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The Best Cheap Macro Lens for Canon

Matic Broz profile picture By Matic Broz Updated July 14, 2022
Best Cheap Macro Lens for Canon thumbnail

Canon macro lenses aren’t as expensive as telephoto, but by finding a great deal, you can still save a few hundred bucks. We found that most other guides forget to tell you that not every lens is compatible with the Canon camera: you need to pay attention to the mounts. In our tests, we identified the overall best and best budget macro lenses for Canon RF, EF, and EF-S mounts.

Things to consider

  • Image quality

    How well the lens controls cromatic abberation, sharpness, color reproduction, distortion, and flaring all affect the quality of your photos.

  • Build quality

    Materials used and the precision of how a lens is built affect the durability and longevity of a lens. It can also affect whether or not a lens is weather-sealed.

  • Zoom or prime

    Zoom lenses are more versatile, while the prime lenses are more speciliazed and have better image quality.

  • Price

    The price of a lens is related to the image and build quality, performance of autofocus and image stabilization, and focal length.

The Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens is a great choice for anyone looking to get into close-up portraiture or macro photography. The lens’ autofocus is highly precise, and its close focus design means you can get up close and personal with your subject matter. The lens also features optical image stabilization and a Super Spectra coating, which work together to minimize ghosting and flare.

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro is a great choice for anyone looking for an affordable, high-quality lens. It offers 1:1 macro reproduction, a 30cm minimum close-focus distance, and well-controlled lateral chromatic aberration. The older design is a sharp, high-performing lens, but the newer model has better weather sealing, bokeh, and flare. The real difference between the two models is Image Stabilization. The EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM has amazing image quality in the center and good sharpness on the edges.

The best budget macro lens for Canon is the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro. This lens is a great first choice for beginners starting with macro photography. It is a great combination of ease of use, low price, great performance, and decent build quality. The LED ring in front of the lens also takes care of your lighting problems, so you won’t have to purchase any additional equipment.

Our RF mount pick: Canon RF100mm F2.8 L Macro is USM

Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM studio

Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM lens magnifies 1.4x. This 100mm “macro” lens is ideal for portraits. The bokeh ring compensates for spherical aberration. From 1.0x magnification, the working distance is important. 150mm and 180mm blur the background more than 100mm.

In practice, 100mm is equivalent to 90mm or 105mm. Size and weight make the Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM lens a comfortable companion. This lens produces a strong background blur that isolates the subject at f/2.4-f5.6. The SA control ring features a zero-click stop and lock. A negative setting smooths the background, while a positive setting sharpens it.

A lens with a strong SA setting doesn’t need precise focusing. This lens has 5 stops of shake correction. This lens has HIS. Macro photography requires a steady viewfinder image and smooth compositional adjustments. Canon F2.8 L Macro IS USM2.

The image quality of this lens at the edges is exceptional. Too much sharpening destroys image detail and masks the lens’ weaknesses. Digital Photo Professional Tests (DPP). Because of its 1.4x magnification, the Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS lens shifts focus (1.4:1 magnification). Because the R6’s default settings sharpen images too much, some owners may not notice the lens shift.

With APS-C cameras using a RF mount or adapter, vignetting is largely avoided with full-frame cameras. Lateral CA (Chromatic Aberration) causes non-overlapping light wavelengths. Aberration and spherochromatism shift colors. Canon’s number of 17 lenses doesn’t help Super Spectra Coating reduce flare. Coma is absent in the center of the Canon 100mm Macro IS USM lens, but worsens at the edges/corners.

The Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM lens takes beautiful photos. Two Nano USM focus motors control the advanced AF system. The wide aperture and 9-blade diaphragm produce 18 sun stars. The Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM lens has a minimum focus distance of 10.2 and a maximum magnification factor of 1.4, and at full focus, the size of the subject changes only slightly.

Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM The lens has three adjustment rings. The front and rear weather-sealed elements protect against dust and water drops; the fluorine coating makes it easier to clean fingerprints. The Canon RF 100 L macro lens has a small, inexpensive 67-mm filter thread. Canon Macro Ring Lite flashes will work with this lens if you use a Canon 67 Macrolite adapter (and a 58mm lens cap). There’s no lens hood for this lens.

Canon’s RF 100mm F2.8 L macro lens IS USM is excellent, but expensive. The price of the EF 100mm f/2.7 L Macro Lens may have been a factor. The extra high magnification makes the Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM lens an interesting addition. A professional class lens with fast AF and image stabilization. It outperforms previous Canon macro lenses.

Our EF-mount pick: Canon EF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM

Canon EF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM studio

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens was more than a small step up from its predecessor. The use of Canon’s image stabilization system has been improved in practice. The close focus distance of 30 cm and macro imaging of 1:1 are the most important features. All parts of this macro lens are made of high-quality plastic, including the tube and focus ring, which are covered with rubber. The rubberized focus ring ensures smooth operation and makes overall handling excellent.

The L series includes Canon’s EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM lens. Fast, quiet, and precise focusing is made possible by the lens’ internal focusing motor. The fact that the lens cannot focus quickly is due to its inability to cover a wide range of distances. The “hybrid” image stabilization system in the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM lens is a first for a Canon DSLR lens. Compensation of 4 stops is possible at normal distances, and compensation of 2 stops at a 1:1 ratio is possible for macro shots.

The clarity and contrast of the overall photo are excellent. In terms of foreground/background blur, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM lens is very good. Up to an aperture of f/5.6, soft and precise reproduction of blurred areas is possible. The lens has moderate corner shading of about 1.5 stops at the widest setting. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM is its predecessor.

The hand-holding of the lens is the most important factor in the price difference. The EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is an excellent macro lens from Canon at a great price. Handheld macro shooting is possible thanks to the hybrid image stabilization system. Dealing with longitudinal chromatic aberration is a legitimate criticism of the image quality.

Our EF-S Pick: Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro

Canon EF S 35mm F2.8 Macro studio

The Canon EF-S 35mm F/2.8 Macro is Canon’s widest angle and the least expensive APS-C format macro lens. It is also the smallest and lightest Canon macro lens with a built-in Hybrid Image Stabilisation System.

Its build quality is mediocre, with no weather sealing whatsoever. Canon EF-S 35mm F/2.8 Macro is the first macro lens to have a Lead Screw STM (Stepping Motor) driven autofocus system. The motor is not noisy at all and quickly focuses on the subject without having to make adjustments.

A wide focal length of 35mm gives you ample room to frame your macro shots. And you can crop them later. The maximum f/2.8 aperture guarantees beautiful bokeh in your photos.

The EF-S 35mm has a very short working distance of 1.18″ (30mm), making lighting the subject that much more challenging. However, it has a pair of circular LED lights, also known as ‘Micro Lites’, at the front rim of the lens. These LED lights provide natural lighting, so you don’t have to bring along external lights.

This lens is a solid option for beginners. It is affordable and has a good image quality. Also, it’s very easy to use.

LIKED

  • Affordable
  • Quick autofocus
  • Good picture quality
  • Image Stabilisation
  • LED ring

DISLIKED

  • Small working distance 
  • Average build quality

Other Great Macro Lenses for Canon

1. Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro

The Canon EF-S 60mm F/2.8 Macro is very well built with a durable body. It feels balanced to hold, while also being pretty tiny and light. It has a broad focus ring that’s smooth to rotate. Thanks to its USM (Ultrasonic Motor) with FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing, its autofocusing is fast, quiet, and accurate. 

The lens produces sharp images even at the corners. It has low chromatic aberration with minimal distortion and produces realistic colours with balanced contrast. Loss of light is common with Macro lenses. To compensate for it, this lens uses the camera’s auto exposure and automatically fixes the lighting in your image to some extent.

If you need more magnification out of it, you may use a 12mm or a 25mm extension tube with the lens, which will magnify your focal length by up to 1.28x and 1.61x, respectively.

This lens is excellent for shooting products in a studio and can work wonders in low lighting conditions. You may also use it for closeups and portraits.

LIKED

  • Good build quality
  • Evenly sharp throughout the frame
  • Fast and precise autofocus
  • Small and lightweight 

DISLIKED

  • No LEDs on lens rim
  • Light loss at F/2.8

2. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

The Sigma 105mm F/2.8 EX DG Macro is best-suited for close-ups. Its longer working distance is handy for taking pictures of insects or flowers. It is designed so that it reduces the influence of harmful light caused by reflections from the image sensor. 

The minimum aperture of f/45 helps you to achieve an incredible depth of field in your photos. Thanks to the extremely narrow aperture you can also capture grand landscapes. But the image becomes quite smooth beyond f/22 due to distortion.

The Dual Focus (DF) system makes it precise and easy to control during autofocusing. Manual focusing is also convenient because of its wide and smooth-to-rotate focus ring. 

Sigma 105mm delivers low distortion and low aberration with exceptional sharpness. You can use it as a normal telephoto lens as well, which makes it a versatile option. Despite having a 105mm focal length, there is no significant light loss but only minor vignetting towards the edges.

A minor drawback is that the autofocusing is slow, especially in the macro mode. It is also quite noisy at the same time.

LIKED

  • Amazing picture quality
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Sharp images with natural colors
  • Good build quality 

DISLIKED

  • Slow and noisy autofocus
  • Extending lens barrel

3. Canon 180mm f/3.5L Macro

The Canon 180mm F/3.5L Macro is probably the company’s sharpest lens and with no distortion. Focusing is easy at any distance. It has a rigid all-metal body. You can use it as a telephoto, portrait, nature, and landscape lens along with its superb macro performance. 

Its autofocus is good enough for normal use, but you will have to make do with manual focusing for macro shots. Even then, the focusing ring is to sensitive so it’s pretty difficult to nail the focus.

The bokeh quality will surely pleasantly surprise you. It’s smooth and does not distract the viewer’s eye from the main subject at all.

Its tough build quality guarantees years of excellent performance, even if you get a bit rough with it. On top of that, it solves many purposes for a single lens which makes it a versatile choice. 

LIKED

  • Sharp pictures
  • Tough build
  • Versatile
  • Beautiful bokeh

DISLIKED

  • Bad autofocusing
  • Small and sensitive focus ring

4. Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF

The Canon RF 50mm F/1.8 STM is one of the best sellers from the company due to its wide aperture, compact size, and lower price.

The 50mm focal length on a full-frame camera gives you a natural-looking viewing angle which is the reason for the popularity of this lens. When you combine 50mm with the wide 1.8 aperture, you get ideal settings for portrait photography.

At the widest aperture, the image quality is not the sharpest but still decent enough. You can achieve a sharp image at this focal length by correctly placing the subject under the lights. 

The lens does not have image stabilization for cost-cutting purposes. But it has an amazing economic focusing technology which is the best AF system at this price.

When it comes to the build quality, this lens does quite well with mixed plastic and metal elements. But it is not weather sealed or fluorine-coated on either side, which makes it prone to dust entering your lens and camera body.

This budget-friendly lens is an incredible choice to learn portrait photography. It is also better to go for a 50mm lens with a full-frame camera.

LIKED

  • Compact, lightweight, & cheap 
  • Good picture quality
  • Fast AF system
  • Tough build

DISLIKED

  • No weather sealing
  • Plastic elements used in the lens body

5. Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro Lens

Canon EF 50mm F/2.5 is classified as a macro lens but offers only .5x magnification as compared to 1x magnification in most macro lenses.

Canon has given it mid-level build quality. It has a metal mount, but the focus ring feels a bit lost. The lens barrel protrudes while focusing but does not rotate.

This lens also does not feature USM (Ultrasonic Motor) focusing. As a result, focusing is quite noisy and slow. It manages distortion very well and deals with flare to some extent without any lens hood. 

At F/2.5, the output will be soft, but as you close down the aperture, the images will get much sharper. It produces soft and natural-looking colors. However, full-frame users complain about vignetting in the lens when the aperture is wide open.

This lens is suitable for product photography, semi-closeups, and shooting small items like jewelry, gadgets, etc. Its wide aperture proves to be very useful in studio settings.

LIKED

  • Wide aperture
  • Natural colors and good contrast
  • Minimal distortion

DISLIKED

  • Mediocre build 
  • Slow AF system 
  • Lens vignetting 

6. Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens

Sigma 70mm F/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens can be bought for Canon, sigma, and sony cameras. 

Despite being 70mm, it is compact and lightweight and produces sharp images without failing. Its autofocus is a bit slow, and it does not include image stabilisation as most camera bodies now come with it. 

It uses an electronic manual focusing system to assist the photographer in taking macro shots. Turning the manual focus ring will activate the focus motor, which is tuned for minor adjustments to get that perfectly focused macro shot.

It has a comfortable working distance, and it can produce incredibly sharp macro shots. The only drawback is, if you are using a Canon camera, you will need to use a tripod or place your camera on a hard surface to prevent blur.

The lens focuses close enough for 1x macro capture and shows no distortion in any setting. You may get a little bit of lens vignetting but fixing that is not a big deal.

LIKED

  • Special AF system for Macro photography 
  • Sharp output quality 
  • No image distortion
  • Compact and light

DISLIKED

  • Slow AF system
  • No image stabilisation 

8. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macr7

Sigma 105mm F/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro is a short-telephoto prime that has the ability to achieve a 1:1 lifesize magnification along with a 1′ minimum focusing distance for macro photography. 

Its optical design employs two SLD elements that eliminate chromatic aberrations and color fringing which gives you an improved clarity and color rendering in your pictures. 

Its Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) gives you a quick and silent autofocusing performance. The optical image stabilization minimizes camera shake and gives sharper handheld shooting outputs.

A floating internal focus design helps the lens to maintain consistent sharpness throughout the focal range. With the help of its rounded nine-blade diaphragm, you can achieve some breathtaking bokeh effects. 

A super multi-layer coating applied to the lens elements minimises lens flare and ghosting. It also helps in producing colour-neutral and contrast-rich images despite being in backlit conditions. 

LIKED

  • Fast AF system with Optical Stabilization 
  • Floating internal focus design for sharpness
  • Rounded nine-blade diaphragm 
  • The multilayered coating on lens elements

DISLIKED

  • Expensive lens
  • Soft images at F/2.5

8. Tamron 90 mm F2.8 VC USD

Tamron 90mm F/2.8 VC USD has incredible optical performance with very good image stabilisation. 

This is a real macro lens with a working distance of 0.29m and a max magnification of up to 1x(1:1). Its optical image stabilisation helps you a great deal in taking sharp macro shots. 

The Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) autofocus system is silent as the name suggests and performs brilliantly in all conditions. You may switch to manual focus by simply turning the focus ring. 

Its metallic body inspires confidence in the photographer, and the ergonomic focus ring works smoothly. The lens is also weather-sealed for protection from dust particles and coated on both sides for easy cleaning.

There is some amount of distortion however and it might struggle with flaring. But such hurdles can be easily crossed by a photographer. Overall, this lens has got everything that a macro lens should have, and it is a great value for money. 

LIKED

  • Sharp image quality
  • Weather sealed
  • Optical image stabilization 
  • Silent and fast AF system

DISLIKED

  • Lens flaring and distortion 
  • Lens vignetting 

FAQ

What Canon lens is best for macro photography?

The best Canon macro lens is Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro. It’s easy to use, reasonably priced, well-built and provides sharp photos with very little distortion and chromatic aberration.

What mm lens is best for macro?

50mm lenses work the best for macro photography. 35mm to 105mm focal length range is usually used for macro, and 50mm lens offers the best of both worlds.

Is a macro lens worth it?

A macro lens is a must for macro photography. Although you can improvise with a general-purpose lens, these usually cannot focus at short distances.

Sources

  1. Dvir Barkay, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, Photography Life, July 14, 2022.
  2. Bryan Carnathan, Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens Review, TheDigitalPicture, July 14, 2022.

 

About your guide

Matic Broz profile image
Matic Broz

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire, Skylum, and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

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