Macro lenses are a great tool to have in your camera bag as they open up a wealth of creative and close-up photography you just can’t capture as well with other lenses.
At ePHOTOzine, we’ve reviewed a lot of lenses and quite a few of these are for Canon users who want to capture macro/close-up photography so we thought it was about time we counted down the best ones we’ve taken a look at so you can make a more informed decision when making your next purchase. On the list are third-party as well as Canon-branded lenses so there are plenty to pick from.
It’s also worth noting that any lens on this list that sits between 50-135mm will also make a great portrait lens so you get a bit of a ‘Brucie Bonus’ with them.
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1. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD
The Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD builds on the reputation of its predecessors and definitely coming up to the mark. This one takes performance to a new peak and is very comfortable to use. Overall, it is an outstanding macro lens ideal for all short telephoto applications.
2. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens
The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM features optical image stabilisation, life-size magnification, and weather-sealed construction. The EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS features an ultrasonic motor and scored well in our review.
3. Sigma APO Macro 180mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Lens
The Sigma APO Macro 180mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens offers life-size magnification with a fast f/2.8 aperture, along with optical image stabilisation to help keep shots steady. The long telephoto reach means you can get close-up shots without having to go too close to the subject, which should mean you can avoid disturbing or scaring any bugs or wildlife.
4. Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro
It has bulk. It has a high price but it has the features. In other words, another of those situations where the feature set and quality are not in question but the price will limit the market to those who really need this as a working tool. It would be very nice indeed to own, but it does need to pay its way, as well as needing a high degree of photographic skill to get the best out of its potential.
Given the need and the cash, the photographer will certainly not be disappointed in the results from the Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro lens.
5. Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro
Some lenses gel straight away, others grow on us and this one grows on us very quickly as the new possibilities of mixing a 90mm lens with macro and tilt and shift start to fire the imagination.
This is a specialised optic that would be delightful to own, but at the price level will probably be for professional photographers with particular applications clear in their minds. It will be a workhorse and it will earn money.
In the general marketplace it is expensive, but if it’s affordable then it will not disappoint. Canon is to be congratulated for producing such a wide range of specialist tilt/shift lenses that break new ground and push back the boundaries of creativity.
6. Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art
Sigma has provided a well made, solid macro lens that delivers very impressive image quality. It operates flawlessly, albeit it with slightly slower than average AF, but proves an excellent overall match for the Canon EOS 5DS R.
The 70mm focal length is a good compromise for the full frame bodies. For APS-C cameras the “35mm format equivalent” would be 112mm for Canon. This means that a 50mm macro might be a better choice for APS-C if the user wanted a similar field of view to the one this lens offers in full frame.
However, in summary, the new Sigma lens offers all the right things in terms of handling and quality and is well worth considering as an alternative to the more common focal lengths.
Overall, this is an excellent all-purpose macro lens at a fair price.
7. Canon TS-E 135mm f/4L Macro
The Canon range of tilt and shift lenses is unique and impressive, and without a doubt, if there is a commercial need for what they offer then they will be purchased for that purpose and the price will be acceptable. The fact that it is a macro lens as well as a tilt and shift lens is a very powerful combination.
The Canon TS-E 135mm f/4L Macro is a beautiful lens and has the potential to produce beautiful and unique results, but for an amateur purchase, we would need deep pockets. However, for some, it might be a possibility and it would be a very desirable lens to own.
8. Meike 85mm f/2.8 Macro
As a general purpose short telephoto for portraits, landscapes, etc., it may be that the loss of AF will be an inconvenience. However, in the arena of macro shooting, this lens comes into its own, being what it is clearly designed for. Very often MF is the method of choice for macro shooting anyway. All the accuracy of the focusing is concentrated in the macro range and the image snaps clearly into focus in the viewfinder or on the monitor screen.
The Meike 85mm f/2.8 Macro lens is a well made, well-priced lens that will do the job efficiently and to an excellent standard.
9. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro VC USD
With this new 90mm Macro optic, Tamron has brought their 90mm up to date with the latest technology by incorporating Vibration Compensation, silent internal focusing with full-time manual override, moisture sealed construction and newly developed lens coatings to help suppress ghosting and flare. It sports a completely new optical design which uses two ELD (Extra Low Dispersion) elements and one LD (Low Dispersion) element and is available in a number of different lens mounts.
10. Samyang 100mm f/2.8 ED UMC
This 100mm manual focus telephoto macro lens offers a fast f/2.8 maximum and life-size magnification at its closest focus distance. The manual focus Samyang 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens is available for a wide variety of lens mounts and has an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/32.