Macro lenses are for taking extremely clear, close-up detailed images. If you’re attempting to capture fingerprints, for example, or the veins on a tree leaf, you’ll want a macro lens. Nikon actually refers to the Nikkor macro line as “micro,” so know that if you’re looking to get into macro photography and shoot on a Nikon, the terms are interchangeable. Here’s our roundup of the best macro lenses compatible with a Nikon DSLR camera body.
Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G AF-S DX ED VR Micro
This lens is a relatively fast one, meaning that though it performs well when it comes to true macro photography, it’s also useable in low light or portrait situations.
• Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization
• Nikon Silent Wave Motor enables high speed focusing that’s silent so as not to scare subject (especially important in nature photography)
• Shallow depth of field measures in fractions of centimeters
• Not compatible with FX mount
• LED ring light can be too bright for subjects in low-light setting
• Lens is made primarily of plastic, can feel cheap
Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G AF-S DX Micro
All Nikon crop-sensor cameras have a 1.5x focal length multiplier. This means that a 40mm lens can operate on a Nikon body to 60mm, which is a relatively standard shooting range for any type of photography. This 40mm lens shoots well in several varied situations, making it a good addition to your kit no matter your preferred type of photography.
• One of the less expensive Nikkor micro line
• Close-range correction system (CRC)
• Autofocus option to 6.4 inches
• Has limiter switch to toggle between macro function and regular (speeds up autofocus in non-macro situations)
• Indoor shots difficult to focus
• Doesn’t perform as well in low light situations; need to purchase ring light
• Autofocus doesn’t always find mark
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
The first non-Nikkor lens to make the list is compatible with Nikon’s mount and is known for its ability to capture true 1:1 size imaging as far away as 12.3 inches. Compared to the Nikkor line it’s relatively inexpensive, and so a good starter macro lens if you’re just beginning this type of photography.
• Option of full-time manual override in Single Autofocus mode so you don’t have to toggle back and forth if you want to tinker with focal point
• Lens comes with hood adapter and hood
• Image stabilization option functions well
• Autofocus is slower than Nikkor lenses, doesn’t hit mark in low light
• Heavier than competing brands
Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G AF-S ED
This lens works on both FX and DX mount Nikon bodies, so no matter what Nikon camera you’re using (or switch to during your photography career) this is a lens that can grow with you.
• True 1:1 image reproduction, allows you to capture what you actually see
• Silent Wave Motor technology for super quiet autofocusing
• Does not extend when focusing (great for nature photography)
• Nano-crystal glass coating for super sharp imaging capability
• No Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization
• Doesn’t produce great non-macro images
• Need 7.2-inch minimum focusing length—must be able to get close to subject
Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro
If you have a relatively cheap camera body with a small sensor, this is a great macro lens to help bring your image quality way up. It’s another good lens for a beginner macro photographer, as it’s a great portrait lens as well.
• Smallest lens in Sigma product lineup (lightweight and easy to travel with)
• Super Multi Coating helps to reduce lens flare, even on cheap DSLR body
• Takes great non-macro images
• Works well in low light situations
• Autofocus doesn’t always hit mark—slow focusing
• Manual focus tends to slip from image