Buyer’s Guide: The Best Macro Lenses on the Market
Here are some of the best macro lens options currently on the market for filmmakers and videographers looking to get close on their next shoot.
Cover image by Sergey Nemirovsky.
Whether you’re expanding your solo kit or building out a full professional filmmaking lens kit, a solid macro lens is key to getting varied and stylized close-ups. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a “macro” lens is usually a lens with a focal length around 50mm or higher that allows a videographer to get tight on a small subject — or get close-ups on a subject’s features, like the face, eyes, or hands.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the best prime (fixed) macro lenses currently on the market.
Canon 60mm f/2.8
One of the most persistent staples in any DSLR or mirrorless camera arsenal is the Canon 60mm macro. It offers a maximum aperture of f/2.8, so it is a fantastic option. You will, as listed below, find some similar options from other brands, but Canon still takes the cake among the high-performing, mid-level-priced options. The Canon 60mm’s floating optical system can focus down to the highly coveted full life-size 1:1 magnification, and it will stay sturdy for years.
Oshiro 60mm f/2.8
Comparable to the Canon 60mm, the Oshiro 60mm f/2.8 is another solid option at less than half the price. Oshiro may not be a Canon-level name, but with this fixed macro lens option, you get plenty of bang for your buck. Oshiro’s 60mm is an optically minded construction that includes ultra-low dispersion lens elements for some amazing image quality.
Tamron 90mm f/2.8
Taking a step up in fixed focal length, Tamron makes a 90mm f/2.8 macro option, which is one of their most successful lenses. Tamron has a solid reputation for affordable and lightweight (but solid) lenses. (I highly recommend their 24-50mm and 24-70mm zooms.) The latest 90mm f/2.8 has some buffs in USD control software for faster AF focusing speed and fine-tuned framing conditions while still maintaining Tamron’s high level of durability.
Canon 100mm f/2.8
Back to Canon, at the higher-fixed-focal-length end of things, Canon’s 100mm f/2.8 is perhaps the most powerful macro lens available on the market. At 100mm, it’s ideally for full-frame cameras without major crop factors, but it also works great for 1:1 life-size maximum magnification. Canon’s familiar smooth ring-type USM and internal focusing design is some of the best available, while its solid build makes it stronger and longer-lasting than the more plastic-y options at lower price points.
Bonus: If you’re looking for even higher fixed-focal-length macro options, you can always jump to Canon’s line of 70-200mm zoom options, which just got some major updates you can read more about here.
Consider Extension Tubes
Image via Vello.
Finally, another option to consider is an extension tube. More affordable than a macro lens, an extension tube, like the Auto Extension Tube Set from Vello, allows you to place a “tube” between your camera body and your normal lens (say a shorter fixed length like a 21mm) to create a macro composition with your non-macro lenses. While this is not always a perfect approach (focusing and other elements become a little more hair-triggery), if you’re only using macro shots on rare occasions, a less expensive extension tube can be a great way to add variety to your shots without a big-scale investment.
Price: $79.00 (varied by sets)
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