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best macro lens for canon

What Is The Best Macro Lens For Canon Cameras?

Macro lenses are used for close-up photography. They allow you to get closer to your subject without having to use a wide-angle lens. The problem with using macro lenses is that they tend to be quite expensive.

If you want to buy a macro lens for your Canon camera, there are many options out there. However, not all of them are created equal. Some of these lenses are designed specifically for DSLR cameras while others are made for their newer mirrorless cameras.

In this article, I will give you a clear overview of which are the best macro lenses for Canon cameras and offer guidance to help you choose exactly which macro lens is right for your needs and budget.


Top 3 Macro Lenses For Canon DSLR Cameras

Best Overall Macro Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM lens

Canon EF 100mm F:2.8L Macro Lens

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM lens is the best macro lens for Canon EOS DSLR cameras overall. This is the only macro lens that falls within the Canon L series lenses which are professional level lenses for photographers and videographers alike.

This model offers a maximum aperture of f 2.8, which allows you to shoot in low light without having to use a flash or increase your ISO sensitivity too much. The maximum magnification ratio is 1:1 and it has an adjustable focus ring on its barrel that makes focusing easier than with some other lenses.

Featuring integrated Image Stabilization, this technology allows you to blur out camera shake when shooting at slower shutter speeds. Its minimum focusing distance is less than a foot at just 11.8 inches making it great for close-up photography.

Priced at $1,299, this isn't going to be a good budget lens although it is the most commonly used macro lens for professional Canon DSLR shooters. It is also a common choice for video shooters to capture close-ups for projects like weddings, films, and commercials.  

This lens also uses a ring-type USM to ensure quiet, fast, and precise autofocus. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM is a rugged lens and one of the most popular macro choices for Canon shooters.


Best Budget Macro Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens

Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM Lens

The younger sibling to the L version mentioned above, the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens is the best Canon macro lens for the budget crowd offering similar optical performance to the L series with fewer features.

If you are interested in spending the least amount of money possible and don't need as much zoom as the L version above, then you might consider the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens.

While this lens does not have as many bells and whistles as the previous one, it still performs very well under most circumstances. It offers similar image quality on a much smaller scale.

The main drawback is that it doesn't have any optical stabilization, but it is lighter and more compact than the 100mm f/2.8L IS USM model. This means you'll likely only want to shoot with this particular Canon macro lens on a tripod or handheld in very brightly lit conditions.

In terms of a budget option, this standard EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM version is likely your best bet as it is dramatically less expensive than the L version and providers a good balance between weight, size, and features. Check out our full review of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens.


Alternate Budget Macro Lens: Tokina ATX-i 100mm f/2.8 FF Macro Lens for Canon EF

Tokina ATX i 100mm f2.8 FF Macro Lens for Canon EF

The Tokina ATX-i 100mm f/2.8 FF Macro Lens for Canon EF offers close-up photography capabilities in a lightweight and compact form factor that is much less expensive than the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM version.

The maximum magnification ratio is one to one, but there are no image stabilization features or focus range limiter switch like the more expensive lens.

It still has a multilayer coating to help reduce lens flare and ghosting in high-contrast lighting and uses a flat field optical design for sharp imagery in all ranges of focus, along with hard stops at the end of the focusing range.

It has a minimum focusing distance of 11.8″, a maximum magnification ratio of 1:1, and an autofocus range limiter switch.

This Tokina offers 1:1 life-size reproduction, has a nine-blade diaphragm for smoother bokeh, and is designed with internal silent focusing mechanics to enable full-time manual focus override.


Top 3 Macro Lenses For Canon Mirrorless Cameras

Editor's Choice: Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens

Canon RF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM Lens

The Canon EOS R 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens is a medium telephoto macro lens that offers a life-size magnification of 1.4x to allow you to work with small subjects from close distances.

It features an optical image stabilizer for camera shake correction, as well as Hybrid image stabilization that provides up to 8 stops of shake correction when paired with the Optical Image Stabilizer and In-Body Image Stabilizer.

The Super Spectra coating minimizes ghosting and flare when shooting in strong lighting conditions, and the spherical aberration control ring allows for adjustments to the shape and character of the resulting bokeh.

This Canon EOS R 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens is also sealed against dust and moisture for working in less-than-ideal environmental conditions, and it includes a rotatable tripod collar that benefits working with the lens atop a tripod or monopod.


Budget Option: Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM Lens

Canon RF 85mm f2 Macro IS STM Lens

The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a specialized lens designed to be used with Canon's RF full-frame mirrorless cameras. Both portrait and close up photography would benefit from the short-telephoto field of view and the macro design.

The lens has a bright maximum aperture of f/2, which is excellent for low light and also helps create beautiful bokeh by allowing the photographer to create a shallow depth of field.

It has a Hybrid IS mode for compensating for angular and shift-type camera movements in close-up shooting, as well as an Optical Image Stabilizer to enhance image stability by up to five stops.

You may manually control aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation from the lens itself with a configurable control ring. The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a versatile lens that can be used on a variety of subjects and comes at an affordable price point.


Alternate Budget Option: Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens

Canon RF 35mm f1.8 IS Macro STM Lens

The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a specialized lens designed to be used with Canon's RF full-frame mirrorless cameras. Both portrait and close up photography would benefit from the short-telephoto field of view and the macro design.

The lens has a bright maximum aperture of f/2, which is excellent for low light and also helps create beautiful bokeh by allowing the photographer to create a shallow depth of field.

It has a Hybrid IS mode for compensating for angular and shift-type camera movements in close-up shooting, as well as an Optical Image Stabilizer to enhance image stability by up to five stops.

You may manually control aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation from the lens itself with a configurable control ring. The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a versatile lens that can be used on a variety of subjects and comes at an affordable price point.


How to Know if My Canon Camera Needs an EF or RF Macro Lens?

For those who might not be the most advanced camera users, but still want to get into macro photography, you'll be wanting to make sure you buy the right Canon macro lens that fits your camera model.

The Canon macro lenses with an EF mount work with their DSLR camera bodies which we list below:

The Canon macro lenses with an EF mount work with their newer mirrorless camera bodies are listed below:

wdt_ID Canon EOS R
1 Canon R
2 Canon RP
3 Canon Ra
4 Canon R5
5 Canon R6
6 Canon R3

However, it is important to note that Canon's EF lenses which were originally designed for Canons line of EOS DSLR cameras, but these DSLR designed lenses can be adapted to their new mirrorless RF cameras via an additional EF-EOS R Mount Adapter which starts at just $99.

Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

Canon Mount Adapter EF EOS R

Unfortunately, you cannot do the reverse and use a Canon RF Macro lense on one of their EOS DSLR camera bodies. Since the RF series is mirrorless, the RF lenses (macro or not) sit much closer to the camera sensor as there is no mirror box to get in the way as it does on Canon's standard DSLR bodies. This physical limitation means you can't use a Canon macro lens designed for their mirrorless camera on any of their DSLR camera bodies.


What Are Good Uses For Macro Lenses?

There are a lot of strengths in both photography and video shooting when it comes to using a macro lens. Here are some of the best Canon macro lens uses:

macro photography lizard

Macro Photography & Close Ups

Perhaps the best use for a macro lens is using it to take close shots of small objects. This allows you to shoot macro photos of common objects including insects, flowers, food and drinks, and more while capturing all of the beautiful details. Product photography is also a huge opportunity for macro lens use whether it be for an e-commerce store, upcoming brand, or even a jeweler looking to showcase their latest ring or watch in the best light.

Thanks to solid auto focus capabilities and optical stabilization, the best macro lens models for Canon cameras will allow you to capture the moment quickly and easily without disturbing your subject or messing up the final result due to a blurred image.

Portrait Headshot photography

Portraits & Headshots

As I mentioned earlier, this is another common area where you'll see a macro lens being used as a primary portrait lens for photographers who specialize in portrait photography or shoot professional headshots (for LinkedIn, company media, etc.). Since the best macro lens is usually ultra-sharp and typically offers a maximum aperture of f 2.8 or lower, it makes for a suitable portrait lens with close focus capabilities all while giving you a nice blurred background with beautiful bokeh.

Landscape photography

Landscape Photography

Another area where a sharp macro lens offers value is for carrying out landscape photography. A macro photography lens usually will carry its sharpness throughout the entirety of the lens and not just in the center like with some other sharp lenses. Using a versatile macro lens also allows you to quickly shift subjects from a scenic mountain range to a close-up of a flower or butterfly without the need to swap lenses on the fly.

Astrophotography

Astrophotography

Most people wouldn't relate a lens that is focused on producing close-up, life size reproductions of tiny subjects such as in macro photography with similar usage for astrophotography.

However, the flat field of the lens elements allows for it to be sharp from corner to corner resulting in better overall image quality which is a crucial aspect for astrophotography. This is similar to what they use in telescopes with their field flattener.


What to Look for When Choosing to Buy Canon Macro Lenses

When scouring the market for all the various Canon macro lenses, there are some particular features and specifications that you'll want to consider if you plan to do a lot of macro photography.

Focal length

For macro photography, a longer focal length is more ideal so it is easy to get close to your subject for a more detailed image. While there are exceptions, you'll likely want a macro lens with a focal length somewhere between 50mm and 100mm. You

The focal length also comes to play depending on what Canon camera body that you are shooting on in terms of the field of view. On full frame cameras (which tend to be the more expensive, professional-level models), you'll have significantly more of the subject and the surrounding areas in the frame than on one of Canon's crop sensor cameras with an APS-C sensor standing at the same distance (which means you may need to take a few steps closer).

As you can see from the above recommendation list, 100mm telephoto lenses seem to be the sweet spot from a manufacturer's standpoint when it comes to producing macro lenses for Canon cameras. Given high image quality from a 100mm telephoto lens, a reliable macro lens tends to also be great for portrait photography along with macro shooting.

Some full frame camera users especially those shooting wildlife or subjects that require close-ups without disturbance may prefer a long macro lens like Canon's EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM. One this large isn't ideal for walkaround macro photography, but it is great for insect macro photography in particular.

A dedicated macro lens will only exist at a fixed focal length. You won't find a true macro lens that is also a zoom lens offering a variable focal length because the only lenses that can achieve a true 1:1 magnification ratio without special accessories or attachments is a fixed focal length lens.

Sharpness

Arguably the most important quality of a good macro lens is sharpness which happens to come off as the highest factor of overall image quality to the untrained eye. How sharp the detail is in macro photography whether the subject be an insect, texture, flower or anything else that holds a lot of fine detail can make or break the photo.

The best canon macro lenses will offer excellent image quality with crisp detail in all facets of the image offering no softness in the center or at the corners of the frame. A good macro lens will offer accurate contrast and color reproduction, but this is something that can easily be edited in post-production.

Aperture

The aperture refers to the hole in the front of your camera lens that lets light through to create the resulting image. This hole can be adjusted across the given aperture range to let more or less light in which also affects the depth of field.

A lower aperture will allow for more light to hit the sensor which is great for low-light situations, but it also means that your depth of field will be very shallow. This can be helpful in creating a nice bokeh effect with blurred background color especially when coupled with the longer focal length, but it isn't ideal if you are trying to get as much detail out of your subject as possible without losing focus on certain parts of it.

The widest aperture on the best canon macro lenses tends to be f/2.8 which means that they will let twice as much light in than other lenses with a maximum aperture of f/4. Most Canon macro lenses will offer an aperture of at least f/2.8 which is particularly useful for shooting in low-light conditions without having to resort to external lighting sources or bumping up the ISO setting.

Auto focus

Most full frame Canon cameras (and APS-C models too) offer stellar auto focus capabilities at this point which can be crucial to capture macro images of small subjects that aren't always stationary such as insects. If you choose a USM macro lens, it will offer an ultra-sonic motor that provides quiet and efficient autofocusing speeds across all distances.

If you are shooting video on a moving subject with a macro lens, the long focus throw which allows the lens to focus from far away up to very close distances may become an issue in the time required for auto focusing. Most of these lenses will let you toggle from a full and reduced focus range to achieve faster auto focusing in non-macro environments.

Manual Focus Ring

When shooting a stationary subject especially when coupled with a mounting accessory such as a tripod, you probably won't need to rely on auto focus as manual focusing will allow you to score the sharpest resulting image quality.

Keep in mind, some Canon lenses offer a fly-by-wire manual focusing ring which isn't as ideal for pulling focus, especially in a video setting as it has focus “jumps” as you turn the manual focus ring and it isn't one smooth transition.

The focus throw of most macro lenses offers you the ability to manually focus from infinity all the way down to just a fraction of an inch which makes for precise focus adjustments hence why a good macro lens will help you nail focus on a tiny subject.

Image Stabilization

With macro photography being so focused on close-up, high detail imagery, ensuring there is no camera shake in the resulting image is crucial. The best macro lens models will offer built-in image stabilization over a longer focal length which is meant to help you achieve the smoothest resulting photos when handheld regardless of shooting at slower shutter speeds.

Beyond its use for shooting macro photos, image stabilization can also be helpful when shooting video. Having image stabilization on a dedicated macro lens will offer the chance to capture more pleasing video when handheld and help smooth out any jittery movement when using a gimbal.

In some cases such as with Canon's R series of mirrorless cameras, you'll be able to couple the built-in image stabilization from the macro lens with the camera body's built-in image-stabilized sensor to make for the best image quality in shaky situations.

Build Quality & Weatherproofing

A quality, professional-grade lens for Canon whether macro-focused or not should offer a rugged build quality that is meant to last many years of consistent use. Along with this durable build quality is weatherproofing which can help ensure that your lens is adequately protected from all but the harshest environments.

A weather-proofing construction will have a rubber seal around the mount of the camera which offers extra protection against wet conditions and even some splashes. Canon's professional-grade macro lenses will also offer a fluorine coating that helps to repel water, dust, and other debris from entering the lens elements.


Why Aren't There More Third-Party Macro Lenses Listed Here?

Our recommendations within this guide may seem biased towards the Canon brand macro lenses and that is understandable thought. There are a ton of good third-party lenses for Canon cameras from the likes of Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, and more. However, when it comes to the best macro lenses for Canon cameras, these third-party manufacturers aren't putting a heavy emphasis on releasing a lot of Canon lenses geared towards macro photography.

This could be for a few possible reasons:

  1. Canon already offers the best macro lenses on the market and it is a costly endeavor to try to compete with the photography giant when they have significantly more resources than these third-party manufacturers.
  2. Sigma and Tamron have released older EF mount macro lenses in the past (within the last decade) which never performed too well in terms of sales and optically were didn't offer as superb image quality as the equivalent Canon macro lens.
  3. Given that Canon offers macro lenses across most of the common price points, these third-party lens manufacturers don't have much of a competitive advantage when it comes to undercutting the pricing of a Canon lens.

We'd particularly love to see a Sigma macro lens, preferably as part of their ART series as we think the quality and performance of that Sigma lens line would transfer over greatly for a macro option. However, it seems many of these third-party manufacturers just aren't focused on producing dedicated macro lenses at this time for whatever reason they may have.


Final Verdict

In the end, there are several good macro lenses for Canon shooters so it all comes down to your own personal needs and budget. We believe the best Canon macro lens for DSLR users is the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM lens and the best macro lens for Canon mirrorless owners is Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens.

The most important thing is that you're able to capture some great macro photos with whatever tools are at your disposal. For that, we hope this guide has provided the best information possible so you can pick the best macro lens for Canon cameras based on your budget and needs!