in , ,

7 Best Sony A7III Travel Lenses (Buyer’s Guide)

Looking for the best Sony A7III lens for travel? You’re in luck, because there are plenty of great choices and I’ve rounded up all of my favorite options for capturing adventures.

From ultra wide angle lenses to lightweight primes, I’m confident that you’ll find what you’re looking for with one of these lenses.

TL;DR Cheat Sheet

Best Sony A7III Lens for Travel

#1. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II

*Note: As of early September 2023, the link below sends you to the general 16-35mm GM product page. We expect this page to update as soon as the new version is released to the public, which should happen at any time. We’ll also update this article as soon as the updated lens releases to the public.

The original Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master was always been my top choice for travel. It stood alone atop this article as my “best of the best” for years, so it’s no surprise that this new iteration has me hooked.

This lens remains a testament to Sony’s craftsmanship in their GM lens lineup. The image quality achievable with this lens can rival plenty of prime lenses, which is never a small feat.

It’s sharp and precise across the entirety of its focal length. At 16mm, it can do grand wide-angle shots, while still nailing portraits and street photography at 35mm. The wide f/2.8 aperture is further optimized and continues to be awesome in low light scenarios.

For video aficionados, this lens is a dream. It addresses almost every aspect of travel videography or vlogging needs, setting an unparalleled benchmark. The autofocus is extremely quick and it’s extremely quiet.

The price tag definitely keeps this lens a stretch for the budget-conscience, but for those undeterred by the investment, it’s unrivaled in the A7II lens landscape for this zoom range. Rest assured, it’s a permanent resident in my travel kit (and we’ve got updated travel camera bag suggestions for it too).

Unparalleled Sharpness in Zoom Lens Territory

Ask anyone about the new 16-35 GM, and you’ll get the same response you would have gotten regarding the original: This lens epitomizes SHARPNESS, competing even with the prime sharpness of prime lenses.

This is the zoom lens you want if the 16-35mm range fits your style of travel photography. Where other zooms fall off, the GM still shines. What’s commendable is its unerring sharpness, regardless if you’re capturing at 16mm or 35mm. The clarity is undeniable.

If there’s a gripe, it’s till that you’ve got the same, albeit expected distortion at the 16mm end of the range. It’s nothing crazy and it’s easily rectified in post-production. Definitely something you’d expect to deal with when shooting so wide.

For those chasing paramount sharpness from a zoom lens, look no further. This gem not only trumps most zoom competitors but even challenges many prime lenses in clarity.

16-35mm is Perfect for Landscapes & Travel Portraits

There’s a reason 16-35mm resonates with so many photographers and why I always prefer it as my main travel lens: its unmatched adaptability. Perfect for those wishing to travel light without compromising on shots.

The 16mm wide end is perfect for architecture, sprawling landscapes, and interior shots. Most iconic travel imagery, be it from pros or trending on Instagram, harnesses the power of this width. Think picturesque landscapes – whether you’re looking at mountains, beaches, cities, streets, etc.

Zoom into 35mm, and portrait photography takes on a fresh dimension. While a classic 50mm portrait lens has its place, 35mm offers a broader canvas to merge subjects with evocative backdrops.

Location is king when you’re taking travel photos. And whether you’re going wide or shooting a portrait, the range in this lens is just right for getting the right amount of background.

Simply put, for travelers, the 16-35mm spectrum is something that you can’t go wrong with.

Fast f/2.8 Aperture for Low Light Performance + Creamy Bokeh

With the new GM, the improved f/2.8 aperture continues to dazzle. Low light shots are a breeze, and the bokeh is art in motion.

The low light prowess of the GM is something to be revered. While others scramble for prime lenses in dim settings, you’re equipped to capture the moment seamlessly.

But the magic doesn’t end there. The quality and number of aperture blades of the original 16-35mm GM were always a talking point. The updated 11 aperture blades produce an even more cinematic bokeh quality. Plus, for those enamored by sunstars, you get a unique 22-pointed look to them.

Final Thoughts on the 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

Again, I can’t say enough good about the 16-35mm GM. For me, it’s the perfect companion for my A7III. Rank it among the elite of travel lenses, not just for Sony but universally.

Its heft is more than justified by its caliber. And, for those worried about a lack of extra stabilization inside the lens, the A7III’s built in in-body stabilization (IBIS) already has you covered.

That it’s even sharper and even lighter now makes this lens a no-brainer for anyone who shoots lots of wide travel shots, especially in lower light situations where the f/2.8 aperture can shine.

All that said, there are cheaper lenses out there. If you love the sound of a 16-35mm GM but can’t quite justify the price, our #2 or #3 pick might be what you’re looking for.

Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8

#2. Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 Di III VXD

The Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 Di III VXD is so good that I would consider it less of a #2 pick and more of a #1B pick. This is as close to kryptonite as you’ll get for Sony’s GM option above.

Sure, it doesn’t have built-in stabilization and its 20-40mm zoom range is a bit different than the norm, but the question is whether or not that matters when this lens performs so well for the money.

As much as I love Sony’s 16-35mm 2.8 GM, this Tamron 20-40mm 2.8 is undeniably a better choice for a great many people, especially when it comes to travel. Here’s why:

About Half the Weight…& Half the Price

If you took a glance at the stats so far in this article, you probably noticed that this Tamron 20-40mm weighs about half of what the Sony 16-35mm GM does. That’s not a typo.

It’s really impressive how much weight and size Tamron has saved in this lens without sacrificing a huge amount of image quality.

The A7III already has very competent in-body stabilization, so unless you’re heavy into handheld low-light photography or shoot a ton of video, you can almost certainly do without extra stabilization in your lens.

This lens is just far more comfortable in terms of its weight and in its bulkiness. You could pack it with another similarly sized lens with a longer focal range and the two would only come out slightly heavier than a single Sony G Master.

Combine all of those size/weight savings with the fact that this is more than 50% cheaper than a Sony GM lens and it gets harder and harder to justify spending more.

An All-Around Strong Performer

The long and short of it is that only a hardcore pixel-peeper would find much fault with this lens. In terms of raw image quality, I’d give this lens a 7/10. Which is actually very, very good when you keep comparing its size and its price to the competition.

It’s fairly sharp throughout the focal range, even if it does lose a bit of sharpness at 20mm. Most of that is barrel distortion, which is lessened as you get toward 40mm.

Bokeh is pretty good, especially compared to the smaller aperture lenses on this list. You’re still getting a lot of the same bokeh effects you’d get with the Sony 2.8 GM with this lens, including rounded shapes on lights, even if they aren’t as perfect as what the GM can produce.

The colors produced this lens are also very good. Nothing to complain about there.

Autofocus is also good and focus-breathing isn’t too bad. The newer tech Tamron has in the linear motors inside this lens are smooth and plenty good enough for all sorts of travel usage.

Final Thoughts on the Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8

Unless you’re a professional, a pixel-peeper, or a power user that understands all of the technical points I’ve made here (and more) about this lens, this should probably be your choice over the Sony 16-35mm 2.8 GM.

And that’s coming from someone who very happily owns the Sony 16-35mm 2.8 GM.

The Tamron 20-40mm just has too much going for it in terms of size, weight, and price to be overlooked. It’s 80% or 90% of the performance for between 30% or 50% of the price, depending on timing and whether or not you opt for new/used.

All of this is exponentially true if you plan on building a travel camera bag with multiple lenses. You’re going to be so much lighter and so much cheaper with the Tamron options over the Sony G Master options, while still having that wide 2.8 aperture.

Sony’s G Master lineup might stand alone with its 10/10 performance, but you can save big and in multiple ways by going the Tamron 2.8 route.

Sony 24-105mm F4 G

#3. Sony 24–105 mm f/4 G OSS

Our previous second place pick until the Tamron became our alternative to the top pick, the Sony Vario-Tessar T* 24-105mm f/4 is about as versatile as it gets for an A7III travel lens and is now our third pick.

This is an outstanding choice for anyone who is willing to forgo a little bit of width in order to gain a lot more zoom.

24mm is still plenty wide for plenty of travelers. Sure, it’s not going to get quite the same majestically wide shot that a 16mm can achieve, but it’s still very nice.

On the narrow end, you can zoom all the way to 105mm for portraits, close-ups, etc. This is quite handy for obvious reasons.

Sharpness is also really, really good for a zoom with this much range.

Super Flexible Focal Range

The 24-105mm f/4 G OSS is a top-tier competitor when it comes to lenses with a great focal-range-to-image-quality ratio. You’re not going to be disappointed.

On an A7III platform, you’d have to be comparing this lens to the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. That is definitely another incredible lens (and it’s also on this list), but I can’t quite justify it for travel over the 24-105mm.

Sure, the GM is going to give you marginally better performance in almost every facet of image quality, but I don’t think it’s enough to make up for having a 35mm lower range on the high end of the zoom.

Even though the majority of your shots will likely fall into the 24mm to 50mm range, having the ability to go all the way to 105mm is huge while traveling. You’ll discover all sorts of shots that you couldn’t quite attain if you were to max out at 70mm.

It’s also worth noting that this lens is also a pretty competent macro lens. In fact, it blows most competing 24-70mm lenses out of the water for macro shots.

Pretty wild to get a lens of this type that can produce solid macro shots on one end and very nice portraits on the other.

This is a lens so versatile that you can easily pop it onto your A7III and leave it on for a whole day, or even a whole trip.

Very Sharp for Such a Large Zoom Range

It’s actually surprising how sharp the 24-105mm f/4.0 G OSS is for not being a part of Sony’s G Master line.

Most other 24-70mm lenses are going to have a stronger performance on one end of the focal range than the other. Not the case here.

At 24mm it’s quite sharp. The same is true at 105mm and everywhere in between. This is a pleasant surprise for most, as you’d generally expect to sacrifice more sharpness for the flexible zoom range.

Center sharpness is outstanding and corner sharpness is pretty impressive as well.

Don’t be turned off by this lens just because you may think that a 70-105mm can’t produce clear enough shots. Sony has you taken care of with this one.

Final Thoughts on the 24–105 mm f/4 G OSS

As long as you’re willing to sacrifice the wideness of a lens that can go as far as 16mm, buying the 24-105mm f/4 G OSS for travel is an easy decision to make.

24mm will allow you plenty of room for wide shots and the rest of the zoom range can take care of just about everything else.

Landscapes? Check.

Wide portraits? Check.

Portraits? Check.

Macro? Check.

Close-ups? Check.

This is the travel lens for your if you think you’ll definitely make good use of a wide variety of focal ranges and appreciate having only one lens to do it all.

If you like this lens and you also have a secondary camera in the a6000 or a6500 family, check out my top pick in my guide to the 5 Best a6000 Lenses for Travel. It’s a little different, but it fits this same niche in the APS-C world.

#4. Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II

Sony 24-70mm F 2.8 GM II

Price: (Click to check current price on Amazon)

Lens Type: Zoom

Aperture: Constant f/2.8

Zoom Range: 24mm to 70mm

Image Stabilization: None

Weight: 24.5oz (695g)

When it comes to selecting the ideal travel lens, I’ve always been partial to the 16-35mm zoom range. However, Sony’s FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II proves that versatility can come in different focal lengths. While it lacks the ultra-wide capability that a 16-35mm offers, it brings to the table an extended reach that can be indispensable for tons of use cases.

This lens, another successor to an already remarkable predecessor, embodies the spirit of Sony’s GM line – top-notch craftsmanship paired with unmatched performance. The ability to switch between a moderately wide-angle 24mm to a portrait-friendly 70mm ensures you’re prepared for nearly everything that comes your way.

Like all G Master lenses, it’s tack sharp and the autofocus is incredibly fast.

Versatility, Versatility, Versatility

The debate over the ideal zoom range for travel is eternal. While I remain a staunch advocate for the 16-35mm range for travel, especially for its unparalleled wideness ideal for landscapes and spacious architectural shots, there’s no denying that the 24-70mm can have even more versatility.

You might sacrifice a bit of grandeur in terms of field of view on the wide end (24mm vs 16mm), but its extended range does provide an edge in scenarios where portrait photography takes precedence.

For those who find the 70mm end more appealing for isolating subjects or capturing intimate moments, the 24-70mm becomes a preferred companion. Yet, for wide-open spaces and capturing the essence of travel, I still lean towards the 16-35mm range. Ultimately, preferences vary, and the beauty of photography lies in these nuances.

Pairing Up for the Ultimate Travel Setup

If budget and space aren’t restrictive, pairing the 24-70mm with a 16-35mm lens creates an enviable travel setup, covering a do-everything 16mm to 70mm range. Together, these lenses ensure you’re equipped for virtually any situation, from sweeping landscapes to detailed close-ups. In such a combination, the 24-70mm GM II holds its own, providing the extended reach the 16-35mm lacks.

The bottom for this one is this: You should undoubtedly opt for this lens if the extra 10mm width gained with a 16-35mm lens means little to you.

And, if you want to a two-lens travel combo for your A7III: Buy this 24-70mm and a 16-35mm and call it a day. Aside from long, long distance photography, there’s nothing that combo can’t do while traveling.

Final Thoughts on the 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II

The 24-70mm GM II is undeniably a powerhouse. Sony’s dedication to perfection shines through in every shot this lens produces. While I have my reservations about its zoom range for travel, there’s no denying its potential when it comes to sheer versatility.

For those who seek a wider perspective, the 16-35mm range may resonate more. However, if portraits and a more extended reach take precedence in your travel stories, the 24-70mm GM II might just be your lens of choice. Either way, the GM lineup is going to provide you with pro-level results.

And again, a 24-70mm lens paired with a 16-35mm lens is about the most versatile travel camera bag setup you could ask for.

Sony 16-35mm F4 Vario-Tessar Zeiss

#5 Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 16-35mm f/4 OSS

If you love the 16-35mm G Master and want to stick with Sony, but can’t quite justify the price, look no further than Sony’s Zeiss Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4 for travel.

Seriously, don’t even think twice if the 16-35mm f/2.8 GM price is too steep for your budget. Get the Vario-Tessar 16-36mm and you won’t regret it.

This is an an outstanding lens for the money. And, depending on the deal, it will cost you at least $800 less than the G Master will.

Great 16-35mm Performance at a Good Price

You can’t quite call the Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4 “cheap”, but it is certainly priced in a nice spot. This is a solid “bang for your buck” zoom lens.

Unless you’re demanding best-of-the-best performance, the 16-35mm f/4 still puts in a respectable showing when compared to the GM version.

Sharpness is good, distortion isn’t bad at all, and f/4 will still give you decent results in regards to low light performance and bokeh.

A Lightweight Option for Lean Travel

Even though I don’t consider the 16-35mm f/2.8 GM to be too heavy for travel, it’s definitely not as light as the Zeiss Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4. You’ll save about 5.7oz (162g) when opting for the Zeiss.

That’s really not a huge real-world difference, but it does have some impact when you’re traveling all over the place with your camera. You won’t cramp up quite as quickly as you would during heavy use.

The weight difference obviously becomes a bigger factor the smaller you are. A 100lb photographer is obviously going to notice the 5.7oz savings a lot easier than a 250lb photographer would.

Weight may also influence your decision if you prefer to use a smaller gimbal setup for video. You can get away with a heavier lens than the Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4 on something as small as a Zhiyun Crane, but you’ll be pushing the limits. The Vario-Tessar is still in a good weight class for most small-to-mid-size gimbals.

Final Thoughts on the 16-35mm f/4

The Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4 is another no-brainer lens for travel. It packs a big punch for a price that won’t induce tears.

While I personally choose the 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens for travel, I wouldn’t hesitate to opt for the 16-35mm f/4 G OSS if I wasn’t doing any professional work.

The Vario-Tessar is going to be more than enough for all but the most demanding photographers.

If you’re on a budget, don’t do pro work, or don’t do a lot of low-light shooting, get the Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4 and use the money you save on a nice prime lens or extra camera gear.

Sony 35mm F1.8 Zeiss Prime Lens

#6 Sony 35mm Sonnar T f/2.8 ZA

The Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 is the first prime lens on this list and it’s rockstar. If you want the image quality of a prime lens in a versatile focal length, the 35mm f/2.8 is hard to beat.

While this focal length is just outside of “wide” for landscapes/scenery and just inside of “narrow” for portraits, it’s a great compromise length for general travel applications.

All-Around Prime Performance

My personal opinion is that the 35mm focal length on a full-frame camera is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades. Even though this lens doesn’t really have a single “home run” area of performance, it’s a great all-around performer.

This lens is sharp, fast, and useful in many different scenarios. The colors are also good, something that’s not always true with sharp primes.

For landscapes, the 35mm may not be ideal, but it’s still a very solid choice. Tight spots will be a challenge, but you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get great shots outdoors.

Travel portraits with a 35mm lens are actually quite nice, as you can isolate your subject while still getting plenty of background. This is perfect for situations where you want to capture a person and the scenery simultaneously.

Indoor shots and low light shots with the 35mm f/2.8 are outstanding. The f/2.8 aperture works wonders in low light. Night photos and video are going to be awesome with this lens.

Vloggers will also love the 35mm focal length. It’s a great length for hand-holding a camera and capturing your face correctly.

Extremely Compact

The 35mm f/1.8 is ideal for traveling as light as possible. It takes up almost no space in a bag and it’s extremely light.

You can throw this on an A7III and shoot all day without thinking twice about the weight.

This is also a bonus for keeping your camera setup discreet. Whether or not we like it, huge lenses tend to attract more attention when you’re out and about. People can clam up a bit or even become a bit disgruntled if they think someone is potentially snapping super-hi-res close-ups of their face.

Keeping your profile low with an A7III with a 35mm lens will keep a lot of folks from reacting to your setup.

This is an even bigger benefit in questionable areas that experience high levels of crime. Correct or not, the average thief thinks that the bigger the camera, the more valuable it must be.

Videographers should also consider this lens for a lightweight choice to fly on a gimbal. The weight is perfect for pairing with an A7III on a relatively low-profile gimbal.

Final Thoughts on the Sony 35mm f/2.8

If you’re going to go with a single A7III prime lens for travel, I highly recommend the Sony 35mm f/2.8.

Yeah, it’s not as versatile as a zoom lens, but it will perform admirably in many areas while knocking your socks off in low light photos/video. A lens this fast will essentially see in the dark, especially on the low light heavyweight that is the Sony A7III.

It’s almost a cliche to say it, but it’s absolutely true that using a prime lens will also make you a better photographer. The fixed focal length will cause you to think more about your shot composition and you’ll definitely find yourself walking around more to get the perfect shot.

#7 Sony 12-24mm f/4 G

Sony 12-24mm F4 G Wide Angle Zoom Lens

The Sony 12-25 f/4 G is a unique lens that can produce some epic results with the A7III in the hands of the right travel photographer. It’s also extremely light for a lens of its type.

No doubt about it, 12mm is wide, wide. This kind of width can help you to create some breathtaking shots, but it can also throw a wrench in your plans. There’s definitely an art to pulling off consistently great photos when you’re shooting this wide.

That said, the 12-24mm f/4 G is an amazing lens that is extremely impressive. Most lenses (especially zooms) can’t handle a focal range this wide without sacrificing quite a bit of quality.

The 12-24mm is a monster when it comes to epic landscapes, cityscapes, and other specialized scenarios.

Next-level Wide Angle

You can expect to get the widest of wide-angle shots when you’ve got the 12-24mm f/4 on an A7III. I can’t stress that enough.

Used correctly, you’re going to get shots that are otherwise unattainable by typical lenses.

The 12mm focal length really shines indoors in tight spaces. You’ll rarely find yourself needing to back up. The wide end of this focal range will take care of just about any uber-wide shot you can imagine.

Outside, the 12mm will capture any landscape or city street you could possibly imagine. You’ll open up a whole new world of architectural photography, simply by having the ability to get close to large buildings while still keeping them fully in-frame.

Distortion is actually far, far better than what you’d expect on a zoom lens that can get to this crazy of a width. It’s a totally reasonable amount and easily handled in post.

Final Thoughts on the 12-24mm f/4

This lens doesn’t quite make the cut if you’re looking for a single “best” travel lens to pair with your A7III. However, if used in tandem with something like the 24-105mm f/4 G OSS, it can be an absolutely beastly addition to your travel kit.

It can’t really be overstated how creative you can get with this lens on its wide end. You’ll be able to capture things in the frame that you could only dream of with any other lens.

On the narrow side, 24mm is still wide, but it’s a good length for lots of different shots. You’ll be able to get some tighter landscapes and some okay portraits in this range.

If you put a high priority on uniqe shots, especially wide-angle shots of landscapes, architecture, and indoor settings, the Sony 12-24mm f/4 is the best at what it does.

Is Safe & Reliable?

Is Legit, Safe & Reliable?

How Much Do Skis Cost

How Much Do Skis Cost? (Buyer’s Guide & Tips)