The best camera for macro photography will open up tremendous possibilities for photographing tiny subjects. Macro photography is the art of seeing the smallest details, whether they’re in tiny insects, miniature plants or just household objects. A macro photographer specialises in revealing the hidden world that’s just beyond the limits of our naked eyes.
When shooting macro, the most important component is arguably the lens, and that’s why we’ve also got a comprehensive guide to the best macro lenses. But cameras are the other important part of the equation, and if you’re looking to shoot macro, it’s best to get the right camera for the job.
So what does a good macro camera need? It’s good to focus on sensor size, for one, as a larger sensor not only provides more dynamic range and overall image quality, but also makes it easier to shoot with a very precise level of depth of field – which is very important in macro photography, where you may be stacking together multiple images with slightly different planes of focus. Having a decent amount of resolution is handy too, especially if you’re printing images, and it also helps for a macro camera to have a vari-angle rear screen, as you’ll likely be shooting from unusual angles.
If the camera is an interchangeable-lens model, then it’s also important that there’s a good selection of macro lenses available. Compacts and smartphones need to have a good close-focusing distance, and if there’s a dedicated macro mode, so much the better.
On this list, we’ve included cameras at a range of different price points and suited to different skill levels, so whatever your experience with macro, there should be an ideal camera for you!
The best camera for macro photography
We’ve been hugely impressed by the development of Nikon’s mirrorless Z system, and the Nikon Z5 is an excellent entry into the series. It’s pitched as the gateway full-frame model, giving users the luxury of a full-frame sensor at a relatively affordable price – and as we’ve discussed, full-frame sensors are great for macro.
What pushes this camera to our top spot though is the fact that Nikon has been filling out its Z lens system with some truly excellent macro optics. The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S is a stunning, pro-quality macro prime, with an electronically coupled focus ring that allows for the tiniest adjustments to be made with ease. For those on tighter budgets, a Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 lens is also available, though we think the 105mm lens – like the Z5 itself – easily justifies its cost. With excellent dynamic range, powerful stabilization and superior high-ISO performance, the Nikon Z5 is an ideal do-everything camera that’s perfect for macro photography.
This is the top camera in Fujifilm’s landmark X series right now, and it’s an absolute cracker. Capable of creating sublime images, full of vivid colour and pin-sharp detail, the Fujifilm X-T4 makes use of a fast hybrid autofocus system and a 6.5 stop in-body image stabilisation system. It can dependably produce fantastic shots in almost any conditions, and it’s a joy to handle thanks to Fujifilm’s signature dial-led control approach, which harkens back to older film SLRs.
Lens-wise, the X-T4 also gives you access to super-sharp X-mount optics like the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 OIS Macro, a gorgeous telephoto prime that’s ideal for macro shooting. Its stellar optics allow you to make the most of the X-T4’s APS-C sensor – some shooters may miss the latitude of full-frame, but otherwise this camera delivers simply excellent image quality that’s ideal for sumptuous macro images.
If you’re a total beginner to macro photography – or indeed to photography in general – then a solid DSLR like the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (known as the EOS 250D in Europe) is an excellent place to start. A good DSLR will give you a grounding in all the fundamental principles of photography, and the EOS 250D is a particularly good example as it comes with loads of helpful guide modes to get newer users up to speed.
The other advantage of having a Canon DSLR is that you get access to the enormous Canon EF-mount stable of lenses, which includes a range of great macro optics, both affordable and premium. The sensor is APS-C – a good size for a camera at this price – and while the DSLR build is heavier than mirrorless, some users prefer the more secure handling of these larger cameras.
In Sony’s extensive full-frame mirrorless line-up, the A7 cameras are known for being the all-rounders, good for a bit of everything. While the A7 III isn’t the newest in this series, with a more recent Sony A7 IV arriving in 2021, we’re picking it for macro as most of the improvements between models aren’t hugely relevant to this type of photography. The A7 III is still a superb full-frame mirrorless camera, with 24.2MP of resolution and one of the most sophisticated autofocus systems around.
The Sony FE lens selection is great, with loads of macro options, and the A7’s 5-axis image stabilization system makes it super-easy to get pin-sharp shots when using it hand-held. While the A7 is definitely on the more expensive end of the scale, the arrival of its successor means it’s going to get cheaper as time goes on, and it is an absolutely fantastic camera in its own right. If you absolutely need 33MP for printing purposes, get the A7 IV, but otherwise we’d recommend this one.
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is not only one of the cheapest cameras on this list, but also the only one you could throw into the sea or drop out of a window and rely on to keep on trucking. It’s tough by name and tough by nature. What separates the TG-6 from other tough compacts however – and merits its inclusion on our list – are the Macro and Microscope modes, which make it easy to take great-looking close-up shots, both in and out of the water. The camera has focus stacking, focus bracketing, and a hugely impressive close-focusing distance. In this regard, it blows other tough compacts out of the water.
There are trade-offs. The 1/2.3-inch sensor is smaller than that of any other cameras we’ve included on this list. You’ll definitely notice a difference in image quality, especially when it comes to low light shooting. There’s also the fact that the 25-100mm equivalent lens can’t be changed, which makes the camera more limiting than the interchangeable-lens models we’ve included.
Lots of smartphones have a macro mode, but they don’t all have the best reputation, with some being sub-par in terms of resolution or focusing. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, one of the best smartphones for photography right now, acquits itself well, with an easy-to-use macro mode that’s highly effective. Simply move the phone within 10cm of the subject, and the macro mode will take over, allowing you to snap close-up images from impressively short distances.
The phone’s effective autofocus makes it possible to resolve tiny details that even the human eye will struggle with. The phone makes use of the ultra-wide camera module to produce its macro photos, so you can really fill the frame with your subject. It’s a fairly pricey phone, but the macro modes on cheaper phones simply can’t compare.