Macro Lens Buying Guide

Macro Lens Buying Guide

50 mm lens

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All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted.

The macro lens is an important tool for macro photography enthusiasts. It enables you to take up close shots of tiny objects that are often overlooked in our daily lives. Macro lenses can be used for a variety of subjects, including food photography, landscapes, and even portraits. In this blog post we will discuss what to look for when buying a new macro camera lens and 5 great ways us use macro lenses in photography!

WHY IS MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY SO POPULAR?

Macro photography is popular because it captures an interesting and intimate view of our world that we never get to see. For example, macro photographers stop time so you can examine the details on small objects such as the colors and textures of small animals you’d never be able to get close enough to see.

What makes a good macro lens

Macro photography can be done with any lens, but macro lenses allow you to get closer than normal so the subject fills more of your frame, which is ideal for detailed subjects such as insects or flowers. They have several features that you’ll want to consider when buying a new macro lens.

Vintage Canon FD 50mm lens on a vintage camera body

1:1 Life size Magnification

One unique aspect of macro lenses is the magnification. When you look through your camera’s viewfinder, most lenses reduce the size, but the 1:1 magnification in macro lenses reflects the actual size. Magnification is a little confusing, but what it means practically is the image appears closer without getting closer, which is a big part of pulling out the details of small subjects. Some higher end lenses have up to 5:1 magnification, which means the subject is up to five times larger than its actual size in the lens.

Small Minimum Focusing Distance

Lenses have a minimum focusing distance which is how close the lens can be to the subject and still focus; macro lenses allow you to get closer than other lenses. A good minimum focus distance is 12 inches (30 cm) or less. For context, a telephoto lens may have a minimum focusing distance of 2 or more feet.

Wide Aperture

A wide aperture is a low f-stop number that creates a beautiful background blur that macro photography is known for. You will an aperture of f/2.8 or wider to get that look in your shots.

Lens Focal Length

Shorter focal lengths require getting closer to the subject, which can scare off small critters or cast shadows on the subject. Longer focal lengths such as a 90mm or 100mm give more space between you and the subject while still appearing close up. It’s one of the reason I also recommend a super telephoto lens for macro photography.

 

What are the best macro lenses for photography? 

Shop Macro Lenses Graphic

There is are a variety of macro lens options on the market from both major camera manufacturers and third-party macro lens manufacturers. I highly recommend third party lenses such as Tamron and Sigma because they offer quality products at more affordable prices.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens

Pros

  • Fast focus
  • Sharp images
  • 12 Inch Minimum focusing distance
  •  Good color contrast

Cons

  • Some say the build quality is sub-par
  • It’s definitely on the pricier side

Pros:

  • f/1.4 aperture is very wide!
  • Produces sharp images
  • Really affordable intro macro lens

Cons

  • Minimum focusing distance of 15.7 inches is longer than other macro lenses
  • Fairly long focal length for a macro lens and may require getting close to your subject

Pros:

  • Standard f/2.8 aperture
  • 12 inch minimum focusing distance
  • Fast focusing capabilities
  • Image stabilization

Cons

  • Some chromatic aberration when compared to other lenses

Pros:

  • Standard f/2.8 aperture
  • 10 inch minimum focusing distance
  • Cheaper than the other lenses on this list without sacrificing quality photos
  • Versatile enough to shoot macro to landscapes

Cons

  • Slow auto focus and manual focus is a hassle
  • No image stabilization

Pros:

  • Image stabilization
  • 12 inch minimum focusing distance
  • Standard f2.8 aperture

Cons

  • Larger in size than comparable lenses
  • One of the more expensive lenses in the Macro category

How to use A Macro Camera Lens in Photography

Pink Waterlilies and Green Lily Pads
Small Lizard On A Rock
Snail on a Peace Lily

Close-up macro photography

Macro photography gets close to the subject captures stunning details of small objects, often of things difficult to see with the naked eye.

Wildlife Photography

Small critters such as insects, butterflies, and tiny animals are considered macro photography. For these subjects you will want to choose a macro lens with a longer focal length.

Abstracts

Abstract photography disregards how objects represent themselves realistically in exchange for emphasizing the textures, patterns, or colors.

flower photography

Flowers are a beautiful part of nature. The macro lens can capture the beauty of flowers up close and show their texture and color.

food photography

Food photography is the art of creating appetizing and enticing images of foods.

Portrait Photography

One most popular subjects for a macro lens is portrait photography. Macro lenses create a creamy bokeh in the background that makes the subject stand out and provides the most realistic proportions

Macro lenses open up a new world for photographers with the opportunity to capture stunning details and we hope this article helps you find the perfect lens for you!

Author Bio

Author Bio Image

Delaney is a project manager by day and a travel and wildlife photographer by night who is using her skills for translating complex technical language into easy to understand concepts to make photography achievable at all skill levels. You have questions; she has answers.

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