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 specializes 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? Well, to be honest, any camera can make a good macro camera it's the accessories you have that are the most important. That being said, a larger sensor is going to give you better dynamic range and overall image quality but a micro four-thirds sensor gives you more depth of field when compared to an equivalent focal length. It's very common to stack multiple images together with different planes of focus to create a final image, this can be done in post but lots of micro four-thirds cameras come with this built-in.
If the camera is an interchangeable-lens model, then it’s also important that there’s a good selection of macro lenses available. You can take macro shots on compact cameras and camera phones but you'll need a close focusing distance, a dedicated macro mode or a macro phone lens which you can screw onto the front of your phone and utilise your phone's main camera.
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
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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.
Although the X-T4 has now been superseded by the Fujifilm X-T5, for macro photography we would still be leaning towards this slightly older, slightly cheaper model. It's capable of producing sublime, vivid images with pin-sharp detail even straight out of the camera. It benefits from a fast hybrid autofocus system and 6.5 stops of in-body stabilization which can help deliver really detailed sharp results. Like with the entire X-T range, it has three exposure control dials that nod to SLRs of days gone by and make the user experience really intuitive.
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. 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. A top choice for photographing bugs and such would be the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM; for a lightweight option (that has its own ring light) consider the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM. 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. One of our favorite Sony-fit macro options is the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN MACRO Art. 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, but otherwise we’d recommend this one.
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 - 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
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 S23 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.
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.
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