7 Best Canon Macro Lenses (Updated for 2018)

A macro lens allows a photographer to get up close to minute and interesting details. Unlike regular lenses, macro lenses can focus at a very close range with greater clarity. There are few limits to what you can capture as a macro photographer. Some of the most popular objects to photograph are insects, flowers, and food. This guide will give you everything you need to know about some of the best Canon macro lenses for 2018, their key specifications, and some buying considerations. We’ll also give you a simple buying guide for macro lenses.Canon Macro Lenses

Best Canon Macro Lenses

1. Canon 50mm f/2.5 EF Macro

Why it’s great:

  • Excellent lens for beginners.
  • 1:2 close focus and 1:1 with dedicated optical adapter.
  • Compact and lightweight with excellent build quality.

This is an excellent starter lens for those just getting in to macro photography. Despite its relatively inexpensive price, build quality is good and lightweight. Although natively it doesn’t capture images in life-size or a 1:1 ratio, it’s possible to buy an optical adapter that will give this functionality. Images come out in high quality; they’re sharp and color reproduction is good. Its compact size means you can take it just about anywhere without any extra effort. Overall this is a great beginner macro lens.

Buying considerations:

  • Extra equipment is needed for 1:1 capture.
  • The autofocus is quite slow, and it often searches for a while before locking on.

2. Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM Macro

Why it’s great:

  • APS-C format lens with 1:1 magnification.
  • 35mm focal length equivalence of 96mm.
  • f/2.8 constant aperture makes performance in low-light very good.

There’s a lot to like about the Canon EF-S 60mm. As a macro lens, it offers excellent 1:1 magnification and very sharp image quality. An ultrasonic motor (USM) autofocus makes it quick and quiet to focus, even when you’re close to your subject. This is particularly impressive when you consider the minimum focus distance of 7.8” or 20cm. Your images will have minimal lens flare or ghosting, thanks to the super spectra coating used on this lens. Ultimately this is one of the best Canon macro lenses for 2018.

Buying considerations:

  • One slight disappointment about this lens is it lack of focus limiter, meaning it can spend a while hunting for a focus point.

3. Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 EF

Why it’s great:

  • 1:1 to 5:1 magnification ratio, giving a wide range of options.
  • Wide focus ring for precision manual focusing.
  • Minimum focusing distance of 9.4″ or 23.88 cm.

This is quite an unusual lens on our list, as it offers a magnification of up to 5x real size. This fantastic range means you can get some incredibly detailed pictures in stunning quality. The Canon MP-E 65mm is manual focusing only, and this is made incredibly easy by the wide focus ring. It’s very responsive to precision movements. Photographers who like to take time to methodically plan their shoots will particularly enjoy this lens. Aside from the lack of autofocus, one thing worth mentioning is the fact that the lens is incredibly sensitive to movement, and can only really be effectively used with a tripod and trigger.

Buying considerations:

  • This is quite a specialist lens that’s not suited to the general photographer only wanting to try out macro photography.
  • Minuscule movements can impact the image significantly.

4. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Why it’s great:

  • Professional-level macro lens that produces stunning images.
  • Image stabilization for greater clarity when shooting.
  • USM autofocus motor.

As part of Canon’s L-series, the EF 100mm f/2.8 is of the highest quality. Although it has a high price point, it more than justifies this by producing incredibly detailed macro shots. The resolution is simply stunning. A host of other features set this apart from the competition; image stabilization makes it possible to shoot hand-held, and the USM autofocus and focus limiter switch make it quick and quiet to focus. Overall, this is a professional lens that is one of the best Canon macro lenses available today.

Buying considerations:

  • The cost will be off-putting for most casual users.

5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Why it’s great:

  • Highest-quality optical performance.
  • Ultra-sharp image quality delivered consistently.
  • More affordable than the above version with image stabilization.

Whilst the above Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM has image stabilization, this more affordable version does not. Aside from that, they are essentially the same lens, and both deliver incredibly high results. Although the lack of image stabilization may bother some users, most macro enthusiasts will use a tripod and strobe lighting. This means IS isn’t as important. Optically both are impressive and deliver professional-grade photos. If the IS isn’t a factor for you, you can save some money by choosing this lens.

Buying considerations:

  • Without image stabilization, it makes shooting macro shots from the hand almost impossible.

6. Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L USM Macro Lens

Why it’s great:

  • Telephoto prime lens with L-series quality.
  • Minimum focusing distance of 1.6′ or 48 cm.
  • USM autofocus with manual override.

Continuing the trend of excellent L-series Canon lenses for macro photography is the EF 180mm f.3.5L. This telephoto prime lens is capable of capturing stunning photographs both in macro and portrait photos. With its internal focusing mechanism, the lens length and front element don’t move, meaning it won’t affect your macro shots. The impressive USM autofocus is also present in this lens, making focusing quick and quiet. With the manual override feature, you can make your own precision adjustments to make sure the finer details are perfectly in focus.

Buying considerations:

  • The price may once again make this unsuitable for the casual or beginner user.

7. Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens

Why it’s great:

  • Versatile focal length range means it’s good for macro and other types of photography.
  • L-series quality and performance.
  • Impressive image stabilization.

The final lens on our list is another Canon L-series. The EF 24-70mm captures a popular focal length range, making it a strong choice for a wide range of shots. Images are consistently sharp across the frame at all apertures and focal length ranges, and there’s very little distortion. The build is high-quality yet lightweight, making it a good choice as a travel lens.

Buying considerations:

  • The price point isn’t’ quite as justified as some of the other lenses we’ve seen on this list.

Best Canon Macro Lenses: Buying Guide

Now that you’ve seen some examples of the lenses on offer, it’s time to explore so of the key points to look out for when making a purchase. Below is our guide to buying the best Canon macro lenses:

Macro Lens Magnification

To start with, we need to identify what makes a true macro lens. Although most lenses are capable of capturing an image that displays the subject in true size or larger, they often do this at the cost of quality and pixels. A true macro lens is able to capture an image at a ratio of 1:1 or greater. This means that the image created by the camera’s image sensor will be the same size as it is in real life. This is why macro lenses are so good at capturing the smaller details of a subject.

Macro Lens Focal Lengths

The focal length of a lens equates to how close to your subject you can be. The longer the focal length is, the greater the working distance to achieve 1:1 magnification. This is crucial when considering how close you can get to a subject; they may get startled, or you may affect the light. A 50mm lens, for example, needs a distance of around 7-8 inches to achieve 1:1 magnification.

Minimum Focusing Distance of Macro Lenses

We mentioned the minimum focusing distance of some of the lenses, and this is an important factor to look for. It is essentially the closest distance at which your lens can still accurately focus on a subject. Depending on the type of macro photography you’re doing, this could be crucial.

Macro Lens Depth of Field

Depth of field is largely affected by aperture. Many macro lenses will have a maximum aperture of f/2.8, whilst telephoto macro lenses will be around f/4. Altering the aperture will have significant effects on the background of your image. You can create a wonderfully soft background whilst keeping your subject in sharp focus by using a wider aperture.

Focusing Macro Subjects

Many of the lenses we looked at had a fairly good autofocus offering. This is useful to a degree in macro photography; however manual focus will be of more use. Manually focusing is the only way you can have complete control over what’s in focus. That’s why many of the lenses have a manual override to their autofocus. The key here is to be as precise as possible, and make small movements whilst checking through the viewfinder or LCD screen.

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