Best macro lenses for mirrorless and DSLRs in 2023

We help you find the best macro lenses for every major mount and system, including Canon, Nikon Fujifilm, Sony, Micro Four Thirds and more, so you can take amazing macro photos.

The best macro lens is a vital tool for getting superb close-up images of the tiniest subjects. With a coose-focusing lens that has the right magnification ratio, you can render the smallest things in stunning, life-size detail. Whether you looking to capture plants, images or still-life subjects in macro, having the right lens is a hugely important first step, arguably more so than the camera.

Macro is quite a technical discipline, but it’s less intimidating than it seems, and the barrier to entry isn’t as high as you might think. Yes, there are some very pricey macro lenses out there, but there are also some really quite affordable options, so there’s no reason to feel excluded on account of budget. We even have a dedicated guide to the best value macro lenses that should help you find some great-value optics.

We’ve made this guide comprehensive, so you can expect to see suggestions for both mirrorless and DSLR cameras, including all the major systems like Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Sony, Micro Four Thirds and others. There’s a mixture of manufacturers’ own lenses, as well as excellent third-party alternatives from the likes of Sigma and Laowa. You can also read our top macro photography tips to gain a deeper understanding of how macro works and how to achieve the best results.

First though, let’s quickly look at how to go about choosing the best macro lens.

How to choose the best macro lenses

If you’re picking the best macro lens for your camera, there are a few key specs and features to consider when making your choice. Here are the main things to focus on.

Magnification factor: To be considered ‘true’ macro, a lens needs to have a magnification factor of at least 1.0x. What does this mean? It means the lens reproduces an object at life-size or greater on the camera’s sensor. And when you bear in mind that an image sensor is about the size of a postage size, you start to see how macro lenses render tiny things in such crisp detail.

Focal length: Focal length is something of a different matter when we look at macro lenses. Longer focal lengths are better for getting more of a subject in the frame. However, longer lenses tend to have longer minimum focus distances – and in macro, we want to be as physically close as possible. So it’s necessary to strike a balance. A focal length of around 90-105mm is generally considered to be the sweet spot for macro, though as we’ll see, there are still great lenses on either side of this range.

Optical performance: This is obviously important with any lens. With macro lenses, however, you want to pay particular attention to how the lens performs at narrow apertures, as you’ll often need to be using these to get a decent amount of depth of field.

Manual focus ring: Manual focusing is generally the name of the game in extreme close-ups. This means you’ll ideally want a lens with a smoothly rotating manual focusing ring.

Read on as we pick out all the best macro lenses for mirrorless and DSLR camera systems.

Best macro lenses for mirrorless cameras

First up, we’re covering the best macro lenses you can buy for mirrorless systems. We’ve included brilliant close-up options for Canon (RF and EF-M), Nikon Z, Fujifilm X, Leica L, Sony E and Micro Four Thirds. As you can imagine, that’s quite a bit to get through, so let’s get started!

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro STM

The Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro STM, one of the best macro lenses, on white background with accessories.

We put the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro STM through a full test and were very impressed. Photo credit: Amateur Photographer

At a glance:

  • Canon EF-M Mount
  • Minimum focus distance: 9.7cm (9.3cm Super Macro)
  • Max magnification: 1.0x (1.2x Super Macro)
  • Price: $299 / £287
  • One of the most unusual macro lenses available, this optic offers an angle of view equivalent to 45mm on full frame. Its standard focusing range provides life-size magnification, but engaging Super Macro mode extends this even closer to 1.2x. At this point the image area is just 18.6mm x 12.4mm, and the subject a matter of millimetres from the front element. Normally this would cause problems with lighting, so Canon has included a small LED ring light around the front element. Despite this, the lens is a mere 46mm long and tips the scales at just 130g, so it won’t take up much room in your bag. In our first-look review, we were very impressed by the ‘clever and innovative design‘ of this lens.

    Pros:

  • Built-in macro light
  • 1.2x magnification
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Cons:

  • Rather short for a macro
  • EF-M’s days may be numbered
  • Read our Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro STM review

    Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM

    Canon EOS R10 in hand with RF 85mm lens

    The EOS R10 handles very nicely, given its small size. Here’s fitted with the RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM lens

    At a glance:

  • Canon RF mount
  • Min. focus distance: 35cm
  • Max. magnification: 0.5x
  • Price $599 / £649
  • Canon EOS R system owners already have an unusually large number of lenses labelled ‘Macro’ to choose from, ranging from the £499 RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM to the £1499 RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM. While the latter is absolutely superb, we suspect its high price will push many users towards its 85mm f/2 stablemate. This isn’t what many photographers consider a ‘true’ macro lens, offering only half life-size magnification, and instead is perhaps better considered as an affordable portrait lens that’s unusually good at close-up shooting. But it offers five stops of optical stabilisation on the EOS R and RP that lack in-body stabilisation, and up to eight stops on bodies with IBIS.

    Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Effective stabilisation system
  • Wide f/2 aperture
  • Cons:

    Canon RF 24mm F1.8 Macro IS STM

    Canon RF 24mm F1.8 Macro, one of the best macro lenses, mounted on an EOS R5

    Canon RF 24mm F1.8 mounted on a Canon EOS R5. Photo credit: Angela Nicholson.

    Key specs:

  • Canon RF mount
  • Min. focus distance: 14cm
  • Max. magnification: 0.5x
  • Price: $599 / £719
  • While this wide-angle prime isn’t a ‘true’ macro lens, with a magnification ratio 1:2 (rendering subjects on the sensor at half of life-size), it’s still a great walk-around lens with a solid line in close-ups. It focuses in much closer than your average 24mm prime, with a short distance of just 14cm. The well-placed slim manual focus control ring fits perfectly in the hand, and it can be adjusted even when the AF is engaged for efficient adjustments. Focusing is nice and quiet and image quality is excellent, particularly in the centre. This is a quite a short lens for macro, so keep in mind you may have to get very close to your subjects for striking, frame-filling images. Watch you don’t cast a shadow.

    Pros:

  • Excellent focusing feel
  • Good all-purpose prime
  • Image quality generally good
  • Cons:

  • Not true 1:1
  • No weather sealing
  • Read our Canon RF 24mm F1.8 Macro IS STM review.

    Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM

    Canon RF100mm F2.8 Macro lens attached to EOS R6, review image by Andy Westlake

    The RF100mm F2.8 Macro lens attached to EOS R6 during testing. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

    At a glance:

  • Canon RF-mount
  • Min. focus distance: 26cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.4x
  • Price: $1,399 / £1,499
  • You’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s nothing particularly special about Canon’s latest pro-spec macro lens for full-frame mirrorless, the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM, given that it’s named almost identically to its DSLR predecessor. But instead, Canon has added some intriguing new features. Firstly it now offers 1.4x magnification, which means you can photograph a subject measuring just 26mm x 17mm. Secondly a new ‘SA Control’ ring allows users to smoothen the out-of-focus blur either in front of, or behind the subject. In testing, we gave the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM a full five stars rating and our Testbench Gold award, describing it as ‘absolutely superlative lens.’

    Pros:

  • Very good magnification
  • Near-faultless image quality
  • Autofocus works beautifully with EOS R cameras
  • Cons:

    Read our Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM review

    Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO

    Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO review image

    The Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO is one of the smallest macro lenses for full-frame mirrorless we’ve tested. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

    At a glance

  • Mounts: Canon RF, Nikon Z, Leica M, Sony E and L-mount
  • Min. focus distance: 15.3cm
  • Max. magnification:
  • Price: $449 / £449
  • A versatile lens available for several different mirrorless systems, the Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO is smaller than many of its counterparts and rivals. This is due to a simple concession Laowa has made to the laws of physics – reducing the size of the maximum aperture.

    By making this an f/5.6 lens, rather than the more common f/2.8, Laowa allows it to be relatively compact. It’s also able to focus on a subject area measuring just 18 x 12mm. So is the aperture a big sacrifice? As we found in our testing, this is much more of a specialist macro lens than most. It’s good for close-ups, and less good for everything else. As long as you’re aware of that going in, this is a great lightweight macro option to add to your kit bag.

    Pros:

  • Lots of mount options
  • Exceptional magnification power
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Cons:

  • Highly specialised to macro
  • Only f/5.6 maximum aperture
  • Read our Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO review

    Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro

    Best X-Mount Macro: Fujifilm XF 80mm f2.8

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Fujifilm X
  • Min. focus distance: 25cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $1,199 / £1,149
  • X-system users interested in close-up photography are well served by this fully featured, if pricey, macro lens. Its slightly longer-than-usual 120mm equivalent view allows a longer working distance, while life-size reproduction is offered at the 25cm minimum focus. The lens employs linear motors for quiet autofocus and has a distance limiter switch to reduce hunting.

    Optical stabilisation is built in, promising up to five stops of benefit, and weather resistant construction allows you to keep shooting in less-than-perfect conditions. For those in a tighter budget there’s also the £569 XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro, but it’s a less refined design that only offers 0.5x magnification.

    Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro

    Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro review image, Andy Westlake / AP

    The Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro is another exceptional manual focus lens. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

    At a glance:

  • Mounts: Fujifilm X, Sony E (APS-C)
  • Min. focus distance: 17cm
  • Max. magnification: 2.0x
  • Price: $399 / £399
  • Just at the moment, Laowa is the most innovative lens maker when it comes to close-up photography. This 65mm f/2.8 optic offers twice life-size magnification (effectively 3x in full-frame terms) for users of APS-C mirrorless cameras at a very tempting price. Its robust metal barrel is impressively compact, at 100mm long and 335g in weight, and both focusing and aperture control are fully manual. Crucially it offers excellent image quality, combining excellent sharpness and beautiful background blur. It’s available in Fujifilm X and Sony E mounts, while Micro Four Thirds users get a scaled-down version, the Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO, which costs £409.

    Pros:

  • Powerful magnification factor
  • Delivers the goods in image quality
  • Robust but light
  • Cons:

  • Fully, fully manual (no electronic communication with camera)
  • Not weather sealed
  • Read our full Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro review

    Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8

    Best Z Mount Macro: Nikkor Z MC 50mm f2.8

    The Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8.

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Min focus distance: 16cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $646 / £649
  • Nikon announced two macro lenses for its Z system simultaneously back in 2022, with the shorter of the two being a slightly unexpected focal length from a company that in the past has favoured 60mm optics. Unlike its 105mm sibling, this lens lacks either weather sealing or optical stabilisation, which might make it look like the less desirable choice. But it makes up for this with its optical quality, which quite simply is superb. Its relatively compact size and light weight also make it a good match for Nikon’s smaller Z-series camera bodies, including the APS-C format Z 50.

    Pros:

  • Amazing sharpness and overall quality
  • Well balanced on smaller Z cameras
  • Cons:

  • No stabilisation
  • No weather sealing
  • Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 S VR

    Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lens review shot

    The Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S is a superb macro lens. Photo credit: Angela Nicholson

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Min. focus distance: 29cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $1046 / £999
  • As the more pro-focused of Nikon’s two new Z-system macro lenses, this packs in pretty much every feature you could wish for. It’s optically stabilised, weather-sealed, and employs an internal-focus design which means that if focuses quickly and silently and its length stays constant. Along with a large manual focus ring, there’s a control dial on the barrel for changing exposure settings, whose function can be customised from the camera body. A small display panel on top can show the focus distance and depth of field. In our full testing, we found the lens to be supremely sharp, even at f/2.8.

    Pros:

  • Tough and weather sealed
  • Big focus ring with manual override
  • Top-notch quality
  • Cons:

  • Cheaper options available
  • Some diffraction at narrow apertures
  • Read our full Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 S VR review

    OM System M.Zuiko ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO

    Micro Four Thirds lens: OM System M.Zuiko ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO mounted on OM-1 front view Lens Review

    OM System M.Zuiko ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO mounted on OM-1 front view. Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Min. focus distance: 25cm (S-MACRO: 22.4cm)
  • Max. magnification: 2.0x
  • Price: $1,499 / £1,299
  • A relatively new macro lens for Micro Four Thirds, the OM System M.Zuiko ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO is one of the best buy a serious macro MFT shooter can make. With an impressive maximum magnification of 2.0x that kicks in when you activate its dedicated ‘S.MACRO’ mode, the OM System M.Zuiko ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO can also be paired with extenders to push the magnification still further. All the way up to 4x, if you want! Elsewhere, the lens delivers what is fast becoming OM SYSTEM’s signature feature, IP53 weather sealing, and an autofocus system that does a credible job of quickly acquiring macro subjects. If you’re serious about macro and you’re using MFT, this is an outstanding (if expensive) buy.

    Pros:

  • Excellent close focus
  • Amazing magnification potential
  • Can be pushed further with extenders
  • Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Can be tricky to use at first
  • Read our OM System M.Zuiko ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO review

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Min. focus distance: 19cm
  • Max. magnification: 1x
  • Price: $549 / £399
  • This brilliant little lens is one of the jewels of the Micro Four Thirds system. Its dust- and splash-proof barrel is extremely small and light, at 82mm long and just 186g in weight, while its slimline 56mm diameter minimises the risk of shadowing your subject. Yet it still finds space for both a focus distance indicator and a focus limiter switch that has a dedicated 1:1 position. Autofocus is fast and silent, and there’s absolutely nothing to complain about with regards to image quality. Set to its 19cm minimum focus distance, the image area of 17.4 x 13mm is equivalent to 2x magnification in 35mm terms.

    Pros:

  • Very small and light
  • “True” macro magnification
  • Focus limiter switch
  • Great value
  • Cons:

  • At this price, not much to complain about!
  • For more options, have a look at the best Micro Four Thirds lenses.

    Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 OIS Asph

    Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH Mega OIS

    Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH Mega OIS

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Min. focus distance: 15cm
  • Max. magnification ratio: 1.0x
  • Price: $797 / £599
  • While the more affordable Olympus 60mm f/2.8 may look like the best choice of macro lens for Micro Four Thirds shooters, Panasonic’s Leica-badged 45mm f/2.8 has its own charms. It’s even smaller, at just 63mm in length, yet is still capable of life-size reproduction, thanks to its shorter, 90mm equivalent focal length. It also includes optical image stabilisation, which is particularly handy for those using older or smaller Lumix bodies that lack in-body stabilisation, although it’s of limited use at macro distances. Optically it delivers the goods though, with impressive sharpness used wide open and minimal aberrations.

    Pros:

  • “True” macro lens
  • Just 63mm long
  • Good sharpness across the board
  • Cons:

  • Pricier than similar Olympus lens
  • Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro Art

    Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro Art

    Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro Art. Photo credit: Angela Nicholson

    At a glance:

  • Mounts: Sony E and L-mount
  • Min. focus distance: 29.5cm
  • Max. magnification ratio: 1.0x
  • Price: $799 / £699
  • Designed from the ground up for full-frame mirrorless cameras, this lens is available in Sony E and L mounts. Cosmetically it resembles the firm’s 70mm f/2.8 Art DSLR lens, but with an aperture rung added. A large, complex focus group moves internally to give 1:1 magnification at its 29.5cm minimum focus distance. According to Sigma, this sacrifices some AF speed to deliver both high sharpness and effective suppression of colour fringing, which is borne out by the superb image quality we found in our full review and testing. There’s no optical stabilisation, but most of the cameras the lens will be used on feature in-body stabilisation anyway.

    Pros:

  • Nice big focus ring
  • Exceptional image quality
  • Aberrations well controlled
  • Cons:

    Read our Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro Art lens review

    Best macro lens for Sony: Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS

    Sony FE 90mm f2.8 G OSS Macro

    Sony FE 90mm f2.8 G OSS Macro

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Sony E
  • Min. focus distance: 28cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $1,098 / £849
  • While this lens now has stiff competition from the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN, it’s still an excellent choice for users of Sony E mount cameras. Unlike its more affordable rival, it includes both optical stabilisation and internal focusing, with the latter perhaps making it a preferable choice for those photographers who’d also like to use their macro lens for shooting portraits. Other highlights include a focus ring that can be pulled back towards the camera to engage manual mode, and a focus lock switch on the side of barrel. Optically it’s absolutely superb, giving super-sharp images.

    Pros:

  • Great handling
  • Internal focusing mechanism
  • Top sharpness
  • Cons:

  • Pricier than Sigma alternatives
  • Best macro lenses for DSLRs

    With DSLR systems having been going strong for decades, they’ve built up an enviable catalogue of macro lenses for close-up shooting. Here are what we reckon are the best macro lenses you can buy for the three major DSLR mounts – Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K.

    Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

    Best EF-S Macro Canon EF-S 35mm F2.8

    Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Canon EF-S
  • Min. focus distance: 13cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $149 / £331
  • Designed to be a compact, affordable option for photographers using Canon’s APS-C DSLRs, this lens packs in an impressive array of features. It offers 1:1 magnification at a minimum focus distance of 13cm, which equates to just 3cm from the front of the lens. To help with illuminating your subject at such close range, at also includes a built-in LED ring light. Meanwhile, Canon’s Hybrid IS system provides up to four stops of stabilisation. Weighing in at a mere 190g, the 56mm equivalent focal length also allows it to do double duty as an everyday standard lens.

    Pros:

  • Super-close focusing
  • Built-in LED light
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Cons:

  • Getting harder to find new in UK
  • Not weather-sealed
  • Best Canon EF macro lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

    Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro

    Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Min. focus distance: 30cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $1,099 / £999
  • Canon’s third-generation 100mm macro for its full-frame DSLRs is an absolutely stellar optic, with all the attributes we’d expect from the firm’s professional L range. It delivers superb image quality, with exceptional sharpness, minimal chromatic aberration and essentially no distortion. A ring-type ultrasonic motor delivers rapid, silent autofocus and life-size magnification is achieved at the minimum focus distance of 30cm. Optical stabilisation is built-in, with Canon’s hybrid system promising four stops stabilisation with distant subjects, dropping to two stops at half life-size magnification. The barrel boasts robust weather-sealed construction, and an optional tripod collar is also available.

    Pros:

  • Quick, silent autofocusing
  • Solid construction
  • Beautiful L-series sharpness
  • Cons:

    Irix Dragonfly 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1

    Irix Dragonfly 150mm f2.8 Macro

    Irix Dragonfly 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1

    At a glance:

  • Mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K
  • Min. focus distance: 34.5 cm
  • Max. magnification: 1:1
  • Price: $594/ £429
  • Irix may not be the best-known lens brand, but it has established a reputation for making high-quality optics at very competitive prices. The advantage of this 150mm lens over its competitors lies in the way the longer focal length enables 1:1 magnification with a greater working distance. This means you’re less likely to disturb skittish subjects such as butterflies. In return, you have to live with focusing manually, but this is often standard practice for macro shooting, anyway. The barrel boasts weather-sealed construction and a tripod collar is included in the box, with an Arca Swiss compatible dovetail profile. The lens is available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K mounts.

    Pros:

  • Long focal length enables greater working distance
  • Weather-sealed
  • Very good optics
  • Cons:

    Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO

    Laowa 100mm F2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO product shot

    Laowa 100mm F2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO lens

    At a glance:

  • Mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E, L
  • Min. focus distance: 24.7 cm
  • Max. magnification: 2.0x
  • Price: $499 / £469
  • Venus Optics produces a whole family of Ultra Macro lenses with a unique trick, in that they offer 2x magnification while still focusing to infinity. The 100mm f/2.8 is designed for full-frame DSLR cameras and available in Nikon F, Pentax K and Canon EF mounts, with the latter coming in two versions with a choice of manual or electronic aperture setting. The lens has also been adapted for full-frame mirrorless, in Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E and L-mount versions. The minimum focus distance is just 24.7cm, and colour fringing is suppressed thanks to the apochromatic design. Despite the enhanced close focus, the size and weight are similar to conventional 100mm macro lenses.

    Pros:

  • Apochromatic design
  • Not too heavy
  • Exceptional close focus
  • Cons:

  • No autofocus/electronic camera communication
  • Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5x – 5x Ultra Macro

    Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5x–5x Ultra Macro product shot

    Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5x–5x Ultra Macro lens mounted on an EOS R body.

    At a glance:

  • Mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E, L
  • Min. focus distance: 17.3cm
  • Max. magnification: 5.0x
  • Price: $399 / £399
  • For serious devotees of close-up photography, this unusual lens provides ultra-high magnification at a remarkably low price. Unusually, it doesn’t focus to infinity, but instead provides between 2.5x and 5x magnification across a focus distance range of 17.3cm to 23.4cm. It requires both manual focus and aperture operation, and is generally best used on a tripod fitted with a macro rail. The slimline, tapered barrel is specially designed to minimise shadowing of your subject. The optics cover full frame sensors, and the lens comes in Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K mount versions for DSLRs, along with Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E and L-mount mirrorless options.

    Pros:

  • Incredibly magnifying power
  • Slim barrel
  • Broad compatibility
  • Cons:

  • Requires a lot of setup to be at its best
  • No electronic camera communication
  • Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Micro

    Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Micro

    Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Micro

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Nikon F (DX)
  • Min. focus distance: 28.6cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $556 / £399
  • Designed specifically for DX format (APS-C) DSLRs, this lens offers an unusually long 128mm-equivalent focal length. It’s packed full of attractive features, including a silent wave motor that promises quiet, precise autofocus, and optical image stabilisation. At its minimum focus distance of 28.6cm it can focus on subjects measuring 24 x 16mm, which is equivalent to 1.5x magnification in full-frame terms. The 9-blade aperture promises attractive bokeh and stops down to f/32 for extended depth of field. For those on a tighter budget, there’s also a Nikon AF-S DX 40mm f/2.8G Micro for just £269.

    Pros:

  • Long equivalent focal length
  • Can stop down to f/32
  • Super-quiet autofocus
  • Cons:

    Best macro lens for Nikon DSLR: Nikon AF-S VR Micro 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

    Nikon Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR Micro

    Nikon Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR Micro

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Nikon F
  • Min. focus distance: 31cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $899 / £759
  • When it was launched, this was the first macro lens to include optical stabilisation, and it’s since become a stalwart of Nikon’s F-mount line-up. It provides a longer working distance for life-size shooting than the firm’s other current options, which means there’s less chance of disturbing the subject or blocking off the light. The internal focus design means that the lens’s length doesn’t change between infinity focus and its 31 cm minimum object distance. A silent wave motor provides fast autofocus and the VR system is rated to provide up to 3 stops benefit, although this reduces at close distances.

    Pros:

  • Internal focusing mechanism,
  • Long working distance
  • Effective stabilisation
  • Cons:

  • Sharpness drops at narrow apertures
  • Pentax HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited

    Pentax HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited

    Pentax HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Pentax K (APS-C)
  • Min. focus distance: 14cm
  • Max. magnification : 1:1
  • Price: $496 / £599
  • This lovely little lens can be used as an everyday standard prime on Pentax APS-C DSLRs, while also providing 1:1 magnification at its 14cm minimum focus distance. Available in either silver or black, it’s beautifully constructed with an aluminium barrel, and even has a built-in sliding hood. Autofocus is driven from the camera body, which helps keep the size down, and the manual focus ring is marked with a distance scale. A 9-blade diaphragm gives a circular aperture for attractive bokeh, and like most of the other Pentax Limited primes, it employs 49mm filters.

    Pros:

  • Solid aluminium construction
  • Built-in hood
  • Focus distance scale
  • Cons:

    Best macro lens for Pentax: Pentax FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

    Pentax FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

    Pentax FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

    At a glance:

  • Mount: Pentax K
  • Min. focus distance: 13cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $546 / £549
  • Unlike the 35mm f/2.8 Limited, this Pentax macro lens works on full-frame DSLRs, as well as APS-C models. It’s also cheaper than its shorter focal-length sibling. While the optical design dates back to 2004, the lens received a substantial update five years later with a weather-sealed aluminium barrel and revised mechanical construction. It’s unusually compact for its class, at just 8.1cm long and 340g, thanks to the use of an extending focus mechanism. The working distance between the lens and the subject at 1:1 magnification is 13cm, and a Quick Shift focus system allows autofocus to be overridden manually at any time.

    Pros:

  • Hardy and weather-resistant
  • Pleasingly compact
  • Useful Quick Shift manual focus override
  • Cons:

  • Changes length when focusing
  • Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art

    Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens product shot

    Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens.

    At a glance:

  • Mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, L
  • Min. focus distance: 25.8cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $569 / £449
  • At first glance, the first macro lens to join Sigma’s acclaimed Art series line-up might seem a strange choice compared to its 105mm sibling, which is cheaper and includes optical stabilisation. But the 70mm is smaller and lighter while offering superb image quality. The barrel boasts dust- and splash-proof construction, and a coreless DC motor provides precise autofocus backed up by full-time manual override. It’s made in versions for Canon EF and Nikon F mount DSLRs, which are compatible with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters for when you require more reach. It’s also available for Sony E-mount and L-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras.

    Pros:

  • Small and light
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Weatherproof
  • Cons:

    Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro OS HSM

    Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens product shot

    Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens in Nikon fit.

    At a glance:

  • Mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma SA
  • Min. focus distance: 31.2cm
  • Max. magnification: 1.0x
  • Price: $569 / £359
  • Long one of our favourite lenses, for many years this was our go-to option for testing the resolution of DSLRs, due to its superb sharpness. Available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Sigma SA mounts, it provides a comprehensive feature set at a very tempting price. You get an ultrasonic-type autofocus motor that enables full-time manual override, along with optical stabilisation that’s good for up to four stops of shake reduction. An inner focusing system means that the length doesn’t change on focusing from infinity down to its 31.2cm minimum, at which point the lens provides life-size magnification.

    Pros:

  • Stellar sharpness
  • Internal focusing
  • Well priced
  • Cons:

  • Limited mount availability
  • Once you’ve read our guide to the best macro lenses, make sure you have a look at our top tips for macro photography, to get the most out of your purchase, or have a look at our round-up of the best second-hand macro lenses if you want to save some cash by buying used.

    Follow AP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

    amateurphotographer.com

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *