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Is It Worth Upgrading to the New Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens?

Is It Worth Upgrading to the New Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens?

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM was one of the most respected lenses in its DSLR line, offering top image quality, impressive image stabilization, and no-fuss autofocus, all at a very reasonable price that made it a top pick for wedding, macro, and portrait photographers. The new RF version promises a range of improvements and new features, and this excellent video review takes a look at if they are worth the price. 

Coming to you from Katelyn James, this great video review takes a look at the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens, particularly in comparison to the venerated EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens. The RF version is a bit of a strange bird, offering improved magnification (1.4x versus 1x) and spherical aberration control, but coupled with a fair amount of focus breathing. Personally, while the additional magnification would be nifty, 1:1 magnification is already enough for everything I do, and my EF version has no issues keeping up with the resolution demands of the EOS R5 sensor; in addition, the autofocus is just as good (perhaps even better) with Canon’s EF-RF adapter. Check out the video for James’ full thoughts. 

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Halide App Brings Macro Photography to All iPhones

Halide App Brings Macro Photography to All iPhones

Halide App Brings Macro Photography to All iPhones 1

The new iPhone 13 Pro Macro mode allows for perspectives that are new to the iPhone, but limited to those who purchase Apple’s newest devices. Halide wants to change that and has announced an update to its app that brings macro to all iPhones.

Halide says that when it saw Apple was bringing macro photography to the iPhone for the first time, it got them pretty excited. So much so that the team wanted to get everyone excited about shooting macro, and built a way to make it possible for all iPhones (from the iPhone 8 and on) to shoot macro with the Halide app — no accessories required.

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Halide says that Macro Mode is supported by a new technology it calls Neural Macro. The company says that it does a few “clever” things to help make macro photos. First, it checks which of the cameras it has access to can focus the closest and switches to it. After that, it gives the shooter what Halide describes as “ultra-precise” focus control — down to the sub-millimeter — in order to allow even small subjects to be photographed perfectly sharp. In the final step, Neural Macro kicks in and the artificial intelligence-based detail enhancement process pulls even more data out of a processed image.

The Neural Macro relies on Apple’s Neural Engine, which is why this feature is only available on iPhone 8 models and later. The photos below are examples of images that were captured in Halide’s app from an iPhone 12 mini.

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Captured on iPhone 12 mini
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Captured on iPhone 12 mini

The image below was captured on the iPhone 12 Pro:

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Captured on iPhone 12 Pro

The company says that while these look impressive, using Halide on the iPhone 13 Pro will enhance already powerful macro features with “staggeringly close, microscope-like shots that are even more highly magnified.” Below are some examples of that:

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Captured on iPhone 13 Pro
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Captured on iPhone 13 Pro
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Captured on iPhone 13 Pro
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Captured on iPhone 13 Pro
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Captured on iPhone 13 Pro
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Captured on iPhone 13 Pro

One major immediate advantage of Halide is that while Apple has said that manual switching for macro mode is coming later this year, Halide already offers that feature in the app. Halide says it only uses the lenses that are explicitly selected, and Macro mode always uses the macro-capable lens.

Macro mode is available to all existing Halide users and can be accessed in the focus controls. The Macro Mode update is available starting today from the App Store. Halide continues to be available with both a subscription price and one-time purchase, with an option for a 7-day free trial.

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Apple to Allow Users to Manually Toggle iPhone 13 Macro Mode This Fall

Apple to Allow Users to Manually Toggle iPhone 13 Macro Mode This Fall

Apple to Allow Users to Manually Toggle iPhone 13 Macro Mode This Fall 12

Apple’s new iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max smartphones have a new macro photo mode that allows them to get extremely close to subjects for unique angles. Unfortunately, the mode activates automatically and can’t be turned off, but that will change.

The new Apple iPhone 13’s macro mode automatically switches from the Wide lens to the Ultra Wide lens which has the macro-capable camera when the device senses that the camera is within 5.5 inches of the rear camera, according to Input Mag’s Raymond Wong.

While handy and seamless, this function cannot be turned off, which can result in some frustration for users who want to use the wide lens for certain photos that happen to have somewhat close subjects or want to manually activate the macro mode even if they are not yet close to the desired subject.

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Macro mode | Apple

When the camera switches to macro mode, the iPhone will display a crossfade-like visual cue, which is visible in Wong’s video below:

MacRumors notes that the viewfinder still shows the 1x framing even though the camera uses the ultra-wide lens for autofocus in macro mode.

In his review, Wong writes that he is particularly bothered by the automatic switching of lenses because he does not believe that anything that changes perspective during the composition of a photo is a good shooting experience.

“Apple says this automatic camera switching is intentionally designed to help capture better close-up details for all three rear cameras on the iPhone 13 Pros,” he writes. “I don’t agree with this… Because the framing automatically changes from what you — the person taking the shot or recording the video — might intend to capture.”

Wong reports that Apple initially told him that the automatic camera switching was intentional and designed to help users better capture close-up details without interruption. However, Apple has reportedly issued a statement to Wong and other reviewers and said that the ability to toggle the switching on and off manually will be coming in an iOS update later this fall.

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Macro mode | Apple

“A new setting will be added in a software update this fall to turn off automatic camera switching when shooting at close distances for macro photography and video,” Apple reportedly says.

Wong reports that there is already a feature in the camera app called “Lock Camera” that will prevent the automatic macro switching in video mode, so it stands to reason that adding the feature into photo modes would not be difficult for the Silicon Valley giant, hence the relatively quick timing of the coming patch.

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What are the best value macro lenses?

What are the best value macro lenses?

There has been an upsurge of interest in macro photography during the lockdown, which is not surprising as opportunities for travel have been restricted. If you want to get frame-filling shots of small subjects then you need to add a macro lens to your kit bag. These specialist optics can be expensive, but we’ve rounded up the best value macro lenses on the market so you can get close-up imagery without breaking the bank.

Laowa 65mm f2.8 2x Ultra Macro

Laowa CF 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro Lens

Price: £429

Rather than being content offering the standard 1:1 magnification, this lens offers 2:1 magnification, letting you get even closer to your subject. Whilst some specialist ultra macro lenses only offer close-up focus, this one can still focus to infinity. The lens has a manual aperture ring, and you’ll need to get used to using manual controls, as the lens does not have an electronic connection to the camera.

This manual focus lens, designed for APS-C mirrorless cameras, is available in Sony E-Mount, as well as Fujifilm X-Mount, and weighs just 335g.

What we like
Impressive magnification available
Excellent image quality
Relatively small and lightweight

Could this be the best value macro lens?

Canon EF-M 28mm f3.5 Macro IS STM

Price: £309

Canon’s range of small mirrorless cameras are often under-rated and one of the best lenses available for cameras like the M50, M50 II and M6 Mark II is the f3.5 aperture 28mm macro lens, that converts to 45mm with the APS-C crop factor.

Now, this optic is special because it comes with a twist, featuring a unique party piece in the shape of a ring of LEDs around the front element. This genius feature banishes shadows that can often be a challenge when a lens is used to close to a subject.

Better still, the optic, which has a 1.2:1 magnification ratio, comes in at just over three hundred pounds, which is great value-for-money. With a compact, portable design, the 28mm Macro tips the scales at just 130g, so it won’t even take up too much room in your kit bag.

What we like:
Unique LED ring lights
Compact dimensions
Lightweight

What are the best value macro lenses? 15

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art

Price: £699

Sigma’s Art series of lenses has drawn great acclaim and the new 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art raises the bar even further. Built for Sony E-mount and L-mount cameras (Panasonic full-frame, Sigma and Leica), this lens is a little weighty at 715g, but is all about one thing – premium image quality that will find appeal from professional image makers who make their living with a camera. With this in mind, the £699 price-tag, while more expensive than many others in this shortlist, is actually incredibly good value-for-money when compared to rival optics.

Benefitting from a high level of weather sealing that resists dust and moisture, the lens features a focus limiter and an aperture declick switch, which widens the lens’ appeal to videographers who want to capture close up footage but want to be able to adjust the exposure during the take with recording any clicks from the lens.

What we like:
Premium image quality
Weather sealing
Declick aperture switch

What are the best value macro lenses? 16

Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 MACRO VC

Price: £649

Tamron has a long history in making great macro lenses and the SP 90mm is no different. A high-performance all-rounder that boasts a number of key functions that will make a real difference out in the field, the build of the lens features weather sealing to keep out moisture and dust, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry using this lens in harsh conditions. The front element of the lens benefits from a fluorine coating that helps repel water and oil, and the build of the lens is backed up by a five-year warranty. The SP 90mm, which comes in fitments for most DSLRs includes Tamron’s VC (Vibration Compensation) technology, which will help keep shots steady. You may need to try and track one of these second-hand as these can be hard to find at the moment.

What we like:
Impressive build quality
Credible warranty
Decent price-tag

What are the best value macro lenses? 17

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro

Price: £399

Photographers using Micro Four-Thirds cameras such as the Olympus E-M1 Mark III or the Panasonic GH5 have an integrated advantage when it comes to shooting macro imagery. That’s because the sensor in their cameras features a 2x crop, doubling the effective focal length of a lens, meaning the optics can be smaller, lighter and more affordable. This is the case with the ED 60mm f2.8 Macro, which of course gives an effective focal length of 120mm and tips the scales at just 185g. With a fast maximum aperture of f2.8, the lens can also be used to capture portraits with a shallow depth of field and the optic can focus as close as 19cm away from a subject.

Also consider, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 lens with 1.25x magnification, available for around £200, or the Panasonic Lumix G 30mm f/2.8 lens for around £255.

What we like:
Lightweight and portable
Fast maximum aperture
Weather sealing

What are the best value macro lenses? 18

Samyang 100mm f2.8 ED UMC Macro Lens

Price: £399

A lot of photographers prefer to use manual focus when capturing close up imagery, so it makes sense to save some budget and select a manual focus lens instead. One such example is the Samyang 100mm f2.8 ED UMC Macro, which is available in a large number of fitments including EF, Pentax K, Canon M and Fujifilm X.

While autofocus is missing from the lens, there’s plenty of other features, including the presence of a ‘15 lenses in 12 groups’ optics design that includes a high refractive lens (HR) and extra low dispersion lens (ED) to minimise colour aberration and improve overall image quality. Also important is the 9-bladed aperture design as its shape will create attractive bokeh when used at the large f/2.8 maximum aperture.

What we like:
Large focus ring
Simple design
Decent price tag

What are the best value macro lenses? 19

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens

Price: £449

The 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro was the first ever macro lens to join Sigma’s acclaimed Art series line up and is a stonewall classic thanks to its excellent build, superb image quality and reasonable price tag. Available for Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony E-mount amongst others, the 70mm can be paired with Sigma’s 1.4x or 2x Teleconverters should you need even more focal length and is also future proof as it can be connected up with Sigma’s USB dock should you need to update the firmware.

As you’d expect from Sigma’s Art series, the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro offers excellent image quality, thanks in part to the two FLD glass elements and two SLD glass elements used in the construction, which keep images sharp, even when the lens is used at is maximum aperture of f/2.8.

What we like:
Affordable price
Premium build quality
Future-proof features

What are the best value macro lenses? 20

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro

Price: £429

Available for Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K mounts, the Irix 150mm is growing a reputation as a genuine alternative to brand-made optics. This is in part to the fact that the lens boasts both a 1:1 magnification ratio and a 150mm focal length – this allows photographers the ability to shoot true to life, frame-filling images from a distance, which is particularly useful when shooting subjects like butterflies, who will flutter off if you get too close.

There’s no autofocus, but many photographers prefer to rely on manual focus when capturing close up imagery anyway and the Irix benefits from a weather-sealed build and also features a tripod collar, should you want to work with a tripod or monopod support.

What we like:
Extended focal length
Tripod collar
Weather sealing

What are the best value macro lenses? 21

Tokina atx-i 100mm F2.8 FF MACRO

Price: £399

While Tokina is perhaps not as well known as Tamron or Sigma, the atx-i 100mm F2.8 FF MACRO offers photographers a whole lot of lens for your money. Coming in at under £400, the optic is available for Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLRs, but can also be used with crop sensor DSLRs from these brands where the effective focal lengths switches up to 150mm (160mm for Canon).

Boasting a focus limiter, which will help speed up focusing when compositing subjects closer to the lens, the Tokina also sports an innovative focus clutch where the photographer pushes and pulls a barrel ring to switch from autofocus to manual focus and this allows for a rapid transition between the two modes. The combination of a 1:1 magnification ratio and a very close minimum focusing distance of 30cm will enable you to capture frame-filling images of small subjects. You may need to try and track one of these used as these can be hard to find at the moment.

What we like:
Innovative Focus Clutch
Great value-for-money
Close minimum focusing distance

Best EF-S Macro Canon EF-S 35mm F2.8

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

Price: £389

Designed to be a compact and affordable option for photographers using Canon’s APS-C DSLRs, this lens packs in an impressive array of features. It offers 1:1 magnification at a minimum focus distance of 13cm, which equates to just 3cm from the front of the lens. To help with illuminating your subject at such close range, at also includes a built-in LED ring light. Meanwhile, Canon’s Hybrid IS system provides up to four stops of stabilisation. Weighing in at a mere 190g, the 56mm equivalent focal length also allows it to do double duty as an everyday standard lens.

What we like:
Unique LED ring lights
Compact dimensions
Lightweight

Laowa 100mm f2.8

Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO

Price: £469

Venus Optics produces a whole family of Ultra Macro lenses with a unique trick, in that they offer 2x magnification while still focusing to infinity. The 100mm f/2.8 is designed for full-frame DSLR cameras and available in Nikon F, Pentax K and Canon EF mounts, with the latter coming in two versions with a choice of manual or electronic aperture setting. The lens has also been adapted for full-frame mirrorless, in Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E and L-mount versions. The minimum focus distance is just 24.7cm, and colour fringing is suppressed thanks to the apochromatic design. Despite the enhanced close focus, the size and weight are similar to conventional 100mm macro lenses.

What we like
Impressive magnification available
Excellent image quality
Choice of mount

Laowa 25mm f2.8 Macro

Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5x – 5x Ultra Macro

Price: £399

For serious devotees of close-up photography, this unusual lens provides ultra-high magnification at a remarkably low price. Unusually, it doesn’t focus to infinity, but instead provides between 2.5x and 5x magnification across a focus distance range of 17.3cm to 23.4cm. It requires both manual focus and aperture operation, and is generally best used on a tripod fitted with a macro rail. The slimline, tapered barrel is specially designed to minimise shadowing of your subject. The optics cover full frame sensors, and the lens comes in Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K mount versions for DSLRs, along with Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E and L-mount mirrorless options.

What we like
Impressive magnification available
Intelligent design
Choice of mount

Best DX Macro: Nikon DX 85mm f3.5 Micro

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

Price: £399

Designed specifically for DX format (APS-C) DSLRs, this lens offers an unusually long 128mm-equivalent focal length. It’s packed full of attractive features, including a silent wave motor that promises quiet, precise autofocus, and optical image stabilisation. At its minimum focus distance of 28.6cm it can focus on subjects measuring 24 x 16mm, which is equivalent to 1.5x magnification in full-frame terms. The 9-blade aperture promises attractive bokeh and stops down to f/32 for extended depth of field. For those on a tighter budget, there’s also a Nikon AF-S DX 40mm f/2.8G Micro for just £269.

What we like
Optical stabilisation
Great value for money
Made for DX cameras

Best Sigma Macro for DSLR: Sigma 105mm f2.8

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro OS HSM

Price: £359

Long one of our favourite lenses, for many years this was our go-to option for testing the resolution of DSLRs, due to its superb sharpness. Available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Sigma SA mounts, it provides a comprehensive feature set at a very tempting price. You get an ultrasonic-type autofocus motor that enables full-time manual override, along with optical stabilisation that’s good for up to four stops of shake reduction. An inner focusing system means that the length doesn’t change on focusing from infinity down to its 31.2cm minimum, at which point the lens provides life-size magnification.

What we like
Superb sharpness
Optical stabilisation
Great value for money

Once you’ve found the best value macro lens that’s right for you, have a look at our Top 12 Macro Photography Tips to make the most of your macro lens!

Further reading
Expert tips for award-winning macro shots

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Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review: A Solid Introduction to Macro

Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review: A Solid Introduction to Macro

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The Nikon 50mm f/2.8 Macro Prime lens is part of a pair announced in June. While the lens is designated as a macro, the 50mm focal length makes it more of a walkabout lens with macro capabilities.

While Nikon’s legacy macro lenses would still work using the FTZ adapter on the Z-System, the new lenses note another step of Nikon’s promise to deliver a wider range of native functionality lenses on its mirrorless systems. Nikon designed this new lens to be a small, lightweight, and compact everyday lens that can be used with both full-frame or APS-C Nikon Z mirrorless systems.

While it is a macro lens, the $650 Nikon 50mm f/2.8 offers a focal length that makes it a lens that can work double duty, both as a standard lens as well as one for close-up shots.

50mm is a lot wider than the standard 100mm or longer typically seen in macro lenses and thus frees this lens from the niche of only macro work. The 50mm f/2.8 is therefore quite diverse in its functionality and is suitable for both portrait and street photography, for example. But on the other side of the coin, users will notice it does lack a few key features when compared to the 105mm sibling, most notably the lack of Vibration Reduction (VR) and no special ARNEO coating.

The question is, does that matter?

Build Quality and Design

The Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens is the smaller and more affordable lens of the duo of macro optics released this summer. While the 50mm “wide” focal length does give users more flexibility as a walk-about lens, it also means that users will have to get much closer to their subjects to get the true macro shots. The upside of the focal range is it will be much easier to get handheld shots without having to worry about camera shake and blurriness, at least in well-lit situations.

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The 50mm lens is about half the size and weighs less than half than its 105mm sibling, which makes it truly compact and travel-friendly. Something keen eyes may notice out of the box is that the 50mm lacks the S-line designation the higher-end lenses from Nikon’s mirrorless lenses have. This lighter plastic body does make the lens feel “lesser” as well.

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Despite the lens being rated as dust and weather resistant, because it is so small and has a mostly plastic exterior, it feels almost like a toy lens rather than something intended for capturing incredibly sharp and detailed professional images. This may perhaps mean that it makes for a better “everyday” lens since it will be less likely to stand out while traveling.

Like most new Z-Mount lenses, the focus ring can be programmed to control additional settings like ISO and exposure compensation when using AF mode.

The last feature worth noting here is unlike most modern macro lenses with internal focus mechanisms, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 Macro uses a more traditional extending inner barrel system. The plus side to this design element is it allows the lens to be smaller when not using the feature, making it more compact for storage and travel. The downside is, of course, that it has a physically extending piece that can change its weight distribution.

Focus and Aperture

I found myself dealing with a shorter “working” distance than other macro lenses in order to get the true 1:1 macro shots, and when shooting at the 1:1 focus distance, the maximum aperture was f/5.6 instead of the f/2.8. While the aperture was a bit of a headscratcher, the big frustration point for me with this lens was the fact you had to get incredibly close to the subjects for the 1:1 shots. So much so that it was very hard to frame a photo without blocking the light and casting a shadow or getting too close to the small insects I was trying to capture that I would unintentionally scare it away.

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The autofocus works pretty accurately, especially when shooting video. However, when shooting up close for the 1:1 shots, it is important to flip the switch on the focus limiter on the side of the lens otherwise there will be a very noticeable lag and focus breathing present as it makes autofocus adjustments.

After a lot of testing, I found the peak sharpness to be between the f/4 to f/5.6 range with my images. I was surprised to find that the lens was getting slightly softer starting as early as f/8.

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Image Quality

The Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 may not have the extra nanocrystal or ARNEO coatings like its 105mm sibling, but that does not mean the images produced by it are bad by any stretch of the imagination.

Shooting at 1:1, the depth of field is very thin, which was something I personally had to get used to, but I have found it visually interesting and a lot of fun to play with. That thin plane of focus aside, once focus is dialed in, pretty much edge to edge is sharp.

What was nice about this lens is how it is also a very nice walkabout lens. I found that while shooting it as a “normal” lens that it was quite easy to get incredibly sharp images at f/2.8 with only minor vignetting in the far corners. In that sense, I can see a lot to like about using this lens as you would with any 50mm lens and being happy with the results.

Below are some sample images captured with the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 Macro:

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An Introduction to Macro Photography

For photographers that are interested in macro images but aren’t quite ready to invest heavily into the niche lenses, this is a great first step into the field. The Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens is capable of being an everyday generalist lens for landscape, street, and portrait work, on top of capturing fantastic macro images which means it can adapt to a variety of situations should you find that macro isn’t your favorite subject matter.

For the macro purist, however, there are likely better options out there for you and while the 50mm f/2.8 is nice, it has limitations.

Are There Alternatives?

There are plenty of DSLR macro lenses available to choose from including the $419 Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.8 Lens which is arguably a better macro lens. That being said, there are only a handful of macro lenses specifically designed for the Nikon Z series currently available including the 105mm f/2.8 VR S Lens some manual Venus Optic (Laowa) Macro lenses, and the IRIX cine 150mm T3.0 Macro lens for $1,195 that jumps significantly in price.

Should You Buy It?

Yes, if macro photography is new and a path of interest for your work, then the Nikkor Z MC 50mm F/2.8 Macro is definitely worth the investment to get you started shooting macro images on the Nikon mirrorless system and you will be very happy with the results you can capture.

However, if you have been shooting macro images for a while and already have a variety of macro lenses available in your kit, I would recommend skipping the 50mm f/2.8 macro and jumping right to the 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro instead.

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Best Macro Lenses for Mirrorless and DSLRs 2021

Best Macro Lenses for Mirrorless and DSLRs 2021

We reveal the best macro lenses currently available for close-up shooting, for both mirrorless and DSLR cameras.

It’s an unusual time in the lens market, thanks to the ongoing transition from DSLR to mirrorless technology. The choice for DSLR users is shrinking rapidly, and many of the macro optics we’d have recommended two or three years ago are no longer on sale. But this hasn’t yet been reflected in an explosion in options for mirrorless users, with most of the third-party makers still to produce lenses in the new full-frame mounts.

However, there’s still some good news for close-up photographers, thanks to the emergence of Venus Optics as a genuinely high-class lens maker, with an array of innovative manual-focus macro optics in its Laowa line-up. Sigma still offers affordable but high-quality alternatives for the main lens mounts, too.

Best Macro lenses for mirrorless cameras

Best EF-M Macro: Canon EF-M 28mm f3.5

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro STM

£287
www.canon.co.uk

One of the most unusual macro lenses available, this optic offers an angle of view equivalent to 45mm on full frame. Its standard focusing range provides life-size magnification, but engaging Super Macro mode extends this even closer to 1.2x. At this point the image area is just 18.6mm x 12.4mm, and the subject a matter of millimetres from the front element. Normally this would cause problems with lighting, so Canon has included a small LED ring light around the front element. Despite this, the lens is a mere 46mm long and tips the scales at just 130g, so it won’t take up much room in your bag.


Best RF Macro: Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro

Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM

£649
www.canon.co.uk

Canon EOS R system owners already have an unusually large number of lenses labelled ‘Macro’ to choose from, ranging from the £499 RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM to the £1499 RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM. While the latter is absolutely superb, we suspect its high price will push many users towards its 85mm f/2 stablemate. This isn’t what many photographers consider a ‘true’ macro lens, offering only half life-size magnification, and instead is perhaps better considered as an affordable portrait lens that’s unusually good at close-up shooting. But it offers five stops of optical stabilisation on the EOS R and RP that lack in-body stabilisation, and up to eight stops on bodies with IBIS.


Best Macro Lenses for Mirrorless and DSLRs 2021 53

Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM

£1499
www.canon.co.uk

You’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s nothing particularly special about Canon’s latest pro-spec macro lens for full-frame mirrorless, the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM, given that it’s named almost identically to its DSLR predecessor. But instead, Canon has added some intriguing new features. Firstly it now offers 1.4x magnification, which means you can photograph a subject measuring just 26mm x 17mm. Secondly a new ‘SA Control’ ring allows users to smoothen the out-of-focus blur either in front of, or behind the subject. In addition you get all the hallmarks of Canon’s L range, including robust build quality, rapid autofocus, highly effective optical stabilisation and needless to say, superb optics.


Best X-Mount Macro: Fujifilm XF 80mm f2.8

Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro

£1149
www.fujifilm.com/uk

X-system users interested in close-up photography are well served by this fully featured, if pricey, macro lens. Its slightly longer-than-usual 120mm equivalent view allows a longer working distance, while life-size reproduction is offered at the 25cm minimum focus. The lens employs linear motors for quiet autofocus and has a distance limiter switch to reduce hunting. Optical stabilisation is built in, promising up to five stops of benefit, and weather resistant construction allows you to keep shooting in less-than-perfect conditions. For those in a tighter budget there’s also the £569 XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro, but it’s a less refined design that only offers 0.5x magnification.


Laowa 65mm 2x Ultra Macro

Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro

£399
www.venuslens.net

Just at the moment, Laowa is the most innovative lens maker when it comes to close-up photography. This 65mm f/2.8 optic offers twice life-size magnification for users of APS-C mirrorless cameras at a very tempting price. Its robust metal barrel is impressively compact, at 100mm long and 335g in weight, and both focusing and aperture control are fully manual. Crucially it offers excellent image quality, combining excellent sharpness and beautiful background blur. It’s available in Fujifilm X and Sony E mounts, while Micro Four Thirds users get a scaled-down version, the Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO, which costs £409.


Best Z Mount Macro: Nikkor Z MC 50mm f2.8

Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8

£649
www.nikon.co.uk

Nikon announced two macro lenses for its Z system simultaneously earlier this year, with the shorter of the two being a slightly unexpected focal length from a company that in the past has favoured 60mm optics. Unlike its 105mm sibling, this lens lacks either weather sealing or optical stabilisation, which might make it look like the less desirable choice. But it makes up for this with its optical quality, which quite simply is superb. Its relatively compact size and light weight also make it a good match for Nikon’s smaller Z-series camera bodies, including the APS-C format Z 50.


Best Z Mount Macro: Nikkor Z MC 105mm f2.8

Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 S VR

£999
www.nikon.co.uk

As the more pro-focused of Nikon’s two new Z-system macro lenses, this packs in pretty much every feature you could wish for. It’s optically stabilised, weather-sealed, and employs an internal-focus design which means that if focuses quickly and silently and its length stays constant. Along with a large manual focus ring, there’s a control dial on the barrel for changing exposure settings, whose function can be customised from the camera body. A small display panel on top can show the focus distance and depth of field. It almost goes without saying that the lens is also supremely sharp, even at f/2.8.


Best Micro Four Thirds Macro: Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 Macro

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro

£399
www.olympus.co.uk

This brilliant little lens is one of the jewels of the Micro Four Thirds system. Its dust- and splash-proof barrel is extremely small and light, at 82mm long and just 186g in weight, while its slimline 56mm diameter minimises the risk of shadowing your subject. Yet it still finds space for both a focus distance indicator and a focus limiter switch that has a dedicated 1:1 position. Autofocus is fast and silent, and there’s absolutely nothing to complain about with regards to image quality. Set to its 19cm minimum focus distance, the image area of 17.4 x 13mm is equivalent to 2x magnification in 35mm terms.


Best Panasonic M43: Panasonic 45mm f2.8

Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 OIS Asph

£599
www.panasonic.com/uk

While the more affordable Olympus 60mm f/2.8 may look like the best choice of macro lens for Micro Four Thirds shooters, Panasonic’s Leica-badged 45mm f/2.8 has its own charms. It’s even smaller, at just 63mm in length, yet is still capable of life-size reproduction, thanks to its shorter, 90mm equivalent focal length. It also includes optical image stabilisation, which is particularly handy for those using older or smaller Lumix bodies that lack in-body stabilisation, although it’s of limited use at macro distances. Optically it delivers the goods though, with impressive sharpness used wide open and minimal aberrations.


Sigma 105mm f2.8 DG DN Macro

Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro Art

£699
www.sigma-imaging-uk.com

Designed from the ground up for full-frame mirrorless cameras, this lens is available in Sony E and L mounts. In design terms it resembles the firm’s 70mm f/2.8 Art DSLR lens, with a barrel that extends dramatically on focusing to its 29.5cm minimum focus position, rather than using an internal focus mechanism. According to Sigma, this enables both high sharpness and effective suppression of colour fringing, which is borne out by the superb image quality in testing. There’s no optical image stabilisation, but most of the cameras the lens will be used on feature in-body stabilisation anyway.


Best E-Mount Macro: Sony 90mm f2.8 Macro

Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS

£849
www.sony.co.uk

While this lens now has stiff competition from the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN, it’s still an excellent choice for users of Sony E mount cameras. Unlike its more affordable rival, it includes both optical stabilisation and internal focusing, with the latter perhaps making it a preferable choice for those photographers who’d also like to use their macro lens for shooting portraits. Other highlights include a focus ring that can be pulled back towards the camera to engage manual mode, and a focus lock switch on the side of barrel. Optically it’s absolutely superb, giving super-sharp images.


Best Macro lenses for DSLRs

Best EF-S Macro Canon EF-S 35mm F2.8

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

£389
www.canon.co.uk

Designed to be a compact, affordable option for photographers using Canon’s APS-C DSLRs, this lens packs in an impressive array of features. It offers 1:1 magnification at a minimum focus distance of 13cm, which equates to just 3cm from the front of the lens. To help with illuminating your subject at such close range, at also includes a built-in LED ring light. Meanwhile, Canon’s Hybrid IS system provides up to four stops of stabilisation. Weighing in at a mere 190g, the 56mm equivalent focal length also allows it to do double duty as an everyday standard lens.


Best Canon EF Macro: Canon EF 100mm f2.8L

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

£999
www.canon.co.uk

Canon’s third-generation 100mm macro for its full-frame DSLRs is an absolutely stellar optic, with all the attributes we’d expect from the firm’s professional L range. It delivers superb image quality, with exceptional sharpness, minimal chromatic aberration and essentially no distortion. A ring-type ultrasonic motor delivers rapid, silent autofocus and life-size magnification is achieved at the minimum focus distance of 30cm. Optical stabilisation is built-in, with Canon’s hybrid system promising four stops stabilisation with distant subjects, dropping to two stops at half life-size magnification. The barrel boasts robust weather-sealed construction, and an optional tripod collar is also available.


Irix Dragonfly 150mm f2.8 Macro

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1

£429
www.irixlens.com

Irix may not be the best-known lens brand, but it has established a reputation for making high-quality optics at very competitive prices. The advantage of this 150mm lens over its competitors lies in the way the longer focal length enables 1:1 magnification with a greater working distance. This means you’re less likely to disturb skittish subjects such as bufferflies. In return, you have to live with focusing manually, but this is often standard practice for macro shooting, anyway. The barrel boasts weather-sealed construction and a tripod collar is included in the box, with an Arca Swiss compatible dovetail profile. The lens is available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K mounts.


Laowa 100mm f2.8

Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO

£469
www.venuslens.net

Venus Optics produces a whole family of Ultra Macro lenses with a unique trick, in that they offer 2x magnification while still focusing to infinity. The 100mm f/2.8 is designed for full-frame DSLR cameras and available in Nikon F, Pentax K and Canon EF mounts, with the latter coming in two versions with a choice of manual or electronic aperture setting. The lens has also been adapted for full-frame mirrorless, in Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E and L-mount versions. The minimum focus distance is just 24.7cm, and colour fringing is suppressed thanks to the apochromatic design. Despite the enhanced close focus, the size and weight are similar to conventional 100mm macro lenses.


Laowa 25mm f2.8 Macro

Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5x – 5x Ultra Macro

£399
www.venuslens.net

For serious devotees of close-up photography, this unusual lens provides ultra-high magnification at a remarkably low price. Unusually, it doesn’t focus to infinity, but instead provides between 2.5x and 5x magnification across a focus distance range of 17.3cm to 23.4cm. It requires both manual focus and aperture operation, and is generally best used on a tripod fitted with a macro rail. The slimline, tapered barrel is specially designed to minimise shadowing of your subject. The optics cover full frame sensors, and the lens comes in Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K mount versions for DSLRs, along with Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E and L-mount mirrorless options.


Best DX Macro: Nikon DX 85mm f3.5 Micro

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

£399
www.nikon.co.uk

Designed specifically for DX format (APS-C) DSLRs, this lens offers an unusually long 128mm-equivalent focal length. It’s packed full of attractive features, including a silent wave motor that promises quiet, precise autofocus, and optical image stabilisation. At its minimum focus distance of 28.6cm it can focus on subjects measuring 24 x 16mm, which is equivalent to 1.5x magnification in full-frame terms. The 9-blade aperture promises attractive bokeh and stops down to f/32 for extended depth of field. For those on a tighter budget, there’s also a Nikon AF-S DX 40mm f/2.8G Micro for just £269.


Best FX Macro: Nikon 105mm f2.8 Micro

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

£759
www.nikon.co.uk

When it was launched, this was the first macro lens to include optical stabilisation, and it’s since become a stalwart of Nikon’s F-mount line-up. It provides a longer working distance for life-size shooting than the firm’s other current options, which means there’s less chance of disturbing the subject or blocking off the light. The internal focus design means that the lens’s length doesn’t change between infinity focus and its 31 cm minimum object distance. A silent wave motor provides fast autofocus and the VR system is rated to provide up to 3 stops benefit, although this reduces at close distances.


Pentax 35mm Macro Lens

Pentax HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited

£599
www.ricoh-imaging.eu

This lovely little lens can be used as an everyday standard prime on Pentax APS-C DSLRs, while also providing 1:1 magnification at its 14cm minimum focus distance. Available in either silver or black, it’s beautifully constructed with an aluminium barrel, and even has a built-in sliding hood. Autofocus is driven from the camera body, which helps keep the size down, and the manual focus ring is marked with a distance scale. A 9-blade diaphragm gives a circular aperture for attractive bokeh, and like most of the other Pentax Limited primes, it employs 49mm filters.


Best Pentax Macro: Pentax 100mm f2.8

Pentax FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

£549
www.ricoh-imaging.eu

Unlike the 35mm f/2.8 Limited, this Pentax macro lens works on full-frame DSLRs, as well as APS-C models. It’s also cheaper than its shorter focal-length sibling. While the optical design dates back to 2004, the lens received a substantial update five years later with a weather-sealed aluminium barrel and revised mechanical construction. It’s unusually compact for its class, at just 8.1cm long and 340g, thanks to the use of an extending focus mechanism. The working distance between the lens and the subject at 1:1 magnification is 13cm, and a Quick Shift focus system allows autofocus to be overridden manually at any time.


Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art

£449
www.sigma-imaging-uk.com

At first glance, the first macro lens to join Sigma’s acclaimed Art series line-up might seem a strange choice compared to its 105mm sibling, which is cheaper and includes optical stabilisation. But the 70mm is smaller and lighter while offering superb image quality. The barrel boasts dust- and splash-proof construction, and a coreless DC motor provides precise autofocus backed up by full-time manual override. It’s made in versions for Canon EF and Nikon F mount DSLRs, which are compatible with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters for when you require more reach. It’s also available for Sony E-mount and L-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras.


Best Sigma Macro for DSLR: Sigma 105mm f2.8

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro OS HSM

£359
www.sigma-imaging-uk.com

Long one of our favourite lenses, for many years this was our go-to option for testing the resolution of DSLRs, due to its superb sharpness. Available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Sigma SA mounts, it provides a comprehensive feature set at a very tempting price. You get an ultrasonic-type autofocus motor that enables full-time manual override, along with optical stabilisation that’s good for up to four stops of shake reduction. An inner focusing system means that the length doesn’t change on focusing from infinity down to its 31.2cm minimum, at which point the lens provides life-size magnification.


Best Macro Lenses for Mirrorless and DSLRs 2021 54

Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2 Makro Planar

£1549
www.zeiss.co.uk

There’s no denying that £1549 is a lot of money to pay for a macro lens that doesn’t even autofocus. But premium optics and build quality always cost extra, and that’s exactly what Zeiss provides. Available in Canon EF and Nikon F mounts, this lens provides 0.5x magnification at its minimum focus distance of 44cm. Its f/2 maximum aperture gathers an extra stop of light and provides greater background blur compared to conventional f/2.8 macro lenses, which makes it an attractive option for shooting portraits, too. The robust metal barrel is sealed for protection against dust and water splashes, and the Nikon version even boasts an aperture ring.


Once you’ve read our guide to the best macro lenses, make sure you have a look at our guide to macro photography, to get the most out of your purchase!

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Go Small Or Go Home: The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro

Go Small Or Go Home: The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro

This month, I’ve gotten a chance to spend some time shooting with one of Nikon’s two new macro lenses, the NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro.

Normally, I’m not someone who gets to use macro lenses a great deal. Not that I don’t love the look, but as someone whose subjects usually have two legs and move at the speed of a cheetah who is late for work, getting in super close to acquire minute detail is not always at the height of practicality. But as those two-legged cheetahs are usually wearing a particular garment from a particular brand that is paying this particular month’s mortgage, I am still often called upon to get in close to bring out the detail of textures and fabrics in the product being featured.

Outside of the professional arena, in more personal work, I find that macro lenses can open up a whole new world for me. It’s sort of like those Disney nature documentaries where they take cameras down to the way, way bottom of the sea and show you all those little creatures that look oddly and frighteningly like they might have been the inspiration for the killer alien you saw in that horror movie you watched last night and you think to yourself, “Wow, I had no idea that was even down there.” Macro lenses are a great way to get in close to a subject and reveal the tiniest details that often go missed by the naked eye. If only I had a dollar for every time in the last month that I’ve taken a detail shot with the macro lens only to see it pop up in Capture One with a stray hair or piece of lint in an unfortunate position. Then, I go to remove the obstruction and I can’t even find it with my eyes in the real world. Partly, this is because I am blind as a bat. Partly, this is because macro lenses have an ability to pull out detail you never thought imaginable.

So far, Nikon’s macro lenses for it’s Z system come in two flavors: The 105mm f/2.8 and the 50mm f/2.8. Both have a 1:1 reproduction ratio and share the same maximum aperture. Both are very affordable with the 105mm coming in south of $1000 and the 50mm currently retailing just under $650. While I’ve heard the 105mm referred to as the more “standard” macro focal length, both lenses have their advantages. The main advantage of the 105mm is that it allows you to be further away from your subject. So, for instance, if you are photographing an especially skittish small creature, the extra length will allow you to avoid invading the creature’s personal space and risk scaring it away.

Go Small Or Go Home: The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro 55

Personally, I’m not sure which of the two I would go for first. Because both lenses also give you the ability to do “normal” photography, meaning non-macro photography, as well as macro photography, potential buyers might want to take into account additional uses when making their decision. 50mm and 105mm just so happen to be my favorite focal lengths for standard primes. 50mm is my go-to for walkabout photography. But, as I wrote about in a recent article, the 105mm focal length is incredibly useful both as a walkaround lens as well as for portraits. Focal lengths are a matter of preference, but, for me, 105mm has come to hit something of a sweet spot.

Go Small Or Go Home: The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro 56

As someone who owns an F mount version of the 105mm macro, the AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, I was curious to see how the new Z version would compare. The most obvious difference is the barrel length.  The newer Z version is actually longer than the F version coming in at 5.5 inches versus 4.57 inches of the F mount version. But, despite the length difference, the newer version is actually lighter at 630 grams versus the 720 grams of the F mount. Mounted to the Z 7II versus the F version mounted to the D850, did form a lighter package although neither setup was particularly cumbersome.

Go Small Or Go Home: The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro 57

In terms of image quality and sharpness, I give the new Z version the slight edge, although the same could be said for almost all the Z mount lenses I’ve had a chance to play with to this point. I still maintain that the lenses are the biggest reason to buy into the Z system and the new 105mm macro does nothing to dissuade that opinion.

Go Small Or Go Home: The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro 58

Of course, I’m a big believer that advanced technology is only mildly important in the art of photography. Sure, it helps, but the real question with any piece of gear is whether or not it will help you realize your creative vision in a way that your current gear doesn’t. And while the increase in sharpness may or may not be something your audience can feel in the final result, the shorter minimum focusing distance of 11.4 inches versus the 1.03 feet of my F mount version is a practical advantage when trying to move in close.

Using the lens I was able to get extreme detail of objects from perspectives I might not normally consider.

Go Small Or Go Home: The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro 59

And even though most discussion around lenses logically centers around sharpness, getting to play a bit with the super shallow depth of field of the 105mm macros allowed me to play a bit with abstraction as well to create some images far less literal.

Go Small Or Go Home: The Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 Macro 60

So after spending some time with the lens, what did I like and what could be improved?

What I Liked

  • Minimum focus distance has been improved.
  • Beautiful bokeh.
  • Tack sharp detail reveals hidden elements.
  • It’s very light.  Physically speaking.
  • The AF limiter helps to improve focusing performance.
  • Price point.

What Could Be Improved

  • I do wish it were shorter, although this is somewhat made up for with the lighter weight.
  • Focus speed.  It’s not going to beat out your 70-200mm any time soon for focusing speed.  Then again, it’s not meant to.

The new 105mm for the Z system is a worthwhile successor to the F mount versions and seems to be a pretty fundamental piece of a photographer’s kit, especially if you focus on still life, food, or insect and plant life. At a very manageable weight, it’s a versatile lens that allows you to get closer to your subject with minimal fuss. If you’re someone who takes the time to look at the small details, it might just be the right lens for you.

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A Review of the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Mark II Macro Lens

A Review of the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Mark II Macro Lens

Macro photography in the field is not always easy or comfortable, often requiring long hours outdoors in the heat. So now more than ever, I’m seeing the benefits of lightweight lenses and bodies. Something as simple as being less burdened by a heavy camera in the field can help you brave the heat just a bit longer, and get more successful shots.

As a long-time Pentax user, I’ve become reliant on heavy traditional DSLRs and their pentaprism viewfinders, and haven’t gotten too deep into the mirrorless game yet. Although, a few years back, I did buy an old used Canon EOS M body (Canon’s first mirrorless offering) off eBay on which I installed Magic Lantern so I could use it to shoot RAW video.

A Review of the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Mark II Macro Lens 61

Despite the poor ergonomics, lack of a viewfinder, and being a bit dated now, at only 262 grams, the Canon EOS M is still one of the lightest APS-C camera bodies (with a hot-shoe!) you can find out there. From the moment I got it, I dreamt of making a tiny lightweight macro setup with it. So when 7Artisans reached out asking if I wanted to review an EF-M mount version of their upcoming mkII 60mm macro, I jumped at the opportunity.

A Review of the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Mark II Macro Lens 62

At only about 340 grams, the lens feels very lightweight, and paired with my Canon EOS M and Meike MK300 flash, I can get a very capable (and cheap!) macro setup that only weighs a total of about 800 grams.

Although the overall quality is nowhere near as good as the full-frame Pentax (largely a fault of the Canon’s dated APS-C sensor), the little setup is a welcomed relief from my usual Pentax K-1 setup, which weighs in at a whopping 2,200 grams!

A Review of the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Mark II Macro Lens 63

This has honestly changed the way I shoot this summer, as opting for a lighter-weight mirrorless setup has made spending more time outdoors less of a burden. I can’t overemphasize how valuable a lightweight macro setup is when you’re out in the sun for hours, covered in sweat and battling mosquitos!

I also appreciate the simplicity of the lens: it has no shake reduction, no autofocus, and no electronic coupling. These things are nice, but just add weight and cost, and are not necessary to take nice macro photos.

A Review of the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Mark II Macro Lens 64

Maybe I’m a bit spoiled and used to higher magnification lenses now, but the max magnification of 1x feels a little basic or underwhelming with so many nice 2x macros on the market right now. If anything though, the lens has got me more excited about mirrorless setups and little lenses, notably the 335 gram Laowa 65mm 2x macro. I’m sure there are even smaller, lighter macro setups to be achieved in the Micro Four Thirds realm, but I’m not sure if I’m willing to compromise with a sensor that small just yet.

A Review of the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Mark II Macro Lens 65

In summation, the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Mark II Macro Lens is a sharp, small, lightweight, and inexpensive macro that would pair well with a modern mirrorless body and has got me hooked on putting together smaller macro photography setups. One of the primary joys in macro photography for me is the time spent outdoors enjoying nature at my own pace, so any tool that can help me do that more comfortably is a huge plus.


About the author: Thomas Shahan is an artist and photographer based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who specializes in high-magnification macrophotography and has a particular interest in Oklahoma’s jumping spider diversity. He has worked as a co-instructor of BugShot macro photography workshops, imaging specialist for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, video game artist, and book illustrator. For more from Shahan, subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

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2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

If you’re looking to get into macro photography, the first party lens options can seem too expensive for a lens with a more niche use, particularly on the latest Z and R mounts. Laowa, however, has a very promising 100mm lens that even exceeds those other 100mm options in one notable way. hould it be the lens you choose when shooting up close?

The Lens

I’ve always enjoyed reviewing Laowa’s lenses, as they certainly offer something unique compared to many other third party lens makers, who seem to just imitate the typical lenses that are already on the market. If you’ve not heard of Laowa before, you might still have seen one of their more unique lenses, the wild looking 24mm f/14 probe lens. While some of their other lenses are a bit tamer, it still seems that their philosophy is to create optics that are unique to the market, or at least bring a unique feature set to a traditional focal length.2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens 66

In the case of the 100mm f/2.8, this lens is more towards the “unique feature set” end of the spectrum. All the major brands offer a 100mm macro lens, with both Canon and Nikon having DSLR mount and mirrorless versions of the lens, and Sony offering an A mount and E Mount version. What sets Laowa’s version apart is the ability to go to 2:1. Translated from macro terms, this means that something can be represented on the sensor twice the size it is in real life. As a result, you can get incredibly close to your subject, and represent it with a ton of detail — no cropping required.

Additionally, this lens is designated as apochromatic. An apochromatic lens is designed to converge the different wavelengths of light (read: different colors) onto the same point. That should translate to reduced color fringing and visual artifacts, which can be particularly helpful when shooting focus stacks, high contrast subjects, or when reproducing art and text.2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens 67

The body of the lens is metal, and it’s quite long. The version I tested was set up for the Z mount. There aren’t significant differences beyond the mounts between the different versions, although one Canon model does come with the ability to pass aperture information to the camera. The lens is roughly in line with the size and weight of other 100mm macro lenses, although mirrorless-native versions may have a slight edge when compared to adapted EF or F mount lenses. The construction and engraving are of good quality, and the focus ring is quite generous, a big plus for a manual focus and macro-oriented lens.

The Performance

In use, the Laowa 100mm is competitive with other 100mm macro lenses. At 1:1, I found that it matched the performance of my F mount 105mm macro, and was somewhat behind the Z mount 105mm. Of course, neither of those can do 2:1, so if you need that degree of magnification, this lens would have superior performance over cropping an alternate lens or using a diopter filter.2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens 68

Sharpness is very good, with performance being consistent across the range of focus distances. At very close distances, camera shake, focus accuracy, and occluding the light on the subject are all going to be more of a limiting factor than the actual sharpness of the lens itself.2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens 69

Vignetting isn’t a major problem. It can be slightly more prominent at very close distances and very wide apertures. Even still, it can be corrected quite easily, although you’ll have to do this manually, as the lens doesn’t pass aperture or focus distance information to the camera.2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens 70

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled, as the APO designation would indicate. Even at f/2.8 (marked) and at 1:1, there’s basically no chromatic artifacting, even at 45 megapixels. That’s really nice to see, as I find CA to be particularly problematic with many macro subjects. Whether you’re shooting product photos on a seamless backdrop, or just have to accurately reproduce colors and edges, this feature is very nice to see, especially at the price point.2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens 71

Manual focus is easy, thanks to the large ring. The rate of change in focus distance may be the only issue. For some applications, like studio work, a greater degree of precision may be preferred, while field use may require a quicker shift between focus distances. In combination with focus peaking, I didn’t have an issue finding focus, although I did end up with a few more missed shots compared to the Z 105mm.

For focus stacking, a common macro practice, this lens is a good option. Between being apochromatic and exhibiting little focus breathing, it’s quite easy to stack the resulting images. One downside is the lack of autofocus, as I’ve really grown to enjoy the automated focus stacking available with AF lenses on the Z bodies. Still, focus stacking performance overall is quite good, and is almost a necessity at 2:1, as the depth of field is incredibly slim, even stopped down.

Conclusion2x Macro at Half the Price: Fstoppers Reviews Laowa’s 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens 72

The Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X macro lens is a very interesting value proposition. Compared to the 1st party macro options, it offers dedicated macro photographers a lot of performance at a good value. If you’re looking to shoot true macro, or go beyond 1:1, this lens is a great option. For those a little less dedicated to macro, one of the 1st party lenses might be a better option, even at the higher price. Without autofocus, this lens is less able to serve dual purposes as a portrait lens or short tele, and the slower speed of operation with manual aperture and focus control is more of a problem.

On the image quality front, the lens performs very well, especially for the price point. At 45mp, it held up well, with little chromatic aberration — the APO designation isn’t just pure marketing. Nailing focus will be a bigger factor in image quality than the actual sharpness of the lens, as at near macro distances, depth of field can be very unforgiving. There was some vignetting at f/2.8, but it corrects easily and is drastically reduced when stopping down. If I hadn’t already picked up the Z 105mm, I’d strongly consider this lens. If you don’t already have a macro lens, I’d recommend this lens over a 50 or 60mm macro option. The performance, capabilities, and skill ceiling is just much better, making this a lens you won’t outgrow nearly as fast when learning macro photography.

What I Liked

  • Strong price to performance ratio
  • 2:1 macro ability is unique
  • Good quality construction

What Could be Improved

  • Autofocus would make this lens more versatile
  • Focus throw speed may be too fast or too slow for some applications

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New Godox Macro Flash MF12 Can Combine Six Times Around a Lens

New Godox Macro Flash MF12 Can Combine Six Times Around a Lens

New Godox Macro Flash MF12 Can Combine Six Times Around a Lens 73

Godox, distributed under the Flashpoint brand at Adorama, has announced the new MF12 Macro Flash strobe. Up to six can combine together around the associated adapter ring to create a circle of shadow-free light for macro applications.

Individually, the MF12 is a small and lightweight flash designed for use in macro scenarios like with plants, insects, and some jewelry applications. Godox says that it performs this function well individually as it can work both off-camera and attached, but really stands out when combined with up to five others to serve as a multi-flash solution attached to a ring.

New Godox Macro Flash MF12 Can Combine Six Times Around a Lens 74

New Godox Macro Flash MF12 Can Combine Six Times Around a Lens 75

“Working as a multiple-flash solution when attached to the mounting ring, the MF12 expands its usage profoundly over the single unit,” Godox says. “The combination can handle various scenarios easily depending on the number of flashes and the setup.”

Godox shows that starting with two lights, the combination allows for a setup that is bright enough but not too bright to overshine insects or animals. But as more flashes are added, it greatly increases the light power and can illuminate larger spaces and reduce shadows on a subject. When expanded to six total lights, Godox claims the combination can be used as a strong ring flash, which “provides soft and even lighting.”

New Godox Macro Flash MF12 Can Combine Six Times Around a Lens 76

The company says that its ring adapter and multi-flash design features more control than a typical ring flash. Instead of always being forced to point the light in one direction, every flash can rotate to a different angle freely and slide around the mounting ring to different positions.

Each flash has its own built-in rechargeable (via USB-C) lithium-ion battery that has enough power to support 500 full-power flashes. At the low end, the flash will recycle in 0.01 seconds. At full power, recycling takes 1.7 seconds. All of the flashes are individually controlled through the Godox wireless transmitter which is sold separately. The mounting ring and adapter rings for mounting it to the front of a camera are also sold separately.

New Godox Macro Flash MF12 Can Combine Six Times Around a Lens 77

Each individual MF12 Macro Flash will cost for $109 and are available for pre-order. A full loadout of six macro flashes, the mounting ring, and the adapter ring set will run about $723. The flashes are expected to start shipping in October.

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