Best macro lens for Nikons: 8 tested

Nikon 60mm f/2.8G AF-S ED Micro - £395/$550

While the Nikon 40mm can only be used on DX bodies, its 60mm brother is equally suitable for full-frame cameras. Indeed, it has exactly the same focal length on an FX body as the 'effective' focal length of the 40mm on a DX body.

Further similarities include ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and a rubber weather seal on the mounting plate, as featured in all the Nikons in the group. However, only this lens and the 40mm lack Vibration Reduction (VR).

Unlike the Nikon 40mm, this lens has internal focusing, so maintains its modest length right through to its closest focus distance of 18.5cm. Even so, the front of the lens comes a bit too close for comfort to the subject, at a distance of just 4.5cm.

Autofocus is faster on this lens than with the Nikon 40mm, which is perhaps why Nikon has omitted a focus limit switch. Manual focusing is slightly jerky, and lacks the precision of some of the other lenses on test. Sharpness is also disappointing compared with the other lenses, especially at apertures around f/16, which are often favoured for macro shooting.

Sharpness

The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.Best macro lens for Nikons

It's quite disappointing at small apertures around f/16, which is a real drawback for macro shooting.

Lab test
Sharpness at f/2.8: 2049
Sharpness at f/8: 2271
Sharpness at f/16: 1703

Fringing

The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.Best macro lens for Nikons

Chromatic aberration is basically a non-issue, even when there are very high-contrast edges in a scene.

Lab test
Fringing at f/2.8: 0.17
Fringing at f/8: 0.14
Fringing at f/16: 0.18

Distortion

The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.Best macro lens for Nikons

There's practically no distortion at all, with the Nikon 60mm achieving the best test score in the group.

Lab test
Distortion: 0.02

Image quality verdict

The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.Best macro lens for Nikons

Excellent in terms of colour fringing and distortion, the Achilles' heel is its sharpness at small apertures, which is vital for macro shooting.