We’ve picked out the best value macro lenses because we know not everyone has an unlimited budget to spend on their photography. Taking pictures can be an expensive habit, especially with a technically demanding discipline like close-up macro shooting. But it doesn’t have to be, and no matter what camera system you use, we can guarantee there will be a suitable budget macro lens for you.

Every lens we’ve picked for this list is available for around £500 or $500, or in some cases considerably less. While we’ve listed the current retail prices for each one, they can generally also be picked up second-hand, and we’d encourage you to do so. Shopping for used gear is a time-honoured way to snag yourself a bargain, and it’s always worth checking the used market before hitting ‘buy’ on a new item of gear.

But where do you start choosing a macro lens? Well, before we get stuck in, let’s look at the key criteria for good macro lenses.

How to choose a macro lens

A true macro lens should give you a 1:1 reproduction ratio of the subject in your photograph, so, ideally, you’ll need to be looking for a lens that allows you to do that. In other words, if your subject, say a flower, is 15mm wide you’ll want it to appear 15mm long on the imaging sensor of your camera.

Always check the reproduction ratio when buying a macro lens to make sure you have at least 1:1 ratio. Some lenses do go beyond this and offer ratios of 2:1 or more.

Most macro lenses have focal lengths of 100mm or under and typically have maximum apertures of around f/2.8. An aperture of around f/2.8 will help for shooting macro if you want to have a shallow depth of field and effectively isolate the main subject from its background. If you deliberately want to keep more of the background in focus you’ll want the option of a lens that offers you different aperture settings, say of f/16 or f/22.

Also, consider whether you want an autofocus lens or a manual focus lens. Most AF systems in cameras are now incredibly sophisticated at recognising and tracking subjects, even when hand-holding a camera. However, in a more controlled environment with a tripod, you might want to have the flexibility of manually focusing.

Whatever your criteria for choosing a macro lens, we’ve scoured our test reports and the market to bring you the best value macro lenses.

Our recommendations

Some specialist macro optics can be expensive, but we’ve rounded up the best value macro lenses on the market so that you can shoot close-up imagery without breaking the bank.

So, without further ado, here is our expert selection of the current best value macro lenses on the market…

Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO

Price: £499 / £449

Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO review image

The Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO is one of the smallest macro lenses for full-frame mirrorless we’ve tested. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

Rather than being content with offering the standard 1:1 magnification, Laowa has made this lens so that it offers 2:1 magnification, letting you get even closer to your subject. This is one of the newer macro lenses we’ve tested, but even at full price, it comes in under £500, making it a solid budget addition to a full-frame lens collection.

This is an incredibly small and light lens, weighing just 219g – Laowa managed this by trimming the maximum aperture down to f/5.6, correctly reasoning that most macro shooters tend to stop down for increased depth of field anyway. So while you’ll struggle to get shallow depth of field, the Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO is still an excellent lens to drop into a bag and have at your disposal.

What we like:

  • Incredibly portable
  • Good optical quality
  • Smooth handling

What we don’t like:

  • f/5.6 won’t be for everyone
  • No electronics

Read our Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO review

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

Price: £409 / $399

Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro review image, Andy Westlake / AP

The Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro is another exceptional manual focus lens. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

Whilst some specialist ultra macro lenses only offer close-up focus, the Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro can 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.

Like all Laowa lenses, this is a manual-focus lens, with no electronics to speak of. It is designed for APS-C mirrorless cameras, and is available in Sony E-Mount, as well as Fujifilm X-Mount. It weighs just 335g.

What we like:

  • Impressive magnification available
  • Excellent image quality
  • Relatively small and lightweight

What we don’t like:

  • No weather sealing

Read our Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro Review

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

Price: £294 / $299

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens review image with lens caps

The Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens, featuring the clever built-in ring light.

Canon’s range of small mirrorless cameras are often under-rated – all the more so since the arrival of APS-C EOS R camera like the EOS R7 and EOS R10. 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 under £300, 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 we don’t like:

  • 28mm is a little wide for macro

Read our Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Review

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art

Price: £699 / $799

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN ART Macro review image by Angela Nicholson

The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN ART Macro is a premium lens that offers great value for money. Photo credit: Angela Nicholson

Sigma’s Art series of lenses has drawn great acclaim and the 2021-released 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 de-click 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
  • De-click aperture switch

What we don’t like:

  • Costlier than others
  • No stabilisation

Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 MACRO VC

Price: around £400 / $400 (used)

Tamron 90mm f2.8 SP Di USD VC Macro product image

The Tamron 90mm f2.8 SP Di USD VC Macro in Nikon fit.

Tamron has a long history in making great macro lenses and the SP 90mm is no different. A high-performance all-rounder for Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sony A-mount, it 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 track one of these second-hand, as they have now been officially discontinued.

What we like:

  • Impressive build quality
  • Credible warranty
  • Decent price-tag

What we don’t like:

  • Getting hard to find
  • Only available for DSLRs

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

Price: £449 / $549

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

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

Photographers using Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III or the Panasonic Lumix GH6 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 f/2.8, 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 from around £215, or the Panasonic Lumix G 30mm f/2.8 lens for around £269. 

What we like:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Fast maximum aperture
  • Weather sealing

What we don’t like:

  • No built-in stabilisation

Read our Best Micro Four Thirds Lenses in 2022 Round-up

Samyang 100mm f2.8 ED UMC Macro Lens

Price: £409 / $499

Samyang 100mm f2.8 ED UMC Macro Lens product image

Samyang 100mm f2.8 ED UMC Macro Lens.

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 mount fits including Canon EF, Pentax K, Canon M and Fujifilm X.

While autofocus is missing from the lens, there’s plenty of other features, including the 15-elements, 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 we don’t like:

  • No autofocus

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens

Price: £449 / $569

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens product shot

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens.

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 we don’t like:

  • Not fully weather sealed

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro

Price: £589 / $494

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro product shot

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro lens.

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. The Irix also 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 we don’t like:

  • No autofocus

Tokina atx-i 100mm F2.8 FF MACRO

Price: £463 / $399

Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 FF Macro Lens product shot

Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 FF Macro Lens

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 just over £450, 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

What we don’t like:

  • DSLR only
  • Can be hard to find

Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO

Price: £519 / $499

Laowa 100mm F2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO product shot

Laowa 100mm F2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO lens

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 is 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

What we don’t like:

  • No stabilisation

Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5x–5x Ultra Macro

Price: £399 / $399

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

Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5x–5x Ultra Macro lens mounted on an EOS R body.

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

What we don’t like:

  • Requires some practice to operate

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

Price: £459 / $556

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Lens product shot

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

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 24x16mm, 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

What we don’t like:

  • Might be too telephoto for some

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro OS HSM

Price: £359 / $569

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens product shot

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens in Nikon fit.

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

What we don’t like:

  • Has since been upgraded

Top macro tips

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!

Also, check out our ‘further reading’ list below to discover more of our great macro content.

Further reading

Best Second-hand Macro Lenses

Expert tips for award-winning macro shots

Top 12 Macro Photography Tips

Top 20 best close-up and macro photographs

Top macro flower photography tips

Macro photography lighting tips

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