Photographers can use the best macro lenses to uncover all sorts of miniature natural wonders. Macro lenses are built with a specific optical construction that enables the dramatic magnification of small subjects. If you've ever seen an image of a small plant or insect that fills the frame with its subject, showing incredible levels of detail that aren't visible to the naked eye, it was almost certainly taken with a macro lens.
While lots of lenses with decent close-up capabilities are referred to as macro lenses, there is actually stricter criteria to qualify as one. For a lens to be considered a "true" macro lens, it needs to have at least a 1:1 reproduction ratio, meaning that the subject on the sensor plane is the same as or greater than its size in real life. This is the key to getting those spectacular, frame-filling images of minuscule subjects.
There are some other important requirements for macro lenses. You're going to be getting very close to your subject, so a short focusing distance is a must, and they also tend to be longer in focal length (the sweet spot is generally agreed to be around 90-105mm, though there are variations in both directions), as this again makes it easier to fill the frame with one subject. For this reason, macro lenses are often useful in other contexts as well – their sharpness makes them good take-everywhere primes, their longer focal lengths make them handy for portraiture, and their ability to render detail makes them fantastic for food photography.
We've compiled all the best macro lenses in this guide, for a huge range of systems – Canon (EF and RF), Nikon (F and Z), Sony, Pentax, Fujifilm and Micro Four Thirds. We've also made sure to include lenses at different price points, including some older options that tend to be available second-hand, as well as a mix of options from camera manufacturers and third-party lens-makers like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. Whatever your system and your budget, there should be a macro lens here for you. So, let's get started.
Best macro lenses in 2023
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Canon macro lenses
Somehow Canon did the impossible, the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM takes everything that was great about the EF version of this lens and makes it even better. Magnification? Boosted to 1.4x. Stabilization? Upped to 8 stops (on the EOS R5 and R6). Bokeh? Even more beautiful, thanks to a control ring that shifts the lens elements. Focus and breathing? Faster and more controlled than ever. It's a superb standalone portrait lens as well, with pin-sharp rendering and a flattering focal length. If you're an EOS R-series shooter and you want to photograph close-ups of small things and large things alike, you've just found your next purchase! Unfortunately, the price has increased along with the specs, so start saving...
Along with sturdy L-series build quality, Canon’s 100mm macro features hybrid optical stabilization. Typical upmarket attractions include ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and a three-position autofocus limiter switch, which can lock out the short or long end of the range. The lens also has weather sealing and an Ultra-low Dispersion element. Image quality remains impressive throughout the aperture range, right down to f/22, helping you to eke out a little extra depth of field. Autofocus is fast and accurate and quiet but, more importantly for most macro shooting, the manual focus ring is smooth and precise.
If you're an EOS R user, the new Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM boasts wit 1.4x magnification, 8 stops of stabilization and a bokeh control ring.
Despite its budget-friendly asking price (in the UK and Europe, at least) this Sigma lens boasts fast, quiet and accurate ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, a three-position range limiter switch and optical stabilization with dual static and panning modes. Quality glass includes two SLD (Special Low Dispersion) optical elements, and the lens is supplied complete with a soft case, a hood, and even a hood converter to optimise efficiency with APS-C format rather than full-frame cameras. Sharpness is highly impressive and the effectiveness of stabilisation is worth about four stops in general shooting, but of little use for extreme close-ups. See our full Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM review.
Sadly, it has recently been discontinued, but Tamron's SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Macro is one of the best macro lenses that DSLR owners can buy. It is still widely available on the second-hand market, so we're keeping it in our guide, but you can expect stock (and prices) to fluctuate. Upgraded optics from the previous version include two XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion) elements and one LD element, plus dual nano-structure and conventional coatings. Good build quality includes weather-sealed and a keep-clean fluorine coating on the front element. There’s also a ‘hybrid’ optical stabiliser, which counteracts the effects of X-Y shift as well as vibration, enhancing performance in close-up shooting. Even so, it’s no real substitute for a tripod as you near the very shortest focus distance.
Another lens that's in its twilight years, the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM is nevertheless still an excellent buy for users of the firm's APS-C DSLRs. While its 56mm equivalent focal length is maybe a touch short for macro lenses, it packs in useful macro-oriented features like a built-in LED light for throwing some extra illumination on your tiny subjects. In our full review, we found that the lens had a lot of impressive features to recommend it, like its speedy and precise stepping motor autofocus – though it's worth noting that we found sharpness to be a little lacklustre at narrow apertures, which is a shame for a macro lens. Overall though, with a generous aperture of f/2.8, this is a solid buy, especially at second-hand prices.
If you're an EOS R-series owner, then this is your best bet as far as macro lenses go. While the 0.5x magnification might be a little disappointing for some, there's lots to like here. The 5-stop image stabilization system is excellent, and pair it with the in-body image stabilization in the EOS R5 or R6 and this improves even further. Focusing is quiet and smooth, while the build quality is also very good. Optically, it won't disappoint either, with the lens rendering excellent levels of sharpness. The relatively fast maximum aperture of f/2 and classic focal length of 85mm also make this an ideal portrait lens.
One of the earlier lenses produced for Canon's mirrorless RF system, the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM Lens is also still one of the most affordable. It's a solid walk-around lens like a lot of 35mm primes, however this one also has decent macro capabilities. It can close-focus at a minimum distance of 0.17m, which isn't much for many of the lenses on this list, but is definitely good for a lens in this class and at this price. Sharpness is good across most apertures, particularly in the mid range, and the bokeh the lens produces is particularly attractive, which is a plus point for macro. It's not technically a "true" macro lens, with a maximum magnification of 0.5x, but for general-purpose close-up shooting on RF bodies, it's a good and inexpensive choice. See our full Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM review.
Despite having a chamfered front end on its extending inner barrel, this lens’s working distance for full-magnification macro shots is so short that it can often cast a shadow over the object you’re shooting. As with Canon’s EF-S 35mm lens for APS-C format DSLRs, included above, a built-in LED ‘macro lite’ adds illumination. Again, you can alter the brightness level and choose whether to use the lamp as a circular ring-light or just to employ one side or the other. Other similarities include a hybrid image stabilizer and stepping motor autofocus system. The smaller EOS M’s party trick is that it adds a Super Macro mode, which increases the maximum magnification factor from 1.0x to 1.2x, though you can't focus on far away subjects in this mode. Taking the crop factor of the smaller EOS M sensor into account, this lens gives nearly twice the maximum magnification of shooting with a 1.0x macro lens on a full-frame camera.
Nikon macro lenses
Nikon’s MC 105mm is one of two new Z-mount macro lenses. There's also the cheaper Z MC 50mm f/2.8 which is a good lens, but this MC 105mm has a more practical focal length for macro photograhy and is a properly pro-grade lens - it's well worth the extra cost. Sublime image quality for both general shooting and extreme close-ups is backed up by a super-fast and highly accurate autofocus system, along with highly effective optical VR (Vibration Reduction) that can work in tandem with the in-body stabilizers of Nikon’s full-frame Z-series cameras. Handling exotica includes a multi-function OLED display, a customizable Lens-function button and control ring, plus an autofocus range limiter, along with an electronically coupled focus ring that enables ultra-fine adjustments. Everything’s wrapped up in a tough, weather-sealed construction. Image quality, all-round performance and handling are simply sensational. See our full Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S review.
We’ve always found this Tamron lens to give better close-up image quality and all-round performance than Nikon’s pricier AF-S VR Micro 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. The Tamron is sharper and has a more effective ‘hybrid’ image stabilizer. This counteracts x-y shift as well as the more usual angular vibration, making it much more effective at very close range. Even so, for full 1.0x macro shots, it’s a poor substitute for using a tripod. The weather-sealed construction is of very good quality. Ring-type autofocus is quick and quiet, with the usual full-time manual override. All in all, it’s a great macro lens at a competitive selling price. However, a forthcoming firmware upgrade is required to make the lens compatible if it's to be used with Z-series cameras via an FTZ mount adapter. Unlike with the Canon-mount version of the lens, you should be able to apply this via Tamron’s optional TAP-in USB console, rather than having to send the lens to a Tamron service centre.
This Sigma lens exactly matches Nikon’s own 105mm Micro for focal length, as well as featuring similarly fast and whisper-quiet ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and 4-stop optical stabilization. Unlike in the competing Tamron 90mm, the stabilizer is a conventional rather than ‘hybrid’ unit. As such, stabilization is very effective in general shooting, and comes complete with switchable static and panning modes. Indeed, the Sigma works very well as a fast, short telephoto lens for portraiture and sport photography. However, stabilization is less effective when shooting extreme close-ups. An autofocus range limiter enables you to lock out either the short or long end of the range, either side of 0.45m. Image quality is impressively sharp and, although the lens doesn’t feature weather-seals, it feels very solid and well-built. Ideal for any Nikon DSLR, it’s also a great macro lens for Z-series mirrorless cameras, via an FTZ mount adapter. See full Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro review.
Tokina’s AT-X PRO 100mm macro lens was launched all the way back in 2006. The replacement atx-i (interactive) model came to market in 2019, with a fresh look that makes the lens appear more up-to-date. Looks can be deceiving though, and the newcomer has the same optical path as the original, featuring two aspherical and two Super-Low Dispersion glass elements. Further similarities are that it has an extending inner barrel which protrudes further at shorter focus distances, and that only the Canon mount edition (featured above) has an autofocus motor. The Nikon mount version relies on AF drive from the host camera body, unavailable with the likes of D3xxx and D5xxx DSLRs, as well as when using the lens on a Z-series mirrorless camera via an FTZ mount adapter. The Nikon version also adds an aperture control ring. Image quality is very good with impressive levels of sharpness and minimal distortion, while lateral chromatic aberration is fairly minimal. It’s a good buy at the price but the ‘redesign’ is mostly cosmetic.
Nikon makes a cut-price 40mm DX format macro lens but this is a far superior optic for close-up shooting. Its minimum focus distance is more generous and the inner barrel doesn’t extend at shorter focus distances. The net results is that the working distance from the front of the lens to the target in full 1.0x macro shooting is 14.5cm compared with the 40mm lens’s paltry 3.5cm. Further advantages include VR (Vibration Reduction) and an ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element, both of which are lacking in the 40mm lens. Sharpness is uninspiring at f/3.5 but much better at medium to narrow apertures, more commonly used in macro photography. Ultimately, the Tamron 90mm and Sigma 105mm lenses still have the edge for shooting with DX as well as FX format cameras.
Best Fujifilm macro lenses
It's been more than 10 years since Fujifilm released its first and only true Macro lens - the Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 so this cheaper, more compact 30mm macro is a welcome addition. With a 1.5x crop factor, it's more like a 46mm on a full-frame camera and while that might be too short for some macro photography it makes it a much more versatile lens that could be used not just for macro but for street photography, portraits and still life. It has a minimum focusing distance of 0.1m and a magnification of 1:1 so you can get really close to your subject. As we've come to expect from Fujifilm lenses, it's incredibly well built, has a built-in aperture and focus ring and at just 195g it's incredibly compact. Although still on pre-order, we predict this will be a very popular lens among those photographers who want a taste of macro photography without spending big bucks.
While Fujifilm users do have to fork out a considerable chunk of cash for this macro prime lens, it is a wonderful piece of imaging technology. Image quality is, of course, gorgeous, just as we’ve come to expect from X-mount Fujinon lenses. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 gives you plenty of depth-of-field flexibility, and the equivalent focal length of 122mm means it also functions as an excellent portrait lens. The minimum focusing distance of 25cm lets you get nice and close to your subjects for true macro work, and the extensive weatherproofing around the chassis means you can fearlessly take the lens out into wet and otherwise inclement conditions. Those wanting a shorter focal length, for closer working distances, then also consider the Fujifilm XF60mm f/2.4 R Macro.
Best Micro Four Thirds macro lenses
The Micro Four Thirds system is a good fit for telephoto and macro photography, the 2x crop factor delivering double the ‘effective’ magnification from a lens that’s compact and lightweight yet beautifully built and comes complete with weather-seals. Stepping motor autofocus systems are renowned for their virtually silent operation but rarely feature a focus distance scale. This lens’s smart focus distance/magnification indicator is a bonus. Due to its relatively short focal length, the minimum focus distance is just 20cm, compared with around 30cm for many macro lenses. At maximum magnification, however, the working distance between the front of the lens and the subject is reasonably usable, at about 10cm. Image quality and handling are very good in every respect, making this our favorite MFT format macro lens, and not just the best option for Olympus mirrorless cameras, but for Panasonic G-range cameras too. See our full M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens review.
Sharpness, lightweight build, tremendous ease of use, effective stabilisation and snappy autofocus. The Panasonic 30mm f2.8 Macro LUMIX G ASPH MEGA OIS, which provides an effective focal length of 60mm, does all of this in a tidy, affordable package, and is a very good choice indeed for MFT users, functioning well as an everyday lens with solid 1:1 macro capabilities. The lack of weather seals is a little disappointing, but really is the only black mark on this excellent lens's ledger. We'd definitely recommend this lens to any Micro Four Thirds user looking to shoot beautiful close-ups, especially given the extremely close minimum focusing distance of just 0.105m.
Pentax macro lenses
Relatively compact considering its generous 100mm focal length, the Pentax 100mm f/2.8 SMC D-FA WR Macro Lens is an eminently solid and reliable macro lens, producing a reliably sharp image and providing a weatherproof outer casing. It'll work with Pentax's full-frame and APS-C DSLRs (providing an equivalent focal length of 153mm on the latter), and its eight-bladed aperture allows it to produce images with attractive bokeh in shallow depth of field. A useful Quick-Shift focus system allows you to quickly toggle between auto and manual focusing, though be aware that the autofocusing is not internal and does cause movement of the lens and the control ring. See our full Pentax 100mm f/2.8 SMC D-FA WR Macro lens review.
Sony macro lenses
Typical of Sony’s recent G-series and G Master lenses, there’s no shortage of quality in this 90mm macro prime. It’s fully compatible with full-frame and APS-C format E-mount cameras, and packs plenty of high-tech features, including a Dual DDSSM (Direct Drive Super Sonic wave Motor) autofocus system for rapid, accurate and near-silent performance, plus ‘Optical SteadyShot’ stabilization. The optical path includes aspherical, ED and Super ED elements, built into a precision-engineered, weather-sealed metal casing. Handling benefits from a super-smooth and precise focus ring, with an electronic fly-by-wire coupling. There’s also a three-position autofocus range limiter switch and a focus hold button. Image quality is outstanding but it’s a pricey lens to buy.
Sigma already makes an excellent 105mm f/2.8 macro lens for DSLRs, but this version has been completely redesigned for mirrorless cameras. For revealing ultra-fine levels of detail in anything from insect and bug photography to extreme close-ups of all things small and smaller, this is a fabulous macro lens. It’s super-sharp and delivers stellar image quality in all respects, while the feature-rich, high-quality build ensures wonderfully refined handling. The lens also works well for portraiture and general short-telephoto shooting with Sony full frame cameras (it's also available in an L-mount version).
This is both a nifty fifty and an affordable macro lens with 1:1 magnification - which makes it an attractive option for a Sony user, as it is small and light enough to be something you keep in your camera bag. Unlike the other Sony-fit options, this is also a sensible choice for use with APS-C sensor cameras (such as the Sony A6000 series, or the ZV-E1) - and then offers an effective focal length of 75mm. Be warned that this lens is showing its age in terms of its autofocus performance!
• Read more: Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro review
How we test lenses
We test lenses using both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics. See more on how we test and review at Digital Camera World.
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