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After our earlier piece recommending five full-frame DSLR lenses for travel photography, we would be remiss not to also suggest five lenses for APS-C-format cameras. DSLRs with APS-C-size sensors are normally more compact and lighter than full-frame DSLRs and, therefore, advantageous when traveling. Remember, however, that the lightweight design often indicates a design containing less metal that may be less prepared for the rigors of unmerciful use. Also, be sure to calculate the crop factor of the APS-C sensor and focal-length equivalency when considering your lens. And while full-frame lenses can be used on APS-C cameras, the reverse is not true. Here are a few of my favorites, emphasizing zoom versatility and compact build. Which of these lenses work best for you when traveling?
I recently used this lens when reviewing the Nikon D7200, and while I could have swapped it out for any number of primes while testing, I found the image quality was more than satisfactory for daylight and dim light, and its convenience factor was off the chart. Its zoom action was smooth and precise and lens creep was never an issue. At only 3.8" long when retracted, it carries on your camera like a prime lens but gives you a 27-210mm focal length equivalent for versatile perspectives. The Silent Wave AF motor works as advertised, which is ideal when using this lens for video recording, and the VR image stabilization is effective in low light and at the telephoto end of the zoom range.
As part of Sigma’s Global Vision Contemporary line of versatile zoom cameras comes this multi-faceted APS-C shooter in Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sigma SA mounts. With a 27-450mm (28.8-480mm on Canon) focal-length equivalency, there is very little you can’t photograph, including close-focus imaging, with its 1:3 macro ratio. Enhanced Optical Stabilization improves its capability to reduce the blur caused by camera shake, while an optimized hyper sonic motor (HSM) ensures quiet and fast autofocus. Four FLD elements paired with 1 SLD glass element capture sharp, high-contrast images throughout the focal-length range. A wide zoom ring provides ease of control and it measures just 4.0" long. This lens is also compatible with the Sigma USB Dock to adjust focus and install firmware updates, and a version of the 18-300 for Sony A mount and Pentax K mount cameras is in the works.
Canon offers several wide-angle to short telephoto zooms for their APS-C format cameras, but I decided on this one mostly due to its fast, constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. It’s a bit longer than some others, but still only 4.4" long, and its low-light capability and shallow depth-of-field control make it worth the extra inch over other similar lenses. Its 35mm focal-length equivalence is 27.2-88mm, which is really all you will need for most of your travel shooting. Optical image stabilization is supported, as is Canon’s Ultrasonic Autofocus Motor, while manual focus override enables precise critical focus. Minimum focus distance is just 1.2' and its optical design minimizes chromatic and spherical aberrations.
This versatile zoom lens has a lot going for it, not the least of which is its optical quality and its affordability. It is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sony A mounts. Its broad zoom range is equivalent to a 27-405mm (29-432mm on Canon) in the 35mm format, affording you the perspectives to shoot interior wide angles, as well as to pull distant subjects in close. Its Piezo Drive Ultrasonic Autofocus Motor is impressively fast and quiet; hybrid aspherical and low dispersion glass elements provide sharp, color-accurate imaging. On the Canon and Nikon versions, its Vibration Compensation mechanism is very effective at reducing blur. At less than 1 lb and just shy of 4" long, it will never be a burden to your sore neck or overburdened suitcase.
At just 3.5" long, this lens is incredibly compact for its focal-length range, which is equivalent to 27-202.5mm in the 35mm format. Its Direct Manual Focus allows you to switch easily between auto and manual focus, and its AF motor is smooth and precise. Dual aspherical glass elements and extra-low dispersion elements reduce aberrations for sharp imaging throughout the zoom range, and a zoom lock switch keeps the focal length where you want it. This is a lightweight, easy-to-use lens that will not disappoint in terms of image quality.