Many people consider the best macro photography lens to be the most expensive, however this is not always true. Sure, the top end macro lenses are exceptionally good, and they capture awesome close up shots, but this does not necessarily mean they are the best. In reality the best macro photography lens is subjective and the perfect macro lens for one person may not be the best for another. The best macro photography lens for you will depend on many different factors including the type of camera you own, the subject/s you want to take macro photos of and the amount of money you have available to spend on a macro lens.
At the end of the day every macro lens on the market is super sharp and all of them are capable of capturing stunning macro and close up photos that will blow you away. The only way you are going to see the difference in image quality between the different macro lenses is to look at large (and I mean huge) prints of the same subject taken with different lenses side by side or to go pixel peeping on the computer, and these are things people seldom do. In reality you are not going to see the difference.
When looking for the best macro photography lens the most important question to ask yourself is “what do I want to take close up photos of?”
If you want to take macro images of still lives and subjects that don’t move you won’t need a large working distance (i.e. distance between the end of the lens and the subject) so you can get away with wider (shorter focal length) macro lenses. If you only want to take macro photos of still lives and subjects that don’t move the best macro photography lens is likely to be a 50mm or 60mm macro lens. These short focal length macro lenses are just as sharp as the longer (and arguably more popular) 100mm+ macro lenses and the image quality is just as good. Where the 50mm and 60mm macro lenses win is on price and value for money. These lenses cost far less than 100mm+ macro lenses, so you get a lot of bang for the buck. I would only recommend 50mm or 60mm macro lenses for still life and static subjects only. If the subject is a living creature that moves a short lens is not going to be the best macro photography lens.
If you want to capture macro and close up photos of living and moving subjects you need a lens with a longer focal length since this gives a longer working distance, which means you don’t have to get too close to the subject in order to get the shot. Living creatures are easily spooked so the further you can be away the better. The 180mm macro lens offers the biggest working distance but it is a big and heavy lens which makes handholding it tricky. If you want to take photos of living subjects you need to be able to be comfortable taking and held shots (a tripod gets in the way and is not practical in these situations) and a 180mm lens is not the best macro photography lens. In this situation a 100mm or 105mm macro lens is far more suitable, and is the one I would suggest is the best macro photography lens for you.
If you are not sure if a 50mm/60mm or a 100mm/105mm lens is the best macro photography lens for you I would always suggest buying the 100mm or 105mm macro lens. Macro lenses of this focal length are the most versatile and can be used for both still life/stationary subjects as well as living/moving subjects. Okay, once you start out in macro photography you may quickly decide moving/living subjects aren’t for you, but at least you got to try it out with a lens that is capable of dealing with this type of photography. Had you bought a 50mm or 60mm macro lens you would not even have had the chance. Unless you are a hundred per cent certain you don’t want to have a go at taking macro and close up photos of living/moving subjects the 100mm or 105mm lens is the best macro photography lens.
If you know what focal length macro lens is best for you, but are unsure what brand or model to get you may want to search "50mm macro lens", "100mm macro lens" or whatever on eBay, where there are always great deals to be had. If you want to get searching on eBay feel free to use the search box below:-
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.