The best macro lenses are how photographers can reveal a miniature world of undiscovered beauty. Enabling close-ups and magnification that isn't possible without their dedicated optical construction, macro lenses open up all sorts of shooting possibilities for tiny flora and fauna. And this isn't their only use – macro lenses also make for generally excellent prime lenses, and are particularly good for portraiture. This is something worth factoring in when you consider the price tags of these lenses; you're buying more than just the ability to shoot close-ups.
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You might hear any number of lenses with decent close-up capabilities referred to as a macro lens; however, to count as a "true" macro lens, an optic needs to have at least a 1:1 reproduction ratio. What this actually means is that the ratio of the subject on the sensor plane is the same or greater than the actual size of the subject in real life. This allows a tiny subject to fill an entire frame, and allows the capturing of details that are near-invisible to the human eye.
Macro lenses will also have short close-focusing distances, a necessity for frame-filling images. They tend to be great for food photography as well as plants and insects, allowing you to capture all those sumptuous details of dishes up close. This is also why macro lenses tend to be longer in terms of focal length, frequently running up to telephoto lengths of 90-105mm. This isn't always the case, as we'll see, but it often is, and it's one of the reasons macro lenses are also great for portraiture.
In this guide, we've included the best macro lenses for loads of systems – Canon (EF and RF), Nikon (F and Z), Sony, Pentax, Fujifilm and Micro Four Thirds. We've included lenses at all different price points, from premium pro optics to budget walk-around lenses, so there should be something for everyone. Third-party manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron have made a name for their excellent macro lenses, so there's plenty of representation for them on this list, as well as lenses from the main manufacturers themselves. So, let's get to it!
Best macro lenses in 2022
Canon macro lenses(opens in new tab)
The latest generation of Tamron’s enviable 90mm macro lenses ditches the gold band around the middle in favour of a silver band at the rear, which should hopefully avoid any buying confusion with the older version. Upgraded optics 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.(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) boasts wit 1.4x magnification, 8 stops of stabilization and a bokeh control ring.
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! Start saving...(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
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 has an autofocus motor. 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.(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) for APS-C format DSLRs, 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(opens in new tab)
Nikon’s MC 105mm is one of two new Z-mount macro lenses. There's also the cheaper Z MC 50mm f/2.8 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
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.(opens in new tab)
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.(opens in new tab)
This is Nikon’s top-flight FX format macro lens, although it’s equally attractive for shooting close-ups on DX cameras. Like the 85mm DX lens in the group, it includes a ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system with fully internal focusing, 3-stop VR II stabilization and Nano Crystal coating. Both lenses also feature 14 elements in their optical paths with a single ED element. As FX format lenses need to produce a larger image circle, to cover the bigger image sensor, the 105mm is rather wider in diameter. The working distance from the front of the lens to the subject at the minimum focus setting is very similar, at 15cm compared with the DX lens’s 14.5cm. The VR system is effective for general shooting, similar to that of the Sigma lens, but lags behind the performance of Canon’s and Tamron’s hybrid stabilizer for close-ups. Image quality is good overall with impressive sharpness across the whole frame. See our full Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8 G IF ED VR Micro review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 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.(opens in new tab)
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
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.
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 (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
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(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab).
Sony macro lenses(opens in new tab)
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).(opens in new tab)
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.
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