Best macro lens for Nikons: 8 tested

Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S IF-ED VR Micro - £610/$900

Compared with the other Nikon lenses on test, the Nikon 105mm VR offers a real step up in terms of build quality. It's bigger, heavier and has a much more robust, professional feel to it. Advances over its popular predecessor include four-stop Vibration Reduction and completely internal focusing, so its overall length remains fixed.

Like the Nikon 60mm f/2.8G AF-S ED Micro, which is also compatible with both full-frame and DX bodies, the 105mm features Nikon's new nano crystal coating on the rear element. This helps to reduce flare by minimising internal reflections within the lens.

An improvement over the 60mm lens, this one features a focus limit switch, although you can't select only the shorter end of the range. It enables either full focus travel or just the range between 50cm and infinity.

Autofocus speed is super-fast and the manual focus ring is very smooth, which it isn't for the cheaper Nikons in the group. This is true with both fully manual focusing and manual focus override of autofocus. The only slight disappointment with the lens is that the sharpness at f/16 could be a little better.

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

Offers great sharpness and contrast even at the maximum aperture of f/2.8, but performance dips at f/16.

Lab test
Sharpness at f/2.8: 2400
Sharpness at f/8: 2313
Sharpness at f/16: 1910

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

There's some noticeable colour fringing at the corners of the frame, throughout the whole aperture range.

Lab test
Fringing at f/2.8: 0.65
Fringing at f/8: 0.5
Fringing at f/16: 0.59

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

The lens does show some barrel distortion, but it's not very apparent compared with that from other lenses.

Lab test
Distortion: -0.2

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

The Nikon 105mm delivers extremely pleasing results but isn't quite as excellent as the equivalent Sigma 105mm lens.

Read the full Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S IF-ED VR Micro review