Under $700: 3 Budget Macro Lenses for the Frugal Photographer

The best thing ever for a passionate photographer is finding a deal. And luckily, that’s possible in the macro photography world now. Macro lenses used to be specialized. But these days you can get those capabilities pretty cheaply. What’s more, you can go a lot with lenses like these. They’ve become wider and more versatile over the years. We dove into our Reviews Index to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take a look at some of the best budget macro lenses we’ve reviewed!

The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear that we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Pro Tips for Using Budget Macro Lenses

If you’re using budget macro lenses, then consider these tips that professional photographers swear by:

  • Use a flash. There’s never enough light with macro photography.
  • For the best results, you still need a tripod. Trust me, you’ve got shaky hands. No matter how still you think you are, it won’t totally work for macro shooting.
  • Macro photography is essentially all about getting up super, incredibly close. It opens up worlds that are otherwise tough to see.
  • Sometimes it’s best to put your camera in remote capture mode, move away, and just capture things like bees on flowers.
  • When used with a flash, budget macro lenses are great for wildlife, watches, food, coins, and a whole bunch of other applications.

Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2

Essential Tech Specs

ModelF053
Focal Length35mm
Maximum Aperturef2.8
Angle of View (diagonal)*63°26′
Optical Construction9 elements in 8 groups
Minimum Object Distance5.9 in (0.15m)
Maximum Magnification Ratio1:2
Filter SizeØ67mm
Maximum DiameterØ73mm
Length**64mm (2.5 in.)
Weight7.4 oz (210g)
Aperture Blades7 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum Aperturef22
Standard AccessoriesLens hood (Cap-type), Lens caps
Compatible MountsSony E-mount
* for full-frame mirrorless format
** Length is the distance from the front tip of the lens to the lens mount face.
*** The circular diaphragm stays almost perfectly circular up to two stops down from maximum aperture.

In our review, we state:

“Unless you’re pixel peeper (shame on you!), there’s not much in terms of chromatic aberration that you will lose sleep over with the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053). The BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coating helps minimize flares, although they can still be visible if the sun is within your frame. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the slight vignetting when shooting wide open. Minimal fringing can also occur when photographing brightly lit objects or backlit scenes. Both are honestly negligible, and can be easily mitigated during post-production.”

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Canon RF 35mm f1.8 IS STM Macro

street photography

Essential Tech Specs

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 35mm f/1.8
Lens Construction: 11 elements in 9 groups
Diagonal Angle of View: 63°00′
Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time manual
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.56 ft. / 0.17m
Filter Size: 52mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: Φ2.93 x 2.47 in., approx. 10.8 oz. / Φ74.4 x 62.8mm, approx. 305g

In our review, we state:

“Where the autofocus started to fail me is with macro shooting–but that shouldn’t come as a surprise as everyone’s does this. The Canon RF 35mm f1.8 USM IS sometimes took extra long or couldn’t nail the focusing at very close ranges. As I suspect that no one will be using a lens like this for macro shooting that often or professionally, that shouldn’t be a huge problem. But if you’re using it for product photography the way that I’ve seen some journalists do, then you’ll not have major issues because your subject isn’t moving and if you’re smart you’re using adequate lighting. I totally understand that not every event offers the best lighting situations, but that’s when you ask a rep to bring a product somewhere else for a product image.”

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Nikon Z 50mm f2.8 Macro

Essential Tech Specs

  • Mount Type: Nikon Z Mount
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/ 2.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/ 22
  • Format: FX
  • Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 31°30′
  • Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 47°
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 1x
  • Lens Elements: 10
  • Lens Groups: 7
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • ED Glass Elements: 1
  • Aspherical Elements: 1
  • Fluorine Coat: Yes
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • AF Actuator: STM (stepping motor)
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 0.53ft (0.16m) from focal plane
  • Focus Mode: Auto/Manual
  • Filter Size: 46mm
  • Approx. Dimensions (Diameter x Length): 3 in. (74.5 mm) x 2.6 in. (66mm)Distance to end of lens from camera lens mount flange. Based on CIPA guidelines
  • Approx. Weight: 9.2 oz. (260 g)Based on CIPA guidelines
  • Micro: Yes
  • Lens Type: Prime

In our review, we state:

“The Nikon 50mm f2.8 Z lens is as easy to use as any other nifty fifty on the market. Due to its simplistic design, there is no learning curve. It’s as simple as deciding if you want to shoot in autofocus or manual focus mode and whether or not you want to shoot macro.”

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.