How To Choose A Macro Lens

By | 13/10/2022

It is probably safe to say that many of u.s. photographers accept, either with our cameras or smartphones, tried to capture a close-up epitome of an insect, bloom, toy, or other object. We have an idea of what we want this photo to await like every bit nosotros ready to capture the epitome. We take seen and admired beautiful close-up images before but, when we nose the camera lens upwards to the object, the camera balks—it cannot focus close enough to create the image we want to capture. Fewer things in photography tin be as frustrating as trying to become a close-up photo of something inside the lens’s minimum focus distance.

There are several ways to do close-up, or “macro” photography, but the macro lens is the easiest path to creating and capturing compelling, detailed close-up images of the larger world.

Macro Lens

The macro lens is an optic that is designed to have a very brusque minimum focus distance to facilitate shut-upwards photographs. The mission of the macro lens is to reproduce objects at, or slightly smaller than, life-size. What does this mean? We accept all seen large images of small things—a poster-sized epitome of a flower, for instance. The reproduced flower is obviously larger than life-size. In fact, if you lot make a large enough print of anything, it can be larger than life-size. The reproduction goal of the macro lens is the life-size reproduction of the object on the sensor or film. For example: If you lot photograph a pocket-size coin with a macro lens capable of life-size reproduction, the image framed on the digital sensor will be identical in size to the coin.

Macro lenses have other tricks up their sleeve beyond the close-focusing capabilities…

The reproduction dimensions of which a macro lens is capable is labeled with a ratio. A macro lens that can reproduce objects at life-size is said to be a 1:1 macro lens. A 1:2 macro lens can reproduce objects at half-size. A lens that can reproduce objects at double life-size volition exist a 2:1 macro lens. Many macro lenses characteristic the 1:1 or 1:ii ratios.

Beware! There are a lot of lenses on the market, especially some longer zooms that promote their “macro” capabilities. If your goal is close-upward photography, keep an middle on the magnification ratio of these lenses, considering they might not become y’all every bit close to the 1:1 or 1:2 ratios every bit you lot desire for your images.

Macro lenses take other tricks upward their sleeves beyond the close-focusing capabilities. Many macro lenses are designed with a flat focus field instead of a curved field, common in other lenses. The curved field means that the image is sharper in the heart than at the edges. This is often non extremely noticeable due to the lens’s depth of field. With a dedicated macro lens, the flat-field focus is designed to permit the image to be in focus from edge to edge in the frame.

Focal Length

Focal length, the altitude between the optical center of the lens and the image plane, is one important gene when considering a macro lens. You might think that the longer the focal length—the more telephoto the macro lens—the more magnification you lot can go from the lens. This is non necessarily true, since certain macro lenses of all different focal lengths obtain a 1:1 ratio.

The deviation you experience when using a normal or wide-angle macro lens versus a telephoto macro lens is a different minimum focus distance. In the macro photo world, this is known as the “working distance.” A longer focal length lens volition have a greater working distance than a shorter focal length lens. The advantage of the larger working altitude is the ability to stay farther from your subject. That may non matter for shooting a notwithstanding life, but if you are photographing a pocket-size beast, the extra distance might be just what you need to go along from startling the critter. A longer focal length lens will also have shallower depth of field. This may or may not be advantageous to the photo you are trying to achieve. Lastly, the extra working distance may as well help keep your gear from casting an unwanted shadow on your subject.

Information technology sounds like a longer focal length is amend for macro photography, right? Are there advantages to a shorter focal length macro lens? Yep. The shorter focal length macro lenses are mostly smaller, lighter, and less expensive than their longer counterparts and they can reach the same level of magnification. If yous are a coincidental macro shooter, having a small and lite macro lens in your pocketbook might be a improve pick than conveying around a heavier, bulkier telephoto macro lens that might rival your largest optics for size and weight.

Two macro lenses that provide 1:1 reproduction produce the same image here. The longer focal length lens offers a greater working distance between lens and subject.

Two macro lenses that provide ane:1 reproduction produce the same image here. The longer focal length lens offers a greater working distance betwixt lens and subject.

Macro Lens Options with Magnifications Improve Than 1:2


Canon’due south latest macro offerings are focused on the EOS R mirrorless organisation, where there are the Catechism RF 24mm f/i.8 Macro IS STM, RF 35mm f/i.8 IS Macro STM, and RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM lenses with 1:2 magnification, and the longest focal length native Catechism macro for mirrorless is the RF 100mm f/two.8L Macro IS USM lens with 1.4x reproduction. For the company’s EF-M mirrorless cameras, the EF-One thousand 28mm f/three.5 Macro IS STM lens magnifies to 1.2x.

Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens
Catechism RF 100mm f/two.8 Fifty Macro IS USM Lens

Canon but offers two standard macro lenses for its DLSR lineup. I volition start with the exotic Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.viii 1-5x Macro lens that features a reproduction ratio of upwards to 5:1! Calculation to the stable of legendary 50 lenses is the EF-S 100mm f/two.8L Macro IS USM, with a 1:ane ratio and image stabilization.

Also for DSLRs, Canon has a battery of iii tilt-shift lenses that all feature 1:ii reproduction ratios. The trio: the Canon TS-Eastward 50mm f/ii.8L Macro Tilt-Shift lens, the TS-East 90mm f/2.8L Macro Tilt-Shift lens, and the TS-E 135mm f/4L Macro Tilt-Shift lens.


FUJIFILM at present has a pair of macro lens offerings for the Ten-mountain. One is the FUJIFILM 60mm f/2.four XF Macro lens, with a 1:2 magnification ratio and the 1:1 magnification lens for the X-mount cameras is the 80mm f/two.viii R LM OIS WR with which we got to go hands-on at a local New York jeweler.

FUJIFILM XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro Lens
FUJIFILM XF 60mm f/two.four R Macro Lens

For the FUJIFILM medium format One thousand-mount, you can get to 1:2 ratio with the FUJIFILM GF 120mm f/4 Macro R LM OIS WR lens.


The Hasselblad H System has its one:one macro with the Hasselblad HC Macro 120mm f/4 II lens, featuring a minimum focus distance of 1.iii’. The XCD 120mm f/3.5 Macro lens gives Hasselblad X System users a one:2 macro option.

Hasselblad HC Macro 120mm f/4 II Lens
Hasselblad HC Macro 120mm f/4 II Lens


Better known for its ultra-wide-angle lenses, Irix gives Canon, Nikon, and Pentax shooters 1:1 reproduction with the Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro one:one Lens.

IRIX 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Lens
IRIX 150mm f/two.8 Macro i:one Lens


Leica has macro lenses for its L-mount, Due south-bayonet, and M-mount photographic camera systems. The L-mount lens magnifies to 1:1 and is the Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens. For the Southward-arrangement, in that location are the APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/two.5 and the APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/two.5 CS lenses, with ane:ii magnification. The G-mount lens is the Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f/iv lens, which also features one:two reproduction scale when used with the Macro-Adapter-M.

Leica APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5 Lens
Leica APO-Macro-Summarit-Due south 120mm f/2.5 Lens


Macro photography tin really lend itself to the different focus and sharpness effects known to Lensbaby shooters. With a multifariousness of DSLR and mirrorless mounts, the Lensbaby Velvet 28mm f/2.5, Velvet 56mm f/1.6, and Velvet 85mm f/1.eight focus down to one:2 magnification. See our easily-on review of the Velvet 85mm lens here and the Velvet 28mm here.

Lensbaby Velvet 56mm f/1.6 Lens for Nikon F
Lensbaby Velvet 56mm f/one.6 Lens for Nikon F

Mitakon Zhongyi

The Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 Super Macro lens for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras magnifies subjects by iv.5 times. This not only fits the “Super Macro” designation, simply puts it in a rare category of macro lenses that magnify well past the one:one reproduction.

Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5x Super Macro Lens
Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5x Super Macro Lens

For similarly high-magnification applications, Mitakon also has the Creator 85mm f/2.8 1-5x Super Macro, for mirrorless and SLR mounts, which operates within a i:ane to 5:1 range.


Nikon has ever featured an extensive lineup of macro lenses for all types of needs. Shifting its focus to the new Z-mount mirrorless cameras and dropping the storied “Micro-NIKKOR” branding, photographers accept a option of a Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens and, joining the ranks of the legendary Nikon 105mm macros, the NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S—both featuring 1:one magnification ratios.

For Nikon F-mountain photographers, you can nonetheless get your hands on another Nikon fable—the manual focus, old school, Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.viii with 1:2 reproduction. Nikon DX DSLR photographers can utilise the AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/ii.8G and the AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR lens with i:1 ratios.

Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens
Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens

Two of Nikon’s PC-E tilt-shift lenses magnify subjects at 1:2. Therefore, the Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED and the PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/ii.8D lenses accept earned a place in this article.


Olympus makes a pair of macro lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system, the Olympus Chiliad.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.viii and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/three.5. The 60mm lens features a i:1 reproduction ratio and the 30mm lens has a better than 1:1 reproduction of i.25x. They have 35mm focal-length equivalents of 120mm and 60mm, respectively.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/ii.eight Macro Lens


For its full-frame L-mountain cameras, both the Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro O.I.S. and the Lumix S seventy-300mm f/4.5-v.6 MACRO O.I.S. lenses reach 1:2 magnification. For Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds arrangement cameras, it offers the Lumix G MACRO 30mm f/2.eight ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. and the Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S., lenses that both allow 1:1 magnification. They have 35mm equivalent focal lengths of 60mm and 90mm, respectively.

Panasonic Lumix G Macro 30mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. Lens
Panasonic Lumix G Macro 30mm f/2.eight ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. Lens


Pentax has three macro lenses in its quiver. The Hard disk Pentax DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited features a 1:1 ratio. The Normal smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro and the smc Pentax-D FA 100mm f/ii.8 WR Macro lenses both feature 1:i magnification, likewise. The 100mm lens is also atmospheric condition resistant.

Pentax HD Pentax DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited Lens
Pentax Hd Pentax DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited Lens

Medium format Pentax photographers have a option betwixt the 1:2 Pentax 90mm f/2.8 D FA 645 Macro ED AW SR lens and the one:ane smc FA 645 120mm f/4 Macro lens.

Rokinon and Samyang

The 1:1 ratio, manual focus Rokinon 100mm f/ii.8 Macro is bachelor in Canon EF, Nikon F, and Pentax K. The Samyang 100mm f/2.8 ED UMC reproduces at ane:1 and is also available in mounts for Canon EF, Nikon F, and Pentax 1000.

Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

For mirrorless shooters, the Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens does life-size reproductions and is available for Sony East, FUJIFILM X, and Micro Four Thirds mounts. The one:1 Samyang 100mm f/ii.viii ED UMC Macro lens can exist fitted on Sony East, Samsung NX, FUJIFILM X, and Micro 4 Thirds bodies.


Sigma has a few i:i macro offerings. The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art lens is available for Sony E and Leica 50 mounts and the 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Fine art lens is available in Catechism EF and Sigma SA mounts.  For SLR mounts, the 70mm lens is compatible with Sigma’s USB Dock for fine-tuning focusing characteristics.

For DSLRs, the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens is available for Canon EF and Nikon F.

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens
Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Fine art Lens


Sony has a trio of macro lenses for E-mount mirrorless cameras offering 1:ane magnification. For full-frame E-mount users, there is the very popular telephoto Sony FE 90mm f/2.eight Macro G OSS lens likewise as the sleek normal-length FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro. For APS-C mirrorless shooters, there is also the especially compact E 30mm f/iii.5 Macro lens.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens
Sony Iron 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens


Tamron currently offers the Tamron SP 60mm f/2 Di II one:1 Macro Lens for Sony A-mountain DSLR shooters.

Tamron SP 60mm f/2 Di II 1:1 Macro Lens for Sony A
Tamron SP 60mm f/2 Di II 1:1 Macro Lens for Sony A


Tokina’s latest 1:ane macro lens is the Tokina FiRIN 100mm f/two.8 Fe Macro lens for Sony E-mountain cameras. Tokina also offers its atx-i 100mm f/2.8 FF Macro lens for Nikon and Canon mounts. It features a ane:1 ratio.

Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 FF Macro Lens
Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 FF Macro Lens

Venus Optics

Macro and ultra-wide specialist Venus Optics has several lenses for dissimilar mounts. The rare-in-the-world-of-macro wide-angle Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f/four Macro lens features ane:1 magnification and is available for Pentax, Sony A, Nikon, and Canon cameras. Also from the company, the world’south first 2:1 magnification lens with infinity focus is the manual focus Laowa 60mm f/2.8 Ultra-Macro lens for Sony East, Sony A, Catechism, Nikon, and Pentax, and for APS-C-format mirrorless there is the Laowa 65mm f/2.viii 2x Ultra Macro APO, for FUJIFILM X, Canon EF-Yard, Nikon Z, and Sony E, which also offers two:i magnification along with infinity focus. Also 2:1, and for full-frame, is the slightly longer Laowa 100mm f/2.viii 2X Ultra Macro APO, for Nikon Z, Canon RF, Leica L, and Sony E, also as Catechism EF, Pentax K, and Nikon F. The Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/two.8 ii.5-5x Ultra Macro lens has—you guessed information technology—two.five-5x magnification for Catechism EF, Nikon F, and Pentax Chiliad. We used it to shoot the moon in this article! For Micro 4 Thirds shooters, the Venus Optics Laowa 50mm f/2.viii 2X Ultra Macro APO lens goes to 2:1 magnification as does the Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO for Canon EF-M, FUJIFILM Ten, Sony E, and Nikon Z mounts.

And, worthy of its own paragraph (and video!), the incredibly odd-looking Venus Optics Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens has a ii:ane magnification ratio and a truly unique blueprint for Canon, Nikon, and Pentax mounts.

Venus Optics Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens
Venus Optics Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens


Voigtländer has a pair of macro lenses for the Sony E mount cameras. The Voigtländer MACRO APO-LANTHAR 110mm f/2.5 lens has a 1:1 reproduction ratio while the MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm f/2 Aspherical lens gives a 1:2 ratio. Both lenses are transmission focus and mechanical masterpieces.

Voigtlander MACRO APO-LANTHAR 110mm f/2.5 Lens
Voigtlander MACRO APO-LANTHAR 110mm f/2.5 Lens


The Yasuhara Nanoha Macro lens is available for Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-mountain cameras and features a removable triple-LED light source. The lens allows incredible 4:i or five:1 reproduction!

Yasuhara Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1
Yasuhara Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1


The Yongnuo YN 60mm f/2 MF lens, for Canon EF and Nikon F mount cameras, offers 1:1 reproduction with a minimum focus altitude of 9.2″.

Yongnuo YN 60mm f/2 MF Lens
Yongnuo YN 60mm f/2 MF Lens


Zeiss has a pair of macro lenses for your total-frame close-up viewing pleasure. The ZEISS Milvus 50mm f/2M lens features one:2 magnification. The ZF.ii version is for Nikon and the ZE for Catechism EF. For longer reach, the Milvus 100mm f/2 lens besides has one:2 magnification and is available for Catechism and Nikon.

ZEISS Milvus 100mm f/2M ZF.2 Macro Lens
ZEISS Milvus 100mm f/2M ZF.ii Macro Lens

For mirrorless, the ZEISS Touit 50mm f/2.8M does 1:1 reproduction for FUJIFILM X and Sony E-mount cameras.

Have we missed whatsoever electric current macro lenses? Practise you lot take a question about shopping for your own macro lens, or do y’all accept experience with ane or more of these lenses that you would like to share? Let us know in the Comments department, below!