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Ultimate Guide: 10 Best Travel Lenses for the Sony a6000

by Tom Shu

Last Updated on October 15, 2020 by Tom Shu

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best travel lens for your Sony a6000 is, then I’d recommend the Sony 18-105mm f/4 G OSS as the best one!

Are you excited? Because you should be! Picking out a new lens for your camera is always a good time. If this is your first time doing research for lenses for your Sony a6000, I’m going to try to do everything I can to help you pick the perfect one!

If you’ve gone through this process before and are just trying to find another lens that’s a better fit for use during travel, I’m here for you too! My hope in your case is to spark up some thoughts and ideas about what your perfect travel lens will look and feel like when you do use it on your next trip.

You might not be able to tell, but I’m very passionate about this topic because I started off my photography career with Sony’s first-ever mirrorless camera, the Sony NEX 3 before moving onto the Sony a6000, RX100 V, a6500, and finally the a7R III. So, in a sense, you can say I grew up with Sony cameras.

Because of my history with the Sony a6000, I know just how good of a travel companion this camera can be. Match it up with the right travel lens and you have a tool that can easily capture all your memories from your trip.

Here are the lenses we will be reviewing today:

 

What to look for in a travel lens?

There is always a lot to consider when you’re picking a new lens, but when you’re choosing the PERFECT travel lens there are a few additional features and characteristics to think about. This is what you should consider:

  • Overall Value: Considering the price, how good of a value is the lens.
  • Overall Weight: when you’re traveling every little bit of weight saved makes a huge difference. The last thing you want is to carry around a heavy lens that you barely use on your trip.
  • Versatility in its Focal Range: do you like having one lens that covers a wide focal range or do you like switching between a couple of different lenses?
  • Speed of the Lens: if you plan to shoot indoors, in low-light situations, at night or if you want greater depth of field, you might benefit from a lens with a wider aperture.
  • Lens Stabilization: having Optical SteadyShot (OSS) in the lens will always be beneficial since the Sony a6000 body does not have in-body image stabilization.
  • Weather Sealing: not a must-have, but definitely a plus since the weather can be unpredictable depending on where you travel to.
  • Future Proof: not a must-have, but it is something to consider. If you plan to upgrade to a full-frame Sony camera in the future, you might want to consider a full-frame lens since it will work with your a6000.
  • Type of Travel: depending on where you’re traveling, different lenses will work better for you than others.

 

Overall Value

illustration of a piggy bank

I could spend hours talking about why lens X is a better value than lens Y, but I don’t think that would be very helpful. When it comes down to the overall price and what the perceived value is, it really comes down to where you are in your photography or videography journey.

For some people, spending $1,000 on a single lens sounds crazy, while for other people it makes a lot of sense. What’s important here is that you stay true to yourself. If you need the best of the best, then get the highest quality lens you can afford. If you just shoot casually while on vacation then focus on ease of use and versatility above everything else.

In general, you usually get what you pay for when it comes to lenses, so usually, there is a good reason why it’s at the price point it is at.

One unique aspect about lenses is that they usually hold their value pretty well. So if you don’t like the lens after using it or if you’re ready for an upgrade, you should be able to sell it at a decent price even after a couple of years.

Overall Weight

illustration comparing the different weight of a lens

This is self-explanatory but it’s always a good reminder. When you travel with camera equipment, especially if you’re traveling to a destination where you will be walking most of the time, every bit of weight in your camera pack adds up really fast.

So before buying the lens, take some time to think about what type of trips you usually go on and what types of photos or videos you usually take. In the best-case scenario, you’ll travel with one or two lenses that cover every situation you’ll run into. The last thing you want to happen is to carry around heavy lenses and only use them once or twice on a trip.

Speed of the Lens (how wide the maximum aperture is)

illustration of aperture comparison

Depending on where you go and the type of photos you take, you might benefit from a lens with a wider maximum aperture, for example, f/1.8 or f/2.8. Some situations that you might want a lower aperture include:

  • If you will be shooting a lot in low-light situations or at night time.
  • If you are going to a destination where you will be spending a lot of time visiting indoor sites like castles, art galleries, and buildings.
  • If the primary focus of your travel photography is portraits and you would like to create more depth of field in the image.

 

Lens Stabilization

illustration of camera on a gimbal

Since the Sony a6000 doesn’t have in-body image stabilization, you’ll make your life easier if you make sure the lens you buy has optical image stabilization. This will especially come in handy when you are shooting at slower shutter speeds or when you are using a telephoto lens.

Weather Sealing

illustration of lens weather sealing

You don’t necessarily need this, but it is nice to have just in case the weather turns on you. The thing is that the Sony a6000 is not weather-sealed, so you will still have to find a way to protect your camera body if the weather gets really crazy. A weather-sealed lens is usually a premium feature at a premium price, so just keep that in mind.

Future-Proofing

Depending on where you are in your photography or videography journey, this will be important to you.

If you’re thinking about upgrading to a full-frame Sony camera in the next 1-2 years, you might want to think about investing in a full-frame lens. This is because full-frame lenses still work on the Sony a6000 and you will save money in the long run when you upgrade.

If you do go this route, there are a couple of downsides to keep in mind:

  • Full-frame lenses are usually more expensive than their APS-C counterparts.
  • You will have to take into account the 1.5x crop factor of the Sony a6000. What this means is that if you buy a 24-70mm full-frame lens, it is essentially a 36-105mm equivalent on the Sony a6000.
  • Full-frame lenses are usually bigger and heavier than their APS-C counterparts.

 

Type of Travel

Lastly, before buying your lens, you should really think about the type of travel that you usually do.

If you go to destinations with a lot of outdoor activities and landscape photography is your primary focus, a telephoto lens with a wide focal range might be a great fit for you. On the other hand, if you primarily travel to cities around the world and love taking street style photos, then a good prime lens might be a better fit for you.

 



Reviews of the Best Travel Lens for the Sony a6000

Here are my 10 favorite lenses for the Sony a6000. The first 3 lenses that we cover are all around lenses that cover a wide range in focal length. The next 4 lenses are a nice choice of prime lenses to choose from and finally, we’ll end on my 3 favorite telephoto lenses for the Sony a6000.

1.) Sony 18-105mm f/4 G OSS

 

The Sony 18-105mm is one of the best all in one lenses for the Sony a6000 that is available for the Sony E-Mount system. Honestly, if I was going on a trip and knew I could only bring 1 lens with me, this one would be it.

The reason why it’s such a good all-around lens is because of the wide focal range it has of 18-105mm with the constant aperture of f/4. This is equivalent to a full-frame focal range of 27-152mm so you’re pretty much covered in any situation you will be shooting in.

The constant aperture of f/4 also means you don’t have to worry about the aperture changing on you as you zoom in.

For example with the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS when you’re shooting at 18mm the widest aperture is at f/3.5. However, as you start zooming in the aperture also increases. By the time you are at 50mm in focal length, the widest aperture is at f/5.6 and stays fixed at f/5.6 until you reach 200mm.

If you are shooting mostly landscape with a tripod, this won’t be a big deal. On the other hand, if you are walking around and taking photos of the city, landscapes, and people and the light is dynamically changing, this could make it more difficult.

The zoom functionality on the Sony 18-105mm is internal so when you zoom, the lens does not extend out. This is an awesome feature if you’re going to be shooting video with a gimbal as you won’t have to rebalance the gimbal after zooming in. The downside is that each time you turn off your camera, the lens resets to 18mm.

PROS

  • A very versatile focal range of 18-105mm (full-frame equivalent of 27-152mm) so you will be covered in most situations you will be taking photos or videos in.
  • Related to the above, it’s a great all in one lens so you could get away with only bringing this on a trip.
  • Great value lens with a reasonable price considering the focal range, constant aperture, and image quality.
  • It has a constant f/4 aperture unlike some of the other telephoto lenses in this article.
  • The zoom functionality is all internal so your lens does not extend out when you zoom. Great for video work when using a gimbal.
  • Has built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS) stabilization.

CONS

  • It’s not the fastest lens as the widest aperture is f/4. This will work perfectly fine in most situations, but you may run into a little trouble at night or if you’re shooting inside.
  • With the f/4 aperture, you don’t get much flexibility with the depth of field at the wider focal lengths especially compared to the prime lenses we will go over. You can still get a nice shallow depth of field look when you zoom in though.
  • Not weather sealed, but understandable given the price point.
  • Still may need a zoom lens if you want farther reach than 105mm.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Any trip in which you don’t have a good idea of what type of situations you will be taking photos and videos in.
  • Walk around style trip. For example, New York City, San Francisco, Rome, Prague.
  • Hiking or camping trip when you want to keep your camera equipment to a minimum.


illustration of box which links to amazon



2.) Sony 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 OSS

 

Similar to the Sony 18-105, the Sony 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 OSS is another great all-in-one travel lens because of its crazy focal range. If you like to travel light and only have enough room in your pack for 1 lens, this could be the perfect fit.

With a range of 18-200mm (full-frame equivalent of 27-300) you will definitely be covered in any situation that you might find yourself in on your trip. It’s wide enough at 18mm to take architecture shots or vast landscape shots and you have enough zoom range to get close to any subject you’re shooting.

Unlike the older versions of this lens, the current version also has built-in Optical SteadyShot, which will be very beneficial to have when you shoot handheld or at longer focal lengths.

Other than the additional 95mm in zoom range that you get with the Sony 18-200, the biggest difference and biggest downside of this lens is that it has a variable aperture from f/3.5-6.3. The Sony 18-105mm has a fixed aperture at f/4.

The variable aperture won’t be an issue if you’re shooting in bright lighting conditions or landscapes on a tripod, but it could become a problem if you’re shooting handheld in low-light or variable lighting situations. Here is how the aperture changes based on the focal length you are using:

focal length table of lens

PROS

  • Insane focal range from 18-200mm will ensure you are covered in any situation.
  • Similar to the Sony 18-105, it’s an all-around lens so you could get away with only bringing this on a trip.
  • Lightweight and compact especially given that its a superzoom.
  • Has built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS) stabilization.

CONS

  • It is a variable aperture lens which could be an issue if you want to shoot in low-light or variable lighting situations or if you plan to shoot videos.
  • The lens extends out when you zoom in making it more difficult to use on a gimbal.
  • The image quality is not as good as the Sony 18-105mm and its at a higher price point.
  • Not weather sealed.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Any trip in which you don’t have a good idea of what type of situations you will be taking photos and videos in.
  • Walk around style trip where the main focus will be shooting outside. For example national parks, Bavaria, Rome, Prague, New York City.
  • Hiking, camping, or landscape photography trip when you want to keep your camera equipment to a minimum.


illustration of box which links to amazon



3.) Sony 16-55mm f2.8 G

 

The Sony 16-55mm f2.8 G is one of Sony’s newest and most premium lenses for their APS-C cameras. It’s also one of the best portrait lenses you can get for your Sony a6000. Since the lens and the price point is on the premium end, I think you should really only consider this lens if:

  • You want the best quality and sharpest photo possible out of your camera. I say this as the 16-55 is by far the sharpest APS-C lens at all apertures that Sony has created so far.
  • You don’t really need or want a lens with telephoto capabilities. I say this since you could easily buy an all-in-one lens like the Sony 18-105 plus a good sharp prime lens at a cheaper price than this lens.
  • You could benefit from the constant f/2.8 aperture if you shoot a lot in low-light conditions or want the increased depth of field for portrait type of shots.

If that sounds like you, this lens could be the perfect fit.

It is weather-sealed, has an autofocus / manual switch and a focus hold button on the side of the lens. The build quality also feels very premium. It has the same grainy black finish as the very popular full-frame Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. The zoom ring is also stiff and smooth which gives it a more solid and less plasticky feel.

The most surprising aspect of this lens is that Sony was able to keep it very compact and lightweight even though it has a constant aperture of f/2.8. Most of the time, lenses with a constant aperture of f/2.8 are much bigger.

What I don’t get about this lens is that it doesn’t have built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS). For the price point, you would think having this feature would be a no brainer.

PROS

  • A super-premium APS-C lens that will give you incredibly sharp, high-quality images at all apertures.
  • Premium features such as an autofocus / manual switch and focus hold button on the side of the lens.
  • A constant aperture of f/2.8 which makes it a great lens in any lighting condition and is the perfect travel lens for portrait type of work.
  • It is weather sealed.

CONS

  • High price point. For a lower price, you could get the Sony 18-105 and a high-quality prime lens for a lower total price.
  • No built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS), which is a big bummer considering the high price point.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Walk around style trip where the main focus will be shooting the city you are in during the day and night. For example, New York City, Tokyo, Kyoto, San Francisco.
  • If the main type of photos you will be shooting during your trip are portrait-style photos.
  • Museums, art gallery, and interior focused trip.


illustration of box which links to amazon



4.) Sony E 16mm f/2.8

 

The Sony E 20mm f/2.8 is a pancake-style prime lens that is one of the smallest and cheapest Sony lenses you can get for your a6000. The form factor is so small when you have it on your camera that you could easily slide it in your pocket while walking around.

Since it’s so small, the lens is great as a general walk around travel lens. At 16mm (full-frame equivalent to 24mm) with a fixed aperture at f/2.8, it’s great for street photography, architectural photography, shooting in low-light situations, and vast landscape shots.

Just keep in mind that for some of you, even a 16mm on an APS-C camera might not be wide enough depending on what you’re taking photos of. When I went to Dubai for a project, I had trouble fitting the Burj Khalifa in frame with a 16mm lens since, in reality, it’s a 24mm equivalent on a full-frame camera.

The biggest downside of this lens is that it doesn’t have a built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS). This is not that big of an issue when it comes to photography but might make it difficult to capture stable video footage.

PROS

  • Incredibly small compact and lightweight size which makes this a great general walk-around lens.
  • Good focal length for street photography, most architecture and indoor photography.
  • Performs pretty well in low-light situations with its f/2.8 aperture.
  • It’s at a good price point so could make a great addition to your pack if you already have a telephoto lens like the 18-105.

CONS

  • No built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS) stabilization.
  • Not the sharpest 16mm that you can buy.
  • The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is better quality, but it is more expensive and much larger.
  • The fixed 16mm focal length could limit you in the types of photos you want to take if this is your only lens.
  • Not weather sealed.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Walk around style trip where the main focus will be shooting the city you are in during the day and night. For example, New York City, Tokyo, Kyoto, San Francisco.
  • If the main type of photos you will be shooting is architecture or vast landscape shots.
  • Museums, art gallery, and interior focused trip.


illustration of box which links to amazon



5.) Sigma 16mm f/1.4

Sigma 16mm vs 30mm Image #4 - witandfolly.co-1

The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is the only third party lens in this article and is one of my favorite lenses for Sony APS-C cameras for specific situations. It’s another prime lens with a focal length of 16mm, but the big difference is the ability to drop down to an aperture of f/1.4, which can give you an incredible depth of field in your photos and video footage.

My favorite way to use this lens is for video shooting. Even though it’s a non-native Sony lens, the autofocus is super quick. Combine that with the aperture of f/1.4 and you can achieve a very cinematic look with this lens. I actually shot 90% of my very first short film Spirit of Matsu with this lens.

Although I like to use this lens for video, it’s also a very good lens for photography and produces sharper images than the Sony 16mm f/2.8. Since it’s at a 16mm focal length, the Sigma is also great for walk-around style street photography, architecture photography, and even better for interior given its f/1.4 aperture.

Even though there are many positives of this lens, there are also some big downsides when compared to the Sony 16mm f/2.8. It’s almost double the price, it’s about 3 times bigger than the Sony lens, and it also doesn’t have built-in Optical SteadyShot.

PROS

  • With the aperture of f/1.4, you can get an incredible depth of field and produce very cinematic photos and videos.
  • Very sharp lens especially when compared to the Sony 16mm f/2.8.
  • Fast and responsive autofocus in combination with the f/1.4 and 16mm focal length makes it a great lens for video work.

CONS

  • It is almost double the price of the Sony 16mm f/2.8.
  • No built-in optical image stabilization which is a bummer considering the price point.
  • Big size so it’s not as good of a lightweight carry everywhere type of lens as the Sony 16mm f/2.8.
  • 16mm could limit you in the types of photos you want to take if this is your only lens.
  • Not weather sealed.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Strongest at video, so it would be a great fit if you plan on shooting video wherever you go.
  • Walk around style trip where the main focus will be shooting the city you are in during the day and night. For example, New York City, Tokyo, Kyoto, San Francisco.
  • If the main type of photos you will be shooting is architecture or vast landscape shots.
  • Museum, art gallery, and interior focused trip.


illustration of box which links to amazon



6.) Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS

 

The Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS is one of the best wide-angle lenses for your Sony a6000. The 10-18mm has a full-frame equivalent of 15-27mm so it is noticeably wider than the Sony and Sigma 16mm lenses we have covered so far.

The lens is compact, lightweight and it’s nice that you can change your focal length between 10-18mm while keeping your aperture constant at f/4. Other than the wider focal length, the biggest difference with this lens is that it has built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS) stabilization.

Although the lens is very nice, the big bummer is how expensive this lens is. For 2/3 of the price, you could pick up the Sony 18-105mm f/4. Yes, you do lose 8mm on the wide side, but you get much more focal range out of the Sony 18-105mm.

I think because of the higher price point, it’s really made for a very specific type of traveler. This lens could be a good fit for you if:

  • You focus primarily on architecture or interior photography.
  • You primarily shoot video or vlog and could benefit from the wider angle and the Optical SteadyShot.
  • You already have a primary lens and would benefit from a super wide-angle lens.

PROS

  • Super wide-angle lens that will allow you to capture photography and videos at a unique wipe angle.
  • A constant f/4 aperture throughout the focal lengths which is nice to have especially for video work.
  • Built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS) stabilization which will give you smoother video footage and will make it easier to take photographs at slower shutter speeds.
  • Great autofocus + super wide-angle combination makes it a good vlogging lens.

CONS

  • It’s pretty expensive. For about 2/3 of the price, you could get the Sony 18-105 which covers a much wider focal range.
  • The super wide-angle focal lengths could limit you depending on what you want to take photos of if this is your only lens.
  • At 10mm there is some barrel distortion although you can fix that in post-processing.
  • Not weather sealed which is surprising considering its price point.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Walk around style trip where the main focus will be shooting the city you are in during the day. For example, New York City, Tokyo, Kyoto, San Francisco.
  • If the main type of photos you will be shooting is architecture or vast landscape shots.
  • If you plan on shooting interiors or at night with a tripod.


illustration of box which links to amazon



7.) Sony 35 f/1.8 OSS

The Sony 35mm f/1.8 is a prime lens for the Sony a6000 that is at the very versatile 35mm focal length on the APS-C sensor. This lens has a full-frame equivalent of 52.5mm so it’s the closest you will get to a “Nifty Fifty” lens on an APS-C camera like the Sony a6000.

What makes this focal length so good and why it’s called “Nifty Fifty” is because it’s the most identical to the human eye. Because of this, you will get a natural-looking field of view in your images and very little distortion especially when compared to a wide-angle lens.

This 35mm has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 which makes it very fast and flexible so you will be able to use this in a variety of different lighting conditions. Plus, with the 35mm focal length, you’ll be able to get some delicious depth of field for portrait style shots.

The lens also has built-in Optical SteadyShot so you could easily use this as a more intimate cinematic video lens too.

At this focal length on an APS-C sensor, I think it will work best as a general walk-around style street photography lens, a travel portrait lens, and it is wide enough for some interior photography too.

PROS

  • A fast aperture of f/1.8 gives you the flexibility to shoot in a variety of different lighting conditions and you can achieve some beautiful depth of field too.
  • “Nifty Fifty” focal length on the APS-C sensor so it’s great for a variety of different photography, especially portrait style.
  • Built-in Optical SteadyShot to stabilize your video footage or when you take photos at slower shutter speeds.

CONS

  • The focal length is not very wide so it could limit you in some situations.
  • It is not weather-sealed which is a little disappointing given the price.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Walk around style trip where the main focus will be shooting the city you are in during the day or night. For example, New York City, Tokyo, Kyoto, San Francisco.
  • If the main type of photos you will be shooting is portraiture.
  • If you plan on shooting interiors where you don’t need the widest lens.


illustration of box which links to amazon



8.) Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS

 

The Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS is Sony’s newest super-telephoto lens and is one of the best telephoto lenses for the Sony a6000.

When you look at the focal length on this lens especially at its full-frame equivalent of 105-525mm it’s really crazy how powerful the zoom capability is on this lens. With a max range of 525mm, you will easily be able to take unique up-close photos or videos of subjects you normally would not be able to. To get the same reach on a full-frame camera you would have to pay more than double the price

It’s a bummer that this is a variable aperture lens, but for a lens with this wide of a focal range, it makes sense. If this lens had a constant aperture it would be much larger, heavier, and expensive. To keep it affordable, Sony really didn’t have much choice here. This is how the aperture varies depending on the focal length you’re shooting at with this lens

The nice thing about this lens is that even though it is pretty big in size, the lens isn’t too heavy. So, if you like to shoot a lot with a telephoto lens while you travel, this one is an easy lens to walk around with.

PROS

  • An incredibly powerful super zoom lens with a crazy 70-350mm focal range.
  • High quality and sharp photos at all focal lengths throughout the lens.
  • It’s a big lens, both in its physical size and zoom range, but it’s not too heavy.
  • Has a premium build and includes an AF/MF switch, OSS On/Off switch and focus hold button on the side of the camera.
  • Very good autofocus speed especially for a super zoom lens.

CONS

  • Variable aperture from f/4.5-f/6.3 could be an issue in some lighting conditions depending on if you have a tripod or not.
  • You will probably need another lens to fill the under 70mm focal range.
  • It is at the higher end of the price range for an APS-C lens.
  • It is not weather-sealed which is a let down considering the higher price point.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Travel wildlife or sports photography.
  • Landscape photography if you already have another lens to cover the under 70mm focal range.
  • City photography if you want to compress the different layers in the frame.
  • Maybe street photography if you want to zoom in very close to your subjects.


illustration of box which links to amazon



9.) Sony 70-200mm f/4

image of zoom lens on wood table with dark background

I want to throw this lens in the mix to get you thinking about what your preferred camera set up might look like in a couple of years. The Sony 70-200mm is a full-frame telephoto lens made for Sony’s full-frame cameras like the Sony a7III and a7RIII.

Even though it’s a full-frame lens, it still works with Sony APS-C cameras like the Sony a6000. The reason why I want to bring this lens up is that if you’re thinking about upgrading your camera to a full-frame camera in the next 1-2 years, it might be worth thinking about getting a full-frame lens versus an APS-C lens. Getting a full-frame lens now will save you money in the long run and you can start getting used to it.

I think if you are thinking about upgrading, a telephoto lens is the perfect type of lens to start your upgrade process. This is because the 1.5x crop factor that you will get when using it on the Sony a6000 won’t be as big of a deal with a telephoto lens when compared to a mid-range focal length lens like a 35mm.

Of course on the downside, a full-frame lens like the Sony 70-200mm f/4 will be more expensive and heavier than its comparable APS-C lens.

PROS

  • Will future proof your set-up if you’re thinking about upgrading to a full-frame Sony camera in the near future.
  • One of the best zoom lenses for the Sony full-frame system that produces extremely sharp photos.
  • Has a premium build and includes an AF/MF switch, OSS On/Off switch and focus hold button on the side of the camera.
  • Cheaper and lighter than the f/2.8 version of this lens making it more friendly for travel.
  • Constant aperture at f/4.

CONS

  • More expensive since it is a full-frame lens. Almost double the price than the Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS and it has a much shorter focal range.
  • Heavier than most APS-C specific lenses.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Landscape photography if you already have another lens to cover the under 70mm focal range.
  • City photography if you want to compress the different layers in the frame.
  • Maybe street photography if you want to zoom in very close to your subjects.


illustration of box which links to amazon



10.) Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS


 

The Sony E 55-210 f/4.5-6.3 is a very budget-friendly variable aperture zoom lens that is made specifically for Sony APS-C cameras like the Sony a6000. If you’re on a budget or if you don’t use a telephoto lens that much, this lens might be for you.

When I say budget, I mean BUDGET. I did a quick search on eBay and found a good selection of used Sony 55-210mm lenses for sale for under $200.

Obviously, because it’s a budget lens, the quality of the images it produces will not be as good as the Sony 70-350mm APS-C lens or the Sony 70-200mm full-frame lens, but it’s still more than good enough.

The best part about this lens other than the low price point is how compact and lightweight it is even with its wide focal range making it that much better of a companion lens to carry.

PROS

  • Very low price point and a good value for the focal range you get with it.
  • Includes built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS) which some of the more expensive lenses that we have gone over don’t have.
  • Lightweight and compact especially given its focal range.
  • A great companion lens especially given its low price point and light weight.

CONS

  • It does not produce the sharpest or best quality image, but that is expected.
  • No other negatives given the low price point it is at.

TYPE OF TRAVEL ITS BEST FOR

  • Landscape photography if you already have another lens to cover the under 70mm focal range.
  • City photography if you want to compress the different layers in the frame.
  • Maybe street photography if you want to zoom in very close to your subjects.


illustration of box which links to amazon


 



The Results

illustration of a podium with lenses in first, second, and third place

What makes the best travel lens for your Sony a6000 is really going to depend on the types of trips that you take and the type of photography or videography that you like to do. The good thing is that there is a huge selection of versatile lenses available, so you can easily find a lens that works for how you travel.

Keeping that in mind, here are my choices for Best All in One Travel Lens and Best Budget Travel Lens.

Best All in One Travel Lens – Sony 18-105mm f/4

photo of camera on a tripod

If I could only take 1 lens on my next trip, the Sony 18-105mm f/4 would be the lens I would pick. It doesn’t give you the sharpest image throughout its focal range and it’s not the fastest aperture to have. However, I think for the price and the flexible focal range, it would be able to cover 90% of situations for most people.

At 18mm, the lens is wide enough to fit most subjects in the frame and at 105mm the lens has enough reach for most situations. My favorite part of the Sony 18-105mm as a travel lens is that its zoom is all internal.

This means that the size of the lens doesn’t change even when you zoom in and you won’t have to worry about the lens accidentally extending during travel. It also makes working with a gimbal much easier if you ever find yourself in that situation.

If you want a faster and sharper lens and don’t need the extra zoom range, I’d go for the Sony Sony 16-55mm f2.8 G.


illustration of box which links to amazon


Best Budget Travel Lens – Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS

 

You really can’t beat the price on this lens especially given the wide focal range you get with it. The biggest downside is that the widest focal length is 55mm, so for most types of travel, you will probably need another lens to cover the focal lengths under 55mm.

To fill this gap under 55mm, you could look into the Sony E 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Kit Lens if you didn’t buy it with your camera already. The lens is decent and when I looked on eBay there were many good quality used versions for under $200.


illustration of box which links to amazon


 



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4 comments

Ross July 12, 2020 - 8:41 pm

Hi Tom, I am shooting with the a6000 and have the Sony E 55-210 f/4.5-6.3 but looking for something with better reach for wildlife. I am trying to decide between the Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS (for APC) and the brand new Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary Lens for Sony E (for full frame). Both are around $950 , but my concern with both is neither are much faster than the stock 210mm. What would you recommend? Thank you for all your great content!

Reply
Tom Shu July 12, 2020 - 10:42 pm

Hi Ross, thanks for reading the article and for your question! That is a good problem to have. I think both the Sony E 70-350mm or the Sigma 100-400mm would make great additions to your kit as they will give you better image quality and better reach than the Sony E 55-210mm kit lens. As for which one to choose, I think that will come down to preference. Here are some questions I could think of that might help your decision.

  • #1. If you want the most reach possible, then the Sigma is the better choice. However, if you need more flexibility with the wider focal lengths (closer to the 70mm range), the Sony might be the better choice. I say this because, with the a6000 1.5x crop factor, the Sigma lens is essentially a 150mm-600mm, which might not be wide enough depending on the situations you find yourself in.
  • #2. If you want a smaller, lighter, and more compact lens, the Sony might be the better choice as it’s an APSC lens vs a full-frame lens. After doing a quick comparison, it looks like the Sigma lens is about 1lb heavier than the Sony lens and about 2″ longer when the lenses are retracted.
  • #3. This point might not apply, but if you’re thinking about upgrading to a full-frame Sony camera in the near future, then it might be more convenient to get the full-frame lens now.

Lastly, I agree it’s slightly disappointing the speed of these lenses isn’t faster, but I think it’s what’s expected at this price point. I hope this info helps and let me know what you end up deciding to do! If you have more questions, just let me know too.

Reply
Rick Bingham July 18, 2020 - 6:10 am

Hi Tom! Very concise article with some great choices. I found it very interesting for another reason as well. Our upgrade paths are very evenly matched and your emphasis on each photographer asking themselves exactly what they will use their lens/ camera combinations for is one I’ve shared with others whenever the “what to buy” question comes up online. I had other cameras prior to Sony ( 1st owned camera was a Canon TX film followed by a Pentax K film) . When I switched to digital I had another Pentax. I became aware of Sony and bought the NEX3 w. Kit lens which I loved for its weight, size and picture quality. I too upgraded to the Alpha 6000 and began adding lenses. My first added was the 18-105.. which I still have. In fact, I own all the lenses on your list with the exceptions of the full frame 200’sand also own the A6500 on which to put them. I kept to the APSC format after contemplating the 7-111 Full frame since I really like the form factor for all of the reasons you mention.. In travel, less weight, less cost, and, in foreign countries, less conspicuousness , are all desirable. For even smaller form and more if this factors, my latest camera purchase was the RX100VA….a wonderful pocketsized device with many excellent qualities for travel. Although I’m forgoing a full frame upgradefor the time being, it’s because, for me, the question revolves aroind the best balance of factors for what I plan to shoot. The only thig i thought was missing was any reference to the “Clear Image Zoom” feature foundonthe 6000 and 6500 which extends the ranges of the Sony power zoom lenses (18-105 and the lowly 16-55 kit lens) which is truly useful, especially for travel. Again, thanks for he article. Well done! I’ll look for more !

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Tom Shu July 18, 2020 - 9:52 pm

Hi Rick! Thanks for taking the time to read the article and for your comment! I’m really glad you found the article useful as I spent a considerable amount of time creating it.

Yes! It looks like we did have pretty much the same upgrade path. Funnily, I recently found a passion for film photography and the first film camera I purchased was the Pentax K1000. It was refreshing going from digital film and I really enjoy the fact that with Pentax you only have the aperture, shutter speed, and the ISO of your film to worry about.

I totally agree with you that there is no need to upgrade to a full-frame, especially for travel. The only reason I made the upgrade to the a7RII wasn’t because of the quality difference, but mainly because I wanted to have 2 memory cards to back up the photos we take since we do a lot of professional work on our trips. Since I have both the smaller APS-C and full-frame cameras now, I can honestly say that it really is nice carrying around the a6000 or a6500 since they are so much smaller.

That’s funny you have an RX100VA as I have the RX100V. I guess once you get hooked to Sony gear, you really do get hooked haha.

That’s a good point about Clear Image Zoom. I actually left it out of this article as I didn’t have the best experience in using it with video work. After hearing about your experience, I’ll go back and try it out again for photos. Thanks again for your suggestion!

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