There are a number of ways to shoot macro photos, but for the best results and for professional quality output, a dedicated macro lens is the best option.
And that’s what this article is all about. We’re going to share the absolute best macro lenses for Canon cameras in 2021, including RF, EF, and EF-M lenses. No matter your Canon system, there’s a stellar macro lens here for you.
Let’s get started.
Best Macro Lens for Canon: Top 11 Picks
- 1. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
- 2. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens
- 3. Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens
- 4. Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM
- 5. Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM
- 6. Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM
- 7. Lensbaby Velvet 85 f/1.8 Canon EF
- 8. Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro
- 9. Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens
- 10. Meike 85mm f/2.8 MF Macro Lens (RF Mount)
- 11. 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Macro (Canon RF & EF-M Mount)
1. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
This dedicated macro lens is superbly built, with beautiful-quality optics.
The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS is probably one lens that most macro photography enthusiasts have already seen in action. It’s one of Canon’s more popular special purpose lenses. At 100mm, it gives the right balance between focal length and magnification, which ensures photographers that they have almost everything covered.
The 100mm f/2.8L produces a 1:1 reproduction of a subject. It features powerful image stabilization and is powered by a ring-type ultra-sonic auto-focusing motor. This AF motor is quieter and more reliable than the older micro-motor-type AF mechanism that Canon lenses sported. This technology is backed by a full-time manual focusing override.
The lens features an internal focusing mechanism. Internal focusing ensures that the barrel length of the lens does not change when focusing. This is suitable for macro photography because a barrel that changes length when focusing can scare away insects and other creepy crawlies.
Note the ‘L’ moniker, which means that this lens is well-designed, as with all Canon L-series lenses. It comes with weather sealing and should be able to handle inclement weather without issue.
2. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens
Great for flower close-ups, but flexible enough to appeal to street, portrait, and travel photographers.
The Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens may only have a magnification ratio of 0.5x, but it deserves a place on our list of the best macro lenses for Canon.
Designed for the EOS R range of mirrorless cameras, it’s a lightweight, compact lens that packs a big punch in terms of image quality.
35mm is a versatile focal length, and this lens is a good choice for street, travel, and portrait photography. It’s also great for macro shots of flowers, jewelry, food, or anything else you want to get up close to. The minimum focusing distance is a mere 17 cm (6.6 in), which is far closer than most 35mm lenses will go, and the bokeh effect is very good.
Another handy feature of the Canon RF 35mm: it’s compatible with Canon’s range of macro speedlight flashes. This flash range includes the Macro Twin Lites and Macro Ring Lites, and enables you to have high-quality, controlled lighting for your macro subjects.
Image quality and sharpness are excellent, especially between f/2.8 and f/11, although there can be some vignetting and barrel distortion when shooting wide open.
The Canon RF 35mm is also a smart buy because you get a lot of versatility as well as good image quality for your money. It won’t suit a dedicated macro shooter who wants ultra-magnification but is great for most everyday macro and close-up shooting, as well as being an excellent walk-around lens.
3. Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens
Small, inexpensive, and capable of capturing larger than life-size macro images
If you own a Canon M series mirrorless camera, then the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens is a solid choice for a macro lens. It’s 28mm, but when mounted on an EF-M body with a crop factor of 1.6x, it has an effective focal length of around 45mm. This length almost perfectly replicates the focal length of the human eye, so what you see through this lens equates to how you see it with your own eyes.
This lens is great for most types of general photography, but make no mistake: the Canon EF-M 28mm is a genuine macro lens, which means it can produce a life-size image of small objects (1:1). This lens even takes it one step further, though, with a Super Macro Mode that allows you to go even bigger than life-size up to 1.2x magnification.
This lens is almost unbelievably tiny and very light, and comes with a pair of LED macro lights built into the front of the lens. One limitation of this lens when shooting macro on the shortest setting is that the front of the lens barrel is around 1 cm (0.3 in) from the subject. This makes it hard to photograph insects as they will be spooked by the closeness of the lens, and, at this distance, you will definitely need to use the built-in macro lights to avoid shadows.
That said, image quality and color rendition is excellent, and the macro capabilities on this tiny, inexpensive lens are awesome. Add in the small size and light weight, and you have a lens that suits standard applications and macro applications.
4. Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM
An excellent 1:1 macro lens that doubles as a great standard focal length lens.
If you want a good prime macro lens for your Canon APS-C format DSLR, then the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM is a true macro lens, with life-size (1:1) magnification and an integrated Macro Lite LED on the front of the lens to give much-needed illumination for close-up subjects.
This lens is ideal for traveling light and can also be used on Canon’s mirrorless (EOS M) cameras with an adapter. Most experienced macro shooters won’t want to shoot much handheld, but this hybrid IS system makes it easier to create sharp macro shots without using a tripod or macro rail. This makes the 35mm macro lens a good choice for quickly taking macro images on your travels.
The big feature of this lens is the built-in Macro Lite LEDs. These lights can be adjusted to light only the left or right side as well as both sides. The brightness can be adjusted, and these lights really make a difference to your images when shooting macro, as they give back some of the light that’s lost at macro distances. Note that these lights are specifically designed for macro work, so don’t be disappointed when they fail to light up your portraits, as that’s not what they were made for!
As far as image quality goes, sharpness at wider apertures and color rendition is excellent. Bokeh is good quality, which is important when you have a lens that is capable of creating a strong background blur like this one.
5. Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM
Good value for money, compact, and high performing.
The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is smaller, lighter, and much more affordable than many other RF lenses. While it may not carry the Canon “L” series stamp, it can do something other RF lenses can’t – shoot macro images.
No, the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro is not a true macro lens. The maximum image reproduction ratio is less than life-size (it’s 1:2), but for extreme close-ups, flowers, weddings, food, and product shots, it’s ideal.
The minimum focusing distance is only 35 cm (13.7 in), which is far closer than other 85mm lenses, so the RF 85mm f/2 Macro lends itself well to make-up and beauty product photography where close-up shots of eyes and lips are needed.
When it comes to image quality, the RF 85mm f/2 Macro is superb even when shooting close-up at f/2. Bokeh is smooth and good-looking, and there is minimal distortion or chromatic aberration.
This lens is excellent and comes at a bargain price compared to the other RF 85mm lens. It’s fast, has great image stabilization, and packs impressive macro capabilities, plus it’s a superb portrait lens. What’s not to like?
Best Third-Party Macro Lenses for Canon
6. Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM
Inexpensive yet well-built, this lens delivers a solid close-up performance.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive zoom lens with impressive close-up capabilities, then the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM may be the right third-party macro lens for you.
It won’t suit those looking for extreme magnification, as the maximum reproduction ratio is only around one-third of life-size, but it’s great for close-up flower and food photography. It’s also a great little walk-around lens, and when used on a crop-sensor camera, it gives a 25.5-105mm full-frame equivalent focal length.
The Sigma 17-70mm Macro is compact and feather-light, and the build quality is impressive for a lens at this price point. The lens doesn’t feature a fixed aperture, though. If you like to shoot with a tripod or macro rail then this won’t be an issue, as you can compensate for the slower aperture by reducing shutter speed, but f/4 isn’t so great for handholding, especially in lower light. However, Sigma’s Optical Stabilizer (OS) is a big help here, reducing camera shake to allow you to handhold the camera at much slower shutter speeds.
Sharpness is excellent at 17mm at maximum aperture and is generally good across the range until you zoom all the way to 70mm, where edge sharpness starts to suffer a bit.
The Sigma 17-70mm Macro is very good value for money for those who want a standard zoom with macro capabilities, and it’s a versatile walk-around lens, too. Note that this is an EF-S lens, so it’s only compatible with Canon APS-C cameras.
7. Lensbaby Velvet 85 f/1.8 Canon EF
A great choice for those who are looking for something a little different. The soft-focus glow is amazing!
If you’re looking for a creative macro lens that offers a soft-focus glow at wider apertures yet is capable of giving razor-sharp images when stopped down, the Lensbaby Velvet 85 f/1.8 Canon EF might be just your thing.
This is a lens that photographers either love or hate, thanks to the soft focus, velvety glow it adds to images taken at larger apertures. The glow can look amazing with subjects like flowers and insects (and use it as a portrait lens for that old-style Hollywood look).
Stop the Lensbaby Velvet 85 down and the glow is gradually replaced by a supreme center sharpness. Note that although the glow becomes extremely subtle, it never vanishes completely, even at f/16.
Bokeh with the Velvet 85 is beautiful due to the 12 diaphragm blades. The minimum focusing distance is 9.5 in (24.1 cm), which is pretty good for an 85mm lens. To engage the macro feature, simply twist the lens barrel to the left. The maximum image reproduction ratio is 1:2, so it’s not a true macro lens, but will still get you plenty close for beautiful detail photos.
The all-metal build makes for a very robust lens, but it’s also fairly heavy, weighing in at 1.2 lb (544 g). There are no fancy electronics here, either, like image stabilization or even autofocus; therefore, the Velvet 85 might not be the best choice for beginners who have never used a manual focus lens before.
The Velvet 85 is primarily an art and creative lens with a distinctive look. It’s not as versatile as some other third-party macro lenses, but if you love the soft-focus look, then you’ll fall in love with the Velvet 85!
8. Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro
The Tokina 100mm macro features high-precision manual focus and full 1:1 macro capabilities.
The Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro isn’t as pricey as other options on this list, but don’t let that deceive you; it delivers 1:1 magnification with a respectable working distance of 11.5 cm (4.5 in), along with outstanding image quality, excellent ergonomics, and more.
100mm is a popular length for macro lenses, as it allows you to shoot just about any small subject. It also doubles as a good portrait focal length, too.
To change from autofocus to manual focus, just push the focus ring forward or back, which makes switching from one mode to the other a breeze. And those who prefer manual focus will love the long-throw focus ring, which has been engineered for extremely precise and small adjustments.
The Tokina atx-i 100mm is impressively sharp throughout most of its aperture range, both in the center and in the corners.
This lens is generally well built but does lack weather-sealing, so you’ll only be able to shoot on dry days without a camera raincoat. All in all, it’s good value for money and an excellent macro lens.
9. Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens
The Sigma 70mm offers excellent image quality and good value for money.
If you’re after a versatile macro lens that you can slip in your camera bag or leave on your camera while traveling, check out the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art lens.
The Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro lens reproduces subjects at life-size (1:1), so it’s ideal for capturing smaller subjects or abstracts. And the 70mm focal length is also suitable for shooting some portraits – especially with an APS-C camera, where the effective focal length reaches 110mm. This lens is compact and lightweight, yet really packs a punch.
The lens delivers a reliable autofocus performance, but it can be somewhat slow, so if you’re hoping to shoot insects, I’d recommend looking elsewhere.
The lens diaphragm is constituted of 9 rounded blades. This produces a rounded lens aperture and the bokeh quality is very pleasing.
Flares and ghosting are two aspects that plague wide aperture lenses; fortunately, these are suppressed very well, thanks to a special Sigma coating.
Sigma has utilized Thermally Stable Composite materials, which do not expand or contract when the temperature fluctuates. Therefore, this lens can be used in extreme temperatures without much of an issue. However, there’s no weather sealing.
Cheap Macro Lenses for Canon
10. Meike 85mm f/2.8 MF Macro Lens (RF Mount)
The Meike 85mm f/2.8 offers excellent value, not to mention 1.5X magnification.
The Meike 85mm f/2.8 was clearly designed as a macro lens from the start, though 85mm is also an ideal focal length for shooting portraits.
The maximum image reproduction ratio is 1.5X, which means you can get incredibly close to capture the finest details. For this reason, the lens features two focusing rings. One operates down to 25 cm (9.8 in), and has a magnification of 1:1 (life-size), while the second focusing ring allows you to continue down to the maximum magnification ratio of 1:1.5.
The main caveat is that this is a manual-focus-only lens, so beginners may find it tricky to handle at first.
Bokeh is nice and smooth, and image quality is outstanding for a budget lens. Even chromatic aberration, flare, and distortion are handled very well, and sharpness is good at f/2.8 (though it hits its sweet spot at f/8).
Overall, the Meike 85mm Macro is nicely made and an absolute steal at the price.
11. 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 Macro (Canon RF & EF-M Mount)
The 60mm f/2.8 Macro is affordable with a rock-solid build and a fast aperture.
Is the 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 one of the best budget macro lenses out there? There’s a lot of buzz about this no-frills lens, and I’m happy to say that it’s a great choice for a dedicated macro fan.
The 7Artisans 60mm Macro features an essentially all-metal build, which makes it heavy; it’s certainly not a lens you would like to walk around with all day! And it’s manual focus only, which may put some people off. However, the focusing ring is well-made and allows for precise adjustments, plus the lens is amazingly sharp, even at f/2.8.
Bokeh quality on this lens is fabulous, and although there can be a bit of a halo and flare issue when shooting into the light, the image quality as a whole is far better than you would expect on such a cheap lens.
Maximum image reproduction is life-size (1:1), but you can buy extension tubes to get a huge 2:1 or 3:1 magnification. One of the unique features of the 7Artisans 60mm macro is the retracting lens hood. The lens barrel itself is 60mm in diameter, but the front element is smaller so it retracts into the lens body. 7Artisans created a 39 mm screw-in lens hood to protect this element for travel, and when you focus at macro distances, this lens hood extends quite a distance from the front of the lens.
The working distance at 1:1 is around 12.7 cm (5 in), a good distance for macro work. One thing to note about this lens: there are no electrical contacts, so you won’t get EXIF data and you’ll need to use it in Manual mode.
Because of this, it’s not a lens for a complete beginner. For the price, however, the 7Artisans 60mm macro lens is a bargain and will appeal to dedicated macro shooters.
Best Macro Lenses for Canon in 2021: Conclusion
That’s our round-up of the top macro lenses for Canon! If you’re still struggling to decide, our top-notch pick has to be the fabulous Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. But if your budget doesn’t stretch to that there are plenty of other, less expensive choices, like the best third-party macro lens on our list (the Tokina atx-i 100mm Macro f/2.8 and the best budget pick (the Meike 85mm f/2.8 MF macro lens).
The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is definitely a highly rated lens and one that produces optimum sharpness and image quality. It offers a nice balance of price, performance, and focal length.
The Tokina ATX-i 100mm f/2.8 beats the competition in a stiff battle for the best third-party macro lens for Canon DSLRs.
The Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM is the cheapest Canon-made macro lens. The lens is designed for the APS-C Canon DSLRs. It comes with image stabilization and offers a 1:1 perspective.
A majority of the time photographers use manual focusing. So, technically speaking it does not really matter whether a lens auto-focuses or not. But it is still a feature that a lot of photographers use for the initial focus lock before switching to manual for fine-tuning. That said, it is great to have a full-time manual focus override.
A 50mm prime is a versatile lens for most everyday shooting situations. However, in its normal mounting position, it is not the most ideal lens for shooting macro photos.
Yes. Longer the focal length of a macro lens the more working room the photographer has. That prevents the photographer from accidentally coming between the light source and the subject being photographed. This is provided of course that the lens offers a true macro perspective.
The best macro photography aperture will depend on the subject and the photographer’s idea of a great image of it. Usually, a shallow depth of field is not recommended when shooting a product like a wedding ring. But one can always use focus stacking techniques to produce an incredibly sharp image even with a wide-open aperture.
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Certain content that appears on PhotoWorkout.com comes from Amazon. This content is provided ‘as is’ and is subject to change or removal at any time.