If you’re looking to find the best macro lens for Sony, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I’m going to share all of the absolute best Sony macro lenses, so that you can immediately start capturing stunning macro images–no matter your budget.
So if you’re ready to find the perfect macro lens for your needs, let’s get started.
The Best Sony Macro Lenses, Ranked
Here’s an overview of the best macro lenses for Sony:
But to get into the specifics, read on!
If you’re looking to grab a high-quality macro lens at a reasonable price, look no further than the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 ART.
For under $500, you get a whole host of benefits, including:
- 1:1 magnification for stunning close-up images
- A small, compact design combined with excellent build quality
- Good ergonomics for manual focusing, so that you’re able to successfully focus while in the field
As for the optics, this little lens is tack-sharp across the board, starting at f/2.8 and going all the way to f/16 (when diffraction starts to set in).
The f/2.8 maximum aperture is just what you want from a macro lens, for a couple of reasons:
First, it means you’re able to gather some light even at high magnifications, which makes for faster shutter speeds and sharper macro shots overall.
Second, it means that you’re able to pull off that soft-focus look that many macro photographers love, while also achieving beautiful blurred backgrounds.
Of course, no lens is without its drawbacks; I do wish this lens offered image stabilization, especially when you consider how high magnifications amplify camera shake (and therefore blur). And 70mm is a bit on the short side for macro photography–with a focal length like this, you’ll need to be careful about casting shadows on your subject at high magnifications, thanks to a very small distance between your lens and its point of focus.
That said, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 offers a superb combination of optics, build-quality, and price, which makes it the best macro lens choice for anyone looking to get started in macro photography–or even take their macro photography to a more serious level.
Best For: High-quality macro photos of still subjects
In many ways, the Sony 90mm f/2.8 is the ultimate macro lens for Sony.
For one, it’s unbelievably sharp, at least on par with the most well-regarded macro lenses out there, if not better. You also get excellent build quality, combined with an easy-to-use focus ring for manually focusing in the field.
Note that macro photography is almost always done with manual focus–but there are occasionally times where you’re going to want fast autofocus, in which case the Sony 90mm f/2.8 may be the best macro lens available. Most macro lenses are relatively slow focusers, but not the Sony 90mm, which (impressively!) focuses with speed.
You also get Sony’s version of image stabilization (OSS). This is invaluable for macro photographers who like to work handheld, and allows you to shoot at high magnifications down to around 1/60s. Honestly, after using a macro lens with image stabilization, you’re not going to want to go back; it really is that useful, and will make you feel so much more confident when handholding at high magnifications.
As for the focal length, I put 90mm in that macro photography sweet spot, where you can shoot a whole range of subjects, from flowers to leaves to natural details and more. Sure, a longer lens would be better for insect photography, but if you can work quickly you might get some insect opportunities even with this lens, given the fast autofocusing.
So why isn’t this outstanding lens at the top of the list for best Sony macro lenses?
As with many Sony lenses, the issue is price; the Sony 90mm macro costs over $1000, which is beyond the budgets of most folks. Certainly, this lens offers a lot, but unless you’re already a serious macro photographer, I’d recommend you go with the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 and potentially upgrade later; that way, you’ll save significantly without sacrificing too much in terms of your images.
Best For: Serious macro photographers looking for the best-possible image quality
If you’re looking for a macro lens that’s longer than the Sigma 70mm but cheaper than the Sony 90mm, then here’s one you’ll want to consider:
The Samyang 100mm f/2.8 Macro (for Sony), which is relatively cheap, extremely sharp, and offers nice ergonomics for manual focusing.
Personally, I’m a big fan of lenses like this, which give you all the essentials without going overboard–and keep the price down in the process. That’s why, for under $500, you get excellent optics (the Samyang 100mm is sharp at f/2.8, and only gets sharper as you narrow your aperture), true 1:1 macro magnification, and a well-designed focus ring for careful manual focusing in the field.
The biggest drawback to the Samyang 100mm f/2.8 is that it’s manual focus only–so if you were planning on shooting fast-moving insects, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Now, for unmoving macro subjects (e.g., flowers), there’s really no reason you should be using your lens’s autofocus capabilities, so the lack of autofocus here shouldn’t present a problem. That said, manual-focus-only glass isn’t going to be able to double as a street photography or walkaround lens, so if you grab the Samyang 100mm f/2.8, make sure that you know that macro is what you want to do.
For the optical quality and the well-designed ergonomics, this lens really is worth a look–and, if you’re willing to overlook the lack of autofocus, it’s a great choice.
Best For: Serious macro photography on a budget
If you’re dead-set on getting a native Sony lens, but you don’t want to pay the $1000+ cost for the 90mm f/2.8, then I’d recommend grabbing the Sony 50mm f/2.8 macro.
It’s still a bit on the expensive side, but that’s to be expected for a high-quality Sony lens like this one, offering excellent build, handling, and–like pretty much every other macro lens on this list–stunningly sharp optics.
As with the Sigma 70mm, I’d have preferred to see a longer focal length. When you shoot at 1:1 magnifications at 50mm, you really do risk casting shadows or bumping your subject; you also make using all but a macro-designed ring flash impossible, because any artificial light placed around your subject will inevitably get blocked by your lens, your camera, or you.
That said, a 50mm lens does come with a few advantages, including an impressively compact body for traveling. Plus, 50mm is a generally useful focal length to have in your bag, for street photography, portrait photography, and more.
Given the higher price point on the Sony 50mm, I tend to think the Sigma 70mm is a better deal–but if you prefer the 50mm focal length, or you’re set on getting native Sony lenses, then the 50mm f/2.8 is the way to go.
Best For: Getting started with macro and close-up photography
Whenever I talk about the best macro lenses, I have to bring up this Lensbaby Velvet–because while it’s not as well known as other options, it’s one of my absolute favorite lenses of all time, for one major reason:
The Velvet glow.
Lensbaby Velvet lenses are designed to produce an artistic glow at their widest apertures, which means that you can use the Velvet 85 at f/1.8 up to f/2.8 and achieve a deeply creative look, like this:
Then you can stop down to f/4 and beyond, where the Velvet 85 becomes steadily sharper and allows you to capture standard macro shots.
Personally, I love shooting at f/1.8 and achieving the glow in my flower photos–it’s a lot of fun, and can help you achieve effects that you never thought were possible.
But be aware that the Velvet 85 is manual focus only, which means that you’re definitely not going to be shooting fast-moving insects. This is very much a deliberate lens, meant for deliberate image-making.
And while this may not present a huge problem for many photographers, the Lensbaby Velvet 85 only allows you to shoot up to 1:2 magnification. I generally push my macro lenses past 1:2, so I do find this a bit frustrating–but the Lensbaby glow is so fantastic that I’m willing to overlook it.
Anyways, for anyone looking to start capturing wonderfully creative, artistic macro images, then the Lensbaby Velvet 85 is the best choice on the market.
Best For: Creative, soft-focus macro images
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How to Choose the Best Macro Lens for Sony
Choosing a Sony macro lens can be a daunting task, especially because there are so many options (and so few resources to help you figure things out!).
However, there are actually a few basic characteristics that can help you decide which macro lens for Sony is best for your needs–and that’s what I’m going to cover in this section.
So what should you look for in a macro lens to ensure you can get consistently gorgeous macro photos?
Choose a Focal Length Based on Your Target Subject
In macro photography, focal length is a huge deal.
This is for one big reason:
Now, working distance refers to the length between the end of your lens and the subject that you’re photographing–and is often used to discuss macro photography at the maximum magnification.
In other words:
When you’re shooting at the highest possible magnification, how much distance is between the tip of the lens and the front of your subject?
The longer the lens, the more working distance you get.
Now, if you’re shooting unmoving subjects, such as flowers, working distance isn’t such a big deal. Flowers don’t run away when you get too close.
But if you want to photograph insects, you’re going to need a longer focal length lens (in the area of 150mm to 200mm), so you have a greater working distance, which will prevent insects from flying away as you approach them.
By the way, macro lenses that are too short can also have working distance problems. A 50mm macro lens will have a very limited working distance, so you’ll often find yourself casting shadows on your subject, or even hitting it with the front of the lens (which certainly isn’t a good thing!).
That’s why I recommend getting a macro lens with at least 90mm effective focal length if you’re going to shoot flowers, and a macro lens with at least 150mm effective focal length if you’re going to shoot insects.
Get a Sharp (and Close-Focusing) Macro Lens
You’re pretty much always going to want a macro lens that’s capable of superb sharpness, especially if you plan to capture images that are full of details (e.g., abstract shots of an insect’s wing).
Fortunately, most macro lenses are incredibly sharp, and I’ve made sure that every lens on the best macro lens for Sony list (above) offer professional-quality crispness.
You’ll also probably want to make sure your macro lens can focus to 1:1, which means that the image that appears on the camera sensor is equivalent to the subject in real life. Most macro lenses can do this, as can most of the lenses on this list. The one exception here is the Lensbaby Velvet 85, which I’ve included for its artistic capabilities, despite it only focusing to 1:2.
Note that there’s no ultra-compelling reason why your lens should reach 1:1 and not stop a little sooner–but I do find myself often shooting at near-1:1 magnifications, especially for nature abstracts, so when I use lenses that don’t offer 1:1 magnification I often miss it.
Make Sure the Manual Focus Ring Is Easy to Work With
In macro photography, you should be focusing manually most, if not all, of the time.
Because at macro magnifications, your lens’s autofocus is going to hunt like crazy, even in good light. And you’ll spend forever waiting for your setup to lock focus.
That’s why it’s important to have a carefully-designed manual focus ring–one that is large enough to grip comfortably, and has enough stiffness that you can focus precisely without worrying about the ring slipping past the point of focus.
If Possible, Find a Lens With Image Stabilization
Image stabilization helps you capture sharp photos even when you’re camera is shaking slightly.
Now, macro photography is very prone to camera shake (because you’re working at such high magnifications). One option is to use a tripod, but there will be times when you want to handhold and will need to drop your shutter speed down to speeds below 1/160s or so.
When this happens, you’ll often get blurry photos–unless you have a lens with optical stabilization, that is! It’ll keep your camera from being affected by camera shake, even as you drop your shutter speed down to 1/100s, 1/80s, and below.
Best Sony Macro Lens: The Next Step
Now that you’ve finished this article, you should know all about the best macro lenses for Sony–and which lens is best for you.
So pick a lens, and then get out shooting. Amazing images await!
But don’t stop there!
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