Anyone who likes to photograph details and gimmicky can’t be without a macro lens. But this type of accessory has different specifications, which can cause some confusion at the time of purchase. If you have any questions about the macro lens, welcome.
In today’s article, we’ll help you identify the best macro lens and analyze the focal length, aperture, and type of focus you need.
First, the most important
- With the macro lens, you can maintain focus to shoot up close and capture details from insects and flowers to the texture of fabrics and objects.
- There are some variations of macro lenses for sale, so it is important to review the technical data sheet before purchasing yours.
- Also be sure to check the lens compatibility with your camera.
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Best Macro Lenses: Our Recommendations
To help you in your search for the ideal macro lens, we’ll show you a selection of the best models below. Check out:
Buying guide: everything you need to know about the macro lens
What is the macro lens for?
Photographing a butterfly, a snail, a flower, capturing the texture of a fabric or the ingredients of a gastronomic recipe, or even the details that define the pupil of the human eye.
To be able to take pictures like this, without losing focus and still ensuring sharp shapes and colors, you need a macro lens attached to your camera.
Macrophotography is a photographic style that captures small objects and animals, often incapable of being seen with the naked eye.
The idea is to show the details and, therefore, the macro lens is designed to focus at short distances, in full scale. Some models, however, manage to photograph causing an increase of up to 10 times the natural size.
However, there is no single macro lens. Manufacturers offer several options that allow you to diversify the focus range, among other factors that will make a difference in the image.
What is the focal length of the macro lens?
Focal length is, in fact, the most important aspect of a macro lens. To achieve focus and sharpness in images photographed at short distances, this accessory needs to have a shorter focal length compared to other types of lenses.
So it’s not uncommon that, when taking a picture of an insect, for example, you notice that only part of the antenna was in focus while the rest of the image was out of focus.
After all, in general, the macro lens has a focal length that varies between 40 and 200mm. The difference between them is the minimum distance you need to stay from the object to be photographed to achieve focus with 1:1 magnification, in natural scale.
Thus, a macro 150mm macro lens is most recommended for shooting butterflies and dragonflies. After all, with it, you’ll be able to keep a certain distance and not scare away the insects.
A 50mm macro lens, on the other hand, allows you to take a close-up shot of insects that don’t get scared so easily, as well as flowers and foliage.
Is the macro lens compatible with any camera?
This is another very important topic that you need to be aware of when buying your best macro lens. That’s because not all lenses can be used on any make or model of still camera .
So if you already have a camera, you need to buy a macro lens that is compatible with it. So be sure to check this information with the manufacturer.
But when in doubt, you’ll also have the option of purchasing a universal macro lens. This model is usually compatible with most cameras available on the market.
Did you know that there are also lenses for smartphones ?
Today there are already cell phones that come with a macro lens or have the “macro mode”, a software feature that allows this type of photography.
However, you can also purchase an external lens to attach to the device. With the smartphone’s macro lens, you can shoot from a distance of at least two inches.
How to use a macro lens?
To ensure macro photography you need to know how to use the macro lens. For starters, a good tip is to always highlight the main object of the photo. For this, in addition to using the lens features, you can, for example, choose a simple, neutral background.
A green background, without too many details, will highlight the ladybird or flower. While a white plate on a neutral colored table will also help make the recipe the star of the photo.
Furthermore, according to experts, the ideal is to shoot with the macro lens in bright, open environments. Otherwise, you can use an external macro circular flash as well.
In the table below, you can find other tips for using the macro lens and getting a perfect shot.Tips on how to make better use of the macro lens
|Focus||Ideally, the focus is adjusted manually, so you can better control the details you want to highlight|
|Diaphragm||To increase image sharpness, place the camera in aperture-priority mode, with a narrower aperture to reduce the focus area.|
|Tripod||Camera stability is critical to capturing details clearly. Therefore, use a tripod to avoid interfering with focus and zoom accuracy.|
|Light||The use of flash is essential to capture the particularities of an insect or a flower, but prefer a dedicated flash|
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Purchasing Criteria: What to Consider When Comparing Macro Lens Types
It is not enough to choose the focal length of the macro lens well and make sure that the lens is compatible with your camera. You must consider other factors that can make all the difference when using this accessory. Therefore, we recommend that you consider the following criteria when purchasing your macro lens:
- Diaphragm opening
- Focus type
- Zoom or fixed
- Size and weight
The letter “f” followed by a number refers to the maximum aperture that the macro lens will reach. The smaller this indication, the more open the lens diaphragm will be.
So an f/3.5 lens, for example, has a larger aperture than an f/2.8 lens. With this, it will be able to capture clearer photos, even in dark environments, without compromising image quality.
We’ve seen that the ideal for using a macro lens is for the photographer to manually adjust the focus. In this way, the possibilities to create unique and higher quality images are greater.
However, it is also possible to get good images of detail with autofocus, although this requires more experience from the photographer. With that in mind, it is important to analyze the technical settings of the lens if it has both focus options, automatic and manual.
Zoom or fixed
You might find zoomed macro lens ads. This is an unfair sellers’ strategy to make you believe that the lens can focus at close range.
But the truth is, there is no macro zoom lens. As we have seen, macro lenses have a fixed focal length, which can vary between 40mm and 200mm.
Size and weight
No less important than the criteria we saw above is the size and weight of the macro lens.
As a professional or amateur photographer, you need to take into account that you will be charging and holding the camera, batteries, flash, tripod , macro lens and perhaps other types of lens for a certain period of time.
Hence the importance of carefully analyzing the weight and size of the lens, to ensure an appropriate case to carry it.
Shoot the smallest details that cannot be seen clearly with the naked eye. That’s exactly what a macro lens is capable of when attached to a camera. However, you need to make sure that the lens is compatible with the make and models of your camera.
Also, to buy the best macro lens, and ensure that it will suit you, you should choose the focal length, maximum aperture, and type of focusing system that vary from model to model. Be sure to also consider the dimensions and weight of the macro lens when choosing the best option.