The Best Macro Lens for Nikon – Our Favorite Picks and Reviews

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Macro photography can reveal some truly breathtaking scenes. With just a little know-how and the right equipment, anyone can start capturing the close-up world in all its glory. If you’re looking for the best macro lens for Nikon cameras, you’ve come to the right place.

This article is dedicated to all things macro and Nikon. We’ll explore how to make sure a lens will work with your camera, what to look out for when shopping, and how to make the most of your gear.

At Photography Focus, we want to make photography as accessible as possible. That starts with guides like these. Read on to up your macro photography game!

What is a Macro Lens?

It’s worth briefly touching on what the term ‘macro lens’ actually means. Many people think of macro as any image that captures a subject from close range. While this is certainly in the right ballpark, it’s something of an oversimplification.

A ‘true’ macro lens can deliver a reproduction ratio of 1:1. But what does this actually mean? In short, the 1:1 ratio means that a subject appearing on your camera’s sensor is the same size as in real life.

For example, if you took an image of a fly with a 1:1 setup and then printed a photo the same size as your camera’s sensor, the fly would be life-size in your printed photo.

All you really need to remember as a layperson is that macro lenses can keep subjects sharply in focus from a short distance. They make it easy to capture plants, insects, and other small subjects in all their glory.

How to Know if a Macro Lens Works With Nikon

When buying a new macro lens for your Nikon camera, it’s important to make sure that any model you consider will actually work with your existing gear. In this section, we’ll explore how to avoid disappointment when shopping.

Mount Type

The only thing you really need to worry about when shopping for lenses is mount type. When it comes to your Nikon, you’ll probably be using either a Z, E, or F-type mount for your lenses.

This information is usually printed clearly on the side of lenses and near the ring of the sensor on your camera’s body.

Check out this guide from Nikon if you’re still unsure.

Amazon Confirmed Fit

Another great way to get the peace of mind you need when shopping is to use Amazon’s handy Confirmed Fit feature. It’s designed to make sure you never buy an incompatible lens again.

Just choose ‘Nikon’ from the drop-down menu, enter your camera’s model number, and the built-in checker will let you know if the product will work for you!

Best Macro Lens for Nikon – Our Top Picks

Let’s get into it! This section contains some of our favorite Nikon macro lenses in 2021. In our opinion, they all represent fantastic value for money and deliver the performance and reliability you’ll need.

We’ve tried to find options for a variety of different use cases and price points, so there should be something for everyone here!

How We Make Product Recommendations

When looking for products to recommend on this site, we scour the internet for online reviews, product comparisons, and general customer reception. If it’s featured on this page, we genuinely believe it’s worth the money.

We consider the following when researching online:

  • Performance
  • Reliability
  • Price point
  • Durability
  • Compatibility
  • Consistency
  • Much more

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED Vibration Reduction Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

First up is this spectacular Nikon lens. One huge thing to consider when taking macro photos is the amount of camera shake you’re going to be dealing with. When shooting from such short distances, even a tiny amount of wobble can quickly distort your photos.

Fortunately, lenses like this one do a great job of tackling this issue. This lens features Nikon’s legendary vibration reduction technology. Other companies like Canon call this image stabilization; they both achieve the same results.

Your images should feature significantly less noise, blur, and other distortions. While we’re on the subject, you should definitely consider a decent tripod when taking macro photographs.

Something else that really stands out with this option is its autofocus performance. The whole point of a good macro lens is that it can keep subjects sharply focused at short ranges. This NIKKOR locks onto your scene very quickly and holds on tight.

All things considered, we think this is an excellent Nikon macro lens that should serve you very well for many years to come.

Pros:

  • Great vibration reduction
  • Excellent autofocus system
  • Reasonably priced considering the performance
  • Strong macro results

Cons:

  • It’s a little bulky

Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8 G IF ED VR Micro

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens

Next on the list is another AF-S lens from Nikon. Like similar lenses in this lineup, it’s been designed from day zero to deliver fantastic macro results much more consistently than less premium options on the market.

For razor sharp scenes, gorgeous image processing, and snappy auto settings, it’s hard to go wrong with this one. The fixed, 105mm focal length on this lens brings with it a whole host of options for your photographs.

This focusing distance is great for macro photography, but it’s also flexible enough to tackle much more than that. Portrait photography, outdoor scenes, and much more are all within your grasp here.

You’ll be working with a reasonably wide FOV that should have more than enough room for most people. Add this to Nikon’s excellent vibration reduction and anti-aberration features, and you’re looking at a seriously compelling package if you ask us.

With an asking price of less than $600, this one’s very reasonably priced.

Pros:

  • 105mm focal length is very versatile
  • Great macro results
  • Decent focusing features
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Can be a bit slow with moving subjects

Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Close-up Lens

Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Close-up Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Macro photography is an interesting category in the sense that many of the ‘cheaper’ options still deliver exceptional results. This NIKKOR lens is certainly a great example of this. With a price tag that’s comfortably under $300, you’d be forgiven for expecting this lens to deliver mediocre results.

The good news is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. This little shooter packs a whole lot of punch. It’s an absolute steal in our opinion. 9 lens elements work together in 7 groups to deliver the breathtaking macro results you need.

The fixed focusing distance of 40mm offers a reasonable amount of flexibility when working. You’ll be able to get super close for your macro subjects while maintaining great flexibility for other scenarios like portraiture.

One thing to mention is that vibration reduction isn’t quite as impressive on this lens when compared to the options listed above. However, the upshot here is that this lens is remarkably compact and lightweight. You won’t think twice about adding this thing to your kit bag for your next shoot.

Pros:

  • Very affordable at under $300
  • Still delivers great macro results
  • Versatile 40mm focal length

Cons:

  • Image stabilization is just ok

Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens

Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens for Nikon DSLR Camera

For many years now, Sigma has maintained a formidable reputation in the world of camera equipment, and for good reason. The company has an exemplary track record when it comes to delivering the results you deserve. This 105mm f2.8 macro lens is no exception.

The first thing to mention about this option is that it does things a little differently to other products on this page. As this is a telephoto macro lens, you’ll be standing much further away from your subjects than you might expect. In certain scenarios, this can be a very good thing.

The ability to zoom in and out on your scene can lend a wealth of versatility to your approach. Telephoto lenses are typically better for moving subjects, so you’ll also have a bit more wiggle room available in this regard.

One thing that the Sigma brand is known for is spectacular optical engineering. The design of lenses like this one is really quite something. A 9-blade diaphragm, hypersonic motor, and anti-aberration features all work in tandem to deliver exceptional results every time.

This is a very powerful lens in the right pair of hands.

Pros:

  • Versatile telephoto shooting
  • More forgiving for moving subjects
  • Signature Sigma performance

Cons:

  • The telephoto format won’t be for everyone

Tamron AFF017N700 SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro

Tamron AFF017N700 SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro for Nikon Cameras (Black)

This lens from Tamron would be a welcome addition to any macro photographer’s kit. It comes with great image stabilization, excellent versatility, and an overall build quality that puts some other brands to shame.

Issues like ghosting and flare can ruin photos in any shooting environment, but they can be especially noticeable with macro photography. The glass elements of this lens come with special coatings that are designed to dramatically reduce this kind of issue.

Your images should be distortion-free much more often when shooting with a lens like this. Another area where this product really shines is its weatherproofing. A lot of macro photography takes place outdoors in nature.

For this reason, it’s important to double-check the water and dust resistance of any model you pick up. Fortunately, this Tamron lens does a great job of standing up to the elements. It should serve you well for many years to come.

Pros:

  • Great build quality
  • Dramatically reduced aberrations and image noise
  • Excellent macro results
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Focus hunting can sometimes be an issue

Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra-Macro

Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra-Macro (Nikon F Mount)

If you’re looking for something that can get in super close and personal with your subjects, this option from Laowa is worth considering. It’s ideally suited for “shooting between 2.5X – 5X life size” and offers significantly more working distance than some other lenses.

For ultra close-up shots, great overall optical performance, and impressive versatility, this is the lens to go for. You know those breathtaking macro images that capture tiny subjects in impossible detail? This is the type of lens you need for these results.

It’s been built from the ground up with extreme close-up imaging in mind. This is worth remembering if you’re actually looking for something a little less ambitious in scope. Those who also want to take portrait shots may be better served elsewhere.

The price for this option regularly fluctuates between $300 and $500, so it’s worth checking back frequently to get the best deal. Provided you need extreme close-up results, this is an excellent choice in our opinion.

Pros:

  • Excellent for ultra macro photos
  • Strong optical performance
  • Works seamlessly with F-mount cameras

Cons:

  • Will be a little too extreme for some use cases

Things to Consider With Nikon Macro Lenses and Macro Shots

Camera lenses represent a significant investment no matter what kind of photographer you are. For this reason, it’s important to be as clued up as possible about what you’re looking for and how to find it.

In this section, we’ll run through some of the main things to consider when shopping for a new Nikon lens. A savvy shopper can save hundreds of dollars if they know where to look! Read on to learn more.

Compatibility

We touched on this higher up the page but it’s worth reiterating. It’s important to double-check the mount type used by any lens you consider. The last thing you want is to get home with a brand-new lens only to realize that it doesn’t even work with your gear!

Amazon Confirmed Fit is a great way to check compatibility. You’ll find it toward the top of most site listings for lenses and similar equipment. Just choose ‘Nikon’ from the drop-down box, enter your camera’s name, and you’ll get instant confirmation of compatibility.

Your Requirements

Another important factor to keep in mind is your individual needs as a photographer. The results you’re hoping to achieve with a new lens will determine the product that will work best for you. There’s no point in splashing out thousands of dollars on a lens that isn’t right for you.

Depending on your skill level, you might not even be able to fully take advantage of some pro-grade features. It all comes down to the type of macro photography you’re hoping to achieve. The clearer you are about what you expect from a Nikon macro lens, the easier it will be to find a product that fits your workflow.

Check out our macro photography guide for more info.

Lens Ratios

If all you care about is maintaining focus at a close distance, this one might not be an issue for you. However, those looking to produce true macro photographs should look for lenses that offer a 1:1 reproduction ratio.

This ratio is what you need to create macro images that are ‘macro’ in the truest sense. If a company doesn’t specifically mention a product’s ratio, it’s probably not a true macro product.

Image Stabilization

This is a big one that many newbies overlook. In practically all types of photography, camera shake can add significant amounts of blur and distortion to your scene. In macro photography, however, these distortions can be far more detrimental to your final results.

All of the Nikon lens options we’ve listed above come with at least adequate image stabilization (most of them go much further than adequate, though!). This will go a long way in keeping your images crisp, clear, and distortion-free.

Shadows

The close-up nature of macro photography means that shadows cast by the photographer are much more common. This is why it’s worth considering the focal length of your lens closely. Some photographers prefer telephoto macro setups that allow them to zoom in on their subject from a distance.

This can do a great job of reducing shadows. Others prefer ultra close-up lenses and simply work around issues like shadow casting. It all comes down to your preferences as a photographer!

Tripods

A tripod is practically a must-have purchase for lots of macro photography. The vast majority of camera shake comes from photographers shooting in handheld mode. A sturdy tripod base offers the consistent stability you need to eliminate noise from your final photograph.

We’ve got tons of tripod recommendations throughout this site – check them out.

Conclusion

The best macro lens for Nikon cameras is going to look a little different for everyone. Our main advice is to spend as much time as possible considering what you actually expect your new equipment to achieve for you.

The clearer you are about your requirements, the easier it will be to find a product that’s perfect for you. Whichever lens you go for, we hope it serves you well!