Best Macro Lenses For Nikon Cameras – 2019 Complete Review

Searching for the best macro lens for Nikon? This article can help.

Professional photography is a fascinating field that instills a sense of awareness in people about their surroundings and helps them become acquainted with their surroundings so they do not miss out on capturing that perfect moment.     

With the help of macro photography, you can not only explore the minuscule, but also descry what is not visible to the naked eye. But with the wide range of options available, how can you pick the best macro lens for your photography? Well, it will help to read the following information before making a decision.

Comparison of the Best Macro Lenses For Nikon Cameras

Product

Rating

Price

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm

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

Best Overall

Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8

Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP AF/MF 1:1 Macro Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras - International Version

Runner-up

Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8

Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens for Nikon DSLR Camera

Best for the Money

Nikon AF FX Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D

Nikon AF FX Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Best Nikon 200mm Macro Lens

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED Vibration Reduction Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Best Nikon 85mm Macro Lens

Nikon AF-S FX Micro-NIKKOR 2177 60mm

Nikon AF-S FX Micro-NIKKOR 2177 60mm f/2.8G ED Standard Macro Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Best Nikon 60mm Macro Lens

Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G

Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Close-up Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Best Nikon 40mm Macro Lens

What is a Macro Lens and What Does it Do?

The first and most misunderstood thing about a macro lens is that a macro is used to click close-up shots. Although macro pictures are shot a short distance away from the subject or object to be clicked, the thing that makes it macro is the magnification of the image.   

A macro lens provides life-sized magnification, 1: 1 or larger. The macro lens is ideal for clicking pictures of distinct and small insects, species, and various fauna and flora. It is also best for capturing architectural details like murals and intricate carvings.  

Macro lenses today are useful as short telephoto or standard prime lenses with considerably fast aperture ratings, thus making them perfect for portraiture, general photography, and still life. A focal length of about 90-105mm is considered ideal for macro photography, making it possible to get close to the subject you are shooting. If you choose a short focal length, it is possible for the lens to end up too close to the subject and cast a shadow over it. It can also scare away tiny wildlife or small bugs you are trying to photograph.

How Does a Macro Lens Work?

Macro lenses help to explore tiny worlds by shooting extreme close-up photos of minuscule objects such as water droplets, small flowers, or insects. Most photographers consider it a captivating branch of photography because it allows them to give an almost otherworldly perspective to the things you see every day.  

A macro lens is capable of high reproduction ratios, which means the ratio of the subject size on the sensor plane is greater or similar compared to the actual size of the subject in real life. They are available in various focal lengths. However, this type of photography is about extremely close focusing distances. Therefore, the best macro lenses are usually long-barreled and no shorter than 40 to 60mm.    

Focal Length of 45 to 65mm

This length is best for product photography. You can shoot small objects by getting very close to them and also capture scenes that need a natural background perspective.

90 to 105mm

This focal length is best for shooting flowers, plants, small animals, insects, and other small objects, as it allows you to shoot from a comfortable distance.

150 to 200mm

This focal length is best for shooting small insects and other small objects when you want to stay away from the subject while still maintaining focusing distance.

Variable Focal Length

This length is best for multipurpose macro shooting.

For the best macro photography, you should invest in lenses that have a fixed focal length. A macro lens is available in both prime and zoom varieties. However, if you want a 1:1 magnification, then a prime lens is the better choice. Although macro zooms are not truly macro, they still feature extremely close focusing distances and high magnification ratios.    

How to Choose a Macro Lens

Choosing a particular type of macro lens depends on your preference, the subject of your photography, your budget, etc. However, it is also better to keep the following things in mind:

Purpose

There are three types of the macro lenses, namely standard, short telephoto, and long telephoto. The standard macro lens has a focal length of 50mm, while the minimum focus distance for 1:1 magnification is almost 20cm. This type of lens is best if you want to take pictures of flat artwork, stamps, and jewelry.

A short telephoto lens has a focal length of 100mm with a minimum focus distance of about 30cm in order to achieve a magnification of 1:1. These lenses are a good choice for insects, flowers, and portraits, as well.

A long telephoto lens features a focal length of 150mm and longer, and is ideal if you want to capture pictures of venomous and dangerous species' like snakes, flies, or reptiles. They require a distance of about 50cm to achieve 1:1 magnification. 

Focal Length

The focal length is the distance between the plane of the image to be photographed and the optical center of the lens, which determines the level of magnification and angle of view. Primarily, longer focal lengths possess a stronger magnifying potential and boast a narrower angle of view. Shorter focal lengths, on the other hand, result in lower magnifying ability and a wider angle of view. Typically, the focal length of the lens is in direct proportion to its price, weight, and size.

Shorter focal lengths are usually lighter and cheaper, however, they force the photographer to get too close to the subject. Longer focal lengths, on the other hand, feature a more practical working distance, but come in a larger size at a higher price.

Macro camera lenses usually come with a fixed focal length. Photographers have the option to purchase a zoom macro lens, however, these lenses are normally of lower optical quality and are unable to achieve a 1:1 magnification ratio.

Working Distance

Working distance refers to the distance between the subject and the fore-end of your lens. The working distance of a lens, at a magnification ratio of 1:1, is at its smallest because you have to be close to the subject to achieve life-size magnification. A lens with a longer focal length allows a more comfortable working distance and vice versa. 

Quick Take - Best Macro Lenses For Nikon

Before we dive into our review, here are the best macro lenses for Nikon:

  1. Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm
  2. Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8
  3. Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8

Review of the Best Macro Lenses For Nikon Cameras

With so many models available today, selecting the best macro lens is no easy task. To help you choose a lens that perfectly suits your needs, the following are detailed reviews of some of the best macro Nikon lenses. So, read on and find the macro lens for you!

Best Overall and Best Nikon 105mm Macro Lens:
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm

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

PROS

  • Backed by a 5-year warranty
  • Weather-sealing ensures reliability, longevity, and durability
  • Lightweight and compact design makes the Nikkon an ideal travel companion
  • Innovative focusing mode allows users to switch from manual to automatic focusing with practically no lag time
  • Fast f/2.8 aperture and 105mm focal length enables photographers to capture incredible images with a shallow depth-of-field

CONS

  • The unit is a bit heavy
  • More expensive as compared to other models
  • Stabilization is fairly ineffective when taking close-ups

What Recent Buyers Report

Almost all the buyers loved the Nikon AF-S and stated that it captured incredibly sharp images. They were particularly impressed with the bokeh and found the focus to be quick. Users also reported that it enabled them to get incredibly close to the subject matter. However, customers were disappointed with the heavy weight, while some stated that it was unable to capture moving objects.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The second-longest lens designed by Nikon, the AF-S 105mm is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Image stabilization reduces camera shake, while the Silent Wave Motor technology makes the model completely silent while using auto-focus. It's further weatherproofed and even designed with a rubber grommet to prevent dust or moisture from getting inside the camera body.

Who Will Use This Most 

The Micro-NIKKOR is the perfect option for flower photographers, wedding photographers, and macro photography. It can also be used as a portrait lens, allowing you to avail any portraiture opportunity that might come your way when shooting macro out in the field.

Bottom Line

The first macro lens to ever include image stabilization, the Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR can be used with any full-frame and cropped-frame DX-format bodies. With a fast f/2.8 aperture and 105mm focal length, the unit enables photographers to capture stunningly sharp images with beautiful bokeh. However, the price and weight might be troubling for some.

Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP AF/MF 1:1 Macro Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras - International Version

PROS

  • Equipped with a 6-year manufacturer's warranty
  • 9 diaphragm blades provide an excellent foreground and background blur
  • A nearly complete lack of hunting ensures excellent, high-speed performance
  • Lightweight and compact design makes it incredibly easy to use for extended periods of time
  • Incorporated with an AF motor, the unit can be used with entry-level or cheaper Nikon DSLRs as well

CONS

  • Auto-focus mechanism is a bit noisy
  • Images have dark corners at wider apertures
  • Images have reduced contrast at smaller apertures

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of the buyers were impressed with the performance of the Tamron 90mm and stated that it resulted in an incredible rendition of colors and sharp images. They also loved its budget-friendly price and said that it focused quickly and precisely. However, users reported that the auto-focus motor made more noise than other models.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The build quality, image quality, and overall performance of the Tamron are simply spectacular. The unit handles and controls light better than other models, and has an incredible performance when compared to other telephoto lenses. It further has less linear distortion than typical for lenses at this particular focal length, ensuring sharp, stunning images.

Who Will Use This Most

The Tamron 90mm is the perfect option for enthusiasts and amateur photographers who want to start experimenting with macro photography of still objects, like flowers. With a focusing distance of 11.4", the unit enables users to shoot stunning life-size images of small subjects.

Bottom Line

A truly incredible lens at an extremely reasonable price, the Tamron 90mm is surely one of the best units available today. Designed with upgraded optics, an image stabilizer, improved coatings, and better auto-focus, this model is excellent for macro photography. However, the auto-focus mechanism is a bit noisy.

Best for the Money:
 Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8

Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens for Nikon DSLR Camera

PROS

  • 9-blade diaphragm creates an attractive, beautiful blur background effect
  • Super multi-layer coating significantly reduces ghosting and flare, ensuring high contrast images
  • Splash-proof design ensures durability and allows photographers to use the unit in harsh weather conditions
  • A high refractive index SLD lens and a special low dispersion lens deliver excellent correction for distortion and aberration
  • Hyper sonic motor provides high speed and quiet auto-focus, while featuring full-time manual focus capability, as well

CONS

  • The unit is not weather sealed
  • The models have strong vignetting
  • Focus ring is at a distance from the body

What Recent Buyers Report

Most people who invested in the Sigma were extremely happy with their purchase and stated that it was well worth the money. Users were particularly impressed with the hood and build quality, and were able to capture beautiful images with fast auto-focus. However, customers found it to be a bit heavy and large, while some reported receiving models that did not stay in focus.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Offering excellent value for money, the Sigma stands out to us because of the high-end features it comes with. The unit is innovatively designed with ultrasonic ring-type auto-focus for silent and fast auto-focusing, a focus distance scale, an incredibly efficient four-stop image stabilization, and a three-position auto-focus limiter switch that's capable of locking out both long and short sections of the entire range.

Who Will Use This Most

With a focusing position of 142mm, the Sigma 258306 is the perfect option for photographing subjects up-close, such as butterflies, flowers, and bugs. The unit can be also be used for sports photography or any other action scenes where continuous AF for a moving subject is needed.

Bottom Line

Delivering excellent image quality and performance, the Sigma 258306 is unbeatable when it comes to value for money. Designed with state-of-the-art features, the unit ensures stunning, high-contrast images. However, the lack of weather sealing might be troubling for some.

Best Nikon 200mm Macro Lens:
Nikon AF FX Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D

Nikon AF FX Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • The unit comes with a tripod collar
  • Manual focus ring is extremely easy to control and use
  • Capable of suppressing chromatic aberrations and distortion better
  • Close-range correction system ensures better focusing than other non-CRC enables models
  • 9 diaphragm blades and 4-stop optical stabilization capture incredibly sharp images with a beautiful bokeh

CONS

  • The model is incredibly heavy
  • More expensive than other models
  • Does not have an image stabilization mechanism

What Recent Buyers Report

Almost all people loved the Micro-NIKKOR, with one user even stating it was macro at its best. Customers found the auto-focus to be incredibly accurate, the manual focus to be extremely smooth, and the unit to be very comfortable and ergonomic. They also reported that it captured incredibly sharp images, even when the corners were wide open. Users loved the stand-off distance but felt that a Silent Wave Motor could be added.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Micro-NIKKOR 200mm particularly stands out to us because of its solid build. The high-quality construction enables users to shoot in a variety of environments, without worrying about any scratches, moisture, dents, or dust getting into the camera body or the lens. The unit further features a focal length of 48cm, enabling photographers to get incredibly close to their subjects.

Who Will Use This Most

Thanks to its incredible focal length, the unit can be used as a telephoto lens for wildlife and birding photography. It’s also the perfect option for professional macro photographers who want incredibly sharp images of insects. It can further be used for landscape photography and portraiture.

Bottom Line

The largest macro lens offered by Nikon, the Micro-NIKKOR 200mm has set the standard for sharp, professional, high-quality macro images. The optical features are incredibly hard to beat, the construction is durable, and the 200mm focal length makes the unit ideal for live subject and wildlife photography.

Best Nikon 85mm Macro Lens:
 Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED Vibration Reduction Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Silent Wave Motor ensures accurate, quiet, and fast auto-focus
  • 9-blade diaphragm creates a beautifully soft background effect
  • Minimizes chromatic aberrations, delivering superior color correction and sharpness
  • Delivers superior color consistency by enhancing light transmission and reducing flare
  • Focus mode switch enables users to change between auto-focus and manual operation quickly

CONS

  • Lacks sharpness at wider apertures
  • f/3.5 aperture is a bit narrower than typical models

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers were incredibly satisfied with their purchase and reported that it captured brilliant, sharp images with true colors. Users stated that auto-focus was silent and fast, with one user even stating it was one of the best lenses they had ever owned. While customers said it was easy to use, some reported that it sometimes failed to focus well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are numerous incredible features that make the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR stand out from the crowd. Firstly, its internal focusing system maintains the working distance through the entire range of the unit. Secondly, the vibration reduction feature ensures dramatically sharp images. Lastly, the super-integrated coating provides incredible color consistency by reducing flare and enhancing light transmission.

Who Will Use This Most

With a focal length of 130mm on a full-frame camera, the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR is the perfect option for both portrait and microphotography. The 85mm model can also be used for nature, close-ups, and general photography.

Bottom Line 

A truly incredible optic for close-up shooting, the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR certainly deserves a place on our list of top picks. Equipped with a nine-blade diaphragm and a Silent Wave Motor, the unit ensures brilliant, sharp images with beautiful bokeh. However, the Nikon lacks sharpness at wider apertures.

Best Nikon 60mm Macro Lens:
Nikon AF-S FX Micro-NIKKOR 2177 60mm

Nikon AF-S FX Micro-NIKKOR 2177 60mm f/2.8G ED Standard Macro Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Silent Wave Motor System ensures quiet auto-focus function
  • Better contrast and sharper colors help produce memorable shots
  • Constructed with nine rounded blades to ensure excellent bokeh quality
  • Super-integrated coating plus Nanocrystal take care of flares, as well as ghosting
  • Designed with twelve elements, which help suppress distortions as well as aberrations

CONS

  • Lens mount can be tight and abrasive

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers really enjoy photography with this lens. They are very satisfied with the high quality, and they find the price to be a bargain. The Nikon AF-S FX Micro-NIKKOR 2177 60mm macro lens produces very good sharpness, extremely low distortion, and excellent contrast and color. They also like its close focus ability, lightweight, build quality, and internal focus.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a popular macro lens from Nikon, as it designed with the best technologies Nikon currently offers. There is no other lens that offers so many features at such an economical price. It is very light, which makes it highly suitable for hand-held close-ups. The colors are bright and vivid, while the auto-focus is very accurate.

Who Will Use This Most

If you want to shoot extremely clear and detailed photos of water droplets, insects, or even want to try your hand at portraits, then this lens is for you. This is a compact and versatile lens capable of producing stunning sharpness with fantastic bokeh in a wide range of focus distances.

Bottom Line

When compared to its contemporaries, the Nikon AF-S FX Micro NIKKOR 2177 60mm macro lens produces much better results and boasts easier handling. It achieves high quality, sharp images, and can be used for more than just close-up shooting. Designed with ultra-quiet and ultra-fast auto-focusing performance, this lens features increased versatility. Its well-balanced and excellent construction makes it an outstanding product.

Best Nikon 40mm Macro Lens:
Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G

Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Close-up Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Low price fits all budgets
  • Three focus modes featuring auto-focus ride
  • Focus limiter switch helps increase auto-focus speed
  • Lightweight model which is easy to carry along on your nature trips
  • Close-range correction system enables each lens group to move independently to ensure superior performance

CONS

  • Auto-focus is not particularly good

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers simply love this lens. They are of the opinion that the 40mm is a great focal length for an all-purpose lens. It is a versatile lens that allows them to get closer to the subject than is possible with most other lenses. They recommend this lens for anyone who is interested in macro photography but doesn’t want to make the financial commitment needed for buying a more dedicated macro lens.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is an impressive lens available at an amazing price. Its fast auto-focus is very quiet and the bokeh on this lens is fantastic. This lens is a dream for portrait photography. It is the best macro lens when photographing babies, as it takes great close-ups. It is also a great option for macro street photography and portrait and wedding photography.

Who Will Use This Most

The Nikon AF-S DX MICRO-NIKKOR 40mm macro lens is ideal for beginner photographers, as it is not a big investment and is very easy to use. It takes beautiful images of insects, flowers, jewelry, tiny figurines, the skin of fruit, and other small objects showing plenty of detail. It is preferred by macro photographers, as it brings extra clarity to their chosen subjects. It is also used by wedding and portrait photographers. It also comes in handy when zooming in on tiny toes and fingers when composing baby portraits.

Bottom Line

The key to memorable macro photography is to let the colors, textures, and shapes of an object take over the scene, and the Nikon AF-S DX 40mm allows you to achieve just that with your compositions. If you want to capture interesting flora and fauna on your next hike or take memorable pictures of a newborn baby, then this is the lens for your Nikon camera.

Pros and Cons of Getting a Macro Lens

A macro lens is a fun and unique way to capture things that amaze you the most – whether it is the eye of an insect, the tiny toe of a baby, or the petal of a flower. In addition to providing high resolution and extra clarity, shooting with a macro lens has the following advantages:

Pros

Below are the main pros of getting a new macro lens:

Captures Minute Details

Macro lenses are able to capture the finest details, particularly those which are impossible to detect with the human eye. They are an excellent choice for detailed product shots or enticing food photography. Most macro lenses are designed with the auto-focus feature, which ensures clarity and sharpness in every composition.    

Perfect for Events

One of the places where a macro lens really thrives is at an event. As you are moving around, you can snap a photo of the speaker on the stage and turn around and get a shot of the buffet laid out on the table. If you are at a wedding, you can take a shot of the rings or other small details and then get back to covering the action happening 20 feet away.

From public ceremonies to small concerts, these lenses help you to cover all the important details without wasting time on changing the lens.   

Enjoy Stunning Portraits and Breathtaking Landscapes

A macro lens is highly versatile, which makes it perfect for everyday photography. From photos of breathtaking landscapes to flattering people shots, you can get brilliant results with this lens.

Cons

Although there are many advantages to a macro lens, there are also some disadvantages. Before buying a macro lens, it is better to take a look at them as well:

Expensive

One great disadvantage of the macro lens is the cost. Typically, they are an expensive accessory, and if you are not taking enough extreme close-ups to necessitate buying a dedicated lens, it may not be worth spending extra on a macro lens. You can try some cost-effective methods, such as extension tubes.

How to Use a Macro Lens

While a macro lens is used just like any other lens, there are some tips and tricks that can help you capture better, sharper, and more stunning close-ups. Some of these tips include:

Stillness

Stillness is an essential aspect when it comes to macro photography. Any movement or vibration, including a slight shake of the hand, can significantly degrade the sharpness of the captured image. Thus, it’s better to use a tripod when you’re shooting extreme close-ups.

Lens Aperture

The best macro photography can be achieved by using the smallest aperture to gain superior depth of field and image sharpness. A small aperture will need more light, so it’s essential that you increase the exposure time to capture a correctly exposed photograph.

Focus Stacking

Another way to extend the depth of field is to use focus stacking. This requires photographers to capture several images with the camera or the focus distance altered slightly after every shot. The resulting shots will then be merged together with a layer-based editing program, such as Adobe Photoshop.

Conclusion

Macro photography is very popular among photography enthusiasts, as it gives them the opportunity to showcase the beauty of a tiny world, which is rarely visible to the naked eye, a magical world where even the smallest detail becomes a surreal landscape. We hope that after reading the above reviews of some of the top macro lenses, you will be able to find one to help you get some of the most amazing shots.

People Also Ask

A good quality macro lens is a considerable investment. People like to research thoroughly and read online reviews before choosing a particular product. In addition to the above information about various macro lenses, their uses, and how to choose the best product, people also seek answers to the following questions:   

What is the Magnification on a True Macro Lens?

A true macro lens has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:1, which means the subject can be projected on the camera’s image sensor at full size. If the lens is close to the subject, a 10mm object will be reproduced onto the sensor as a 10mm image. Similarly, a magnification ratio of 1:2 means that the maximum size of the same 10mm object that could be reproduced on the screen would be 5mm, which means half its true size.     

What Makes a Lens Macro?

A macro lens is a special camera lens that is optimized optically to tackle extremely close focusing distances. This type of lens is able to handle sharp, highly detailed images of minuscule subjects. It usually has a minimum focusing distance of around 12 inches and a magnification ratio of 1:1. These lenses are also able to achieve high reproduction ratios.

Why Use a Macro Lens?

The macro lens gives us insight into a world much smaller than what we can typically see. It teaches us to appreciate the finer details in life and all the tiny things we casually pass by without acknowledging or even noticing.