The Best Lens for Travel Photography

Like many of you, travel and photography are my two of my main passions. Ever since I went to Germany in my teens I’ve been bitten with the bug to get out and see as many different places as I can and photograph them.

Whether traveling for business or for pleasure, part of the fun for me has been the prep work involved. The planning of the itinerary, putting together a shot list, packing… and of course deciding on what new gear I’m going to take with me that will make life easier – and hopefully better.

I have two upcoming trips that I’m very excited about. I’m going to Photoshop World in Las Vegas in August and then I’m in Letchworth State Park in New York in September with my gal Sally.

Letchworth has recently been voted “Best in the Nation 2015” for state parks and is a “Ten Best” readers’ choice pick by USA Today. Letchworth is know as the “grand canyon of the east” and for good reason.

In preparation for my trip I asked Brad (Scott’s assistant) what Scott thought was best lens for travel photography. Scott has touted the “less gear is more” when traveling so I knew Brad would be able to fill me in on the details. I’m looking for a light lens that I can use in most situations, good and wide plus some nice range, some sort of stabilizer (I don’t always cary a tripod), and has a reasonable price.

I found out that Scott uses the Tamron 28-300MM F/3.5-6.3 (along with a few other nice Canon lenses). After a little research I found the latest version from Tamron, the 28-300MM F/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD. Let’s break this down to see if it fits the bill. This is not a review, it’s my research into “what gear I want to get for my next trip”.

This lens weighs in at 19 oz and is 3.8″ long. Very light, very compact.

On a full frame camera this is perfect! On my 5D MkII this will be plenty wide with an outrageous 300mm pull. On an APS-C camera this will be 45-480mm.

The max aperture on the 28-300 is 3.5 at 28mm and 6.3 at 300mm. Minimum aperture range is F22-40.

Decoding the Initials
Di: Digitally Integrated – designed expressly for digital cameras.
VC: Vibration Compensation – Tamron’s VC system uses a tri-axial configuration that employs three pairs of driving coils and low-friction ball bearings placed around the shake-compensating optical group to produce, in effect, a free-floating shake compensator. (This will be good for my “non-tripod” shooting style)
PZD: Piezo Drive – Piezoelectric drive replaces traveling wave energy with more efficient standing wave energy for higher AF performance with less weight and bulk.

At $849 (B&H) this all-in-one lens falls about where you’d expect it to.

Hands On
Well I was able to actually get my hands on the lens for a bit to test drive it (yay!). The 300mm is amazing to have in such a small package. The wide 28mm is plenty for nearly all situations. Reading almost all of the reviews on this lens sealed the deal. This is what I’ll be traveling with this fall. If you get a chance, check out some great travel classes at KelbyOne.

What lens is YOUR go-to lens for travel? Leave me a comment below!