Best camera for macro photography in 2023

Best camera for macro photography
(Image credit: N-Photo )

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 (opens in new tab). 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

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

(Image credit: Adam Waring/Mike Harris)
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New lenses make the Nikon Z system a winning choice for macro photographers

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens mount: Nikon Z
Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 24.3MP
LCD screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040k dots

Reasons to buy

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Excellent new macro glass
+
Superb full-frame image quality

Reasons to avoid

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Only 4.5fps burst
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Cheaper alternatives available

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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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. 

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
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Fujifilm’s flagship X camera is a perfect choice for macro shooting

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 26.1MP
LCD screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,620k dots

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent tactile handling
+
Powerful 6.5-stop stabilisation

Reasons to avoid

-
Not full frame
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Limited buffer depth

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, or its smaller non-stabilized sibling the Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro (opens in new tab). 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. 

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)
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An excellent starter DSLR for beginner macro shooters

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens mount: Canon EF
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.1MP
LCD screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots

Reasons to buy

+
Helpful beginner modes
+
Huge lens selection

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly simplistic AF
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Chunkier build than mirrorless

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. A top choice for photographing bugs and such would be the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM (opens in new tab); for a lightweight option (that has its own ring light) consider the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM (opens in new tab). 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. 

(Image credit: Sony)
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Sony’s full-frame all-rounder is a highly capable premium macro camera

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens mount: Sony FE
Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 24.2MP
LCD screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 921,600 dots

Reasons to buy

+
Superb autofocus
+
Only going to get cheaper

Reasons to avoid

-
Tilting screen, not vari-angle
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Newer A7 IV has more pixels

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 (opens in new tab) 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. One of our favorite Sony-fit macro options is the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN MACRO Art (opens in new tab). 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 more recent Sony A7 IV (opens in new tab), but otherwise we’d recommend this one.

(Image credit: Future)
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Another great-value traditional SLR camera

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: Nikon F (DX)
Screen: 3in, 921,000 dots

Reasons to buy

+
Good choice of macro lenses
+
Solid performance; good handling

Reasons to avoid

-
LCD has no tilt or touchscreen

The Nikon D3500 was launched in 2018 and even today, it's a popular camera among newbie photographers. We love it so much we rate it as one of the best cameras for beginners (opens in new tab) - and a good alternative to the Canon EOS Rebel SL3. It features a handy 'Guide' shooting mode which acts as a tutorial and teaches the user how to use the camera via the LCD screen. The D3500 has a 24-megapixel sensor that's able to deliver super sharp images - with a great range of new and secondhand lenses. In terms of the best macro lens for the D3500 we recommend either the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro, or the Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G VR Micro.

Read our full Nikon D3500 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: James Artaius)
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The best waterproof camera for macro photography

Specifications

Type: Tough compact
Lens: 25-100mm equivalent, f/2-4.9
Sensor: 1/2.3-inch
Megapixels: 12MP
LCD screen: Fixed, toughened 3-inch screen, 1,040k dots

Reasons to buy

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Tough and waterproof
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Easy-to-use macro modes

Reasons to avoid

-
Small sensor
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Limiting lens range

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. 

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)
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The best smartphone for macro photography right now

Specifications

Type: Smartphone
Camera array: 108MP wide (f/1.8), 10MP ultra wide (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, f/2.4), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom, f/4.9)
Sensor: 1/1.33-inch
Screen: 6.8 inches AMOLED (3088x1440) display

Reasons to buy

+
Macro mode works well
+
Convenience of a smartphone

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller sensor
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Quite pricey

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. 

(Image credit: Panasonic)
Our favourite Panasonic compact camera for enthusiasts

Specifications

Type: Compact
Sensor: 1.0-type
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Screen: 3.0-inch, 1,040k tilt touch
Lens: 24-72mm f/1.4-2.8 (effective)

Reasons to buy

+
Relatively large 1.0-type sensor
+
Good zoom lens
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Reasons to avoid

-
No viewfinder
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260-shot battery life

This zoom compact camera is wonderfully pocketable yet packs some seriously powerful features, including Light Speed AF, hybrid stabilization, and 4K definition for both video and bursts of stills at 30fps. At the wide 24mm end of the zoom the compact can focus down to just 3cm - and even at the telephoto end can focus to 30cm - meaning it performs well for close-ups, which benefit from the camera's in-built stabilization system.

How we test cameras

We test mirrorless and DSLR cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use these real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides. For compact cameras and phones, we judge on real world handling and photographic results alone. 

Read more:
5 things to know before buying a macro lens (opens in new tab)
The best macro lenses (opens in new tab)
The best extension tubes (opens in new tab)
How to use extension tubes for low-cost macro photography (opens in new tab)
Close-up photographer of the year (opens in new tab)

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Jon Stapley

Jon spent years at IPC Media writing features, news, reviews and other photography content for publications such as Amateur Photographer and What Digital Camera in both print and digital form. With his additional experience for outlets like Photomonitor, this makes Jon one of our go-to specialists when it comes to all aspects of photography, from cameras and action cameras to lenses and memory cards, flash diffusers and triggers, batteries and memory cards, selfie sticks and gimbals, and much more besides.  


An NCTJ-qualified journalist, he has also contributed to Shortlist, The Skinny, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, The Guardian, Trusted Reviews, CreativeBLOQ, and probably quite a few others I’ve forgotten.