Best Nikon Macro Lens
One of the most popular and favorite forms of photography is Macro photography. It gives the photographer the power to capture and preserve the beauty of minute subjects. This style could be very rewarding that most often results in amazing and unique photos. But, the best results are achieved with the right equipment.
Macro lenses are normally used when taking photos of things in nature, like insects and flowers. Most often, macro lenses are used to photograph details of architectural designs. But with the influx of this kind of lens in the market today, how do you choose the best Nikon macro lens?
In this buying guide, we will share with you some of the best Nikon macro lenses. We will also discuss what sets them on the higher echelon compared to others. We trim down the ten best Nikon macro lens to help you narrow down your choice.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 4 hrs of research
Very effective optical stabilizer
Produces great image quality
Very quiet motor
Minimizes aberration and distortions
- Sigma, 258306 F2.8 105mm EX DG OS HSM
- Nikon Micro-Nikkor AF-S 40 mm f/2.8G ED
- AF-S VR 105mm IF-ED f/2.8G
- AF 200mm IF-ED F/4D
- Sigma Macro EX DG OS 180 mm F/2.8 APO HSM
- Tamron SP 90 mm F/2.8
- f/5.6D AF-S 200-500 mm
- Micro-NIKKOR AF-S FX 2177 60mm
- Samyang 100-mm F/2.8 ED UMC
- Micro NIKKOR AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G ED
Best Nikon Macro Lens
1. Sigma, 258306 F2.8 105mm EX DG OS HSM
Very effective optical stabilizer
Produces great image quality
Very quiet motor
Minimizes aberration and distortions
It would be much better if the lens can be zoomed
It does not have weather seals
This could be the perfect choice if you are looking for a versatile product that allows you to take sharp macro photos or utilize the same lens for portraiture or landscape.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 5 –inches x 3.1 -inches x 3.1 –inches.
This product has an item weight of 1.6 –pounds and a total shipping weight of 3.09 –pounds.
This model is only available in Black color.
The 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM from Sigma has a ring type ultrasonic type of focus. It is a telephoto type of lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8. This model has a maximum focal length of 105 –millimeters, a minimum aperture of 2.2 –millimeters, a minimum focal length of 105 –millimeters, and a photo filter thread size of 62 –millimeters.
The entire pack contains one unit of macro lens. It also comes with an adapter for the hood, lens hood, and caps for both front and rear lenses.
This model will get you the sharp, high contrast macro shots that you want to achieve even without the aid of a tripod. You can also use it to do landscape and portraiture shots. It is a great value for money.
It features an advanced result when it comes to close-up or macro photography. It has an Optical Stabilizer that allows you to achieve crisp close-up shots even with the use of a handheld. This model is equipped with an SLD or Special Low Dispersion lens and one SLD lens that have a high refractive index. These two offer correction for all kinds of distortion and aberration.
It is coated with a super multiple layer coating that minimizes ghosting and flare and gives you high contrast photographs. This model utilizes a Hyper Sonic Motor to make sure that the autofocus function is at a high speed at its manual focus capability is at full time.
This model is a mid-range focal length macro lens.
It is a great macro lens for starters, professional photographers, and enthusiasts. Aside from macro, you can also use this to capture landscape and portraiture shots.
2. Nikon Micro-Nikkor AF-S 40 mm f/2.8G ED
Comes with minimum weather sealing
With Super Integrated Coating
Very impressive image quality
It does not come with a vibration reduction
This could be the perfect choice if you are looking for the best Nikon macro lens that will not cost you so much.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 2.56 –inches x 2.72 -inches x 2.72 –inches.
It is lightweight and only weighs 0.52 –pounds.
This model is available in Black color with Gold writings.
The AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G from Nikon is compatible to Nikon F (DX) mount. It has an ultrasonic focus type with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a maximum focal length of 40 –millimeters. This model has a photo filter thread size of 52 –millimeters and a minimum aperture of f/2.2.
The pack contains one unit of Nikon lens, hood, and a cover for the front and rear lenses.
With it capabilities, features, and cost, this model is the most popular among enthusiasts because it is available at an unbelievably affordable price.
It features a DX-format macro lens with nine elements and seven groups. It can produce sharp images ranging between infinity and life-size. This model features an autofocus function up to 64 –inches. It comes with a close-range correction technology and a motor equipped with a silent wave.
This model is a normal short-range lens.
This is designed for macro photography but you can also use this to take a portraiture shot.
3. AF-S VR 105mm IF-ED f/2.8G
It comes with a weather ring
It comes with image correction
Decreases chromatic aberration and distortion
Some customers find this model quite expensive compared to other options
This could be the best choice if you are looking for a long lens that is packed with several cutting-edge technologies.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 4.57 –inches x 3.27 -inches x 3.27 –inches.
This model is lightweight despite its length. It has an overall item weight of 1.74 –pounds.
It is available in Black color.
The AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED from Nikon is the flagship macro lens of the company. It uses a ring type ultrasonic focus. This is a telephoto type of lens that has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a minimum aperture of 32 –millimeters. This model has a maximum and minimum focal length of 105 –millimeters and a photo filter thread size of 62 –millimeters.
The entire pack is consists of one unit of a macro lens. It also comes with an instruction manual, and a cap for the front lens and the rear lens.
This model can produce great quality images because of its features. Though it is quite a bit pricey, the usage, quality, and durability are all worth the investment.
It features a dedicated design intended for close up or macro photography. A coat made of Nan- crystal and ED glass components that improve the total quality of the image. It further minimizes the chromatic aberrations and flare in the picture. This model is equipped with an internal focus that offers quick and silent automatic focusing without altering the length of the lens.
This model is a mid-range macro lens and is the flagship macro lens of Nikon.
In addition to being a macro lens for macro shots, you can also use this for portraiture photography and for taking wedding photos.
4. AF 200mm IF-ED F/4D
It sets the standard in macro photography in terms of image sharpness and quality
Can be used for landscape and portrait shots
Uses Micro-Nikkor technology
Easy to use
The lens of this model is not zoomable
It does not come with image stabilization feature
This could be the supreme choice if you are looking for an optimized lens for a much larger sensor size of cameras that are full-frame.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 7.6 –inches x 2.99 -inches x 2.99 –inches.
It has a total item weight of 2.62 –pounds and a shipping weight of 3.45 –pounds.
This model is available in black color.
The AF Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4.0D IF-ED lens from Nikon has a maximum aperture of f/4 and a minimum aperture of f/32. It utilizes the screw drive from the camera as its focus type. It has a minimum and maximum focal length of 200 –millimeters and a photo thread size of 62 –millimeters.
The entire pack is composed of one unit of macro lens, a cover for its front lens and rear lens, and an instruction manual.
With its impressive image quality and features, this model offers great value for your money.
It features a 63 –millimeters filter. It utilizes an optical glass developed by the company that is used in telephoto lenses to minimize chromatic aberrations and to maximize image correction. This model also features the legendary Micro NIKKOR technology. It is proficient at creating a remarkable balance between ease of use and clarity. It made with ED or extra-low dispersion glass to make sure that you achieve apochromatic-like performance with excellent images and sharper contrast.
This model is a long-range telephoto macro lens.
In addition to being a macro lens, you can also use this taking landscape and portraiture photographs.
5. Sigma Macro EX DG OS 180 mm F/2.8 APO HSM
Allows you to do handheld macro and close up shots
With Optical Stabilizer
Comes with a floating inner focusing system
Manual focus that is very smooth
Automatic focus included
Can deliver images with vignettes
This model is poor when it comes to chromatic aberrations
This could be a great choice if you are looking for a product that could give you the best quality macro shot when used with moving subjects like insects, animals, and plants.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 8.03 -inches x 3.74 -inches x 3.74 –inches.
This model has an overall item weight of 3.620-pounds.
It is available in Black color with Gold and White markings.
The 180mm F2.8 EX APO DG HSM OS from Sigma uses ring type ultrasonic focus. It has a minimum aperture of 22 and a maximum aperture of f2.8. This model has a photo filter thread size of 86 –millimeters. It has a maximum and minimum focal length of 180 –millimeters.
The entire pack is composed of one unit of lens. It also comes with a user manual and a cap that covers the front lens and the rear lens.
This model offers a great value for your money because of its performance and features that make your photos stand out from the rest.
It features a focusing distance of 47 –centimeters/ 18.5 –inches. It is packed with the company’s own Optical Stabilizer technology. This provides the utilization of shutter speeds around four stops slower than would be otherwise feasible, allowing you to do handheld macro photography. This model integrates the company’s floating inner focusing technology. This reduces aberrations which happen when there are changes in the distance. It also activates stable rendering of the image ranging between infinity and 1:1 magnification.
This macro lens is a long range type of telephoto lens.
Aside from macro photography, you can also use this in landscape photography, animal photography, and portraiture photography.
6. Tamron SP 90 mm F/2.8
One of the few lenses with vibration reductions
Produces high quality and sharp images
With image stabilizer that is hybrid
This model can deliver sharp photos but not as sharp as those captured by Nikon or Sigma lenses
A bit pricey compared to Sigma lenses
This could be an excellent choice if you are looking for a product that is designed for a superior performance of DSLR or SLR camera bodies.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 2.8 –inches x 2.8 -inches x 3.8 –inches.
This is a lightweight lens that has an item weight of 14.2 –ounces and a shipping weight of 1.58 –pounds.
It is available in Black color.
The AF 90mm lens from Tamron has an aperture length ranging between f 2.8 and f/32. It has a minimal focus length of 90 –millimeters.
The entire pack is composed of one unit of macro lens, a case, and a lens hood.
Many photographers love this macro lens because it is affordable for the kind of features and results that it can yield. It is a great value for your money
It features a ring clutch that you can utilize for focusing. This ring engages and disengages the focusing gear making the transition between the MF and the AF extremely easy and simple. This latest version is upgraded and comes with a finer coating, better images, enhanced autofocus, and a hybrid image stabilizer.
This lens is a mid-range type of macro lens.
In addition to macro photography, you can also use this lens for landscape photography. It is also ideal for enthusiasts who would like to experiment and explore the world of macro photography.
7. f/5.6D AF-S 200-500 mm
With vibration reduction
Long distance macro shot
Ideal for moving subjects
The lens of this model cannot be zoomed
This could be the ideal choice if you are looking for a solidly made lens that can withstand different types of environments without getting scratches and dents.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 7.48 –inches x 7.48 -inches x 17.2 –inches.
This model has an overall item weight of 5.7 –pounds and a shipping weight of 6.85 –pounds.
It is available in Black color with gold writings.
The AF Micro-Nikkor 200 mm f/4D IF-ED from Nikon uses manual and automatic focus. It has an aperture length ranging from f/5.6 to f32. It has a minimum focal length of 200 –millimeters and maximum focal length of 500 –millimeters.
The whole pack is consists of one unit of telephoto lens, a case, and a cover for the front and rear lenses. It also has a Bayonet hood, and a warranty card.
This amazing product that allows you to shoot moving subjects and still gives you a great image quality is a great value for money.
It features a fast and steady aperture for amazing out of focus background and for low-light environment. For sports mode, this model has a vibration reduction of 4.5 stops. It comes with vibration reduction that counteracts even the slightest movement of the camera.
This is a long range telephoto type of macro lens.
This model can be used by photographers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists in taking macro shots, landscape shots, and portraiture shots.
8. Micro-NIKKOR AF-S FX 2177 60mm
Achieves beautiful Bokeh
Compatible to all Nikon DX models
With nano crystal coat
Comes with internal focusing
It does not have vibration reduction
This could be the perfect choice if you are looking for a popular macro lens that is a little bit longer than the standard focal length.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 3.5 -inches x 2.9 -inches x 2.9 –inches.
This product has a total item weight of 15 -ounces and a shipping weight of 9.1 –ounces.
It is available in Black color only.
The AF-S FX Micro-NIKKOR 2177 by Nikon has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a minimum aperture of f/32. It has a total focal length of 60 –millimeters.
The whole pack is consists of one unit of macro lens, case, and caps for the front lens and rear lens.
This model is a great value for money as it helps you achieve the right amount of Bokeh and sharpness that you would like to see in your photos. It is compact and lightweight and very easy to use.
It features a 90 –millimeters focal length perfect for cameras with APS-C sensor. It has a minimum focus distance of 8 –inches. This model is compatible with all the DX model of Nikon. It is compact and lightweight so you can bring it with you anywhere you go. It also allows you to achieve a beautiful background blur or Bokeh through its wider aperture settings.
This model is a short-range type of macro lens.
You can use it for macro shot, landscape, and portraiture shots.
9. Samyang 100-mm F/2.8 ED UMC
Smooth focus ring
Impressive image quality
With Ultra Micro Coating that minimizes flares and abrasions
It is manual only, could be better if it has autofocus
This could be the best choice if you are looking for a well-engineered lens that is beautifully handled.Read more
It has a total product dimension of 5.88 –inches x 2.9 -inches x 2.9 –inches.
This product has an item weight of 1.6 –pounds.
It is currently available in black color only.
The 100-mm F/2.8 ED UMC model from Samyang is a manual-only macro lens. It has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a minimum aperture of f/32. This model has a minimum and maximum focal length of 100 –millimeters.
The entire pack is composed of one unit of telephoto macro lens, case, and caps for front and rear lenses.
This model is a great value for your money, given its features and the quality of image that it produces.
This particular model is known to other camera brands with an aperture set to manual focus. However, with Nikon, it features various options. It integrates mechanics and electronics that are necessary in order to adjust the aperture of the Nikon camera. It has a focus ring that has a long travel and is very smooth when it comes to operation.
This product is a mid-range type of telephoto macro lens.
In addition to macro photography, you can also enjoy this model with portraiture and landscape photography.
10. Micro NIKKOR AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G ED
With vibration reduction
Great with both portrait and macro photography
With ED element for great sharpness and outstanding color correction
While the quality of the image is good, some users claim that it is not as sharp as other Nikon macro lenses
This could be the excellent choice if you are looking for a product that is great in both landscape and macro photography.Read more
It has an overall product dimension of 3.9 –inches x 2.87 -inches x 2.87 –inches.
This model has an item weight of 0.78 –pounds.
It is currently available in Black color.
The AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED from Nikon has a maximum aperture of f.3.5 and a minimum aperture of f/32. It has a minimum and maximum focal length of 85 –millimeters. Its focus type is a ring type ultrasonic and it has a photo filter thread of 52 –millimeters.
The pack contains one unit of macro lens, one casing, and caps to cover the front lens and the rear lens.
This is a great value for your money with Nikon’s impressive features loaded in this model to help you achieve the kind of image that you would like to see.
It features Nikon VRII or vibration reduction also known as image stabilization. It also has extra-low dispersion or ED element, and SIX or Nikon’s patented Super Integrated Coating. The motor is very silent when in operation because of its Silent Wave Motor technology.
This model is a shirt range type of telephoto macro lens.
It excels not only in macro photography but also in portrait photography.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Before jumping into other factors, it is important first to know and understand the different categories which the macro lens is grouped. This will greatly help you in picking the best Nikon macro lens that will suit your preferences and needs. The three categories are the short range, mid-range, and long range.
This lens ranges between 35 mm and 60 mm. It usually costs less and is always lightweight compared to other categories. It has a shorter working distance that makes it not so ideal for moving subjects. A short-range lens could be a good choice if you are looking to buy a Nikon macro lens to just test it out and check if you want to buy a robust lens to be included in your kit.
This lens ranges between 90 mm and 105 mm. compared to the short range type, it has a much larger working distance but very affordable. This is usually the type of lens most photographers use when they want to take pictures of flowers. A mid-range lens enables you to be close enough to the subject you nearly touch it, so other objects in the foreground or background are not in focus. It is a popular choice if you want to have the best technology and a fairly affordable price.
It has a range between 150 mm and 200 mm. this type of macro lens is the most impressive in terms of image quality and working distance. But, it is seldom a popular choice among photographers because it is much heavier and a little more expensive. The long-range lens is the best choice if you want to take pictures of moving subjects like insects and other miniscule living things. This lens can handle motion and keep in focus.
Another important consideration when choosing the best Nikon macro lens is the focal length.
It is the distance between the optical center of the lens and the image plane. To some, the longer focal length would mean a telephoto macro lens. But, it is not always like that. Macro lenses are available in different focal lengths but could still have 1:1 life-sized enlargement ratio.
The important thing is you identify what you plan to capture. You will also need to determine the level of your seriousness when it comes to using a macro lens. These are very crucial before you make a decision in selecting a particular focal length.
In addition to the focal length, another factor that you should carefully consider when choosing the best Nikon macro lens is the magnification.
Unlike other types of photography, in macro, magnification is the most vital and defining point. Most photographers always look for a lens that offers a genuine 1:1 magnification.
In other words, the subject is captured in its actual size in real-life. This is important if you want to maintain or achieve a high-resolution photograph. It is equally important to define or translate this in the application of a macro lens.
A 1.0x magnification in a macro lens means that a subject will be reproduced on the image sensor of the camera at its full actual size. For instance, if you want to capture the size of a postage stamp, it will fill up the entire image frame. This means that it will have a massive magnification when you look at the resulting image on the screen of your camera or when printed out. You can see the levels of details when you zoom into the image in the pixel level.
There are some macro lenses that are made exclusively for APS-C format of DSLR types of camera. Similar to the full-frame friendly lenses, this type offers 1.0x magnification. But, because of the 1.5x factor of Nikon DX format, like models D5600, this allows this type of DSLRs to produce much greater magnification effect.
It is important to note that if you have a longer minimum focus distance, you will achieve maximum magnification. It allows you to achieve a working distance that is more comfortable. This way, the front end of your lens would not come very close to the object.
It makes it much easier to take pictures of bugs and other miniscule wildlife without scaring them off before you even get your shot. It decreases the risk of your lens overshadowing your subject if you are utilizing the ambient light instead of using a flash.
Ease of Use
Minimum Focusing Distance
Another crucial factor to look for when choosing the best Nikon macro lens is the minimum focusing distance.
This refers to the distance you can get near your subject while still keeping an accurate and sharp focus. This is vital for photographers who would like to achieve photos with much finer details.
One frustration in macro photography is the tendency of the depth of field to be very small.
In the minimum focus distance of a macro lens, to achieve the greatest magnification, the depth of filed is shrunk to just two millimeters. The crucial factor in determining the performance is on knowing how well the lens keeps the good image quality at a very slim aperture of approximately f/16 or f/22 where you get extra mms in terms of depth of field.
This is another crucial factor that you should take into consideration when choosing the best Nikon macro lens. Many brands today offer some kind of image stabilizing features. This is a very handy feature because the photographer can take a shot on the subject even without using a tripod.
But, many serious photographers will still utilize a tripod as well as a strobe lighting to achieve the best effects possible. In cameras like Canon and Nikon, this is very essential when you buy a macro lens. These two companies are known not to have image stabilizer or vibration reducer in the bodies of their cameras. Instead, they incorporate it on the lens.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
What really sets it apart, whether you are using a telephoto macro lens, a normal macro lens, or a wide-angle macro lens, is the minimal focal distance. It is important to note that if you want to have a larger working distance then choose the lens that has a longer focal length. This enables you to position yourself away from the object you are capturing.
A longer focal length will help you get a much shallow depth of field. It also helps you eradicate issues with lighting. A macro lens with a short focal length is small, light, and affordable. This type also accomplishes the same magnification.
The autofocus feature is not really that necessary when it comes to macro photography. The idea is to capture the best level of sharpness possible when you are proximate to your subject. Not all lenses with autofocus system can do this and a particle distance. This is why it is important to always use the manual focusing ring if you want to achieve a shot that is more precise.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: My zoom lens comes with a macro setting. is it necessary to buy a macro lens for macro photography?
By definition, a macro lens has a 1:1 magnification ratio or closer. This means that most of the authentic macro lenses in the market are prime or comes with a permanent focal length. Several zoom lenses will enable you to achieve the same photos. But, it is not a genuine macro lens. You still need a real macro lens to attain the genuine macro that is well-contrasted, sharp and with less distortion on the image.
q: Why is it more difficult to achieve a sharply focused image when shooting macro?
Several photographers are having a hard time achieving an image that is perfectly focused when using the macro lens compared to other lenses. There are several reasons why this is usually the case.
When trying to capture an image at a short distance, the shake in the camera has a substantial effect on the result of the image compared to longer distances. Since you are very close to the subject, a small movement alters what is in the viewfinder of the camera far more than if you are capturing something that is far away.
If you try to hold your hand at an arm’s length and slowly move it and do this same motion right in your eyes, you can see the same effect. This same effect happens if you have your camera placed on a tripod and the subject you are trying to capture moves. This is usually the case when you are taking a macro shot at plants or flowers.
Animals and wind can cause these subjects to slightly sway making it much harder to get a crisp and sharp image. The shutter speed of your camera may also be relatively slow for the type of condition that you are capturing. A macro lens focuses on a very close range. It could be that you are focusing on the wrong part of your subject. Try to determine if any area in your captured image is focused sharply. This will aid you in checking the necessary adjustments that you need before finally making another shot.
q: Is it really necessary to use a tripod for macro photography?
The answer to this is on a case to case basis. Several photographers shoot macro using a handheld point and shoot camera. But, this could hard if you have a long and heavy lens. It could also be tough if you have to utilize a reflector, a light meter that is also handheld or any handheld equipment to create your final photo.
Tripods can assist you in getting your camera closer to the object that you want to shoot without hindering the light. It can also enable you to shoot at a much slower shutter speed if you do not like adding a flash in case you are in a low-light environment.
When capturing a macro shot, you can either shoot using a tripod or a handheld. However, whatever you choose, it must be great to have a tripod on hand in the event that you could not achieve the image that you want and you have to change your style and technique.
q: What is macro and what is micro photography?
Micro literally means small and macro means big. Most often, these terms are interchangeably used in photography. This is because both terms apply to the photography of small or tiny things. You use Macro photography to create a small subject looks large. Aside from making their zoom rings contradictory and several other mind-boggling contradictions, Canon cameras have macro lenses while Nikon cameras have micro lenses.