6 Versatile Zoom Lenses for Documentary and Lifestyle Photography

sony fe mount lenses
Being able to capture a story with a single shot can be tricky; these zoom lenses will help make documentary photography easier though.

Being a lifestyle or documentary photographer can be quite challenging. You need to be able to work in a variety of scenarios, and you need to be able to capture the moment in a split second. Prime lenses are great, but sometimes zoom lenses allow you to get the shot a lot quicker due to you being able to stay in place and zoom in or out on the scene at hand. You also need to be able to shoot in both good and poor lighting situations. There’s a lot to take into consideration when choosing lenses for these genre’s of photography, so we have put together a short list of zoom lenses that will make your life as a lifestyle or documentary photographer that much easier.

All of the zoom lenses we have chosen below will allow you to get nice wide shots that will help you capture more of the scene that presents itself to you, but they will also enable you to zoom in a little closer for some more detailed shots. Not only are they all well built lenses, they all have the ability to shoot in low light, they offer outstanding image quality, and fast focusing speeds. All the qualities that Documentarians and Lifestyle photographers need to have in their zoom lenses are present in these examples. Check out our list below

 

Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 (Canon EF-S)

 

zoom lenses

Pros

  • Damned good build quality
  • Super sharp wide open
  • The fact that you’ve got  wide to normal focal length range at a constant f1.8 blows our minds
  • Fast to focus
  • Perhaps the absolute best concert photography lens that anyone can get their hands on

Cons

  • APS-C only; but that isn’t really a con. Sure, everyone wants a full frame version
  • Positively nothing else

Check out our full review

Buy now Canon ($659): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($612.82): Amazon

Buy now Sony A ($646.49): Amazon

Buy now Pentax ($689): Amazon

 

Pentax 15-30mm f2.8 ED SDM WR

 

zoom lenses

Pros

  • Fantastic colors
  • Great image quality overall
  • Great weather sealing
  • Feels great in the hand
  • Fairly affordable price point
  • When connected to the camera, it can still fit into most messenger style camera bags
  • Fast focusing, but it’s also a wide angle lens so you have to expect that

Cons

  • Shows a bit more distortion than we’re used to seeing with wide angle zooms these days (Canon and Sony especially!)
  • Focusing and zoom ring are a bit too small for my liking

Check out our full review

Buy now ($1,296.95): Amazon

 

 

Pro Tip: one thing that all of these lenses have in common is that they are all prone to getting dirty. From dust spots, to dirt, and grease from finger prints to water spots, all kinds of gunk can get on the front element of your lens and can potentially ruin your shot. Get an affordable lens cleaning kit and keep it with you all the time. Clean that glass and make it sparkle. If you catch any dirt on your lens before, or during your shoot you will save your self a headache later on in post.

 

Tamron SP 24-70mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2

 

Pros

  • Fantastic sharpness
  • Great colors if you white balance and edit in just the right way
  • Reliable autofocus
  • Image stabilization
  • Weather sealing
  • Feels good in the hand
  • Very versatile
  • Not too heavy
  • Not badly priced

Cons

  • Tamron’s colors may not be to your liking right out of camera

Check out our full review

Buy now Canon ($1,199): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($1,199): Amazon

 

Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM Lens

 

Pros

  • You can do a landscape image then do a portrait 5 seconds later
  • This lens is ultra sharp
  • The Sigma 24-105mm f4 is an extremely good lens for event photography
  • This lens is practical for use in almost any situation

Cons

  • The Sigma 24-105mm f4 is not the lightest lens
  • You have to pay attention to how you put on the lens hood or it will pop off
  • Image Stabilization gets weird on a tripod
  • The Sigma 24-105mm f4 does not shoot macro, but the Canon 24-105mm L does

Check out our full review

Buy now Canon ($829): Amazon

Buy now Nikon ($789): Amazon

Buy now Sony A ($849): Amazon

 

 

Pro Tip: Being out and about all day taking pics can take it’s toll on a photographer, especially if you use the camera strap that comes with your camera. Make things easier on yourself by using a camera shoulder sling. When you’re not shooting, your gear can rest easily down by your side and it won’t put any unnecessary strain on your neck. When you’re ready to shoot simply grab the camera and fire away. This one is incredibly affordable, it’s padded, and features an extra secure locking mechanism to make sure your gear is safe,

 

Fujifilm 16-55mm f2.8 LM WR (Fujifilm X Mount)

 

zoom lenses

Pros

  • Solid image quality
  • Nice bokeh, sharpness, and color rendition
  • Weather sealed
  • Fujifilm’s best general zoom lens yet
  • Fujifilm gave this an actual aperture ring instead of what they did with their previous kit lens zooms and gave the user a switch

Cons

  • Feels weird in the hand even with the XT1
  • An internal zooming mechanism would have made this feel better in the hand
  • A steep price

Check out our full review

Buy now ($1,199): Amazon

 

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD (Sony FE)

 

 

Pros

  • Weather sealing
  • Sharp optics
  • Fast focusing in pretty much any situation
  • Nice bokeh
  • Small and lightweight
  • Considerably under $1,000
  • More than good enough for what most photographers will need to do: there is going to be much less measurbation in this review than normal

Cons

  • Some folks may gawk at the fact that it isn’t a Sony G Master lens and will fetishize the G Master series in the same way Canon shooters put L glass on a pedestal vs many others

Check out our full review

Buy now ($899): Amazon