Going on Vacation? 5 Lenses for Photography in Big Cities at Night

Tamron has a bunch of lenses for photographing in big cities at night.

Big cities are a lot quieter than they used to be. That means that you’ll have more room to explore. This is one of the most exciting things about photographing in big cities at night. Besides the surreal feeling of them being empty at times, there are still signs of life. So if you’re planning on heading to a big city for some R&R, consider one of these lenses. They’re perfect for just the occasion.

Editor’s Note: This piece is presented in partnership with Tamron. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the lenses in this roundup without sponsorship already. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you. 

Pro Tips for Photographing Big Cities at Night

Here are some professional tips for photographing cities at night.

  • Shoot wide to normal. Telephoto is rarely the way to go. Most of the time, you’ll want to get close or shoot a vast scene.
  • The faster your aperture is, the better it is. You’ll need more light to hit the sensor.
  • Wide to normal lenses let you take full advantage of the reciprocal rule of shutter speeds. This law dictates that your shutter speed should be the reciprocal of your focal length. So if your effective focal length is 20mm, then 1/20th is the minimum you should shoot at. Of course, image stabilization can help with this.
  • Use a vivid color profile. There’s no need to spend extra time in post-production if you can do it from the start in-camera.
  • Focusing out to infinity isn’t always the key, especially with higher resolution cameras. Instead, focus on exactly what you want to emphasize.

Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD

Capturing Big City Life: The Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD is incredibly capable. It really stands up to the elements too. So if you want to photograph light reflections in the rain, this lens is durable enough to handle it. It’s perfect for photographing in big cities at night. The focal range is also versatile since you can shoot interiors, exteriors, and then go to a semi-wide view.

In our review, we stated:

“The Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD is a lens both professionals and enthusiasts will enjoy. If you’re not in love with the size, you’ll be seduced by the image quality, and you’ll then stay for the autofocus performance. But most of all, you’ll appreciate how reliable this lens is due to the build quality.”

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Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD

Capturing Big City Life: The Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD has an incredibly useful focal range. It’s lighter than most 24-70mm lenses on the market, and it’s also very durable. What’s more, in our tests we found it to be really close to Sony’s G Master lenses. You can see that in our full review.

In our review, we stated:

“One of the things that makes the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD so appealing is just how good the image quality is. Not only is the lens capable of delivering sharp images, but the colors are vibrant and the bokeh is smooth and beautiful. Add onto that the fact that you can also go to 75mm instead of 70 and you’ve got yourself a bit more of a bokeh advantage due to having a slightly longer focal length. Overall image quality is really top notch and, considering that you’re all going to process your images anyway, I don’t see a major reason to nitpick.”

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Tamron 20mm f2.8 Di III OSD

Capturing Big City Life: The Tamron 20mm f2.8 Di III OSD lens is super small. It’s probably one of the lightest autofocusing wide-angle lenses on the market too. Like all the others on this list, this lens can really stand up to the elements. Our staff finds wide-angle lenses to be the most fun. And that’s what you’ll experience with this lens. You’ll have so much fun photographing in big cities at night with this lens.

In our review, we stated:

“This lens has great image quality with nice bokeh (when possible), very good sharpness, and beautiful colors. On top of all that, it’s lightweight and built like a tank. Best of all, you’ll be very happy with its price and portability.”

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Tamron 24mm f2.8 Di III OSD

Capturing Big City Life: Tamron’s colors have always been a bit more vivid than others. That makes shooting city lights really fun. And with the Tamron 24mm f2.8 Di III OSD, you’ll find super-saturated colors. For the best effect, lock your white balance. Want that blade runner look? When photographing big cities at night, shoot at 3200K. It’s not exactly the same as doing it in post-production. Tamron’s lenses make the colors hit the sensor with a different look. It’s almost like adding raisins to raisin bread after you’ve baked it. 

In our review, we stated:

“Colors rendered by the Tamron 24mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 are vibrant and true to life. You’ll be consistently rewarded with pleasing images as long as they are properly lit and your white balance is set correctly.”

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Tamron SP 35mm f1.4 Di USD

Capturing Big City Life: The Tamron SP 35mm f1.4 Di USD is for Canon and Nikon DSLRs. But it will work just fine adapted to mirrorless cameras too. We found the distortion to be low enough for portraiture. If it’s low enough for that, then it’s great for cityscapes. The images are rendered both cool and vivid. 

In our review, we stated:

“It boasts gorgeous image quality, creamy bokeh, loads of sharpness, and low enough distortion to be a great choice for portraiture.”

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.