10 best macro lenses in 2015

10 best macro lenses in 2015

Best macro lens for Canon DSLRs

If you want to shoot ultra close up images, you need a macro lens. These can focus close enough to reproduce small objects at full life-size on your camera's image sensor. That means something as petite as a postage stamp could fill the entire frame of an APS-C-format sensor, and when you view the image on a computer monitor or in a big print the resulting level of detail can be astonishing. Macro lenses can focus at normal distances too, so they can be used as regular 'prime' lenses.

All these recommended Canon macro lenses are designed for full-frame sensors, so you can use them on APS-C format Canon DSLRs too, and you're free to base your choice on value, focal length, autofocus systems and whether or not they include image stabilization. It's useful in a macro lens, though ultra-close-ups are usually shot on a tripod anyway.

Best macro lenses for Canon DSLRs...

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

1. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro for Canon

For the best image quality at a reasonable price, this lens is unbeatable

Type: prime lens | Sensor size: full frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: 4 stops | Weather seals: No | Minimum focus distance: 31cm | Filter size: 62mm | Dimensions: 78 x 126mm | Weight: 725g

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro for Canon

Handling, image quality, value
Highly effective stabiliser
No weather seals
Distance of focus ring from body

Often it takes something special to tempt photographers from their camera's own-brand lenses, and this Sigma goes all out for the win. Its pro-spec design includes fast and near silent ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and there's a highly effective four-stop optical stabiliser. Two SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements help produce excellent sharpness, even at the widest aperture. Colour fringing is negligible, and distortion is essentially a non-issue. As well as being very quick, autofocusing is good at locking on to targets in all lighting conditions and there are three focus-limiting options. Sublime handling and Canon-rivalling build quality completes this terrific lens.

Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro

2. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro for Canon

Sturdily built and feature-packed: this lens offers a lot for the money

Type: prime | Sensor size: full frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: 4 stops | Weather seals: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 30cm | Filter size: 58mm | Dimensions: 76 x 123mm | Weight: 550g

Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro for Canon

Great image quality
High-end features, weather sealing
Not quite as sharp as the Sigma 105mm
Slightly pricier than the Sigma

The Sigma 105mm is undoubtedly the star of the show, but this Tamron comes a close second. It gives you a very effective VC (Vibration Compensation) stabilisation system, and there's super-fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus paired with a three-position focus limiter switch. Along with its upmarket features the robust build quality includes a mounting plate weather seal – and this lens also delivers very good image quality. Tamron's new 'eBand' nano coating is applied to reduce ghosting and flare and we found little evidence of fringing. Sharpness is also excellent between f/4 and f/11, although it's less impressive wide open at f/2.8, where the Sigma 105mm is clearly superior.

Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

3. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro for Canon

Almost as impressive as Sigma's 105mm and with added focal length

Type: prime | Sensor size: full-frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: 4 stops | Weather seals: No | Minimum focus distance: 38cm | Filter size: 72mm | Dimensions: 80 x 150mm | Weight: 1150g

Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro for Canon

Excellent image quality
Refined features
Comparatively heavy and expensive
Some AF hunting at close range

An upscaled version of the winning Sigma lens, the longer focal length of this lens increases the minimum focus distance from 31cm to 38cm, so it's an advantage when shooting timid bugs, and there's a reduced risk of casting a shadow over your subject when relying on ambient light from a source that's behind you. However, at 1.15kg this lens is over 50% heavier than its 105mm cousin, and it's also much heavier on your wallet. At least you get the same superb image quality with great sharpness throughout the aperture range and minimal colour fringing. Autofocus performance is also good, though we did find it a little fidgety in extreme close-up use.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

4. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

A capable own-brand rival to the third-party lenses

Type: prime | Sensor size: full frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: No | Weather seals: No | Minimum focus distance: 31cm | Filter size: 58mm | Dimensions: 79 x 119mm | Weight: 600g

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Sturdy build & fast autofocus
Very good overall image quality
Focus hunting at close range
No stabilisation or weather sealing

It's the top Canon lens in our list, yet this isn't the company's pro-spec 100mm L-series version. That's because we found this lens to even sharper between f/5.6 and f/16 and noticeably less prone to fringing, whilst producing very little barrel distortion. Build quality is also a match for the pricier f/2.8L, though you'll have to manage without weather seals. Canon markets this optic as 'a perfect portrait lens with additional macro capability'. As such it has quiet, ring-type ultrasonic autofocus which works well in general use. However the focus limiter switch can't lock out long range focusing when shooting close subjects, which can result in some frustrating focus hunting.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Canon's range-topping macro lens offers superb sharpness, but at a price

Type: prime | Sensor size: full frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: 4-stops | Weather seals: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 30cm | Filter size: 67mm | Dimensions: 78 x 123mm | Weight: 625g

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

High sharpness, low distortion
Hybrid image stabiliser
Relatively expensive
Noticeable color fringing

It's rare to find a Canon L-series (Luxury) lens beaten so convincingly by cheaper alternatives, but the build quality of this 100mm doesn't feel quite as solid as some of Canon's other premium lenses. Nevertheless, it does feature weather seals and super-fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, plus there's a three position focus limiter switch. A big selling point is the 'hybrid' stabiliser that was developed specially for this lens and corrects 'lens shift' movement as well as the usual angular vibration. Sharpness is impressive throughout the aperture range, but it produces considerably more fringing than the top four lenses, making the extra outlay tough to justify.

Best macro lens for Nikon DSLRs

Like Canon DSLRs, Nikon DSLRs come with sensors in two sizes – APS-C and full frame – and Nikon-fit lenses are designed for these two sensor sizes too. You can use full-frame lenses on APS-C cameras, but it doesn't work so well the other way round because the camera will then only work in 'crop' mode, where you lose the advantage of the bigger sensor.

However, all the lenses in our list are for full-frame (FX) Nikon DSLRs, so they'll also work fine on the smaller (DX) format models. The only difference is that on a DX Nikon, the effective focal length is 1.5x longer. This is fine for macro lenses, though, because it's often an advantage to be a little further from your subject anyway.

Best macro lenses for Nikon DSLRs...

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

1. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro for Nikon

For the best image quality at a reasonable price, this lens is unbeatable

Type: prime | Sensor size: full frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: 4 stops | Weather seals: No | Minimum focus distance: 31cm | Filter size: 62mm | Dimensions: 78 x 126mm | Weight: 725g

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro for Nikon

Handling, image quality, value
Highly effective stabiliser
No weather seals
Distance of focus ring from body

Often it takes something special to tempt photographers from their camera's own-brand lenses, and this Sigma goes all out for the win. Its pro-spec design includes fast and near silent ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and there's a highly effective four-stop optical stabiliser. Two SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements help produce excellent sharpness, even at the widest aperture. Colour fringing is negligible, and distortion is essentially a non-issue. As well as being very quick, autofocussing is good at locking on to targets in all lighting conditions and there are three focus-limiting options. Sublime handling and Nikon-rivalling build quality completes this terrific lens.

Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro

2. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro for Nikon

Sturdily built and feature-packed: this lens offers a lot for the money

Type: prime | Sensor size: full-frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: 4 stops | Weather seals: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 30cm | Filter size: 58mm | Dimensions: 76 x 123mm | Weight: 550g

Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro for Nikon

Great image quality
High-end features, weather sealing
Not quite as sharp as the Sigma 105mm
Slightly pricier than the Sigma

The Sigma 105mm is undoubtedly the star of the show, but this Tamron comes a close second. It gives you a very effective VC (Vibration Compensation) stabilisation system, and there's super-fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus paired with a three-position focus limiter switch. Along with its upmarket features and robust build quality that includes a mounting plate weather seal, the lens also delivers very good image quality. Tamron's new 'eBand' nano coating is applied to reduce ghosting and flare and we found little evidence of fringing. Sharpness is also excellent between f/4 and f/11, although it's less impressive at f/2.8, where the Sigma 105mm is clearly superior.

Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro

3. Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro

An old-school optic, but it's still got what it takes

Type: prime | Sensor size: full frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: No | Weather seals: No | Minimum focus distance: 22cm | Filter size: 62mm | Dimensions: 70 x 75mm | Weight: 440g

Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro

Terrific image quality in every area
Reasonable price
Sluggish screw-drive autofocusing
No stabilisation or weather seals

It's our first lens from Nikon, and it looks every inch a throwback to the last century with its retro aperture ring and classic styling. But this lens is all about optical quality, which is good enough to shame Nikon's newer G-mount macro lenses. Sharpness is exceptionally high throughout the aperture range, while distortion and fringing are virtually non-existent. However, the feature set is less impressive. There's no internal autofocus motor, so focussing speed can be a bit sluggish, and it won't autofocus at all on D3xxx and D5xxx-series bodies. That's a pain for general shooting, but manual focussing for macro shots is a joy thanks to the large and precise focus ring.

Tamrom SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro

4. Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro for Nikon

This veteran Tamron is a macro favourite and our least expensive option

Type: prime | Sensor size: full frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: No | Weather seals: No | Minimum focus distance: 29cm | Filter size: 55mm | Dimensions: 72 x 97mm | Weight: 405g

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro for Nikon

Very good image quality
Smooth, precise manual focusing
Lacks optical stabilisation
Focussing considerably extends lens barrel

Here's another classic lens and it's technically been replaced by the second-place Tamron, but its advanced age helps make it the cheapest lens in our line-up. That price does however reflect the crude autofocus performance, which relies on a basic and noisy electric motor. Pre-2008 models don't even have this, so watch out if buying second hand. But switch to manual focussing for macro work and there are no such niggles, with the smooth, long-travel focus ring enabling excellent precision. You'll also be rewarded with top-notch sharpness across the whole frame, even at f/2.8. There is some colour fringing at this aperture, but it's gone by f/5.6.

Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR IF-ED Micro

5. Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR IF-ED Micro

A quality lens that's just edged out by some exceptional rivals

Type: prime | Sensor size: full frame | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabiliser: 4 stops | Weather seals: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 31cm | Filter size: 62mm | Dimensions: 83 x 116mm | Weight: 720g

Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR IF-ED Micro

Bullet-proof build
Flawless focussing
Mediocre sharpness wide open
Relatively pricey

Relatively pricey This is one of Nikon's high-end macro lenses and it's built to last. Autofocus is super-fast and the focus ring feels silky-smooth in both manual override and fully manual settings. The fitment of a focus limiter switch is a welcome addition, although you can't lock the range to just the short end of its travel. On the inside, Nikon's Nano Crystal coating helps minimise reflections and flare and there's an ED glass element to reduce fringing. However, lenses further up our list control aberration better, and this lens isn't quite as impressive when it comes to sharpness. It's great at f/8, but drops off more than most at very wide and narrow apertures.

See also:

  • Best DSLR
  • Best wide-angle lens
  • Best telephoto lens









Source: TechRadar.com





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