8 Compact Weather Sealed Prime Lenses For The Travel Photographer

These weather sealed prime lenses will help you to keep shooting when it starts pouring.

Travel photography is an interesting segment of the photography world, it is a project that requires versatility from a photographer’s kit while at the same time requiring the footprint of that kit to remain as minimal as possible to reduce added fees and weight. As such, many travel photographers, or photographers who will be traveling often reexamine their kits looking for any way to add versatility while reducing their footprint and weight.

Today we are going to be helping those of you in this situation out by providing an excellent listing of compact, weather sealed lenses that would make great additions or replacements for any travel photographers kit. DSLR? Mirrorless? It matters not: we have some recommendations for both sides of the spectrum.

Sony 35mm f2.8

If you are planing to build your travel photography kit around the Sony full frame mirrorless system than one lens you will no doubt want to consider heavily is the FE 35mm F2.8. This lens is small, compact, weather resistant, and has excellent image quality. In our full review of this lens we had the following to say about it…

It’s an incredible lens. On the A7 it will focus like a speed demon. On the A7r it will resolve more detail than your mom will want to see in her face. Then when you’re all done with that, you can take it out into inclement weather with no problems. Then there is your excellent color rendition and class leading sharpness.” – Read our full FE 35mm F2.8 review

You can find the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FSB79KU’ text=’Sony FE 35mm F2.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cc67295e-4ba1-11e7-8bdc-4bb8ec5cdf02′] over on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FSB79KU’ text=’Sony FE 35mm F2.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bf926641-4ba1-11e7-a66f-e357a9195c85′] currently. (Price updated automatically to be accurate)

Sony 55mm f1.8

Another great addition for a Sony travel photographer’s kit would be the Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm F1.8. This is one of the sharpest lenses available for the Sony FE system and thanks to its weather resistant design it is also one that you should feel pretty comfortable with out in the elements. In our full FE 55mm F1.8 review we had the following to say about the lens…

The Sony 55mm f1.8, like its shorter brother, has earned our Editor’s Choice Award for sheer performance. If this lens is any indication, the future is bright and creamy for the A7, A7R and whatever will come next. When paired with the A7, you’ll enjoy smooth focusing both manually and automatically.” – Read our full FE 55mm F1.8 review

You can find the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FSB799Q’ text=’Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm F1.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’64c1bc6f-4ba3-11e7-9246-dfd5b55b8c76′] over on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FSB799Q’ text=’Sony FE 55mm F1.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6d8d04ab-4ba3-11e7-99dd-c79ecf95f6c5′] currently.

Sony 85mm f1.8

If you’re looking for something with a tad more reach for street photography or even portraits while you’re traveling, then the Sony 85mm f1.8 is a really solid option. It’s very sharp, lightweight, has dust/splash protection, and will really round out the trio that you’ve got in your bag. In our review, we say:

“Images from the Sony 85mm f1.8 FE are beautiful in many ways. This lens offers very sharp image quality though arguably as more muted than what Sony users are used to. Sony’s 85mm f1.4 G Master is the most saturated, while the Batis follows after that, then the Loxia and then the standard Sony FE.”Read our full Sony 85mm f1.8 review

Be sure to check out the Sony 85mm f1.8 on Amazon. At $598, it’s a steal.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm f2.8

Another third-party option for those who aren’t afraid of the manual focus lifestyle, the Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 offers travel photographers a high quality, compact, wide angle lens on the Sony platform. It has all the build and image quality points that one would expect from a Zeiss lens (including, unfortunately, the price tag) and in our Loxia 21mm F2.8 review we had the following to say…

If you were to go for any wide angle prime that is weather sealed and available for the Sony a7 series of cameras, I would without a double recommend the Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Loxia lens. It’s small, weather sealed, sharp, and has great image quality. Seriously, there simply isn’t a single bad thing I can say about this lens. Landscape and most photographers shooting this wide don’t truly NEED autofocus all the time. So it works perfectly.” – Read our full Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 review

You can find the [amazon_textlink asin=’B019OUCQ9Y’ text=’Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’15862807-4ba5-11e7-8292-61dcdc4eb363′] over on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B019OUCQ9Y’ text=’Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0d7f19e9-4ba5-11e7-aea0-210f7730b8ac’] currently.

Fujifilm 16mm f1.4

In the Fujifilm x-series there is no shortage of compact weather sealed lenses, this lens one of the larger options. But with its 24mm full frame equivalent field of view, the XF 16mm f1.4 is a great option for Fuji shooters wanting a wider view of their travels. It also happens to be the second fastest lens on this list with its F1.4 aperture. In our XF 16mm F1.4 review we had the following to say about the lens…

This lens has weather sealing, sharp image quality, the best bokeh they could possibly give it, and a metal exterior that makes it tough. But it also will give users more fringing issues than we’d like, fairly slow focusing performance, and will most of all set you back $1,000. There is very little around that can even come close to what it offers, so in many ways that can help you justify the price.” – Read our full XF 16mm F1.4 review

You can find the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00W6VZLFA’ text=’Fujifilm 16mm F1.4′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f90f677c-4ba6-11e7-a2b3-63c2619a4544′] over on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B00W6VZLFA’ text=’Fujifilm 16mm F1.4′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’efcdb6b9-4ba6-11e7-a88f-8d03c148d6b4′] currently.

Fujifilm 23mm f2

A much more compact option over the 16mm we just mentioned, Fujifilm’s XF 23mm F2 is part of Fujifilm’s compact weather sealed F2 prime series. The lens is sharp, fast to focus, lets in plenty of light, and won’t take up hardly any room in your bag. It’s hard to not recommend this lens to Fujifilm shooters who require a kit that takes up as little size/weight as possible. In our Fujifilm 23mm F2 review we had the following to say about it…

The speed when focusing with this lens on the X Pro 2 is very impressive. It’s by far the absolute best lens in Fujifilm’s lineup for street photography and candid shooting due to its autofocus speed. When the focusing point is at its smallest, it will be a bit slower. But increase it and what it become a complete speed demon. With that said, let the camera choose its own focusing point and it will seriously surprise you with how fast it focuses.” – Read our full Fujifilm 23mm F2 review

You can find the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01KNXOCO8′ text=’Fujifilm XF 23mm F2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fe859b76-4ba7-11e7-ac9a-4bba824f8809′] over on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B01KNXOCO8′ text=’Fujifilm XF 23mm F2′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f71b6a5b-4ba7-11e7-a385-571e29edac54′] currently.

Tamron 45mm f1.8

Admittedly a somewhat odd focal length in today’s lens industry, the Tamron 45mm F1.8 offers Canon and Nikon shooters a fast, image stabilized and weather sealed prime lens that is incredibly versatile. It is not the most compact weather sealed prime lens available for the DSLR systems, but it is one we hold in high regard, and we had the following to say about it in our full review…

With nine aperture blades, a metal build, a nice feel in the hands and weather sealing, this lens has a lot going for it–especially for only $599. That’s an affordable price point for sure, but it’s also a lens for those of us not reaching for higher fruit.” – Read our full Tamron 45mm F1.8 review

Get a [amazon_textlink asin=’B014ULAFJA’ text=’Tamron 45mm F1.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’096a0a8b-4ba9-11e7-9357-c9aee86918db’] over on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B014ULAFJA’ text=’Tamron 45mm F1.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’03a3c535-4ba9-11e7-a4bf-012190639394′] currently.

Side Note: For what it’s worth, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B014ULAF0O’ text=’Tamron 35mm F1.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0e023a91-4baa-11e7-9520-5d002861017a’] is also an excellent option in this regard, featuring many of the same things that we love about the 45mm. So if you prefer a wider view, go with the 35. 

Olympus 25mm f1.2

Olympus, and other Micro Four Thirds cameras for that matter, make a lot of sense as travel cameras thanks to their small size and weight. Their 25mm F1.2 is a compact weather resistant lens that gathers an insane amount of light for a lens its size, and when combined with one of Olympus’s latest cameras offers a stellar travel photography experience. In our full review of the Olympus 25mm F1.2 we had the following to say…

People need to realize that it isn’t the size that matters but instead how you use it. The 25mm f1.2 is more than capable of doing everything that most photographers will demand. In fact, it could be the one lens that stays mated to your camera.” – Read our full Olympus 25mm F1.2 review

Grab the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01LW4IFUI’ text=’Olympus 25mm F1.2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b415a439-4baa-11e7-960c-0b65baa663b8′] over on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B01LW4IFUI’ text=’Olympus 25mm F1.2′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a9e5c2b9-4baa-11e7-bbb2-3309ff6cce8d’] currently.

So there you have it, a collection of compact (relatively at least) weather sealed prime lenses that make a lot of sense for travel photographers. That said, specifically on the DSLR side of the spectrum, there are more compact lenses that didn’t make this list due to the lack of weather sealing, as well as some options that do feature weather sealing but are not really compact at all.

So just know there are good options out there for those systems if you can live without weather sealing or if size/weight are not things you are concerned about.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.