The 3 Best Macro Lenses in 2021

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Photo of the best macro lenses

Anyone who has shot macro photography knows how much fun and rewarding it can be. Getting extreme close-ups of cute tiny critters such as insects or minute detail of flowers, leaves and greenery is a great way to experience nature visually.

And one of the best things about macro photography is you don’t need a ton of experience to start capturing amazing close-up photos right away. It does help, however, to have a quality macro photography lens.

In this gear guide to macro photography, we pick our three favorite new macro lenses in our Good, Better, Best format. Which macro lens is right for you could depend on your budget and which type of camera you’re using so we’ve chosen three optics for close-ups in a range of prices from three different brands.

If you want to sharpen up your macro photography skills, check out our comprehensive tutorials on how to become a better macro photographer today.  

Editor’s Note: Good, Better, Best is a product guide series on Digital Photo where we suggest three buying options for our favorite photo gear. A product qualifies as “Good,” if it’s affordable yet still offers decent quality for the price. “Better” means it’s a solid medium-tier choice that we think will appeal to most photographers both on features and price. “Best” are top-tier photography products that offer the pinnacle in quality but also the highest price.  See our Good Better Best guides to the best cameras for beginners here, the top camera backpacks here, the top superzoom cameras here, the top budget flashes here, and the top ring lights here.

GOOD: Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8

Photo of the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 macro lens

Photographers who use Nikon’s Z-series mirrorless cameras got their first two true native macro lenses earlier this year: the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S and Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8. While the 105mm lens is a nice high-end option, we recommend the Z MC 50mm f/2.8 ($596) because it’s the more compact and affordable of the two. Offering life-size 1:1 magnification and with the ability to focus as closely as 6.3 inches, this 50mm f/2.8 will produce true-to-life macro images of wildlife, nature, and objects. Meanwhile, the lens’ large f/2.8 aperture with its rounded, nine-blade diaphragm creates a shallow depth of field and attractive background blur (aka bokeh) to draw attention to your subject. That fast maximum aperture will also let you capture brighter macros in low light conditions while generating faster shutter speeds for sharper shots. The lens’ stepping motors and focus limiter switch help the 50mm f/2.8 deliver fast and reliable autofocus when shooting photos or videos in the field. There’s also a fluorine-coated front element that repels dirt and prevents smudging, as well as a dust and drip resistant build, making this a rugged macro lens for outdoor use and travel.

Check the price of the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 at B&H and at Amazon

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