-end it will work great in low light environments (of course, it won’t work so well on telephoto lengths, considering that f/5.6 is not wide enough).

There are 7 rounded blades diaphragm and you can expect solid bokeh at longer lengths. However, you should be aware that this lens is not primarily designed to make great portraits. To put it simply, it’s good enough in many things, but never excels in any of them.

We are pleasantly surprised with the sharpness for an all-round lens. Even in wide-end when you open aperture to f/2.8 you will get good sharpness, especially in the center, while at corners sharpness is lower. However, if you stop down the aperture to f/5.6-6.3 sharpness will become consistent throughout the whole frame. Sharpness on mid-ranges is also very good, especially if you keep aperture somewhere between f/6.3 and f/10 which is optimum for best results. Even on a long-end, the sharpness level is very good, especially in the center parts of the image.

Barrel distortion is visible at 28 mm while the image is pretty straight regarding geometrical distortion between 30 and 50 mm. After 50 mm pincushion distortion starts to appear. However, if you keep automatic distortion correction on all the time (if you take photos in JPEG instead of RAW), you won’t notice it because the camera will automatically remove it.

Vignetting is visible more than on Sony all-round lenses, but you can easily correct it later in post-processing. Chromatic aberration is well-controlled as well as lens flare and ghosting effects.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Extremely useful range (7.1x zoom);
  • Very good sharpness throughout most of the range;
  • Solid bokeh on the telephoto ranges;
  • Weather sealed.

Cons for travel photography:

  • No image stabilization;
  • Vignetting is visible more than on native Sony’s all-around lenses.

Wide Zoom Lenses

For APS-C Cameras

Sony E 16-70 Vario Tessar f/4 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

It’s one of the most popular Sony’s wide zoom lenses, especially among travelers. There are several reasons for this: compact size, excellent image quality, and constant maximum aperture.

Let’s start first with the focal length. It covers 16-70 mm, so it means that you will get 24-105 mm. This lens is a good choice even for an all-round system if your priority is to cover wide and mid ranges (105 mm isn’t enough to be a telephoto length in any case).

Another advantage is its compact size. With a length of 2.95 in (7.5 cm) and a weight of 0.68 lb (308 g), it’s a pretty travel-friendly size. The filter thread is 55 mm and the minimum focus is 13.78 in (35 cm). It’s also built using very good materials, mainly a combination of metal and strong plastic. However, the lens is not weather sealed.

Autofocus performance is fantastic. It’s very fast and accurate. Also, there is an option to override autofocus manually without needing to switch the lens to manual focus. There are also no problems with focus breathing even in low light, which is good for video creators.

Optical image stabilization is excellent and it’s capable of compensating up to 4 f-stops. The maximum aperture is f/4 and it’s constant throughout the whole range. To be clear, it’s not wide enough to be the greatest choice for low-light action photography, but you will get consistent maximum aperture throughout the whole range. It means that if you are OK with high ISOs and taking photos of static subjects, it will work solidly with help of image stabilization. However, if you want to have a system that excels in low light you should consider that the second lens in your system is a prime lens with f/1.8.

Considering that f/4 is at the long-end as well, this lens can produce solid bokeh in close-ups (it is equipped with 7 rounded blades diaphragm). 

If you want to get a razor-sharp lens, this lens is the right choice for you. Even if it opens at the widest aperture on the wide-end you will get razor-sharp results in the center of the frame (with very slight softness in corners). However for maximum results just stop it a bit and excellent sharpness levels will be even better and constant on the whole frame. Excellent results continue in mid-ranges and at the long-end. With this lens, you will get a lens able to provide you with super-sharp images and the rest is on you. Well, actually, it depends on your experience in maximizing the capabilities of this lens.

When you turn off automated geometrical distortion correction (or shoot in RAW) you will see some barrel distortion at wide-end, but it is slight and won’t be hard to remove in post-processing. However at 22-24 mm barrel distortion disappears, and slight pincushion distortion can be seen at the long-end.

You will notice vignetting with a fully open aperture no matter if you shoot at wide-end, mid-ranges, or long-end. However, if your camera won’t correct it automatically, you will easily correct it in post-processing. Chromatic aberrations are also visible in high-contrast scenes. On the other hand, lens flare resistance is very good as well as reduction of ghosting effects.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Sample video
Low light test video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Razor-sharp images, especially at the center;
  • Compact and lightweight;
  • Very good image stabilization in both photo & video modes;
  • Good bokeh for a wide-zoom lens;
  • Excellent building quality.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not weather sealed;
  • Vignetting and chromatic aberrations are visible.
Sony E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

This is one of the most popular KIT lenses for Sony’s A6XXX series. It covers 16-50 mm so you effectively get 24-75 mm. We’d say that the strongest advantage of this lens is size. It’s a compact and lightweight lens with a length of 1.18 in (30 mm) and a weight of just 0.26 lb (116 g). It also means that the lens is built with light plastic and is vulnerable to falls so you should pay attention to it. The lens is not weather sealed. The filter diameter is of a non-standard size (40.5 mm). On the other hand, the minimum focus distance is only 9.84 in (25 cm) so it’s pretty usable for close-ups.

The autofocus system is very good in both photo & video modes. It’s fast and accurate. Also, noise levels are at a minimum so you won’t get unwanted sounds in movies. Considering the small size there is just 1 ring on the lens, so if you work with autofocus you will use this ring for zooming, but if you use DMF mode and click to take a photo you can use it to adjust the focus manually.

Video creators will like Power Zoom feature which enables them to use zoom like on video cameras (to get a smooth zoom). This lens is also equipped with an optical image stabilization system.

Low light performance is solid at wide-end considering that maximum aperture is f/3.5 (especially with a help of in-lens image stabilization). When we say solid we mean that you will get good performance if you suit to use higher ISO values. However, it’s only for wide-end because if you zoom in a bit, the maximum aperture quickly drops to f/5.6. So, at longer lengths, this lens definitely won’t be a good choice in low light environments.

The lens is also equipped with 7 circular diaphragm blades which ensure good capability for bokeh. In real usage, we can evaluate bokeh as just OK for close-ups–simply 55 mm at long-end with f/5.6 is not enough to provide a nice background blur. You can improve bokeh capabilities if you have a scene with close subjects and a distant background.

The overall sharpness for a KIT lens is solid. Corners are struggling with sharpness the most, especially at wide lengths. At wide-end center sharpness is good even if you set aperture to f/3.5, but the best results are produced between f/5.6 and f/10. However, corners will keep being softer. At mid ranges, the best sharpness you will get is somewhere between f/8 and f/10, but as on the wide end, corners will be a bit softer (but not as soft). At the long-end, if you keep the aperture at f/8 you will get the best results in sharpness and you will get the same sharpness in the center and the corners. However, if you open the aperture to f/5.6 sharpness in corners will drop, while center sharpness will stay sharp (a bit less than at f/8).

If you shoot in JPEG you won’t see distortion because the camera will automatically correct it, but if you shoot in RAW you will notice mid to strong barrel distortion at wide-end. However, the amount of barrel distortion will be lower when you zoom in and invisible somewhere around 35 mm. At longer length pincushion distortion starts to appear but the level is much lower than barrel distortion at wide-end.

Vignetting is pretty noticeable, especially if you open the aperture to the maximum. But you can always reduce vignetting when you stop down the aperture to 1-2 stops. On the other hand, chromatic aberration is very well-controlled at all lengths.

Lens flare resistance is not so good, so you should pay attention to where the light source is positioned, especially if that light source is the sun.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Very compact and extremely lightweight lens;
  • Built-in image stabilization;
  • Very short minimum focus distance;
  • Fast & accurate autofocus system;
  • Power Zoom feature integrated.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Very soft in corners, especially at wider lengths;
  • Not so resistant to lens flare;
  • Plastic built, vulnerable to falls;
  • Not weather sealed.

For Full-Frame & APS-C Cameras

Sony FE 24-70mm Vario Tessar f/4 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

It’s one of the most popular lenses for travel photographers who use full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras. It covers a focal range of 24-70 mm (on APS-C is much more narrow and if you attach it to a crop sensor, you will get 36-105 mm). This lens is also not too big and its length is 3.74 in (9.5 cm), while its weight is 0.94 lb (426 g). The filter diameter is 67 mm, the minimum focus distance is 15.75 in (40 cm). Materials are very good and the lens is also weather sealed.

Autofocus uses a linear motor and internal focusing system, so no dust should get inside. This lens supports manual focus override through the DMF focus setting in the camera. Focus speed and accuracy are excellent. The lens has a silent autofocus system so you won’t hear it in videos. There is also integrated optical image stabilization which will help you in low light and while taking videos. The lens has a constant maximum aperture of f/4 throughout the whole range. However, it’s not particularly suitable for low light photography (we’d like to see f/2.8).

Good bokeh quality is supported by 7 round blades diaphragm and constant f/4 aperture. Of course, bokeh is better as you use longer lengths.

Sharpness is one of the strengths of this lens. It is capable of producing very sharp shots at wide-end, especially center parts even if the aperture is open to f/4. To work with corners, you stop it down to f/8-f/10. The same goes to mid- and long-ends. If you don’t use automatic distortion correction you can notice barrel distortion at the wide-end.

Vignetting is visible not only when the aperture is open to the widest, but also on other apertures and throughout the whole range. It’s not something that you won’t correct, of course, but we were unpleasantly surprised with the amount of vignetting, especially that it’s visible on the whole range. However, if your camera has a turn-on lens compensation feature it should remove vignetting on final images.

Chromatic aberration can be seen especially in corners. On the other hand, this lens is pretty resistant to lens flare because of its excellent coating.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Travel-friendly size;
  • Very good image stabilization;
  • Sharpness is excellent, especially in the central parts of the frame;
  • The pretty effective coating neutralizes lens flare;
  • It’s weather sealed.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Vignetting is visible through the whole range (it’s recommended to turn on the auto-correction).
Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

It’s a cheaper alternative for the Sony FE 24-70mm Vario Tessar f/4 OSS. It covers pretty much the same range 28-70 mm on full-frame cameras (42-105 on APS-C cameras). The lens is pretty travel-friendly in size with lengths of 3.74 in (9.5 cm) and 0.94 lb (426 g). The filter diameter is 55 mm and the minimum focus distance is 15.75 in (40 cm). Even with a solid build, the lens is not weather sealed.

Autofocus uses a linear motor and an internal mechanism without any external rotation. The lens features great speed and accuracy, along with a well-known silent motor, so there will be no unwanted sound in your videos.

Optical image stabilization is very effective in both photo and video modes. Low-light performance is solid at wide-end because the maximum aperture is f/3.5. When we say solid we mean exactly that–the lens has not been made to be perfect in low light (as f/2.8, f/2, and faster lenses), but with help of image stabilization and higher ISO settings, you will get good results in non-action low light photography. But considering that maximum aperture will narrow when you zoom in and quickly drop to f/5.6, the lens won’t be able to perform well at longer lengths.

The lens is capable of producing pretty good bokeh. It’s equipped with 7 rounded blades diaphragm and when you shoot close-ups at longer lengths (60-70 mm) with a wide open aperture (f/5.6), you will get nice background blurring. Also, the lens is razor-sharp in the center of the frame, but you can notice a drop in sharpness in corners.

The good thing for center sharpness is that it’s pretty high even when the aperture is fully open in all lengths. However for corner sharpness, you will need to close up the aperture to f/8-f/10. At long-end, softness in corners is persistent and won’t disappear even at f/8.

Barrel distortion is pretty visible at the wide-end. If you are after geometrically straight photos, go for 35-45 mm. At longer lenses, pincushion distortion will be stronger. However, you can get rid of it when you turn on auto distortion correction when you shoot JPEGs.

The lens is pretty resistant to vignetting, so you won’t see corner shading even if you use wider filters. Chromatic aberrations are well-controlled and lens flare resistance is also excellent.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Travel-friendly size;
  • Very good image stabilization;
  • Sharpness is excellent at the center parts of the frame;
  • Almost no vignetting;
  • A pretty effective coating that neutralizes lens flare.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not weather sealed;
  • Corners are soft, especially at longer lengths.
Sony FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6

Image source: Sony

Overview

This is a KIT lens that comes with Sony A7C and covers a range of 28-60 mm on full-frame cameras (on APS-C 42-90 mm). It’s also one of the most compact lenses for full-frame cameras with a length of 1.77 in (4.5 cm) and a weight of 0.37lb (167 g). The filter diameter is 40.5 mm and the minimum focus distance is 11.81 in (30 cm). The lens is built mainly with composite materials and it’s weather sealed.

Autofocus relies on a linear motor and its completely internal mechanism. Speed and accuracy are excellent. For video creators, this lens offers pretty silent operation, plus autofocus works smoothly and without breathing. If we can stress the single disadvantage of this lens it would be its lack of image stabilization (you will rely solely on in-camera image stabilization). The low light performance of this lens is somewhat useful for static subjects, if you take photos at wide-end and if you are comfortable using high ISO values.

The lens is equipped with 7 rounded blades diaphragm and capable to make good bokeh at the long-end when you open the aperture at the widest value. The lens is sharp in the center parts of the frame, but corners are a bit softer in all focal lengths. At all lengths center sharpness is very good even when the aperture is open to the widest, but the best results are achieved with f/8-f/10.

If you don’t use the auto distortion correction feature in your camera you will notice high barrel distortion at the wide-end. However, between 35-45 mm distortions are almost invisible, while on longer lengths you will notice slight pincushion distortion.

Vignetting is visible when you shoot at wide-end with a fully open aperture but you can reduce it or even completely remove it when you stop aperture down for a few steps. Chromatic aberrations are very well-controlled and just barely visible in high-contrast scenes. This lens is pretty resistant to lens flare and ghosting effects even if you don’t use a lens hood.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Extremely compact and lightweight zoom lens;
  • Very good center sharpness throughout the range;
  • Weather sealed;
  • Excellent resistance on lens flare.

Cons for travel photography:

  • No image stabilization;
  • Strong barrel distortion at wide-end.

Telephoto Lenses

For APS-C Cameras

Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

This is another very popular KIT lens. In most cases, this lens comes in KIT as an addition to Sony 16-50 and it covers 55-210 mm (effectively 82.5-315 mm). Furthermore, this lens is also compact and lightweight for a telephoto lens with a length of 4.25 in (10.8 cm) and a weight of 0.76 lb (345 g). It’s also built mainly with plastic, but there is a metal mount. Filter diameter is 49 mm and minimum focus distance is 39.37 in (100 cm).

Autofocus performance is pretty good. It means that you will get fast and precise autofocus that is also pretty silent. The lens has an internal system with no external movements so it’s resistant to dust getting inside. Optical image stabilization is great and can compensate up to 4 f-stops. Low light performance is not brilliant because of the narrow maximum aperture size. However, good optical stabilization should help, but you don’t expect miracles, especially at longer lengths.

Bokeh’s capabilities are solid. It means that the lens is equipped with 7 rounded blades diaphragm which is capable of providing nice background blurring, but you should aim for longer lengths (180-210 mm) to get a blurred background. If you shoot at 55-100 mm the lens won’t be capable of nice blurring, so try to keep it longer when you want to get a blurred background.

Sharpness is another strong point. Between 55 and 100 mm you will get a sharp image, especially the center of the frame even with maximum aperture. However, at lengths close to long-end (200-210 mm) the image is a bit softer, especially in corners. The best results according to sharpness are with apertures between f/8 and f/10. The auto-correct feature will probably remove all distortions, but if you take photos in RAW you will notice a bit of pincushion distortion especially at longer lengths, which you will be able to correct in post-processing.

Vignetting is noticeable when at 55 mm especially when the aperture is wide open. On the other hand, chromatic aberrations are controlled very well, as well as lens flare and ghosting effects.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Compact and lightweight for a telephoto lens, so it’s very travel-friendly size-wise;
  • Very good optical image stabilization;
  • Good sharpness on most of the ranges.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not brilliant in low light;
  • A bit soft at the long-end;
  • Not weather sealed.
Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

It’s another Sony’s telephoto lens which is a good choice for travelers. It covers an extensive range from 70 to 350 mm; in actual use, you will get 105-525 mm on an APS-C camera.

This lens is a good choice for anyone who wants to take photos from a distance (i.e. photos of animals/birds and so on). With a length of 5.59 in (14.2 cm) and a weight of 1.38 lb (625 g), it’s not a compact nor lightweight lens, but its optical performance makes it worth it. Filter diameter is 67 mm and minimum focus distance is 43.31 in (110 cm). This lens is also weather sealed.

It is powered by an eXtreme Dynamic linear motor which ensures fantastic autofocus performance on the whole range. Speed and accuracy are great, while the lens itself is pretty quiet. It features a very good image stabilization system. If we are to point out a disadvantage, then it is that while we’d like to see a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at wide-end, here it’s f/4.5 at wide-end so low light performance is not excellent. However, effective image stabilization will help you out (at least on static subjects) in low-light environments.

The quality of the bokeh is nice, especially at longer lengths, but you will be able to get solid background blur even at wide-end. Sharpness is also one of the lens’ strengths. Center sharpness is especially great between 70 and 200 mm. Corners are a bit softer if you open the aperture, but you can make it sharper when you stop down it. Between 200 and 300 mm, center sharpness will drop if you keep the aperture open, but it will improve if you step it back to f/8-f/10. Between 300 and 350 mm images become softer if you keep the aperture open to the widest even in the center of the frame, so you should stop it down to f/9-f/10.

Barrel and pincushion distortions are not visible if your camera is set to correct them automatically, but if you shoot in RAW you will notice them. You can easily correct them in any post-processing tool (probably in 1-2 clicks).

Vignetting is not too visible, and you can reduce it even further if you don’t use the widest aperture. Chromatic aberrations are well-controlled, and so are lens flare and ghostings, but to be sure that it’s minimized, we recommend you get a lens hood as well.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Extremely useful zoom range (reach 525 mm effectively with APS-C camera);
  • Capable to produce sharp images through most of the range;
  • It’s weather sealed.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not compact nor lightweight;
  • Not brilliant in low light;
  • A bit soft at the long-end.

For Full-Frame & APS-C Cameras

Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

This telephoto lens covers a very useful range from 70-300 mm on full-frame cameras and 105-450 mm on APS-C, so it’s a good telephoto coverage on both sizes of sensors. The lens is not compact nor lightweight, with a length of 5.67 in (14.4 cm) and a weight of 1.88 lb (854 g). If you want to get these telephoto ranges you simply need to take a bigger lens with you. The filter diameter is 72 mm and the minimum focus distance is 35.43 in (90 cm). It’s made with pretty good materials, making the lens weather sealed.

Autofocus capabilities are generally excellent. The system uses a linear motor and the focus is fully electronic. Speed and accuracy are superb, but in low light, you can sometimes notice a bit of hunting which can be a problem for movie making.

There is a need to stress out that the AF system is internal, so there is no external movement while it focuses. The lens has 5-axis optical image stabilization which works in cooperation with an in-camera stabilization system. Low light performance is mediocre because the maximum aperture is not so wide especially at telephoto lengths. However, if you rely on high ISOs and optical image stabilization, you will probably succeed to get solid low-light images of static subjects, but if you are going to try action photography, this lens is simply not fast enough.

Considering the range this lens has and 9 rounded blades diaphragm, it is capable of great bokeh. Sharpness-wise, this lens performs great. The wide-end (70 mm) image is sharp in the center even when you open the aperture to f/4.5, but with slightly shorter corners. However, when you stop the aperture down till f/8-/f10 corners will be as sharp as the center of the image. At mid-ranges it continues to be very good and in order to reduce the difference in the center and corners sharpness it’s best to keep the aperture somewhere between f/8 and f/11. At the long-end, you will notice some additional drop-in corner sharpness but the center of the frame is still very good.

Geometrical distortions are minimal even if you turn off automatic distortion correction. Vignetting is almost invisible even when you open the aperture to the max. Also, the lens features very well-controlled chromatic aberrations and is pretty resistant to lens flare and ghosting.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • A very good range for telephoto lovers;
  • Excellent optical image stabilization;
  • Great bokeh;
  • Fantastic center sharpness;
  • Almost invisible vignetting and fantastic resistance on chromatic aberrations and lens flare;
  • Weather sealed build.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Some focus hunting in low light;
  • A bit bigger and heavier, especially if you will use it on compact APS-C cameras (A6XXX series).

Prime Lenses

For APS-C Cameras

Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

This lens is one of the best choices among the prime lenses. First of all, the focal length is 50 mm (70 mm on APS-C camera), the second lens is pretty compact and lightweight with a length of 2.44 in (6.2 cm) and a weight of 0.45 lb (202 g). The filter diameter is 49 mm and the minimum focus distance is 15.3 in (39 cm). The lens is built with good materials and has a metal barrel and mount. Unfortunately, it is not weather sealed.

The autofocus system relies on a linear motor, so it’s quick and fast plus it’s completely internal, so there is no external rotation while focusing. Furthermore, you can override autofocus manually because it supports the DMF mode. There is built-in optical image stabilization, which makes low light performance excellent.

The lens is capable of creating great bokeh because of its wide aperture and diaphragm with 7 circular blades. In general, this lens is pretty sharp. At the widest aperture (f/1.8) sharpness is good enough, but if you stop it down to f/2.8 or f/4 and you will notice an increase in sharpness. If you stop it down to f/8 you will probably get the best results. However, the difference between f/8 and f/4 is not huge and you will probably be satisfied with the sharpness even at f/1.8.

Other optical performances of this lens are also great. There is no geometrical distortion even if you don’t use automatic distortion correction in your camera. Vignetting is not visible on most apertures and you can only notice it on the widest apertures. Chromatic aberrations are almost invisible, so you won’t see them except on some highly-contrast scenes (which are rare). Finally, the lens is pretty resistant to flare and ghosting effects.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Compact and lightweight;
  • Superb optical performance;
  • Optical image stabilization;
  • Nice looking with aluminum trim.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not weather sealed.

For Full-Frame & APS-C Cameras

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8

Image source: Sony

Overview

It’s a fantastic prime lens for full-frame cameras considering 85 mm of focal length. On APS-C cameras this is effectively 127.5 mm. With a length of 3.23 in (8.2 cm) and a weight of 0.82 lb (371 g), it’s a bit bigger than Nifty Fifty lenses, but it’s still not too big. The filter diameter is 67 mm and the minimum focus distance is 31.5 in (80 cm). This lens is weather sealed.

Autofocus is very good and relies on a dual-linear motor. It’s fast, accurate, and silent. The system uses internal focusing without external movements. This lens is not equipped with image stabilization, so you will rely on IBIS if your camera has it. However, the most important thing for this lens is its fast aperture. Considering this lens can open aperture till f/1.8, you will get excellent low light performance.

Its fast aperture and 9 blades diaphragm ensure that you will get fantastic bokeh quality, so you will easily separate the background and add a nice blur. Overall sharpness is very high. However, at f/1.8 sharpness is a bit softer especially at corners but the image is still reasonably sharp.

Considering that optical performance is excellent, there is no visible geometrical distortion on the image. Vignetting is also not a problem. Although some light corner shading can be visible when you open aperture at f/1.8 and you stop it down to f/2.8. Chromatic aberrations can be seen in some high-contrast scenes but they are generally well-controlled. Lens flare or ghosting won’t be an issue in real-life usage if you pay attention to lighting sources.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Great bokeh and excellent low light performance;
  • Fantastic autofocus performance;
  • Excellent optical performance without geometrical distortions;
  • Almost no vignetting;
  • Well-controlled lens flare and ghosting effects;
  • Weather sealed.

Cons for travel photography:

  • A bit soft in corners;
  • No image stabilization.

Ultra-Wide Zoom Lenses

For APS-C Cameras

Sony 10-18mm f/4 OSS

Image source: Sony

Overview

It’s a well-known ultra-wide lens for Sony A6XXX series cameras. It covers 10-18 mm in range, so you will effectively get 15-27 mm, which are good angles for an ultra-wide lens. This lens is pretty travel-friendly in size with a length of 2.52 in (6.4 cm) and a weight of 0.5 lb (225 g). Filter diameter is 62 mm while the minimum focus distance is 9.84 in (0.25 m). The lens is built mainly with plastic and a metal mount, however, it’s not weather sealed.

Autofocus uses a stepper motor and its completely internal focusing system. Stepper motor ensures that autofocus matches all 3 most important characteristics – it’s fast enough, pretty accurate, and silent, which is also ideal for video creators.

The lens is equipped with optical image stabilization. When you check out the widest aperture, it’s clear that this lens is not intended for low-light photography. However, if you use high ISOs in wide-end and use the optical image stabilization feature, you will get useful results for static photos. Keep in mind that if you are going to mainly take pictures in low light conditions, this lens is not ideal. The maximum aperture is constant throughout the range, though.

Nice background blur is not the output of an ultra-wide lens, so you shouldn’t expect miracles. Maybe you will get some background blur (even it’s hard to get any blur) if you shoot close-ups at 18 mm while the background is on the distance, but it’s not the reason for buying an ultra-wide lens.

The lens is pretty sharp in the center of the frame, so at the wide-end, you will get sharp images even when the aperture is wide open. However, in this case corners will be soft, so you will need to stop it down for 2-3 steps to get sharp corners as well. The best performance is with f/8-f/10 and the lens performs similarly on other lengths as well.

Distortions are persistent especially at the wide-end when barrel distortion is visible, but you can easily avoid it if you turn on the automatic correction feature in your camera. Alternatively, it can be easily corrected in post-processing if you shoot RAW images.

Vignetting is visible especially at the wide-end when you open the aperture to f/4. On the other hand, chromatic aberrations are well-controlled, although they are visible for some quite high contrast scenes. We can say that the lens is pretty resistant to lens flare.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Very travel-friendly in size;
  • Very good autofocus system;
  • Constant maximum aperture (f/4) throughout the range;
  • Center sharpness.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Vignetting is visible;
  • Not weather sealed.

For Full-Frame & APS-C Cameras

Sony FE 16-35mm Vario Tessar f/4

Image source: Sony

Overview

It’s one of the best native choices when it comes to ultra-wide lenses for Sony full-frame cameras. It’s also a good choice for the APS-C, but it’s more of a wide lens because you get 24 mm instead of 16 mm you normally get on a full-frame camera. However, 16-35 mm on a full-frame is a very good range for an ultra-wide lens.

With a length of 3.88 in (9.9 cm) and a weight of 1.14 lb (518 g), it’s not the lightest lens on the market, but it’s not too big to be used as a travel lens. The filter diameter is 72 mm and the minimum focus distance is 11.02 in (28 cm). We like how this lens feels in hand, because of its very good (premium) material. Also, the lens is weather sealed.

The autofocus system is very quick and precise, performing well for video creators considering it’s reasonably quiet. There is also support for full-time manual focusing using the DMF mode, so you can leverage autofocus but fine-tune focus manually when it’s necessary.

The lens has integrated optical image stabilization which can work together with an in-camera stabilization system. For low light shots, it’s the same story as with Sony 10-18 f/4 OSS. The good thing is that maximum aperture is constant, but f/4 is not wide enough to get a lot of light inside, so you should rely on the help of OSS. You can also consider using higher ISOs to leverage the usefulness of this lens in low light.

The same thing regarding bokeh. To put it simply, ultra-wide lenses shouldn’t be your first choice for photos with a nice background blur. So, it’s not fair to say that this lens is not capable of providing great bokeh. It is simply not designed for nice close-ups or portraits. For good bokeh, please look elsewhere (at primes or telephoto lenses, for instance).

One of the strongest points of this lens is its incredible sharpness throughout the whole frame. Even if you open the aperture to f/4 the image will be pretty sharp, but with 1-2 steps down you will get even better results. When you don’t use automatic correction (i.e. when you shoot in RAW) you will get some moderate barrel distortion at wide-end, while pincushion distortion will be visible on the rest of the range. However, it’s easily corrected in post-processing or by using auto distortion correction in your camera.

Vignetting is well-controlled as well as chromatic aberration. Another strong point is a very good resistance to lens flare and ghosting effects.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Gallery of sample images on Pixel Peeper
Gallery of sample images on 500px
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Excellent optical performance;
  • Sharp throughout the whole frame;
  • Premium building quality.

Cons for travel photography:

  • Not fast enough in low light.
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD

Image source: Tamron

Overview

We can say that this lens is a very good alternative for Sony FE 16-35mm Vario Tessar f/4. If you want a bit lighter lens which is a bit faster in low light, Tamron 17-28 f/2.8 Di III RXD can be an excellent choice. However, Tamron is 1 mm shorter at wide-end and 7 mm shorter at long-end, so it covers 17-28 mm on full-frame cameras and 25.5-42 mm on APS-C. It’s clear that this lens performs as a standard wide-zoom lens on APS-C, so we will cover performance in full-frame cameras only. The length of this lens is 3.9 in (9.9 cm) and weight is 0.93 lb (420 g), while filter diameter is 67 mm and minimum focus distance is 7.48 in (19 cm). The lens is very well built and it’s weather sealed.

Autofocus uses an RXD stepping motor which works pretty well. There is an integration with Sony’s features as DMF focus (a full-time manual override of autofocus). However, this lens doesn’t have image stabilization, so you should have a camera with IBIS (in-camera stabilization system). Low light is an environment where this lens really shows the difference because its max. aperture is f/2.8, constant on the whole range. With such a wide aperture you will get a fast enough lens for low light conditions.

Also with f/2.8 on 28 mm you can even isolate subjects from backgrounds in close-ups. Center sharpness is excellent even at f/2.8, but the image is softer in corners. If you stop down the aperture to f/6.3-f/8, sharpness in corners will increase, but the center of the image will still be sharper.

As with other ultra-wide lenses, barrel distortion is visible (but not too much) at the wide-end while pincushion distortion exists at the long end. However, on JPEGs, you won’t see them because the camera will auto-correct it by default.

You can notice vignetting at the widest aperture (f/2.8) not only at the wide-end but also throughout the range. You can reduce it if you stop down aperture for 1-2 steps, but at f/5.6 vignetting won’t appear. Chromatic aberrations are visible mainly in corners, but we won’t consider it a huge problem. On the other hand, lens flare is very well-controlled and you can avoid it easily.

Samples

Gallery of sample images on Photography Blog
Gallery of sample images on Onfotolife
Sample video
Another sample video

Pros for travel photography:

  • Fast enough lens, a good performer in low light;
  • Very good autofocus system;
  • Excellent resistance on lens flare;
  • It’s weather sealed.

Cons for travel photography:

  • No image stabilization.

Conclusion

If you were in doubt about an ideal travel-friendly lens setup for your Sony mirrorless camera, we are pretty sure that now things are clear.

The first thing is setting out the priorities. So, if you prioritize having a lightweight set you should choose a single lens that is a jack of all trades but not excel in anything particular except to make your travel camera set compact and lightweight while at the same time cover long-range and virtually replace 2 or 3 lenses.

If you want the balance between the size of your set and the quality, you should think about packing 2 lenses. With this setup, you might cover pretty much the same range but also get fantastic quality in wide to mid-range in the first lens and combine it with a second lens for telephoto, great portraits, and background blurring options.

In the end, if you are looking for a travel lens setup without any compromises, you will probably pack more than 2 lenses in your bag. In this case, it all depends on your personal choice.

What’s your choice for the best travel lenses? Do you travel with a single lens, 2 lenses, or even more? Is there anything else we haven’t covered? Let us know!

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