Picking the best lens for macro photography can be a real challenge. There are dozens of options available, all capable of transforming small objects into works of art, and each offering a slightly different set of features. Fortunately, no matter your skill level or budget, there is almost certainly a macro lens suited to your needs – you just have to know how to find it!
Below, I share my top 11 macro photography lenses, including a range of options for all budgets, subject preferences, and major brands. I’ve also made sure to include models for both DSLR and mirrorless cameras, so no matter your needs, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s get started!
1. Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM
The Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 is one of my absolute favorite macro lenses because it’s simple, inexpensive, and highly effective. I wholeheartedly recommend it for beginners who are looking for a way into macro photography without breaking the bank (plus, it’s designed for Canon’s less-expensive line of APS-C cameras, which are wildly popular among beginner and amateur shooters). The 35mm focal length does require you to get very close to your subject, but after taking Canon’s 1.6x crop factor into account, the effective focal length is actually in the area of 56mm.
Note that you can use the 35mm f/2.8 on APS-C DSLRs like Canon’s Rebel lineup – or you can purchase an adapter and mount the lens on one of Canon’s excellent APS-C RF-mount mirrorless cameras, such as the EOS R10 or EOS R50.
The best part about this lens is the built-in ring light. No, it’s not extremely powerful, but it can easily be the difference between a good shot and a blurry shot, and it’ll cast a nice, even glow over your subjects. The lens also features image stabilization, which is always a nice bonus. Note that you’ll need to get extremely close to your subject for high magnifications, so the lens isn’t ideal for insect macro photography – but it works great for shooting flowers, products, and other still subjects. It may not be as versatile or even as sharp as other lenses on this list, but this lens offers outstanding value for money!
- Built-in ring light
- Optical stabilization (unusual for this price range)
- Optical performance isn’t as good as more expensive lenses
- Plastic construction instead of metal
- No weather sealing
- Not suitable for full-frame cameras
2. Nikon AF-S 40mm f/2.8G Micro
This 40mm f/2.8 macro lens has long been revered as one of the best options for Nikon shooters who want to get started with close-up photography (and who also appreciate a versatile all-around lens). It’s small, light, and lets you shoot brilliant photos of tiny subjects without spending a lot of money.
In fact, the Nikon 40mm f/2.8 is quite similar to the aforementioned Canon 35mm macro lens, though it does lack both a ring light and image stabilization. Neither of these omissions is a huge deal, however; if you’re set on a ring light, you can always purchase one as an accessory, and image stabilization is more of a luxury than a necessity when doing macro work. As with the Canon 35mm lens listed above, you’ll need to get very close to your subjects for the most detailed shots, so unless they’re very cooperative, you may struggle to capture insects – but you can certainly enjoy plenty of flower and nature photography without issue.
This is a DX lens, which means it won’t function on full-frame cameras. But on APS-C models, the 40mm focal length is equal to 60mm, so in addition to macro shots, the lens offers plenty of potential for portraits and street photography. While the f/2.8 aperture can’t compete with f/1.8 or f/1.4 lenses, it still offers pleasing bokeh and out-of-focus backgrounds. My favorite aspect of the 40mm f/2.8 is the price: It’s by far the cheapest option on this list, so if you’re a Nikon shooter and you’re on the fence about diving into macro photography, it’s an excellent first choice.
- Incredible value; one of the cheapest autofocus macro lenses available
- Great optical performance
- Designed for crop-sensor cameras
- Autofocus can be a bit slow
- Plastic construction and no weather sealing
3. Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Serious macro shooters who want top-notch image sharpness will be more than pleased with the RF 100mm f/2.8L, one of Canon’s most recent lens releases and an all-around photography powerhouse. It’s designed for RF-mount mirrorless cameras, and its high price point does put it out of reach for most beginners and hobbyists, but you do get what you pay for.
Not only does this lens produce optically stunning images, but it packs some outstanding bonus features that’ll impress any macro photographer. There’s a three-position focus limiter, which guarantees faster, more-reliable autofocus for different shooting scenarios. There’s also an innovative ring for controlling spherical aberration, which basically lets you adjust the optical quality of the out-of-focus elements of your image – not a must-have, but a nice feature that can certainly come in handy.
If you’re a serious macro photographer looking to upgrade from a more basic macro lens, or if you’ve long appreciated Canon’s 100mm f/2.8L designed for DSLRs but are switching to mirrorless, this is the lens to buy.
- Exquisite image quality
- Reliable, accurate autofocus
- Unique spherical aberration control ring
- Very expensive; not ideal for casual shooters
- Autofocus can be a bit slow
- Focusing elements tend to be noisy
4. Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S
For years, the Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens was basically the holy grail of Nikon macro photography. First released in 2006, it easily held its own against much more modern competitors and is still an excellent lens option to this day. However, Nikon recently launched an updated version specifically designed for Z-mount mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z 105mm f/2.8 VR S, and the result is a stunning performer that ought to sit at the top of every Nikon macro shooter’s wishlist.
What makes this lens stand out? For one, it offers near-impeccable optical quality. Images are wildly sharp, which is essential if you want to capture pro-level macro photos. Additionally, autofocus is fast and reliable, and the lens even offers a custom function button that you can assign to different functions in your camera menu. Then there’s the built-in image stabilization, which will help you get sharp images even when handholding in low light (or at high magnifications!), and there’s also a focus limiter switch that’ll increase autofocus speeds in certain situations.
Of course, like the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L discussed above, the Z 105mm f/2.8 is quite expensive. But if you’re a serious shooter looking to make prints of your work – or simply aiming to capture as much detail as possible – it’s worth every penny.
- Amazing image quality
- OLED screen shows focusing information
- Less expensive than the Canon 100mm f/2.8
- OLED screen is somewhat of a gimmick
- The focus limiter switch only includes two positions
- Still relatively pricey
5. Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS
If you’re a Sony photographer in need of a world-class macro lens, then look no further than the 90mm f/2.8 Macro, which combines the best of what its Nikon and Canon competitors have to offer. The lens features strong, durable construction along with dust and moisture resistance, which can be especially helpful when doing macro photography in rain, snow, and more.
Image stabilization can be enabled via a switch on the side, and this lens also has a three-position focus limiter similar to the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8. Sony’s lenses are renowned for their superb optical quality and this one is no exception, producing images that are tack sharp with outstanding contrast and color rendition. There is a customizable function button, and you can quickly change from manual focus to autofocus with a sliding ring.
One slight limitation is this lens’s f/22 minimum aperture – even stopped down to f/22, depth of field is still extraordinarily thin at high magnifications. But you can always use focus stacking to compensate (which will help you bypass diffraction for sharper results). At the end of the day, flower and product photographers will adore this lens, and while insect shooters may wish for a slightly longer focal length, it’ll still do an excellent job.
- Specially coated optical elements help reduce lens flare and other common problems
- Very fast autofocus
- Focus ring can slide backward and forward to engage and disengage manual focus
- 90mm isn’t quite as long as the 100mm and 105mm focal lengths offered by competitors
- Relatively large minimum aperture of f/22
6. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art
While some photographers are reluctant to use third-party lenses, manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron have been working hard to produce outstanding glass, and recent offerings from both companies have been equal to first-party counterparts in every respect – and even besting them in some areas. Plus, third-party models tend to be substantially cheaper than Canon, Nikon, and Sony lenses, so they’re an excellent way to gain access to serious photographic features without breaking the bank.
Sigma’s 105mm f/2.8 Macro deserves serious consideration from any photographer interested in taking beautiful macro shots; it offers everything a close-up shooter could need, including stunning image quality, fast autofocus, and good weather resistance. One interesting feature is the manual aperture ring, which lets you smoothly change the aperture by hand. This lens also focuses internally, so unlike some other lenses, you won’t see the front barrel protruding outward (which helps if you’re taking pictures of skittish insects, and it’ll also stop you from knocking flowers or products as you photograph).
Some users find Sigma’s autofocus to be a bit slow, but that has never been my experience – plus, most macro photographers prefer to work with manual focus, anyway. Currently, Sigma only makes this lens for Sony and Leica cameras, which might be an important limitation to keep in mind depending on your current gear. If you’re a Canon or Nikon shooter looking for a high-quality third-party macro lens, I do recommend some other options below, but you might also check out some of Sigma’s handful of alternative macro lenses, many of which are truly excellent (though they can be difficult to find new).
- Outstanding value; priced lower than similar first-party lenses
- Solid, durable construction
- Physical aperture control ring for those who prefer a more tactile shooting experience
- Images are sharp but don’t quite match the quality of top-notch macro lenses on this list
- Only available for Sony and Leica mounts
7. Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR
It might seem a little strange to see an expensive 80mm macro lens on this list, but keep in mind that Fujifilm does not produce full-frame cameras; this lens is designed for their X line of APS-C cameras, which gives this lens an effective focal length of 120mm. In other words, the Fujifilm 80mm f/2.8 gives you the best of both worlds: the versatility of a shorter lens combined with the extra working distance of a longer lens. In fact, as one of the longer lenses on this list, the 80mm f/2.8 is a particularly good choice for insect and even pet photographers, who wish to capture stunning detail shots but struggle to get close to their subjects.
This lens sports all the features you would expect given the price tag, including weather sealing, a focus limiter switch, and a ring for manually adjusting the aperture. Built-in optical image stabilization is rated at five stops, which is a huge benefit for macro photographers who prefer to work without a tripod, and autofocus is fast and silent. I do wish the minimum aperture went beyond f/22, but it’s definitely not a deal-breaker, and you can often get better results by focus stacking, anyway.
Unlike other camera systems, you won’t find a huge range of macro lenses for Fujifilm models, but with a lens this good, you won’t really need to look at anything else.
- Effective 120mm focal length when mounted on a Fujifilm APS-C camera
- Sturdy build quality
- Good built-in image stabilization
- Somewhat expensive, especially for an APS-C lens
- Surprisingly large
8. Tokina ATX-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro
Macro photographers who want to move beyond inexpensive lenses such as the Nikon 40mm and Canon 35mm but don’t want to empty their pocketbooks will find a lot to love in Tokina’s 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. Built for full-frame cameras, this lens offers astonishing value and great optical performance, even if it lacks some of the features offered by its higher-priced competitors. Its 100mm focal length is great for macro photography as well as portraits, and image quality is very good.
Though this lens is half the price of others in its focal-length bracket, it does come with some trade-offs. Body construction is high-grade plastic instead of metal, and there is no weather sealing or image stabilization. Autofocus is fine but not quite as snappy as similar lenses from Sony, Canon, and Nikon. Fortunately, these drawbacks probably won’t matter to most macro shooters, while you and your bank account will definitely appreciate getting a great lens at such a low price.
- Excellent value; half the price of many of its peers
- Clutch mechanism for quickly switching between manual focus and autofocus
- Barrel does not rotate when extended
- Plastic build is fine but not as durable as metal
- Some photographers prefer lenses with internal focusing
- Autofocus is on the slower side
9. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro
While Micro Four Thirds cameras aren’t as popular as they once were, they still enjoy a dedicated following, and there are plenty of photographers who appreciate their small size and impressive selection of lenses. When using a Four Thirds sensor, focal lengths are doubled to find their full-frame equivalent – so this Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens offers an effective 120mm of reach. It’s also significantly cheaper and lighter than similar full-frame lenses, which is a huge benefit for macro photographers who like to travel (or those who simply wish to avoid lugging a heavy lens into the field).
In terms of features and image quality, this Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens has everything you’d expect from a top-notch performer: Images are sharp, focusing is fast and reliable, and a three-position focus limiter lets you shoot subjects that are far away, really close, or all of the above. There’s no built-in image stabilization, but many MFT cameras offer in-body stabilization for sharper shots at high magnifications or in low light.
Overall, if you want to capture macro shots with an Olympus or Panasonic camera, you can’t beat the combination of price, size, weight, and performance this lens has to offer.
- Small and lightweight
- Effective 120mm focal length
- Lens barrel has helpful built-in indicators for focusing on close subjects
- Works on both Olympus and Panasonic cameras
- No built-in image stabilization
- Good image quality for an MFT lens but can’t quite match that of its full-frame peers
10. Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro
At first glance, the Irix 150mm f/2.8 might not seem worth considering: It’s manual focus, doesn’t include image stabilization, and its optical performance isn’t in the same league as some of its peers. Look closer, however, and macro shooters will quickly find a lot to like. For one, it features the longest focal length of any lens on this list, which is great for photographers who want to take high-magnification shots without getting physically close to their subjects. With 150mm of reach, you can capture bees, grasshoppers, and butterflies in glorious detail, and you won’t have to worry quite so much about scaring your subjects away mid-shot.
The lens features outstanding weather sealing, and a huge, chunky manual focus ring to help you nail the shot. If you’re only just delving into macro photography, working manually may take some getting used to, but it’s actually a highly effective method for specifying the point of focus with precision. Focus can also be physically locked so it won’t change from one shot to the next, and you even get a large, Arca-type foot that works great on many tripods. Finally, the price is about half the cost of its Canon-, Nikon-, and Sony-made peers, so if you need a long lens but you’re on a budget, this is a great pick.
- Long focal length compared to most of its peers
- Strong weather sealing
- Built-in tripod foot for improved ease of use
- Manual focus only
- Images aren’t quite as sharp compared to other macro lenses
- No built-in image stabilization
11. Laowa 100mm f/2.8 Ultra Macro APO
Laowa has made quite a name for itself by producing unique lenses that offer outstanding results; this 100mm f/2.8 macro lens continues the tradition by going beyond “standard” macro magnifications. You might even consider this a super macro lens.
You see, most macro lenses, including every other lens on this list, let you reproduce subjects at a 1:1 ratio. It sounds complex, but it really just means that the sizes of objects on your camera sensor will correspond to the sizes of the objects in real life. In other words, at 1:1 magnifications, you can capture incredible detail that you just can’t get with a normal lens. But this Laowa lens takes things a step further: it’s capable of shooting at a 2:1 ratio, so tiny subjects are twice as large on your camera sensor as they are in real life. That feature, combined with the 100mm focal length, means you can capture shots with this lens that you can’t get with any other lens on this list.
There are some important trade-offs, however. The Laowa 100mm f/2.8 is not only manual focus but also manual aperture, which means you can’t set the aperture on your camera. This adds up to quite a steep learning curve, but if you want mind-blowing macro shots that are impossible to achieve with other lenses, then it’s worth the effort. It’s also half the price of its peers, which makes its limitations a little easier to deal with. That said, if you’ve never used a close-focusing lens before, you may want to start with one of the other models on this list; the Laowa 100mm f/2.8 is really a specialist model, and 1:1 macro magnification is plenty close for most purposes.
- Incredible 2:1 magnification
- Excellent value
- Large, easy-to-reach focus ring
- All-manual control makes for a steep learning curve
- Barebones set of features compared to its peers
- The long focal length with no image stabilization is difficult to use without a tripod
The best lenses for macro photography: final words
Macro photography is an incredibly fun, challenging, and rewarding pursuit, and for many photographers, brings an almost endless amount of joy. Boring, everyday objects can look like priceless works of art when photographed up close, while flowers, insects, and other elements of the natural world can take on an otherworldly beauty.
While you can explore this type of photography with close-up filters and extension tubes, a true macro lens can take things to a whole new level. If you’re looking for the best lens for macro photography, you can’t go wrong with any of the options on this list; the important thing is to find a lens that fits your style and budget.
Now over to you:
Which macro lens do you plan to pick? Which do you like best? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Best lenses for macro photography FAQ
No. Any interchangeable-lens camera can take macro photos as long as you have the right lens.
Many phones now have a built-in macro mode, and there are also attachments and accessories that let you take beautiful close-up shots. However, many people prefer longer focal lengths and other qualities that you can only get with a dedicated camera and macro lens.
“Macro” is kind of a catch-all term, and it really just means “super-duper close.” Most photographers define macro photography as replicating subjects at a 1:1 ratio, but that definition isn’t written in stone. If you are able to take sharp images of tiny subjects up close, it probably counts as macro photography.
You do not need a tripod, but it definitely helps. I like to take close-up shots with small apertures at low ISOs; this usually means long shutter speeds, and shots like that are definitely easier with a tripod and a still subject.
Wide apertures are great for shallow depth of field effects in normal shooting conditions, but when you get into macro photography, you’ll quickly find that f/2.8 results in extremely shallow depth of field at high magnifications. So most macro photographers don’t shoot wide open unless they plan on doing focus stacking afterward.