Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own the best lens for macro photography so that you can capture awesome images of small insects, leaves, and minuscule objects with ease?
Shooting macro is great since every image can be a unique phone or computer background, and it gives us a visual representation of how our surroundings look from proximity.
Unfortunately, the internet doesn’t follow up by providing useful guides to purchase such optics that could ease the process of obtaining these lenses.
With that idea in mind, I have decided to create the ultimate buying guide which would help photographers pick the best macro lenses, suitable for their macro needs.
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 has an optical design of 14 elements in 12 groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades, an angle of view of 23° 20′, with a maximum magnification of 1x, and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:1. It also supports optical image stabilization and an internal focus that ensures fast and silent autofocusing (without changing the length of the lens).
I included it on the best macro photography lens list due to its versatility and ability to blend in any photographic scenario.
I noticed the macro Nikon lens is quite heavy and it is a good idea to mount a tripod when operating it, but other than that, it provides an excellent overall performance. The focus system does a phenomenal job in capturing images in an accurate, responsive, and relatively silent way.
The macro photography with this gem is next to amazing. It can captivate subjects with such precision, that it leaves out the defocused background completely “invisible” while sharpening and enhancing details on the subject.
The color distribution is another key point, since it provides natural coloring, without artificial saturation, but it still provides sufficient vibrance. Another awesome thing is the focal length which can capture even live subjects without disturbing them, and the VR comes in handy when you don’t want to use a tripod.
- Fast focusing
- Rugged design
Sigma made it into the best macro photography lens list since it is one of the first (if not the first) true 1:1 macro art lenses with an extraordinary resolution and clarity. It has an optical design of 13 elements in 10 groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades.
The angle of view is 34,3 degrees, with 1x maximum magnification and a 1:1 macro reproduction ratio. Although the lens doesn’t have optical image stabilization, it sports a fast aperture that ensures a solid lowlight performance. It is the fact that focus by wire doesn’t have a good reputation, but with the given Sigma, I didn’t have issues.
It does require a few rotations of the focus ring when you want to move from infinity to 1:1, but the focus by wire is quite handy when you want to make micro-adjustments when shooting your subject.
The Sigma 70mm f/2.8 lens is quite well suited for tripod photography, so take it into the consideration. The general image quality is rock-solid, with overall sharpness, and minimum distortion and edge vignetting.
The aperture is sufficient to capture images under low lighting without compromising the quality and it takes solid images even during dark hours. Since the Sigma macro lens is relatively heavy, it could be a good idea to mount a tripod, although you don’t need one if you don’t mind the weight.
- Fast aperture
- Optical design
- Overall image quality
- Rugged design
The third candidate sports an optical design of 14 elements in 11 groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades. The angle of view is 27° 2′, and a minimum focus distance set at 11,81 inches, with a maximum magnification of 1x and a macro reproduction ratio of 1:1.
One of the key factors that pushed Tamron 90mm f/2.8 on the best lens for macro photography list is the moisture-resistant design in combination with an optical image stabilization that has a four-stop advantage.
The lens also has an ultrasonic silent drive that ensures fast and silent focusing. The overall image quality the lens provides is outstanding, and it combines a beautiful bokeh with sharp subjects with lots of details preserved in the image, even at the maximum opening. Another great thing is the absence of vignetting and ghosting, and even the flare is almost nonexistent.
The 1:1 macro reproduction ratio in combination with VR is awesome for capturing mesmerizing macro images and it can also double as a portrait lens. Furthermore, the color distribution is rock-solid, with natural, yet vibrant tones and strong contrast.
The VC does a splendid job and it can take great images even under low light. The design is solid, although there are competitors who offer a notch better design solutions in the range. On the other hand, it offers a weatherproof design, so it is an overall winner.
- Fast focus
- Great bokeh
- Not the most robust design
Tokina 100mm f/2.8 has an optical design of nine elements in eight groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades and an angle of view of 24 degrees. The minimum focus distance is 11,81 inches, with a maximum magnification of 1x and a macro reproduction ratio of 1:1.
Tokina came on the macro photography lenses list thanks to a beautiful bokeh that offers nearly circular backgrounds that are convenient for macro shots aimed at commercial photography.
It also sports an excellent edge-to-edge sharpness with virtually no distortion. I did notice slight vignetting, but it was an issue that was easily removed in the post-production. The image quality is outstanding, and even at an f/2.8 it produces beautiful results, with tack-sharp pictures, and the “zoom” feature allows one to focus on the tiniest details.
I tried testing the lens on insects and flowers, and I was amazed by how well it captured wings and petals. The depth of field is excellent, which adds to the versatility, and it is possible to use the lens as the portrait one.
Moreover, the color transmission is amazing, and the colors pop with vibrance and contrast. I also love the design. It feels solid in hands, with extra finishing touch and high-end materials which were used in manufacture.
- Excellent design
- Fast aperture
- Fast focus
- Lack of OIS
Canon 85mm f/2 offers an optical design of 12 elements in 11 groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades, and an angle of view of 28° 30′. The minimum focus distance is 1,15 feet, with a maximum magnification of 0,5x and a macro reproduction ratio of 1:2.
The macro lens Canon also has optical image stabilization of up to five stops of shake correction, which is one of the reasons why it is included in the best macro photography lens list. It also has a control ring for direct setting changes.
The lens offers outstanding image quality since even at the maximum opening it provides an excellent level of sharpness and detail preservation, and it gets even more as you step down.
The image stabilization is quite an asset since it removes the need for a tripod, and it comes great if you want to maneuver with the lens. The focal length is quite versatile, and it can be used as both macro and portrait lens due to its shallow depth of field and great macro capabilities.
The focus is solid, although it is quite loud, and as it is the case with many macro lenses, somewhat slow in response. The lowlight performance is solid thanks to the combination of an f/2 aperture and image stabilization. The design is made out of solid plastic, so it doesn’t give a cheap look, but it is not an “L” grade lens. If you consider the price and the capabilities it offers for it, I would call it a good deal.
- Overall sharpness
- Loud focus system
It is imperative to get the best lens for macro photography if your goal is to capture excellent and memorable close-ups.
As you can see, it is possible to get rock-solid optics in this category if you do a little research and follow the guidance on the topic.
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 is our recommendation if you are not sure which lens is ideal for you.
No matter which brand or manufacturer you prefer, if you pick any of the lenses listed above, your macro shots will improve in an instant.
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